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Clinton Wins Missouri Primary, Sanders Concedes; Rubio Speaks For First Time Since Suspending Campaign; Conservatives Meet, Plot to Stop Trump; Democrats Sound Alarm Over Trump's Momentum; Interview with Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi; North Korea Launches Ballistic Missiles; CNN Undercover in Rebel-Held Syria. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 17, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:10] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next, breaking news. Hillary Clinton wins Missouri sweeping off five Super Tuesday states. What's next for Bernie Sanders?

Plus, prominent Republicans plotting against Donald Trump as Marco Rubio speaks out for the first time since dropping out of the race. And are Democrats getting worried about facing Donald Trump? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. A clean sweep for Clinton. CNN can now report that Hillary Clinton wins the Missouri Democratic primary. Clinton had already claimed victory in the other four states at play on Tuesday. Until now though Missouri too close to call. And look at how close that race is. Bernie Sanders conceding the state to Clinton tonight. Clinton leading Sanders by literally 1500 votes as you can see of more than 600,000 cast. Every vote counts. That's a lesson right there.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT tonight. And Jeff, obviously a big win for victory, but how big of a win? What does it mean for Missouri and how is the math for Bernie Sanders now?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the math remains about the same win or lose. Because how Democrats select their nominees, it's proportional. So, Bernie Sanders is going to get roughly the same number of delegates from Missouri as Hillary Clinton. But no question politically speaking, a clean sweep for the Clinton campaign is a big deal for them in terms of mindset and momentum. But the Sanders campaign says, they still have a path to winning this nomination. Here is how.

Arizona is going to vote next week. And then a series of other states they believe are favorable to him. Washington State, a week from Saturday. But Erin, this is the main reason that Bernie Sanders believes that he still could achieve this. California does not vote until June 7th. That is the biggest prize of all. That was different from '08. In '08, it was on Super Tuesday. But California being at the very end here is what Bernie Sanders is waiting for. He believes that could give him a big enough advantage. There's also Wisconsin in there and some other states that he believes he could be strong in, but Erin, it is a difficult uphill battle for Bernie Sanders. There is no question. BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much. California so crucial. Our other breaking story is on the Republican side of things in disarray. Prominent Republicans meeting behind closed doors today, plotting to stop Donald Trump.

Also today, Marco Rubio speaking out for the first time since dropping out of the race and Lindsey Graham who famously said picking between Trump or Cruz was like choosing between being shot or poisoned. Today he chose poison.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think in an ideal world you have a nominee and people coalesce around the nominee and it gives you a stronger position in the general election. I don't believe Donald Trump will ever be able to do that.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the best alternative to Donald Trump to stop him from getting 1237 is Ted Cruz. And I'm going to help Ted in every way I can.


BURNETT: Conservative talk radio Erick Erickson, a Trump opponent met with conservatives to talk about a possible Cruz-Kasich ticket or even a third-party run. You get the feeling they're throwing spaghetti at the wall. What might stick? All of this happening as we count you down to Arizona the next big prize with 58 winner-take-all delegates at stake on Tuesday for the GOP.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT tonight in Phoenix.


RUBIO: I want to congratulate Donald Trump on his victory --

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Out of the race, but not out of words. Marco Rubio urging his supporters to fight frontrunner Donald Trump.

RUBIO: Hopefully, there's time to still, you know, prevent a Trump nomination, which I think would fracture the party.

LAH: Rubio supporters in Arizona are listening. Arizona for Rubio Social Media Director Lilia Dashevsky (ph) is mobilizing for a new cause ahead of her state's primary just days away.

(on camera): Are you telling them to go vote for Ted Cruz?

LILIA DASHEVSKY, MARCO RUBIO SUPPORTER: At this point I am. Yes. I think he is probably the best shot right now to take on Donald Trump. I think Cruz has a really strong case to make here in this state. I think he definitely has a very good shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My son Grant was killed working an overnight shift at his job by an illegal immigrant. LAH (voice-over): That good shots in Arizona begins with his position

on immigration. The Cruz campaign stealing a page from the Trump playbook launched this new ad in Arizona featuring a father whose son was reportedly killed by an undocumented immigrant.


LAH: Cruz trailing Trump in the polls now renewing a challenge in this GOP winner-take-all state by hitting hard on immigration, the issue in this border state. Six years ago, Arizona passed the broadest and strictest immigration law in the United States. Giving police the power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally and making it a crime if immigrants didn't carry their papers. Protesters called the law state sponsored racism. Eventually the Supreme Court gutted portions of Arizona's law, so Trump's anti- immigration rallying cry?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will build a great, great wall on our Southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall.

[19:05:10] LAH: It's a second chance for Arizona to see immigration reforms says Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio a vocal illegal immigration foe endorses Trump, calling him a savior.

SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: It was dying until Trump brought it up when he was here. He started talking about it again.

LAH (on camera): Do you think that's why he is resonating so much with people in Arizona?

ARPAIO: They were waiting for somebody like him.


LAH: Now there is not a lot of polling in the state of Arizona, but the very last poll that was done showed Rubio hovering right around 10 percent. Now all of those supporters go to the Cruz camp. That would make Ted Cruz much more competitive here. But here is something important to know about the state of Arizona, early absentee voting rates are very high. It is very like Erin, that many of those Rubio supporters already filled out those mail-in ballots, put them in the mail, sent them in before Rubio dropped out.

BURNETT: All right. Kyung Lah, thank you very much. A crucial state for the GOP.

And OUTFRONT now, Donald Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord who served as political director to President Ronald Reagan. Ted Cruz supporter Ben Ferguson, host of "Ben Ferguson Show." Donald Trump supporter Pastor Darrell Scott and Dan Pfeiffer who served as senior adviser to President Obama. Thank you all.

Pastor Scott, let me start with you. You know, you see this fight going down in Arizona. This crucial winner take all state. But the bottom-line here is there is a ground swell of activity now to stop Trump. Lindsey Graham perhaps the most humorous example, right? He said, I don't whether I want to be shot or poisoned between Cruz and Trump and how he goes for Cruz, but he's far from alone. Could any of this finally work and stop Trump?

PASTOR DARRELL SCOTT, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: No, they're not going to be able to stop Trump. Lindsey Graham took the slow death rather than the fast death. He went with Rubio and Rubio got knocked out. And now he wants to go poison himself to death with Ted Cruz. Now, Rubio needs to go sit-down. And, you know, Governor Nikki Haley there says, she's praying for Cruz now. I hope she doesn't pray the same prayer for Cruz as she prayed for Rubio because that prayer didn't work.


BURNETT: In Ferguson --

SCOTT: They're not going to be able to stop the Trump train -- the Trump train is rolling along. And you roll with it or you get rolled over. Those are your options.

BURNETT: All right. So, Ben, those have been the options so far --


BURNETT: -- for his rivals. But Lindsey Graham obviously did something he never wanted to do in coming out and backing Cruz. Let me just play for everyone the moment, why this is so unexpected, what Graham said back in February and then what he said today. Here he is.


GRAHAM: If you kill Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you.

I am going to be doing a fundraiser with and for Senator Cruz.


BURNETT: I mean, Ben, are people really going to follow for this voters and say, OK now Lindsey Graham says vote for the guy? I'm going to do it.

FERGUSON: Yes. Now, look, ultimately there is something significant in what Marco Rubio did by saying that he's going to be supporting, you know, basically anybody but Trump because he actually still has supporters that were supporting him moving these states. That is significant and will be significant, I think, for Ted Cruz. Outside of that, I just don't see many of these endorsements, especially Lindsey Graham of all people having a major impact. And I think this is going to really come down to the issue of messaging. Ted Cruz, if he's able to come out there and connect with the voters, this is a two-man race now. But Lindsey Graham doing this is not going to have a big impact.

If it brings a few more voters to Ted Cruz side, we'll happily take those. But ultimately, this is going to be a gut check moment. You can choose between Donald Trump and you can choose between Ted Cruz. In which way do you want to go? And I think a lot of voters now are saying, all right, if I don't like Trump, I really need to get it together and focus on the long term of this. And who has got the best chance of beating Hillary Clinton? Donald Trump is still down in the national head-to-head polls against Hillary Clinton.

BURNETT: That is fair.

FERGUSON: That poll has been consistent for a very long time. And he's not closing that gap either. And that's why you see so many conservatives saying, we got to get around Ted Cruz and we got to do it now.

BURNETT: All right. So, let me ask you Dan. You know, the stop Trump ideas out there included Kasich, Cruz ticket. Because I know Ben wants to say it is a two-man race. John Kasich would say, please do not speak so quickly because you are dead wrong. But would these ideas be harder for Democrats to beat than Donald trip? Let's just take this Cruz-Kasich ticket. Would that be better or worse for Democrats than Donald Trump?

DAN PFEIFFER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think it's like, this is a dream decision for Democrats like Cruz or Trump, we would take either one of them. Look, I think ultimately, the only way you're going to stop Donald Trump is a contested convention. There's almost no mathematical path for Ted Cruz to catch him and he is zero chance in getting to a majority and the delegates. So, the Republican Party has a decision. Are the party establishment, the delegates, going to upend the will of the voters and pick someone else or are they going to stick with Trump? And that's a terrible choice. That's as bad as between being shot or poisoned frankly.

[19:10:08] BURNETT: Conversations I never thought we could be having in primetime. Jeffrey Lord, you know, Ben brings up Marco Rubio and what he had to say today that was so significant. Obviously, the first time he spoken since dropping out. Let me just play one quick thing that Rubio said. Here it is again.


RUBIO: Hopefully, there's time to still, you know, prevent a Trump nomination, which I think would fracture the party and be damaging to the conservative movement.


BURNETT: So, Jeff, it has become now accepted by most people that a Trump win would break up the GOP. He says not so fast, he could unify. Is that possible really or is that just insanity? And a Trump win is guaranteed to break up the GOP as we know it.

JEFFREY LORD, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: I don't think it is guaranteed to break up the Republican Party. I have to say, I wrote a whole column last year. I went back and took a look at all the people who said that if Ronald Reagan were ever nominated by the Republican Party, it would break up the Republican Party, it would end it, it would be the death of the Republican Party. And I'm talking about names like Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Charles Percy on and on and on this list goes. Here we are yet again. Basically what we have just as we had before is an outsider getting ready to win this presidential nomination and the insiders don't like it. There's no surprise here.

BURNETT: And you know, it's an interesting point you raise, Dan, because you tweeted two days ago the next time Rubio campaigns, he will most like be stumping for Trump in the fall. Do you think someone like Marco Rubio who obviously now says anybody but Trump will eventually get on board what Pastor Scott calls the Trump train?

PFEIFFER: Yes, look, if Trump is the nominee, then people like Marco Rubio will be campaigning for him. And so, I think that Rubio with everything he can with his very limited influence and power to try to change the equation now. But if Trump is the nominee, everyone, I believe won't get in line and help Trump win.

BURNETT: Pastor Scott, do you believe that? Do you think they will going to get in line?

SCOTT: They'll have no choice. They have to get in line. I mean, they need to get in line sooner, rather sooner than later than simply sit somewhere crying solid grapes. Because he got smashed and destroyed and beaten so badly.

FERGUSON: It's not sour grapes but going up here to here.

SCOTT: Everybody that opposes Donald Trump head to head gets annihilated. Hillary Clinton will get annihilated too.

BURNETT: OK. Go ahead. Finish Pastor Scott.


Hold on. Hold on. Pastor Scott, finish. Then Ben is going to come in.

FERGUSON: All right. Let me say this. There's something called humility in the Bible. If Donald Trump wants to know why there are so many conservatives that are not going to actively support him if he got the nomination is because of the arrogance that you just displayed. Every time they coalesce --


BURNETT: Hold on, hold on, hold on Pastor Scott. Let Ben finish. Let Ben finish.

FERGUSON: Every time that people, conservatives starts liking some of the things that Donald Trump maybe saying. It's the arrogance of people like you that you better get on this train or you're going to get run over. You look like an idiot. It's poison if you pick someone else.


FERGUSON: It's the arrogance of the campaign.

BURNETT: Pastor Scott, let him finish.

SCOTT: You might as welcome on board rather sooner than later. It is not a brag. It's a matter of fact.

BURNETT: I'll hit pause there. We'll have to have you both back, all four of you back of course. Thank you very much.


LORD: I'm enjoying.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT, as the big wildcard, how this election could all come down to the delegates at the GOP convention? And Donald Trump saying, his top foreign policy advisor is, Donald Trump. Democrats pouncing on that tonight.

And breaking news. North Korea launching a ballistic missile moments ago. We have the very latest on that coming up.


[19:17:25] BURNETT: Tonight, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan bracing for a contested convention.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: There's more likely to become an open convention than we thought before. So, we're getting our minds around the idea that this could very well become a reality and therefore those of us who are involved in the convention need to respect that.


BURNETT: Republicans also now ripping into Trump for suggesting voters would riot at the convention if he's not the nominee. Candidate John Kasich tweeting today. This implicit acceptance of violence is the kind of rhetoric that is pulling people apart. A true leader urges peaceful debate over violence. Leadership requires responsibility.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT. And Tom, yes, that was actually four tweets. He's not the Twitter master like Donald Trump is. A lot of concerns though now on all sides about what's going to happen at the GOP convention. What happens if it is, quote-unquote, "contested."

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for start, it will be something that none of us have ever seen before. Most of us our younger in this world. If you look at the big number out there, this is what they need. That's how many delegates you need to clinch the nomination. This is the current delegate count. If anybody can get to this number before the convention, all those predictions are off. It will not be a contested convention. But if you go into a contested convention, you could have a very different circumstance. Let me get into the lower floor here so to speak and explain what we're talking about.

Let's imagine that we have a state out here in the country that has 20 delegates, and they are bound delegates. What that means is by the rules they must vote the way the state voted and it's a winner-take- all system in that state. And let's say Donald Trump for example won that state. Well that means that on the very first vote, Erin, all 20 of these people must vote for Donald Trump. Those are the rules. But after that first vote, if he doesn't hit the magic number, then they become unbound. And then they can vote for whomever they want. Half of the people in the hall will be that way first. And then it would progress to more until virtually everybody here will be unbound voting as they please, Erin, and that could get wild.

BURNETT: What that means is then they could be voting for, well, themselves, right? I don't mean physically, but they could vote for who they want to, the person they want to vote for as opposed to the will of the voter, the will of the --

FOREMAN: Absolutely.

BURNETT: -- Republican voter.

FOREMAN: Yes. You hit the nail right on the head there. In fact, the campaigns right now are making a point to try to make sure they have people among the delegates even if they lost a state. Because think about our mythical state here again. We have 20 people out here who on the first vote have to vote for Trump. But let's say that when they become unbound you found out that in fact only eight of them are actual Trump supporters and that the Cruz camp has some their people among them and the Kasich camp has some people among them.

And then if you start all the wheeling and dealing that would happen in this sort of convention, these might come together. We are just doing this for a demonstration purposes here, not any predictions. But suddenly, you could have a state like that where Ted Cruz might get 12 delegates and Donald Trump only eight even though he won the state. And Erin, if that happens, you can bet there will be some sharp words exchanged.

BURNETT: There will be sharp words. And of course, that's where you have Donald Trump saying that there could be much worse than that if that outcome were to transpire. Thank you very much, Tom Foreman.

OUTFRONT now, our chief national correspondent, anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS" John King and our senior political commentator David Axelrod. So, John, you know, you've done the math on this again and again. How likely is this outcome that you get this contested convention?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is possible. Something probable, Erin. So much so that David Axelrod may change his registration to Republican just so he can be a delegate just to be a part of this. Listen, Donald Trump from here on out needs to win 55 percent a little higher than that right now, on our current delegate count that he'll get a few more delegates if he wins Missouri. We're still waiting on the final numbers there. So, let's just put it at 55. Donald Trump has to win 55 percent of the remaining delegates from here on out to get the magic number of 1237.

Now, many Republicans think they can stop him from doing that. But let me make a point to the prior conversation you just had. They're not going to beat Donald Trump on a conference call. They're not going to beat Donald Trump if Lindsey Graham says yesterday I was going to take a cyanide pill if he wins tomorrow, I'm going to race money for Ted Cruz. The only way to beat Donald Trump, to stop him from getting that 55, is to beat him on election days and right now, the guy who says is the leading alternative Ted Cruz is simply underperforming.

Cruz's people were telling people we're going to win Missouri and North Carolina last Tuesday night, he lost them both. We're not done counting in Missouri yet but it looks like he will lose that state. The way to beat him is not to talk about it. The way to beat him is for somebody to beat him on Election Day and that is simply not happening so far.

BURNETT: Right. And so everyone in the GOP establishment is just upset about that. They're trying to do -- it's like a toddler. They're having a tantrum.

KING: Yes, they are.

BURNETT: The fight between Clinton and Obama went on until June. And even then, neither one had enough delegates to clinch the nomination without using the so-called super delegates. So, that was pretty nasty and it didn't end up fracturing the party. Could the GOP get this, through this sort of a melee of a convention where you even have states that voted for Donald Trump in a popular vote going for Ted Cruz on a delegate vote as Tom Foreman just laid out? Could you have that happen and have a party that still could unify?

[19:22:25] DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, Erin, I think the comparison to 2008 isn't really accurate. That was a lovefest compared to what's going on in the Republican Party today. I mean, this is a real blood feud, a hostile takeover of the Republican Party by Donald Trump. The fact that Republicans like Lindsey Graham are clinging to Ted Cruz, who he despises as his best hope to stop Donald Trump, tells you how different this is. And I think the Republican Party is going to have, you know, reputational problems and coherence problems whatever happens. Either they have Trump or they're going to have a candidate who isn't Trump and you're going to have a whole bunch of people who voted for Trump in larger numbers than any other candidate think that their vote was not worth anything.


AXELROD: And so I think this is a terrible dilemma for the Republican Party. Making call it an open convention and talk about how glorious it's going to be to see participatory democracy up close. But this is a disaster. BURNETT: Yes. I mean, you know, John, there's also this issue of,

you know, the rules are the rules until you change them. And then right now, you have to have 1237, the majority, to win. If Trump walks into that convention without 1237 but a hundred delegates short or maybe 200 delegates short but still far more than Ted Cruz, is it possible that he could get the nomination without a brokered convention?

KING: Well, you'd have an open convention. He would have to cut a deal than to get the remaining delegates. So, if he is 150 short, he could go to John Kasich and say be my vice president and try to cut a deal and do it on the first ballot. He could conceivably go to Ted Cruz and cut a deal. Ted Cruz I think would be unlikely to cut a deal at the beginning if he thought you could go two or three ballots into the convention and see if he could get the nomination. But Erin, you make a key point. How many? How many? If the magic number is 1237 and Donald Trump has 1185, you're going to stop that guy? You're really going to say close but not close enough and find somebody else? His delegates would revolt.

Now, Donald Trump has said they would riot. That's a little reckless and responsible. But they would revolt without a doubt and they would have pretty good reason to. If let's say Donald Trump, if you can keep him in the 900s and somebody comes close and has won the last five or six primaries in a row including the big price in California and says he has momentum, that's a little bit of a different story. So, the final Trump number is significant in the idea of the morality, if you will, of taking it away from them.

AXELROD: Absolutely. And guys, if you talk to the Republicans who are involved in trying to stop Trump, they quietly acknowledge that. If they can't dump him below, you know, 45 percent of the delegates, then this is a -- futile effort on their part.

KING: Right.

AXELROD: That's why you see all of these wrangling going on right now and Rubio doing what he is doing. Graham is doing what he's doing. They want to hold his number down.

BURNETT: You know, John King, a final point though. Last night, you know, Ben Carson was on the show. And I asked him about the riot comments. The Trump said that if he was blocked from the nomination at the convention there would be riots. You know, Carson's response was, there's no question there would be a lot of turmoil. He talked about, you know, that there would be an uproar. Is Trump, you know, causing, is the party blaming him unfairly for making this comment about a riot or do you think it is fair and square that he's saying that there could be riots?

KING: Well, he may well be a moment. Some consider him the leader of the Republican Party because he's the frontrunner in the race for the presidency.

BURNETT: Right. KING: If he has the most votes at the end of the process, he will be the undisputed leader of the Republican Party. And what you're hearing from Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell another leader says, that a leader can't say things like that. If Donald Trump wants to say, my people will be furious, they will view this as an injustice. I think that's a horrible thing to do, that's one thing. Saying there will be riots, they think a leader should say, I hope my people would just lead the process play out and stay calm.

BURNETT: All right. Just use different words to accomplish the same sentiment.

KING: Right.

BURNETT: Thanks very much to both.

And OUTFRONT next, Democrats attacking Donald Trump for being dangerous. Does that word though actually help him? And Ted Cruz -- take a look at this. Ted Cruz and this heavy metal rock star separated at birth?


[19:30:21] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Donald Trump's momentum is setting off alarm among Democrats. Senate Majority Harry Reid ripping into the Republican frontrunner and the GOP for failing to denounce him. He says the Republican Party is now the party of Trump. Could Donald Trump turn into the worst nightmare for Democrats this November? Is that why they're so upset?

Manu Raju is OUTFRONT.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump now the prime target of the Democratic establishment.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: His vile rhetoric is embarrassing. His proposals are dangerous.

RAJU: With Trump significantly increasing his delegate lead, Democratic leaders are racing to define him in the minds of independent voters, including in the battle over the Supreme Court.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Republicans continue to stand in the way and refuse to do their job. It will only be because they want Donald Trump to pick the next nominee.

RAJU: Even President Obama is jumping into the fray, mocking the party and its frontrunner.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How can you be shocked? This is the guy, remember, who was sure that I was born in Kenya.

RAJU: Many Democrats initially hesitated to launch a full out assault on Donald Trump earlier, fearing it would elevate Marco Rubio. With Rubio out of the race and Clinton starting to pull away from Senator Bernie Sanders, Democratic operatives believe they can no longer wait.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Who are you consulting with consistently so you're ready on day one?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I've said a lot of things.


RAJU: Speaking to CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Clinton suggested that the public still has more to learn about Donald Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We'll find out. If he gets nominated, we're going to have a very vigorous general election if I'm the nominee.

RAJU: Trump seems to welcome it.

TRUMP: I think she's an embarrassment to our country. She's under federal investigation. She doesn't have the strength or the stamina to be president, frankly, as far as I'm concerned.

RAJU: But some Republicans are patently fearful that Democrats will successfully exploit the GOP division that Trump has created.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I think in an ideal world, you have a nominee and people coalesce around the nominee and it gives you a stronger position in the general election. I don't believe Donald Trump will ever be able to do that.


RAJU: One major clash between Trump and Clinton is over the Supreme Court announced this week of Merrick Garland. Republicans say the next president should pick the replacement for Antonin Scalia, but Democrats are trying to sow doubts by asking this question, do voters trust Donald Trump to name the next justice? Erin?

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much. It's a crucial question and it's not just Donald Trump who is threatening to divide the Republican Party, as Manu said. It is the issue facing $e Supreme Court. Several Republican senators say they will meet with President Obama's nominee to the court. At least two say they're willing to consider Merrick Garland's nomination .

But the Senate majority leader's stance is the same. No hearings, no vote.

OUTFRONT now, Republican senator from Mississippi, Roger Wicker.

And, Senator, I appreciate your time tonight.

So, Senator Wicker --

SEN. ROGER WICKER (R), MISSISSIPPI: Thank you. BURNETT: -- let me start on Merrick Garland himself. Nearly 20 years

on one of the highest courts in the land, the D.C. court. He served under George H.W. Bush. He oversaw the Oklahoma City bombing investigation.

Do you have any issues with Merrick Garland's ability?

WICKER: You know, Erin, this is why I'm glad we made our position clear early on. This is not at all about any particular nominee. I don't know anything about Judge Garland's qualifications, but the position that we've taken consistently is that this is a decision that the American people can now make during an election year, and it's wrong this far into the presidential election to have someone swing the court in a different direction without trusting the people to speak to that issue first.

BURNETT: So, to that point, though, the American people right now, the majority of them, the vast majority, Senator, believe there should at least be hearings from the President Obama's Supreme Court nominee pick. Seventy percent of Republicans, 67 percent, say that there should be hearings. Are you as a senator -- is the Senate ignoring the voters by not holding hearings for Merrick Garland?

WICKER: I really think it's the other way around. I feel very comfortable letting the people speak to this and giving them an opportunity to express themselves. Which direction do they want the court to take? Do they want it to stay in a sort of 5 to 4 direction that Justice Scalia maintained a majority for, or they want to swing an entirely left wing direction?

[19:35:01] And so, I think the people will actually will appreciate it us once we get on into the discussion of the issues. They will appreciate senators who gave them an opportunity to vote on this issue in terms of a presidential election in choosing the type of president that wants the court to move in one direction or the other.

BURNETT: Now, it's interesting when you say a left wing nominee. A lot of people were surprised, including many in our own party. They thought the president would go for a left wing nominee, but he didn't. By all accounts, Merrick Garland is not that. You may not agree with everything he's had to say. But he is not a far left wing judicial activist.

This is something that actually made a fellow senator of yours on the Judiciary Committee think twice. Senator Jeff Flake said something earlier today that I thought was very interesting and I want to play it for you, Senator.



SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: If Republicans are not successful in the November election -- I hope we are, but if we're not, then we ought to look at this nomination in a lame duck session in November. I would rather have a less liberal nominee like Merrick Garland that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put forward.


BURNETT: So, do you agree with Senator Flake?

WICKER: Well, let me just say, I have a great deal of respect for Jeff Flake. He's a wonderful senator from Arizona, and I've admired him for a long time. I'm going to decline to speculate about what might happen in the general election.

I appreciate his point of view, but I think I would rather stand on the principle that this is a decision that should be made by the American people. And they have the opportunity in just a few short months to really decide the direction the Supreme Court will go.

BURNETT: So, it sounds --

WICKER: I'm more comfortable with that viewpoint.

BURNETT: I'm sorry. It sounds like what you're saying, though, I want to make it clear. What you're saying is, if the voters choose Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, then you would not want to go with a nominee because Merrick Garland might be less liberal? You would let them pick because the next president picks.

WICKER: What I'm doing is declining to speculate about what might happen right after the presidential election. I hope the American people -- I believe the American people will choose a president in November that will not completely change the direction of the Supreme Court. I think this should be an issue in election. I feel very confident in letting the American people speak to this in November.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Senator Wicker, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, sir.

WICKER: Thank you. Glad to be on.

BURNETT: All right. And OUTFRONT next, breaking news. North Korea firing a ballistic missile. We have a live report. This happening in a moments ago.

As the U.S. declares genocide in Syria, our explosive report tonight from deep inside that danger zone.


[19:41:47] BURNETT: Breaking news: North Korea launching two ballistic missiles moments ago. CNN learning they were fired from a mobile launcher, making it incredibly hard for the U.S. to track.

Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT.

And, Jim, you're hearing now, it's not just one ballistic missile, but two?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Two of them. They're called the Nodong missile. It's a mid-range ballistic missile with a range of several hundred miles. They traveled about 500 miles into the Sea of Japan, but, of course, in the direction of U.S. allied Japan.

As you noted, Erin, fired from mobile launchers, that makes it very difficult for U.S. satellite tracking to pick them up, to pick up preparations for these missile launches. That appears to be the very intention of North Korea using that kind of launcher today.

BURNETT: Right. Using that kind of launcher and they have been trying to put these miniaturized nuclear missile payload on top of these missiles. Perhaps it could reach the United States, right?

SCIUTTO: That's the question. The U.S. intelligence view is they have to assume that North Korea has an untested capability to do that because they haven't seen them conduct a successful test. They don't know for sure that they have it, but they don't know for sure that they don't have it, so they make that assumption.

What is not questioned is that North Korea is making progress on both fronts, in terms of missile technology, range, reliability, but also in terms of the possibility of miniaturizing a nuclear weapon. They're heading in that direction, Erin, and it's extremely concerning to U.S. officials.

BURNETT: Extremely concerning, it doesn't seem like there's ever anything they can do about it.

SCIUTTO: Well, that's the question. They announced unilateral sanctions yesterday just by the U.S. A couple of weeks ago, they got a U.N. Security Council Resolution with China on board for another round of economic sanctions against North Korea. We know those hurt the regime if they're enforced, but have they changed the regime's calculus yet? And the answer is no.

BURNETT: All right. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT next, our exclusive look inside Syria from a courtroom to a hospital bed. No one is safe anywhere.

And on a much lighter note: Jeanne Moos gets to the bottom of a social media mystery. Ted Cruz and his heavy metal doppelganger. Separated at birth?


[19:47:43] BURNETT: A declaration of genocide. Tonight, the United States says that's what's happening inside Syria with hospital, schools, children being slaughtered, mass murder, rape.

Our CNN international correspondent Clarissa Ward went to the front lines. In a CNN exclusive report, she witnessed firsthand some of these atrocities. And I want to warn you -- the report you're about to see does contain graphic images.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's an all-too common sight in rebel-held parts of Syria, the moments after the air strike. Dazed survivors stagger from the rubble, and those still trapped call out for help.

The target this time, the court house in Idlib City, activists say the bombs were Russian.

(on camera): When rebels took this provincial capital of Idlib, they saw it as a crucial opportunity to demonstrate that they could build their own state and they believe that's exactly why the Russians bombed this courthouse, to undermine that effort.

(voice-over): Any civilian infrastructure is a potential target, including hospitals. Last month, four were hit in a single day. One, in the city of Maarrat Numan, was supported by Doctors Without Borders. This is what remains of it now is ruins, and at least 25 people were killed.

Dr. Mazen al-Souad was the general manager. He told us that Russian and regime forces target hospitals cynically and deliberately.

DR. MAZEN AL-SOUAD (through translator): They want to kill the maximum number of people. Also, they want to forbid the area from having medical service. If there is no doctor, no nurse, no hospital, then there is no healthcare for the people and people will flee.

WARD (on camera): Is it possible that they didn't know the building was a hospital?

AL-SOUAD: Everyone knows this is a hospital. There was even a sign that said this is a hospital. But if they didn't know, this is an even bigger disaster because if you are bombing a building like this without knowing it's a hospital, it means you are hitting totally indiscriminately.

[19:50:02] WARD (voice-over): Against the backdrop of this vicious war, Islamist factions have gained the upper hand here, among them al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. The landscape is peppered with signs shunning Western democracy, and urging all men to join the jihad. And one encourages women to cover up completely.

Dr. Fera al-Jundi works at the only hospital still standing in Maarat Numan. He's no militant, but sees this conflict in black and white.

DR. FERA AL-JUNDI (through translator): The whole of the Syrian people is against ISIS and against extremism but we see that the Russians are bombing far from ISIS and they're focused on civilian areas.

WARD: I asked him why he doesn't leave Syria?

AL-JUNDI: If I did that, I would abandon my conscience. This is our country, we can't desert it.

If we left, then we have sold our morals. Who would treat the people? I can very easily leave, but we will remain steadfast.

I am prepared to die rather than to leave. And I will carry on no matter what.

WARD: Carry on in the faint hope that for the next generation of Syrians, it will be better.


BURNETT: I mean, it's just stunning and heartbreaking to watch that on tape. I cannot imagine what it was like to be there.

You asked at the hospital, did they know? Do the Russians know what they are bombing? From what you were able to tell and when you listen to that man, do you think they know that they are bombing hospitals, and schools and courthouses?

WARD: Well, first of all, we did reach out to the Russian ministry of defense. They said they have never bombed any civilian targets and have never killed any civilians.

In terms of did they know that either the regime or Russia -- Russian military, whoever was responsible did not know? There are signs outside saying quite clearly that this is a hospital. And we actually looked at a report by Doctors Without Borders for 2015: 82 medical facilities in rebel-held areas were hit in 2015. That can't be an accident.

BURNETT: And they're listed. It's as if someone went through the list and purposely targeted.

When the United States today, Secretary John Kerry says this is genocide. You've been to Syria multiple times. And this time seeing -- you saw a little boy die in a hospital. We saw that footage the other day.

Do you think this is genocide?

WARD: Well, Secretary of State Kerry was talking specifically about ISIS crimes. And there's no question that those are heinous crimes. They were not including in this genocide delegation or designation, rather, the crimes of Bashar al Assad.

Genocide is a very loaded word, but I can tell you from what I have seen and from talking to the Syrian people that they feel very strongly. That they are the victims of a genocide of systematic killing in order to try to prop up this regime of Bashar al Assad.

BURNETT: What about at the end there? We saw footage of babies, incubators or newborn babies. This is routine medical care. Sometimes it becomes much more than that. But people living, people dying, babies being born.

WARD: Life does go on.

BURNETT: Was there any care at all for any of these people, for these babies?

WARD: There's huge shortages of medical supplies. Dr. Fera al-Jundi who you saw there was complaining that they don't have clean water anymore. So, it makes it very difficult to do surgery. They don't have enough medicines. Aid is just not getting into these areas because the large aid organizations are simply too scared to put their people on the ground.

So, they are trying to cobble together whatever semblance of a health care system that they can. But there's no question that it's not enough for these people.

And you talked about the children, one in three Syrian children has been born in the last five years. That means all they have known, Erin, is death, destruction and war.

BURNETT: Which is -- which is horrible when you think about what that will mean when they grow up.

Thank you so much.

And Jeanne Moos is OUTFRONT next.


[19:58:12] BURNETT: If Ted Cruz's presidential ambitions fail, he may have a future as a rock star. Jeanne Moos explains.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They don't have much in common, the well singer for a heavy metal band and Ted Cruz. Or do they?

MICHAEL SWEET, FRONTMAN, STRYPER: I don't really see the resemblance.

MOOS: But the internet sure does so Michael sweet front man for the band Stryper, surrendered the popular demand and tweeted, "I guess my doppelganger is Ted Cruz? Guess I better cancel the Stryper tour so I can focus on my campaign."

The photo Cruz resembles is of Michael back when he was 22. The two do share the same religion. Stryper is a Christian heavy metal band.

Michael is now joking about his Cruz connection.

SWEET: I really am Ted Cruz. And I have very big hands.

MOOS: Back in the '80s, people mistook him for Boy George. Now they ask --

SWEET: If I'm Billy Ray Cyrus. I get that all the time. Never Ted Cruz.

MOOS: He says he tends to vote Republican, but is still undecided.

This is not the first time that Cruz has been accused of being a twin. Opponents joke that Cruz is the Zodiac Killer, or even -- Grandpa


Cruz admits he can't sing, but he calls his wife and serenades her anyway.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESDIENTIAL CANDIDATE (singig): I just called to say I love you --

MOOS: Michael suggests one of the band's classics can serve as the Cruz campaign song. Rival Donald Trump in mind.

SWEET (singing): To hell with the devil --

MOOS: But for the debatable doppelgangers, we suggest --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You and me together --

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: Disturbing. Thank you so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.