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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz; Secret Terror File; Clinton, Trump Rising; Obama Snubbed By Saudis on Official Visit; Trump Changing Tone?; Sanders Undaunted by Clinton's Lead; Secret Pages Raising Questions About Saudis and 9/11. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 20, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're standing by for a Trump rally set to begin.
Recharging. Bernie Sanders suffers a crushing defeat in New York, goes back to Vermont to recharge, but is vowing to stay in the race all the way to the convention.
A big loss too for Ted Cruz, now conceding a contested convention is his only chance. Have Cruz and Sanders gone from underdogs to spoilers?
Secret terror file. A frosty welcome for President Obama in Saudi Arabia, as debate rages over allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudis. Questions swirling around 28 secret pages in the congressional 9/11 investigation. Do they contain evidence of a Saudi role in the terror attacks?
And Top billing. Harriet Tubman pulls ahead of Andrew Jackson, and she is being added to the $20 bill. Alexander Hamilton dodges a bullet. He will stay on the front of the $10. But what changes are in the works for the back of the bill?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Donald Trump back on the campaign trail tonight fresh from his resounding win in the New York primary. He is about to hold a rally in Maryland, one of five states holding Republican primaries next Tuesday. Trump launching fresh attacks today on his rivals after striking a more presidential tone in his victory speech less than 24 hours ago.
We are following controversy over more than two dozen secret pages in the official congressional investigation into the 9/11 terror attacks. They're under renewed scrutiny right now as Congress weighs a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. Some of them believe the kingdom played a role in the terror attacks and they also think the evidence may be contained in the heavily redacted pages of the investigation.
We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Congressman Jason Chaffetz. And our correspondent and expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's begin with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She has the latest on the Republicans.
Sunlen, Donald Trump claims the race is essentially over after his New York win.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Donald Trump tonight is sending a very clear message that he is ready to move on and move ahead, and saying that Senator Cruz he thinks should be mathematically eliminated from the primary. Senator Cruz saying it is not over yet, while also admitting for the first time today now his only path forward is through a contested convention.
SERFATY (voice-over): Tonight, Donald Trump is taking a victory lap.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had a great night last night in New York.
SERFATY: Keeping his foot on the gas when it comes to rival Ted Cruz.
TRUMP: Lyin' Ted Cruz, lyin' Ted, lies, oh, he lies.
SERFATY: And his potential general election opponent, Hillary Clinton.
TRUMP: I love running against crooked Hillary. I love that. I mean, so much better. Better. Better. Bernie wouldn't be as much fun.
SERFATY: The GOP front-runner boosted his bid for the Republican nomination with a blowout victory Tuesday in his home state.
TRUMP: We don't have much of a race anymore.
SERFATY: Trump swept nearly all of New York's 95 delegates, shutting out Ted Cruz from getting even a single delegate.
TRUMP: I'm a million of votes ahead, millions, million of votes ahead of lyin' Ted Cruz, right?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
DONALD TRUMP: I'm about 300 delegates ahead of lyin' Ted.
SERFATY: He is now making the case that he's the only candidate left in the GOP race with a mathematical shot at winning the nomination.
TRUMP: Senator Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated.
SERFATY: Trump also accusing Cruz of staying in the race just to stand in his way, tweeting -- quote -- "Ted Cruz is mathematically out of winning the race. Now all he can be is a spoiler. Never a nice thing to do."
On the ground in Pennsylvania, Ted Cruz saying, not so fast.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Upon winning his home state, Donald, with a characteristic display of humility, declared this race is over. Manhattan has spoken.
SERFATY: Downplaying the significance of Trump's win.
CRUZ: Everyone knew Donald was going to win his home state. And if you look at the frenzied panic that he wants the race to suddenly be over now that he's won in his home state, it shows why Donald is scared.
SERFATY: But Cruz now concedes that his only path is through a contested convention.
CRUZ: It's headed to a contested convention. And at a contested convention, I will come in with a ton of delegates, Donald will come in with a ton of delegates, and it will be a battle to see who can earn a majority of the delegates elected by the people. Donald Trump is not getting to 1,237. Nobody is getting to 1,237.
SERFATY: John Kasich is also hanging his hopes on a contested convention.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody is going to get enough delegates.
SERFATY: While Trump looks to win the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination before the convention, focusing on a string of five potentially favorable East Coast and Mid-Atlantic states voting next Tuesday and on Indiana the first week of May.
Trump is insisting that the only way he will be denied the nomination is if the game is stacked against him.
TRUMP: It is a rigged, crooked system that's designed so that the bosses can pick whoever they want and that people like me can't run and can't defend you against foreign nonsense.
SERFATY: And while Donald Trump does have a path towards getting to that magic number, 1,237, before the convention, it is such a steep climb for him, according to CNN's calculations, Trump would need to win 58 percent of remaining delegates, Wolf, to do so -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sunlen, thanks very much. Sunlen is in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
As we stand by for that Trump rally in Maryland, let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's there for us tonight.
Jim, Trump's more presidential tone last night didn't last very long. He is back on the attack today. What's the latest?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
After his landslide win in New York, Donald Trump is clearly rolling, but he's also clearly on the attack, as you just said. And today, as Sunlen mentioned, he is hitting two more states on the campaign calender, Indiana earlier today and Maryland in just about an hour from now.
I can tell you, Wolf, there are thousands crammed into this high school gymnasium. But there are thousands more in sort of an astonishing line outside of this venue. As you said, Wolf, that softer tone we heard from Trump last night, that did not extend into today. He referred to Ted Cruz as lyin' Ted, as we heard in Sunlen's piece.
As for Trump's battle cry about the GOP system for allocating delegates is rigged, there's no letting on that front. It's not only the candidate saying that. His surrogates are repeating that line of attack as well. Wolf, we obtained a campaign memo from the Trump campaign. It slams the Republican establishment in no uncertain terms.
We can put this up on screen. It says: "This movement scares the hell out of them and the people scare them, so they will do whatever they can to keep power." The memo goes on to say the system is rigged to allow party insiders to choose delegates and not the people. Wolf, the memo also boldly projects the GOP front-runner will have 1,400 delegates heading into the Republican Convention.
That's a big number that we have not heard from the campaign before. That talking points memo shows also claims that Trump officials are working the delegates across the country just as hard as the other campaigns, namely the Cruz, and they're trying to push back on that narrative that Trump is too unpopular to win. The memo goes on to say look at the sizable negatives for Hillary Clinton. She also has a big popularity problem.
Wolf, so the Trump campaign and Donald Trump himself, they are trying to make the case that popularity does not always equal electability -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, they certainly would be thrilled with that 1,400 delegate count, but they would be very, very happy with 1,237 as well, which is the bare majority you need to get the nomination.
All right, Jim Acosta, he will stand by, and get back to you.
Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us, Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah. He is chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us. REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: You heard -- I assume you heard Trump's victory speech last night. It was brief, only eight minutes, sort of presidential. Spoke about Senator Ted Cruz, didn't talk about lyin' Ted.
BLITZER: But that has all changed today. He is back to lyin' Ted. What's your reaction to that?
CHAFFETZ: He got a night's rest, and got back to business.
And what I love about Donald Trump is, he is always negotiating, he's always putting you back on your heels. And so the Republican Party, we have got to remember, he is bringing millions of more people into the process than we had before. Just look at Nevada. Twice as many people voted than when Mitt Romney ran.
And so we have got to be very careful with this. I am not endorsing him. I'm not endorsing Ted Cruz. I'm staying out of it at this point. But...
BLITZER: John Kasich? What about Kasich?
CHAFFETZ: Look, they can stay in the race as long as they want. You have to go all the way through the finish line.
BLITZER: When you say he is bringing out -- I think there were a record number of Republicans who showed up yesterday in New York and voted and Trump did remarkably well.
But take a look overall. We did a little head count. So far, all the contests, including your home state of Utah, more than 35 or so, so far. Take a look at this. Cumulative votes, Trump has 8,728,000, Cruz 6,393,000, John Kasich 3,180,000. He is up by about 2.3 million votes.
Is it realistic to assume, if he's up by millions of votes, popular votes all over the country, he's up in delegates, and gets very close to 1,237 delegates, can they still deny him the nomination?
CHAFFETZ: It all comes down to voting.
And those delegates have different rules in different states. The Republican Party in general believes in states' rights. And so how they do it in Wyoming or in Utah or in New York is different than they do it in, say, California.
And so when they get to that convention, what I think the party needs to do, they need to clarify those rules. They need to explain, if it does go to a second or third ballot, exactly how that works.
(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: It is pretty clear. It is pretty clear. They can change the rules. There's a week of meetings of the Republican rules committee before the convention, and they can change the rules.
But supposedly 95 percent of those pledged delegates, you have to vote the way they are pledged on the first ballot. The second ballot goes down to about half; 50 percent can become free agents.
CHAFFETZ: I don't think changing the rules at this point is going to go over very well at all.
And so there would be a lot of frustration. But, you know, this is the dynamic that's going make CNN light up on election night because people are going to want to tune in to see how that plays out.
BLITZER: Do you think you could support Donald Trump if he is the nominee?
CHAFFETZ: Oh, I will support the nominee. And I think Republicans will rally, because there's no way that we are going to be supportive of Hillary Clinton becoming the next president of the United States.
If there's one thing that will unite the Republican Party, the independents, and even those disaffected Democrats, it is Hillary Clinton.
BLITZER: He has been the front-runner for months now. He is leading in delegates, almost 300 more delegates than Cruz. He's got 2.3 million more votes.
Normally, in a situation like this, you have somebody doing that well, the party consolidates, they rally around the front-runner and they move on and get ready for a general election. That isn't happening because, what, it is Donald Trump, they don't like Donald Trump?
CHAFFETZ: No, I think he has got a lot to offer. I do think there are a lot of conservatives who have a voice.
And I think, objectively, that Ted Cruz is more conservative than Donald Trump, but, again, we are bringing a lot of new people into the party. There's a lot more enthusiasm there. I went to Nevada, and I saw the enthusiasm gap. There wasn't much enthusiasm there for Hillary Clinton and a Bernie Sanders race.
And so I think Republicans are actually in a pretty good spot. Donald Trump puts people into play that weren't there before.
BLITZER: How do you explain that, the motivation, the base, the impressive -- you have to give him a lot of credit. He has come from being a billionaire real estate guy to being the front-runner and maybe the Republican presidential nominee.
CHAFFETZ: I think authenticity, telling it like it is should be a lesson for everybody that is involved and engaged in politics.
They want somebody who exemplifies their frustration and their anger with this president and how the country is going. I think most people recognize the country is off track, and they want to get it on track. And so when somebody stands up and says, hey, I am going to make America great again, and we're going to stand up to the bullies, whether they be it domestic or internally or foreign, there's a lot to like there.
But Ted Cruz has got a good message, too, and he keeps winning state after state as well. It's going to be a good battle.
BLITZER: Didn't do well in New York.
CHAFFETZ: Didn't do, but nobody expected him to.
BLITZER: Maybe he could have gotten -- he got zero delegates out of the 95. That's pretty sad.
CHAFFETZ: Again, it is Donald Trump's home turf. Everybody expected it. It is the problem Marco Rubio ran into in Florida. You have to win your home state. Each of the three that are left won their home state.
BLITZER: You had endorsed Marco Rubio. You wanted him. He obviously dropped out of the contest.
Some Republicans, some high-profile Republicans are now saying they're going to skip the Republican Convention in Cleveland. They don't want to go, maybe because they don't want to be associated with Donald Trump. What about you? Are you going to go?
CHAFFETZ: I'm actually going to be out of the country. I will be out doing my job.
I trust the voters, they can figure it out. And you know what? I am in Congress. I have got enough of a megaphone. But the voters, they can figure it out. I will let them have at it. But I'm going to be overseas.
BLITZER: Because, normally, people want to go, Republicans want to go to a convention and celebrate the leader of the Republican Party who is the presidential nominee.
CHAFFETZ: I don't know who that is going to be yet.
So, Wolf, we will be watching CNN or whatever.
BLITZER: But it sounds to me -- you haven't endorsed Donald Trump, but it sounds to me like you're getting close to -- I spoke to Chris Collins, one of your Republican colleagues, from New York in the last hour.
He's I think one of the only Republican congressmen who supported Donald Trump so far. But he says on the floor when he's talking to people, they're beginning to see that he is going to be the nominee. They're beginning to come around to that. Are you sensing that?
CHAFFETZ: I think Chris Collins was the first Republican in the House to actually endorse Donald Trump.
Again, what unites us as much as anything is the deep-seated desire, the imperative to beat Hillary Clinton come November. We will get united by the time we get out of the summer and there will be no doubt in our ability and our desire to attract more centrist type of people.
BLITZER: I'm going to ask you what you think Donald Trump needs to do to now unite that Republican Party behind him.
But stand by. We will take a quick break.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz is with us. We will resume the questioning right after this.
BLITZER: We are standing by for a Donald Trump rally that's about to get under way in Maryland, that holding its primary next Tuesday.
In the meantime, we're back with the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah.
What advice would you give Donald Trump? How can he unify, unite the Republican Party behind him, assuming he gets the Republican nomination?
CHAFFETZ: We don't want to be taking friendly-fire. We want to take aim on the Democrats and contrast on policy.
As Paul Ryan says, we have a very aspirational agenda. We need to talk about that. To the extent that whoever the nominee is, that's who I intend to support, then we have to rally behind that and convey that message to the American people and go win those truly independent people.
BLITZER: Put on your hat as the chairman of a key House committee right now.
The Department of Homeland Security inspector general, you probably saw the report released yesterday, that the U.S. Secret Service is strained right now. In their words, employees leaving faster than the agency can hire special agents.
That's pretty shocking, given the responsibility they have to protect the president of the United States, the vice president and their families, all these candidates right now. What was your reaction when you read that report?
CHAFFETZ: Well, it is stunning, because this administration and Secretary Jeh Johnson, they're not making the fundamental changes that they need to.
And we -- myself and Elijah Cummings arm in arm have been investigating this for a long period of time. They're not making those adjustments. The mission panel, the independent group came after the guy in crocks was able to jump the wall, the fence, and get into the White House, the board recommended that they plus up some 300 agents and officers.
But guess what? They have less people now than they did even before then. More than 70 percent of the time, when somebody has a scheduled day off, they get called into work.
BLITZER: Is it a matter of money?
CHAFFETZ: No, no.
BLITZER: Are these candidates, is the president in any danger right now because of this?
CHAFFETZ: I think these agents and officers are extremely overworked, they're tired. You don't want these agents and officers coming in so grumpy.
There's a reason why attrition is at an almost all-time record high. They can't seem to hire them fast enough. They need to do what I think I have suggested, which is let's bring in some U.S. Marshals, FBI agents and others to supplement in an election year.
BLITZER: But does it affect security?
CHAFFETZ: Yes, absolutely. It puts people at vulnerability.
When you have an agent or an officer with a gun near the president, and they're not alert, attentive, and happy, then you have got a situation that could be potentially very dangerous. And you are having to put these people on the road between the presidential candidates in an election year and the president and the first family, and traveling internationally. Huge strain. And they have not solved it.
BLITZER: Saudi Arabia. The president is visiting Saudi Arabia right now, his fourth visit to Saudi Arabia since taking office. He arrived there and apparently they snubbed him at the airport, they didn't send a high-level official. They sent sort of a little regional leader, if you will.
It was seen as a snub. The U.S.-Saudi relationship right now is strained. What do you think needs to be done to fix it?
CHAFFETZ: They're a critical partner.
And you look at proximity with Iran, they're very upset, the Saudis are, that they did the deal with Iran. We have some critical, critical things the we need to work out with Saudi Arabia. As it relates to the information on the 9/11 report, I would vote to open that up. BLITZER: Have you read those 28 pages?
CHAFFETZ: Honestly, that happened before I got into Congress. I have not.
But you know what? We err in this country on the side of openness and transparency. Let the truth take...
BLITZER: But you believe that there was official Saudi involvement in 9/11? We know 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. But do you believe that someone in a high position in the government may have been involved?
CHAFFETZ: I hope not, but I don't know. And I want to be able to read that report, just as you and the rest of the American people should be able to look at that. Truth is going to surface. And let's vote for openness and transparency wherever that may take us.
BLITZER: And this legislation now that potentially would allow American citizens to sue the Saudi government, the president says he is going to veto it. Where do you stand?
CHAFFETZ: A, I would vote to open it up to be able to read it. And, B, I do think they should be able to do that. Relief through the courts is part of the American way.
BLITZER: Jason Chaffetz, thanks very much for coming in.
CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: The congressman from Utah. Always good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We are standing by for Donald Trump's campaign rally in Maryland. It's getting under way. We expect to hear from the Republican presidential front-runner pretty soon.
Plus, Hillary Clinton, is she in the home stretch to the Democratic nomination after her big win in New York?
BLITZER: Protesters and supporters in Berlin, Maryland, not far from Ocean City, Maryland, they're there, face to face. Donald Trump getting read to address a big rally inside. These are live pictures coming in from the protesters and the supporters. They're clearly beginning to gather there.
Let's get some more on the Republican race.
Joining us, our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and "Washington Post" assistant editor David Swerdlick.
Gloria, this leaked internal memo, these talking points that we saw the Trump campaign that we got a hold of, they predict they're going to get -- that he is going to get well past 1,237, the number of delegates needed on the first ballot to get the Republican nomination. They think they can actually -- he could get 1,400. Is that realistic or bravado?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think 1,400 may be a little high, but truth of the matter is, Wolf, after Trump's victory last night in which he got a lion's share of the delegates -- I don't know what it turned out to be, 89 or 90 out of 95 delegates, and he is going into a whole host of states in the Northeast, you know, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, would look really good for him.
I think Donald Trump is the only one who has any mathematical possibility of getting to that 1,237 number before the convention. If he doesn't get to 1,237, he may get close enough so that he can convince enough uncommitted superdelegates, and there are somewhere between 150 and 200 of them, to vote for him and get over the finish line.
BLITZER: The Republicans have 5 percent of these what the Democrats call superdelegates that are available, 95 percent of threat pledged delegates.
Last night, in his victory speech, Jeff, it was brief, eight minutes, concise, very presidential, if you will, a different tone, Senator Cruz, not lyin' Cruz.
Today, he went back in a speech in Indiana to the lyin' -- lyin' Ted and all of that kind of stuff. What's going on over here?
[18:30:10] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what's going on is he still needs to win some primary votes out there. These primary voters in Indiana and other places, they like the Donald Trump that has come before them. They're not ready for President Trump, if that should happen. They want this red meat.
So I think that, you know, Wolf, I think we have to give it a little bit more time to see how he calibrates this, you know, so-called presidential Trump versus candidate Trump. And if he went out there suddenly sounding like he was a person of Washington, I think that's not the red meat that they want.
But I do think last night was a turning point. You just see the whole campaign becoming maybe a little bit more grown up, a little bit more elevated here. The whole operation in terms of delegates, in terms of the campaign structure. So this is a different Donald Trump.
I mean, we'll -- we have to give it a few more speeches to see how far he goes. But he's pivoting already to how he's going to take on Hillary Clinton and others. Why should he spend his time sort of in the mud with Ted Cruz? He's doing it a little bit to get people going here, but it's a shift. BLITZER: But you've got to give him credit: it's worked so far over
these many months going back to June, the Lyin' Ted, Crooked Hillary, all of that kind of stuff. It got him this far, so I assume he wants to finish it off.
SWERDLICK: Yes. Trump's not going to hesitate to pull that back out if he needs it. Jeff's right. They tried to tone it down. The victory speech night -- I think it was in Iowa -- and that didn't really sell well. And so they went back to red meat. They went back to -- they didn't have Lyin' Ted and Little Marco at that time, but there were the insults, the bombasts. Trump's brand of this sort of non-ideological, non-socially conservative Republicanism just wears better in New York. It's his home state. It's going to wear better in these next northeastern states. So he can afford to...
BLITZER: You think he'll do well in the next five states next Tuesday when Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island...
SWERDLICK: Connecticut, Delaware. Yes. This is just much more fertile ground for him and much less fertile ground for Ted Cruz and his brand of Republican.
BLITZER: And now, even Ted Cruz is acknowledging mathematically he can't get to that 1,237. Kasich for a while can't get to it. Only Trump can get to it. But these other two Republican candidates say they're staying in to prevent him so it can go to a contested convention.
BORGER: Right. And you don't hear Cruz saying to Kasich, "Get out of the race" anymore, because he kind of wants to keep Kasich in the race.
And look, Cruz is playing an inside game now. And he understands that his only shot is a second ballot. And he -- if Trump loses on the first ballot, he believes that all bets are off.
But I think, in talking to people inside the Trump campaign, that they believe that Cruz's case becomes weaker if the margin is larger. And if Trump is ahead of Cruz, even if he doesn't cross that finish line, but if this margin is a couple hundred ahead of Cruz, then how can Cruz make that case credibly to delegates that he's the choice of the people?
So what the Trump people are trying to do is just rack up the wins. And, you know, I think it's going to come down to states like Indiana, which Cruz has a shot at, and California. Paul Manafort last night, who's a Trump person, said that, if Cruz doesn't win Indiana, he ought to get out. So he kind of laid that out.
ZELENY: Don't forget Nebraska. Nebraska comes between the two. And that is the key. Indiana, Nebraska, you add those together...
ZELENY: ... that could be a big boon for Ted Cruz.
ZELENY: There are some of these scattered late primaries that are still important. But you sort of feel like we sort of see where this is going. The Republican leaders still say...
BLITZER: A lot of delegates at stake in California...
BLITZER: ... New York, Pennsylvania, with all due respect to your home state of Nebraska.
ZELENY: But you add -- if you add Indiana and Nebraska together, that's big for Ted Cruz, and that's a real primary. That's not -- this is what Donald Trump has been talking about, not backroom conventioneering; that's a primary. So you know, these -- every delegate matters, and these big, you know, red states, I think are important.
But look, going into California, Ted Cruz knows the math. And interesting what you said: He's no longer asking John Kasich to get out.
ZELENY: They're trying to -- he needs all the reinforcements he can get...
ZELENY: ... to keep Donald Trump from going there.
BLITZER: That's the only hope there, is to go to second ballot and -- and see what happens in Cleveland.
Stand by, guys. We are showing viewers live pictures. Donald Trump getting ready to attend a rally in Maryland. Maryland holds its primary next Tuesday. There are supporters of Donald Trump, lots of them, and protesters there. Police are in between. We're watching what's going on. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: A dramatic change in the Democratic race for the White House after Hillary Clinton's commanding win in the New York primary. But her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, insisting that, despite her insurmountable lead, he'll challenge her all the way to the convention.
Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, has the latest. Jeff, New York -- New York was a huge loss for Bernie Sanders.
ZELENY: Wolf, a huge loss indeed, particularly in a state where Sanders had once talked about winning. They didn't manage expectations very well. But now Bernie Sanders must decide what's next. He took the day off today in Vermont, saying he needed to recharge.
But Democratic leaders are increasingly concerned about his tone. They're worried about how he'll damage Hillary Clinton as she makes it to the fall campaign.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The race for the Democratic nomination is in the home stretch, and victory is in sight.
[18:40:05] ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton looking ahead, a triumph at home in New York cementing her position once again as the likely Democratic nominee. An intense battle with Bernie Sanders suddenly giving way to an olive branch.
CLINTON: To all the people who supported Senator Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us.
ZELENY: Sanders insists he's not going anywhere, telling supporters in a fundraising appeal today, "We still have a path to the nomination, and our plan is to win the pledged delegates in the primary."
But just saying it doesn't make it so. The map, always a challenge, is now a firm roadblock for Sanders. Those big crowds who rallied across New York raised expectations for a punishing 16-point defeat. Tonight, Clinton leads by 253 pledged delegates. With super delegates she moves closer to the magic number of 2,383 to clinch the Democratic nomination.
Sanders advisors concede the campaign fell short.
TAD DEVINE, SENIOR MEDIA ADVISOR, SANDERS CAMPAIGN: We're a little farther behind in delegates than where we hoped to be.
ZELENY: After a raucous election-night at Penn State University, filled with blistering attacks on Clinton...
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Secretary Clinton has given speeches behind closed doors to Wall Street firms for $225,000 a speech. Must be an earth-shattering speech!
ZELENY: A subdued Sanders arrived home to Vermont, where he said he intended to recharge and rest, but not rethink his campaign.
SANDERS: No. We think we have the message that is resonating throughout this country. We have come a long, long way. We have taken on the entire Democratic political establishment.
ZELENY: The Democratic establishment is growing restless, worrying Sanders could be a spoiler by attacking Clinton's honesty and integrity. Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for Clinton, told reporters Sanders "has been destructive and is not productive to Democrats." Particularly suggesting Clinton is corrupt, a line of attack Republicans are already seizing on.
For now, Clinton is taking a more subtle approach.
CLINTON: Under the bright lights of New York, we have seen that it's not enough to diagnose problems. You have to explain how you'd actually solve the problems.
ZELENY: But making clear her eye is once again on November.
CLINTON: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are pushing a vision for America that's divisive and, frankly, dangerous.
ZELENY: The Clinton campaign is pivoting ever so gently to the fall campaign, at least privately. But after next week's contests, advisers believe they will have an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates.
There is a sense of urgency here, too, tonight. She needs to start preparing her image. Her negative attributes outweigh her positive ones by 24 points. If she does become the Democratic nominee, she's far more bruised than she ever would have imagined -- Wolf.
BLITZER: She's moving ahead. Gloria, how does Hillary Clinton's big win in New York yesterday change the dynamics of this race?
BORGER: Well, as Jeff was saying, she's now the prohibitive favorite. She wins with Democrats. Bernie Sanders can't win unless he starts winning with Democrats. This was a closed primary. He didn't have independent voters. The primaries that are coming up are closed, as well. That's a problem for Bernie Sanders. Maybe he'll do OK in Rhode Island.
But, you know, I do think that she becomes the prohibitive favorite. She -- she runs like a Democrat in diverse urban areas. That's where she wins. And that's how you win the presidency if you're a Democrat.
So I think his hill just became a lot steeper to climb afterwards.
BLITZER: His real only hope is to start flipping those so-called super delegates. Fifteen percent of all the delegates at the Democratic convention of Philadelphia are super delegates, more than 700. Right now, by our estimate, Hillary Clinton has almost 500. He has about 50 or so. So he's got to start convincing these super delegates to flip.
ZELENY: Right. And he thinks he can do that by saying he's a better general election candidate, that he's a stronger candidate against Donald Trump, because he can bring in independents, because he can bring in all these new voters here.
But the difference here from 2008, when some super delegates switched, they went to the winner, not the person who was behind in pledged delegates here. So it is an uphill battle for him.
The real question facing Bernie Sanders at this point is how he conducts his campaign the rest of the time. Does he become a protest candidate who has a message to deliver, or does he become someone who sort of blows up the process here?
He's not been that candidate all along. He's not shown that he wants to sort of destroy this process. He wants Democrats to hold onto the White House. But it's a moment of reflection for Bernie Sanders, and he has the supporters out there, too, who do not like Hillary Clinton, and they want him to win.
[18:45:00] BLITZER: It was clearly evident at that debate that we had in Brooklyn the other day.
David, as you know, yesterday, in the speech at Penn State before the final outcome, he was very tough on Hillary Clinton. Today, he's resting, recharging his batteries, as he says, in his home in Vermont. Tomorrow, he's going to go back out on the campaign trail. We'll be watching closely his tone, how tough he's going to be on her. That's going to be significant, isn't it?
SWERDLICK: Yes, I think tone is right. The Clinton camp and other Democrats have already started sending out messages that they would like to see him tone it down and try and recognize that at some point, Democrats will have to unify. But at the same time, I actually think that the Clinton camp would be OK if he still comes after her on policy, as long as it is not personal.
They had trouble -- the Clinton camp has had trouble when they tried to pivot to Trump before, like in December, when they rolled out, trying to call Trump sexist. It seems to me they've done well sparring sort of with Sanders for awhile, and they may want to continue that until the convention.
BORGER: You know, as you saw up close during your debate, Wolf, Bernie Sanders gets under her skin, and it's very -- it's been in the past, pretty difficult for her to kind of just swipe it away and not pay much attention to it.
I think she's going to try to do that more and more, and not get engaged in these battles over who's qualified, who's got judgment, because it doesn't do her any good. I also don't think it does Bernie Sanders any good. But he's got to get those young voters enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton. That's going to be his job.
BLITZER: It's going to be pretty tough.
Jeff, she's got an ad about gun control out now referring to what happened in Sandy Hook. Let me play a little clip there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CLINTON CAMPAIGN)
ERICA SMEGIELSKI, DAUGHTER OF DAWN HOCHSPRUNG: My wedding was one of the last things I planned with my mom. It was a very bittersweet day. My mom was the principal of sandy hook school. She was murdered trying to protect the children in her care from the gunmen.
No one is fighting harder to reform our gun laws than Hillary Clinton. She's the only candidate that has what it takes to take on the gun lobby. She reminds me of my mother. She isn't scared of anything. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am Hillary Clinton,
and I approved this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It's going to be a pretty powerful ad, especially in Connecticut, which is one of the five states next Tuesday that has a primary.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No doubt. I mean, I have seen out there on the campaign trail, Erica has been campaigning with her, she's a powerful advocate. I mean, that is a very raw subject.
The challenge is everyone's mind is made up on this subject. It's very hard to move people.
But the gun issue is something that Bernie Sanders was at odds with the Democratic electorate in New York, he held his ground at the debate. So, I think in Connecticut, this is a sensitive issue.
Going forward Bernie Sanders is not where Democrats are on the issue in some respects. They agree on most things, but that ad -- it's hard to imagine a more powerful image than that.
BLITZER: Very powerful, indeed.
David, shifting gears, the $20 bill. I know, you have been in favor of Harriet Tubman being, replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Guess what they announced tonight?
SWERDLICK: Yes, no. Harriet Tubman is going to be on the $20 bill. I really enjoyed having that opportunity a year ago to write about that and now, it's happening.
You know, I understand the arguments that people have made against it, right? Some people say leave well enough alone with Andrew Jackson, others say we like Harriet Tubman, but why is the $20 bill the way to do it. But it seems to me that whether or not she had full citizenship or full human rights in her time, she is as much as anyone, an American hero. And that's how we honor our heroes.
BLITZER: And you're happy about that?
BLITZER: Hamilton, he survives on the $10 bill.
BORGER: Survives. He is on Broadway. OK?
BLITZER: Have you seen Hamilton on Broadway?
BORGER: Not yet. I am dying to see it.
BORGER: We're going to go all when the election is over.
BLITZER: And he dodged a bullet on that $10 bill.
BORGER: All right, guys. Thanks very much.
Just ahead, secret pages in Congress's 9/11 investigation. What information do they contain about Saudi Arabia and the deadliest attacks in U.S. history.
[18:53:30] BLITZER: All right. Listen to this. We're monitoring the crowds gathering outside of Donald Trump rally in Maryland right now. There are supporters, there are also protesters. They're facing off with police in between ahead of Trump's first event since winning the New York primary. It's actually a second event, earlier one in Indiana today. This is the second event.
We're also following growing tension on a very, very different story right now between the United States and one of its most important Middle East allies, Saudi Arabia. President Obama is there tonight, but he was apparently snubbed upon his arrival.
Our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, is traveling with the president.
Michelle, the U.S.-Saudi relationship definitely right now showing some serious signs of strain.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf.
And, in fact, this is President Obama's fourth trip to the kingdom. He's made more trips here than any other U.S. president ever. It's also his last trip.
So, it was interesting to see him arrive and King Salman was not there to greet him, even though the king had been there earlier to greet other leaders coming from Gulf States.
The White House is pushing back on this, though. They said originally the plan was to have a bigger ceremony and a lunch with the king. But the White House decided to arrive later in the day.
So, they're not calling this a snub. In fact, they came out of the bilateral meeting with the king this afternoon, feeling really good about it. The White House says this was unusual, and they don't think they have had a similar such meeting with the Saudis before. It was more than two hours long.
They said it was broad. It was not perfunctory, as these things often are. In fact, they're calling it a big clearing of the air on many of those issues that have caused so much tension between these countries.
[18:55:07] And that's not to say that solutions came out of this on the big differences that remain, or that even every detail was discussed. I mean, that glaring Saudi threat they would dump nearly a trillion dollars in U.S. assets if legislation were passed that would allow American terror victims to sue the Saudi government, the White House says that didn't come up. What did come up was Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen.
Even that magazine article that came out recently in "The Atlantic" in which President Obama raised concerns over whether he even sees Saudi Arabia as a legitimate ally, over whether he thinks Saudi Arabia is pulling its weight in the fight against ISIS. The White House sees this, at least, as some progress in the relationship if not on the big differences that still divide these two, Wolf.
BLITZER: Michelle Kosinski reporting from Saudi Arabia, she's traveling with the president. Thank you.
And as she just noted, the president's visit comes amid serious efforts by families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government. Some believe the country may have played a role in the terror attacks and there may be evidence in more than two dozen secret pages of an official U.S. investigation.
Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is working this story for us.
Jim, it's causing a lot of strains right now, additional strains, in this critically important relationship.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question. You heard Michelle there say White House officials claiming that they cleared the air on these many differences they have. But the question of these 28 pages is particularly explosive, because it revives lingering allegations that some senior Saudi officials either knew about or helped fund the al Qaeda in advance of the 9/11 attacks. And this tension is something the president felt the moment he landed in Riyadh.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): If an official reception can speak a thousand words, today's greeting for President Obama in Riyadh by the foreign minister, rather than the Saudi head of state, might perfectly capture the troubled state of U.S.-Saudi relations. No one among the dozens of American and Saudi officials involved can ignore that the state visit comes as the U.S. Senate considers a rare bipartisan bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It's very simple. If the Saudis were complicit, if the Saudi government was complicit in terrorism, then they should pay the price.
SCIUTTO: At the center of the family's case are 28 heavily redacted pages of the congressional investigation into 9/11. Which detail allegations that wealthy Saudis tied to the royal family funded al Qaeda in the run up to the 9/11 attacks.
Former senator, Bob Graham, served on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and supports the legislation.
BOB GRAHAM (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: There are literally thousands of documents that provide some insight as to the Saudis' role in 9/11. And my position is, all that information should be made available to the public.
SCIUTTO: The Saudi position remains that the 9/11 Commission already exonerated the government of Saudi Arabia.
PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL, FORMER SAUDI INTELLIGENCE CHIEF: If you look at the commission report, it deals specifically with Saudi Arabia's role, that there was not a Saudi role nor any official role in this situation.
SCIUTTO: And to highlight its opposition, the Saudis are now threatening to sell nearly $1 trillion in U.S. assets if the law passes, ostensibly to protect those assets from being frozen in any potential lawsuits. For his part, President Obama says he has a, quote, "sense" of what's in those 28 pages, but opposes the legislation, arguing it would put the U.S. at risk.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are also opening up the United States to being continually sued by individuals in other countries.
SCIUTTO: For victims' families, however, it's simply about justice delayed.
LORIE VAN AUKEN, WIDOW OF 9/11 VICTIM: So watch the president sitting with the people of Saudi Arabia that may have funded the attacks that killed my husband and 3,000 others is very hard to watch.
SCIUTTO: Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of victims of terrorism in cases against the state of Iran by a 6-2 vote. The court clearing the way for them to collect nearly $2 billion from Iran's central bank, money that's currently held in New York. That ruling has no legal bearing on the Saudi victims' legislation, which I should note, Wolf, the president has hinted he might veto if it passes both Houses of Congress.
BLITZER: Yes, it's getting closer and closer to passage. It's got a lot of bipartisan, Democratic and Republican support. But the administration, Jim, they adamantly oppose it. They fear it could backfire, hurt U.S. diplomats, is that right?
SCIUTTO: That's right, diplomats, our soldiers, imagine a drone strike that kills civilians, bringing on cases like this really across the world. That's the administration position.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Jim Sciutto, reporting for us. Thank you.
Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Please tweet me @wolfblitzer. You can also tweet the show @CNNSitroom. Please be sure to join us right here tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
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