Return to Transcripts main page


No Endorsement After Ryan Meets Trump; Russia Building Powerful new Nuclear Missile; North Korea's Kim Jong-Un Gets a Boost from Party Congress. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 12, 2016 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, party divided. The GOP starts picking up the pieces after Donald Trump's primary campaign. The presumptive nominee meets with the House speaker, Paul Ryan. But is there a meeting of the minds, and why isn't Ryan ready to offer an endorsement?

[17:00:23] Common ground. While Republicans are vowing to reach unity, there are still deep splits on several major issues. So where and how can they find agreement? I'll ask the party chairman, Reince Priebus.

New arms race. As the U.S. deploys a missile defense system in Europe, Russia deploys a powerful missile with multiple nuclear warheads. What's behind the Cold War-style build-up?

And no sibling rivalry. As Kim Jong-un's regime gains more power, his younger sister gets a powerful new position. How much influence does she hold in the communist regime?

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

The Republican Party started putting itself back together after Donald Trump's disruptive primary campaign left the GOP bitterly divided. The presumptive nominee came to Washington to meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other party leaders. Ryan, who last week sent out shock waves when he said on CNN he wasn't ready to support Trump, apparently still isn't ready. Ryan called the talks a good start but gained no endorsement after their meeting.

There were pledges all around to preserve party unity, but many mainstream Republicans still differ with Trump on key issues. And others take strong exception to his strong rhetoric and nasty tone out there on the campaign trail.

For his part, Trump tweeted after the meetings -- and I'm quoting him now -- "Things working out really well," exclamation point.

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

Let's begin with our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, they met face-to-face, but they still don't necessarily see eye to eye. JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

Donald Trump is all but declaring victory after his performance on Capitol Hill earlier today, but he left Washington without the critical endorsement of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

And Senate Republicans are openly saying Trump needs to tone down his act. But at least they're all using the same word, "unity."


ACOSTA (voice-over): It was, as expected, a circus as Donald Trump came to Washington in search of a GOP big tent large enough to held his renegade campaign and the party establishment he hopes to win over.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I thought he has a very good personality. He's a very warm and genuine person.

ACOSTA: First up, House Speaker Paul Ryan is still holding back his endorsement of Trump, but as he hinted, perhaps not for long.

RYAN: I think this is going in a positive direction, and I think this is a first, very encouraging meeting. But again, in 45 minutes, you don't litigate all of the processes, all of the issues and the principles that we are talking about.

ACOSTA: Trump shied away from media scrums but tweeted "Great day in D.C. with Speaker Ryan and Republican leadership. Things working out really well."

But Kumbaya on the Capitol it was not.

RYAN: There are policy disputes that we will have. There's no two ways about it.

ACOSTA: While aides say their meeting was not heated, Ryan indicated they remain split on critical issues. Trump, to many Republicans, sounds like a Democrat on Social Security and Medicare.

TRUMP: It's my absolute intention to leave Social Security the way it is. Not increase the age and to leave it as is.

RYAN: Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.

The best way to do it is reform it for my generation.

ACOSTA: When Trump ventured to the Senate side of the Capitol, there were no reasons for optimism but also some disagreements. Trump tweeted that his meeting with Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was great. But Texas Senator John Cornyn told reporters he confronted Trump on his rhetoric on immigration.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: There is a way to talk about these issues that people don't find offensive but yet still make the point that we're all for a secure border. ACOSTA: All day long, Democrats, eager to take back control of

Congress, were out to exploit the GOP's divisions. Pro-immigration groups even delivered taco bowls to members of Congress to mock Trump's Cinco de Mayor tweet about his love for Mexican food and Hispanics.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid went further.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Since the Republican leader's all in for Donald Trump, we can only assume he approves Trump's calling immigrants "rapists and murderers." Since Senator McConnell has so enthusiastically embraced Trump, we can only assume he agrees with Trump's view that women are dogs and pigs.


ACOSTA: But the Trump campaign is feeling better after today's Capitol Hill primary. Ryan's endorsement was never expected today, one Trump aide told me. And another official said that endorsement is just a matter of time, adding that Ryan is expected to jump on board fairly soon, as he still has a lot of members to appease.

And Wolf, we should mention one more meeting that Donald Trump held earlier today. That is with former secretary of state James Baker. A Baker spokesman confirms that happened earlier today -- Wolf.

[17:05:07] BLITZER: Interesting. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta.

Let's bring in our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. Dana, you just returned from Capitol Hill. Take us a little bit behind the scenes. What are you learning?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That for the most part, people really thought that this was successful in that even those who are very much not in Trump's camp, never wanted him to be even close to being the nominee, understand that, for the good of their party, and ultimately beating Hillary Clinton, that this has to happen. There has to be a united front and, particularly, Wolf, when it comes to Paul Ryan.

Because just even, again, walking the halls, talking to people who really, really like Ryan, they were concerned that what Ryan did here on CNN last week would hurt Republicans. Perhaps even hurt their majority, which is a 30-seat majority in the House, because a lot of their districts are really ruby red and really pro-Trump. So they really felt that, even though Ryan didn't endorse, he took an important step to try to bring the party together.

BLITZER: So is there consensus among the Republican leadership in the House and in the Senate, for that matter, that these meetings were a success?

BASH: That there were definitely was an important first step, because, remember, Donald Trump really didn't know most of these people. But I'll tell you one really interesting fact that I learned today was

how much of a role Reince Priebus, the RNC chair, seemed to have behind the scenes over the past week and a half in bringing this together. He got a lot of push back over the past many, many months from a lot of Republicans in the way he handled Donald Trump. But because he kept an open line of communication, I'm told, by people outside of the RNC with Donald Trump, established a relationship with him, they really have a sense of trust in one another.

He was able to talk to Donald Trump all last week, work him through the process of helping get him here today and then obviously did the same kind of thing with Paul Ryan, who is a long-time friend of Reince Priebus. So in many ways, Reince Priebus is the unsung hero of this.

BLITZER: Yes. And he was the only other person in that meeting between Ryan and Trump. It was Reince Priebus. He's got that Wisconsin connection...

BASH: Precisely.

BLITZER: ... with the speaker of the House as well. All right. Dana, thanks very much.

Speaking of Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, joins us now live. Reince, thanks very much for joining us.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, RNC: Hey, thank you, Wolf. Appreciate it.

BLITZER: So why isn't the speaker yet ready to endorse Donald Trump?

PRIEBUS: Well, I think, you know, it's very sincere in that most people -- and I think even Donald Trump would agree with this, people thought this thing had another 30 days in it. And I guess people were hoping that they were going to be able to kick the tires a little bit longer and get their -- their talking points and their positions straight by the time this happened, and suddenly, it happened. So now a lot of folks are just faced with the position of, "Hey, I want to get to know Donald Trump. I want to see if we're on the same page on a few things."

Today was a great day for that to happen between Paul Ryan and Donald Trump, and I can only describe it as extremely positive. And if you saw Paul Ryan's press conference afterwards, I think that pretty much says the whole story. It was a very encouraging day for the party.

BLITZER: Yes, he said it was a great meeting, too. They did issue that joint statement at the same time.

But he also said the speaker still has to get, in his words, into the weeds on several sensitive policy issues, issues where he clearly disagrees with Donald Trump. And he and his aides have spoken of some of these issues. Here's Donald Trump articulating positions that clearly the speaker doesn't like. Listen to this.


(via phone): This is the United States government. First of all, you never have to default, because you print the money. I hate to tell you. OK?

(on camera): We're out of control. We have no idea who's coming into our country. We have no idea if they love us, or if they hate us. We have no idea if they want to bomb us. Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.

I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words. Folks, we're going to build a wall. Believe me.


BLITZER: I know you're not going to give us all the details of what happened behind closed doors, but did they resolve some of those significant differences during the course of, what, your nearly one- hour meeting today?

PRIEBUS: Well, suffice it to say that there was a lot of agreement on most issues, and so there's a whole lot more they agreed on than disagreed. And I think that's why it was such a positive meeting.

[17:10:03] I think you've seen Donald Trump even kind of clarify some of those positions that you've just run in that montage.

So I think you're seeing a person that is starting, really, to move into the general election mode and getting it and really working hard at being someone that can unify the party but also going after Hillary Clinton. And I don't think that we're going to have to worry about Donald Trump pulling any punches against Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: What did he clarify?

PRIEBUS: Well, I'm not going to get in -- I hate to spoil the fun, Wolf, but I'm not going to get into the details, because that wouldn't be, really, my role, and I have to respect the confidences of the meeting.

I can just tell you that there was a lot of agreement on almost all things that were discussed. But, you know, they're going to continue talking, and it was cooperative, good-spirited meeting with good chemistry. And I can just tell you I don't think it could have turned out any better.

BLITZER: Apparently, Donald Trump charmed a lot of people, a lot of Republicans in Washington today, if you listen to some of the statements from people who emerged from those meetings. But as you know, just a few days ago, he issued a statement saying he couldn't necessarily support the speaker's agenda. That was a pretty bold statement after the speaker told Jake Tapper he couldn't necessarily yet endorse Donald Trump.

So the question is, what happens next? Where do you guys go from here?

PRIEBUS: Well, that's going to be up to the speaker and Donald Trump, Wolf. But I do know that they're committed to working together quickly. Perhaps even as soon as tomorrow or the next day and getting some more conversation started between the two of them. And I know that they're both committed to that and that's a positive thing, as well.

But it's now in their hands, and you know, my role is to do whatever I can within the realm of reason to build and unify and bring people together. And I think today was a good start of that.

BLITZER: Can Donald Trump win over some of the key groups that you -- and you're the Republican leader -- you know you have to win over to recapture the White House: women, minorities, young people? Does he have that ability nationwide to go find those supporters?

PRIEBUS: Well, I think he's got the ability, and we also have the ability here at the RNC. I mean, that's why we're trying to put people every ten blocks in black and Hispanic and Asian communities with people that are working around the clock and getting to know voters, talking about issues that we believe in, registering voters, identifying turnout. All the mechanics. I know a lot of the boring stuff.

But this is what a competent national party does. And then, obviously, tone and tenor matters, and I think Donald Trump understands that, too. And that's something that also has to continue. And so I'm confident that people understand what needs to get done, and I'm looking forward to that happening.

BLITZER: So you think he could bring in some of those minority voters?

PRIEBUS: Absolutely. I mean, you look at the turnout across -- within our own primary. I know it's not -- it's not transferable to a general, but certainly you see that. You see that promise in black and Hispanic communities.

Now, I think as a party, we've done much better. And if you look at 2014, how we did in Colorado, with Cory Gardner almost winning the Hispanic vote, 28 percent of the black vote in Ohio. It didn't just happen on its own. We worked hard at that. And we just have to do better as a party. I'm committed to it. It's one of my cornerstones as chairman, is to be committed on a year-round basis to reaching out to black and Hispanic voters. And I want to do better. I've worked hard to try to do better, and I'm hoping that this fall will be an improvement. BLITZER: One final question, because I know you've got to run. On

the whole issue of funding the campaign, he almost completely self- funded his primary effort. He managed to win the Republican, for all practical purposes, presidential nomination. But where do you, as the leader of the Republican Party, and he work together now. You're going to have to raise, what, a billion dollars. How do you do that?

PRIEBUS: Well, I don't know what the number is going to be, Wolf. I mean, we didn't -- we didn't raise that through the RNC during the Romney campaign, and that had been going on through -- for 18 months, not self-funded. So I don't know what the number is going to be.

But usually, you have a joint fundraising agreement, where you take the amount of money that a campaign can raise and the amount of money the party can raise, which is a much bigger number, and you combine those two buckets and other entities. And you come up with one joint fundraising agreement that you file with the Federal Election Commission. And that's all negotiated and discussed, and we're actually in the middle of that right now.

BLITZER: Reince Priebus, who's got a tough job as the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Reince, thanks very much for joining us.

PRIEBUS: You bet. Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

When we come back, we'll speak to a key Donald Trump supporter and a whole lot more information coming in as we speak. We'll be right back.


[17:19:22] BLITZER: We're following today's extraordinary meeting between Donald Trump and congressional Republicans. They gathered behind closed doors to look for common ground as they discuss how to bridge the significant differences between Trump and some of the factions of the Republican Party.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania. He's a key Donald Trump supporter.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: Wasn't your reaction to today's meeting?

BARLETTA: I think it was good. You know, obviously, Speaker Ryan and Donald Trump need to get to know each other; and that was important to Speaker Ryan. And I was glad that Donald Trump came and reached out, and they met. From what I understand, it was a good meeting.

BLITZER: Do you think it was wrong -- and I know you strongly support Donald Trump -- that the speaker has still not been able, from his perspective, to endorse Donald Trump?

BARLETTA: I don't think there's any question that any -- every Republican here in Washington should be behind our nominee. You know, I haven't been shy about talking about it, because what's the option? There's nobody behind door No. 3. We know who is behind door No. 1, and that's Hillary Clinton.

I don't know how anyone here can believe that allowing Hillary Clinton to pick the Supreme Court justice, the secretary of homeland security, health and human services and all the other agencies would be better for Republicans.

You know, I think -- you know, I understand it was a tough primary, but Donald Trump is clearly the choice of the people; and we need to get behind them now.

BLITZER: He did get almost 11 million votes in all the Republican primaries and caucuses, a lot more than anyone else got. But I guess I still ask -- I still want to know, why do you believe -- and you're a Republican congressman, the speaker still can't formally say, "I endorse you"?

BARLETTA: You know, I can't -- I can't speak for him. I understand that many here were vested in other candidates and supported other candidates, and it was a very hard-fought primary.

But that being said, what's important for the Republican Party is to have a Republican president, regardless if it's the person that you favored or not. And so I really hope that we can get this behind us real soon and realize that there is no other choice for Republicans here other than Donald Trump. I mean, we need to have a Republican in the president -- in the White House if we want to change the direction that the country is going. Being reluctant to get behind him I don't think helps us.

BLITZER: What do you think are the two biggest or three biggest differences between the speaker and Donald Trump?

BARLETTA: Well, you know, Paul Ryan is really a policy wonk. I mean, he just loves to get into the weeds of policy, and he has an agenda that's very important to him, and that's good. You know, it's good that he has that direction. And that will be very helpful to Donald Trump.

And I think in his own mind, he wanted to be sure that Donald Trump is on the same page of what that agenda is and that the Republican principles that matter are something that's a priority for him.

That being said, this could be a great combination of Paul Ryan, who is a policy junket [SIC], just loves policy, that would drive that agenda, and Donald Trump, who's a people person who has really connected with the American people. I think, you know, once they get together, it's going to be a good team.

BLITZER: Let's see if they can. They made an important step forward today, clearly by both accounts, but they're still not there yet. Congressman Lou Barletta, thanks very much for joining us.

BARLETTA: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, our political experts standing by. They'll take a closer look at the Republicans' great divide. Can Donald Trump bring his party together?

Plus, Russia's Vladimir Putin showing off a powerful new missile raising deep concerns here in the United States and among U.S. allies.


[17:27:27] BLITZER: Here in Washington today, Donald Trump met with House and Senate Republican leaders, confronting their differences, and agreeing to work together toward understanding each other's positions.

But after all of that, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, still refusing to fully endorse Donald Trump, telling reporters he doesn't want, quote, "a fake unification process."

Let's bring in our political experts: CNN political commentator Ana Navarro; our politics executive editor, Mark Preston; our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin; and our CNN political commentator, the Atlantic Media contributing editor, Peter Beinart. Guys, thanks very much for joining us.

Ana, your reaction to what we just heard from Reince Priebus, that clearly there are still differences, but they've made some important strides?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have to tell you, I think Reince Priebus is doing yeoman's work. This is the hardest, hardest business right now, hardest job in Washington, trying to unify the Republican Party. I appreciate what he's doing. He's trying to do everything he can, as Republican Party chair, to bring unity.

Is unity possible? I don't think so. And I will tell you, I don't blame Donald Trump for the lack of unity. We were disunified before Donald Trump. He's made it worse. But I think what Ryan, what Paul Ryan, even what Donald Trump are trying to do is to make sure that the seven-headed dragon is not sniping at each other and at themselves, at their own heads, and move forward. Because there's just so much on the line. It's not just Donald Trump. It's the House, the Senate, the down-ballot. There's too much on the line for there not to be at least some cooperation.

BLITZER: They made at least some progress today, I'm sure.

Jeffrey, Trump tweeted, following the meeting, he tweeted, "Great day in D.C. with Speaker Ryan and Republican leadership. Things working out really well." Ryan called Trump a very warm and genuine person today. Those are quotes. Does all that feel genuine or a little forced?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this is politics. So I don't know if genuine really applies under any circumstances. But I think this was a good day for the Republicans. I think, considering the possibilities, considering that Trump may have told everybody to go to hell, the fact that, you know, he is making favorable sounds and Ryan is making favorable sounds, look, they are never going to be close allies; but if the Republicans can make them not active enemies, that's a good thing for them, and I think they made progress.

BLITZER: Mark, there was no formal endorsement by Paul Ryan of Donald Trump out of today's meeting. Is that a surprise?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: No, not at all. and the fact is, they were able to leave that meeting. They put out a joint statement which, in itself, says something, I believe.

[17:00:01] Also says something, Wolf, that Donald Trump left New York as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to come down and meet with these leaders in Congress on their turf. That in itself I think was an olive branch that he was, you know, offering out towards Paul Ryan and of course Mitch McConnell over in the Senate and others. But as far as Paul Ryan goes and I think that this gets lost in the discussion, Paul Ryan is a speaker in the House of Representatives. He's the new speaker in the House of Representatives. He has a long career ahead of him.

He has a very powerful position. He needed to draw the line in the sand to show to Donald Trump and to anyone else that he is in control of the situation specifically when it comes to the House.

Look, they both walk away as winners, OK. Paul Ryan, Wolf, looks like he is going to stand his ground and he has stood his ground. Donald Trump still looks like he's not anti-establishment. And in the end, guess what, they're all going to come together.

BLITZER: Peter, you know, after today's meeting, it looks like Speaker Ryan has moved from not yet Trump to probably Trump. You agree?

BEINART: Yes. If you look carefully at what he said and you contrast it with what he said a week ago in his interview with Jake Tapper, it's really interesting. What he said to Jake Tapper was that Donald Trump inherits the party of Lincoln and Reagan and Jack Kemp and he has to move towards its principles. He didn't say that today. He said that we have to unify, he -- suggesting that he might have to move. Other Republicans might have to move towards Donald Trump just as Trump moves towards them and very interestingly, he did not use -- he did not refer to the party of Jack Kemp.

The party of Jack Kemp was a coded way of saying you should not be a nominee who demonizes Muslim -- Mexican immigrants as criminals, you shouldn't support ban on immigration of Muslims, you shouldn't encourage your protesters to assault African-American protesters. That language was not in Paul Ryan's statement today which suggests to me that he is moving towards what looks to me like something of a surrender.

BLITZER: As you know, Mark, the former speaker, John Boehner, said today he would in fact support Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee but then when he was asked the series of rapid fire questions on several sensitive positions that Trump has taken and was asked whether he can support those positions, Boehner flatly said, no, no, no, he kept repeating that. But he supports the nominee.

I guess he feels like a lot of Republicans out there. They have no choice right now. They're going to support the nominee even if they disagree with him on several of these sensitive positions.

PRESTON: Right, Wolf. And listen, there is a mutual reason why they have to. If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, which he will be, the Republican Party as a whole cannot abandon him. By abandoning him, that means that it is only going to weaken the ticket in key states throughout the country where there are vulnerable Republicans on the tickets. Specifically, in Pennsylvania, and in Ohio, and in elsewhere when it comes to the U.S. Senate.

So they had this mutual reason why they have to come together but I do think that we do have to state this. The Republican Party has a platform that they agree to at every convention. Not every Republican agrees with everything in the platform. So just because they might not agree with Donald Trump on trade or they may not agree with Donald Trump on other things, it doesn't mean that overall holistically they won't agree with him on what it means to be a Republican.

And quite frankly, as we've seen Donald Trump do in the past, Wolf, Donald Trump is more likely to come to them than they will be to go to Donald Trump on key issues.

BLITZER: Ana, behind the scenes, are Republicans being advised, being told, go ahead, you've got to publicly endorse, support Donald Trump even though they may not like him personally, they don't like his positions?

NAVARRO: I don't think so. You know, I think that people understand that politics is about local issues. It's about local interests, it's about your constituents, also your principles. I think everybody is being allowed to make their own decision as to what they can live with and what is best for their interests. This is -- you know, politics is a game of survival.

I can tell you that in south Florida, the Republican Congress people have come out and said publicly they will not be voting for Trump. They are not getting any pressure, at least not from Republican leadership to do otherwise. I'm sure they are getting a lot of pressure from Trump supporters on social media. You know, they are not exactly shrinking violets, those Trump supporters on social media. And I think, you know, Paul Ryan is protecting his caucus and allowing his caucus to do what they need to do for their own interests.

BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by. There's more to discuss including the latest moves in Donald Trump's so-called charm offensive here in Washington. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: We're back with our political experts as we follow today's meetings between Donald Trump and his newly -- his deeply divided, I should say, fellow Republicans up on Capitol Hill.

Mark Preston, there clearly is a Trump charm offensive under way. He and Lindsey Graham, they've been bitter enemies, I think it's fair to say. They actually spoke on the phone, Lindsey Graham put out a statement afterwards, I'll read a sentence to you, he said, "I had a cordial pleasant phone conversation with Donald Trump. I congratulated him on winning the Republican nomination for president."

It's pretty dramatic. There was no endorsement by Lindsey Graham of Donald Trump but how effective could this charm offensive be given the bad blood, for example, between Trump and Graham. Remember when Trump even released Lindsey Graham's cell phone number?

PRESTON: Right. Yes. No doubt. I mean, listen, one of his biggest critics has been Lindsey Graham. Certainly in Congress, you know, I'm fairly certain that Lindsey Graham is probably not going to endorse him for president.

[17:40:05] But the fact that Donald Trump is actually making the effort to reach out to one of his toughest critics says something. It also says something about the state and timing of the campaign right now.

Is Donald Trump turning that corner, Wolf, that we all talk about where he would no longer be taking to Twitter and lobbing out insults and criticisms and will he become more, quote-unquote, "presidential"? Him coming to Washington today was a sign that he's becoming presidential? Him reaching out to Lindsey Graham, one of his sharpest critics, presidential?

So the question is, can he maintain this? And if he does maintain this, this whole talk about unity in the Republican Party is going to make it a lot easier for Republicans to go and support Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Yes. And a lot of these Republicans in these private meetings, they saying in a small group like that, Trump can be very, very charming if he wants to be.

Jeffrey, even those who are very opinionated Trump haters, shall we say, in the U.S. Senate, I'm talking about the Republicans, a lot of them, they still hate Senator Ted Cruz even more. After the Trump meeting, Cruz actually joked with some Senate Republican colleagues that he didn't want to come back, Senator McCain responded, we don't want you to either.

Here's a question. Does it make supporting Trump easier? Because a lot of these Republican Senators, for example, they dislike Cruz even more.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I don't think this is about liking and disliking. I mean, these politicians are all independent actors. And, you know, as Ana was saying about certain southern Florida Republicans, they are not going to endorse Trump because they have political needs that mandate not endorsing him. You know, the days when party leaders could tell congressmen or senators to do anything are long over. These are all independent actors and sure, they don't like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump is perhaps a somewhat more agreeable personality.

But all these people are going to act out of their own political self- interests and whether they like somebody or don't like somebody is really almost irrelevant.

BLITZER: Peter, in a recent article you wrote in "The Atlantic," you said this. "The bad news is that the Republican Party will now almost certainly nominate the most dangerous presidential nominee in modern American history. The good news is that the Democratic Party is built to defeat him."

Are you 100 percent confident that Trump is going to lose?

BEINART: No, certainly I can't be 100 percent confident. But what I meant by that is the Democratic Party over the last several elections has developed a very, very sophisticated apparatus for bringing out African-American and Latino voters. And it is ultimately those voters -- what the Democratic Party needs to defeat Donald Trump is a tremendous turnout by African-American-Latino voters.

One of the reasons that the recent Quinnipiac poll, for instance, showed Donald Trump running so well in Pennsylvania, in Ohio, is that they predicted that minority turnout would be lower than 2012. I think the Democratic Party, partly because of its internal mechanism of turnout that had been honed during the Obama era, and partly because it's so easy to turn out voters of color against Donald Trump is well-positioned to get the turnout they need to defeat them.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Everyone, stand by. More politics coming up.

There's other news we're following as well, including Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, wrapping up a new and more dangerous arms race potentially. How will the U.S. respond?

Plus, some big surprises in the wake of North Korea's flashy celebration of its leaders, Kim Jong-un. Now his younger sister has a new and powerfully important job.


[17:48:08] BLITZER: Soviet-style military parades and new missiles armed with multiple nuclear warheads has Russia and the United States build up their arsenals. Are they holding back the old cold -- bringing back the old Cold War?

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Barbara, what's behind the latest saber rattling and military buildup?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It is beginning to look like the Cold War, again, Wolf. Tonight, Russia is showing the world and specifically Washington it very much has a massive nuclear arsenal.


STARR (voice-over): The Russian military on full parade, Vladimir Putin's message clear, the Russian military is all-powerful. One element of that power, Russian's resurgent nuclear weapons program.

JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Despite its economic challenges, Russia continues its aggressive military modernization program. It has the largest and most capable foreign nuclear armed ballistic missile force.

STARR: Russia is updating its nuclear arsenal. And despite an economy hit by low oil prices, spending billions on new nuclear weapons, such as the new SS-30, still in development, but with multiple warheads that can hit more than one target, and an intercontinental range with the capability of hitting the U.S. That SS-30 could be in the field as soon as next year.

TOM COLLINA, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: So this weapon in and of itself does not change the balance between the two countries.

STARR: Rather, it replaces aging technology. Arms control advocates believe the real question is, why are inventories not being cut on both sides?

COLLINA: You know, we're still stuck in the Cold War logic of mutually assured destruction.

STARR: Still, under current arms control treaties, both Washington and Moscow are limited. They must get down to around 1550 deployed warheads from current levels. But Russia has another goal, design missiles to defeat American missile defenses.

[17:50:04] The U.S. has just activated a missile defense shield in Romania, part of a NATO effort aimed at defending against an Iranian, not a Russian attack.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Missile defense is for defense. It is defensive. It does not undermine or weaken Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent.

STARR: The Russian state news agency, TASS, however, says Moscow sees the system as a threat and is taking protective measures against it.


STARR: U.S. officials say tonight they even offered to show the Russians the technical specifications on that missile defense shield to try and convince them that it posed no threat to them. Tonight that missile defense shield goes forward -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara. Thank you.

North Korea's Kim Jong-un emerges from a party love fest with even more power as his younger sister gets a powerful new position.

Our Brian Todd has been looking into all of this. What are you learning there, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight we've got word that Kim Jong-un has elevated his sister Kim Yo-jong to a position on the so- called Central Committee. That gives this young lady who is only about 28 years old enormous influence over her brother. This comes as Kim Jong-un and his inner circle are projecting startling new images of their power.


TODD (voice-over): An enormous display of fanfare with cutouts of missiles, marchers waving pink bouquets, and Kim Jong-un strides confidently past his generals, waves from a platform above the giant Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang. Hundreds chant their leader's name.

The close of the Workers Party Congress, where Kim is believed to have tightened his hold on power, sending a powerful message of the strength the leader wants to project. Part of the new message, this is a hip and modern regime, showcased by performance of Kim's hand- picked all girl band, Moranbong.

There were yearbook-style photos of Kim and his inner circle. Kim smiling broadly, a rare apparently untouched image.

JONATHAN POLLACK, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: At some level, they're trying to perhaps capture a bit of sense of a personality. He is the only one who is smiling in all of these pictures. And maybe he has reason to.

TODD: One of the photos is a surprise tonight. It's of General Ri Yong-gil, said by South Korean officials to have been executed in February. Turns out, he is now a member of the powerful Central Committee.

Part of the pageantry? Kim Jong-un's younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, seen collecting flowers for him at parade finale. She, too, has been elevated to the Central Committee according to the North Korean government. Kim Yo-jong is believed to be only about 28 years old but has enormous influence in Kim's inner circle. Analysts say she works right in her brother's office, controls access to him and manages all his events.

SUE TERRY, FORMER CIA ANALYST ON NORTH KOREA: She is going to make sure that all the schedule goes right and all of the -- right people can see him. But also she has -- she is directly responsible for propaganda role. So really showing -- showcasing Kim Jong-un's image.

TODD: Experts say Kim has an older sister who also has his ear. Kim Sol-song operates in the shadows. There are no verifiable pictures of her but she's seen as a mentor to Kim Jong-un and his younger sister, crucial to helping them develop relationships inside the treacherous halls of power. POLLACK: He's got to have people who he feels are going to be

unquestionably loyal to him, who are not going to undermine him, who are going to protect him under all circumstances.


TODD: Kim has two other siblings who both he and his father have not trusted to be close to him. His older brothers, Kim Jong-nam and Kim Jong-chol. They were both passed over for the top leadership role, said to be not interested in the job.

So why haven't they gotten other top positions? Well, unlike their sisters, analysts say, these two are seen as potential threats to Kim Jong-un, possibly creating rival power factions within the regime. So these two older brothers, Wolf, have kept their distance or have been forced to.

BLITZER: So, Brian, with those brothers pushed to the side, could the younger sister actually take power if something were to happen to Kim Jong-un?

TODD: Some analysts believe that that is possible. There have been other women in the Kim family, Wolf, who had positions of enormous power behind the scenes, especially one of Kim Jong-un's aunts who advised his father. Some believe that by elevating this younger sister, giving her more power and responsibility, they're making it possible for her one day to maybe succeed him, but she's awfully young. Still, you know, his hold is a little tentative.

BLITZER: He is still pretty young himself.

TODD: He is.

BLITZER: In his early 30s, so not exactly an old timer himself.

All right, thanks very much, Brian Todd, for that.

Coming up, divided by Donald Trump's primary campaign the GOP starts picking up the pieces, the presumptive nominee meets with the House speaker, Paul Ryan. But why isn't Ryan ready to endorse him?



BLITZER: Happening now. Totally committed. Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan are huddled behind closed doors, talking differences and common ground, now saying they'll work together for a Trump victory in November. But the quest for GOP unity around Trump remains elusive. Can the two men heal their fractured party?

Charm offensive. Trump on his best behavior as he meets with top Republicans from the House and Senate, calling it a great day and proclaiming that things are working out really well. Will the goodwill last? And can it garner the endorsements he needs, including Paul Ryan's? And Saudi 9/11 connection? A member of the 9/11 Commission reveals

new details of evidence that Saudi citizens living in the United States were supposedly supporting al Qaeda ahead of the terror attacks.