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Trump, Clinton, Neck-and-Neck in New National Polls; Clinton Tries To Get Under Trump's Skin, Questions His Worth; Officials At Odds Over Plane's Final Moments; CNN Follows Secret U.S. Mission Inside Syria. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 23, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:11] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next. Hillary Clinton's new attack. The target, Donald Trump's wealth. Is he not as rich as he claims and why does this issue hit such a nerve.

Plus, Donald Trump surging past Hillary Clinton in a new poll. Now the slim lead in a general election match-up. Can he win it all?

And new details on EgyptAir Flight 804 and the chilling final goodbye from the cockpit tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Clinton on the attack. Hillary Clinton's harshest words yet against Donald Trump, going after what matters most to him. His business record.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, ask yourself. How can anybody lose money running a casino? Really.


BURNETT: This as polls show Trump surging ahead of Clinton. The "Washington Post" ABC News poll has Trump ahead of Clinton by two points. Now, that's within the margin of error. But here's the bottom-line. It's an 11-point swing in Trump's favor since March. Another poll by "The Wall Street Journal" and NBC News also shows Trump surging eight points in the past month alone. Now that poll is also within the margin of error.

And in that one, Clinton is leading by three points. This comes as Trump just moments ago in a phone call with CNN clarified his position on guns in schools, saying school officers are trained teachers should be the ones carrying guns. It comes after the presumptive nominee rejected and supporting arming teachers in classrooms in the same interview. A lot to get to tonight.

We begin with Sara Murray though who is OUTFRONT tonight at Trump Headquarters in New York. And Sara, Trump today with a big play to try to capitalize, build momentum in those polls with a meeting at Trump Tower.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Erin. Today, Donald Trump met privately with Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. This one of the leading Senate Republicans, the latest sign that Donald Trump is trying to bring the party together, get Republicans behind him. And, of course, all of this is happening as the general election polls look tighter than many pundits expected.


MURRAY (voice-over): Skeptics protected a Donald Trump ticket would mean a blowout victory for Hillary Clinton.

DONALD TRUMP (R), GOP PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: Now I'm going to start focusing on Hillary. That's going to be so easy.

MURRAY: But new national polls reveal a race that's rapidly tightening. A "Wall Street Journal" NBC News poll puts Clinton at 46 percent, compared to Trump's 43 percent. Her three-point edge down from a double digit lead just a month ago. A "Washington Post" ABC News poll also shows a dead heat with Trump at 46 percent support, and Clinton at 44 percent. As speculation whirls over who Trump might choose for a VP, the billionaire businessman met privately with Senator Bob Corker today who brushed aside questions about joining the ticket.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I have no reason whatsoever to believe that I'm being considered for a position like that. You know, I'll say that until I'm blue in my face. Again, this was a meeting between two people who didn't know each other, except over phone calls.

MURRAY: Trump allies say Corker's foreign policy experience could be an asset to the first time presidential candidate. Even if he doesn't make the VP short list.

CORKER: We talked bigger picture. Really relative to foreign policy. Domestic issues that matter.

MURRAY: Meanwhile, Trump is still aiming to consolidate his conservative base. And he's turning to a potent issue. The second amendment to rally voters.

TRUMP: I don't want to have guns in classrooms. Although in some cases, teachers should have guns in classrooms.

MURRAY: But he's delivering a muddled message saying he doesn't want to see guns in classrooms.

TRUMP: I'm not advocating guns in classrooms.

MURRAY: And in the next breath, suggesting trained teachers should be armed.

TRUMP: Teachers should be able to have guns. Trained teachers should be able to have guns in classrooms.

MURRAY: And in the latest signal of Trump shifting positions, Trump the candidate mocks the concept of climate change on the trail.

TRUMP: So Obama is talking about all of this with the global warming. A lot of it is a hoax.

MURRAY: But Trump the businessman isn't so dubious. According to Politico, Trump's company applied for a permit to build coastal protection for a seaside golf resort. The reason, rising sea levels and other effects of climate change.


MURRAY: Now Erin, tonight Donald Trump spoke to CNN's Jeremy Diamond in an effort to clarify his position on guns once again. He said he would not eliminate all gun-free guns in schools, only in some cases and also said that school resource officers, that he meant by trained should be the ones who are trained to carry guns -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Sara Murray.

And OUTFRONT tonight, John King. So, I don't know, you know, when we see this meeting at Trump Tower today, this is Donald Trump trying to get the party behind him. He's a man who loves a good poll. When it's good for him. Big swing in these new polls. And it's a big-time in Trump's favor, again and again. Why is he doing so much better in such a short period of time?

[19:05:09] JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me quickly add the caveat. It's a national poll, Erin and we elect president state by state. Mitt Romney was very close in the polls blown out in the Electoral College. Number two, it is May in the elections in November. And why is Donald Trump doing better in the polls? Number one, because this is over. The Republican race is over. And we saw this go back to -- look, and right after John McCain clinched in 2008. He actually went into the lead in the national polls back then. Because the Republican Party, like then, has now mostly, mostly consolidated around Trump now while the Democratic Party is still dealing with this.

Bernie Sanders still in the race. Sanders supporters don't like Hillary Clinton. Independents like Bernie Sanders more than Hillary Clinton. So in the new national polls, when you look at the numbers, Sara just talked about them. Essentially, you know, Trump is up two points. That's a tie in the "Washington Post" poll. Clinton up three points. That's a tie in the "Wall Street Journal" poll. Why is it? Independents have come Trump's way since the polls a month or two ago. And Hillary Clinton is not completely consolidated Democratic support because of Sanders supporters, forgive me. Some of them are still holding their nose.

BURNETT: Right. And you would anticipate that that would change. Now, the other thing I find interesting is in one of the polls we got today, you know, late tonight in the "Wall Street Journal" poll, John, you know, the incredible unfavorables, we had said this for the two most unpopular candidates really in modern history and Hillary Clinton was slightly less heated than Donald Trump, now they're tied. Now they're tried. People don't like either one of them.

KING: And so you have at least half of these supporters of each candidate saying they're there because they're voting against the other person. That's what, A., tells you you're probably going to have a pretty nasty race. Because these are two candidates. Look at them. This is the "Washington Post" ABC poll but very similar numbers as you know in the new NBC Wall Street Journal polls as well, 41 percent of registered voters view Hillary Clinton favorably. Four in ten registered voters.

It's the same for Donald Trump. They are both viewed unfavorably by almost six in ten voters. So, you're starting off such negative ratings and you both very well known. She's known in politics, he's known as a celebrity real estate development, now politics. It's hard to change these numbers when people think they know you so well. So what does this tell you? It tells you, number one, they're viewed very negatively and also suggest when you have candidates like this, Erin, that you got a negative race.

BURNETT: Well, and the other thing, of course is how much, how long does this last? You talk about Hillary Clinton once Bernie Sanders, if he does lose, I know he still says it's an uphill climb, he can do it. But she obviously is likely to be the nominee. Will Sanders supporters get behind her? Will these polls change dramatically or do you think we're going to see this sort of head-to-head, back and forth, all the way to the fall?

KING: I think without a doubt, we're going to have a very competitive election all the way to the fall. I will say this by going back to this map here, and you look at the race for president, 2012. Remember, Mitt Romney was actually pretty close in the national polls throughout the general election and he lost an Electoral College blowout, even though the election itself national election wise polling, national vote wise was pretty close. Why do I think this is going to be very close to the end? Look at how these two are split.

Hillary Clinton is the candidate of choice when people say experience and temperament to be president matter. But who will change D.C.? Donald Trump has a slight edge in the economy right now. If this election is about changing a dysfunctional Washington. He wins. If the election is about a steady, experienced hand. She wins. That's what the next few months are about, Erin, trying to define and convince the voters what should be issue number one.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to John King. And of course you could see from that if being honest and being trustworthy is what matters, we don't have a president come November.

OUTFRONT tonight, Trump supporter and former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie. Sanders supporter Sally Kohn. Former communications director for Ted Cruz's campaign Alice Stewart. Clinton supporter Wendy Davis. Trump supporter Jason Osborne and David Gergen, who served as adviser to four presidents Reagan and Clinton among them.

You see the polls, Carl. Can Donald Trump really win this? Because I think John King points out something crucial, right? Mitt Romney had it very tight in the national polls and he got blown out in the electoral.

CARL HIGBIE, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Right. Something I think we need to take into consideration here is you have somebody so far outside the political spectrum. Conventional politics is a boxing ring. Donald Trump is a street fighter. He's going to get in and Hillary Clinton is just not going to be able to defend his blows when it comes to the first debate. I think it's going to be over after the first debate.

BURNETT: Wendy, what about the polls, the surge we have seen for Donald Trump? Because you can say margin of error you want, but certainly 11 points in one poll, eight points in another. That's dramatic.

WENDY DAVIS, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: You know, two points ago, you didn't see it, because we didn't have a Republican nominee yet. Now the party is uniting behind him. We're going to see the party unite behind Hillary Clinton, as well. And I agree, I can't wait for that first debate, because I think that's when it's going to be over, as well. Hillary demonstrating her experience compared to his naivete and his inability even to articulate positions, I think is going to draw a very strong contrast between the choices.

BURNETT: David, what do you think about the significance of these polls? Because this is now been sort of a cascade over the past few weeks.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: Well, first of all, I think the poll suggests that the electorate is still quite fluid. That this could move in many different directions, we just can't predict.

BURNETT: Even though they are so well-known.

GERGEN: Exactly. We've had a ten-point swing. But secondly, I do think coming at this particular moment, the polls are very, very good news for Donald Trump. Because -- he was -- a lot of people were on the sidelines. I thought this was going to be another Goldwater. It's going to be a blow out on the other way. But if you go back to the Goldwater with Johnson race of '64, Johnson was ahead from June until Election Day by more than 20 points. There was never did this dead heat that you see. Trump has got a lot better chance. And this is going to bring people over. The Bob Corker's of the world are going to see him now because they think he's got a chance to win. B., that maybe they'll hold the Senate. And C., they'll get a better chance to win the House. If it's close.

[19:10:28] BURNETT: All right. But here's the thing. People don't like either one of them. All right? It's not just the unfavorables, is what John King just pointed out. Half the people voting for each of them are only voting because they hate the other one.


BURNETT: That is a bad situation.

OSBORNE: I would actually be more worried if I were Hillary than if Donald Trump. Because Hillary's numbers are unfavorable numbers have been this way for over two decades. Donald Trump is new to the political scene. He's definitely striking a chord with kind of these Independent voters that are tired of Washington, just like Bernie Sanders.

BURNETT: So you're saying his short term unfavorables are less awful than the long-term unfavorables.

OSBORNE: I think he has a better opportunity -- we don't know who Donald Trump is, because we haven't seen his bio, other than what his opponents have attacked him with. So, we don't know his upbringing, we don't know his personal story. We know all about Hillary. I think as you start to see Donald Trump on the campaign trail, talking about how he became who he is, beyond just the attacks of he got a million- dollar loan from his father. You know, similar to Terry McCaul off giving a loan to the Clintons for their first mortgage. You know, I think you're going to see a softer side of Donald Trump and people get to understand him a little bit more. And those negatives are going to go down. Whereas Hillary's are going to stay up.

BURNETT: Is this going to win you over? I mean, you've been on the receiving end of the nastiest things that Donald Trump can offer working for Ted Cruz.


BURNETT: Are you going to -- can this win you over, this softer side that Jason says exists of Donald Trump?

STEWART: I think the changing the narrative in terms of their favorability is job number one for both of them. You call back in 2012, Mitt Romney checked all the boxes in terms of who they can help the economy, who they thrust, who they feel would be a great leader. Obama's numbers were bad on the specific issues. But people liked Barack Obama better. He won in the unfavorability checklist and that's why he did so well.

So if -- between Hillary and Donald, they are split on who they trust for the economy and education and jobs and national security, they both need to work on the favorabilities, becoming more likeable and connecting with the people. And I do agree that once Hillary is the actual nominee, her numbers are going to go in her favor. Right now the Republicans are rallying behind Donald and he's getting the bump from the united party. Once there is a head-to-head, mano-a-mano in this race, Hillary's numbers will go up. That's when the real raise will begin.


SALLY KOHN, PROGRESSIVE ACTIVIST: Well, look, I mean, they have very different reasons for their unfavorabilities and I completely disagree with what Jason just said.

BURNETT: They're both --


-- That they're both dishonest and untrustworthy. That is similar. KOHN: Hillary has been in the public eye for over 20-30 years and

those unfavorables are arguably not going up any further. And by the way, they exist because she has been so prolonged -- subject to attacks from the right. I mean, look at --

BURNETT: Benghazi!

KOHN: Let's take Benghazi. You know, 16 hearings, 30,000 pages of documents. She was found, you know, no culpability whatsoever by Republican committees. And Republicans are still hammering her about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's because she said what does it matter that these people died. That's why.

KOHN: Trump's negatives had so much further they can go out, when people will start paying attention in this race and the fact that he knows so little and has the wrong temperament to lead this country.

BURNETT: Pause for a moment. You're all going to be with me right after the break. New information tonight on EgyptAir 804. Where was the plane just before it disappeared from radar? Some new details to reveal tonight.

Plus, an exclusive CNN report inside Syria on a secret mission with the top American commander in the region. When in secret, our cameras were there.

And one of the most personal issues for Donald Trump. A special report coming up.


[19:17:10] BURNETT: Tonight, Hillary Clinton swinging against Donald Trump. The Democratic frontrunner warning Trump's business record is one that voters should run away from.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump economics is a recipe for lower wages, fewer jobs, more debt. He could bankrupt America like he's bankrupted his companies.


BURNETT: Clinton also claiming that Trump's unreleased tax returns may show he's not as successful or as rich as he claims to be. Has Clinton found the best way to get under Donald Trump's skin? Even if it doesn't matter to voters?

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.



buildings, planes, helicopters and beauty pageants. They all feed the key story of Donald Trump.

TRUMP: I'm really rich. I'll assure you of that.

FOREMAN: But out on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton is tearing away at Trump's tail, saying just as some of his companies went bust, he could bankrupt America too.

CLINTON: I mean, ask yourself. How can anybody lose money running a casino, really?

FOREMAN: On "Meet the Press," it was even more pointed as she called him pretend successful.

CLINTON: There's no evidence he has any ideas about making America great, as he advertises. He seems to be particularly focused on making himself appear great.

FOREMAN: Trump may shrug off many critics of his policies, but this idea that he is inflating his worth is clearly personal. And he quickly bristles.

TRUMP: I borrowed a million dollars and I turned it in a relatively short period of time into more than $10 billion. Okay, folks.

FOREMAN: He is so protective about that cornerstone claim, he wants unsuccessfully sued an author over the issue, and he's had a running battle with "Forbes" which puts his worth at not 10 but $4.5 billion. Adding Trump is consistently exaggerated how much he owns and downplayed how much he owes. Trump response --

TRUMP: And they have no idea. Actually they have no idea, it's much more than but I won't tell them.

FOREMAN: Still, Barbara Corcoran, who like Trump, made her money in real estate suggests his apparent wealth may be largely sleight of hand.

BARBARA CORCORAN, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: He is great at recovery and getting everybody to believe he's back on top. He's a magician in that regard.

FOREMAN: And even billionaire T. Boone Pickens, a Trump supporter says --

T. BOONE PICKENS, ENERGY INVESTOR: He's successful, but not as big as Donald sees himself.

TRUMP: We have Trump magazine, Trump vodka and Trump University. I have very successful companies. Believe me. Believe me.

FOREMAN: Trump's foes are using the whole issue to drive the idea that he is untrustworthy, misleading the public. In short, a fraud.


FOREMAN: And it may be working to some degree. A recent "Washington Post" ABC News poll finds more than half of all voters now feel strongly Trump should release his tax returns and give the public a peek at the paperwork behind his legendary riches -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Tom Foreman, thank you very much. My panel is back with me. Jason, does it matter -- Trump, he is, you know, he is always talking about how rich he is, okay? But he has made this $10 billion a cornerstone. Right? He cares deeply about this number. Let's say that the reporting shows that it is half that. Less than half that, like "Forbes" says, $4.5 billion.


BURNETT: Does it matter? Do voters care?

OSBORNE: I don't think they care at all. I mean, the fact of the matter is, the guy has much more money than any of us sitting here at the table, at least I assume so. Maybe, you know, maybe some on the other side. But $4.5 billion versus $10 billion? I mean, at that point, it's Trump change, you know? It doesn't matter.

DAVIS: I think what they care about those, whether he's being honest about it. And let's face it. He has an easy way that he can clear this up. He can release his tax returns.

OSBORNE: So, what's he's going to prove?

DAVIS: People are coming to understand that there's a very real reason that he's not doing it. And that underlying that is this deep- seated insecurity that's probably based on the fact that this is not necessarily the reality. And the question comes down to, can you trust him on this issue and if you can't, and if he's running, basically, I'm going to make America great because I'm a great businessman and I know how to do great things, if it's demonstrated that there's not any real legitimacy to that, that I think is going to poke a hole in a credibility argument that he's trying to make.

OSBORNE: At the same time, if his tax returns come out and shows that he's $4.49 billion, what is that -- but he's been saying 10.

DAVIS: Yes. Won't he release them?


OSBORNE: But -- what does that do for you?

BURNETT: Would it matter to voters he had said something so, so strenuously, and it would be untrue?

GERGEN: I don't think it's going to matter a whole lot if his net worth is five, or four, or three, versus 10. What I do think is that he cannot count on his unfavorable staying where they are. Because there are a lot of newspapers and other organizations putting investigative reporters on his trail now. And who knows what they're going to -- find. If they find a pattern of shady business dealing, that's going to hurt him. I think the more important thing -- I think where Hillary is really making gains is on these tax returns. Because people -- there's such a long tradition going back to Jerry Ford, of releasing your tax returns. I think he cannot sit on these the rest of the time. And rather than showing he doesn't have much wealth, I think the question is, how much taxes is he paying?

[19:22:12] BURNETT: And that's a big question. And the tax issue -- look, you just heard Tom Foreman say, look, more than of America, 64 percent of Americans now say, he should release those tax returns. His story on this has changed rather dramatically. In his own words.

GERGEN: Right. And --


TRUMP: If I decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns. Absolutely.

Maybe I'm going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate.

We'll see what I'm going to do with tax returns. I have no major problem with it. But I may tie them to a release of Hillary's e- mails. I would love to give the tax returns, but I can't do it until I'm finished with the audit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no, do you believe voters have a right to see your tax returns before they make a final decision?

TRUMP: I don't think they do.


STEWART: I think --

BURNETT: That's quite an evolution.

STEWART: Right. I think that he has progressed on this issue.

BURNETT: Or regressed. Maybe the right term.



I think it's a fair question, have him release his tax return and have Hillary release her private e-mails. I think that's a fair trade.

KOHN: This is a man who first came into political prominence, as we recall, by demanding that a sitting president release his birth certificate. Something that has never been asked, expected or demanded of any other president. Meanwhile, every candidate for the highest office in our country, since Nixon, has released their tax returns. And he thinks this is above him. This is ridiculous and that's going to hurt him. The denial not just what might be in the returns in terms of his poultry tax rate.

HIGBIE: Mitt Romney didn't release his tax returns until a month before the general election. The other thing we need to think too is, look, they're hitting him on his business record. Okay? Donald Trump has made a history of hitting home runs. What a Babe Ruth had? What a .350 batting average. Donald Trump is like a .900 batting average on his business. Yet, all we talked about with Babe Ruth is his home runs. Even though, you know, he's struck out a lot and didn't have over 500. Donald Trump has got a .900. Let's start talking about a successes.

STEWART: I think Hillary Clinton with zero business experience doesn't need to be questioning his experience. Here's the thing with these tax returns. We'll find out his tax rate, which as we understand, at least two years we know, was zero. His charitable contributions, I'm not sure he's concerned about that being released. But his net worth, that's going to bother him.

BURNETT: We won't get his net worth from his taxes. I mean, that is one. That is one issue. But David, you know, this matters deeply to Donald Trump. You know, when he doesn't like his ranking on the "Forbes" list, he says something about it. Does it get under his skin --



BURNETT: More than it does to voters?

GERGEN: I think it does. You have talked to him about this before. He cares more about his brand than I think he cares about the presidency. I think he would rather keep his brand than keep it going strong than he would to be president.

BURNETT: He does care deeply --

HIGBIE: I disagree.

KOHN: Completely agree. He wants to win more than he even wants to be president.

HIGBIE: I think that -- he's virtually conquered the business world, for all intents and purposes. Look, I think this is what he wants to do. He's like what can I do next to help my country, to help my people. I think the presidency is what he wants to --

KOHN: And he's a businessman who said wages are too high. You know, his business record is on the table and how he made that money --

BURNETT: And then he did come out and say people need to earn more.

KOHN: Yes. Like he's changed his mind on everything.

GERGEN: But his ego and his income are tied up with his brand. And, you know, listen, certainly he wants to be president. But I can't tell you how important this is, how central this is to his sense of identity. You know, who he thinks he is.

BURNETT: And sense of self.

GERGEN: But I don't think we know a lot of things yet.

DAVIS: One step further about that, though. He's so thin-skinned about this particular issue. And others that we have seen. It really begs the question about his credibility or his ability to navigate the tough terrain that it takes to be the president of this country. And the temperament.

BURNETT: Thank you.

GERGEN: I completely disagree with that.

BURNETT: Thank you all. And that is why there's going to be six more months of this to come.

OUTFRONT next. Deadly ISIS bombings killing more than 100 people today. CNN tonight, inside Syria for a secret mission with the top American commander.

And newly leased audio, the pilot last word before EgyptAir 804 fell from the sky.


PILOT: Padova Control Egypt Air 804, thank you so much. Good day uh, good night.



[19:30:28] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight in the crash of EgyptAir flight 804. Officials now contradicting each other on what happened in the plane's final moments. And Egyptian officials say the plane did not swerve or lose altitude before it disappeared from radar. Greece's defense minister though standing by, saying the plane fell dramatically and fell to 2,000 feet.

This comes as we are hearing chilling audio from the plane's pilot for the first time.

Brian Todd is OUTFRONT.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The French patrol ship scours part of the Mediterranean, searching for the fuselage of EgyptAir flight 804. The vessel has a small submarine and acoustic detection systems, specialized in finding pings, crucial signals from the plane's black boxes.

TIM WELLER, DEEP SEA SEARCH EXPERT: It's critical for the investigators to get those devices in the water and start searching. The batteries and the pingers only good for 30 days.

TODD: Searchers call it the acoustic clock. When the batteries on the pingers run out, it will become much harder to find the EgyptAir jet's cockpit voice and data recorders. An Egyptian submarine is searching, but experts say it's ability to find the plane is limited. The water is almost two miles deep in some parts of the search area.

Veteran searchers tell CNN, it's critical to get listening devices like high-tech towed pinger locators into the water.

WELLER: If these devices are not towed, if they're just single deployed devices, it's kind of like looking in the Grand Canyon at night with a flashlight for a dime.

TODD: Egyptian officials say they spotted EgyptAir flight 804 on radar for about a minute while it was inside Egyptian air space. They say there was no radio contact with the cockpit. After about a minute on radar, they say, the plane disappeared.

Meantime, chilling audio has been released. The pilot of flight 804 making one of his last calls to air traffic control. As he speaks to a controller in zurich, the conversation is routine. Nothing to indicate anything is wrong on board.

PILOT: Thank you so much. Good day. Good night.

TODD: A short time later, the plane is lost on radar.

And new questions tonight about possible technical causes. Transmission data indicates small alarms went off minutes before the crash and alarms for the heating systems on the windows. Are the thousands of Airbus A-320s in the skies at any given time safe?

MICHAEL GOLDFARB, FORMER FAA CHIEF OF STAFF: The safety record is excellent. It flies every two-and-a-half seconds. One takes off anywhere in the world. It's been the workhorse of the industry. Exceedingly safe, as is the Boeing 777.

TODD: There's a haunting coincidence surrounding this plane. "The New York Times" reports the very same EgyptAir jet which crashed was the target of vandals about two years ago. "The Times" says they wrote a message on the underside, saying, quote, "We will bring this plane down." But EgyptAir officials told "The Times" they believed that graffiti was linked to Egypt's political turmoil, not terrorism.


TODD: We're now about five days after the crash, and the task of investigators seems to have only gotten more difficult. There is little physical evidence to analyze. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for taking the jet down. Officials have found nothing implicating the flight crew, passengers or security officials on board. So, the pressure tonight on the search teams to find the fuselage and the black boxes has only grown more intense -- Erin.

BURNETT: Brian Todd, thank you very much. And OUTFRONT now, our aviation correspondent, the host of "QUEST MEANS

BUSINESS," Richard Quest, senior editor for "The Daily Beast" and our contributor, Michael Weiss, and David Gallo, senior adviser at Columbia University's Earth Observatory. He co-led the search for Air France 447.

Thank you all.

Richard, you now have this direct contradiction of what happened in the last minutes. Did the plane drop -- did the pilot try to keep control, did it swerve or did it just drop precipitously from the sky? Egypt and Greece fighting over this. How troubling is this? They're already fighting over what happened there.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Oh, the troubling part is, first, you have the Greek prime minister should never have said if when he said it last Friday or whenever it was. He had no business just suddenly coming out and saying what he did.

The second thing is that the Egyptians probably should have denied it sooner if it's not true. But the Egyptians are in a very difficult place, because you don't want to be chasing the tail of every accusation that's coming out.


QUEST: If they are to be faulting at all, the Egyptians at this point, I think they're not doing enough news conferences, standard news conferences. This is what we're doing, this is where we're going, this is what's happening. They're not keeping us fully informed.

But on this question of the swerving left and right, it's quite -- in my view, it's very simple. The Greeks are fully to blame if this proves to be wrong. They had no business mentioning it in the first place.

BURNETT: If it proves to be wrong.

All right. So, Michael, let me ask about the crucial question because there has been no claim of responsibility, which is leading more and more people to say, OK, maybe this is mechanical and not terrorism.

[19:35:03] If it were to be -- if it's terrorism, and there is no claim of responsibility at this point, why? Why would they not have claimed?

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So, the only theory I can come up with for that, if it's ISIS, ISIS has increasingly leaned upon a Europeanization of its security forces, particularly those interested in foreign operations or attacks against the West in the West, or attacks against the Middle East in the Middle East outside of Syria and Iraq.

If that's the case, they have seeded so much autonomy to these so- called sleeper cells or these networks. Think about Paris and Belgium, right? I mean, it was very quick for them to claim credit for that because they knew of the operation in advance.

If this was a case of somebody from Sinai, which is the ISIS affiliate operating in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt or somebody inside France, which is more likely at this if was a bomb put on the plane at Charles de Gaulle, it can take, theoretically, you know, days if not weeks for them to figure out, you know what, this was one of our guys that did it, because they had ceased all communications between their networks in Raqqa and Mosul and in the West. Why? Because the West and all regional intelligence are listening in on telephone chatter and Internet chatter. That's the only theory. I'm now leaning more toward this tends to be in my mind mechanical failure, something non- terrorist.

BURNETT: The crucial thing, David, to get an answer, which the public desperately want. And, of course, the families who are -- have experienced such loss. You now have submarines out there, Egypt is looking, France is looking. Some of the materials I know perhaps effective. Others we don't know what's down there.

Are they going to find these black boxes?

DAVID GALLO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Erin, I have no idea which sub ma means are being deployed. Are they military submarines? I know France -- I hear they're bringing a remotely operated vehicle. That's a great to do detail work but not typically something to search with.

So, we'll have to wait and see which vehicles are actually deploying.

BURNETT: And, Richard, of course, and then we have those for the first time, those horrible last words which take on such meaning. It seems so standard, just goodnight. Good night.

Now, there's nothing to have indicated they would have had any knowledge, whether it was mechanical or terrorism at that point, but a very standard handoff.

QUEST: Yes, very standard handoff. The flight profile is absolutely normal. Until you get what we now know to be these warnings from the ACAR system. And these are by far the most important things, Erin, these warnings, because they are the jigsaw pieces until we find the plane. They are the jigsaw pieces.

Airbus --

BURNETT: And they came out with a couple minutes before the plane actually --

QUEST: Exactly.

BURNETT: So, it wasn't instantaneous.

QUEST: Correct.

BURNETT: There was time.

QUEST: There was time from the first one, to the second one, to the third one, to the fourth one. So, they're either dealing with a plane that they don't know what they're dealing with, or dealing with a plane that is deteriorating fast, whether through bomb or mechanical, by finally, of course, the thing longer stay in the air.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much, as this investigation continues.

Next, our exclusive report on America's top secret mission inside Syria.

And 28 pages from the 9/11 report. Classified. Top secret. Never released. My next guest has read them and says that you must know what's inside.


[19:41:56] BURNETT: ISIS claiming responsibility tonight for coordinated bombings that killed at least 110 people. This comes as the top commander in the fight against ISIS goes on a secret mission inside Syria.

Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT with the exclusive.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: These are the first images ever shown publicly from a U.S. special operations training camp in northern Syria. CNN was the only television network here with General Joseph Votel on his secret trip to Syria to meet Kurdish and Arab commanders fighting ISIS, just as ISIS launched new attacks against Syrian government strongholds, killing dozens.

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, CENTCOM COMMANDER: My principle purpose was to meet with some of the Syrian Democratic Force and leadership in multiple locations.

STARR: It comes as the U.S. tries for a second time to stand up a fighting force. The first attempt crumbled with just a handful of rebels who stayed in the fight.


STARR: Now, a dangerous trip Votel felt he had to make.

VOTEL: I have responsibility for this mission. I have responsibility for the people that we put here. So, it's imperative for me to come and see what they're dealing with, to share the risks they are -- they are absorbing on a day to day basis.

STARR: From here, and other secret nearby locations, the U.S. military is racing time to train enough local Syrian forces so they can push south towards Raqqah, ISIS' declared capital.

(on camera): General Votel has come to northern Syria under extraordinary security conditions. In fact, we have been asked not to reveal a number of details on how we all got here. But Votel considers this part of the war a top priority.

(voice-over): This SDF spokesman is critical. He says his group urgently needs more ammunition and weapons, beyond the few supplies he says the U.S. has delivered. U.S. officials say they are working to possibly provide more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We've been given a limited number of old rifles.

STARR: Due to security concerns, we are not allowed to show details of the base. Our cameras are restricted. Security is so high here, the U.S. advisers want their faces shielded, but they do want to talk about the training.

(on camera): You're a military adviser here. What do you guys do here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are here training the Syrian Democratic Forces. Now when I say training, generally, that's consisting of basic level weapons training, shooting AK-47s and shooting larger machine guns.


STARR: So, will all of this work?

General Votel is very pragmatic about it, very cautious. He thinks it's the right strategy but he's acknowledging it is going to take some time. He likes to say, this is not the U.S. Army that is going to war here.

[19:45:00] This is a very small, new, very fresh, inexperienced in some cases group of fighters. The U.S. is trying to give them training to get them ramped up to be able to move out and take even more territory -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Barbara, thank you very much.

Of course, the big question is, will it make any kind of a difference? Tonight, Fareed Zakaria special, a look at Islamic extremists in the United States. "Why They Hate Us" airs at 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

OUTFRONT next, the president facing the controversial decision whether to release this crucial missing 28 pages from the 9/11 report. What is in it that people don't want us to see?

And on a lighter note, Jeanne Moos on this election's beer summit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What a schmuck!


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Right now, we are days away from a decision by President Obama on whether to release 28 secret pages of a congressional report on 9/11. The classified pages had been kept secret for more than a decade. So what's in them? Well, allegations of Saudi Arabian government ties to the hijackers.

OUTFRONT tonight, someone who's read those pages, he wants them released, the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chair of the joint congressional inquiry into 9/11 intelligence, Democrat Bob Graham.

And thank you so much for being with me.


BURNETT: You said the White House told you the president is going to make decision about those 28 pages no later than June. Senator, do you have any update on that?

[19:50:01] GRAHAM: I -- we met last week with General James Clapper, who's the director of national intelligence and he outlined the process that he has been involved with and felt comfortable there could be a decision as early as June.

BURNETT: And do you think that decision will be positive, that this president will say yes, the American public deserve to see these pages as I know you so ardently believe?

GRAHAM: I certainly hope so. There's no reason why this information should be withheld. Nobody who has looked at this from the very beginning when they were first classified 13 years ago through to now thinks there's any national security risk involved in this. The report is primarily on the subject of who paid for 9/11 and it does point a strong finger of suspicion at Saudi Arabia.

BURNETT: And when you talk about that strong finger of suspicion, another commission member I was speaking to recently told me as many as five Saudi government employees are implicated in the 28 missing pages. Do you think, Senator, that the American people are at risk because those individuals, let's just be clear, are still at large and, in fact, we don't know where they are?

GRAHAM: I think that is one of the risks that the network of support which facilitated the 9/11 hijackers may still be in existence. I think more of a risk is the fact that Saudi Arabia has received our passivity, the fact we've said nothing relative to what it did on September 11th, as being immunity. And therefore, they continued to finance terrorism, they've continued to finance the mosques and the madrassas where the next generation of terrorists are being indoctrinated and prepared for jihad.

BURNETT: The Senate, Senator, passed a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, as you're aware. President Obama said he's going to veto that bill. In addition, President Obama and President Bush both, of course, kept those pages about Saudi Arabia classified. Do you think they're afraid of Saudi Arabia?

GRAHAM: I think there are a number of reasons why they might be reticent. One is the concern about what it will mean to the Middle East if Saudi Arabia is exposed as having been directly involved in the most horrific terrorist attack in modern history inside the United States. Frankly, there may also be some concern about what this is going to say about the competency of some of the agencies before 9/11 and since 9/11 in terms of providing us the kind of intelligence and security that the American people expect their agencies to make available.

BURNETT: Before we go, you, of course, are two-term governor from Florida, three term senator. Florida crucial to the general election, I know that you support Hillary Clinton, the latest polling though nationally shows Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a head to head tie. He has been surging in Florida, tie there as well, 43 to 42 percent, well within the 3 point margin of error.

Do you think Trump can win Florida?

GRAHAM: He can win. I think anybody who takes Donald Trump casually is making a very serious mistake and I don't think Hillary Clinton is making that mistake.

I believe Hillary Clinton will be elected president. I think she will carry Florida, but it is not going to be an easy ride from now to November.

BURNETT: All right. Interesting that you think he could win Florida. Thank you very much. Senator Bob Graham, appreciate your time tonight.

And OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos on the Clinton/Sanders happy hour.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And remember all those states like Wyoming, where you beat me by a lot, then I still got most of the delegates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was so stupid. It's rigged!



[19:57:48] BURNETT: The mud slinging between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is getting nastier and nastier.

Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Better savor it, because you're going to have to endure most of the rest of the election season without your "SNL" fix.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't really like people. I only talk to them because I want to be the president so bad.

MOOS: Just when Kate McKinnon has nailed her Hillary, and 60-year-old Darrell Hammond has made a come back as the Donald.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone loves me. I even got this fat piece of crap behind me now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir, thank you, sir. Please, may I have another.

MOOS: And Larry David manages to be himself and Bernie at the same time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Hillary, I'll miss that lack of charm.

MOOS: What we'll be lacking is "SNL."

No Larry, no Kate, no Darrell. The three stooges of "SNL" political impersonation, gone?

Gone until the new season starts. A mere month or so. Before election, no more dancing candidates, no more re-enactments of Hillary Clinton's metro card fail. No more crawling over the turnstile. No more candidates themselves trying to be funny, or pretending to be president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of Mexico is here to see you.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I brought you the check for the wall.

MOOS: Who could forget Val?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, bartender, keep them coming. All anyone wants to talk about is Donald Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump? Isn't he the one that's like eh, you're all losers?

MOOS: McKinnon told "TIME" the skit "was the greatest day of my life." While Hillary tweeted, "A vote for Hillary is a vote for four more years of Kate McKinnon's impression."

As for Darrell Hammond, when he returns next season, he'll be playing both the Republican nominee and the aspiring first spouse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My god, they're multiplying!

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: And thank you so much for joining us. See you back here tomorrow.

"AC360" starts right now.