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Protestors Turn Out as Trump Targets California; Bernie Sanders Continues to Fight Ahead of California Primary; U.S. Military on the Frontlines in Syria; Kim Jong-un's Aunt Speaking Out. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 27, 2016 - 17:00   ET


TAPPER: I turn you over to the very capable hands of Wolf Blitzer. He's, as always, in THE SITUATION ROOM.

[17:00:09] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, shadowed by protesters. As Donald Trump targets California, demonstrators target Trump. Marches, rallies, confrontations and clashes. Is it the new normal for the election campaign?

New strategy. With the nomination locked up, Trump is looking to November. He's unveiled his battle plan, trying to turn key states from blue to red. Trump's in heavily Democratic California right now, stepping up his attacks on Hillary Clinton.

On the front line? U.S. troops are spotted and photographed with militia fighters who are battling ISIS inside Syria. Is the U.S. mission changing in Syria, and why is one key U.S. ally so upset?

And un-dercover. Kim Jong-un's aunt living secretly in America and running a dry cleaning shop. She talks about how she helped raise the young leader and how he was so obsessed with basketball that he would sleep with a ball tucked under his arm. She talks about the moment that changed everything.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news now. Now that's he's got the nomination in his pocket, Donald Trump is revealing a 15-state strategy for November. Among them, blue states that he wants to paint red. The biggest blue state is California, and Trump is about to start his second rally of the day there right now. He's already blaming the state's water problems on environmentalists, and he's saving his sharpest attacks right now for Hillary Clinton while praising Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Protesters, meanwhile, are stalking Trump at every stop. They were in the streets of Fresno earlier, and they are out in force right now in San Diego. With tensions running high, can police keep a lid on potential violence?

And a stunning look at the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, as a child. His aunt, who says she helped raise him, even changed his diapers, now lives secretly here in the United States, running a dry cleaning shop. She says he got his first general's uniform at the age of 8, but basketball was his real passion.

I'll speak with the Republican congressman, Darrell Issa of California. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they'll have full coverage of the day's top stories.

Let's begin with CNN's Sara Murray. She's in San Diego right now.

Sara, Donald Trump has his work cut out for him in California right now. Set the scene.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Donald Trump is expected to take the stage here in San Diego any minute. This is another campaign event where he will be greeted by protesters marching in the street.

He faces an uphill challenge in states like this. The western states have a very divisive protest played out and particularly as he has gone out the infrastructure. They let go of their political director. They still don't have stats built out in traditional battleground states.

And despite all of that, Donald Trump is still saying California is a state he could flip to the red column in the general election.

TRUMP: Five o'clock in the morning, people are lining up. This is crazy.

MURRAY: Tonight, Donald Trump campaigning in deep blue territory.

TRUMP: We are going to make a strong play for California, because if we don't win it, they are going to spend one hell of a fortune in fighting me off.

MURRAY: He's set to focus on 15 states in the general election, rather than a traditional handful of battleground states, including Democratic strongholds like New York, Oregon and Washington.

TRUMP: I'm putting 15 states into play that I think I can win. I was in the state of Washington recently. We had record crowds. The biggest crowds they've ever had.

MURRAY Today, Trump is tearing in to Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: Hillary is a disaster, folks. She has bad judgment. That was said by Bernie Sanders. He's given me a lot of my best lines.

MURRAY: And once again, floating the idea of going mano-a-mano with Bernie Sanders.

TRUMP: In the first place, you don't want to really debate a guy who's in second place, but it could be I'll end up with Bernie.

MURRAY: All as he makes as play for party unity.

TRUMP: I'm trying to get along with them on that. I have to be a good Republican. MURRAY: And joining the chorus, Republicans urging Marco Rubio to run

for re-election rather than putting into play a potentially vulnerable Senate seat. Trump tweeting, "Poll data shows that Marco Rubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida. Important to keep the majority. Run, Marco!"

It's a sharp shift from Trump's portrayal of Rubio's political prowess in the GOP primaries.

TRUMP: Rubio's won nothing. He couldn't get elected dog catcher in Florida. They hate him in the state of Florida.

MURRAY: But Rubio is not sold on running for re-election, telling CNN he might reconsider if his friend weren't already vying for the seat.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I have a real good friend who I've known for a long time is running for the Senate. I didn't run. I said I wasn't going to. He got into the race.


[17:05:06] MURRAY: Now, there's been plenty of intrigue about whether Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders really might debate. Sanders campaign put out a statement today, saying they have offers from two networks to do the debate and to donate money to charity.

But Donald Trump's campaign is smacking down that idea today. He put out a statement saying, "Now that I'm the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second-place finisher. As much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders -- and it would be an easy payday -- I will want to debate the first-place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably crooked Hillary Clinton." Dashing any hopes of a Bernie-Donald Trump debate, I'm afraid.

Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: So bottom line, there's not going to be a debate, right? As we watch these protesters gather outside the hall where you are right now, Sara, no debate between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump?

MURRAY: Nope. No debate between the two of them. And look, I think the reality is you take on risk any time you go on that debate stage. And it's probably not worth it for Donald Trump, who is the Republican nominee, to go to battle with somebody who's likely not going to be his opponent in the general election.

In the meantime, he's still working on party unity. And like I said, Wolf, he's convinced that, even in spite of these protests, even in spite of his rhetoric, he believes he can turn California red in November.

BLITZER: Good crowd inside. Thanks very much, Sara Murray, for that.

Outside, there are protesters outside. Phil Mattingly is joining us now from Fresno, California, where Trump held a rally earlier today. Was stocked by protesters there, as well. Phil, Trump is making big claims about rock-solid blue states turning

red for Trump. Is that really possible?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't seem likely, Wolf. I mean, just a couple of numbers to kind of explain why.

Here in California, Barack Obama in 2008 won this state by 25 points. In 2012, 22 points. The last time a Republican won this state, George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Another good state to look at is New York, one Trump consistently cites on the campaign trail as a state where he did very well in the Republican Party primary and should put it into play in the general election.

Hillary Clinton won New York state with 1.1 million votes. That's more than 2,000 votes than every Republican in the Republican primary combined. So a lot of work for Trump to even play in states like this, Wolf, but as it currently stands, Democrats look very solid if you're talking about California, New York and other strongholds. At least at this point, it looks like Trump is legitimately targeted.

BLITZER: Yes, we're looking, by the way. You're in Fresno, California, Phil, in San Diego where Trump is now getting ready to speak inside at that big rally. Outside, there were clearly protesters there.

Phil, even if wins aren't possible, let's say, in California for Donald Trump, could there be a significant benefit to him if he were to invest some time, some money in states like California?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, there was an interesting element today here in Fresno when he was talking about this idea of trying to put California in play, and that was this.

Even if he can't win the state, he wants to force Hillary Clinton and Democrats to spend money here. That's not a small thing. This is an incredibly expensive state to play in. No Democrat wants to have to spend in this state in the general election.

So the idea that Hillary Clinton would have to divert resources to California would, on some level, be helpful to a Trump campaign.

But Sara kind of hit on a key point here, Wolf. Donald Trump would need infrastructure. He would need ground game, and he would need his own money to play in this state. At this point coming off this primary season where he took such a nontraditional route to that Republican presumptive nomination, those things don't exist here.

And so it's raising questions right now about how he can play in a state like California. Still, as of now and these visits have really shown, he at least is paying attention to the state, Wolf.

BLITZER: Phil Mattingly on the scene for us, thanks very much.

All right. Let's get to the breaking news right now. These are live pictures coming in from San Diego. Protesters marching through the streets over there near Donald Trump's rally. He's inside getting ready to address a big crowd. Outside, the protestors have gathered.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is outside the arena where Trump will be speaking. Paul, what are you seeing there?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm right at the very head of that line of protesters who marched here just outside the arena. They have been shouting, "Dump Donald Trump," among other things, waving both Mexican and American flags. One Mexican-American lawyer telling me San Diego is a border town, a multicultural city, and she just doesn't support what Donald Trump stands for.

Over here is the very center where Trump is talking, and you can see just beyond these protesters, police out in force. No, they have not put on their riot helmets or anything like that, but they are prepared. We look around this entire perimeter, we've seen hundreds of police officers. And they are using barricades and barriers of various types to keep the anti-Trump demonstrators away from the pro- Trump crowd.

Right now they're yelling, "Whose streets? Our streets." And Wolf, it might be difficult for me to hear you if you ask a question, but that's the scene right now. Nobody's been arrested. There's been an awful lot of shouting, and we'll try to be careful, because there's also been a lot of expletives. But so far, calm for the most part in terms of any violence, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope it stays that way. Paul Vercammen, we'll check back with you. We'll see what's going on outside that arena there.

[17:10:26] Republican Congressman Darrell Issa is inside the arena. He's from California. He's a Republican. He's joining us now. He's a Donald Trump supporter.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, thank you, Wolf. And things are exciting and noisy here, too. This is a veteran-based crowd. Huge amount of veterans, some of them in wheelchairs, some of them just back from Iraq or Afghanistan.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about what's going on. If you can get the microphone closer to your mouth, that would be good, as well.

Outside -- outside, this is your area, your district. I don't know if the district is right there where the arena is, but it's not very far away. It looks like there are a lot of protesters once again that have gathered to protest Donald Trump, some of the statements he's made about Mexicans, immigration, other issues. Is this the new normal now?

ISSA: Well, there certainly is an organized protest at every Trump event, and that's part of the reason that Donald Trump is campaigning in California. Is unlike past campaigns where you have to purchase air time, Donald Trump has a strategy, and it's a good one that, in fact, he is earning the kind of awareness here that's going to make California a state in play, one in which Americans are voting for him, including here we have a large amount of people carrying signs and saying, "Hispanic veterans for Trump."

BLITZER: Because as you point out, he says his general election strategy is to target California, other states that typically go Democratic.

But you know, a Republican hasn't won since President George H.W. Bush carried California back in 1988. And a lot of people think, with the growing Hispanic population, minority population, Democrats, young people, California's totally unrealistic for Donald Trump.

You're a Californian. What do you say?

ISSA: Well, to be honest, Wolf, winning the primary as a come-from- nowhere candidate with very money actually spent was unrealistic, but Donald Trump did it.

What you have here, though, is, in fact, a Reagan-esque campaign, one in which he talks about making America great again for all of us, revitalizing the military. And at least in San Diego, our Hispanic population here overwhelmingly includes people who served in the Navy, the Marines and other branches of the military. This is a Navy town, after all.

So being here and finding the excitement, including the Hispanic community, isn't any surprise.

BLITZER: Why hasn't the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, endorsed Donald Trump yet?

ISSA: Well, certainly, there are a number of people, and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is certainly one of them, who are preserved and waiting. And perhaps they're going to wait until close to the election -- to the primary, all ending in California.

But by the time we get to Cleveland, it's pretty clear that we are coming behind this candidate, and he is moving the numbers, moving immeasurably for candidates in a positive direction. This has been a candidate that hasn't said the ordinary thing, but he has said one thing, and that is that America will be great again. He believes it and people believe he will do it.

BLITZER: Paul Ryan may eventually wind up endorsing Donald Trump. And Mitt Romney made it clear in an interview with "The Wall Street Journal" today -- and he was the 2012 Republican presidential nominee -- that he's not going to be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. He says, if he can't find some third-party candidate he'll write in a name on that ballot in November.

There are a lot of Republicans who feel like that. They simply can't stomach the fact that they would have to vote for Donald Trump. And I'm sure you know many of those Republicans.

ISSA: Well, you know, Mitt Romney probably lost 8 or 10 percent of Republican votes in many areas for various reasons. You always have the challenge that winning your own party at the 90, 95 percent level is about what you're going to do.

But winning blue-collar Democrats and winning young people and winning independents is part of a strategy that Donald Trump has been exploring.

The other thing you're seeing is that Donald Trump is very much pivoting to main issues that are important in the main election. And one in particular that he's getting a boost from is that more and more people realize that Hillary Clinton has committed violations of the law. And it's beginning to affect trust at a level in which they're looking again at Donald Trump and knowing he believes what he says, and that he does intend on making America great again.

BLITZER: But she hasn't even charged -- she hasn't been indicted with any criminal violation, as far as I know, right?

[17:15:07] ISSA: Well, Lois Lerner was tried -- was charged by the Ways and Means Committee, and the Justice Department refused to obey the law.

So I expect that we would go into the general election with Hillary Clinton not being charged. But in fact, the State Department I.G. has made it clear that she violated regulations that are backed by the law, meaning that violating those regulations is violating the law.

So at this point, you have an I.G. appointed by Secretary Kerry, confirmed by the Senate, who believes that she violated the law.

BLITZER: Stand by, Congressman. We're going to come back to you. We're going to pick up on that thought. Inside a big crowd there has gathered in support of Donald Trump. Outside, not so much. Outside, look at this. There are a lot of protesters there, some of them waving Mexican flags. You see them in San Diego outside the arena. They are protesting peacefully right now, but they're making their voice heard, and they've got a lot of signs, as you can see. We'll continue our coverage right after this.


[17:20:37] BLITZER: Breaking news, Donald Trump driving large crowds of supporters and protesters as he targets blue state California. The lectern on the left part of your screen, he's going to be speaking there momentarily. On the right part of the screen, outside the arena in San Diego, protesters have gathered. You see a lot of the Mexican flags flying there. Clearly, protesters not happy with what Donald Trump has said about Mexican-Americans, what he said about immigrants. This is going to continue, presumably. Just the start.

We're back with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California. He's inside the arena, where there's a huge crowd that has gathered. Is there anything, Congressman, Donald Trump can do to calm these kinds of situations outside these events? We saw Albuquerque the other night; we saw protests getting robust, rather lively in California yesterday. What can he do to lower the temperature of his rhetoric?

ISSA: Well, I think that Donald Trump is shifting his emphasis to issues that are broader than the ones in the primary.

Let's remember that there is something that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have in common, which is, Bernie Sanders supporters are at both of their events, yelling very loudly. This is -- this is one of those amazing times in which the Democratic or, if you will, the socialist candidate doesn't want to leave the field, that he is stirring up, as much as he can, supporters to come to both Hillary Clinton's rallies and Donald Trump's rallies and protest.

And that's probably going to transition in the general to be just Donald Trump. But for now, what Donald Trump is doing, he's talking about the economy or, in the case of this rally, he's talking about our veterans; he's talking about making our military song and safe again.

And so that's going to be an issue that unites a lot of people here, including the great many Hispanic veterans that are inside the arena here.

BLITZER: Donald Trump today brushed off Secretary Clinton's criticism of his relationship with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Listen to what Trump said.


TRUMP: "Donald Trump is a friend of Putin." Well, actually, Putin did call me a genius, and he said I'm the future of the Republican Party. He's off to a good start.


BLITZER: He was -- he was quoting Hillary Clinton, who said Donald Trump is a friend of Putin. This comes as President Obama says Trump is rattling world leaders. He's at the G-7 in Japan, as you know. You're on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Is this sort of talk that you expect from a presidential nominee?

ISSA: Well, it's not what you would expect. But let's also understand that President Reagan dealt with Gorbachev in a way that was not typical. He wasn't afraid to meet with him; he dealt with strong leader to strong leader. And he came out with real changes that were positive that made the world safer.

The other thing that Donald Trump is doing, which is very Reagan- esque, is he's assuring everyone that he's going to dramatically increase our military capability, so that in fact, he will be looking at Putin in a way in which he has a real deterrent that right now we're beginning to lose.

BLITZER: Darrell Issa is the congressman from California. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us. We hope it's a wonderful Memorial Day weekend for you and your family. Thank you very much. ISSA: You, too. Thank you.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, we're going to have more on Donald Trump's claim he could be competitive in California. We're getting live pictures outside the arena where he's getting ready to speak. There are protests outside there. He's inside. He's going to be speaking. This is pictures from an earlier event today in California.

Also, who knew North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's aunt has secretly been living in the United States for years? And now she's telling stories about what he was like when he was a little boy.


[17:28:46] BLITZER: Look at these live pictures, group of protesters demonstrating outside the San Diego convention hall. Donald Trump is inside getting ready to speak.

Trump claims he can put California and other traditionally Democratic and toss-up states in play this November in the general election.

Let's bring in our experts: Real Clear Politics national political reporter Rebecca Berg; CNN political commentator Peter Beinart -- he's a contributing editor to Atlantic Media; and our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

Dana, the protesters are out there. We've seen them now for several days. Politically speaking, the fallout from these kinds of demonstrations, these anti-Donald Trump demonstrations, good for Trump politically or bad for Trump politically? How does it impact the political process?

DANA PERINO, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think politically, at this point, it's a wash, because the people who are for him are -- you know, think that these protesters are ridiculous.

The people who are vehemently against him, are supportive of this, and the people who are in the middle think the whole thing is crazy anyway.

So I really think that, at this point, it's a wash. We'll see how this becomes a true staple going forward and how the protests play out, vis-a-vis the actual rhetoric going back and forth between Trump and, presumably, Hillary Clinton.

[17:30:05] BLITZER: lot of people, Rebecca, suspect this is just the beginning. We're going to be seeing this wherever Trump sort of shows up. Outside there are going to be protesters, especially in big cities, urban areas.

BERG: Certainly. And I wouldn't be surprised, given that Donald Trump so far has not been tempering his rhetoric at all in the general election. Some people suspected that now that he's won the Republican nomination and is pivoting towards the general election, maybe he would take a more conciliatory tone but he hasn't done that so far and he's shown no signs of wanting to do that moving forward because he thinks he's hit on a formula that works for him.

And so for as long as he's using this rhetoric that has been very divisive and has really galvanized a lot of people on the left, I think we're going to continue to see these protests wherever he goes.

BLITZER: Clearly that strategy, Peter, worked at defeating 16 Republican challengers, if you will, in a Republican contest that was successful but can that same strategy, let's say he continues the same strategy, work in a general election?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's unlikely. First of all, we're seeing he's galvanizing opposition especially among the Latino population, which is very important because the Latino population has grown dramatically but Latinos are underrepresented in the electorate because not as many of them are citizens and not as many of them are registering. But we're seeing news stories after news stories coming out now showing that citizenship rate and registration rates are going through the roof because people want to come out -- Latinos want to come out and vote against Donald Trump.

And for swing voters, who might not be as ideologically opposed to Donald Trump, what they see is a candidate who is inciting violence. That's not to say that protesters don't bear some of the blame, too, but we didn't see this at Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney's rallies, we didn't see it at John McCain's rallies. It is -- because of what Donald Trump has said and the way he has responded to past protests that's created this culture. I think a lot of Americans don't want a president who breeds this kind of violence around them.

BLITZER: The demonstrators outside, right now they're peaceful by all accounts. Paul Vercammen was standing outside.

So it's a peaceful demonstration. Loud obviously, noisy, but peaceful. Let's hope it stays that way. Inside, he's still -- you've got to admit, Dana, he's attracting huge crowds wherever he goes. Those rallies are packed.

BASH: They are packed. And he has mentioned a few times and he is absolutely right, it's not like he's in a ruby red state. He is in California.


BERG: Although, San Diego is more --

BASH: San Diego -- I was just going to say that. And he picked sort of conservative pockets of California.

BERG: And then Orange County yesterday.

BASH: Was a very -- is a very conservative pocket. But he's trying to -- I guess the point is that he's trying to use these rallies in this state to -- you know, to send a message that he is going to try to compete in places like California. Whether or not he actually does, we'll see. I mean, we've seen Republican candidates threaten to truly compete in blue states in order to try to get their opponents to spend money unnecessarily in places like that before. It's early. We'll see if he continues to do that.

BROWN: You're from San Diego. You grew up in San Diego. Is it realistic to believe, as Trump said today, he thinks he could make California competitive in a general election?

BERG: Based on recent political history, it's really not. California as of 2014, according to Gallup, was the sixth most Democratic state in the entire country. So not only is it a big state, hard to organize in if you're a Republican, expensive, it's really very Democratic. And so you would have to see essentially a wave election nationally for California to be in play for Republicans.

Now I'm not saying that that's impossible. Donald Trump think he is a transformational candidate that could have a wave sort of election, but it's highly improbable and it would be very, very difficult for him to do. And of course as we've seen with Bernie Sanders, rallying crowds are not necessarily a predictor of electoral success.

BLITZER: At least so far she's gotten -- Hillary Clinton, what, three million more votes than Bernie Sanders.

But, Peter, the California primary, the Democratic primary on June 7th, recent polls have shown neck-and-neck right now between Secretary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. How big of a setback would it be if she were to lose California on that day even if she were to cross the delegate threshold to wrap up the nomination?

BEINART: It would be a temporary setback. I mean, a significant one in the short term. I think in the long term what we've seen is that candidates tend to bounce back from divisive primaries because we live in a very highly partisan era. Just as Republicans have rallied around Donald Trump despite the unbelievably vicious primary campaign that he had, that it's very likely that Bernie Sanders supporters, despite what they are saying now, will rally behind Hillary Clinton just as Hillary Clinton supporters rally behind Barack Obama. So it will be a temporary setback if she loses.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stand by. We have much more coming up. We're monitoring what is going on outside the arena. There you see protests, peaceful protests, anti-Donald Trump protests. There's some gathered there in San Diego.

[17:35:02] We'll continue to watch the situation, we'll be right back.


BLITZER: We continue on to the breaking news. Protesters demonstrating outside Donald Trump's rally in San Diego. Lots of protesters outside. Huge crowd inside Donald Trump's supporters.

We're also following important developments in the Democratic presidential race. Tonight, Hillary Clinton is working to avoid an embarrassing loss to Senator Bernie Sanders in the upcoming California primary. But she also is trying to keep focused on Donald Trump and the November election.

[17:40:03] CNN correspondent Scott McLean is keeping track of the Democratic race for us.

Bernie sanders not giving up the fight. Not at all.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're right, Wolf. But the odds of Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination are pretty long but he is not about to stop fighting. Last night Bernie Sanders suggested that Hillary Clinton was arrogant and today she continues to take heat over her e-mail controversy from Donald Trump.


MCLEAN (voice-over): Hillary Clinton says the Democratic primary is all but over. But don't tell Bernie Sanders that.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can win here in California. And we can come out with the Democratic nomination.

MCLEAN: As new poll numbers show Clinton and Sanders now in a dead heat in California, Sanders continues to make the case that he has a better shot of winning in November.

SANDERS: If we win the Democratic nomination, we're going to defeat Donald Trump, not only are we going to defeat him, we're going to defeat him very badly.

MCLEAN: Clinton continues fighting for votes in California. Today speaking to community leaders in Oakland and hitting the airwaves with ads in English and Spanish. While hitting Trump at rallies.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Send a message to a demagogic, rhetorically divisive and dangerous candidate that when you think about the future, you don't see Donald Trump's face up there.

MCLEAN: On the verge of clinching the party nomination, Clinton is trying to shift her focus to the general election.

CLINTON: Donald Trump is an unqualified loose cannon who cannot get near the most powerful job in the world.

MCLEAN: But Sanders is not making that easy. On Jimmy Kimmel last night, Sanders called out Clinton's comments to CNN earlier this month that she had the nomination wrapped up.

SANDERS: Just a tinge arrogance. I kind of think that on June 7th, people of California will have a message for Secretary Clinton.

MCLEAN: Clinton has declined to debate Sanders in California, so instead he's challenged Trump. Sanders said two networks offered to host the debate but today Trump backed out, saying in a statement, "As much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders, and it would be an easy payday, I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party. Probably crooked Hillary Clinton or whoever it may be." SANDERS: I hope that he changes his mind be again. I mean, Mr. Trump

is known to change his mind many times in a day. And I would, you know -- Trump goes around and he's a bully. He's a big, tough guy.

Well, Mr. Trump, what are you afraid of?

MCLEAN: Clinton is also trying to dismiss new questions about her e- mails after a scathing inspector general's report claiming that found she broke State Department rules.

CLINTON: It was still a mistake. If I could go back I'd do it differently.

MCLEAN: Trump is already using the report as ammunition against her.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This inspector general report was a rule doozy. This was bad report. This was page after page. And you know it goes back to judgment. It goes back to competence. She's not competent. If you look, she's essentially not competent.


MCLEAN: And now that this Sanders-Trump debate is off the table, Bernie Sanders has some new challenge. How to hold on to the spotlight ahead of the California primary which is just 11 days away. We know he's going to be campaigning hard even over his wedding anniversary this weekend. But if he's going to catch up in the pledged delegate race, he would need to win two-thirds of the remaining delegates and, Wolf, that is even not factoring in the superdelegates and, as we know, they were overwhelmingly in favor of Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: Scott McLean, very good report. Thanks very much. Welcome to THE SITUATION ROOM.

MCLEAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: We're keeping an eye on the breaking news right now, the continuing protests against Donald Trump, outside his rally in San Diego. You're looking at live pictures right there.

Also, there's other important news we're following. U.S. troops moving closer than ever to the front lines in the war on ISIS, an important NATO ally clearly upset because of something the U.S. troops are wearing.

And Kim Jong-un's aunt opening up about what the North Korean leader was like as a little boy, including his obsession with basketball.


[17:48:29] BLITZER: U.S. troops have been spotted and photographed near the front line battle against ISIS inside Syria.

Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is looking into that for us.

Jim, is the U.S. military mission changing in Syria right now?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's not officially but the fact is, U.S. forces are very close to the front lines, very close to combat. Therefore very close to what can be a deadly danger. We've seen that already in Iraq. In fact we've seen U.S. soldiers die in Iraq and now we're seeing U.S. soldiers on the ground close to the front lines in Syria.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): U.S. Special Forces on the ground just north of the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria alongside Kurdish and Arab forces fighting the terror group. A French news agency captured these rare images of U.S. special operators in the area, wearing the insignia of a Syrian Kurdish forces they are fighting alongside. NATO ally Turkey immediately protested. They considered the YPG terrorists. U.S. military now says it should never have happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wearing those YPG patches was unauthorized, it was inappropriate. And corrective action has been taken.

SCIUTTO: The new images make clear that U.S. forces are now very close to the front lines of the fight against ISIS in Syria. Though the Pentagon insists the role of U.S. forces has not changed.

PETER COOK, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: They are not on the forward line. They are providing advice and assistance and, again, I'm not going to get into the details but that mission has not changed. Their role has not changed. They are not leading this fight. They are supporting those forces that are at the leading edge.

[17:50:04] SCIUTTO: There are currently more than 200 U.S. forces on the ground in Syria, training and advising Syrian and Kurdish fighters.

CNN's Barbara Starr spoke exclusively last week with the spokesman for the Kurdish Arab coalition, who say they still need more American help.

TALIL ALI SILO, SYRIAN DEMOCRATIC FORCES (Through Translator): We have requested a continuous supply of weapons at a level that is consistent with the size of the mission we face.

SCIUTTO: In Iraq, the U.S. continues air strikes and artillery barrages against ISIS fighters in support of Iraqi forces fighting to retake the town of Fallujah, sits just 40 miles west of the capital Baghdad. One U.S. air strikes says the Pentagon killed the commander of ISIS forces in the city.


SCIUTTO: One of the biggest challenges in the Falluja fight is going to be that it's very heavily and densely populated. Some 50,000 residents that's estimated are still in the city, and we know, Wolf, that the ISIS fighters embed themselves in that population, use them as human shields. It's going to be a real danger for them as this fight continues.

BLITZER: Certainly it will be. And that fight will continue. Some believe it's only just getting started. Thanks very much for that, Jim Sciutto.

Extraordinary new insight into the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from his aunt who says she took care of him as a little boy. She now lives secretly in America running a dry cleaning shop.

Brian Todd has the details. Brian, what are we learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An astounding story, Wolf. We've got new information tonight on Kim Jong-un, this man who has become one of America's principal enemies. New details on his upbringing, his personality and it comes, as Wolf mentioned, from his aunt, this lady, a woman who says she helped raise him.


TODD (voice-over): They look like any other couple walking in Central Park and through Times Square. But tonight the "Washington Post" says for nearly 20 years this husband and wife have kept their true identities hidden. The quiet owners of a small dry cleaning store say they are also the aunt and uncle of one of the world's most notorious dictators, North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

ANNA FIFIELD, THE WASHINGTON POST: They live in an entirely unremarkable American immigrant life.

TODD: Kim's aunt who says her given name is Ko Yong Suk says she is the sister of Kim's mother, Ko Yong Hui, one of Kim Jong-il's wives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was someone that I believe that Ko Yong Hui would trust, you know, obviously with the lives of her children.

TODD: Ko Yong Suk told the "Post" she traveled from North Korea to take care of Kim, his older brother and younger sister when they attended this boarding school in Switzerland.

FIFIELD: He was not a good student. He did not enjoy studying.

TODD: "Post" reporter Anna Fifield interviewed Ko and her husband Ri Gong after uncovering their existence through a lawsuit they filed in South Korea. They insisted their faces, the names they use in the U.S. and the location of their home and dry cleaning business not be revealed.

Fifield says the couple tell a story of a young man who was privileged and from early childhood apparently knew he would inherit the leadership of North Korea. Kim's aunt said she took Kim and his siblings to Euro Disney, the French Riviera, took them skiing in the Alps. She describes Kim as being obsessed with basketball, that he would sometimes sleep with a ball under his arm. An obsession that would lead to some surreal moments with former NBA star Dennis Rodman. Ko Yong Suk told the "Post" there was one day when a clear signal was

sent that the young Kim would succeed his father, his 8th birthday.

FIFIELD: There was a big party for him in Pyongyang and that he was presented with a general's army uniform on that day and that there were real generals who were at that party who then, you know, bowed to this 8-year-old kid.

TODD: From that moment, Ko says, Kim's behavior changed. She describes Kim as intensely focused but, quote, " short tempered" and had a lack of tolerance.

FIFIELD: He was prone to having tantrums, almost that he would get in a huff about things. So when his mother, for example, visited and told him that he shouldn't be spending so much time playing basketball, that he should be studying, he wasn't happy about that, and would go on hunger strike is what his aunt said about him.

TODD: Ko told the "Post" in 1998 she and her husband sought asylum at the U.S. embassy in Switzerland, then they were taken to an American military base in Germany, questioned for months. When they got to America, she says they received money and for a short time housing from the CIA.


TODD: The CIA would not comment on the aunt's interview with "The Washington Post." Ko Yong Suk's husband Ri Gong says he wants to go back to Pyongyang for a visit as sort of goodwill ambassador between the U.S. and North Korea. One analyst says that would be a, quote, "suicidal act." Ko says she's trying to talk her husband out of it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What was the breaking point, Brian, for the aunt and uncle? What was it that made them finally decide to defect?

TODD: Well, the couple was vague about that in their interview with "The Washington Post," Wolf. The "Post" and analyst we spoke to say that it could be that the aunt decided to defect when she found out that her sister, Kim Jong-un's mother, had cancer. Kim's mother, because she was so ambitious had made a lot of enemies inside the regime. If the mother was no longer in the picture, those enemies might come after the aunt and uncle. Kim's mother did end up dying in the year 2004.

[17:55:07] BLITZER: Brian Todd, good report. Thanks very much for that.

Coming up, Donald Trump has a new strategy for November. Turn blue states red. You're looking at live pictures right now. Anti-Donald Trump protesters outside the arena in San Diego where Trump is inside. We have now been told there have been some arrests. We're going to update you on what's going on out there. Stand by.

Also as searchers hunt for the black boxes from EgyptAir Flight 804, the batteries powering their locator beacons will die within weeks. Can search teams beat the clock?


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. California screaming, large protests as Donald Trump campaigns across the Golden State. Crowds of anti-Trump demonstrators turning out in Fresno and San Diego.