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Clinton: Trump Raising Money for Vets a 'Stunt'; Trump Launches Tirade as He Details Aid for Vets; Trump Attacks Media at Press Conference; Hillary Clinton Slams Donald Trump on Veterans Donations; North Korean Missile Program a Threat to U.S.. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 31, 2016 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via phone): I have said repeatedly, I will certainly do everything I can to unify the Democratic Party. Our campaign has been reaching out to one another. We'll continue to do that. And once the primaries are over, as of next Tuesday, we will begin talking in more detail about what we can do to unify the party.

Because as I've said many times, and as Senator Sanders has said, we both are going to do everything we can to prevent Donald Trump from getting anywhere near the White House.

TAPPER: Madam Secretary, thanks so much for calling in. We look forward to having you back some time soon.

CLINTON: Thanks a lot. Good to talk to you. Take care. Bye-bye.

TAPPER: Bye-bye. And this programming note, Donald Trump will be my guest this Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION." That's 9 a.m. and noon, Sunday right here on CNN.

Let me turn to our panel right now, just to talk about some of the things heard. What struck you, Amanda, from what you just heard from Secretary Clinton?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think she got caught up in Donald Trump's game of playing who gave more to the vets. She should have said, you know, I can repay the vet by being strong commander in chief and talk about those qualifications, rather than talking about money after that.

TAPPER: What about you, Hilary? Do you agree with Amanda?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think there are so many more things she could do for the vets for Donald Trump. It was probably picked -- you know, picked from a long list.

But in particular, I think this is very important for Democrats to hear from Secretary Clinton this week that she cares about Bernie Sanders' voters, that she cares about what Bernie Sanders brings to the table, and she'll going to work hard to make sure we are a unified party going into the fall.

TAPPER: Amanda, what about her answer on the e-mail server? When I asked with that quote from "USA Today," about needing to convince voters that she'll put her national security ahead of her own personal interests. She says she always does that.

CARPENTER: Yes. Well, she keeps falling back on saying other people have done this and everyone knows. The bad thing was that she set up her own private e-mail server. What she needs to do to convince voters that they can trust her in the future is she would not do this again as president of the United States. And so far, nothing that she's said convinces me of that.

ROSEN: I think she's said that repeatedly. And I think she said it was a mistake, and I think voters know that she cares more about the national security of this country than any other candidate right now. And the most qualified to be commander in chief for that reason.

TAPPER: Hilary Rosen, Amanda Carpenter, thanks to you both. That's it for "THE LEAD."

I'm Jake Tapper. I'll turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, beat the press. Donald Trump summons reporters in Trump Tower. That bludgeons them as dishonest and sleazy. He also slams a conservative critic, a Republican governor and a judge overseeing a fraud case against Trump University. He says if he's elected president, he'll take the same tone in the White House.

Vetting the vets. Trump's tirade comes as he accounts for almost $6 million in fund-raising for veterans' groups four months after he pledged to do so. Trump says it took time to scrutinize the groups that many people have not heard of.

Head on. Hillary Clinton shifts strategy for taking on Donald Trump. No other candidate has managed to come up with a formula for defeating him. Can Hillary Clinton find a winning approach?

And underestimated. Kim Jong-un's latest missile launch is a failure, but experts warn that North Korea is learning from its mistakes and could soon be able to threaten the United States.

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

Donald Trump called a news conference today and spent a lot of the time there bashing the news media. Trump gathered journalists to announce an accounting of his fund-raising for veterans' groups amounting to $5.6 million.

The issue goes back to January, when Donald Trump skipped a Republican debate for a benefit and repeatedly failed, though, in the process to give details about the proceeds. Trump today called reporters dishonest, not good people, and sleaze. And he vowed that, if he wins the presidency, they can expect the same tone.

Trump also lashed out at a judge overseeing a fraud case against Trump University, who he's previously called a Mexican and today calling him unfair. Documents from that case were released today, detailing how the Trump sales team was instructed to bring in customers and push students to sign up for more courses.

Also tonight, U.S. officials are warning that Kim Jong-un's missile program poses a threat to American, even though the latest North Korea test apparently failed right after launch. Officials say the hardline regime learns from its mistakes and that the missile being tested could eventually threaten U.S. territory. I'll speak with the Republican congressman, Chris Collins. He's a Trump supporter. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all the day's top stories.

Let's begin with CNN's Phil Mattingly and Donald Trump's extraordinary tirade against reporters, his critics, his rivals and a judge. Phil, Trump is often crude, sometimes coarse, but it seemed to boil over today, his anger. Update our viewers.

[17:05:06] PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. Look, Donald Trump over the course of his campaign hasn't pulled many, if any, punches. So a combative press conference, not that surprising. But Tuesday, here in New York, a clear escalation, a reflection of a candidate frustrated with his perceived slights in the media. But also a reflection of a candidate who is convinced his strategy of attacking the press is one that works and one he's going to stick with throughout the fall.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a sleaze in my book. You're a sleaze.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Donald Trump...

TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. I've watched you on television. You're a real beauty.

MATTINGLY: ... lashing out at the media...

TRUMP: I have to tell you, the press is so dishonest.

MATTINGLY: ... frustrated by months of questions over the accounting of what he said was $6 million raised for veterans' groups...

TRUMP: I think the political press is among the most dishonest people I've ever met, I have to tell you that. OK.

MATTINGLY: Trump training his fire on the very people who cover his campaign and ask the questions.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: To follow up on that, you keep calling us the dishonest press, the disgusting press.

TRUMP: Generally speaking, that's 100 percent true.

MATTINGLY: Even as he released the list of organizations benefiting from what he said turned out to be $5.6 million in donations. Trump making clear his attack-the-press strategy is here to stay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this what it's going to be like covering you if you're president?

TRUMP: Yes, it is. Yes, it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA! USA!

MATTINGLY: The questions coming in the wake of Trump's January event he labeled a fund-raiser. A public event he arranged instead of attending a Republican debate.

Trump's attacks coming the same day his documents were released against his lawyers' wishes in the lawsuit targeting now defunct Trump University. The documents laying out the company's controversial sales and marketing strategies. Trump also leveling attacks on the merits of that suit and continuing to swing at the judge overseeing the case.

TRUMP: The judge have been very unfair. And I will win the Trump University case. I already have, as far as I'm concerned, but I will win.

ACOSTA: Why antagonize the judge in that case?

TRUMP: You know what? Why antagonize? I don't care.

Because you know what? Because I'm a man of principle. And most of the people that took those courses have letters saying they thought it was great, essentially.

MATTINGLY: Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, just the latest target in what has been a campaign increasingly defined by personal attacks.

TRUMP: Lyin' Ted. Lies. Oh, he lies.

MATTINGLY: Even on some who now back his candidacy.

TRUMP: Little Marco was right over here.

MATTINGLY: Conservatives not sold on his candidacy.

TRUMP: I said Bill Kristol is a loser.

MATTINGLY: The previous Republican nominee.

TRUMP: He walks like a penguin onto the stage. Ever see him? Like a penguin.

MATTINGLY: Democrats who attack his campaign.

TRUMP: Pocahontas. That's Elizabeth Warren.

MATTINGLY: And, of course, the media.

TRUMP: Megyn Kelly is a lightweight. MATTINGLY: Today Trump making clear he's just getting started.

TRUMP: I'm not looking for credit. What I don't want is when I raise millions of dollars have this sleazy guy right over here from ABC. He's a sleaze in my book.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why am I a sleaze?

TRUMP: You're a sleaze, because you know the facts and you know the facts well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: Wolf, an interesting moment, after that combative press conference I talked to both campaigns, both Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, and the Trump campaign. Both fairly happy with what they saw.

The Clinton campaign positively giddy by a performance that they say underscores that Trump is not prepared to be president of the United States. Trump advisers making this point, Wolf. One, in a text message to me, said, "He will take the us versus you battle any day of week. It's worked for us so far. It's going to continue to work" -- Wolf

BLITZER: All right. Phil, thank you. Phil Mattingly reporting.

Let's bring in CNN's Jim Acosta. He's one of the reporters singled out today at that Trump news conference.

Jim, let me play a little bit more of what Donald Trump said about the media and your exchange with him. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I will say that the press should be ashamed of themselves and on behalf of the vets, the press should be ashamed of themselves. They are calling me. They are furious, because I sent people checks of a lot of money, and we're going to give you the names right now, which is what you want. And instead of being, like, "Thank you very much, Mr. Trump" or "Trump did a good job," everyone is saying, "Who got it, who got it, who got it?" And you make me look very bad. I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: To follow up on that, you keep calling us the dishonest press, the disgusting press.

TRUMP: Generally speaking I agree with that.

ACOSTA: I disagree with that, sir. And if I can ask you this question, it seems as though you're resistant to scrutiny, the kind of scrutiny that comes with running for president of the United States.

TRUMP: I like scrutiny. But you know what...

ACOSTA: You're raising money for veterans... TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me. I've watched you on television.

You're a real beauty. When I raise money for the veterans, and it's a massive amount of money, find out how much Hillary Clinton's given to the veterans. Nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:10:17] BLITZER: So, Jim, did he take issue with something in particular that was reported? Or did he just object to the facing serious questions about all of this?

ACOSTA: Well, first thing, Wolf, he seems to be following where my mother has been all these years. She's been saying I've been a real beauty all along.

But in all seriousness, no, there wasn't really a question that he took issue with. It seemed to be Donald Trump was taking issue with the news media role to do basic fact checking. How much money has been raised. There have been discrepancies about that for months. Where is the money going?

We didn't get a full accounting of that until today. But Donald Trump was basically saying at this press conference that the coverage is the problem. He's been taking phone calls from some of these veterans organizations complaining and crying that they don't like some of the stories out there.

And so this is what we've seen before from Donald Trump. He attacks his critics. He attacks the press. I've been out on the campaign trail with him countless times, where he talked about the disgusting news media or the dishonest news media. That's why I asked him that question in that fashion today.

And I talked to a Trump campaign adviser earlier today, Wolf. He said you know what? These lines of attacks against the news media, they work with Donald Trump supporters. And frankly, this advisor said the public doesn't really much care about reporters anyway. And so they sort of look at it as a win/win.

No question about it, when he goes after a colleague like Tom Llamas for ABC and calls him sleazy, that is sad, as Donald Trump might put it. It's certainly not the case.

And we've heard this before in other campaigns, Wolf. George W. Bush, you'll recall, referred to a "New York Times" reporter as a major league a-hole. Dick Cheney chimed in big-time. But that was off -- they didn't know they were on mike. They thought they were off mike when they said that. This was Donald Trump saying this to a reporter to his face at a press conference.

But in the end, Wolf, the Trump campaign feels like this is something that plays really well with his supporters out there. They're not really worried about how his supporters are taking what happened today at all, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta reporting for us from New York. Jim, thanks very much.

I want to bring in Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York. He's a Trump supporter. He's joining us now live.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Good to be with you from a beautiful day in Buffalo, Wolf.

BLITZER: Nice to hear your voice from Buffalo. Your hometown, my hometown. What's your reaction to Donald Trump's comments? Are you comfortable with the way he singled out the news media for being, quote, "sleazy"?

COLLINS: Donald is being Donald. And, you know, as the country's moving forward, his supporters are saying -- you know, he's saying what they're thinking. There is a bias in the press in many cases.

People like yourself, Wolf, I mean, you're fair; you're honest. He's not referring to you. But there is a bias. I've been attacked myself. I've been in politics six, seven years now. So I let it just come off my shoulders.

Donald is new to this. He's taking it personally. What we do know is if you throw a punch at Donald, he's going to punch back.

But when the country is focused on going in the wrong direction, Hillary is not a change agent. Donald is the change agent that we need. And you know, when you break a lot of china, you're going to make a lot of noise.

So with Trump supporters, I'd say he is saying what they are thinking. So it's not hurting him at all with Trump supporters. The silent majority is saying it's about time somebody called it out for what it is. He may be, you know, a little blunt or even more than a little blunt in what he's saying. But I actually think America, where 80 percent know we're going in the wrong direction, are in fact applauding Donald Trump for calling it out like it is.

BLITZER: But -- but don't you think, you know, if reporters are doing their jobs, they're just vetting -- you're a politician. He says he raised 6 million. They say, "Fine, that's great; $6 million for veterans is really impressive. Where did the money go?" And for months and months and months they couldn't release that information. What's wrong with reporters asking those kinds of questions?

COLLINS: Well, there's nothing wrong with asking. Now the question has been answered. They were certainly very impatient, not nearly so impatient with Hillary's e-mail scandal. It took the inspector general of the State Department to now call her out for it.

So the aggressive press on donations, I would say, was overboard. It's now played out. Donald Trump raised a lot of money, contributed his own money. And he asked a legitimate question. Has Hillary Clinton made millions of dollars? Bill Clinton has made millions of dollars giving their speeches. What have they done for the veterans? That's a legitimate question. Donald asked it today.

Where has the press been on the Clinton Foundation, and all the moneys that they've raised that has not been donated. We have not heard the same attack on the multimillions, if not hundreds of millions on the Clinton Foundation that you heard from Donald Trump over four months, vetting the agencies to make sure they...

BLITZER: But Congressman...

COLLINS: ... are properly registered.

BLITZER: Congressman, with all due respect whether the e-mail server, the Clinton Foundation, the speaking fees, that has been thoroughly reported by the mainstream news media. There have been thousands of articles, a lot of TV coverage about all of that. You've seen it all on television. You've read it in the newspaper.

COLLINS: The answers have never really -- we've never really received the answers.

[17:15:32] BLITZER: It was what? I didn't hear what you said.

COLLINS: I'm saying it's had a lot of coverage, but I don't believe we've yet to hear the answers from the Clintons, especially you get back to the e-mail situation. Best I heard Mrs. Clinton was still a couple days ago saying, "I didn't do anything wrong."

BLITZER: No, she -- she said -- she said she made a mistake. She says if she had to do it all over again she would have done it a lot differently. She told me that last week. She's been saying that for a while. And now, of course...

COLLINS: Well, she said she made a mistake when other people are saying she put the country's security at risk. There's a big difference between saying, "I made a mistake" and what really happened there. And the inspector general report, which is finally honed in as it should, is something way, way more than "I made a mistake."

BLITZER: Yes, well, we obviously as you know, all of the news organizations reported extensively on the inspector general's report at the State Department last week.

COLLINS: And I'm glad they did.

BLITZER: So, you know -- but you know it comes with the territory. You're a politician.

COLLINS: Oh, sure.

BLITZER: You say something. Whether the local media in Buffalo, the national media, they're going to hold you accountable to make sure what you're saying is accurate. That's the responsibility of the news media. The question is...

COLLINS: I don't disagree. BLITZER: Trump finally released $5.6 million in contributions. He

could have simply released a document, put it on the website, showing the organizations. I have a copy of it right here, an impressive list, $5.6 million going to veterans, $1 million out of his personal contribution going to the U.S. Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation.

He didn't have to hold the news media -- a news conference and badger the news media. He could have just posted that at the same time, right?

COLLINS: That's very true. But, again, Donald is new to politics. You know he's frustrated. He takes things very personally. He's new to this. And I know, you know, myself when I was new to it as the county executive, I go home shaking my head. I wanted to fight, as well. Donald's a fighter.

So you're right. He could have just released it. That's not his style. And I'm glad he did release it, because it certainly answered all the critics that were suggesting that he didn't raise the money, he didn't contribute the money.

So I am glad that it's out there. I'm not going to speak to, you know, how he did it, whether it was just a quiet release or a noisy news conference. But I'm glad this now has been questions asked and questions answered.

BLITZER: We're going to take a quick break, Congressman. There are more questions for you. The -- he's running for president of the United States. He's the presumptive Republican nominee. It comes with the territory. You're going to be asked a lot of questions. People are going to be examining every aspect of your life, your public policy. That comes with the territory.

Congressman, stand by. We have more to discuss right after this.

COLLINS: Sure.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:22:37] BLITZER: Documents were released today in connection with a fraud case against Trump University. Donald Trump has been slamming the judge in that case.

We're back with Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York. He's a Trump supporter, the first member of the House to support Donald Trump.

Congressman, why is Donald Trump attacking this judge who's handling this Trump University case? Because if he strongly disagrees with the judge, thinks the judge is unfair, his lawyers could ask the judge to recuse himself. They haven't done that.

COLLINS: You know, I don't know anything about the Trump University case. That was so long ago. And I can't tell you that I know anything about it or could speak to why Donald Trump called out the judge. That would be something to ask him.

Again, I'm just focused on helping where I can to get Donald Trump elected as our next president. And in Congress, carrying the banner with other members of Congress as well as Speaker Ryan. So on that one, Wolf, I can't tell you that I've got anything new to report or, frankly, anything at all.

BLITZER: Well, Congressman, let's forget about the details of the case. But in recent days over the past few days, he's calling out this judge, saying he's a hater, saying he's a Mexican. This is an American judge. Is that appropriate for the Republican presidential nominee to be making these kinds of accusations against a judge?

COLLINS: Well, Wolf, I would not be making those kinds of accusations. I don't know the details or what prompted Mr. Trump to, you know, basically lay into the judge. I really -- I would say, no, I would not be calling a judge out like that. But I'm not Mr. Trump, and that's a question to ask him.

BLITZER: Would you, if you were having a private conversation with Donald Trump -- and I know you speak with him from time to time -- would you tell him to cool it a little bit, calm down, don't get so personal, don't make these direct accusations? "You're in a different role now. When you were running for the nomination, that was one thing, but now for all practical purposes you're the Republican nominee. Maybe you should tone things down"?

COLLINS: We've -- we've had that discussion. And from what I've read in the press, I believe his wife and daughter have, as well. But Donald is Donald. And he wears it on the sleeve, and he calls it out for what it is. People love him for speaking directly. And you know, it's anything but political speak.

You know, a lot of us have said, now that he's our nominee, being more presidential, if you will, in tone will help bring the undecideds on board this November. And I would continue to give that advice, as I know others have, as well. But Donald will be Donald, and I'm still supporting him 100 percent. And I think that the public is listening to what he's saying. It's not impacting his popularity at all. And like I say, a lot of folks who are fed up aren't minding at all that he is as aggressive as he is in the way he speaks, more aggressive than most of us.

BLITZER: And it's gotten him this far. So I suspect you're right, he'll probably continue to be Donald Trump, the Donald Trump all of us know.

Congressman Chris Collins, thanks very much for joining us.

COLLINS: Always good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Coming up, one of my next guests argues there are seven guardrails for American democracy, and he says Donald Trump has broken through all of them. And later, a North Korean missile flies for only a few seconds before

blowing up. But even a failed test could make Kim Jong-un more dangerous.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Donald Trump today released a list of 41 veterans' groups here in the United States that are dividing nearly $6 million from a fundraiser he held last January when he skipped a Republican presidential debate. At a rather combative news conference today, Trump lashed out at reporters for questioning how the groups qualified for their share of the money and why he waited so long to release all these details.

[17:30:56] Joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM, our CNN political commentator, S.E. Cupp; also joining us, David Frum, a former speech writer for President George W. Bush, now a senior editor at "The Atlantic" magazine; also joining us, Atlantic Media contributing editor Peter Beinart; and CNN Politics executive editor Mark Preston. Guys, thanks very much for joining us.

This is a very long article you wrote in "The Atlantic," David, a very detailed piece. You go through all the reasons why your party, the Republican Party, nominated Donald Trump. You're no great fan of Donald Trump. The -- what you saw today at that news conference, does that fit into your analysis?

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE ATLANTIC": There are a series of restraints that normally prevent -- protect the parties from candidates like Donald Trump, including those restraints about how candidates are supposed to behave, some expectation that they conform to the ideology of the party. Have an expectation they would have a serious commitment to national security.

And there's also an expectation that members of the party would not be so suspicious of the other party that they would say "We prefer absolutely anybody as a nominee of our own to somebody from the other party." And there are others, as well.

And bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, we've broken through all of them, which is how it is possible for Donald Trump to have emerged not just as a nominee but as a nominee who's really uniting a lot of Republicans around him, most of whom inwardly know better and dread the likely outcome.

BLITZER: So you're saying, despite the fact that you believe he broke all the rules, he's doing remarkably well?

FRUM: Yes, but the point is, the rules were there -- were there to protect the republic, and the republic is not doing very well.

BLITZER: And this all bothers you, right? Because you're no fan of Donald Trump.

FRUM: Look, I -- weirdly, on many of the -- to the extent that he's got a set of issues, I tend to agree with him. I think the party's conservative ideology has been ossified. I do think America needs less migration. I think it would be a good idea to keep interest rates low and have more infrastructure spending.

If there was somebody who was a committed, principled person with a record of public service and knowledge of the issues and a commitment to American alliances and paying the debt on time who were saying these things, that would be phenomenal. It's not.

As I said, Donald Trump, the only thing you know is all of his promises are worthless. The only thing you know is that what you get is Donald Trump and all his Trumpiness.

BLITZER: S.E., what did you think of Donald Trump's performance today?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I -- I have a toddler with more discipline and restraint than what I -- what I saw today. I mean, to just sort of lash out, call people out by name to their faces, it was just really obscene and sad.

And to the point, very chilling, if you think about what Trump's relationship with the press would be like in an administration. We've all complained about the opacity of the Obama administration and administrations before it in dealing with the press. And I think what you're looking at is sort of like a Pravda kind of regime.

He's already admitted he wants to open up libel laws to make suing the press more easy. I think not just members of the press but voters should take a very serious look at the way that Trump has a very difficult ability to take scrutiny. That's the job. That's our job. That's what we do.

BLITZER: But he does open himself up to questions from reporters. He has news conferences. He grants a lot of interviews to newspapers, magazines...

CUPP: Yes.

BLITZER: ... television news organizations. To say it's like Pravda, that's probably going a bit far.

CUPP: Well, I don't know. When you're talking about suing journalists for doing their job, he's not saying that we're getting the story wrong. We're actually doing our job, asking questions about where this money went. That's the job of the press.

He actually said in this press conference today, "I wish you'd just say, 'Thank you. Thank me for'" -- that's not the role of the media, to thank the presidential nominee for raising money. It's not the job of the media to heap praise upon him. So I just think he's fundamentally very confused about the role of free press. And if we're going to have an impact on the freedom of press around the world, we have to take ours very seriously.

BLITZER: Peter Beinart, go ahead and weigh in.

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think S.E. is exactly right. Look, I think this is a strategy. Here's the context.

According to PolitiFact, 70 -- 77 percent of the things that Donald Trump has said, statements that they have investigated, have been some version of false. That it's far higher than any other presidential candidate in either party.

[17:35:10] There's a reason that he is trying to destroy the legitimacy of the press, so it cannot scrutinize him. Because he knows that he cannot withstand that scrutiny.

And this is the same thing he's doing to the judiciary, attacking these judges. He's trying to undermine the legitimacy of the institutions that could restrain his power, so that, were he elected president, he would be able to operate with fewer restraints on his power. And it's in that way that he represents a threat to American liberal democracy.

BLITZER: But you know, Mark Preston, you covered politics for a long time, amongst his supporters out there, going after what they call the mainstream news media, that works. That's politically smart.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: It works. And for the reporters to always talk about the fallout from Donald Trump attacking them today, I don't think is really productive.

But what I do think is that there's three quick takeaways that we should focus on following this news conference. The first one is, Donald Trump kept on saying that he didn't want any credit for this. That's false. Donald Trump did want credit for this.

I was there at that rally in Iowa. He went to that rally, everyone forgets, because it was a smart political play on his part, because he did not want to do a presidential debate on FOX News.

The second thing is, he did raise $6 million. We should acknowledge that. He was able to raise $6 million.

And the third thing is, which I do think is Trump's Achilles heel, is that he has trouble taking what could be a very good thing, and he has turned it into a very bad thing. What could have been a very big positive today has now turned into a negative, Wolf.

BLITZER: You think this talk of a third-party Republican, if you will, running in this election, Bill Kristol, the editor of "The Weekly Standard" keeps promoting it. Is that realistic at all?

FRUM: That could be realistic if you had a realistic view of what you're trying to accomplish. The realistic way of doing a third party would be to identify someone who's a strong social conservative. Donald Trump is not. Put together a campaign in three or four states where there are a lot of conservatives and a lot of minority voters, and your pulling away 5 or 6 percent of the vote could tip the state from...

BLITZER: Wouldn't that guarantee Hillary Clinton's election? FRUM: And that's what social conservatives should want, because they

want -- because they have been disrespected by this process. And the way you teach politicians to respect you next time is to inflict pain on them. That would be strategic and logical. That's a plan. I don't hear a plan coming out of...

BLITZER: When Donald Trump says you're going to give up three, four seats on the U.S. Supreme Court if your plan were to work?

FRUM: If I were Tony Perkins or some other committed pro-lifer, I would say, "Donald Trump, I do not trust you. I don't think you're better than Hillary Clinton. And I want to make sure that the next time there's a nominating process, I have a seat at the table. And the only way to get a seat at the table is to inflict pain. That means tipping Texas, tipping Mississippi, tipping Utah, maybe tipping Colorado and, yes, delivering the presidency to Hillary Clinton and saying next time treat us better." That's a plan. Everything else is not a plan.

BLITZER: Is this going anywhere, S.E.?

CUPP: I mean, David is right. This is really an exercise in giving someone like me a person to vote for. It's not really an exercise in nominating someone. It's not an exercise in, you know, advancing that particular person's agenda.

But it is an exercise in preserving the health of the party and the conservative movement for future elections, for people like Bill Kristol and the "National Review" to be able to say, "I didn't elect Donald Trump. We didn't nominate Donald Trump. We were for this person. And that's how you know where we are."

BLITZER: Peter Beinart, very quickly, this would be a dream come true for Hillary Clinton, if she's the nominee.

BEINART: Yes, and also, I think we've got the Libertarian candidates, who could take some support away from Donald Trump.

The truth is that, although Donald Trump has done a remarkably good job at consolidating the Republican Party, I ultimately think that the Democratic Party will be more united than the Republicans are, and I think the Republicans will be in a weaker position.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by. More to come, more to discuss when we come back. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:43:33] BLITZER: Breaking news we're following. Hillary Clinton tells CNN that Donald Trump doesn't deserve much credit for his donations to veterans' groups. She's also calling Trump's tactic of attack anyone who criticized him, in her words, "a recipe for gridlock."

Clinton's phone call to CNN's Jake Tapper just a little while ago is part of her new strategy to get more aggressive in going after Donald Trump.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is joining us with details. I take it this is a deliberate strategy, right, Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right -- that's right, Wolf. It is. Hillary Clinton right now is really trying to formulate this new approach in how exactly to deal with Donald Trump, calling into TV shows, being more proactive in pushing back against him, almost as if she was taking a cue straight from her opponent.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As I say, Crooked Hillary...

... Lying' Ted...

... Little Marco.

SERFATY (voice-over): Unfiltered.

TRUMP: It's Pocahontas Elizabeth Warren.

SERFATY: Unpredictable.

TRUMP: I like people that weren't captured. OK? I hate to tell you. He was a war hero because he was captured.

SERFATY: And unapologetic.

TRUMP: What I said is 100 percent right.

SERFATY: Hillary Clinton is facing the definition of an unconventional candidate.

TRUMP: I would say that she started screaming at the teleprompter, but I'm not allowed to say that. You know why? Now if she was a man, I could say it, but...

SERFATY: Donald Trump forcing the Clinton campaign to rethink and rewrite their playbook. The new strategy: to question whether the billionaire has the right temperament to be president.

[17:45:05] TRUMP: What a loser.

SERFATY: One recent poll shows 70 percent of voters don't think he does.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is an unqualified, loose cannon who cannot get near the most powerful job in the world. And it's up to us to say no.

SERFATY: Team Clinton is trying to take down Trump by zeroing in on individual issues with simultaneous coordinated attacks. Today it was Trump's veterans events. Last week it was Trump's past business practices, unloading not just on the campaign trail -- CLINTON: Why on earth would we elect somebody president who actually

rooted for the collapse of the mortgage market?

SERFATY: But also making Clinton more readily available for interview, stealing a page out of Trump's own playbook, calling into TV programs, including today with CNN's Jake Tapper.

CLINTON: He's bragged for months about raising $6 million for veterans and donating a million dollars himself. But it took a reporter to shame him into actually making his contribution.

SERFATY: Doubling down on those attacks through social media.

TRUMP: If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know, you can make a lot of money.

SERFATY: And with an army of campaign surrogates fanning out in battleground states and on conference calls with reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump has never spent minute of the kind of service that Senator McCain has served for his country. So for him to disparage that service is despicable and disgraceful.

SERFATY: All this amounting to an aggressive and coordinated operation meant to flood the zone on one targeted topic alone, and not seize the news cycle or any ground to Donald Trump.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: All this said, the news today really did show how this strategy isn't yet completely working for the Clinton campaign. Trump did still manage to drive the media cycle today, even though he did step on his own message about veterans, which makes coordinating these attacks for the Clinton campaign difficult, certainly, Wolf, something that the Clinton campaign is going to have to re-evaluate going forward.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: They certainly will. Sunlen, thanks very much.

Coming up, a setback for North Korea's Kim Jong-un. A medium-range missile blows up only seconds after its launch. But will it persuade North Korea's leader to try even harder to develop weapons that could hit the U.S. and its allies?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:51:51] BLITZER: North Korea's latest missile launch may have failed but Kim Jong-un's missile regime is apparently learning from its mistakes and could soon be able to threaten the United States.

Brian Todd has been looking into this. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight U.S. officials have stark warnings about the threat that Kim Jong-un's missile program is posing to America. This comes after North Korea's test of a medium range missile, a missile which Kim seems to be in a hurry to perfect so that he has the capability of striking some U.S. bases.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Overnight a stunning failure that sources caution could lead to dangerous success for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. U.S. sources say the 32-year-old leader tested another medium range ballistic missile with a range designed to hit America.

The test is believed to have failed. The missile apparently flew for two to three seconds before it exploded, a U.S. Defense official tells CNN, and may not have even made it over water, but tonight U.S. officials are telling CNN Kim Jong-un's missile program still poses a significant threat to America, something even President Obama acknowledged on Thursday while visiting the region.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Each time that they test, even if those tests fail, they learn something.

TODD (on camera): What does he learn?

THOMAS KARAKO, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, if they take the time to study the data and if they're not killing the scientists that failed they can look at it and figure out which part may have failed.

TODD (voice-over): U.S. Defense officials say the missiles tested was likely what the North Koreans call a Musudan. They say once Kim perfects it the Musudan could reach the Aleutian Islands of Alaska or U.S. military bases on Guam. Analysts say it's also nimble enough to target U.S. forces supporting allies in the area.

The failed launch overnight was Kim Jong-un's fourth test of the Musudan in recent weeks. He seems to be aggressively fine-tuning this weapon not only because it can carry a nuclear war head but also, according to one U.S. official because it's a mobile launched missile, it can move around and elude the capability of American forces to destroy it before it's launched.

The South Korean military says it's bracing for more provocations from its enemy to the North.

KARAKO: We could see this missile testing, we could see short range rockets thrown into the Sea of Japan. Occasionally they throw them towards South Korea but short of the DMZ. We could see an additional nuclear test.

TODD: A key question tonight once Kim perfects his missiles and develops the ability to deploy them with the nuclear warheads he already has, how will his behavior toward his enemies change?

BRUCE KLINGER, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: He may feel emboldened that he's got indemnity from any kind of allied response. Now that North Korea has nuclear weapons the South Korean fears the U.S. would be deterred from defending our allies. Some have questioned, would you really trade Los Angeles for Seoul?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Analysts say what Kim Jong-un may not realize or what he may be downplaying is South Korea's new rules of engagement under its president Park Geun-hye. They say she has given her commanders more discretion now to hit back harder at North Korea with more fire power whenever the North launches a convention attack across the DMZ. That's a big change from South Korea's more restrained responses in the past.

So tonight, Wolf, the concerns about an escalation are even more intense.

[17:55:04] BLITZER: And Brian, Kim Jong-un is now also weighing in on the U.S. presidential race?

TODD: Couldn't get any stranger, could it, Wolf? North Korea's state media arm published an op-ed today praising Donald Trump. A prominent North Korea scholar wrote that Trump is, quote, "wise and a far- sighted presidential candidate." He called Hillary Clinton dull.

Of course two weeks ago we know Donald Trump did say that he would be willing to speak directly with Kim Jong-un.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting, thank you.

Coming up, Donald Trump calls reporters into Trump Tower in New York then attacks them as dishonest and sleazy. Also slams a conservative critic and a judge overseeing a fraud case against Trump University. What's behind all of this?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, lashing out. Donald Trump gives journalists information they've been asking for, then launches an all-out attack --