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Suicide Bombers Target Mosques in Saudi Arabia; State of the Race with 2 Weeks Until GOP Convention. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 4, 2016 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We need to run down these details a lot more. But it's very troubling knowing that ISIS is operational in Saudi Arabia, knowing that they have killed people this year in Saudi Arabia, knowing that is, itself, leadership, has called for attacks during Ramadan. Again, I think we need to hold off before we read too much into it, until we can get more details from authorities as they get on top of these developing situations, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Nic Robertson, we know you will be monitoring these attacks in Saudi Arabia. Thank you.

ROBERTSON: Let's talk about politics now. We are just two weeks away from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. It is a convention that was expected to bring drama but now will be a showcase for expected nominee Donald Trump.

By the look of things, in our CNN poll of polls, Trump is going to need bit of a bump coming out of the convention. Hillary Clinton leading him by six points in this poll of polls.

Here with me to take a look at the state of the race is Ryan Lizza, CNN political commentator and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker", and David Chalian, CNN political director.

OK. Let's start on the Republican side here and we are looking at these poll numbers. He needs to perform a little better and bring himself up.

So, with the convention being an opportunity and what we know about past conventions and really how much of a push it will give a candidate, is this something that he can capitalize on or what else does he need to do?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It is two opportunities in a one-two punch kind of thing. It's the rollout of his vice- presidential pick and choice that will give folks insight into his sort of presidential decision-making kind of thinking and this big moment on the convention stage about how to present what he is running for and why he's running, what he can do to better the country where the country will tune in in a large way for the fall. Those two are the immediate opportunities ahead of him.

And you're right, he does need to alter the current trajectory, although as you have seen in the poll of polls, that cannot -- by no means are we going to blow out the race. We are within range contested race.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, he is struggling in these polls to crack 40 percent.

KEILAR: And he's consistent -- but he is also consistently, even though it is -- you're saying it's not a huge margin, but he's consistently on one side of this math problem, right?

LIZZA: Yes, if you look at the graph of the Hillary/Trump matchup for over a year, he has not led in the poll of polls. He's not lead in an average of polls all year.

So, his problem is a fractured Republican Party, right? He is going to choose a running mate. A lot of prominent Republicans did not want to be vetted, didn't actually want the job. That's a big problem. That's historically unique.

Going into the convention, as you talk about, the two big moments he has right now, his party -- the divisions in the party show that a lot of prominent Republicans don't want speaking roles. That's also historically unique. And so, if you look at the polls recently, you know, he was going up. And then the month of June was a really tough month for him.

The internals of some of those polls, it was Republicans having second thoughts about Trump. He was just on the cusp of -- after he wrapped up the nomination of uniting the party, of getting some of those skeptical based Republicans around him. That slipped away a little bit just as Hillary Clinton has started to unite some of the Bernie Sanders fans.

KEILAR: It doesn't help that he's had another controversial bump in the road really over the weekend. This time, it was a tweet aimed at Hillary Clinton. The original is on the left there you go. So, very clearly, it has this six-pointed star like a Star of David, which initially originated on a message board that was rife with a lot of anti-Semitic language. And here is calling here the most corrupt candidate ever.

So, under fire because a lot of people were upset about this star, feeling it was anti-Semitic, he did change it to a circle instead. Today, after a couple of days of all of his surrogates saying, this is not a Star of David. He defended himself saying as much.

"Dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a sheriff star or plain star."

It's not a plain star. I mean, any child who draws a star knows that there is five points. Any child that gets a sticker that says you are doing a good job, it has five points. Is this something that's even going to hurt him, though?

CHALIAN: Well, listen, this story is not going away any time soon because the explanation from the Trump campaign has been insufficient so far. So, I do think that until we understand, what is the process inside the Trump campaign that an image like this from this kind of website that has neo-Nazi rants on it and what have you, how that filters into the Trump campaign digital communications operation and gets distributed to his millions and millions of followers, we need to understand how that happens? This was not a retweet. This was something created to distribute to his millions of followers.

[13:35:00] KEILAR: And for people who use Twitter, they know what it is to just tweet someone who may have posted this image or whether it is to capture the image your yourself and save it and put it out as a new tweet, which is exactly -- which is sort of what you would assume has happened.

And yet, we don't actually know, Ryan, because they are not being very forthcoming about what this process is, like David said.

LIZZA: And he is not being forthcoming about the origin of this image, right? It is very easy to track where it comes from. It comes from a right wing anti-Semitic white supremacist website. It was originally tweeted by someone who has a Twitter account that mostly tweets that has just a few followers, but mostly tweets anti-Semitic and white supremacist material.

Anyone that follows this stuff online knows that one of the things that the sort of so-called racist right does, it likes to play games with the imagery, right? It is not 100 percent -- they like to make things a little bit implicit. So, it's not always 100 percent obvious it is anti-Semitic. It was a Star of David that comes from a racist website. It was tweeted by a racist twitter account and then Trump tweeted it.

What I find astonishing is instead of apologizing, he changed the photo and repeated a new version of it.

KEILAR: With a circle, which is a acknowledgment that there is a problem with the six-pointed star itself implicitly.

LIZZA: And talking about doubling down.

KEILAR: The Clinton campaign, I mean, they're all over this, right? So, they fired back. It says, "Donald Trump's use of a blatantly anti-Semitic image from racist websites to promote his campaign would be disturbing enough. But the fact that it is part of a pattern should give voters major cause from concern."

I believe this is from her Jewish outreach director in her campaign. Going on to say, "not only won't be apologize for t he is peddling lies and blaming others. Trump should be condemning hate, not offering more campaign behavior and rhetoric that engages extremists."

How concerning is this for Republicans who are sort of holding their breath he can walk the line a little bit?

CHALIAN: Listen, there are some Republicans, the RNC, others that are fully in bed with the Trump campaign now and fully committed and partnered up with Trump being a successful candidate who also are going to have to answer for this. This is exactly why, you were talking about before about a fractured party or not having some Republicans come around. It's because of fear of moments like this. Nobody wanted to fully own it as well.

But the questions won't be just for the Trump campaign here. We also shouldn't forget, Brianna, we are talking about this the weekend after the presumptive Democratic nominee was interviewed for 3 1/2 hours by the FBI.

KEILAR: He put in out on Saturday.

CHALIAN: They should have been talking about nothing but that.

KEILAR: That campaign is so thrilled by this time.

I want you guys to stay with me. We are going to talk about more politics ahead.

But next up, we will take a look at the state of the Clinton campaign as she looks ahead to the convention and a possible V.P. pick while looking over her shoulder with the FBI apparently nearing the end of their e-mail investigation.


[13:41:22] KEILAR: We are following some breaking news, two separate attacks in Saudi Arabia, one in Qatif and one in the holy city of Medina.

I want to bring in our CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson.

We're getting sort of new pictures by the moment as we get a better sense of what's going on the ground there, Nic? What's the latest?

ROBERTSON: Well, the attack in medina, the video we have seen associated with that appears to show a burning vehicle. Close to that burning vehicle, at least two men in uniform. It looks like Saudi security of some kind, and possibly two others closer to the burning wreckage of the vehicle.

Again, early minutes on this attack. We don't have a lot of details. I just asked the question of a sour casualties yet for the attack in Medina. He said he didn't have any figures on that. What we know about the one in Qatif, it was a suicide bomber. He detonated his explosives and, again, we are told there were no casualties in that particular attack.

But what we have seen in this video already, from across the country in Medina, and we have to stress here, Medina, is a very, very important site to Muslims throughout the world, not just Saudi Arabia. The second most holy site, one of those places that people will go to on that pilgrimage. The Hajj, there will be a lot of people at this of year, going there for precisely this reason.

And in Medina, we can see there are several casualties. We just don't have further details on precisely what happened, Brianna.

KEILAR: And the timing, what we can say about this, it appears to be no coincidence, right? Because it appears that a number of terrorist groups have been emphasizing this holy period as a time for strikes.

ROBERTSON: ISIS has certainly called on its supporters to do that. In the last 24 hours, less than in Saudi Arabia, you have three separate suicide attacks that involve somebody wearing explosives and explosives in vehicles. So, there is a similarity to these. We know the Saudi authorities have a problem with ISIS.

So far this year, ISIS has targeted in Saudi Arabia, members of the Saudi services. There was even a situation where ISIS has called on their supporters in Saudi Arabia to kill their own family members if they were the Saudi security services. There is video of a family doing that, taking out their young SWAT team officer, taking him out in the desert and claiming they were doing in in the name of ISIS and then gunning him down.

So, we know that ISIS is a threat. We know the Saudi security services are alive to that particular threat and they are trying to deal with it. They have arrested him in the past two years, 2,500 Saudis connected with ISIS.

But at the moment, we don't have claims for responsibility for these three attacks in less than 24 hours. So, we don't know what they were trying to do. But we do know that ISIS has called on its supporters and we do know -- for attacks during Ramadan. And we do know that there have been a number of ISIS attacks around the globe in the past few days. We have to look at it in the light of that and wait for more details, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Nic Robertson, thank you so much for that.

We will have more on this breaking news happening right now in Saudi Arabia. Two separate suicide bomber attacks, one in the holy city of Medina and then one across the country in Qatif. We'll have more right after this.


[13:48:12] KEILAR: A week after Donald Trump takes center stage in Clinton, Hillary Clinton will be the star of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. Happy hitting Democrats are rallying around their candidate. But that doesn't mean there aren't important hurdles for her to clear. First and foremost is the trust issue.

I want to bring our panel back in now, Ryan Lizza, CNN political commentator and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker", as well as CNN political director, David Chalian.

So, you have Hillary Clinton. She has spoken with the FBI. The reporting that our Evan Perez is getting at this point is short of her having done something that created a problem on Saturday in this 3 1/2 hour interview. It is looking like there aren't going to be charges.

Of course, that's still TBD. We do not know at this point for sure. We have to say that. But what happens next? Where does this go if there isn't any really bombshell thing at the end? Can she just move on or no? LIZZA: I think so. I mean, this is kind of like the Benghazi report,

right? These are the big hurdles she needs to overcome before her campaign can move on.

The headline coming out of the Benghazi report last week was no new information she did anything wrong. Politically, that kind of ends the issue for her. I think there are a lot of Republicans who will never let that go, who will argue that her oversight of what happened in Benghazi was flawed at the least.

But for the people actually persuadable, which is, after all, not that many in a general election with such a polarized country, I think just like the Benghazi report, if she is not indicted, she moves forward.

Now, this question about her aides, of course, what are the ramifications if people around her are in serious legal peril?

KEILAR: It will have influence on her.

CHALIAN: And politically, both Benghazi and the e-mail story have collected their pound of flesh already. If there's not anything new, if there's not anything new, it's not as if she walks away without any damage from it.

[13:50:08] I mean, I do think these honest and trustworthy numbers that she has spoken about herself just recently, obviously, have been a hurdle for her. And I do think that when you look at the polling across the board I think, you know, it's largely a lot of these question that voters still have about her after more than two decades in the public eye that still linger around her as to why she hasn't catapulted to some other universe of being able to shut down this election and run away with it.

KEILAR: So much damage is done.

LIZZA: This stuff is holding her book. She's running against a candidate who just tweeted a racist meme, right? She shouldn't be beating Donald Trump by six points, she should be beating Donald Trump by ten points and she has some really serious flaws, mostly on the sort of character issue that are holding her back. Politically, I do think if Evan Perez of CNN, what CNN has been reporting now for weeks, I believe, that there are not going to be indictments, if that holds I think this issue largely goes away.

KEILAR: OK, Bill Clinton not doing his wife any favor this is past week. Meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch impromptu though it may be.

We're still shaking our heads a week later that he did this. Looking back on this, I wonder, David, do you think, because in 2008, there were things Bill Clinton did and historically now with the benefit of time people look back and they say, wow, Bill Clinton was really hurtful to his wife. He largely avoided that problem this time and then this happens.

Is this going to be one of those moments that is sort of a point in history even for those of us that are all about it?

CHALIAN: As Bill Clinton campaigns from the presidency, his time in office and his time as his wife's number one surrogate in two presidential campaigns has proven over and over again. He's never going to have 100 percent score card here. That's just not -- as skilled as he is politically, there's always going to be two sides of the coin to Bill Clinton. I think on balance he has been far more helpful to her efforts than hurtful to them, but there's no doubt especially -- so we were mind blown by that Loretta Lynch, Bill Clinton moment on the plane last week before we knew she was scheduled to speak to the FBI this week. The fact that that happened in the week that he clearly knew she was going to go talk to the FBI is even more astonishing.

LIZZA: Absolutely.

KEILAR: That it didn't occur to him.

LIZZA: He should be one of her greatest assets. In an era when most politicians are struggling to have -- to be popular, most politicians their approval rating is in the toilet, both Hillary and Trump are the two most unpopular nominees in history for their respective parties.

Clinton actually -- Bill Clinton has a decent approval rating. His time in office is remembered fairly fondly, he should be a great asset for her and he does this which I find mind-blowing and bone headed that he would do this and we wouldn't know about it unless that local reporter figured it out. They would not have disclosed this, let's be clear about that.


LIZZA: And if he was trying to subtly influence the investigation, it all backfired, right? Now, Loretta Lynch, who knows, maybe she could have been a potentially sympathetic voice in this process she's had to for the most part take herself out. If you're one of the investigators in this issue you're probably looking at this saying, you know, you have to be very careful, not show any leniency. Everything backfired whatever he was trying to do.

KEILAR: It's not good for Hillary Clinton for sure. Let's talk about vice presidential possibilities. So, a lot of speculation, of course, and I had the chance to speak to Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey who is rumored to be on her list and his response to my question was pretty telling. Let's listen.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: You know, at this point, I've answered this question, talked about this, I'm just referring questions about the vice presidency to the woman that's going to have to make this decision. You should talk to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

What I do know is that on the Democratic side, there are many fabulous candidates, people that could be strong vice presidential candidates. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: OK. So, what I said to him after that, because he referred me to the campaign, I said, "I don't think I need to ask the campaign, you gave me -- your answer is so telling, right? I mean, if that's what he's doing. I'm just now referring all questions to the Clinton campaign.

CHALIAN: We have moved to that phase. Veepstakes have these phases in. The next 20 days, we're going to have two vice presidential nominees, probably. And so, now, when people are actually turning over paperwork and being vetted, it's no longer just long speculative lists but a little more narrowed down, you tend to get to this moment where they just want to not say a thing because they don't want to mess anything up as they go through this process.

LIZZA: Absolutely. I think it was very telling. He sounds like he's being vetted and, I mean, we'll learn so much about what kind of campaign Hillary Clinton thinks this is and where the country is by this vice presidential choice.

[13:55:07] Because I think their entire theory from day one was that this was a base election, they have to rebuild the Obama coalition, they have to excite the Bernie Sanders fans.

And then -- but there's just this -- you know the fact that the Republican Party is so divided, I think there's somewhat of a temptation, some democratic strategists that argue well, maybe, there's got to be someone who can appeal to those anti-Trump Republicans.

KEILAR: But to Corey bookers' point, I've run into viewers who say, "Why do you ask the same question over and over?" this is why because the answer changes and it tells us a lot.

Ryan Lizza, David Chalian, thank you so much to both of you.

I want to get back to our breaking news out of Saudi Arabia. We have new information just in. We're updating this by the moment about three separate suicide bombings now, two mosques, one shopping area.

The video you're looking at now is in the holy city of Medina. You see those flames there in the background. We also have a picture of another attack at a mosque in Saudi Arabia. There's some graphic images that we can not show you here on CNN, we just want to let you know that it's very gruesome.

We have been following this along with Nic Robertson, he is joining us live again.

This is a rapidly developing story, Nic. What are we learning?

ROBERTSON: It is. We're getting more details. So we've said before that we had one attack targeting a mosque in the city of Qatif in the east. An attack in Medina, the very holy city in the other side of Saudi Arabia. The new details I have about that attack in Medina, this was not as we

were originally understood, not targeting a mosque, rather targeting Saudi security force. Now, we know Saudi security forces in the past have been a target for ISIS. What we're learning now is that four of those Saudi security forces that were targeted there by this suicide bomber in medina, four of them are dead, at least one of them is injured.

Now, while we've been getting to all those details, there's been another attack, a second attack again in the city of Qatif that was targeting a shopping mall. Again, it was a suicide bomber. Both those attacks in Qatif have failed because they failed to kill anyone other than the suicide bombers.

So, again a shopping mall and a mosque in the eastern city of Qatif targeted. No casualties. The attacks there failed. In the west of the country, in the holy city of Medina, it was the Saudi security forces who were targeted. Four of them have been killed and at least one injured. The suicide bomber there dead as well.

KEILAR: Nic, I think we got updated numbers, right, Christina, what you just told me? You just reported four killed, this is how quickly this is developing. We know it is six.

You reported four security forces, unclear these other two who have been killed if they are security forces or not. As you mentioned, ISIS has had this -- we don't know this is ISIS, we have to be very careful about that just to put that out there. This is -- has just happened and we're learning more details, Nic, but you mentioned people who follow ISIS -- to take out security members including their family members.

ROBERTSON: Including their family members. Originally, we had six dead then I think as the information settled and we got perhaps more precise information that number has been backtracked to four, but I think we should expect it to change. This is a developing situation with an early analysis and the state of the injuries for some of those security officers involved isn't clear.

Absolutely, ISIS has told its supporters target Saudi security services even if they're in your own family. They put out video earlier this year of a young swat team officer taken out to the desert by his cousins. They gunned him down and killed him in cold blood and then pledge allegiance to ISIS as well on that video. So, this is what the Saudi security services have been up against.

This morning, they were dealing with that bomb outside the U.S. consulate. They sent in sophisticated bomb disposal team, sophisticated robots to deal with that threat, but it's a multi-headed threat. They know they face it. They've been on the lookout for this and right now it's confronting them right square -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Nic Robertson, thank you so much for that update. Just to be clear on that so that we didn't muddy the waters, the death toll now on that attack in Medina standing at four killed, one injured, four Saudi security forces. And the breaking news in the attacks in Saudi Arabia, multiple attacks that hit mosques and a shopping mall, that continues next.