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FBI Not Recommending Charges Against Clinton; Obama Campaigns with Clinton for First Time; Interview with Rep. Chris Collins; Trump: Clinton Compromised America's Safety; Paul Ryan Tells Trump Campaign to Clean Up Use of Social Media; . Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 5, 2016 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. No charges. The FBI says it won't recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of private e-mail servers as secretary of state. But FBI Director James Comey issues a scathing verbal indictment, calling Hillary Clinton and her staff extremely careless in their handling of classified information.

[17:00:30] The system is rigged, Donald Trump says the FBI decision, calling it unfair, claiming former CIA Director David Petraeus got into deep trouble for far less. Can Trump avoid his own missteps long enough to take advantage of Clinton's controversy?

And hitting the trail. President Obama campaigns for the first time with Hillary Clinton and says he is ready to pass the baton. Can they rally the Democratic base in the battleground state of North Carolina?

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news. After a year-long investigation and just weeks before the Democratic convention, FBI Director James Comey says he will not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of private e-mail servers as secretary of state. Comey says there is no clear evidence that Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing classified information, and he said no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.

But he unleashed a blistering amount of criticism of Clinton and her staff, saying they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

The Clinton campaign says it's glad the matter is now resolved, noting Clinton has acknowledged it was a mistake to use her personal e-mail.

Donald Trump immediately tweeted that the system is rigged and characterized the FBI decision as very unfair. The White House is not commenting on the decision as President Obama holds his first campaign rally with Clinton today in North Carolina. Trump will also campaign there later today, underscoring how important that battleground state will be in November.

I'll speak with Republican Congressman Chris Collins. He is a Donald Trump supporter. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all of the day's top stories.

Let's begin with the Clinton e-mail investigation. Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is joining us.

Joe, in the end, Hillary Clinton just gets a severe -- very severe scolding from the FBI director.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Wolf. With the announcement today, the FBI director lifted a legal cloud that has hung over Hillary Clinton's campaign since she first entered the race. But the public rebuke that came along with it was so harsh that it could follow the candidate all the way to November.


JOHNS (voice-over): Tonight the long awaited results of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of private e-mail servers: no FBI recommendation of criminal charges to the Justice Department.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We believe our investigation has been sufficient to give us reasonable confidence there was no intentional misconduct.

JOHNS: While the announcement all but assures the presumptive Democratic nominee is free from the threat of prosecution, she got no free pass from the FBI.

COMEY: Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly-classified information.

JOHNS: Comey slamming Mrs. Clinton for failing to exercise good judgment in one of the most sensitive government jobs in the world.

COMEY: There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position or the position of those with whom she was corresponding about those matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for classified conversations.

JOHNS: Comey's announcement coming just days after FBI investigators interviewed Clinton this past weekend and less than a week after a political furor after Bill Clinton met privately with Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Comey made clear that the Justice Department did not know what he was going to stay.

COMEY: I have not coordinated this statement or reviewed it in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government.

JOHNS: The FBI director publicly rebutting what Clinton has been saying since last March about those classified e-mails.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I did not e- mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail. There is no classified material.

COMEY: One hundred and ten e-mails, in 52 e-mail chains, have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received.

Eight of those chains contained information that was top secret at the time they were sent. Thirty-six of those chains contained secret information at the time. And eight contained confidential information at the time. That's the lowest level of classification.

[17:05:08] JOHNS: Her consolidating electronic communications to a single Blackberry device.

CLINTON: I thought it would be easier to carry one device for my work and for my personal e-mails instead of two.

COMEY: She also used numerous mobile devices to send and to read e- mail on that personal domain.

JOHNS: Whether Mrs. Clinton's private e-mail system was secure enough.

CLINTON: Well, the system we use was set up for President Clinton's office. And it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service, and there were no security breaches.

COMEY: All of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers, not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at agencies and departments of the United States government, or even with a commercial e-mail service like Gmail.

She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's personal e-mail account.

JOHNS: And unsparing in his criticism of the State Department.

COMEY: The security culture of the State Department in general and with respect to use of unclassified systems in particular, was generally lacking.

JOHNS: But ultimately concluding charges were not warranted.

COMEY: Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.

JOHNS: Clinton, on the stump with President Obama today, her campaign releasing this statement: "We are pleased that the career officials handling this case have determined that no further action by the department is appropriate. As the secretary has long said, it was a mistake to use her personal e-mail, and she would not do it again. We are glad that this matter is now resolved."


JOHNS: So the question is, given all the facts, why did Comey decide not to recommend charges in the case? He said all of the other cases in this area involved either intentional misconduct, disloyalty to the U.S. government, or obstruction of justice. A cover-up in other words. And said his investigators did not find that in this case.

Ultimately, the Justice Department gets to make any final decision on whether to file charges, but it's anticipated the department will follow Comey's lead.

BLITZER: Yes, it is. All right, Joe Johns, thanks for that report.

Donald Trump is reacting to the FBI's decision not to seek charges against Hillary Clinton. In a statement, his campaign says she compromised the safety of the American people and suggests a conspiracy, saying -- and I'm quoting now -- "Bill Clinton didn't accidentally run into the attorney general on the airport tarmac last week in Phoenix. It was no accident the charges were not recommended against Hillary the exact same day as Obama campaigns with her for the first time. Folks, the system is rigged." That statement from the Trump campaign.

Let's turn to our justice correspondent, Evan Perez. Take us inside this FBI decision by the director. You're getting new information.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, first of all, I think we should address the question that Trump has brought up as to whether or not she's being treated differently from the way David Petraeus was treated.

And one of the things that is different is the fact that Petraeus admitted in his questioning to the -- by the FBI that he knew that there was information that was classified and that he purposely gave it to his lover, his girlfriend who was also writing a book about him. So that is the difference here.

In this case, Hillary Clinton has said repeatedly that she did not did not intentionally send or receive classified information. We now know, obviously, that the information was classified, and that is really at the center of how the FBI came to this decision.

BLITZER: The statement that Donald Trump also made in his campaign, are adversaries almost certainly have a blackmail file on Hillary Clinton, and this fact alone disqualifies her from service.

He's referring to the suggestion by the FBI director that she even used her private e-mail, her servers or devices, when she was in unfriendly foreign countries, maybe a reference to China, some other countries, someone like that. And that agents there for China or Russia could have hacked into her system while she was in those countries.

PEREZ: I think that's a clear possibility. And the FBI director was very clear about that. I think that is actually one of the more troublesome parts of this, is the fact that she was using these devices that were not very secure. Not only not secure, the devices themselves, but also the entire system was not, Wolf.

And not only we're talking about adverse -- you know, Russia and China, the usual countries we talk about, but also friendly countries who often hack into the devices of U.S. officials when they're traveling.

[17:10:02] that We know that all along, the FBI has been looking at making this decision and had decided, Comey had decided he wanted to announce this decision himself, Wolf. You know, there was this discussion initially that there is an announcement from the Justice Department.

I think, after everything we've seen, Comey decided that he was the only one to make this announcement and really own it, essentially.

BLITZER: I've spoken to numerous high-ranking government officials, military intelligence, diplomatic and others. When they go to some of these countries, they're told by U.S. experts, "Don't take any devices with you. You don't want to e-mail when you're over there, because they'll just, like, hack into everything you've got, and there will be a serious problem. And what he is saying, she actually used her devices when she was in these countries.

PEREZ: Exactly.

BLITZER: Thank you for your good reporting for us.

The White House is keeping quiet about the FBI decision, which comes as President Obama hits the campaign trail for the first time with Hillary Clinton. They just held a rally in North Carolina. White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski is on the scene for us.

Michelle, this could have been a very awkward appearance, but update our viewers on how it all went down.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, can you imagine the two of them standing there if criminal charges had been recommended, what would have been said or not said.

But instead, President Obama and Hillary Clinton came out to the pounding music of "Fight Song" after an absolutely surreal day in politics but making it weirder still was the fact that not a word of it was mentioned here. It was almost as if it hadn't just happened. It wasn't the big story of the day.

The White House clearly punting on it. They would not respond to the FBI's announcement, saying that it's still in the hands of the Department of Justice.


KOSINSKI (voice-over): These are the pictures Hillary Clinton's campaign has been waiting for, arriving in Charlotte with President Obama aboard Air Force One. Then...

(MUSIC: "FIGHT SONG") KOSINSKI: The former rivals side by side on stage.


KOSINSKI: Clinton now not facing criminal charges, but yet not a word about it here. Instead focusing on each other's accomplishments and their long-time relationship.

CLINTON: I've also known him as the friend that I was honored to stand with in the good times and the hard times. Someone who has never forgotten where he came from. And Donald, if you're out there tweeting, it's Hawaii.

KOSINSKI: President Obama shouting hoarsely at times, continued the Democratic lovefest.

OBAMA: I got to see up close just how smart she was and just how prepared she was, especially because I had to debate her a couple dozen times. Even when things didn't go her way, she'd just stand up straighter and come back stronger. She didn't give up.

KOSINSKI: The White House today, even offstage, had no response to the FBI development and insisted Clinton and the president did not discuss it on the flight, this appearance a chance to cheerlead hard for their shared values in a battleground state.

CLINTON: I saw him go toe to toe with the toughest foreign leaders and to give the order to go after Osama bin Laden. This, my friends, is a president who knows how to keep us safe and strong. Compare that to Donald Trump. Can you imagine him sitting in the Oval Office the next time America faces a crisis?

KOSINSKI: The president also had ready plenty of references to Trump, even out on the campaign trail did not utter his name.

OBAMA: Let me just say I know the other guy talks about making America great again. America is really great. That's a fact. That is a fact. Not something I just made up and tweeted.

KOSINSKI: President Obama showing the energy he's known for. And to persuade and hammer home a stark contrast with Republicans.

OBAMA: I don't know how do you vote for the guy who's against minimum wage, against unions.

KOSINSKI: Hoping to cement his legacy, too, and helping bring Hillary Clinton to the White House.

OBAMA: And there has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton. Never. And that's the truth.

I'm here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton. I want you to help elect her to be the next president of the United States of America.


KOSINSKI: The White House has responded to the situation before. They've reiterated that Hillary Clinton said her use of private e-mail was a mistake and that she didn't intend to mishandle information.

The president even said that he didn't think she put national security at risk. But today nothing. Something had to be said about this, so the campaign did this as cleanly as possible. They put out a paper statement saying they were glad the matter has been resolved. And that is all you are going to hear about it. Not wanting any hint of that shadow over this big day of campaigning.

BLITZER: A very big day on the campaign trail. Michelle Kosinski in Charlotte, North Carolina. Thank you.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York. He was the first House member to endorse Donald Trump.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in. Do you have confidence in the FBI director, James Comey?

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: I actually do. Director Comey, he's one of the better employment that President Obama has made, and I accept what he said, that while directions might not have been intent, it shows extremely poor judgment. We need a president that shows good judgment, and what we've seen again is the...

BLITZER: So on this issue, this is a sensitive issue, you disagree with Donald Trump, who said the system is rigged. You think that the career professionals, the FBI agents, James Comey, the former deputy attorney general under President Bush, former U.S. attorney, you think they handled it professionally and responsibly?

COLLINS: I do. And I believe his term it was not intended, maybe, to do it. It doesn't take effect that she lied to the American public. Lying seems to be a Clinton family trait.

BLITZER: I want to be fair. You disagree with Donald Trump on this.

COLLINS: Well, I'm not exactly sure what Donald Trump says.

BLITZER: He says the system is rigged, that she should have been charged. But you say the system worked. He obviously condemned her. But he says the system --- you say the system worked the way it's supposed to.

COLLINS: I accept Director Comey's decision here, and what her actions were may not have been intended, but it did put our nation's security at risk. It showed bad judgment and she did lie to the American public for the last year and a half, saying there were no classified, top-secret e-mails on her server. There were. She knew it. She lied to the American public. And America needs to remember that.

BLITZER: I just want to be precise. Trump says charges should have been filed. She's a crook and she's a criminal. Comey says not enough evidence for that, to criticize the way she handled it, but he defended his decision not to recommend criminal charges to the Justice Department. You're with Comey, not with Trump?

COLLINS: I agree with Director Comey.

BLITZER: Let's move on, talk a little bit. The House speaker, Paul Ryan, today, he was critical of Donald Trump. At the same time, the whole controversy over that six-pointed star, Star of David, as most people see that star, not necessarily to the sheriff.

So listen to what Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, said today about that tweet that Donald Trump later deleted. Listen to this.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WY), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I believe he's got to clean up the way his media works. But most importantly, as you know, I -- one of the few times I spoke out against him during the primary, very personally, was in this area, when he failed to disavow a supremacists, white supremacists. And look, I've made this really, really clear. The point is I think he's got to clean this up.


BLITZER: Do you agree with the speaker?

COLLINS: What I would say is Donald Trump said there was no thoughts here...

BLITZER: Do you agree with the speaker that he's got to clean up that whole social media portfolio that he has, and he's got to be more precise. Because he's deleted other sensitive tweets before. Do you agree with the speaker he's got to clean up that whole act?

COLLIN: All of us have been calling for him to be more disciplined and has been in the last few weeks. And so while I won't necessarily agree with the speaker, I will say that Mr. Trump made it very clear that this use of that symbol was not of his choosing, and it certainly wasn't meant in any derogatory way towards anyone.

BLITZER: Do you believe it was a sheriff's star or a Star of David, the original tweet that was deleted?

COLLIN: Well, my understanding is it came from some other individual that used it. Somebody just, like, retweeted something. I think it was an innocent use of that retweet, and it was no...

BLITZER: All the checking we've done, it came from ten days earlier or whatever from an anti-Semitic white supremacist neo-Nazi type of website. That's where it originated.

COLLINS: I don't know where it originated, but again, Mr. Trump is certainly not anti-Semitic. He took that off, it was basically a retweet.

And you know, this is the liberal left, trying again. BLITZER: He's the one that deleted the tweet. And the tweet, if there was nothing wrong with the tweet, why did he delete it?

COLLINS: Well, to take this away from the liberal left. Just to try to make anything out of everything with his hairdo.

BLITZER: He deleted other stuff that the liberal left didn't like. He deleted this after an hour and a half or so, because I assume he and his aides recognized it; it was awkward, it was inappropriate. And Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, your boss, if you will -- he's your speaker -- he's not a liberal left.

[17:20:15] COLLINS: I do think this is a sign that Paul Manafort, now running the campaign and not Corey Lewandowski, has brought a level of discipline in that says, "We're going to deal with these things immediately. We're going to be done with it. We're going to focus on the issue of making America great again, securing our borders, bringing our jobs back that were stolen. And I think what you saw here was a sign of discipline with the Trump campaign. Paul Manafort said, "We're going to just push this right off of the table," not unlike what Hillary's trying to do about lying about her e-mail servers and the -- the top-secret information, so I look at it in a positive mode.

BLITZER: All right. Congressman, you're a good supporter of Donald Trump.

Stand by, we have more to discuss.


BLITZER: We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[17:25:21] BLITZER: The breaking news, the FBI decides not to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for her e-mail practices as secretary of state. That comes as President Obama campaigns with Hillary Clinton for the first time today in North Carolina, where Donald Trump will shortly be holding a rally of his own.

Now we're back with Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York, a very early Trump supporter.

So Hillary Clinton, she's got the president, later this week the vice president, her husband. She's got some major players out there on the campaign trail with her. One of the points that is made about Donald Trump: he can't get those eminent Republicans, like two former presidents, like the two past immediate Republican presidential nominees, to go out there, support him, campaign with him. What's his problem?

COLLINS: Well, I think it comes back, Wolf, the establishment and where you think this country is today and how well the establishment has treated Americans. When Donald Trump stands up and says, "Let's make America great again,

let's put America first," that doesn't sit well with the politicians who drove our country to where we are today, with China and Mexico stealing our jobs, with American -- my daughter just graduated college. Half her classmates don't have jobs. So you would expect the establishment to line up with Hillary Clinton, and even the Republican establishment be a little bit wary of the individual who says, "I'm going to turn things around right now."

BLITZER: But Congressman, you still believe America is great today, right?

COLLINS: It is great today, but we can be better and make this a country where our children can live the American dream, which means jobs, jobs, jobs.

BLITZER: So you would have preferred the statement "make America greater" as opposed to "make America great again"?

COLLINS: Well, the "great again" is true. Our kids don't have jobs.

BLITZER: Because it's still a great country.

COLLINS: It's a great country, but it isn't the country I grew up in with the greater jobs.

BLITZER: You agree with me, it's still the greatest country in the world?

COLLINS: It's still the greatest country on the earth, but too many of our kids are not living the American dream. This is about our children and grandchildren, living the American dream. It comes back to jobs and the economy, taking it to China and Mexico and getting back the jobs that were stolen.

BLITZER: Chris Collins, congressman from Buffalo, New York, Western New York.

COLLINS: There you go.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for coming in.

COLLINS: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Coming up, Donald Trump is seizing on the FBI decision about Hillary Clinton, saying it's evidence the system is rigged. He'll have more to say at a rally in North Carolina. That's getting underway pretty soon. Our breaking news coverage continues right after this.


BLITZER: Donald Trump is reacting to the FBI's decision not to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of private e- mail servers while she was the secretary of state. Trump says Clinton's actions compromise the safety of Americans. He says the fact that she won't be charged is evident of what Trump calls a rigged system.

[17:32:23] Our political reporter, Sara Murray, is in Raleigh, North Carolina, where Trump is getting ready to hold a campaign rally of his own.

Sara, we certainly can expect to hear, I assume, a whole lot more from Donald Trump about this in -- coming up soon?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's a pretty accurate prediction, Wolf. Donald Trump has made it a habit of slamming Clinton as "Crooked Hillary" and slamming a rigged system, whether it has to do with Republican primaries or whether it has to do with Hillary Clinton's e-mails.

On top of all of that, this offers him an opportunity to pivot away from a controversial tweet that his campaign is still not quite apologizing for.


MURRAY (voice-over): As Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton barrel into North Carolina today, Trump is ready to bounce.


MURRAY: The presumptive GOP nominee already seizing on the FBI's decision not to recommend charges against Clinton for using private e- mail servers as secretary of state. Today, Trump putting out a statement, saying, "Because of our rigged system that holds the American people to one standard and people like Hillary Clinton to another, it does not look like she will be facing the criminal charges that she deserves."

The focus on Clinton comes as Trump tried to move beyond his latest Twitter controversy, after he posted and then deleted this graphic of Clinton with a six-pointed star and piles of cash. The image, which evoked anti-Semitic sentiments, appeared days earlier on a white supremacist message board.

Trump has taken credit for his own tweets in the past.

TRUMP: During the day, I'm in the office. I just shout it out to one of the young ladies, who are tremendous, and I'll just shout it out, and they'll do it. But during the evenings after 7 p.m. or so, I will always do it by myself.

MURRAY: But Trump's social media director, Dan Scavino, is taking responsibility for this tweet, saying a statement Monday night, "As the social media director for the campaign, I would never offend anyone and therefore chose to remove the image."

He's claiming the star was a sheriff's star, not the Star of David, and saying it came from an anti-Clinton Twitter feed, not a racist website.

But even after his statement, Scavino gloatingly took to Twitter last night, saying, "Yes, I am the guy behind the scenes who defeated 16 other candidates' social teams with DJT, Facebook, Twitter, and Insta platforms. Don't be mad." He later deleted that tweet, as well.

The Trump campaign's handling of all of this has left some fellow Republicans unimpressed. Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a sharp rebuke.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via phone): Look, anti-Semitic images, they've got no place in a presidential campaign. Candidates should know that. The tweet has been deleted. I don't know what flunky put this up there. They've obviously got to fix that.

[18:35:01] MURRAY: And Ben Carson offered a tamer critique, tweeting, "Social media provides a great platform for discourse, but we must be careful with the messages we send out."

The misstep comes at an inconvenient time for Trump as he auditions potential running mates. Trump could announce his pick as soon as next week. And in the latest round of auditions, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker is slated to join him on the campaign trail tonight.


MURRAY: Now Donald Trump's unusually public round of auditions for his potential VP candidate obviously continuing here tonight with Bob Corker. He's going to keep it up tomorrow in Ohio. He's appearing with Newt Gingrich there, and Wolf, as you know, Newt Gingrich can be a little bit of a loose cannon. So we'll see what he has to say on the stump with Donald Trump tomorrow.

BLITZER: It will be lively, I am sure. All right, Sara, thank you. Sara Murray reporting for us.

Let's dig deeper with our experts. We want to welcome our newest CNN political analyst, Rebecca Berg. She's a national political reporter for Real Clear Politics. Welcome, Rebecca.

Also joining us, the "Washington Post" assistant editor, David Swerdlick. He's with us. Our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, is joining us. And our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, the senior editor at "The Atlantic," is with us, as well.

Guys, actually stand by. I want everyone to stand by. We've got some more breaking news we're watching. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[17:40:55] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. We're back with our political experts.

Ron Brownstein, the bottom line right now, the FBI's recommendation that no charges should be brought against Hillary Clinton for the use of those private e-mail servers over four years, but at the same time, the FBI director, James Comey, he gave a very harsh criticism of Hillary Clinton's carelessness on this. So what's the political fallout right now for the Clinton campaign?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's a significant blow. Obviously, it could have been worse, and that's the one silver lining for her. But even without a criminal indictment, what the FBI director delivered was a searing political indictment of her judgment. And I think it dovetails with the report from the State Department inspector general, which portrayed the Clinton circle as closed and kind of insular and resistant to career professionals who raised questions about this unusual arrangement.

Look, the other silver lining for her is that she is running against someone who also is facing enormous questions about his judgment and his values.

But I would say, Wolf, that this announcement today and the language that the FBI director used, I think, greatly increased the odds that we get to election day in the unpredictable and really unprecedented situation where we have both major party nominees facing unfavorable ratings from a majority of the public. I think that's a -- a much more likely outcome after today. And where that -- what that means for the election, I think, is very hard to predict.

BLITZER: So David, how does the Hillary Clinton campaign move beyond this, if they can?

DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "WASHINGTON POST": Wolf, I think we're already seeing them move beyond this. If she had been indicted or the FBI had recommended an indictment, this would turn into a huge problem for the Clinton campaign, obviously.

But the fact that Senator Sanders let her off the hook during the primaries on this issue, the fact that now it doesn't look like she'll be indicted, the fact that you see her, Secretary Clinton, campaigning with the president today and not mentioning it suggests the Democrats feel like they've sort of paid a penance for this. Secretary Clinton has paid a penance for this, and that between now and the convention, they want to move forward with a different message.

BLITZER; Because Rebecca, the timing of this is extraordinary when you think about it. Happening on the same day as the first joint appearance between Hillary Clinton and President Obama.

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And of course, Director Comey stressed that the timing was coincidence, and no one knew this announcement was coming except within the FBI.

But even so, his remarks today really dampened what should have been a very bright spot for Hillary Clinton and her campaign, her first appearance with President Obama. Instead it was sort of this awkward dynamic on the campaign trail, with President Obama defending her time as secretary of state, saying you know, she did a great job on the same day that the director of the FBI had basically said she did not do a great job, was very careless with classified material, which is a huge component of her role there.

So at the same time, though, it was sort of a life raft. A life raft, right? Because on a day when the FBI's remarks would have made all of the news, now we're talking about, also, the president campaigning with Hillary Clinton, praising her time as secretary of state. And so certainly, a bit of good news on a day that was a lot of bad news.

BLITZER: As Ron Brownstein says, it could have been worse. It could have been a whole lot worse if they would have made a recommendation to file formal charges.

Jeffrey, walk us through the legal justification for what the director, James Comey, concluded. He's a former deputy attorney general. He's a former U.S. attorney. His recommendation that no charges were appropriate right now. Walk us through that decision.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it really comes down to a single word, Wolf, which is "intent."

The crime of improper disclosure of classified information is what's called a specific intent crime. The way this crime has been prosecuted over the years by the Justice Department, the only way someone can be prosecuted is if they knew they have a legal obligation to keep classified information secret, knew the material was classified, and disclosed it anyway.

And what inspector -- what Director Comey said was, "Yes, this material was mishandled, but there was no evidence that there was criminal intent on the part of Hillary Clinton.

[17:45:00] Most importantly there was no attempt at any sort of cover-up or lying about it. And that is almost always the key fact in a white color crime investigation, is whether the subject to the investigation engaged in some sort of deceptive behavior. He found there was none on the part of Hillary Clinton, and though it's quite clear that she was careless with a classified information, Director Comey said there was no evidence of criminal intent. So no criminal charge.

BLITZER: So is it settled as the Hillary Clinton campaign put out in their statement or is there still a chance that officials at the Justice Department could decide to bring charges?

TOOBIN: I think has a practical matter it's settled. I have never heard of a circumstance, certainly not a high profile circumstance where the FBI says we cannot make this case, and the Justice Department sends the FBI back and says you can make the case, go do it. I think as a practical matter this is over as a criminal issue. The political effect, we're talking about tonight.

BLITZER: Yes, political impact by no means over, the criminal apparently over.

All right, everyone, stand by, we have more to assess. Donald Trump has his own problems. We're watching that closely right now as well. Much more right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:40] BLITZER: Once again we're standing by for a Donald Trump rally. Getting ready to get underway pretty soon in North Carolina. Donald Trump likely will have a whole lot more to say about the FBI decision against recommending charges against Hillary Clinton for use of private e-mail servers while she was secretary of state. But Trump is facing some problems of his own.

Ron, let's talk about those. Donald Trump still experiencing at least some fallout from that image showing a six-pointed star resembling the Star of David. Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House today, he weighed in and said he really believes that the Trump campaign needs to clean up the way they engage in social media.

It's pretty damning to hear that from the highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives in the Congress about his own party's nominee.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It continues to be unprecedented. I mean, this is, you know, a continuation of what we saw with Paul Ryan's comments about Donald Trump's attacks on Judge Curiel as being, quote, "the textbook," unquote, definition of racism.

There's never really been anything like this. Donald Trump -- I think, Paul Ryan represents the opposite pole of the Republican Party as Donald Trump. The belief that the way for Republicans to grow is to try take their message into every community in the country, every color, every ethnic group and he sees Donald Trump as someone who is both a short and long term threat to the Republican Party's ability to do that.

I would just say the conundrum facing Donald Trump is that the same racially polarizing strategies that are creating these enormous deficits for him among minority voters are also driving away a significant portion of white-collar white America. And as I've said several times, you know, there are a series of recent national poll that have Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump among college educated white voters.

That has never happened in the history of polling, going back to 1952. No Democratic nominee has won most college educated whites. And yet I think both the questions about Trump's temperament and especially the questions about whether he is -- you know, his use of racially barbed language is driving I think that switch which is an enormous challenge and head wind for him in this general election, despite Hillary Clinton's own problems that we've been talking about today.

BLITZER: So, David, is there any indication you've seen so far that Donald Trump and his campaign are actually going to listen to the speaker of the House?

DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, so far they haven't, right? Just as Ron said, it was just a few weeks ago that Speaker Ryan was saying that Trump's comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel were the definition of racism. A few weeks later you have the incident with this tweet and the Star of David, and the Trump campaign has tried to explain their way out of it but not apologized for it.

And we know that Trump has said in the past that his mentors early on in his career told him never apologize. Always keep moving forward. The problem is that that strategy was much more effective for him I think in the primaries than it will be in the general election. And right now they've shown no indication that they're going to apologize. That they're going to reflect to voters that look, even if something is a mistake, they want to make it absolutely clear that they're not associated with something that is either perceived as racist, perceived as anti-Semitic, et cetera.

BLITZER: What are you hearing about Trump's vice presidential election? Because it's supposed to be coming up pretty soon.

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and it seems we're having sort of a public audition process this week with Bob Corker out on the trail with him today and Newt Gingrich out on the trail with him tomorrow. These are both two people who have been talked about as potential running mates for Donald Trump and indeed as people who are probably on the short list for him right now. So it seems he is testing his compatibility at least publicly with some of the people who he might pick.

Interesting to know that Chris Christie has been out of the country right now and so hasn't been meeting with Trump as you might expect a potential running mate to do a week or so before they're going to be announced. And that's just an interesting know. But we are coming up on crunch time for the Trump team. He is whittling down his choices. He's looking for someone interestingly who would be a political insider, contrary to his outsider brand.

It will be interesting for me at least to see how that dynamic works and whether his supporters actually are excited about it or back away from it.

BLITZER: Rebecca Berg, our newest CNN political analyst. Rebecca, once again, welcome to our CNN team. Good to have you.

BERG: Thank you.

BLITZER: Rebecca Berg and everyone else, guys, thank you.

Coming up, much more on the breaking news we're following. The FBI won't recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of private there e-mail servers -- yes, more than one, serves -- as the secretary of state.

[17:55:03] But the FBI director James Comey is sharply critical, calling Clinton and her staff extremely careless in their handling of classified information.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We assessed it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's personal e-mail account.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Extremely careless. The FBI finds Hillary Clinton seriously mishandled classified information. But the bureau isn't recommending any criminal charges for use of multiple private e-mail servers.

This hour new details on how the FBI chief reach his bombshell decision.

Judgment call. Donald Trump and his party say the FBI findings prove Clinton isn't qualified to be commander-in-chief. But tonight Trump is facing fresh questions about his own judgment. I'll talk to the Republican --