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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With Congressman Darrell Issa; Pence, Christie, Gingrich Finalists in Trump V.P. Search; Clinton: 'Party of Lincoln' Becoming 'Party of Trump'. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 13, 2016 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:15]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now: narrowing the field. Donald Trump's short list of potential running mates now down to three, all of them talking to Trump in person or by phone within the past few hours. Who will Trump pick and when?

Party of Trump. Hillary Clinton denouncing Trump's takeover of the party of Lincoln, accusing the presumptive nominee GOP presidential nominee of dividing the country. Is Trump now tied with Clinton in some critical battleground states?

Emotional plea. The son of the man killed by Baton Rouge police appeals for peace, Alton Sterling's son rejecting violence, and urging demonstrators to "protest the right way."

And, tonight, new details about the police shooting of Philando Castile. What happened after the filming stopped?

Moving forward. President Obama meets with Black Lives Matter activists and police, civil rights leaders at the White House as he is trying to build trust and bridge a deep divide, the meeting coming just hour ahead of tonight's groundbreaking CNN town hall about race and policing in America.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It is a real-life drama playing out in real time that reminds many people of one of Donald Trump's reality TV shows, but the stakes in the search for a vice presidential running mate are very real and very high. It is believed to have come down to three men, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

An announcement could come as soon as tomorrow. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is denouncing Trump's campaign as divisive, stoking mistrust and -- quote -- "pitting Americans against America."

Clinton sharply criticized Trump in a speech at the old state capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln once argued against slavery, Clinton lamenting the party of Lincoln is becoming the party of Trump. Over at the White House, President Obama meeting with Black Lives

Matter activists, law enforcement officials, dozens of local and religious leaders, civil rights leaders among them, to discuss tension and violence between police and African-American communities. The forum sparked by controversial police shootings of two black men last week and the deadly ambush that left five Dallas police officers dead only days later.

We're covering that and much more this hour with our guests, including Congressman Darrell Issa. And our correspondents and expert analysts, they're also standing by.

Let's begin with Donald Trump's search for a running mate now its in final frenzied hours.

CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us now with the very latest.

Jim, lots of intrigue, lots of drama.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

I am told by a top campaign adviser that Donald Trump will be making this decision over the next 24 hours during a campaign fund-raising swing through California. As for these back-and-forth discussions that are going on as to who he should pick for his running mate, I am told this is not a division, but it's very much under discussion.

For a candidate whose campaign has seemed at times like a reality show, the V.P. search is shaping up to be must-see TV and the season finale is just days, maybe even hours, away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump's season of "The Apprentice" veepstakes edition has come down to this, an Indiana cliffhanger. That's where Trump and his family huddled behind closed doors with Indiana Governor Mike Pence. A Trump campaign source told CNN their meetings over the last 24 hours went "fabulously."

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm narrowing it down. I'm at three, potentially four, but in my own mind, I probably am thinking about two.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Nothing was offered, nothing was accepted.

ACOSTA: Trump got his Trump tryout in Indiana last night and showed off a skill that is prized by the campaign, attacking Hillary Clinton as untrustworthy.

PENCE: To paraphrase the director of the FBI, I think it would be extremely careless to elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States.

ACOSTA: The presumptive GOP nominee sounded impressed, but unconvinced.

TRUMP: I don't know whether he's going to be your governor or your vice president. Who the hell knows.

ACOSTA: Which explains why Trump not only met with Pence, but other V.P. contenders, Newt Gingrich and even Senator Jeff Sessions, who was there in Indianapolis as an adviser, while he talked by phone about the number two spot with Chris Christie, calling in from Washington.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's a little bit like "The Apprentice." You find out sooner or later who is the last one standing is.

ACOSTA: Of the three finalists, Christie, Gingrich and Pence, the choice comes down to selecting an attack dog that doesn't end up biting Trump.

Christie's vetting turned up issues like the New Jersey Bridgegate scandal, but he is a fighter. Gingrich is seen as loyal and a fierce debater, but also has vetting issues. Contrast that with Pence, whose vetting was completely clean, but is more low-key.

[18:05:12]

TRUMP: I'm not doing this for surprises. I'm not doing this for games. I'm doing this because I want to pick somebody that is going to help me get elected.

(CROSSTALK)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We need once again to have a president who puts the safety and security of our citizens first.

ACOSTA: But it's Christie who is viewed by some inside the campaign as Trump's top choice.

TRUMP: I'll tell you, Chris Christie is somebody I have liked a long time. He is a total professional.

ACOSTA: First ex-rival to endorse Trump, he is now a close adviser and he has known Trump and his flare for the dramatic for years.

CHRISTIE: If the governor thing doesn't work out, "The Apprentice" might be a really good deal for me. But Donald is a really good friend. Donald and Melania are both good friends. And he's been very kind to me and supportive. But it's always great to have Donald Trump talking about you, because Donald Trump is as good a salesman as anybody.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: But this is no game show now.

Still, keep your eyes on Governor Mike Pence. Pence is favored by some in the family and senior campaign advisers. Trump is expected to announce his choice at an event perhaps in New York City on Friday, but, Wolf, any movement of that unveiling before the convention if it happens this weekend, if it's moved to this weekend from Friday, that would all but eliminate Mike Pence, who must inform Indiana officials by Friday, midday Friday, we're told, he is dropping out of his race for reelection as governor so he can become Donald trump's running mate, so the clock is ticking, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly is, especially for Mike Pence right now. Stand by. I have more questions for you.

Trump has just wrapped up, we are learning, a meeting with one of his top advisers, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is at the hotel in Indianapolis, where they huddled.

Sunlen, you have some details of that meeting.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

Well, that meeting wrapped up a little over an hour ago here at this hotel in Indianapolis. You may recall that Senator Sessions was once considered as a potential vice president pick for Donald Trump. He went through vetting by the Trump campaign.

But sources telling CNN that that's not the nature of his meeting here in Indianapolis tonight, that it is more of an advisory role here, Sessions acting more of a sounding board with Donald Trump, meeting as he grapples with the final decisions, weighs the pros and cons as he goes through the final options.

Senator Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse Donald Trump and he has remained fiercely loyal to him through the campaign, so very clearly someone that Donald Trump trusts and values his advice, certainly very indicative of how final these deliberations are, that he is summoning Senator Sessions here to this hotel. They met for a little over two hours, hearing his advice and his thoughts, in addition to Donald Trump's family who was here earlier today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sunlen in Indianapolis, thanks very much. We will get back to you when more information comes in.

A very quick question to Jim Acosta.

Chris Christie, you heard him say almost like the season finale of "The Apprentice." Some people believe he could be the vice presidential selection.

ACOSTA: That's right. There are people inside the campaign, there are Republicans close to the campaign who are pushing for Chris Christie.

Donald Trump believes apparently in his gut that Chris Christie is this guy. Part of that is because he was the first ex-rival to come out and endorse Donald Trump. Don't forget that. And since that happened, Wolf, and, yes, they have known each other many years. They have been on the phone almost on a daily basis. That's something that is sort of an underreported part of this campaign. Yes, they did talk today about the vice presidential selection process, but Donald Trump trusts Chris Christie immensely. He is running his transition program inside the campaign right now, and even if he doesn't get the vice presidential selection, one would have to bet he is going to play a prominent role in his administration if he's elected.

BLITZER: We will see if the announcement comes tomorrow, Friday, or Saturday. We will see.

ACOSTA: If it's Friday, it is just across the river from New Jersey.

BLITZER: We will see what happens.

Jim Acosta, good reporting. Thank you.

Let's some get more on all of this. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California is joining us.

Congressman, thanks very much.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, thank you, Wolf.

This is an amazing vetting process that is going to give us the next vice president, I hope.

BLITZER: Who do you want?

ISSA: I want somebody that complements Donald Trump. We don't need another businessman. We don't need somebody to say I have got a plan. We need somebody that can work with work with Congress and be allowed to work with Congress.

Joe Biden is a person that if he had been allowed to work with Congress could have made a real difference in this administration, so my hope is that he picks somebody with that kind of background and experience.

BLITZER: Of the three finalists we have been talking about, Chris Christie, Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, two of them have served in Congress, Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich. Chris Christie has not. So, you think, of those three, who do you want?

ISSA: Mike Pence was a classmate of mine and a friend. I'm going to go with him out of the fact we came into Congress together and served together.

But even Chris Christie has worked with the state legislature of the other party, and so all three have real experience about getting legislation passed. Newt famously worked with Bill Clinton and got a great deal of legislation done, including some that both sides still say made a difference and each takes credit for, but Newt was there when it happened.

[18:10:15] BLITZER: He worked closely with Bill Clinton on welfare reform,

balancing the budget, even though he also led the fight as far as impeachment was concerned. They worked together on some substantive issues.

Do you think Newt Gingrich would be a good vice president?

ISSA: When you have three friends, you hate to get in the middle of it.

I will stick with -- Mike Pence was -- came into Congress with me together. We have traveled together. I know him personally. And so I probably have the closest relationship with him and I know he would be good. I have no doubt that the other two candidates are well- qualified.

Newt is almost always, if not always, the smartest guy in the room when he's in the room, and there's a lot of value to that. But as you say, ultimately, this is a vetting process of the presumptive nominee, and he has got to work with somebody he trusts every day.

BLITZER: Donald Trump, he likes to make up his mind, he likes to make his own decisions. Do you see him working in a collaborative way with a vice president?

ISSA: I do.

Donald Trump -- there's two Donald Trumps. The one you're talking about, certainly, he is very resolute, but this is also somebody who does joint ventures with people, lets them run the show. He simply makes sure that his name is well used in these operations and promoted.

This is also a man that met with Speaker Paul Ryan and made it clear in that meeting -- and Paul Ryan I believe has said this publicly -- he said, look, you work out the details, I will sign them.

I think you have somebody who wants to be big picture and that will be refreshing. I think Ronald Reagan was the last really big picture president we had.

BLITZER: Darrell Issa, I want you to stand by. We have more questions. There's other information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. I want to get your reaction. We will take a quick break. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:16:20]

BLITZER: Donald Trump's controversial call for water-boarding of terror suspects is drawing a sharp reaction from the head of the CIA.

We are back with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California. He's a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on terrorism. Congressman, Trump has said torture works. Water-boarding, he

supports. He wants to go even further. Today, the CIA director, John Brennan, weighed in and said this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: If a president were to order one of the agencies to carry out water-boarding or something else, it will be up to the director of CIA and others within CIA to decide whether or not that direction and order is something that they can carry out in good conscience.

I can say that as long as I am director of the CIA, irrespective of what the president says, I'm not going to be the director of CIA that gives that order. They will have to find another director.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I would love to get your reaction, Congressman.

ISSA: Previous CIA directors dealt with it differently.

I think the one thing that any president has to do is respect -- and I am sure Donald Trump will -- the career professionals when they actually brief him in detail on the tools they use, how they work, and what they get. What we have found obviously is in the military active duty, for a long time, we have not had -- we train as military personnel on being water-boarded.

We don't water-board. We have two standards. Clearly, the military doesn't do it. The CIA has at times done it. Currently, they don't. And, quite frankly, I would hope that in the future we use effective techniques and not necessarily techniques that are so publicized because that hasn't been good for our reputation around the world.

We want to make sure we get what we need through techniques that work and they can't be torture.

BLITZER: And so you think Trump would walk away from his support for water-boarding and other forms of torture?

ISSA: I think Donald Trump is somebody who will take career professionals' advice when it's explained to him fully.

That's something that -- and I came from the private sector. I was a businessman. There's a transition. When you go overseas, and you meet with leaders, when you meet with our CIA station chiefs, when you learn what they do and how they do it, you gain a respect for the procedures they use.

And I think that's the important transition that's -- first of all, it's important that he pick a vice president hopefully that's along that way, already knows some of that, and second of all that he listens to career professionals. But this is somebody who has built his empire, if you will, by finding other people that know their business and hiring them, particularly very bright women who have run major parts of his company.

This is a man who understands he doesn't know what he doesn't know and he learns.

BLITZER: The Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told CNN yesterday -- I will read to you what she told us.

Referring to Trump: "He is a faker. He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns," to which Donald Trump tweeted this. "Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot. Resign."

Was his response -- I know she was very tough on him, but was his response acceptable to you?

ISSA: Well, his response was very Trump-esque.

And Donald is Donald. But, look, he's a politician who says it like it is, who says what many of us would have said. I think the justice, I am saddened that she would take a partisan tone and one that was inappropriate.

I served and work with judges and justices all the time. I find that it's almost impossible to determine from talking to them how they got appointed or what their background was.

[18:20:04]

And that's the way it should be. The third branch of government needs to be truly apolitical. And I'm sorry that she's lost that ability to speak above the politics of the day.

BLITZER: But when he said her mind is shot, she's 83 years old, what was he trying to suggest?

ISSA: Well, you know, again, Donald Trump has his way, and his way is gruff and uses terminology to express maybe hypothetical how we're thinking.

I don't know, Madam Justice, how well her mind is, how sharp she is, or why she fell asleep during a joint session. What I do know is that in the past, I would not have expected her or any justice of the Supreme Court to utter any statements like that.

And I really think that what she should do is apologize to her fellow colleagues on the court, because she has diminished the Supreme Court's standing by making statements like that. Beyond that, it is up to her and her doctor to determine whether she can continue to serve.

BLITZER: I want to mention you have a new book that just came out. It's entitled "Watchdog: The Real Stories Behind the Headlines From the Congressman Who Exposed Washington's Biggest Scandals."

We just showed the book jacket.

Congratulations on the new book. Very quickly, what's the biggest scandal you exposed?

ISSA: The biggest scandal we exposed was in fact the failure to turn over documents that were legally requested under subpoena. A number of investigations. But that's where the scandal came.

Certainly, Fast and Furious wasn't a scandal until the cover-up occurred for 10 months and it continues to be a scandal, for example, because Eric Holder's e-mails are only now being released, and we're discovering he was part of a willful obstruction, that he used his e- mails to suggest how not to deliver documents.

But this book is more than about scandals, even though former Speaker Newt Gingrich is on the cover talking about how important it is and how it should be read. The fact is it is about the future. It's about how we fix a broken system.

So, yes, I used the investigations under several chairmen during my 10 years on the committee as examples, but I also talk about how we go forward, how we get transparency. Most people didn't notice, but Elijah Cummings and I passed bipartisan legislation on freedom of information that expands and improves the ability for the public to get information.

So it is a hopeful book, in addition to being a book about the scandals that I saw on my watch under multiple chairmen, including myself.

BLITZER: Darrell Issa is the author of that new book.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

ISSA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, more on Donald Trump's vice presidential pick, an announcement expected soon. We're learning new information.

And his father was shot and killed by police in a controversial confrontation that sparked protests around the country. Now this teenager is making an appeal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMERON STERLING, SON OF ALTON STERLING: Protest in peace, not guns, not drugs, not alcohol, not violence. Everyone needs to protest in the right way, with peace, no violence, none whatsoever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:27:51]

BLITZER: They're among his closest advisers and Donald Trump's children appear to be playing a very important role in a search for a vice presidential running mate.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is with us. CNN anchor Don Lemon is with us. Our senior reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, and "Washington Post" assistant editor David Swerdlick.

Gloria, today, Trump and his children, Eric, Don Jr., Ivanka, as well as her husband, Jared Kushner, they had breakfast at the Indiana governor's mansion with Mike Pence. How telling is it -- you have done a lot of work on this -- that he involves his adult children in his vice presidential search?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, they're intimately involved in this campaign.

They're adults. He trusts them with his business and he trusts them with his presidential campaign. The way Trump manages is, he has a few close people, not a huge group, that he brings in. And the rest is his family. And if you look at the way this campaign has been run, not only his children, but also his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is very involved in the running of this campaign.

And I believe they all have strong opinions on who ought to be vice president. I'm not sure they all agree on who ought to be vice president, and in the end, they know that it is going to up to Trump. And Trump is kind of a gut decider and they may not be.

So in the end, I think the final decision will be up to him, but he does poll members of his inner circle and members of his family about important decisions like this.

BLITZER: He certainly does.

Nia, do you think it is going to down to an alignment on substantive policy issues with a vice presidential running mate or personality, does he get along great with this individual?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the policy part would probably be much harder, because he is often vague on policy.

And the policies that he is specific on, he is very much out of step with much of the GOP and kind of Republican orthodoxy, on free trade, on building a wall, on the temporary Muslim ban.

So, I think that the policy part would be harder. I think the personality part would be much easier. And he very much has a personality-driven campaign.

So in that vein, I think he would have Chris Christie to choose from. I mean, in some ways Chris Christie was the original tell-it-like-it- is guy before Trump was.

[18:30:11] And then I think also on Newt Gingrich, he also known in the same way as kind of a bomb thrower in terms of rhetoric, but I think for Gingrich, he puts more of an intellectual sheen on Trumpism, so I think in that way, that would be a good pick.

I think he's needs to decide does he want an echo of the Trump brand, or does he want expansion? I think if he goes for an expansion, it would be Pence, who's more...

BLITZER: David, what do you think of the way he's conducting this, because it's so visible publicly?

SWERDLICK: Well, I think the Trump campaign clearly enjoys the attention and the spotlight that's been put on it. I talked to someone close to the Trump campaign today who kind of backed up what Gloria was just saying a moment ago, that even though Trump sort of trusts his children and does seek out their input, he is a gut decider and is going to decide this from his gut.

BLITZER: Don, you heard both Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie suggest, it looks like they're almost getting ready for the season finale of "The Apprentice."

LEMON: And are we surprised? I mean, if you look at it, basically, Donald Trump has taken the reality show thing on the road. He is the biggest reality star outside of probably the entire Kardashian family. He's probably more popular than any singular one of them. And what he's done is actually what he's done on the board.

What he did, Nia-Malika Henderson makes a very good point. He basically beat out Chris Christie at the board room table. He out- Chris Christied Chris Christie. And so now he is the nominee.

But also, it's like the Miss Universe pageant. He's bringing them out on the stage. He's trying them out. And then the public or whoever, the members of his family are saying, "I give this one this mark. I give that one that mark." We should not be surprised. That's what he's done this entire time, and guess what? It has worked for him.

BLITZER: And it builds up, Nia, a lot of excitement out there.

HENDERSON: A lot of excitement there. I mean, and it's almost like maybe too much excitement, right? When he finally unveils this pick either Friday or Saturday, you wonder...

LEMON: Whoever gets the rose, Nia.

HENDERSON: Right. Oh, yes, "The Bachelor," "The Bachelorette." So yes, I mean, you wonder, in some ways, there's all this build up, and sort of "I shaved my legs for this?" when it comes to Friday or Saturday.

BLITZER: Gloria, you wanted to make a point?

BORGER: Well, I think what we're seeing with Trump is sort of a hard head issue and that, you know, he wants another fighter to back him up, and that might be somebody like a Newt Gingrich. And so in his gut or his, you know, his heart, he might want them.

His head might tell him that the safe choice would be Governor Pence, who would assure conservatives who are worried about Trump, with good reason, that he's conservative enough. And so I think he's having this struggle. And what he's also doing, because he's a showman, is he's got all of us talking about almost nothing else.

LEMON: Exactly.

BORGER: He's -- he's raising, you know, raising the sort of profiles of all these men. So it's -- even if Pence doesn't get it, this is good for his tight re-election race in the state of Indiana, even if he doesn't get chosen. Thank you very much, right? This is not bad for Chris Christie; this is not bad for Newt Gingrich. So he's helping these people.

And by the way, even if one of them, you know, two of them aren't chosen, they're going to wind up in his administration in one way or another. So he's just raising their profiles and raising his own profile at the same time, if that's possible.

BLITZER: And he's doing it in a way that is so vintage Donald Trump.

SWERDLICK: It's vintage Donald Trump, and as Gloria said, right, you know, one of them could wind up as V.P., one as attorney general, one as White House chief of staff. It's not outside the realm of possibility.

BLITZER: By any means at all. You wanted to weigh in?

HENDERSON: I think that's right. I think initially he had said he wanted to wait to unveil his V.P. pick actually at the convention. And what he has done in this way, sort of the constant drip, drip and parading them, pageant-like over these last couple of days, is very different than what he initially thought he wanted to do.

BLITZER: If it were a reality show, Don -- Don, if it were a reality show, there would be cameras in all of those meetings right now, presumably at some point...

LEMON: Basically there are. We're all there. We're all -- except for sitting around the board room, which was Mike Pence's house this morning, the board room table, right, when they were all having breakfast and interviewing him, because Ivanka is at that board room table, as well.

BORGER: Yes.

LEMON: Yes. I mean, basically, the cameras are there. They're just not really inside the house.

And again, as a -- the biggest reality show stunt is to get people talking about you, as Gloria said. And what many people have sort of criticized him for, especially establishment Republicans, is like doing these stunts, in their estimation, in order to garner media attention, and that's exactly what he's doing with this.

Again, I go back to my initial point. It's not surprising, because it's worked for Donald Trump. And if it's worked, why stop? Why change?

BLITZER: And there are new polls out in key battleground states today that show it is, in fact, working for Donald Trump. Very, very close contest in some of those key battleground states.

[18:35:04] We'll pick up on that right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This afternoon, Hillary Clinton invoked Abraham Lincoln and lamented Donald Trump's rise to the Republican presidential nomination.

Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, has details for us. Brianna, she spoke there in Springfield, Illinois, the old statehouse there. Tell our viewers how it went.

[18:40:08] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the symbolism, Wolf, was anything but subtle. Hillary Clinton coming here to the old statehouse, the very spot where Abraham Lincoln referenced the Bible and said famously a house divided against itself cannot stand, as she tried to cast Donald Trump as a divider who is dangerous for the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton blasted Donald Trump in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous anti-slavery speech.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This man is the nominee of the party of Lincoln. We are watching it become the party of Trump. And that's not just a huge loss for our democracy; it is a threat to it.

KEILAR: Clinton is criticizing Trump in the wake of the police- involved shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the killing of white police officers in Dallas, Texas, by a black gunman.

CLINTON: His campaign is as divisive as any we have seen in our lifetimes. It is built on stoking mistrust and pitting American against American. It's there in everything he says and everything he promises to do as president.

KEILAR: Seizing on his recent comments about racial tensions.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: There's still some black Americans who believe that the system is biased against them, the American system. Because they're black, they don't get the same kind of shot, they don't get the same kind of fairness that whites do. What do you say to them?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, I've been saying even against me, the system is rigged. When I ran as a -- you know, for president, I mean, I could see what was going on with the system, and the system is rigged. KEILAR: Clinton pounced.

CLINTON: Even this, the killing of people, is somehow all about him.

KEILAR: Clinton also called for criminal justice reform, a potential weakness for her in light of her 1990 support for anti-crime legislation that contributed to the era of mass incarceration she now derides.

But it's a vulnerability eclipsed by Trump's comments on the topic. Tuesday he described himself as the law and order candidate and criticized the Black Lives Matter movement.

TRUMP: Well, first of all I think the term is very divisive. The first time I heard it, "I said you have to be kidding. They can't use that."

KEILAR: Clinton also hammered Trump for reportedly telling House Republicans last week that he would defend Article I, II, even Article XII of the Constitution, though there are only seven articles.

CLINTON: The very first thing a new president does is take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. To do that with any meaning, you've got to know what's in it. And you have to respect what's in it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Meanwhile, as Donald Trump conducts his search for a running mate very much out in the open, Hillary Clinton, Wolf, is much more hush-hush about this.

"The New York Times" was the first to report that retired four-star Admiral James Stavridis, also the former NATO -- the head of NATO, is being vetted by the campaign. It's unclear how seriously he is being considered, how close he is to the top of her list. But Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, who is considered to be very high up on the list, Wolf, she will campaign with him tomorrow in Virginia.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Brianna Keilar reporting.

Meanwhile, a family spokesman tells CNN that the son of the man shot and killed by police in Louisiana will meet with President Obama in Washington tomorrow. And today, that young man made an emotional plea for peace at the spot where his father died in a controversial confrontation that was caught on camera.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is on the scene for us. Boris, there are new developments on several fronts tonight. Update our viewers.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was a heartfelt message from Cameron Sterling earlier today, right here outside the Triple S Mart. And as you said, a family spokesperson telling us that he's set to meet with the president tomorrow.

Right now, the president is actually meeting with a large contingent of community leaders from across the country, as well as law enforcement. Two of them are representatives from right here in Louisiana: the governor, John Bell Edwards, as well as Colonel Mike Edmondson, who's part of the Baton Rouge Police Department.

All of this unfolding as there's still a search for a fourth suspect in what investigators tell us was a plot to kill police officers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAMERON STERLING, SON OF ALTON STERLING: Everyone needs to protest in the right way, with peace. No violence.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Alton Sterling's 15-year-old son speaking out for the first time today, just steps from where his father was killed by police last week.

[18:45:00] STERLING: My father was a good man, that was a sacrifice to show everyone what has been going on in life.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): His plea for peace comes as Baton Rouge police say they were the target of a violent plot believed to be made in retaliation for Sterling's death.

CHIEF CARL DABADIE, BATON ROUGE POLICE: This is substantial, credible informed that we received.

SANCHEZ: Three African Americans, including a 13-year-old, were arrested for stealing eight guns from a pawn shop early Saturday morning. Afterwards, police say at least one described their plan.

DABABIE: We learned from that suspect that was taken into custody that the reason the burglary was being done was to harm police officers. Their goal and objective in the burglary was to get bullets.

SANCHEZ: Police have raided a home and arrested another person in connection with the alleged plot. One other is still missing, along with two guns. All of this as police defend their response to recent protests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the threat speaks for itself. We can't take anything for granted any more.

SANCHEZ: A thousand miles away, new details are emerging about the shooting death of Philando Castile.

DIAMOND REYNOLDS, VICTIM'S GIRLFRIEND: Oh my God, please don't tell me he's dead.

SANCHEZ: An African-American man killed by a police officer during a traffic stop near Minneapolis one week ago.

OFFICER: I told him to reach for it. I told him to get his head up.

SANCHEZ: Castile told the officer he was carrying a gun before he was shot, a document provided to CNN by Castile's family shows he was licensed to carry that weapon. And there are conflicting reports about what happened after Castile was shot.

REYNOLDS: Nobody takes his pulse, nothing.

SANCHEZ: His fiancee, Diamond Reynolds, who streamed the shooting aftermath live on Facebook, says no one came to Castile's aid as he lay dying, but the police chief tells CNN officers did respond.

CHIEF RICK MATHWIG, ROSEVILLE, MINNESOTA, POLICE: Roseville officers performed professional, caring CPR on Mr. Castile and try to save his life, starting three minutes after they arrived.

SANCHEZ: Protesters took to the highways in Minnesota this morning, crowds, linked arms to block the road during rush hour. Tensions are high as the country seeks to better protect citizens and police officers alike.

One day after memorializing five police officers killed in Dallas, President Obama met with community leaders, activists and law enforcement, a discussion about solutions for a nation at a turning point.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Wolf, officials tell us they're still looking for the fourth suspect and two guns that were missing, stolen from the pawnshop. It is important to point out, though, the suspects that were involved allegedly in this plot, none of them have been charged with conspiracy or making terrorist threats. And we are still waiting from officials to see evidence that indicates how expansive or thought out this plot might have been, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Boris, you let us know if you learn more information. Boris Sanchez in Baton Rouge. All of this will be the subject of a very special CNN town hall tonight on race and policing. Don Lemon will be moderating. We're going to talk about that with Don and the rest of the panel right after this.

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[18:52:45] BLITZER: It's a topic that almost all of America is talking about. And tonight, race and policing are the subjects of some groundbreaking CNN events, including a town hall tonight.

Don Lemon, you're going to be hosting "Black, White and Blue: America 2016."

I want to -- this is a town hall, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, two hours tonight, we're all looking forward to that.

But let me give you some new numbers. "The New York Times" just came out with a new poll, "The New York Times"/CBS News, about race relations in America right now. Right now, 69 percent of the American public, according to this poll, Don, believe race relations are bad. In July of last year, 57 percent.

In April of 2009, when -- shortly before President Obama took office, only 22 percent of the American public in this "New York Times" poll thought that race relations were bad, only 22 percent. It's 69 percent now.

You go back to May of 1992 after the L.A. riots, it was 68 percent at that time. Now, it's even worse than then. This is a subject you're going to be dealing with at length tonight.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we are, and the big question, Wolf, in that is this perception -- what's perception versus reality or is the perception reality in these particular cases because when you're dealing with -- when you ask that question are race relations better or worse? It's a sort of subjective question. How do you prove that?

I guess you can prove that with some of the numbers if you actually crunch the numbers when it comes to discrimination and those sorts of things, but that's a subjective question, but we're also dealing with the same thing when it comes to the town hall tonight about policing in this country, about discrimination, about police brutality and on and on. Is it real or is it a perception? Does it matter at this point? Because people believe that it's happening and we're seeing so many of these images.

If you look at a number of different studies, they point to different things. They tell you different things. But all of them leading to that there is something when it comes to African-Americans especially, black and brown people received disparate treatments by law enforcement.

BLITZER: Nia, listen to what Hillary Clinton said about Donald Trump in her speech today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[18:55:00] HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Last night in an interview, he said that he understands systemic bias against black people because, and I quote, "even against me, the system is rigged," unquote. Went on to say, I can relate to it very much myself.

Even this killing of people is somehow all about him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: She delivered her speech on race relation, but the second part of her speech was a blistering attack on Donald Trump.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It was. And I think, some people think, well, maybe she could have talked about policy and she has talked about policy before -- one of her first major policy addresses was about criminal justice reform.

You know, I thought this was a speech that was essentially telling the Republican Party that it's not the Party of Lincoln anymore. It's the party of Trump, and she really went through a laundry list of things that Donald Trump has said about Judge Curiel, about a temporary ban on Muslims, all things considered low lives among Democrats and even some Republicans.

So, I thought it was a sort of a two-part speech. And again, I mean, it's their attempt to hit him early and often on these issues. They think make him vulnerable, not only among the Obama coalition, African-Americans and Latinos, but also white Americans.

BLITZER: Gloria, just yesterday, the president of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks, was here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He told us that Donald Trump has declined their invitation to address their conference in Cincinnati, Ohio in the coming days.

Listen to what Cornell said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT & CEO, NAACP: You can't run for president and not talk about police misconduct and police brutality. You can't run for president and not talk about the nation's civil rights agenda. So, this is an important moment and our convention really will be an opportunity for anyone running for president to provide a window into not only their policies, but into their heart and character as a candidate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton will attend the NAACP conference. Four years ago, Mitt Romney was there eight years ago. Eight years ago, John McCain was there.

Is this a missed opportunity assuming he doesn't change his mind by Trump?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think it is -- I think it is a missed opportunity, you know? Donald Trump understands that he has a very steep hill to climb with the African-American community and I know Reince Priebus told you earlier, Wolf, that perhaps it was a scheduling issue, that he wasn't aware of Donald Trump's decision not to go.

But, you know, sometimes as a presidential candidate it can a lot of sense to go into what you perceive is the lion's den, OK, and share your feelings and your experiences and reach out, because a little bit of reach out goes an awfully long way. And so, I do agree with him, and I do think it's a missed opportunity for Trump.

BLITZER: David, what do you think?

DAVID SWERDLICK, WASHINGTON POST ASSISTANT EDITOR: No. It's definitely a missed opportunity and to Gloria's point. Look, Trump probably knows he's not going to do well in November with African- American voters, with voters of color in general, but part of showing that you have the capacity to be president is to say, look, I'm going to campaign and speak to your issues whether or not you're going to vote for me.

I think other candidates have done that. Mitt Romney spoke and did a fairly decent speech to the NAACP four years ago. I think it's a missed opportunity.

BLITZER: And, Don, once again, you're hosting, you're moderating this town hall tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, "Black, White and Blue: America 2016" right here on CNN.

What's the most important point that you hope emerges from this dialogue?

LEMON: That we start -- not even that we start to talk, that some empathy is gained out of this, that people feel that they can say whatever they want to in that room and that it obviously will be broadcast around the world. But I want people to at least and we're going to try to figure out how the country should hold conversations, as well, and I hope people tune in to watch that because we shouldn't be as we have said over the last couple of days as the president and former president, we cannot keep going into our corners and do the same things the same way.

So, what's more important -- most important to me tonight, Wolf, is that town, the town and town hall that everyone there gets to speak a question and gets to say how they feel and gets answers from experts so that we can go on facts and not emotions.

BLITZER: And I know you've invited a lot of people with very diverse views. We're going to get the full discussion tonight on this really, really sensitive issue and it comes at a critical moment. "The New York Times" poll just out says 69 percent of the American public right now believes race relations in our country are bad.

We're looking forward to that. Don will moderate tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 Pacific, the CNN town hall, "Black, White and Blue: America 2016".

That's it for me. Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.