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Drama at FOX News Over Future of Roger Ailes; Awaiting Start of Roll Call Vote; Trump Campaign: Melania Speech Not Lifted. Aired 5-6 ET

Aired July 19, 2016 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:07] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Brianna Keilar in North Las Vegas, thanks so much.

That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper. Here is Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper for THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer from the Republican National Convention here in Cleveland. There are dramatic developments unfolding, and they will unfolding on the convention floor momentarily. Major addressing coming up. There's drama.

Also drama at FOX News right now. We're watching a developing story. Joining us, our senior media correspondent, "RELIABLE SOURCES" anchor Brian Stelter is with us and our senior media politics reporter, Dylan Byers.

Word about Roger Ailes. Seems to be conflicting information coming in. I just want to update our viewers on this before we go back to the Republican convention.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT ANCHOR: Yes, about two weeks ago, Gretchen Carlson, a former anchor at FOX News, sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. Ailes had denied the charges. But other women have come forward, as well, with similar stories, and tonight there are exit talks under way between Roger Ailes and the Murdoch family that will result, most likely, in Ailes' departure.

FOX, we're talking about a network that Roger Ailes built from scratch 20 years ago, created a massive cable news empire. Ailes is FOX and FOX is Ailes.

So the significance of this story can't be understated. We're looking here at the Republican National Convention, and FOX is the favorite network of conservatives. This news will shock the delegates here in Cleveland, and shock FOX News viewers.

But we should say, although there have been some reports online, on the Drudge Report and elsewhere, Ailes has not officially left as of this minute. He's in his office at FOX News, negotiating his exit.

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: And Wolf, just to bring you to the chaos of the news cycle right now, what we had is you had reports coming out from various news organizations that he was indeed out, that there was a separation agreement. People are starting to walk back some of those reports, as Brian said,

Roger Ailes very much remains in his office at FOX News. So we'll have to wait and see exactly when what's going to happen is going to happen.

But like Brian said, I mean, you know, we look at this convention behind us, we think that this is where the Republican Party sort of comes up with its agenda and its plan for the past 20 years. One of the key places where the Republican Party has come up with its agenda and its plan has been FOX News, and the reason for that is Roger Ailes. His exit from -- it's hard to overstate just how significant -- or overstate just how significant his exit is.

STELTER: FOX is the virtual public square for the Republican Party and for the conservative movement in America. And that is because of Roger Ailes. He was a GOP kingmaker for decades before creating FOX News.

He is now under this weight of sexual harassment allegations. Most recently, at noon today, "New York" magazine reported that Megyn Kelly, the 9 p.m. host, had accused him of sexual harassment while meeting with a law firm that's investigating its allegations.

Today, tonight, Ailes is denying ever sexually harassing Megyn Kelly. We've been trying to reach her, and she is not commenting yet.

BLITZER: This is a dramatic moment indeed for the future of FOX News. I know you've been looking ahead. Assuming he is gone, and we have not confirmed that he is gone, but assuming he is, what happens next?

BYERS: Well, that's the question. I've spoken with a number of television news executives, who sort of have a very vested interested in this, of course. And what they've said is, look, there is no other Roger Ailes. There is only one Roger Ailes. He created this network. He turned it into not just a media organization but a political organization, a political juggernaut. How do you bring someone in to fill those shoes? You can't.

So, look, what the Murdochs are doing now, 21st Century FOX, is they're thinking about who's within FOX News and especially who's outside of FOX News. They're looking at Sky, their broadcasting company over in England, but you have to imagine, how can you bring a Brit in to run an American political organization?

STELTER: That's absolutely right. I mean, the Murdochs have a very difficult decision that they are facing, and most likely the case, either tonight or tomorrow, by the end of the week, Ailes will be leaving FOX News. That is something that no one could have imagined two weeks ago when this sexual harassment lawsuit was filed.

Ailes has vigorously denied these allegations, and yet, whether they are proven false or true in a court of law, he may not be at FOX News to defend himself any more.

BLITZER: Brian Stelter and Dylan Byers, as soon as you get more information, you'll let us know. Thanks very much for that update. STELTER: Thanks.

BLITZER: All right. Let's get back to the convention here. There is a story unfolding all under us here on the convention floor. The convention opened with a floor battle. There could be one last fight, or at least one final skirmish that is about to take place in just a few hours.

If all goes as expected. Donald Trump Jr., speaking for the New York delegation will put his father over the top, making the 2016 presumptive nominee the official presidential nominee of the Republican Party. If all goes as expected.

However, there's still a possibility, a slim one, perhaps, that the unexpected could happen in the next few minutes. Here to walk us through that, our CNN political director, David Chalian, is with us.

[17:05:03] Davis -- David, do we expect another dramatic shoe to drop? We saw a little dramatic shoe about 24 hours or so ago. What are we expecting within the next hour?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. So we should also always be prepared to expect the unexpected at this convention right now. You're right that we did see that yesterday.

What we're learning right now from all our sources is that the Trump campaign expects at this hour, Wolf, that Donald Trump will be the only person's -- person placed into nomination on the floor tonight.

As you know, Ted Cruz was the runner-up here in the nomination fight, and he's got -- if he can gather a majority of the signatures from eight states, he'd be able to get himself a place in the nomination. It does not look like that exists yet, but we're waiting to hear from the RNC's whip operation and get the floor procedures set for how this will go.

So right now, we're waiting to see if Ted Cruz will also be placed into nomination. We are told Ted Cruz wants no part of this, is not looking to have his name placed in nomination; and the Trump campaign expects they're going to be able to quell this.

BLITZER: It would simply be a symbolic move to try to embarrass Donald Trump a little bit. Although once -- assuming they don't get the eight states, once the roll call begins, we will hear the name Ted Cruz coming up.

CHALIAN: Well, there's no doubt about it, because some of these delegates, through the primary and caucus process all season long, are pledged and bound to Ted Cruz.

So even if Donald Trump is the only person placed into nomination, as they call the role, each state is going to say "X" number of votes for Donald Trump, "X" number of votes for Ted Cruz. We'll hear, maybe, Marco Rubio and John Kasich's name a few times, as well. But -- but clearly, what is going to happen at the end of this is something none of us would have predicted a year ago, which is that Donald Trump is going to become the official nominee of the Republican Party.

BLITZER: And they've work it out so that his son will make it official, that magic number of 1,237. That will happen with the New York delegation. Tell us how that happens.

CHALIAN: That's right. So yes, there's always stagecraft involved with that moment of going over the top, and this is another family moment. As you know, the Trump family has been critical to this entire convention week. And so getting Donald J. Trump Jr., a delegate from New York, the opportunity to deliver that, they're going to stage the roll call state by state in a way that, when it comes time to go over 1,237, it will be New York, it will be Donald Trump Jr. who will delivers that for his father.

BLITZER: A New Yorker -- a New Yorker will be the Republican -- not the presumptive nominee; he will be the nominee...

CHALIAN: That's right.

BLITZER: ... at that point. David, stand by. We'll see if any drama unfolds behind us.

I want to go to our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. She's on the convention floor for us in -- I guess you're in the Iowa delegation, Dana? What are you seeing? What are you hearing?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I'm in Iowa. I just want to kind of give you a sense, and David touched on it just now, of kind of very active situation that we're in right now.

He talked about the floor whips. These are individuals who work for the party and for Donald Trump, who are working together here, who are going around right now to all of these delegations as they're hearing things from their colleagues and a lot of rumors, frankly, about whether or not certain states are OK and are going to go in for Trump, or whether or not there is a chance that, as David was talking about, there could be enough states -- they would need eight total, at least eight -- for people who support Ted Cruz to be able to formally put his name in nomination.

I am told that right now, as we speak, it's a moving situation. States like Colorado, they were very unhappy with all of the chaos, frankly, yesterday. The state of Minnesota and the state of Utah. There are delegates in those states who are sort of most upset.

But I just want to show you where I am right now. You mentioned Iowa. If you look up, you can see the sign. This is where I chose to come for two reasons, Wolf.

One is because this is the first in the nation caucus, of course, and it is one that Donald Trump did not win; Ted Cruz won.

So I came over to kind of see what the mood is here. I just talked to the party chair, who's helping lead the delegation here, who said that they feel confident that -- the -- that there's going to be no problems, that they're going to be able to nominate Donald Trump. And if you see, actually I wanted to show you the microphone. This is

where he will come. People are standing the microphones, at all 50 delegations to formally list the names, most of them obviously starting with Trump.

And as I toss back to you, just to kind of give you a sense of how kind of intense it is here, I came over to Iowa also because I was told by a source here that there was a rumor that there would be a walk-out in Iowa. I just checked with some delegates. They say it's not going to happen. But that kind of rumbling and discussion is going on in delegations across the floor here.

BLITZER: Interesting that there is some rumbling and discussions going on even at this very, very late moment, even if it's only for symbolic purposes.

BASH: Right.

BLITZER: Because Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee.

[17:10:00] All right, Dana, we're going to get back to you. Thank you very much.

So we're waiting for the roll call to officially begin. Anderson will get -- will bring us our panel discussions. The fallout from this, from Melania Trump's speech. The plagiarism controversy surrounding that speech. We're going to have a lot more from the Republican National Convention here in Cleveland right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back to the Republican National Convention. Looking at live pictures coming in from the floor of convention. We're waiting for the GOP in a nominating roll call to begin momentarily and a possible, possible symbolic protest maneuver on the convention floor.

Meantime, a high-powered list of people will be taking the stage tonight: the House Speaker, Paul Ryan; the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell; Governor Chris Christie; Dr. Ben Carson. And two -- not one but two Trumps tonight: Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump as well.

However, the focus even now continues to be on what Melania Trump said last night. Now, closely, some of it tracks with what Michelle Obama said at the Democratic convention eight years ago.



MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: That your word is your bond.

OBAMA: That you do what you say you're going to do.

TRUMP: That you do what you say and keep your promise.

OBAMA: That you treat people...

TRUMP: That you treat people with respect.

OBAMA: ... with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them and even if you don't agree with them.

TRUMP: And so these values, morals in your daily life.

OBAMA: Because we want our children...

TRUMP: Because we want our children...

OBAMA: ... and all children in this nation...

TRUMP: ... in this nation to know...

OBAMA: ... to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements...

TRUMP: ... that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams.

OBAMA: ... is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them...

TRUMP: ... and your willingness to work for them.


BLITZER: CNN's Jim Acosta is outside Trump Tower in New York and Manhattan. He's joining us now with the latest on how the candidate and the campaign are handling this controversy. Jim, a tough day for the Trump campaign. Melania Trump weathering widespread accusations of plagiarisms.


BLITZER: So what's been the campaign's response?

ACOSTA: Well, interesting to note, Wolf, we did catch a glimpse of Melania Trump. She stepped out of Trump Tower earlier today, got in some vehicles and left. Did not have a chance to ask her any questions.

But we do know, Wolf, in the last several minutes, we did hear from a Trump campaign official who said an internal memo has been drafted and circulated throughout the campaign, instructing people inside the campaign as to what the messaging and talking points are when it comes to dealing with this controversy.

It basically, from what I understand, talking to an official who's familiar with this memo, it basically lays out what officials have been saying for the last 12 to 24 hours, from Paul Manafort saying this is not plagiarism, that really, Melania Trump was just talking about common themes that you hear in speeches of this nature. To what Chris Christie said earlier today, when he said 93 percent, approximately 93 percent of the speech was all Melania Trump.

Now, the Republican National Committee went as far as, through a spokesman earlier today with you, Wolf, saying that one of the portions from Melania Trump's speech could have been something uttered by a character from the cartoon "My Little Pony."

So they have been straining big-time today to try to explain all of this. Paul Manafort, at one point today, blamed this once again on the Clinton campaign. That's apparently another item that's in this campaign memo that the Clinton campaign shot back. There was a tweet from Jennifer Palmieri, who is a spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign, saying, "Nice try. You can't blame every problem on us" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mr. Trump also planning to speak tonight at the convention via satellite. What do we know about his appearance later tonight?

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. We just found out a few moments ago they're making preparations right here at Trump Tower for Donald Trump to appear via live video conferences into the Republican National Convention.

Not clear at what point during the evening he'll be talking, but there will be a special moment, as David Chalian was mentioning a few moments ago, when Donald Trump Jr., the candidate's son, will be putting his father over the top during that roll call vote when they get to the New York delegation.

That might be an appropriate moment for it, but we should point out, Wolf, we'll be seeing more of the family, more of the Pences here in the coming days. The Trump campaign putting out a press release earlier this afternoon, saying Donald Trump and his family, Mike Pence and his wife, they'll be holding an event tomorrow afternoon in Cleveland as Mike Pence prepares to deliver his speech tomorrow night, and Donald Trump delivering his speech on Thursday night. Wolf, it sounds like they're trying to hit the reset button after a difficult night.

Back to you, Anderson.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

Let's go to Anderson -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wolf, thanks. Melania Trump's speech really had a simple mission last night, to try to leave viewers with good feelings about her husband. Instead, it's raised all sorts of questions about the campaign itself, crowded out their messages today, and put the entire party on the defensive. Jim Acosta mentioned it. Here's what RNC communications director Sean Spicer actually had to say.


SEAN SPICER, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: We're talking about 70 words, three passages. OK? And this idea of plagiarism, if we want to talk about, let's talk to it. Melania Trump said you work hard for what you get in life. John Legend said, "Work hard to be anything you want in life." Kid Rock said, "Work hard to be anything you want in life."

Melania Trump said, "The strength of your dreams and willingness to work for them." Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony said, "This is your dream. Anything you can do in your dreams, you can do now."

[17:20:00] I mean, if you want to take a bunch of phrases and run them through Google and say, "Hey, who else has said them?" I can come up with a list in five minutes.


COOPER: A lot of spokespeople, a lot of surrogates, no doubt a lot of campaign insiders busy all day with this. Joining us, chief national correspondent, "INSIDE POLITICS" anchor John King; senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson; XM Radio host and anchor of CNN's "SMERCONISH," Michael Smerconish; CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger; also CNN delegate analyst and former RNC official Mike Shields; Trump supporters Jeffrey Lord, Scottie Nell Hughes; and former senior Obama advisor, Dan Pfeiffer.

Jeff, you and I talked about this last night. You said it was a concern. What do you make of the response of the Trump campaign today? Because it seems to me, had they just said, "You know what? Yes, somebody did this..."

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think they would have made...

COOPER: "... They've been fired. Move."

LORD: I think they would have made life easier for themselves. Yes, I do.

I mean, I personally -- if they don't want to fire someone, I'm all for a public flogging and let it go at that. I mean, this is not a good thing, let's be plain. That said, other candidates, President Obama, then-Senator Obama, others have been caught up in this kind of stuff. Joe Biden is finishing his second term, but...

COOPER: Right. But at this point does it say something about the campaign and how they handle things, how they would handle it if they were in the White House?

LORD: Yes, it does, but it says something about all these other folks, as well. I think that this is a -- I'm almost concerned to use the word on the air, a kerfuffle. But it's very distracting. I personally find it infuriating, because of the damage it did to Mrs. Trump. I mean, this is totally unfair to her. I mean, that just infuriates me.

COOPER: It's clearly something that was written, and she probably had nothing to do with it.

LORD: But there needs to be -- they need to figure out what happened and make sure it never happens again.

COOPER: Scottie, the "My Little Pony" defense. I mean, is that...

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: At least pick Rainbow Sparkle. Why did he have to use that one?

COOPER: Well, I like that he specified the character in "My Little Pony."

HUGHES: I think that goes a little (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But you know, I'm not one of those that jumps to conclusions that this isn't Melania Trump.

Even before she took the stage, Anderson, we were reporting that she'd worked on the speech for five weeks herself. I think, actually, being a woman who's actually very studious, I think she did her studies; she did her research. I think she actually had a lot of input and wrote this speech.

And obviously, she's admitted in past articles that she admires Michelle Obama. I think she probably went back and liked those terms. I'd hold her more at fault, if she did write this, I hold the fault of the editor that went through it and said, "No, we don't do that. That's not -- you need to change that. If you really believe in these core values that both parties believe in, let's make it more your words."

I think this speech was actually authentic Melania Trump.

COOPER: Do you think, though, that, had the campaign -- do you agree with Jeffrey that, had the campaign just came out early on and said, "Look, mistake. It's being dealt with," it would still be, at 5 p.m. in the afternoon the next day, a story?

HUGHES: That's the problem, I think, all along with every kerfuffle that they've had with this campaign all along. Unfortunately, sometimes their response is what makes this go longer and longer. And that is an issue.

COOPER: Dan Pfeiffer, you've been involved with speeches. How does something like this happen?

DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR; It's just an abject failure on behalf of the campaign. Every speech at every convention I've ever seen, Republican or Democrat, every word of every single person who speaks is vetted carefully by a team of researchers. The idea that they would not vet the speech of the candidate's spouse is just mindboggling.

And I agree with everyone else who said that, if they had just come out and admitted it, and said it was a mistake and apologized, we all would have moved for today. We would be in a whole different place. But they have compounded it every single turn, from Paul Manafort to the "My Little Pony" defense, all along the way.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, when this story broke last night, we -- we knew that either he could apologize or he could double down. And they doubled down, because that's the way this campaign is operated. And there is no ability to say there is a mistake, even if it wasn't a Donald Trump mistake, which it clearly wasn't, and probably not a Melania mistake. I don't think it was. That they still won't admit a mistake. So Sean Spicer is out there with "My Little Pony."

COOPER: What's interesting about it, John, is oftentimes the -- you know, when Donald Trump has said something that people have pushed back on, whether it was making fun of a "New York Times" reporter for his disability, the response from the campaign is, "Well, that's just not what happened." Basically telling people the way they have perceived things, with what we have all heard, that we're all just idiots for believing what we actually saw.

JOHN KING, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: And good luck with that. And most of the people in this room -- most, not all -- would agree with the Trump campaign, at least saying you're making way too much of this. But the video doesn't lie. It just does not lie. There's no way around it.

To Dan's point, people inside any campaign will also tell you the No. 1 job is to protect the candidate, but sometimes be even more protective of the candidate's spouse. Because if the candidates' spouse is mad at the candidate, that makes the life of everybody inside the campaign very difficult. It's just a fact of life.

And I'm told she is furious.

COOPER: Understandably.

KING: Now to Scottie's point, maybe she's deflecting. I don't know. I don't read my -- he's furious. The kids, I'm told the Trump children are mad at Paul Manafort, saying, "This is why you were brought in. You were brought in as the adult. You were brought in originally" -- now he's the Grand Poobah, but he was brought in as the convention manager. He was brought in to make sure these four days are Donald Trump's reintroduction to the general election climate.

[17:25:14] COOPER: Does the campaign...

KING: Are people going to vote on what happened with Melania Trump and plagiarism? No, but what does Trump say? No. 1, he says he's different. I get your point, Jeffrey, that this has happened in other campaigns. He's supposed to be different. He's not supposed to be politics as usual.

No. 2, he says, "Everybody in government in every administration is stupid; and I hire smart people, and we do things right." Well, he didn't hire enough smart people, because they didn't do things right here.

COOPER: Well, that's the thing. I mean, Michael, does this -- is the campaign just too small? I mean, you know, all along, the Trump campaign has made much of the fact that they are this hardy band. You know, Jeb Bush had this bloated staff. All these others have -- Hillary Clinton has a bloated staff. We have this hardy band of loyalists. Do they actually need some more people, some more eyeballs vetting speeches?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, "SMERCONISH": That's part of the issue. Look, I have a son here as a runner for CNN during the convention. He told me there's an app for this. You know, when he submits a college paper, there's an app that he submits, just to make sure that, inadvertently, he hasn't quoted something without attribution.

So yes is the answer to your first question. This is no longer about plagiarism. This is about a character flaw, potentially, of someone who is incapable of introspection. Because to have a leader who's incapable of saying, "I erred," I think it is danger.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, the best template for what kind of president Trump would be -- who he would be in the White House, who his staff would be -- is how he runs a campaign and who he surrounds himself with during that campaign, and how he responds to incidents like this.

And I think this, again -- I think this tells us something about how he would operate.

COOPER: What do they have to do -- I mean, once the speeches begin tonight, will that move beyond -- what do they have to do tonight to just move beyond?

KING: They should have made this go away by breakfast. No. 1, to use the number Chris Christie threw out this morning, 93 percent of that speech last night was pretty good. I know there were a lot of people saying she didn't have great personal anecdotes, she didn't have -- as someone who's never been in the political sphere before -- and you've had interviews with her -- she was compelling. It was a good speech. She can be an asset to Donald Trump, and he needs all hands on deck. He has a chance to win this election. Slight advantage Clinton right now, but he has a chance to win the election. Every asset he has should be an advantage.

Do you think Melania Trump is ready to go back out on the campaign trail? No. 1. So they have that internal problem.

No. 2, he needs these four days. This is a unique -- the convention is a unique platform. You own the spotlight for four days, and what are we talking about as we're waiting for the second night of his convention? Not -- we'll get to them, yes, but not the attacks on Hillary Clinton, not the questions about her judgment, not the questions about character or not this amazing opening that Melania Trump brought last night.

We're talking about plagiarism, character questions, staffing questions, management questions, competence questions for a guy who says he's the competent one.

COOPER: Tonight, we're going to hear from Paul Ryan. We're going to hear from Governor Chris Christie, as well as Tiffany Trump, as well as Donald Trump Jr.

Paul Ryan is certainly in an interesting position. Does he -- I mean, I think when Governor Rick Perry spoke last night, he didn't mention Donald Trump. He was introducing Marcus Luttrell. Marcus did.

Does Paul Ryan give a -- what does he say tonight?

BORGER: Well, I think Paul Ryan talks about his agenda that he has been talking to Donald Trump about. I was at a lunch with him the other day, and he made it very clear that he's been educating Donald Trump on his agenda that they hope to get through the United States Congress

And rather than focus on Donald Trump -- I don't know whether he's going to mention his name or not -- but rather than focus on Trump, he's going to talk about the Republican agenda that his candidates can run on when they run for reelection. And he believes that will be the unifying factor in the Republican campaign if Donald Trump is not.

And clearly, he doesn't believe Donald Trump will be, and you know how long it took him to endorse him. So it's not like they're close.

COOPER: Mike, this roll call tonight, what should we expect? I mean, the folks are saying this could be the last opportunity for the "never Trump" delegates to actually do something.

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN CONVENTION ANALYST: Yes, first of all, I think the idea of -- what they're trying to do is get signatures from eight states, a majority of eight states, to have Ted Cruz's name placed in nomination. He can't win, even if he's placed in nomination. But it would sort of make a statement.

I think that that has fallen by the wayside. I'm watching the whips walk around here. I think that they're not succeeding in that. What they may wind up doing, though, is having some walkouts. I think there's up to six states that, we've heard, may actually stage a walkout here.

So I think now the whips are working to stop them from walking out. And you know, I mean, my entire...

SMERCONISH: How do they actually do that?

SHIELDS: Encourage them, say, "Please don't do this." Appeal to their sense of the party and a sense of what this will do and what the other party leaders are saying. I think it's, you know, they're really at that level.

And I think, you know, my entire political career, we've had people in the media going, "Conventions used to be so fun. You used to actually have a real whip count and real votes."

I think last night was the -- the most live ball you've had at a convention since maybe '54. I think there's a little bit of a live ball here tonight when they're trying to get these guys -- they can't do anything. They can't stop Donald Trump from being the nominee, but they're trying to still have some sort of demonstration.

[17:30:09] COOPER: Does it -- does it worry you at all, as a Trump supporter?

HUGHES: What we found out yesterday is that why the states backed off is that they were being told wrong. When they signed on, they thought that they were going to have the seven states or 11 states. They were told wrong. So when the whips came in and said, "No, this is what you're actually voting for," they said, "That's not what we want."

That's my fear right now, that these state delegations are being told falsehoods, and that's encouraging them to walk out. I'm hoping they're educating themselves right now and saying, "No, if we walk out, it's a bigger picture. Nothing will be accomplished." I hope they walk out. I hope they get on the Hillary Clinton bus, she buys them a great steak and (UNINTELLIGIBLE), because that would be the best for our campaign fund.

COOPER: All right. A lot to watch for coming up. We're going to take a short break. Just ahead, we'll have the latest from the convention floor itself. Will the opposition make one last attempt to try to disrupt the process at this crucial moment? Stay tuned, see what happens next.


[17:35:43] BLITZER: We're just minutes away from the pivotal moment of this Republican convention: the roll call to nominate Donald Trump and perhaps -- perhaps a walkout by some of the delegations. Every state will get a say in how its delegates will vote. When they are all done, Donald Trump will officially become the Republican presidential nominee.

Joining us now, Jake Tapper. He's down on the convention floor. David Chalian is with me here. Jake, we're expecting this roll call within minutes to begin. Where are you on the floor, and what's happening right now?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, first of all, see if you can tell where I am on the floor based on -- based on the side of the hats of the delegates. This is Texas. This is the Texas...


TAPPER: God bless Texas, absolutely. Don't mess with Texas either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't mess with Texas.

TAPPER: This is the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We carry guns in Texas, and we know how to use them.

TAPPER: All right. Please don't use them right now.

So the delegation from Texas is here, and something very interesting is going to happen, the roll call is about to happen. And Senator Ted Cruz is still officially a candidate, and the delegates here are bound by rules to vote for the candidates for whom they were -- they were assigned during the Texas primary.

So what you're going to hear in a few minutes, or when they get to the teams is the lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, who's the head of the delegation, is going to stand up, and he's going to declare that Texas assigns 100-plus delegates for Ted Cruz and so many for Donald Trump. Because Ted Cruz has not yet released his delegates.

So this is not actually any sort of insurrection or rebellion or coup. It's just that Ted Cruz, while it's expected that he will announce that he is endorsing the nominee ultimately, is still a candidate, and the delegates are bound to support who the voters -- Republican voters went to the polls and voted for.

So that's what is to be expected here amidst this sea of very large cowboy hats in Texas -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jake, if there is some -- some revolt, if you will, simply symbolic, because they don't have the votes, Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee.

TAPPER: Absolutely, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee, but I don't know that this is a revolt, per se. Ted Cruz has not released his delegates. So this is really more about Senator Ted Cruz not having released his delegates. And so they are bound, at least in the first couple rounds, to say that they are supporting Ted Cruz.

But I think it's all pretty much assumed here that ultimately, the delegates here will go for Donald Trump. Is that not correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a Ted Cruz delegate, and on the first round I'm bound to vote for Ted Cruz.

TAPPER: You're bound now, but ultimately, you know that the delegation ultimately will go for Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that the entire delegation, he will have the first round vote to cover the nomination. I don't believe it will go to a second round.

TAPPER: All right. Well, there you go, Wolf. Back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Jake, thanks very much.

David Chalian, it's getting lively over there on the floor. Good music is going on, as well. People are beginning to have a good time, even as we wait for the official start of the roll call.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right. And this is actually one of the most celebratory moments in a convention, this and maybe at the end of the balloon drop, after the candidate gives the acceptance speech. So this is an exciting moment.

Look, Wolf, just remember, even if -- even if Ted Cruz is not placed in nomination, there are other ways that the folks that haven't warmed to Trump here on the floor can still play with the roll call. They could demand that the chair of the delegation take an actual vote of the delegation right there and then. They can try to speak over the delegation chair at the microphone. So we may see some of that. And as you mentioned, we may see some states protest and walk out. Obviously, the states that Ted Cruz won are the most likely targets of that, who have been reluctant to Trump. But again, what's going to happen today, presumptive goes away. Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee.

BLITZER: Won't have to use that word "presumptive" anymore.

All right. David, stand by. We're waiting for the official start. The roll call vote is about to begin. We'll have that live coverage for you when we come back. The latest from here in Cleveland, where the rock and roll continues.



[17:46:07] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The national anthem here on the second night of the Republican National Convention. The theme of tonight, "Make America Work Again." Tonight is "Make America Work Again." Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're waiting for the start of the roll call to begin momentarily. We're going to be watching this pivotal moment for Donald Trump and the Republican Party. The roll call here at the Republican convention. That will make Donald Trump's presidential nomination official. As each state delegation declares his votes, we'll be watching to see what members of the so-called never-Trump movement, what they may do, if anything. Will we see any protest like one we saw yesterday when Trump opponents tried and failed to change party rules.

Let's go CNN's Manu Raju. He's at the convention hall. Manu, what are you seeing, what are you hearing?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, actually we're hearing a number of states actually considering polling their state's delegation. Now what does that actually mean? It means dragging out the proceedings, Wolf. Actually asking their delegates to count their votes. Really what that would do is essentially delay the proceedings going forward.

Now the reason why they would do this is to show that there is some frustration, show that they're upset that they actually have -- that there are some voices that have not -- that have been sort of squelched by the Republican Party leadership.

Now we have been told by someone in the never Trump movement that the reason why they're a bit concerned is that yesterday on the floor of this convention hall, the Republican Party leadership did not allow a vote on a rule's package that they believed deserved a roll call vote on the floor of the convention center. So expect some states, now any state delegation, any delegate can ask

for a poll. Can ask for their delegation to count the votes in their delegation. And if they do that, that will essentially drag out the proceedings. Now we don't exactly know who will do this yet because they can keep it secret. They can sort of announce it at the last seconds. So that's something we have to watch.

But one thing, Wolf, we do know -- some of the politicians who have been involved in the never Trump movement or trying to disrupt the proceedings are not involved in this effort, including Utah Senator Mike Lee, who's at the center of that fight yesterday. He told me that he is not involved in this effort today and he's not going to do anything or like walk out on the floor like other delegates may consider doing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Manu. We'll stay in very close touch with you. Good be a dramatic moment indeed.

Anderson, over to you.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Mike Shields is our delegate analyst and a former chief of staff of the RNC.

Can you just kind of walk it through for our viewers? What we can anticipate seeing? We're going to be hearing some speeches, nominating speeches.

MIKE SHIELDS, DELEGATE ANALYST, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE RNC: Yes, so there will have to be a motion made to nominate Donald Trump as the president. Someone will give a speech on that. There'll be a seconding speech and from that moment then you move into the voting portion of this.

COOPER: Are those speeches made from the floor itself or from the podium?

SHIELDS: Podium.


SHIELDS: And, you know, in times past people kind of -- made a name for themselves by giving those speeches. And then if there has been 50 percent of the signatures in eight states, someone could raise a motion to say, we want to enter another name in the nomination. If that hasn't happen then you're just going to move into a roll call vote that we expect and then -- and I think that's where we are. I haven't heard that they've gotten those signatures and during that place.

And so then I think the only recourse left for the people that just want to make a statement would be as -- as Manu was just reporting, they could walk out, they could sort of make some -- they could do. Make some sort of demonstration on the floor. But at that point, I mean, it's really over anyway. Donald Trump is going to be nominee.

COOPER: Right. SHIELDS: So these are all just sort of a statements that people are

trying to make.

COOPER: And the folks who are kind of monitoring all this are walking around in the kind of neon yellowish hats with ear pieces in and there's -- is there like a central control office?

SHIELDS: Yes. Yes. That's the whip team. And that's one of the things we've been talking today about. The Trump campaign with the speech and how well they've done organizing themselves and, you know, the whip operation has been really, really good here.

[17:50:04] We thought we were going to have a problem last night with the roll call vote on the rules package and getting enough states to get signatures for that. They defeated that. The whip team did a good job on that.

COOPER: Let's listen to the Paul Ryan.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Hey, hey, Wisconsin. Hello, everyone. It is an honor to be here. Before we begin, I would like to remind the delegates of the provisions of the rules which require that each candidate for nomination for president of the United States demonstrates sufficient support prior to the presentation of the name of the candidate for nomination.

The chair wishes to inform the delegates at this time that it has been furnished in a timely manner with evidence of sufficient support of the candidates who will be presented for president and vice president of the United States in compliance with the rules of the convention.

Also, as described under the rules, the total time for nominating speeches and seconding speeches for any candidate for president or vice president shall not exceed 15 minutes. It's also been custom at past conventions to prevent the chair to recognize non-delegates for the purpose of making nominating speeches and seconding speeches.

Without objection, the reading of the roll call for states presenting the names for candidates for nomination is dispensed with and non- delegates shall be permitted to make nominating and seconding speeches.

The chair now recognizes the senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions, for the purpose of nominating. Please give him a warm welcome.


SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Mr. Speaker, Americans love our country like no other people on earth. But we have gotten off course and the American people know it. Our political system is not working. We operate like the trench warfare battles of World War I where hundreds of thousands die but no ground is gained. Good Americans will stand for this no longer. They want the political games, the posturing, and the showboats to end.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) SESSIONS: They want their country on the right track again. Median incomes have declined, terrorist attacks are increasing. Respect for America has fallen. Crime is rising and the president? He blames the police. The president does not lead. Congress is deadlocked. The political, corporate, and media establishments, they say calm down, don't overreact, don't be politically incorrect.

Unstated is a threat, if you persist in your complaints, we will attack you. But this time it's different.


SESSIONS: One man, Donald Trump, was not intimidated.


SESSIONS: He would not be silenced. He spoke the truth. He gave voice to the people's concerns. He said that the hyped trade deals have hurt America and her people. That our border must be secure.


SESSIONS: That our nation -- that our nation must be strong. That we must defeat the terrorists who threaten us. That we must restore law and order and support our courageous law enforcement officers.


[17:55:06] SESSIONS: The American -- the American voters heard this message and they rewarded his courage and his leadership with a huge victory in our primaries.


SESSIONS: He dispatched one talented fine candidate after another, momentum continued to grow, a movement started. Democrats and independents responded. He received far more primary votes than any Republican candidate in history.


SESSIONS: Let me tell you about the Donald Trump that I know. He has a wonderful family which he loves intensely. In his personal relations he is unfailingly courteous and generous and he's positive by nature. He has tremendous energy and strength. He is a warrior and a winner.


SESSIONS: He loves his country and is determined to see it be a winner again. I have been proud of this party and its principles since I was a teenager. It is not given to us to know the future. I certainly don't, but I came to believe some months ago that Donald Trump is the singular leader that can get this country back on track.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) SESSIONS: He has the strength, the courage, and will to get it done. He and the American people share a common goal and together we will make America great again.

Mister Speaker -- Mister Speaker, it's my distinct honor and great pleasure to nominate Donald J. Trump for the office of president of the United States of America. Thank you. And God bless.


BLITZER: Jeff Sessions, the first U.S. senator to go ahead and endorse Donald Trump. Jeff Sessions of Alabama making it official the nomination going forward.

I want to quickly break away and go to John King over here.

John, we're about to get a bit of drama unfolding on the floor of the convention momentarily. Explain what we expect to see.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're going to watch this play out. Here's the delegate count from the end of the primaries. You see Donald Trump well ahead, well over 1500 delegates when it comes to pledged delegates and unpledged delegates who promised their support to him.

So let's watch it play out. Let's watch where the math ends up. As David and you were talking about earlier, Ted Cruz has a lot of delegates. A lot of those delegates are bound so here's where the delegations are on the floor. This is the speaker's podium, where you see the elephant here. See the Pennsylvania delegation, the Ohio delegation. If you noticed, most of the delegation is front and center of the dark red. That's Donald Trump.

We'll start with Alabama. We'll go through this alphabetically. You see the peach color? Those are the Ted Cruz delegations. If there are disruptions, if there are problems we expect them to come from states with a heavy Cruz delegation. Colorado, for example, no mistake, Wolf, look where Colorado is. Way back here at the back of the hall. They're right out here behind our booth.

The most restive pro-Ted Cruz delegation, anti-Trump delegates tends to have the worst seats. That's the way it works in politics. But as we watch this play out, here's the Ohio delegation, some frustration in the Ohio delegates, purple, John Kasich, because Donald Trump and the governor still have not made peace, not even made detente, but you'll see Kasich votes here.

But if you watch this play out, there's just no question. Just look at all this dark red, there's no question, bring up California, for example, at the end, Donald Trump will get most of those delegates. Remember, Kasich and Cruz dropped out at the end, that's why that margin is so big. But we'll watch this play out. We'll go through the roll call by the alphabet.

If there are disruptions we'll be able to take you to places on the floor. Our correspondents are out there to where other problems but the math, as we said in the end of the campaign is pretty overwhelming. We'll see what happens on the floor, we'll see how the politics play out but as we go through the alphabet again, you just take a look at the states like that, I'll go back to the map.