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Interview With Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn; Hillary Clinton Up 9 Points over Trump in Post-Convention Poll; Trump Under Fire; Clinton Email Claim Slammed by Fact Checkers; Clinton: 'America is Not Weak'; Trump Defending Response to Questions on Russia. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 1, 2016 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Can she stay on top?

Rebuke. Donald Trump facing sharp criticism from fellow Republicans shocked by his war of words with the family of a fallen Muslim American soldier. How will Trump weather this latest controversy?

Russia uproar. Trump is trying to defend and clarify remarks about Russia and Ukraine, questioning -- raising questions about his grasp on the very tense situation between the two countries. Dig Trump misspeak or was he unaware of a major international crisis?

And truth and consequences. Hillary Clinton accused of cherry-picking statements by FBI director. She claims he said she was truthful about her e-mail convention, but fact-checkers disagree. Will the uproar hound her all the way to Election Day?

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, a shakeup in the presidential race. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton regains her lead following her convention in Philadelphia. Our exclusive CNN/ORC poll now shows her nine points ahead of Republican rival Donald Trump thanks to a seven-point convention bounce.

Meanwhile, Trump is mired in new controversies of his own making. His very public feud with the parents of a fallen Muslim American soldier is drawing sharp criticism from top Republicans and now the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which calls his remarks "out of bounds."

Trump also raised eyebrows in an interview in which he appeared to be unaware of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

We're covering all of that, much more this hour with our correspondents, our guests, and expert analysts.

Let's begin with our exclusive new CNN/ORC poll showing Hillary Clinton with a post-convention lead of nine points over Donald Trump. Our CNN political director, David Chalian, is here with a closer look.

Take us inside the numbers, David.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, take a look at this new horse race that we have between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, 52 percent for Hillary Clinton. 43 percent for Donald Trump.

Wolf, that's a nine-point race. That's outside the margin of error. But what we should be careful to note is this is part of Hillary Clinton's post-convention bounce. Just like we saw Donald Trump, he went up plus three over Hillary Clinton after his convention. She's bouncing back now. A nine-point lead. That's a significant lead, 52- 43.

That's where Donald Trump's assignment, if you will, begins after Hillary Clinton's convention to start digging in at that.

BLITZER: Talk about the notion of a convention bounce.

CHALIAN: Well, what we do is, we look, what was Hillary Clinton's support? What was her vote number before the convention vs. after?

If you take a look at this next graphic here, you see that 45 is what Hillary Clinton had prior to the Democratic Convention. After, she's at 52 percent. That's here a seven-point bounce. That's what we're referring to as the bounce. But remember think of a bouncing ball, Wolf. It goes up and it goes down. That's what we saw with Donald Trump. We saw his number go up after the Republican Convention and then it fell down.

The big question, looking at this polling tonight, is how does Hillary Clinton sustain this now? She got the last word in the back-to-back conventions. That's an advantage for her going into this week, obviously compounded by this controversy that Donald Trump finds him in.

But the big question is, we know her ball went up. Does her bounce come down also or is she able to sustain it and actually reset the race at this new nine-point lead?

BLITZER: Is this sort of like the new normal? It's going to go up and down as we go along?

CHALIAN: I think after the conventions, voters got a lot of information. Four nights on the Republican side in Cleveland. Four nights on the Democratic side in Philadelphia. They got a lot of information. It settles down.

In a few weeks, we will see heading into Labor Day and the final sprint in the fall where the race has settled to before the first debates.

BLITZER: Good poll, important news. Thanks very much, David Chalian.

Now the Trump campaign, the Republican presidential nominee is flailing amid some late controversies he sparked, including his with war of words with parents of a Muslim American soldier who died fighting in Iraq.

Our national correspondent Jason Carroll is in Columbus, Ohio, where Trump spoke just a little while ago.

Jason, several top Republicans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Gold Star families, they're all rebuking Donald Trump right now. What's the latest?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you have to wonder, Wolf, if all that criticism is getting to him. He spoke about a number of different topics here in his town hall, including for the first time mentioning he believes that the general election might be rigged in some way against him. But no mention of the Khan family. Far cry from what he had to say about them this morning and over the weekend.


CARROLL (voice-over): Tonight, Donald Trump blasting the media amid the latest convention dogging his campaign.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We're battling the press, because the press is dishonest. OK?

CARROLL: Trump facing a bipartisan backlash over his attacks on the family of a slain U.S. Muslim soldier. Trump not backing down, and neither is the family of Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Star for helping save fellow soldiers in Iraq by walking toward a car loaded with explosives in 2004.

KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: This is proof of his ignorance and arrogance. And I again and again ask his advisers to get him in a room, close the door and set him right.

CARROLL: Trump tweeting today: "Mr. Khan, who doesn't know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over TV doing the same. Nice."

K. KHAN: Donald Trump.

CARROLL: The war of words starting after Khizr Khan rebuked Trump during last week's Democratic Convention.

K. KHAN: You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

CARROLL: Trump responding by suggesting Ghazala Khan's Muslim faith might have been the reason she did not speak at the convention.

TRUMP: I saw him. He was, you know, very emotional and probably looked like a nice guy to me. His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to say. She probably -- maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. CARROLL: Prompting this response from Ghazala Khan:

GHAZALA KHAN, MOTHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: I can say that my religion, or my family, on my country never stopped me saying whatever I want to say. And anybody can see that how different that time was when I was standing there in front of America. Without saying a word, I had lots of love.

TRUMP: He's not a war hero.

BLITZER: Arizona Senator John McCain, who Trump once said was not a war hero because he was captured, issued a lengthy statement, denouncing the GOP candidate, writing: "I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump's statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of the Republican Party, its officers or candidates."

President Obama weighing in on the issue this afternoon.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one has given more for our freedom and our security than our Gold Star families.

CARROLL: All this as Hillary Clinton accuses Trump of again crossing the line with his remarks.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: To have Trump do what he did, I don't know where the bottoms are. I don't know where the bottom is.


CARROLL: Wolf, despite criticism coming in from a number of different sides, the people that I spoke to here in the room still support Trump. They say he may not say the right thing in the right way, but they still support him. They say this whole issue with the Khan family, many of them telling me, Wolf, they believe this is something that has been created by the media and the Clinton campaign -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jason Carroll reporting from Columbus, Ohio, thank you.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.


BLITZER: Instead of before on the momentum he got out of the Republican Convention, Trump is facing, as you just heard, some serious criticism, including from many prominent members of the Republican Party for his comments involving the Khan family, Senator McCain, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry, former Governor Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, among others.

They said his remarks were disrespectful. Do you agree with them?

BLACKBURN: I think that Mr. Trump's remarks have been clarified a little bit.

But you know, Wolf, this is where I think I kind of differ with a lot of folks on this. I think it would be appropriate that the Khan family and also Pat Smith because of the remarks Hillary Clinton made, everybody needs an apology on this. Our Gold Star families deserve our support, our full and total support.

And just having a military post in my district, when you stand with these families and you give with these families, you know that grief never goes away. And I have a lot of Kurdish Americans who are in my district. We have a large population of Kurds here.

And I have to tell you, those individuals love this country so deeply and they appreciate what this country has allowed them to do, the opportunity and the safety and the freedom they have been given. And they appreciate it so deeply. And I think that's something also that we need to honor and respect.

BLITZER: Do you think Mr. Trump should apologize to the Khan family?


BLACKBURN: I think that Mrs. Clinton should apologize to Pat Smith for her remarks yesterday on FOX News Sunday.

And I think it would be appropriate. I know Mr. Trump has clarified his remarks, but I believe in apologies. And when I feel as if I have had something that's been misinterpreted or either I said that didn't come across as I intended, that an apology, many times, helps set the record straight.

I'm a big believer, and accepting that accountability and making those apologies and then focusing on the people in this country are war- weary, Wolf. And they are so tired of all the conflict and they are fearful of terrorism. I join them in that being fearful of terrorism. They want the focus to be on that and on going this country on the right track.

Maybe it's time for both of the leading candidates to make some apologies, clear the air and then let's move forward and put the focus on some of these issues, terrorism, keeping our military safe, being certain that our military has what they need to go fight the war that is in front of them.

BLITZER: But, Congresswoman, Donald Trump doesn't apologize. We haven't heard him apologize for what he said about John McCain, he was a POW, he wasn't really a hero, some of the other very controversial things about a federal judge from Indiana who really couldn't be fair in a case because he was -- quote -- "Mexican," if you will. He doesn't apologize.

BLACKBURN: Well, Wolf, you're asking me what I would do. That's the way that -- that's the tack that I would take.

And then I would show these families that -- the ones that they have lost, their loved ones they have lost, all of those that lost their lives in Benghazi, all of those that were injured in that attack, all of our service men and women who have given their lives in the war on terror, yes each and every one of them, each of them is an American hero. And they deserve and those families deserve our utmost respect.

And there should never be anything that takes any of that respect away from them. That is something that we, the American people, owe them. Our country is built on a legacy of service and sacrifice. And that is what has helped to keep us free. And these are individuals who love this country enough to put their life on the line. We need to show that appreciation, honor and respect every day.

BLITZER: Well said. And I couldn't agree more.

But here's the question. Did Donald Trump take away respect from this family, this Gold Star family who lost their son, Captain Khan, in the U.S. Army fighting for the United States in Iraq, when he, for example, said why was the mother silent when the father was speaking at the Democratic Convention? Did he take away respect from this family?

BLACKBURN: He has said some things in ways that I would not have and has made some observations in ways that I would not have, have just as I believe Mrs. Clinton in her interview on FOX News Sunday when she was asked to address the situation, it was unfortunate in the way she referenced Pat Smith.

I think both of these families are owed an apology by each of the candidates.

BLITZER: The Veterans of Foreign Wars, the country's largest major veterans organization, said today in a statement -- and let me read it to you -- there are certain sacrosanct subjects that no amount of wordsmithing can repair once crossed."

Do you think these veterans, these military families would accept an apology from Donald Trump if he were to give one?

BLACKBURN: I don't know. I am not close to either of the families. So, I would not know.

I have tremendous respect for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and do a good bit of work with the VFW and with those veterans that are in my district. Of course, having a major military post, we have a tremendous number of veterans, both those that have served, some -- we still have some that served in World War II and the Korean conflict and of course plenty of those that have served in our latest rounds with the war on terror.

BLITZER: Congresswoman, I'm going to have you, if you can, stay with us. I need to take a quick break. We will resume this conversation in a moment.


[18:18:07] BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is holding a rally in Omaha, Nebraska, right

now. She's speaking after being introduced by billionaire Warren Buffett. Let's listen in.


CLINTON: To have a chance to stand before America and to tell their stories, because America is story after story.

And what I want is to provide the opportunity and the support so that every single American can live his or her best story, can make the most of your own God-given potential.


CLINTON: And after the convention was over, starting Friday morning, Tim Kaine and his wonderful wife, Anne, and Bill I and I got on a bus and started traveling across Pennsylvania into Ohio.


CLINTON: We visited factories, small towns, bigger cities. We met with so many hardworking people who told us their stories, and they proved every day that Donald Trump is wrong. America is not weak.


CLINTON: I agree with Warren. This is the greatest nation on Earth and our best days are still ahead of us.


CLINTON: Now, that doesn't mean we don't have challenges and problems. Of course we do, right here at home and around the world.


But I don't believe there is anything that Americans can't do if we make up our minds, because you know why? We are stronger together.


CLINTON: But, as Warren said, too many people haven't gotten a raise since the great crash. There's too much inequality and too little opportunity.

Washington is paralyzed by special interests and big money. But don't let anyone tell you we don't have what it takes if we make up our minds to solve our problems. And don't believe anyone who tells you, "I alone can fix it."



CLINTON: When Donald Trump said that in his convention speech, I did a bit of a mental double-take.

I listened to that speech, 75 minutes of it, and it was like he was talking about a different country, forgetting about everyone in America who gets up every day and works together, people who make a difference every single day.


CLINTON: He's forgetting our troops on the front lines. He's forgetting police officers and firefighters who run toward danger.

He's forgetting about doctors and nurses who save lives, and teachers who change lives. He's forgetting about unions who fight for working families and communities that pull together through hard times.


CLINTON: I grew up in the Midwest. I was born in Chicago, raised outside of Chicago. My dad was a small businessman. I mean really small. It was mostly just him and occasionally my mother, my brothers and me, and sometimes he would hire helpers to get one of his orders out because he printed fabrics to be made into draperies, and he had a print plant with long tables.

He was a very self-reliant man. But I don't think he, for a minute, through his growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, through his service as a chief petty officer in the Navy, through his work and business or his raising our family, ever thought to himself, I alone can fix it.

That's just not the way we were raised. We were raised to get together. We were raised to follow up on the extraordinary example of our founders 240 years ago in Philadelphia, who came together.

You see that across Nebraska. You see people working. I have been in Omaha. I have visited projects, schools, other kinds of nonprofits and institutions where people are working together. That's what we do in America. We see a problem and we say, we will fix it together. And that's what we're going to do when we get the White House to move us forward in the direction we need to go.


CLINTON: Now, I know how hard the great recession was. It was a terrible time, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

And people in Nebraska worked hard to come back. I think it was a terrible moment. It could have gotten even worse. I believe that a lot of difficult decisions had to be made, and we have come back from that terrible financial crisis. Thanks to the hard work of Nebraskans, Americans and President Obama, we got out of the ditch we were in.


CLINTON: So, I think if we're going to solve the problems we have, we ought to be really clear about where we have come from. We now have 15 million new jobs that have been created in the last

seven-and-a-half years. We now have 20 million more Americans who have access to health care.



CLINTON: We have the highest percentage ever in our history of young people walking across graduation stages to get their high school diplomas.


CLINTON: So I know we have made progress, but I know we shouldn't be satisfied. As Americans, we always have to be asking ourselves what can we do better, how can we make more progress, how can we help more people?

We're still facing tough challenges that developed long before the recession and they have stayed with us. The economy is not working the way it should for everyone.


CLINTON: Starting in Iowa back in April of 2015 until the convention this week, I have met so many people who tell me, you know, they don't expect a handout. They don't even expect, you know, life to be easy.

But they don't think it should be this hard. It shouldn't be that people feel like they're out there on their own, like no one cares about them, that they're not respected, that the dignity of their job is not something that we all support.

I know a lot of people who feel that way. I bet there are some in this gymnasium who feel that way. Well, here's what I want you to know. You deserve a president who will get up every single day in the White House and do everything she can to give you the chance you deserve to have.


AUDIENCE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

CLINTON: And I will quickly add, as important as it is to have someone who gets what you're going through, I think it's also really important that that person tells you what her plans are for producing results.


CLINTON: So, if you saw what I said on Thursday night, let me give you the short, punchier version.

And it starts by making clear we do have to rewrite the rules so that our economy works for everyone, not just those at the top. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

My overriding mission as president will be to do everything I can to help our country create more jobs with rising incomes. I believe anyone willing to work hard should be able to find a job that pays well, enough to support a family.


CLINTON: So, in my first 100 days, we are going to break through the gridlock in Washington and make the biggest investment in new good- paying jobs since World War II.

We are going to make the boldest investment in American infrastructure since the highway system.


CLINTON: Warren read you some of the quotes from Donald Trump. Well, he has said so many things that I profoundly, vehemently disagree with.

And, for the life of me, I don't know why someone runs to be president of the United States who thinks and says we never win anymore, our country is full of losers.

Well, he could not be more wrong. We are going to fix and build the roads, the bridges, the tunnels, the ports, the airports, the water systems we need.


CLINTON: And I want to say a particular word to any of you here from rural Nebraska. We are going to bring diverse, economic development to rural communities to support our farmers and others in small towns who keep America going.

[18:30:34] And one specific way we will do that is to make sure we have an electric grid that can take and distribute energy from clean renewable sources.

In fact, I know, because I've seen them in the crowd. There are a few people from Iowa here today. And your neighbor, Iowa, is already getting one third of its electricity from clean energy, primarily wind energy.

And what I love about that is they're also giving farmers extra income for hosting the turbines on their farm. And they are taking abandoned factories and actually assembling the wind turbines, putting people to work in Iowa to produce the energy for Iowa.

The other thing we're going to do is finish the job of building out broadband so everybody in America, no matter where you live, has access to the Internet.

BLITZER: We're going to continue to monitor Hillary Clinton's address at this rally in Omaha, Nebraska. We're going to take a quick break. Our exclusive CNN/ORC poll shows that she received a seven-point bounce following the Democratic convention. Much more right after this.


[18:37:01] BLITZER: Let's get some more now on the breaking news we're following, our exclusive new CNN/ORC poll, which shows Hillary Clinton's convention bounce now has her nine points ahead of Donald Trump.

Let's dig deeper. Our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, is with us. Our chief national correspondent, John King, is here; and "Washington Post" assistant editor David Swerdlick.

Let's take a look at the numbers. These are the numbers. Registered voters in the CNN poll. Before the Democratic convention, Hillary Clinton was at 45 percent among registered voters in a two-person contest. Trump was ahead 48 percent.

After the Democratic convention now, she's at 52 percent. He's down to 43 percent. That's a seven-point post-convention bounce for Hillary Clinton, which is significant.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a healthy bounce. And the Democrats were last. It's the value of being the party in power; you get the second convention. Plus look, by all accounts, even Republicans will concede that the Democrats put on a very good four-day show.

So she gets this bounce, and now she's on the road. You just had her in Omaha. She just did Pennsylvania, Ohio. Now she's in Nebraska, trying to sustain it, trying to build on it.

They hope this controversy with Mr. Khan helps them even more.

The question is, the conventions were a little earlier this year. So there's 99 days now till the election. No question. The pendulum has swung to Clinton and the Democrats' way. Can they sustain it going forward?

The voters who watched that convention viewed her as more experienced. They viewed her as more in touch with ordinary Americans. Again, the question is she has negatives, too. Can she get voters to focus on the positive as she goes out?

BLITZER: She still has that same basic negative number as far as honesty and trustworthiness.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She does. And if you're trying to look at the glass half full in Brooklyn right now inside those poll numbers, Donald Trump's aren't much better, even on honest and trustworthiness, not just on the issue that the Clinton campaign thinks they have him, you know, sort of on the hooks about, which is whether or not he's ready to be commander in chief, whether or not he has the temperament to be commander in chief. So, you know, this poll, in that sense, doesn't tell us a new story in

that we know that they are both incredibly, incredibly unpopular for two people who are running for president and people who are -- that voters are reluctant to trust.

And so the question is whether or not those are going to cancel each other out and the other issues that the other personality traits are going to be the ones that voters really focus on.

BLITZER: How does she maintain the momentum she clearly achieved following the Democratic convention?

SWERDLICK: Well, I think, first of all, Donald Trump has made it a little easier for her to take that convention bounce and move with it because of his missteps with his comments about the Khan family.

But I think that she's going to just continue to drive this message. Their messages are interlinked. Right, Wolf? He's making this argument that she is untrustworthy and an extension of everything you don't like about the Obama administration, Mr. and Mrs. Voter.

And then she's saying, "OK, but I'm not Donald Trump, and he's worse." And at a fundamental level, she's going to continue pressing.

BLITZER: He's getting severely criticized, not just by Democrats but by Republicans, for his reaction to what the Khan family said about their fallen son during the war in Iraq.

John McCain -- I'll put it up on the screen -- "In recent days Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier's parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States, to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump's statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers or candidates."

[18:40:21] What does Trump need to do now to get over this?

KING: Well, he should have not engaged in the fight to begin with. If you go back -- played this earlier in the day, that when Cindy Sheehan was down in Crawford, Texas, beating up on President Bush all the time, he said, "You know what? She has the right to speak her mind. She's a Gold Star mom. I am not going to have a political fight with her."

That what I'm told people at the highest level of the Trump campaign urged him over the weekend, to put the phone down and put the computer down, stop; and he would not do it. To quote one of his top advisors, he just -- he took the bait from the Democrats. I think he took the bait repeatedly. And then from Mr. Khan again. And as one of them put it, he keeps wanting to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

BLITZER: He just delivered a lengthy speech in Columbus, Ohio. Didn't mention the issue at all.

BASH: No, he didn't. But I think to that point, one of the other Republicans why Republicans are so frustrated is because, since the Democratic convention, they've been playing on the Democrats' turf. They have been, you know, kind of continuing the Democrats' narrative that they presented for four days in Philadelphia about Donald Trump. And he's feeding into it with the way he's reacted.

Instead of the focus -- I mean, we've certainly talked about it on CNN today but probably would have a lot more, Hillary Clinton's interview that she gave on Sunday about her e-mail issue, about her server, about saying that she didn't say anything publicly that wasn't true, which turns out to not exactly be true, which again feeds into the honest and trustworthy issue, which should be what team Trump should be focused on extensively and maybe even exclusively.

BLITZER: We're going to talk about that in a moment. I want to get to that in a moment. But David, the whole issue of Donald Trump's reaction, I think everyone agrees, Reince Priebus -- I interviewed him, the chairman of the Republican National Committee -- he said 20/20 hindsight is always better when I said maybe he should have just ignored it, not addressed the family at all after they said what they said about their son and Donald Trump at the Democratic convention.


One is this political malpractice of Donald Trump not being able to just leave the issue alone; as John said, sort of acknowledge the family's sacrifice and move on from there.

But also, we see this over and over again in the campaign. When you look at the interview on CNN with Jim Acosta this weekend with Mr. Khan, when you look at the speech, there's this sense over and over again that folks in this country -- whether it's Muslims, African- Americans, Latinos -- when they're referenced by Donald Trump, it's this feeling like he wants to put an asterisk by the Americanness of people, and it's not reflecting well among these communities.

BASH: In this case, it was just that he was clearly upset about this guy speaking before millions and millions of people, holding up the Constitution and basically, you know, sort of metaphorically slapping Donald Trump across the face. It was hard for him to take, which to your point, is exactly why they did it. Debate him.

BLITZER: All right. Hold on, guys. There's more to discuss. Hillary Clinton still has some problems with her e-mail issue. Fact checkers from "The Washington Post" just gave one of her claims the worst possible rating. Much more on that when we come back.


[18:48:19] BLITZER: Welcome back.

Dana, Hillary Clinton's comments on the e-mail controversy and what the FBI Director James Comey said -- "Washington Post", as you know, said what she said about Comey's remarks, four Pinocchios, were totally incorrect. BASH: Anecdotally, I ran into somebody at a store who was -- you

know, recognized me from the convention coverage and said, "I really want to vote for Hillary Clinton but why does she keep talking about these things in way that nobody understands. It just makes me pause."

And it's that kind of problem that she has when she gives interviews like she does. Never mind the four Pinocchios, it's just the feeling that people get that she's parsing her words. She's not just kind of talking like a person, frankly. The big question was, why she said that the classified information that she was e-mailing about what has classified retroactively when James Comey actually said six or seven e-mails that she was involved in, the change she was involved in, sending and receiving, were actually classified at the time.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a serious, serious issue.

In the poll, our new poll, I'll put the numbers up. Right now, we ask the question, is Hillary Clinton honest and trustworthy, 34 percent, yes, 64 percent no. Last week 30 percent, yes, 68 percent, no. Not much of a change.

Most Americans in this poll do no believe she's honest and trustworthy.

KING: She rebounded marginally after the Republican convention where they spent four days beating her.

But, Wolf, that means two-thirds of the American people don't think she's honest and trustworthy. Her only benefit here is that 35 percent say Donald Trump is honest. So, that he's viewed negatively too.

But just to the point I was making earlier, inside Trump, the senior staff, is like, "Sir, please don't engage with Mr. Khan. Get off Twitter. Stop."

[18:50:00] He won't.

Inside the Clinton campaign, the senior people just wished she would. When Chris Wallace asked that question, she was saying, "It was a horrible mistake. The more I learned about it, it was even more horrible at the time. I'm sorry. It will never happen again." End of story, if she would just stop.

But instead, she wants to rationalize and defend herself and go through all this. And they just wish she would give a straight up "I'm sorry, it will never happen again", but she won't.

So, that's the red flag. She comes out of her convention with a good piece of momentum. Other numbers in the polls have turned their way. She has a lead right now, we'll see if she can keep it. But if you're inside the Clinton campaign, what is our flashing red light? That's it right there, 34 percent of the American people think you're honest, it's hard to be their president.

BLITZER: It's a tough situation for her right now. SWERDLICK: It's a complicated situation, but there's a level which this is not complicated and certainly not to the average voter, right? If people use work emails and people use personal emails and to have come out and try to make it something complicated like other people don't use email and understand it. I don't think it's working for her, as you're pointing out.

I mean, as you said, Dana, right, the FBI Director Comey, he never said that she wasn't untruthful, or he said she didn't lie to the FBI.

BLITZER: Which would be a crime.

SWERDLICK: Right, right, they wouldn't charge -- I'm sorry, that they wouldn't charge her.

BLITZER: Interesting. She just wrapped up her speech in Omaha, Nebraska, now, John. And she spoke for a while, more than half an hour, did not mention the whole issue of the Khan family, the Gold Star family, they lost their son. We were expecting she would address that but she decided for some reason not to.

KING: Maybe smart politically not to. Don't make it seem as if the Clinton campaign is trying to gin up the story. Donald Trump is doing -- there's an old rule in politics. When your opposition is on fire, just walk away. If he's causing his own problems, don't make it seem political. Make it seem like this is Trump and Mr. Khan and Secretary Clinton, just back off.

BASH: It's like we were talking President Obama spoke, it was veiled but thinly so, about this issue. What's he going to say that is more powerful or she going to say that's more powerful than the lengthy statement from John McCain? Not much.

BLITZER: It's very powerful indeed.

All right, guys, thanks very, very much.

Just ahead, Donald Trump sparks a Russia uproar of sorts. What's the real story behind his relationship with Vladimir Putin?


[18:56:35] BLITZER: Donald Trump is defending his response to questions about Russia and Ukraine, remarks that critics say demonstrated a poor grasp of the situation.

Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott has the latest.

Elise, Trump is saying his remarks about Russia and Vladimir Putin were misunderstood. What's the latest?


Tonight, some clean-up from Donald Trump after initially saying Vladimir Putin would never invade Ukraine, now Trump says Russia's land grabs in Ukraine would end under a Trump administration. Still to critics, the comments seem very sympathetic to the Kremlin.


TRUMP: Putin is saying nice things about it. They immediately say, oh, Trump likes it. But, look, I don't like or dislike.

LABOTT (voice-over): Donald Trump once again backpedaling claims of a relationship with Vladimir Putin as his embrace of the Russian strongman accused of hacking Democratic Party computers and meddling in the U.S. election continue to dog his campaign.

TRUMP: I have no relationship with Putin. I don't think I've ever met him. I never met him. I don't think I've ever met him.

INTERVIEWER: You would know it if you did, wouldn't you?

TRUMP: I think so. Yes, I think so. So, I don't think I've ever met him.

LABOTT: In 2007, Trump praised the Russian leader in an interview with CNN.

TRUMP: Look at Putin what he's doing with -- I mean, you know, what's going on over there. I mean, this guy has done, whether you like him or don't like him, he's doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia, period. Forget about image.

LABOTT: And in 2013, Trump invited Putin to the Miss Universe pageant being held in Moscow, wondering on Twitter he would show. And if so, will he become my new best friend?

A year later, he bragged about his warm welcome by the Russians.

TRUMP: And they treated me so great. Putin even sent me a present, beautiful present with a beautiful note.

LABOTT: In those same remarks, Trump praised Putin's aggressive moves against Ukraine, seizing the Crimea peninsula by force.

TRUMP: The day after the Olympics, he starts with Ukraine. The day -- how smart. He goes in and takes Crimea. He's taking the heart and soul because that's where all the money is.

LABOTT: But this weekend, in an interview with ABC News, Trump seemed confused.

TRUMP: He's not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand, he's not going to go into Ukraine. All right? Can you mark it down, put it down --

INTERVIEWER: Well, he's already there, isn't he?

TRUMP: Well, he's there in a certain way. But I'm not there. You have Obama there. And, frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama, with all the strength that you're talking about and all the power of NATO, and all of this. In the meantime, he's going way -- he takes Crimea.

LABOTT: Trump even suggested Putin might have been welcomed into Crimea, doubling down on an earlier suggestion he might recognize the territory as Russian and lift U.S. sanctions if it would lead to better ties with Moscow.

TRUMP: I'm going to take a look at it but the people from Crimea from what I've heard would rather be with Russia than where they were.


LABOTT: And tonight, the Clinton campaign is using Trump's comment about Ukraine to question his basic knowledge about the world, and they're slamming his agreement with Putin that Russia was justified in seizing the sovereign territory of another country by force. More evidence, they say, that Trump is not fit to serve as commander in chief -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Elise Labott at the State Department for us -- Elise, thank you very much. By the way, Trump is getting ready to address another rally. We'll have coverage of that.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer.

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