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Interview With Texas Congressman Michael Burgess; FBI to Release Clinton Investigation Info; Top ISIS Leader Reportedly Killed. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 30, 2016 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: ISIS deputy killed. The U.S. put a multimillion-dollar bounty on his head. Now the terror group says its top spokesman is dead. Did American forces take him out? We're getting new information this hour.

Baby steps. As Donald Trump prepares to give his big speech on immigration, his son tells CNN that his father is not softening his hard-line views, but he acknowledges a mass deportation would not happen right away. Will the GOP nominee make his policy clear tomorrow?

Secret notes. CNN has learned that the FBI is now getting ready to release new information on what Hillary Clinton said about her e-mails behind closed doors. Will it ease or escalate the controversy as Clinton prepares for her first debate with Donald Trump?

And tampering by Putin? The top Senate Democrat is now warning that Russia may try on manipulate the results of the November elections. He is asking the FBI to investigate, as new breaches of voter databases add to the urgency.

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: Breaking news tonight: the highest-profile killing of an ISIS leader yet. The terror group is vowing revenge after announcing the death of Muhammad al-Adnani in Syria. A senior U.S. defense official confirms that coalition conducted an airstrike in the area targeting a senior ISIS leader.

Al-Adnani was the most public face of ISIS and at the top of America's kill list.

Also breaking, on the eve of Donald Trump's big immigration speech, his son now tells CNN that his father isn't softening on anything. Donald Trump Jr. says the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants remains part of the plan, but he suggests, it may be implemented in baby steps.

Tonight, the FBI may be just hours away from releasing a report on its investigation of Hillary Clinton's e-mails, explaining why no charges were recommended. Law enforcement officials tell CNN that secret notes about Clinton's FBI interview will also be made public as soon as tomorrow.

Just over two months until Election Day, a new warning about the possibility of tampering by Vladimir Putin's government in the U.S. presidential vote. Senate Minority Leader Harry is now asking the FBI to investigate, saying the Kremlin may seek to falsify election results.

A top Donald Trump surrogate in Congress, Representative Michael Burgess, is standing by, along with our correspondents and analysts, as we bring you full coverage of the day's top stories.

Up first, let's go to our national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, with more on the ISIS announcement that its top spokesman is dead.

Jim, what are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, today, ISIS took the rare step of confirming the death of a senior leader. A short time later, several defense officials tell me that the U.S. conducted an airstrike against a senior ISIS leader. This is the area of Al-Bab in Syria and that the U.S. now is working to confirm they hit their target.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): Sheik Abu Muhammad al-Adnani has been one of the public and threatening leaders of ISIS, chief spokesman and involved with its unit plotting terror against the West, now reported dead by the terror group.

The ISIS statement appearing online saying Adnani "was martyred while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns against Aleppo."

ISIS offering no other proof, and Western officials have not confirmed his death. Still, a senior U.S. defense official says a coalition airstrike Tuesday targeted a senior ISIS leader near Aleppo. But the official won't that they were targeting Adnani.

The U.S. has offered a $5 million reward for his death or capture. Adnani is widely believed to be involved in inspiring and directing attacks in the West, like those that have terrorized Europe recently. Thought to be a successor to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, he also brought in foreign fighters to the battles in Syria and Iraq.

The top U.S. general fighting ISIS says ISIS' leadership may be losing its influence, as evidenced in a recent battle.

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: And some of what we saw in the Manbij fight was direction from Baghdadi to his fighters to fight to the death. Obviously, they didn't. They didn't follow his direction, which may be an indication of the state of ISIL, at least in some cases here.


SCIUTTO: Adnani's official title was spokesman, and he did advertise some of its most brutal acts of violence, beheadings, et cetera, but he was also an operational leader who was leading and directing terror attacks against the West, as well as recruiting foreign fighters.


If his death is confirmed by the U.S., he would be difficult for the group, Wolf, to effectively replace.

BLITZER: Jim Sciutto reporting, thank you.

We're also following breaking news in the U.S. presidential race, as Donald Trump's son now tells CNN his father isn't softening his position on immigration. Other surrogates are veering from the campaign's message, though, tonight.

Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He has got more on the Trump campaign -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Donald Trump is finding he has plenty of competition these days when it comes to ill-advised comments. His own surrogates and staffers are creating even more headaches for the campaign.



ACOSTA (voice-over): He's not quite seeking forgiveness, but one of Donald Trump's top surrogates, Pastor Mark Burns, apologized in an interview on CNN after tweeting this cartoon of Hillary Clinton in blackface, an image that is offensive to African-Americans.

BURNS: Obviously, my message, I stand by, but the methodology, I do not. The message is simply this. I believe that the Democrat Party has been using the black vote, that black voting bloc.

Never, ever we will allow her to step back into the office...

ACOSTA (voice-over): A popular warmup act at Donald Trump rallies, Pastor Mark Burns preaches with a booming voice and a passion for ripping into Hillary Clinton.

BURNS: And she don't belong in the White House. I'm going to still say she belongs in jail.

ACOSTA: The pastor is just the latest prominent campaign voice to create a distraction for Trump as he attempts to woo African-American voters. The Clinton campaign accused Burns of crossing the line.

JOEL BENENSON, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I think he surrenders the ability to discuss the issues. I think it's unfortunate. There is an unfortunate pattern here.

ACOSTA: Other top surrogates and staffers from the Trump campaign are coming under scrutiny as well. BuzzFeed discovered this audio of Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon using a derogatory word for lesbians on a conservative radio show.

STEVE BANNON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN CEO: The women that would lead this country would be (INAUDIBLE) they would be pro-family. They would have husbands. They would love their children. They wouldn't be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters Schools up in New England.

ACOSTA: And the anti-Trump Keep America Great super PAC unearthed this 2013 video of Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway talking about women in the military.

In this panel discussion, Conway argues that rape would not exist if women were as strong as men.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I want the best prepared military, regardless of gender. But I'll tell you, if physical fitness, if we were physiologically, not mentally, emotionally, professionally, equal to men, if we were physiologically as strong as men, rape would not exist. You would be able to defend yourself and fight him off.

ACOSTA: The Trump campaign claims it rejects extremist views, like those of former KKK leader and Louisiana Senate candidate David Duke, who placed a robo-call asking voters to back the GOP nominee.

DAVID DUKE, FORMER IMPERIAL WIZARD OF THE KU KLUX KLAN: Unless massive immigration is stopped now, we will be outnumbered and outvoted in our own nation.

ACOSTA: The campaign said in a statement: "There is no place for this in the Republican Party or our country."

But Democrats counter that Trump's policies, like his plan for a great wall on the southern border, stir up racial tensions, even if one prominent conservative said he's not buying all of Trump's promises on immigration.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I can choose a path here to try to modify you, but I never took him seriously on this.


ACOSTA: Now, Donald Trump will be walking a tightrope in his upcoming immigration speech in Phoenix tomorrow night. Move too far to the right and he risks losing middle-class suburban voters and Latinos, who see Trump's rhetoric as too extreme on the issue, but any changes to Trump's immigration plans could erode support that he has in that conservative base that delivered him the nomination, Wolf.

And we did check with the Trump campaign about Bannon and Conway's comments that you just heard in that piece. They have not responded -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta reporting, thank you.

There's a lot of anticipation about what Donald Trump will say and not say in his immigration speech in Arizona tomorrow. His son, Donald Trump Jr., insists his father is standing firmly on his hard-line positions.

Listen to what he told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview.


DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: He wasn't softening on anything. He didn't change his stance on anything. What he did was and what he's done all along is, he's speaking with the people.

He's not lecturing them like most of the politicians you see today. He's actually having a conversation. He basically surveyed the room and asked, hey, what are your thoughts on this? I want to take that, because I want to take into account what the people say, unlike our opponent who basically will take into account only those who contribute millions and millions of dollars to her campaign.

He's actually obviously a conversation with the people of this country. The hardworking men and women who made this country great, he's giving them a voice. He asked an opinion. He didn't say, well, my policy has now changed. He didn't say that. Now, the media will run with it however they want. But that's not what actually happened and I was in the room.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It did seem to some viewers, though, who we talked to that it seemed like he's polling the room, he's not quite sure what his own policy is.

TRUMP: He was asking for an opinion. His policy has been the same for the last six, seven, eight months.

COOPER: He still says deport. They all got to go?

TRUMP: That's been the same, correct. But again you have to start with baby steps. You have to let ICE do their job. You have to eliminate the sanctuary cities. You have to get rid of the criminals certainly first and foremost. You have to secure the border. These are commonsense things, Anderson.



BLITZER: You can hear a lot more from Donald Trump Jr. later tonight on "A.C. 360" 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here CNN.

Let's talk a little bit about Donald Trump and his immigration policy with Congressman Michael Burgess of Texas. He is a Donald Trump supporter. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: Thanks for having me on, Wolf. I appreciate it.

BLITZER: So you heard Donald Trump Jr. list several steps, baby steps, his words, baby steps Trump would take before addressing what happens to the undocumented people living here in the United States, maybe 11 million or so.


BLITZER: Are you comfortable with Donald Trump postponing his answer to that question?

BURGESS: It's not a postponement.

I think Donald Trump Jr. said this very directly in response to a question. Job one is securing the border. Does the United States have the fundamental right to define and defend its borders? I say yes. I believe Mr. Trump feels same way I do.

Job one then is to secure that border. And, Wolf, let me tell you, it is not secure. I was down there three weeks ago. We talked two years ago about the problems of unaccompanied minors coming across the border. It is just as bad today as it was two years ago. The problem is it is not being covered by the media like it was two years ago.

BLITZER: Let's say the border is secure and he builds the wall, he builds a huge wall, if you will. What happens to the 11 million people who are here undocumented?

BURGESS: Well, first off, I actually don't accept the premise of 11 million. I don't know where that number comes from, Wolf.

When I first ran for office in 2002, my very first editorial board interview with "The Dallas Morning News"," the question to me was, what are you going to do with the 11 million people who are in this country? Tell me that number is the same as it was 14 years ago, I just simply don't believe it.


BLITZER: All right, so whatever the number is, let's say it is five million or let's say it's 20 million, whatever the number is, what do you do with those people?

BURGESS: First thing you do is sure the border. Stop the hemorrhage. Stop the bleeding. Stop the damage from occurring.

And then I actually respect Donald Trump for saying, I am then going to see what resources I have and what I have at my disposal to begin to enforce the law. And the other thing I respect him saying is that he is going to involve the United States Congress. Actually, under the Constitution, the House and the Senate play a large role in deciding immigration law and naturalization law. We have a president currently who wants to function as a ruler.

Donald Trump feels that he ought to involve the legislative branch. I think that's a good thing. And I think that's a healthy thing.

BLITZER: So you think he should leave it vague, at least for now?

BURGESS: Well, he's not vague.

He said he is going to secure the border. He said he is going to have interior enforcement. He said he's going to enforce E-Verify. And, yes, at some point, the -- first off, the worst of the worst will be picked up and deported. And then enforcement actions will occur.

And, look, Wolf, Hillary Clinton two-and-a-half years ago on a CNN program, I believe, in response to Christiane Amanpour, said she would deport the unaccompanied alien children who are coming across the border. She was criticized for it.

But I'll tell you, that first planeload of kids that went back to Central America, that really slowed the problem down in 2014. People actually need to see that the United States is serious about defining and defending its borders. I think that's a key step.

BLITZER: So people in Texas, your state -- and obviously this is a big issue in Texas, a lot of other states as well.

Do you think they will be satisfied if Donald Trump does not specifically spell out his plan on what to do with these undocumented immigrants?

BURGESS: Well, look, he has spelled it out.

He has said what his intention is.


BLITZER: No, he said he is going to build a wall, he's going to secure the border. But what about the impact on these people who are living here in the United States? Let's say they haven't commit any crimes. What is going to happen to them and their kids?

BURGESS: Well, fundamentally, there was -- they crossed the law when they came across the border illegally.

And I wish people wouldn't do that. I think it is hurtful. I think it is hurtful to both countries involved when that occurs. I have never understood why President Vicente Fox in Mexico decided it was a good national strategy to export his young men back in 2005-2006. It made no sense then. It certainly makes no sense now.

I do think Donald Trump is correct on this. Let us secure the border. Then he will see what he has. What resources does he have? What is the will of the legislative body? What tools will Congress give him as far as enforcement of the law is concerned?

That's, I think, a reasonable step for a chief executive to take. BLITZER: Would you support some sort of pathway to legal status,

legal residence in the United States for these people?

BURGESS: I don't think you can have that as part of the discussion right now., number one, all the time that the border is unsecure.

And we have seen this. President Obama has demonstrated this over and over again. You say you are going to loosen the procedure, the next thing you know, you get a surge of migrants coming across the border.


And, Wolf, let me tell you, they're coming across at their peril. Three weeks ago, I saw two women and three young baby children on the banks of the Rio Grande in 106-degree heat, high humidity. They had no water. They didn't have proper shoes on their feet.

If they hadn't been picked up by the Border Patrol, those would have been casualties. They were people who were deposited on the Texas side of the Rio Grande by coyotes, by human traffickers from Central America. That's the business model we have got to interrupt.

BLITZER: Congressman, you're there in Texas. You're close to Mexico. Do you agree with Donald Trump that he will build a wall and Mexico will pay for it?

BURGESS: Well, actually, Congress already funded under the Secure Fence Act in 2006 a good chunk of that.

Now, what has happened to that appropriations since then, I can't actually identify for you. But -- and I will also tell you, there are portions of the wall that have already been built. But I think Donald Trump is serious. And I believe him in this. He will make border security a priority and he will do what it takes to ensure that that occurs. That's what I want to see.

BLITZER: Congressman Michael Burgess, I want you to stand by. We have more questions. We will resume the conversation right after this quick break.



BLITZER: We're back with Republican Congressman Michael Burgess of Texas. He's a key Donald Trump supporter.

Congressman, as you know, Hillary Clinton, she is studying Trump's temperament to try to potentially rile him up during the presidential debates. How should he be preparing right now to counter that?

BURGESS: Well, Wolf, I'm probably not the one to give advice on that. I think you just do the best job you can.

Sure, it is important to study facts and figures and have knowledge at your fingertips and to study old tapes of how people have behaved in debates. But that is such a wild card. And I think the whole country is kind of anxiously anticipating.

What did I hear on your channel the other day, that 27 percent of people haven't made up their minds? These debates are clearly going to be pretty critical for both sides.

BLITZER: They certainly will be.

David Duke, as you know, the former leader of the KKK, he is running for Louisiana Senate. In a robo-call, he encouraged people to vote for himself, but also to vote for Donald Trump. Donald Trump has disavowed any connection with David Duke.

BURGESS: Good. He should.

BLITZER: But is that enough? What would you like to see the Trump campaign do and say as far as not just David Duke, but other white supremacists who say they support Donald Trump?

BURGESS: Well, wait a minute. Wait a minute.

I don't think there's any reason to give the Clinton campaign more credit than they're due. Donald Trump did the right thing to disavow that robo-call. David Duke needs to cease and desist, and that's really about the end of it.

BLITZER: Why do you think they're supporting Donald Trump? What has encouraged them to believe he is their guy?

BURGESS: Well, let's just take a step back and look at, in fact, both on the Republican and Democratic sides, in the primaries, this was very emphatically on both the right and the left we don't like the status quo. That was the message that was sent by the electorate.

When you look at both candidates now, who is more likely to be status quo? Who is more likely to be business as usual as far as the VA is concerned? Who is likely to make it a priority and get this thing fixed?

Who is likely to be status quo as far as the federal tax code is concerned? Who is likely to make it a priority and get something done and get something fixed?

I think the answer to that is pretty clear. And as people get closer to the Election Day, I hope they will do that critical thinking for themselves and I hope they make the right choice. And the right choice, in my opinion, is Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Do you think he needs to do anything, Donald Trump, maybe change his language on some of the issues, sensitive issues, let's say, to African-Americans, Hispanics, others, Muslims in the United States, because apparently some of that language, as we can see, has resonated with these white supremacists?

BURGESS: Again, I reject that.

And I think the important thing about Donald Trump for all of to us bear in mind is, he is a first-time candidate. I remember when I was a first-time candidate and I was not all that polished. Some people would say I haven't learned much in the 12 years since.

But a first-time candidate, that is a pretty tough job. And he's running for the highest office in the hand. That hasn't happened since Dwight Eisenhower. And he did happen to have the victory in the Second World War on his resume when he did that.

So, this is an enormous accomplishment already. But it is a tough deal. You know. You're in the media. You see this. You see the polished non-answer answers we can give you as sort of a study in how not to respond to an interviewer's questions.

Donald Trump is not like that. He is honest with you. He tries to tell you what he feels. He tries to tell you what is on his mind. Would he be a better candidate if he didn't do that? I'm not here to judge that.

BLITZER: Congressman, we're going to leave it on that note. Thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate your coming on the show.

BURGESS: Absolutely. Any time. Thank you.

BLITZER: We have some breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Look at this.

Evacuations are now under way at a senior center and a mobile home park as a fast-moving fire -- look at this -- is burning through part of Riverside County out in California. Look at this, 300 firefighters now on the scene. These are live pictures that are coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

We are going to take a quick break. We are going to follow this story. This is breaking news.

We will get more on the presidential race as well.

Let's take a quick break. We will be right back.



BLITZER: Look at this.

We're following breaking news in California right now. Evacuations are under way in neighborhoods at a senior center and at a mobile home park, as a fast-moving fire -- look at this. It is burning through parts of Riverside County, California, just east of Los Angeles. The fire already has burned some 400 acres.

At least 300 firefighters are on the scene. Pretty dramatic, what we're watching right now. Let's hope for the best. We are going to continue to monitor this fire, much more on the breaking news coming up. We're also following another breaking story right now. Donald Trump's

son says his father isn't softening on anything in his immigration plan, as the Republican nominee prepares to give a major speech on his policy tomorrow.

Let's bring in our CNN political analyst Rebecca Berg. She is also a national political reporter for Real Clear Politics. Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. "Washington Post" assistant editor David Swerdlick. And CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod. He's a former senior adviser to President Obama.

We'll get full clarity, Gloria, tomorrow night when Donald Trump delivers his major speech on immigration.


BLITZER: Full clarity.

BORGER: Wolf, look, I think what we're going to hear from Donald Trump is the words that, I'm not changing my position. And he is going to present it as a multistep process. And he is going to say secure the border, which is what he has always talked about. Build a wall. He's not going to change on that.

But the question of whether there would then be so-called mass deportations, I think will be left to some point in the future. And if you're a presidential candidate who was running against him on the Republican side, you could be forgiven for asking yourself, well, gee, wasn't that what I was talking about?

BLITZER: Like Jeb Bush, for example.

BORGER: Like Jeb Bush, like a lot of the candidates.

BLITZER: Like Marco Rubio.

BORGER: Most of the candidates. Wasn't I talking about securing the border first? Most Republicans in Congress talk about securing the border first. So I think that will in itself create a bit controversy.

BLITZER: Donald Trump Jr. says his father will still push to deport all the undocumented immigrants living in the United States but it's going to take, quote, "baby steps". His words, baby steps to start with.

I don't know -- what does that suggest to you about the plan?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this speaks to what Gloria was talking about. I think that they are going to present this as a plan in steps so that the beginning will be deportation of criminals and some other measures. But the most controversial elements of it will be left for later.

But, Wolf, let's review the history of the last ten days. Donald Trump floated a trial balloon to see if he could take a, what some would consider a more tolerant position to try and reach out not just to minorities but to these college-educated white vote here's have been flowing away from him in large numbers, and who he desperately needs to win. That trial balloon was shot down dramatically by Rush Limbaugh, by Ann Coulter, by a lot of his allies.

And now, he's looking for way to bridge the gap between what he said during that exploration period and his old position. And I think this is what they've come up with -- baby steps.

BLITZER: And we'll see what those baby steps are. We'll see how he defines it tomorrow night in that major address.

Another issue, David, that we're following is the whole issue of David Duke, the former KKK leader, running for Louisiana Senate. He says vote for him in that robocall, but also vote for Donald Trump. Donald Trump has disavowed any connection with David Duke. He said he doesn't want any support for him.

But is this a problem potentially for Donald Trump?

DAVID SWERDLICK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, good on Donald Trump for disavowing it now. I don't think it's as big of a problem as everything that has come before it, Wolf. Donald Trump getting in front of the birther movement in 2011, the Judge Curiel comment, the proposed Muslim ban, the fight with the Khans. This is what has Trump in hot water with a diverse electorate and with a lot of white voters, not necessarily that David Duke has sort of latched on to him.

I think if anything, you know, in that David Duke clip you played, David Duke talked about the fact that Trump is going to be strong for his constituency on immigration. Yet they may be facing a sort of flip-flop or even a backing off of what they want from Trump. They're going to be disappointed.

BLITZER: Another potential issue involves the Trump supporter, Pastor Mark Burns, Rebecca, who tweeted this picture of Hillary Clinton with blackface saying, you know what, the Democrats -- they only want the support of the African-American community every four years or so. He has now apologized about that, the pastor. But, potentially, this too could be a problem for Trump who has reached out to the African- American community, the Hispanic community as well?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, it could be a problem but I would caution that one single tweets likely not going on swing any voter's opinion of either candidate. But what does become a problem for Donald Trump is just the sum of a number of controversial tweets. Not only from his surrogates but even more importantly from him and his own campaign.

We've seen a number of times during the course of this campaign, for example, with the Star of David tweet just a few weeks ago. That Donald Trump has gotten himself into hot water with controversial remarks over Twitter and in public.

There has been some very personal border line offensive rhetoric being used in this election. And so, the problem potentially is do voters start to associate that with Donald Trump in a negative way? Do they sort of think of him as someone who is a divisive candidate for the worst?

[18:35:00] And that tweet from Pastor Mark Burns just adds to that narrative.

BORGER: You know, what all of this does is confirm sort of an existing narrative, whether you're talking about David Duke or you're talking about Burns. And that's kind of a bad thing for Donald Trump in many ways, as he tries to appeal to those voters that David was just talking about. Because it's not only outreach to African- Americans or minorities, what he is trying to do is convince those suburban women, those white voters who -- independents, who may have some questions about him because they don't want to seem to be voting for somebody who might be considered a racist in any way, shape or form.

So, if you confirm that narrative in any way, it's bad. It's a bad narrative.

BLITZER: Let me ask you, David, do you think it's realistic David that Trump can score some points, make some inroads with minority voters?

AXELROD: I think less likely that he can make inroads with minority voters and the possibility that he can get some of these other voters back -- look, there's a long history here that predates this campaign that goes to the birther movement, for example. There was a poll out today and it was from a Democrat leaning pollster so it may be off by a few points. I don't know.

But had his approval rating among African-Americans at zero percent, that's hard to do. Ninety-seven percent unfavorable, that's a big mountain to climb in 71 days to persuade people who roundly dislike you and distrust that you you're suddenly in their corner.

BLITZER: All right. Everyone, stand by. I want to take a quick look.

Look at the breaking news in California right now: This is a fast- moving fire burning through part of Riverside County, just east of Los Angeles. Evacuations are now underway at a senior center and a mobile home park. At least 300 firefighters, they are now on the scene. We'll update with you more information right after this.


[18:41:39] BLITZER: Let's get some more on the breaking news we're following right now. I want to take another look at the breaking news in California -- a fast moving fire is burning east of Los Angeles, in Riverside County. Evacuations are underway, including at a senior center and a mobile home park. Look at this -- at least 400 acres already have been burned. Much more on that, coming up.

Also tonight, CNN has learned the FBI is ready to go public with a report on its investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. The officials say information could be released as soon as tomorrow. It's another potential distraction for Hillary Clinton. She goes all out in preparing for her first presidential debate against Donald Trump.

Our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is covering the Clinton campaign for us.

Jeff, what's the latest?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that is the marquee moment of this campaign, that debate on September 27th. And she is preparing for this debate as though it's a critical exam, Wolf. Talking to many of the people here in New York City who know Donald Trump very well.

One Clinton adviser tells me today, that advice is pouring in.


ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton is spending the final days of summer watching the Donald Trump highlight reel.


More energy tonight, I like that.

She's got a beautiful face, and I think she's a beautiful woman.

ZELENY: She's preparing for her first debate with Trump now less than a month away.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: When guy toe to toe with Donald Trump, which I'm looking toward to doing --

ZELENY: Her campaign is dealing with one distraction after another. CNN has learned the FBI is set to pull back the curtain as soon as Wednesday on its decision to recommend no criminal charges be filed for how Clinton handled classified information on her private e-mail server.

Yet, Clinton is trying to keep her focus on getting ready for Trump. Perhaps no presidential candidate in modern history has logged as much time as Clinton on the debate stage, at least 40 in all, producing a textbook worth of teachable moments.

From her Senate debate with Rick Lazio --

RICK LAZIO: Sign it right now.

ZELENY: -- to her run-ins with Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're likable enough, Hillary. No doubt.

CLINTON: Thank you so much.

ZELENY: But Trump is a rival all his own and planning is urgently under way.

CNN has learned that Clinton is taking these steps: seeking tips from writers who have watched Trump for years, including Tony Schwartz, co- author of "Art of the Deal"; consulting experts on Trump's 3 Ps, his policy, personality and politics; and studying moments from GOP debates that agitated Trump, particularly exchanges like this with Ted Cruz.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Donald, you can get back on --

TRUMP: You're a lot of fun up here tonight, I have to tell you. Thank you for that book, I --

CRUZ: Donald, relax.

ZELENY: Joel Benenson, the campaign chief strategist told CNN's Chris Cuomo, Clinton is preparing for a raucous debate.

JOEL BENENSON, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHIEF STRATEGIST: I think we will see a lot of the same kind of hyper, over the top rhetoric from him that we've seen. That's who he is. I don't think he can control himself.

ZELENY: All this as Trump tries to keep alive another sideshow, Hillary Clinton's close aide Huma Abedin separating from her husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner after another sexting episode.

TRUMP: In the case of Anthony Weiner, she's married to a guy that is uncontrolled and uncontrollable. He's a sick person.

ZELENY: And tonight, Trump seizing on a "New York Times" editorial that urged Clinton to cut ties now with her family's charitable foundation, not after she's elected.

[18:45:02] The paper calling it an "ethical imperative".

In a statement, Trump said it was "a devastating rebuke of Hillary Clinton's poor judgment and broken ethical compass".


ZELENY: Now, there is little doubt that those questions about the foundation will be central to the debate. But Donald Trump has also contributed money to that foundation. That is a reminder that he has not always been a critic of the Clintons.

Now, as Hillary is out raising money in the Hamptons, her final day of a fundraising push here, she is, in fact, asking donors for advice on what she should do to go up against Donald Trump. She said she simply not sure which Donald Trump will show up and she wonders if he is going to have more presidential gravitas when he hits that debate stage next month. She said she is preparing for any possibilities -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sure she is. All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

Gloria, you've been doing some reporting on what the Clinton campaign is doing to prepare for this debate.

BORGER: To echo what Jeff is saying, what "The New York Times" also said today, which is that they are reaching out to all kinds of people, including people like Tony Schwartz who co-authored the book with him, "The Art of the Deal". He is no longer a Trump friend. He regrets writing the book and he knew Trump well last in the '80s.

But what they're trying to do is get a sense of what gets under his skin. What could I do to provoke him to throw a fit essentially? So that the American public would see his temperament because they want to prove his temperament disqualifies him from the presidency.

BLITZER: You're also hearing, getting new information, Rebecca, on the preparations for these critically important debates.

BERG: Sure. And so, one of the big questions we have is what Donald Trump shows up to these debates, because it could bet that we see a more sober presidential version or the sort of entertaining, shooting from the hip Donald Trump that we've come to know throughout the process.

His campaign, a source close to the campaign told me yesterday that we can expect the Donald Trump we've come to know. So, one who is authentic, tough, entertaining, but also a contrast to Hillary Clinton. And that will be the major thing we see between these two candidates. It's just the massive contrast in personalities and style between Hillary Clinton, very measured, obviously preparing herself extensively on policy and everything else for this debate, and Donald Trump who in his debate prep sessions hasn't really wanted to dig into policy, doesn't want to be overly practiced. He wants to come off as authentic.

So, it's really going to be like they're debating in two different universes.

BLITZER: It worked for him during those earlier debates in the Republican primaries.

David, a new Monmouth University poll out today shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 8 points in Pennsylvania, 48 percent to 40 percent. She has what? Ninety percent support in Pennsylvania among black, Hispanic, Asian voters. This is favorable to Obama's numbers back in 2012 when he won Pennsylvania.

So, what does Trump need to do to close that gap if he hopes to carry Pennsylvania?

AXELROD: What it speaks to, Wolf, is the fear that he was operating under, which was that he could arouse these non-college educated whites who are terribly frustrated with the economy, to rally to his side. And could carry a state like Pennsylvania, which is not right. You have to break into other constituencies there, particularly if you're a Republican -- those suburban Republicans around Philadelphia.

So, he really needs to demonstrate in these debates, which are the major forums that are left to him. That he can be tolerant. That he has the temperament to be president and he has some mastery of the material a president has to deal with. I think it's an ominous sign that his campaign is boasting that he doesn't want to spend much time with briefing books.

Presidents have to spend time with briefing books and so do presidential candidates when you get to these debates.

BLITZER: Each of those three presidential debates I think will be 90 minutes without commercial interruption, and tens and tens of millions of Americans will be watching.

David, another story we're following right now, the FBI maybe as early as tomorrow will release its report, its notes on Hillary Clinton's interviews with the FBI involving her e-mail, her server. All of a sudden, we're all going to be reviewing those documents, those pages that are going to be released. How potentially problematic could that be for Hillary Clinton's campaign?

SWERDLICK: At a minimum, it's going to give the Trump campaign a couple more news cycles to sort of hammer Clinton on the email scandal, on her trustworthiness, her unfavorables in the polls. If her statements since Director Comey testified are consistent with what's in those notes with Director Comey's testimony, I don't think it's a problem that the campaign can't overcome. If her statements have not been consistent with what comes out of those notes, that then becomes a real problem.

BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani and others, Donald Trump supporters, keep pushing the issue, Gloria, of Hillary Clinton's health.

[18:50:01] Most of the people who looked closely of it, think a lot of these allegations are totally unqualified, if you will. No basis for these allegations. But he keeps pushing, others keep pushing. How much of a problem potentially could this be?

BORGER: Well, I think what Giuliani and others are trying to do is kind of raise the question and just put it out there, which is something we've seen Donald Trump do a lot during the campaign. You raise the question of presidential health. You put it out there and you raise the issue in a way that gets in people's minds as if it were disqualifying somehow that Hillary Clinton is unhealthy and you raise that, you raise that point.

And, you know, presidential health tests have now become an issue in this campaign. In fact, Hillary Clinton -- I mean, you all know the other night on Jimmy Kimmel, Hillary Clinton herself had to kind of open that jar of pickles. There you see it. She had to open that jar of pickles to prove that she was healthy in kind of a funny way.

And, Wolf, I know that Jimmy Kimmel asked you to take the pickle test also.

BLITZER: I was on with Jimmy Kimmel last night. Maybe we have that video, if we have it. You can check it out to see if I can open up that pickle jar itself.

Let's watch.


BLITZER: Let me see what I can do. Ready?

JIMMY KIMMEL, TV HOST/COMEDIAN: You're going to be part of the conspiracy now. You realize that, right?

BLITZER: I'm going to try and do my best.

KIMMEL: Alex Jones is going to be all over you.

BLITZER: Let see what happens.

KIMMEL: OK, here we go. Here it is. Wolf Blitzer -- oh, no. Oh, was there a pop.

BLITZER: I heard a pop.

KIMMEL: I heard the pop. I heard it, too.


BLITZER: There was a little pop, and I heard the pop. It isn't easy to open that Vlasic pickle jar. It was not easy and I did it.

BORGER: We're going to have forensic experts listen to your pop versus Hillary Clinton's pop. That will be next.

BLITZER: I also had a chance to see -- meet once again I met with him on several occasions, Jimmy Kimmel's father. Jimmy -- there he is. Jimmy Kimmel's father in the audience.

Do you think he looks like me, Rebecca?

BERG: You have the same optometrist.


BLITZER: He wears those glasses only when he's near me. Normally, he has the wireless glasses.

Very nice man. Jimmy Kimmel was very nice, as well. Thoroughly enjoyed being on the show.

Guys, thanks, very, very much.

Coming up, there's more news we're following. Russia -- is Russia planning to tamper with the November election results here in the United States after cyber attacks on election systems in two states? The Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is now asking for a formal FBI investigation.


[18:57:12] BLITZER: New information on the breaking news in California right now. At least 300 firefighters, as well as water dropping helicopters and nine air tankers, they are now battling a fast-moving fire in Riverside County just east of Los Angeles. We're looking at these pictures coming in with a very, very powerful fire. The fire broke out about three hours ago. It's burned already at least 400 acres, residents at a senior citizen center and mobile home park, they are being evacuated. More on this disturbing story coming up.

Also breaking right now, a hurricane watch has just been posted for northwestern Florida. A tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm later tonight. It's expected to be hurricane strength when it makes landfall Thursday afternoon or evening.

The National Weather Service also has issued a hurricane warning for the big island of Hawaii just ahead of Hurricane Madeline. Madeleine right now a category 3 hurricane. We'll have more on these disturbing developments coming up, as well.

Also tonight, an urgent new warning that the Russians may try to tamper with the outcome of the U.S. election. The top Senate Democrat Harry Reid is asking the FBI to investigate. He says he's concerned the threat is more extensive than widely known and may include Russian plans to try to falsify voting results. We are learning more about the serious breaches of election systems in two states and who may be behind them.

Let's bring in our justice correspondent Evan Perez.

Evan, is there a possibility Russia is involved in this?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is possible, Wolf. There are suspicions about the Russian, but the investigators haven't really concluded yet who is behind these hacks. In Arizona, the elections officials say that they've tracked an attempted hack to a Russian internet address and stolen voter data in Illinois may well be tied to Eastern European criminal groups specialized in stealing the data of Americans.

The FBI is concerned enough though that they want to make sure the states beef up their computer security around their election systems to make sure there is no doubt about who wins in November, Wolf.

BLITZER: This follows a hacking incident, what, at "The New York Times", some think tanks and the suspicion is Russia may be involved in those, as well?

PEREZ: You know, one of the things you hear from intelligence officials here in this country is what we may already be seeing is an undeclared cyber war with the Russians. The Russians are paranoid enough about what the Americans are doing, you know, in Russia, and they think that we're doing worse to them. They've got good reason to think that.

But there's also a lot of concern in the U.S. intelligence community that the Russians are trying to do here what we know they've already done in Europe. They funded some of the right-wing and nationalist parties as a way to undermine the European democracies and U.S. intelligence officials don't think they're trying to get Donald Trump elected as the Democrats keep claiming, Wolf, but they're trying to create enough confusion around the elections.

BLITZER: Very disturbing development. Evan, thanks very much.

That's it for me. Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.