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FBI Release Notes, Report on Clinton E-mails; Latest on Hurricane Hermine. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 2, 2016 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. FBI investigation. The bureau releases its report on the Clinton e-mail investigation, along with agents' notes on the questioning of Hillary Clinton. Will the documents reveal why the FBI decided not to prosecute the former secretary of state?

[17:00:25] Scripted answers. Donald Trump reaches out to African- Americans, but is his campaign reaching too far by scripting a question and answer session in a black church?

Un-accounted for. A stunning new report says a young American missionary who was kidnapped in China a dozen years ago, and forces to work in North Korea, teaching English to Kim Jong-un. We're going to hear from his family.

And drenched holiday. After ripping in Florida, leaving behind flooding and a quarter million customers without power, Hermine is now a dangerous tropical storm, moving through Georgia into the Carolinas and threatening tens of millions along the Atlantic coast.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news, the FBI releases its report on the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, including agents' notes on the questioning of Clinton. The documents show Clinton repeatedly telling the FBI she could not recall specific e-mails or events and did not recall any training on handling of classified material. The notes revealed Clinton relied on aides to determine what was classified.

In July, the Justice Department accepted the FBI's recommendation not to charge Clinton, but the documents will likely rekindle the controversy and Republican claims that Clinton is dishonest.

The Trump campaign is pouncing on the document release, but Trump today is focusing on a problem of his own. A very low level of support among minorities, as Trump sends a tough message to Latinos. He's now reaching out directly to African-Americans, but a new report says Trump's campaign has carefully scripted a question and answer session at a black church.

And a stunning new claim about an American missionary vanished more than a decade ago. He's said to have been kidnapped and forced to work in North Korea as an English tutor for Kim Jong-un. I'll speak with former undersecretary of state Wendy Sherman, a Clinton supporter.

And our correspondents, analysts, and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.

Let's begin with the breaking news, the release of FBI documents on the Clinton e-mail investigation. CNN's Phil Mattingly is joining us. Phil, what are you learning?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A problem that has plagued the Clinton campaign for months now, and now we have the closest look yet at what exactly brought that private server into being. Fifty-eight detailed pages of FBI official notes, and raising major new questions about what Hillary Clinton was trying to do.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Tonight, less than two months after the FBI recommended no charges against Hillary Clinton...

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We are expressing to justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.

MATTINGLY: The private notes FBI agents investigating her use of a private e-mail server revealed. Redacted, but unprecedented nonetheless, the notes lay out the probe and details Clinton's own interview with law enforcement officials.

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

MATTINGLY: The documents revealed that Clinton told FBI agents she couldn't recall any training or guidance on the handling of sensitive information. Clinton said she relied on her aides to, quote, "use their judgment" when e-mailing her and could not recall anyone raising concerns about information sent to her private account.

The notes also show that the FBI presented Clinton with copies of e- mails discussing the classified U.S. drone program. Clinton responded that she thought drone strike information classification, quote, "depended on the context," but it was a subject frequently in the press.

Clinton was also asked about the markings on an e-mail that denoted classified information.

COMEY: I think it's possible, possible, that she didn't understand what a "C" meant when she saw it in the body of an e-mail like that.

MATTINGLY: Clinton told the FBI she was unaware of what the marking meant and questioned the classification.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear?

MATTINGLY: The public release coming after the FBI provided the documents to lawmakers. Some Republicans expressed outrage at the Justice Department's decision not to bring charges against the Democratic nominee.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R-UT), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: We believe that you have set a precedent, and it's a dangerous one.

In the wake of Clinton herself offering her clearest apology yet on the issue on CNN last month.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE (via phone): When I try to explain what happened, it can sound like I'm trying to excuse what I did, and there are no excuses. I want people to know that the decision to have a single e-mail account was mine. I take responsibility for it. I've apologized for it. I would certainly do differently if I could.

[17:05:18] MATTINGLY: In July, FBI Director Comey said his recommendation against charges stemmed from the fact there is no precedent for charging someone under similar circumstances, but the scrutiny on the campaign trail hasn't let up.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The deleted e-mails, 33,000.

MATTINGLY: The Trump campaign blasting out a statement, saying the release provides further evidence of Clinton's, quote, "tremendously bad judgment and dishonesty," adding, "Clinton's reckless conduct and dishonest attempts to avoid accountability show she cannot be trusted with the presidency."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And while the Clinton campaign is saying they're pleased about this release, and with good reason. This information had been sent to lawmakers, and there was concern from Bill Clinton advisors that it would be leaked out selectively.

Still, there are serious problems that have been -- that have been brought up by this issue, including the 39 times Hillary Clinton said she didn't recall specific issues when asked by FBI issues. And Wolf, also the idea that there were 13 individual devices that had access to Clinton's e-mail account, most of which hadn't been recovered, two of which had been destroyed by hammers, according to the FBI agent notes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Phil Mattingly in New York for us. Thank you.

I want to bring in our justice correspondent, Even Perez. Evan, we just heard these documents do reveal that Hillary Clinton, on so many occasions, told the FBI she couldn't recall these events including events involving classified information.

PEREZ: That's right, 39 times she answered that question -- answered questions to the FBI saying that she didn't really -- she didn't recall, she didn't remember being, for instance, when she was asked whether or not she knew about the retention of federal records, of handling of classified information. She said she didn't remember getting any kind of briefing or training for the State Department, despite all of her years of public service, Wolf. It's surprising. She says she had no idea, really, how to tell the difference between the different levels of classification.

BLITZER: We remember the FBI director, James Comey, saying in that announcement that he's not going to recommend criminal charges, but he said she was extremely careless and that she was negligent in dealing with these kinds of issues, these documents.

And I've gone through them myself. I know you have, as well. Do they underscore, do they confirm extremely, extremely careless or reckless behavior?

PEREZ: I think his documents really tell you, or show you, what the FBI director was talking about. And in particular, we're talking about the CIA drone program, Wolf. This is a matter of big concern, simply because the program is a covert program. Everybody knows it exists, but government officials are not supposed to talk about it on unclassified e-mail, not even in government e-mail.

Here, she's using her unclassified, private server to talk about, for instance, an e-mail chain in 2011 around Christmas-time, they're discussing a planned drone strike by the CIA, and they're using coded language to sort of talk around it. And one of the things I found that I found really remarkable in the documents was that the FBI says that she just simply said they didn't have any established protocols on how to discuss these sensitive information, government information, while they were away from their offices, while they were away from their secured systems.

So over the holidays, they had to talk about the drone program. They just did it in coded language.

BLITZER: And remember, she said she wanted to use a Blackberry because she just wanted, out of convenience, a single device. But now we learned, what, there were 13 specific devices she was using?

PEREZ: Thirteen devices. There were five iPads, and the FBI was not able to access or retrieve the 13 mobile phone devices that she had. They were able to examine two of the iPads. And one of the really remarkable things that we read here in these documents is that one of the ways they dealt with the 13 phones, when they were done with them, is they simply used a hammer to destroy them.

BLITZER: All right. I'm sure there's going to be some commotion as a result of this. We'll see how it falls out politically. Much more on that coming up. Evan, thank you.

While the e-mail scandal remains a big problem for Hillary Clinton, Trump today is focused on a problem of his own. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is joining us.

Sunlen, Trump is grappling with the extraordinarily weak support he's getting from minority voters.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Very little support, Wolf. And as Donald Trump has tried to start making these inroads, it's really been the optics of his outreach that has been so criticized. Like when he's tried to appeal to minorities in front of predominantly white audiences in the past. Well, this is the Trump campaign trying to course correct.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY (voice-over): Donald Trump is making a direct pitch to minority voters, meeting face to face today with black leaders in Philadelphia. The trip comes a day ahead of a high-profile visit to Detroit on Saturday, where he'll tour Ben Carson's hometown with his formal rival and attend an African-American church.

[17:10:06] TRUMP: You have so many in poverty, and the crime is horrible. And the education is terrible. And they live terribly, and I say what do you have to lose? I say to them, what do you have to lose? Give it to me. I'm going to fix it.

SERFATY: But the GOP nominee is already facing controversy with his visit after the "New York Times" published an eight-page Trump campaign internal memo, a draft script for a planned interview with 12 questions the campaign had worked out with the church's pastor and suggested answers for Trump. The pastor tells CNN he stands by the decision.

BISHOP WAYNE JACKSON, PASTOR: I didn't see anything wrong with it. I never lied about, tried to be deceitful about it.

SERFATY: But said he's ready to throw Trump some curveballs.

JACKSON: I have questions that they don't know about, no one knows about. I changed them after that came out.

SERFATY: Amid concerns about the authenticity of a scripted conversation, the campaign now says Trump will give a short speech to the congregation, all as Trump still faces tough questions about his immigration policy.

TRUMP: A lot of people didn't quite understand it.

SERFATY: Trump now says he will prioritize criminal deportations first, after pledging during the primary to deport all undocumented immigrants.

TRUMP: We're going to get rid of all of the bad players that are here. After that takes place, we're going to sit back. We're going to assess the situation. We're going to see where we are, because we'll have people in the country, you know, that have come in illegally.

SERFATY: But on Wednesday night, Trump insisted...

TRUMP: Our message to the world will be this: you cannot obtain legal status, or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country. There will be no amnesty.

SERFATY: And Trump is still engaged in a cross-border spat with the president of Mexico, following their meeting Wednesday.

TRUMP: They don't know it yet, but they're going to pay for the wall.

SERFATY: Trump admitting that he added in that line to his speech Wednesday after the Mexican president tweeted that he told Trump Mexico would not pay for the border wall.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And Trump today received his second classified intelligence briefing at the FBI offices in New York City. This was a follow-up to his first one, the same one that was given to Hillary Clinton. Chris Christie, leading his transition team, was there with him.

And Wolf, we did just received this statement from Donald Trump, Trump saying about Hillary Clinton's FBI, quote, "Hillary Clint's answers to her FBI about her private e-mail server defy belief. I was absolutely shocked to see that her answers to the FBI stood in direct contradiction to what she told the American people. After reading these documents, I really don't understand how she was able to get away from prosecution" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty reporting for us. Thank you very much.

Joining us now, the former undersecretary of state, Wendy Sherman. She's a long-time associate and a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton.

Madame Secretary, thanks very much for joining us.

WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: Good to see you.

BLITZER: Ambassador, too.

SHERMAN: That, too.

BLITZER: OK. What do you prefer "Ambassador," "Madame Secretary"?

SHERMAN: Anything is fine. Wendy works, too.

BLITZER: I'll call you "Ambassador."

So in these documents -- and I've gone through all of the documents the FBI released today, and it's pretty specific. They did say they found 17,448 work-related and personal e-mails that Hillary Clinton did not turn over to the State Department. Why didn't she do that?

SHERMAN: Well, you know, Wolf, I don't know all the ins and outs of all of this. I think what's really important for the American people is what Hillary Clinton has said. She has said, one, she's very glad that the FBI has released these documents publicly. She wants people to know what happened, how the investigation went, what all the details are. And to see for themselves why FBI Director Comey decided not to pursue any kind of prosecution, to in fact, say there is no basis to do so. He did say that she was careless, and she has said very directly, "This was a mistake. It's nothing I would ever do again." And I think that's what we have to move on to. We have to move onto what the American people are worried about.

BLITZER: He did say she was extremely careless and negligent, strong words, although he recommended against criminal charges. But let's go through some of the specifics. You worked in the State Department and the government for a long time. You understand the issue of classification.

One of the key quotes in these FBI notes is that Hillary Clinton said she did not know what the "C," the "C" classification marking meant. As you know, Comey said there were at least three documents that had a "C," and she didn't know what that meant, even though it meant "classified." Do you understand that, because you used to read those documents all the time?

SHERMAN: You know, I don't know that specific e-mail or those specific e-mails. I think that what she has said and what is in some of this traffic and discussion with the FBI director and with his colleagues, is that she didn't know whether this was part of another e-mail that was in A, B, C.

I think what matters here is that she believed that people would not send her things that were classified on an unclassified system. And we all tried to be extremely careful.

[17:15:07] It is a very different environment that we all work in now with Blackberries and iPhones. And a very difficult situation.

I think she was completely forthcoming. She answered all the questions that the FBI had of her. She told all of her colleagues they should cooperate completely. She wanted to be of whatever assistance was possible, and she's very glad that Director Comey has made all of this public.

BLITZER: I assume you e-mailed with her over the years. You worked under her. Did you know you were e-mailing to a private e-mail server?

SHERMAN: I really didn't pay attention to what I was e-mailing to. Indeed, I expected that whatever the secretary of state was using was something that was supported by the department.

BLITZER: Did you think you could send classified information?

SHERMAN: No, of course not.

BLITZER: Why not if you didn't know it was a private server?

SHERMAN: No Blackberry -- no Blackberry that we have at the State Department is a classified...

BLITZER: The president has a classified Blackberry.

SHERMAN: The president of the United States may have a classified Blackberry, but none of us did.

BLITZER: Can't you assume she would have one, she is the secretary of state.

SHERMAN: That is possible, but none of us knowingly sent classified information over a Blackberry.

BLITZER: So when you went back and forth with her in e-mail exchanges, you didn't know -- you didn't know this was a private e- mail server you were dealing with?

SHERMAN: I did not.

BLITZER: You assumed it was a government e-mail?

SHERMAN: I assumed it was an approved, authorized channel of communication with the secretary of state.

BLITZER: There's an interesting exchange here, and I just learned about this in this document today. Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, he had an exchange with Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state. Basically, he warned her, according to this FBI report, he said, "If you use your Blackberry to do business, it could become official record and subject to the law, if people know about that." Meaning that it would be subject to Freedom of Information requests, to getting those kinds of documents.

I'll read to you what it says on page 11. In his e-mail reply, Powell warned Clinton that, if it became public that Clinton had a Blackberry and she used it to do business, her e-mails could become official records and subject to the law. Powell further advised Clinton, "Be very careful. I got around by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data."

So you hear that. That's worrisome. Isn't it?

SHERMAN: Well, look, here's what is important here. Secretary Clinton has said, "I made a mistake. Shouldn't have used the private e-mail server. I looked to ensure that my colleagues were not sending me anything they shouldn't. I relied on their professionalism, as do most secretaries of state do rely on the people who work for them to operate in a professional way."

We all assumed that this was an authorized channel. And indeed, no one stopped her from using the Blackberries. And she said she will not do this again.

And I think what the American people care most about is what the next president of the United States is going to do to keep them safe, secure and make sure they have a job, and as we approach Labor Day, I think that's what's on their minds.

BLITZER: Because the implication of what Secretary Powell was advising Secretary Clinton is be very careful, don't tell people about this Blackberry. Otherwise, whatever is going to be captured is going to be subject to Freedom of -- FOIA requests, as they're called.

SHERMAN: Well, listen, I think we all know that anything we do is subject to those federal records acts. We never expect that anything we do is private. And I'm sure the secretary of state operated in the same way.

BLITZER: Because the suspicion is the charge against Hillary Clinton is she was doing this private e-mail server to avoid having her e- mails captured for the federal record.

SHERMAN: I don't believe that for one moment. She is a public servant who has served this country in many capacities: as a United States senator, as a first lady and a secretary of state.

And she lives in this 24/7 media world. None of us expect -- I'm sure you've got kids. I've got kids, and they put everything on their phones, and they know that everything all be in the public view. So I don't think anybody believes that there was something that was trying to be covered here. Everything can become public.

BLITZER: Ambassador, stand by.

SHERMAN: Sure.

BLITZER: We have some more questions. We're going to continue. We're getting more reaction, too, to the FBI release of these documents. Much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:23:59] BLITZER: We're back with the former undersecretary of state, Wendy Sherman. She's a long-time associate and supporter of Hillary Clinton. We got a statement in from the Donald Trump campaign on these e-mails, these documents released by the FBI today, Hillary Clinton's e-mail servers. I'll read it to you.

"Hillary Clinton's answers to the FBI about her private e-mail server defy belief. I was absolutely shocked to see it was in direct contradiction to what she told the American people. After reading these documents, I really don't understand how she was able to get away from prosecution."

So it's a very tough statement, obviously, from Donald Trump. He's basically saying she's -- she committed a crime, even though the FBI didn't recommend criminal prosecution, but this is going to hover over her until election day.

SHERMAN: Well, it's going to hover over here, because Donald Trump doesn't want people to hover over him.

I mean, what I'm most concerned about today is the international incident that he created by going to Mexico, meeting with the Mexican president, not really sharing with Mexican president what he truly believed, which was that, in fact, he was going to deport everyone and force Mexico to pay for his ridiculous wall, since we already have all kinds of barriers to people coming in here illegally.

[17:25:09] And instead, he wants to shift attention back to the secretary of state. I think the American people want to make sure they're safe and secure going into the future. They know Hillary Clinton will provide that. She said that the e-mail server was a mistake.

And Donald Trump really ought to be held accountable for what he did yesterday by creating an international incident with our close neighbor, Mexico.

BLITZER: He didn't create it. The Mexican president invited him, invited Hillary Clinton, as well, to come to Mexico.

SHERMAN: Indeed. So he went to Mexico, and he did not say to the Mexican president what he then turned around and said to the American people, which is that he was going to force Mexico to pay for his notion of a wall, that he was going to forcibly deport all of the 11 million undocumented people here. That he was going to, in fact, not allow young -- young people who were born here, who came here with their parents and then were born here, their parents having come illegally, he was going to send them all out of the country.

So of course Donald Trump wants to shift attention from what he has done. It's really quite extraordinary.

BLITZER: You spent years working at the State Department. Now the State Department says they're going to release her entire schedule of meetings, and they're going to release this schedule mid-October or so. You saw that A.P. report last week or so, said that, of the nongovernmental meetings she had, more than half of them were people who were associated with the Clinton Foundation.

How worried are you when the State Department releases all of these names in mid-October, all of her meetings, it's going to further exacerbate and show this -- what the Republicans call this pay-for- play notion of Hillary Clinton working with the Clinton Foundation to elevate those rich benefactors.

SHERMAN: I actually think it will be extremely helpful. Because I think that A.P. story has been widely discredited. They looked at a very small portion of the literally thousands of meetings that she held. Meeting with Muhammad Yunus, who started the Grameen Bank, which helped bring many Bangladeshis out of poverty and created a whole for of social entrepreneurship to help poor people all over the world, is someone that, of course, the secretary of state should meet with.

Meeting with Melinda Gates, who has, along with her husband, done all kinds of tremendously charitable things all over the world to help people out of poverty is someone every secretary of state should meet with. So I think once people see all of the people that the secretary meets with, any secretary and certainly Secretary Hillary Clinton, they will understand that she served our country extremely well.

BLITZER: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, thanks for coming in.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Stay with us. Our political experts have been working their sources. They're trying to gauge reactions to the FBI's release of these notes from the Hillary Clinton investigation. Has her campaign reached a turning point?

Also an astonishing claim about an American who's been missing for more than a decade. Was he kidnapped to become Kim Jong-un's English tutor?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:32:34]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Our breaking news, the FBI releases its report on the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation including notes that agents made when they questioned Hillary Clinton.

Let's bring in Olivia Nuzzi, Political Reporter for the Daily Beast; CNN Politics Executive Editor, Mark Preston; CNN Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty; and our Senior Political Analyst, Ron Brownstein, the Senior Editor at The Atlantic.

Mark, did this FBI report, and it's very long, very detailed, help or hurt the Hillary Clinton campaign?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, if you listen to the Hillary Clinton campaign they said since they requested its release that they're glad that it's out. And they think that it's (inaudible). There's no necessarily bomb shells in the report because this all had been reported before, most of it had been reported before.

But I would take the different tact that whenever the FBI releases a report on an investigation into your candidate, two months before an election, that's not a good thing. So, you know, we've seen Donald Trump already seize upon it and he will to seize upon it.

BLITZER: Sunlen, can this report really change perceptions of voters out there with only two months or so until the election?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the power of this is its timing. You know, we have all analyzed every single detail of this campaign for well over a year now. But for voters who are entering the states where they are starting to pay attention entering into Labor Day weekend. So this is a very persuadable phase that they're going through where their minds still potentially aren't made up.

I know I've spoken to a lot of voters who really want to vote for Hillary Clinton, Democrats, say they want to vote for her but are nervous about this narrative around her, this dishonest narrative around her, and that plays right into it.

BLITZER: Ron, Hillary Clinton's unfavorable numbers right now are 59%. Could we see them go up even a bit higher with this FBI report?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, in general the focus on this could raise it a little bit higher. (END VIDEO CLIP)

Look, I think the -- her use of a private-mail server is going to go down as one of the greatest unforced errors in American political history. There's no question the doubts about her honesty are widespread and pervasive.

In the last Quinnipiac 66% of the country said that she was not honest and trust worthy. And that included over 70% of millennials, over 70% of college whites, nearly half of minorities, groups that are voting for her.

But Wolf, I think that last point really kind of opens the door to something that is not fully understood. Which is that in this campaign not all vulnerabilities are created equal.

If you look at that Quinnipiac poll 22% of people who say she's not honest and trustworthy are still voting for her. And that's roughly the percentage of people who in 1996 who said that Bill Clinton was not honest and trust worthy and voted for him.

On the other hand, 60% of the country says that Donald Trump in that poll, and most polls, is not qualified to be President. And only 7% of them are voting for him.

So, you know, I think there's no question she has been hurt by this, but it is not necessarily the dispositive blow, particularly against a candidate who is laboring under such vulnerabilities of his own.

[17:35:12]

BLITZER: Olivia how's the Trump campaign seizing on this FBI report?

OLIVIA NUZZI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Immediate after the report came out the Trump campaign released I think a very sober statement about it from their communications guy, Jason Miller.

And I think while Trump is unlikely to take such a sober -- have such a sober take on it, I think the problem for Hillary is that there are so many details in this report. Even if it's nothing of you know, bombshell nature, we have details like her staffers broke her blackberries with a hammer. I think that's something Donald Trump is likely to talk about on the rally stage and maybe to great effect.

BLITZER: We learned the moderators of the three presidential debates, the one vice presidential debate, less than what a month to go until that first presidential debate. I assume this issue of the Hillary Clinton emails that's going to be an issue that Donald Trump will certainly raise going into that first debate.

PRESTON: Right, and what's interesting about this and we've all touched upon it, and Ron threw out some really interesting numbers there which I think are very important. Especially as we're heading in to this really final stretch of this campaign.

The honest and trustworthy factor is something that Donald Trump is going to try to expose on that debate stage when, you know, you can see 40 to 60 million people tuning in to that debate. And as Sunlen said, while we've been engaged in this, and a lot of America has been engaged in this presidential contest, we're going to see the entire nation now focused on it.

I mean after Labor Day, that's when people tend to focus in on these things, and I think that's really we'll see what the damage could be to her.

BLITZER: As you know, Donald Trump received his second national security classified briefing from CIA officials and other intelligence officials today. I assume these briefings are going to help him prepare in effect for that debate?

SERFATY: Oh, without a doubt. You have to know that Donald Trump keeps thinking that he is going to debate against a former Secretary of State who was let in on these sort of classified briefings as her time as Secretary of State. You know, so anything he can do to add to that base of knowledge as he prepares for these debates, which will be feverous coming up, can help him.

And I should point out that each candidate is allowed to get one of these classified briefings and then they're allowed some sort of follow up, and Donald Trump did request his follow up briefing today. So certainly showing that he is trying to expand his base.

BLITZER: And we know that whatever information these intelligence officials give one candidate they have to give to the other candidate as well. They've got to be very, very even.

And Trump hired a new aid today, David Bossie who has a long history as you know of going after Clinton. So what type of influence do you expect he will have on this campaign and the newest lines of attack?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, all indications are that Donald Trump has a lot of faith in him and he will have a lot of influence. And you know, you will continue to see a very high octane criticism of Hillary Clinton across a wide front of issues.

And look, Hillary Clinton can't let these honest and trustworthy numbers decline indefinitely or immeasurably. I mean there is a point at much it becomes kind of a weight too large to bear.

But at the moment, you know, as I continue to believe as we look forward to the debates, and I actually think that more is baked in in public perceptions at this point. They may be even common -- typical in a Presidential campaign just because these figures are so well known. The fact is Donald Trump's biggest problems are the perceptions of him, not the perceptions of Hillary Clinton. And that has to be, I think their primary focus in the debate. David Bossie higher and kind of points in the other direction.

BLITZER: All right, guys, everybody stand by much more coming up.

Also there's other news we're following. Labor Day washout.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The latest forecast says tropical storm Hermine will remain dangerous for days, it could regain strength. We're standing by for a live report from near the center of the storm.

Also, a shocking claim about an American who's been missing for a dozen years. Was he kidnapped to become Kim Jong-Un's English tutor?

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:43:28] BLITZER: Breaking news, a new forecast calls for tropical storm Hermine to keep pounding parts of the east coast with drenching rain and high tides over the Labor Day weekend.

The National Hurricane Center's latest warning says Hermine will remain a dangerous storm for days and could re-strengthen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: It also poses a threat all the way up the coast to New Jersey and New York's Long Island. Right now the storm is over the Carolinas.

CNN's Brian Todd , is joining us from Charleston right now. Brian, what are you seeing where you are?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the remnants of this storm still very strong here tonight. More than 40 million people are under tropical storm watches or warnings. This city has endured round after round of heavy rain and high winds.

Look at the storm surge behind me here. White caps still pretty prominent here in Charleston Harbor. The surf levels here are about a foot and a half at least above where they normally are.

This city again, you know, used to flooding and all sorts of rain events like this, but this was a pretty extraordinary threat.

This storm has pounded Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas and it is not done yet.

Hurricane Hermine crashes ashore tearing up Florida's Gulf Coast with pounding rain and high winds. Up to 15 inches of rain in some areas and storm surges as high as nine feet.

More than 100,000 residents are without power.

VOICE OF CHIEF VIRGIL SANDLIN, CEDAR KEY POLICE: We have residents that have the -- just the walls tore off the front of them with water come through the back door and went out the front and just tore everything to pieces.

[17:45:00]

TODD: Firefighters near Tampa battle house fires. There efforts hampered by persistent high winds.

MAYOR RICK KRISEMAN, ST. PETERSBURG, FLORDIA: Quite candidly this is one of the worst that we've seen in the city in a long time and unfortunately it's not over yet.

TODD: The storm is now turning north barreling through Georgia and into the Carolinas.

What's your big concern?

CATHY HAYNES, CHIEF OF OPERATIONS, CHARLESTON COUNTY: Well, the biggest concern is people not -- getting out on the roadways that really don't need to be out there. The population rolls over, new, all the time here in this area, and people just don't understand the seriousness of some of these things because they've never been through this before.

TODD: Georgia governor, Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for 56 counties. And in North Carolina, governor Pat McCory issued a state of emergency for 33 counties.

RICK KNAPP, METEOROLOGIST AND DIRECTOR NATIONAL HURRICAN CENTER: We're seeing a huge area of very heavy rainfall primarily in the southern and central portions of Georgia, that's heading into the Carolinas. Inland flooding is the most frequent cause and loss of life and landfall in tropical systems. So it's not just a coastal event, it's not just a wind event.

TODD: Warnings and watches are in place from Georgia to Connecticut. And for millions along the Atlantic seaboard a potentially dangerous storm that will force a change in Labor Day weekend plans. Some computer models show it could stall off shore, gain strength and then slam back into the eastern seaboard.

KNAPPP: A system that is not moving can be big trouble because that means whatever rainfall is occurring could happen for not only hours but days in some spots.

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TODD: Now severe wind events are still a threat in Charleston and north of here. This Ravenel Bridge here -- earlier today the Ravenel Bridge was one of the bridges that officials were warning about. The deck of the bridge is about 200 feet above the surf here. Earlier today they were warning people to try not to drive on the bridge with the high winds if you don't have to.

Now that threat has subsided, but Wolf, the counties just north here of Charleston, just north of Charleston and into the outer banks, a lot of those counties are still under tornado watches tonight. There not out of the woods yet either.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting.

Coming up, a surprising twist to the story of a U.S. student who vanished a dozen years ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Was he kidnapped and was he forced to become a tutor for North Korea's Kim Jong-Un?

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[17:51:38]

BLITZER: We're following a surprising new report that an American student who vanished a dozen years ago in China may be alive and well in North Korea and may have been a tutor for Kim Jong-Un.

Let's bring in our Global Affairs Correspondent, Elise Labott, who are learning more about this story. What are you learning?

ELISE LABOTT, GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, this report bolsters what the parents of David Sneddon have thought for years about his disappearance. That he didn't drown in a river in China but was abducted by North Korea. And tonight the Sneddon's and their congressman are asking the state department to launch a new search.

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LABOTT: After more than a decade with his whereabouts unknown a shocking new claim about an American student, David Sneddon who vanished while he was hiking in China.

Yahoo News Japan reports Sneddon was kidnapped and taken to North Korea to work as a tutor teaching English to North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Un. The report claims Sneddon now lives in the capital, Pyongyang with a wife and two kids. It's a staggering theory that his parents have claimed for years.

KATHLEEN SNEDDON, MOTHER OF DAVID SNEDDON: It doesn't come as a shock because we have done our research and spent time involved, and we do think that David is in North Korea.

LABOTT: Sneddon then a 24-year-old student disappeared during a 2004 hiking trip in China's Yunnan province near the Tibet border. Chinese officials concluded he had fallen to his death into the Tiger Leap Gorge. But when they failed to find David's body, his parents the official version of events.

ROY SNEDDON, FATHER OF DAVID SNEDDON: We thought that he had been taken by the Chinese. There could have been a thought by the Chinese that somehow David was complicit with Koreans who are running the underground railroad.

LABOTT: They began to suspect their son, a former missionary in South Korea who was fluent in Korean, was seized by the Kim regime. Four years ago David's father got a call from an American in Seoul with a lead. ROY SNEDDON: He phoned me and the conversation went something like

this. I think I know where David is. He's teaching English and he's doing that in Pyongyang for their kind of intelligence group.

LABOTT: Soon after a call from a Japanese group tracking North Korean abductions gave weight to their suspicions.

KATHLEEN SNEDDON: Describing David perfectly. Student, where he was from, what he was doing. How he was capable in many languages and that he was teaching English to people in North Korea.

LABOTT: Congressman Chris Stewart urged the state department to follow every lead, including Sneddon's possible abduction to North Korea.

REP. CHRIS STEWART, (R) UTAH: It's becoming very plausible when you understand the regimes long history of abducting foreign citizens to use in training their own foreign agents.

LABOTT: Tonight, the state department says it continues to raise Sneddon's case with the Chinese but has seen nothing to support the claims he is in North Korea.

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I can tell you we have seen no verifiable evidence to indicate that Mr. Sneddon was abducted by North Korean officials.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: And state department officials tell CNN they have looked into these claims over the years and have reason to doubt the credibility of this latest report but are looking into it once again.

Now this Japanese report does not offer any evidence or official sourcing to back up the claims. Roy and Kathleen Sneddon also tell us they don't know how credible the report is but they are cautiously optimistic that it will raise attention and could help them find out what happened to their son once and for all Wolf.

[17:55:

BLITZER: Let's hope it does. All right, Elise, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, breaking news, the FBI's report on Hillary Clinton's emails goes public.

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BLITZER: And Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton's answers defy belief.

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BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, Clinton's answers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The FBI just released an unprecedented account of Hillary Clinton's statements about her e-mails drawing fresh attention to the controversy dogging her campaign. Tonight, critical details from the documents and the Trump campaign's tough response.

Sticking to a script. Donald Trump continuing his outreach to African- Americans as his campaign tries to prevent any embarrassing new blunders. Are the questions and answers from an upcoming visit to a --