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Interview With Interim DNC Chair Donna Brazile; Real Reason Trump Not Releasing Taxes?; Do Trump's Job Numbers Add Up?; Hillary Clinton Back on Campaign Trail; NYPD: Police Shoot Man With Cleaver; Source: Hundreds of U.S. Forces in Iraq for Looming Battle. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 15, 2016 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He is sharing new details about his economic plans, making big claims about how he would cut taxes, spur growth and creates jobs. Tonight, serious questions about whether Trump's goals are realistic and whether his numbers add up.

Tax distraction? Trump's son suggests his father isn't releasing his tax rate because it would detract from his political message. Is the campaign now acknowledging that an audit isn't the real reason for keeping Trump's taxes under wraps?

And risky battle plan. U.S. forces step up the fight against ISIS. Hundreds of additional U.S. military personnel are now in place for a major assault that would put many more Americans in harm's way in the weeks ahead.

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 this hour, Hillary Clinton says her senior staff knew about her pneumonia diagnosis, as she continues to face questions about an illness that became public only after she nearly collapsed.

Clinton returned to the campaign trail today and held a brief news conference as well after several days at home. She brushed aside any concerns about new polls showing the race tightening nationally and in key battleground states. Clinton says she always knew the race would be tight.

The Democratic nominee also tried to shift the focus to a new controversy for Donald Trump. Clinton slammed Trump for calling a Michigan pastor a nervous mess after the pastor interrupted his appearance at her church because he was attacking Clinton.

Also tonight, Trump is offering more details about his economic proposals, claiming they would spur growth at an average rate of 4 percent. The U.S. economy hasn't seen that strong a growth since the 1990s. Trump says even his own economic advisers didn't want him to make such a big and potentially unobtainable promise.

I will talk all of that and more about with the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile. And our correspondents and analysts, they are also standing by as we bring you full coverage of the day's top stories.

Up first, let's go to CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny with more on Hillary Clinton's return to the campaign trail.

Jeff, what's the latest?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Hillary Clinton admits shortcomings. But she did say today she wished she would have taken some time off earlier.

She also said those sick days allowed her time to reflect and reconnect with she called what this race is all about. But, Wolf, tonight, what this race is all about is a much closer one than she would like.


ZELENY (voice-over): Waltzing on the stage to James Brown's "I Feel Good," Hillary Clinton intent on sending a clear message.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to say, it's great to be back on the campaign trail.


ZELENY: Returning to the spotlight in North Carolina today after being sidelined all week with pneumonia.

CLINTON: I'm not great at taking it easy even under ordinary circumstances, but with just two months to go until Election Day, sitting at home was pretty much the last place I wanted to be.

ZELENY: She left her home in Chappaqua for the first time in four days after nearly collapsing Sunday at the 9/11 memorial. It was this video that caused her to disclose a diagnosis she planned to keep private.

Flying to Greensboro, Clinton was trying to turn the page.

CLINTON: Hey, guys. Welcome back to stronger together.

ZELENY: Yet she acknowledged she may not have been forthcoming enough, the episode highlighting an old penchant for secrecy.

CLINTON: You know, I have been involved in politics in one way or another for many years. It is not an easy business. It can get rough and I have built up some defenses. When it comes to public service, I am better at the service part than the public part.

ZELENY: Her reflection stopped there. She quickly seized on her rival's thirst for attention. CLINTON: I confess, I will never be the showman my opponent is. And

that's OK with me. Just look at the show he put on with Dr. Oz today.

ZELENY: She is returning to the campaign trail to a far more competitive landscape. A new CBS news/"New York Times" poll today finds Clinton and Trump deadlocked nationally at 42 percent in a four- way race, with the Libertarian and Green Party candidates included.

After rallying supporters, Clinton talked to reporters. She downplayed the tight contest.

CLINTON: I have always said that this was going to be a tight race. I have said it from the very beginning. Whether I was up, down, it didn't matter.

ZELENY: Election Day may be 54 days away, but in reality it comes far sooner in top battlegrounds like here in North Carolina, adding a sense of urgency at Clinton campaign headquarters to regain lost momentum.

She said her time at home this week allowed her to think about how she intends to wage her fight with Trump.


CLINTON: From now until November 8, everywhere I go, I am going to talk about my ideas for our country.


ZELENY: And she will be talking about those ideas in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio next week, Wolf, all three battleground states, all three places where she has lost some ground in recent weeks.

She is trying to balance how much to present her positive ideas with how much to attack Donald Trump. But today, Wolf, it was a bit of a rarity. She did not mention Donald Trump by name one time. She knows she has to get some of her positive attributes up a little bit higher -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point, Jeff. Thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny reporting.

Tonight, Donald Trump has released some new information about his health and about his economic plan. But he is keeping details on some other critical matters secret.

Let's bring in our CNN White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's covering the Trump campaign for us.

What's the latest on that front, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Donald Trump is making some moves designed to show voters he can be transparent. Trump released a new report on his personal health today and he is promising to sever his business ties if he's elected president. But there's one area where he is not budging at that moment and that

is his tax returns.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump offered his prescription for improving the nation's fiscal health, contrasting his economic plan with Hillary Clinton's proposals.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The only thing she can offer is a welfare check. That's about it. Our plan will produce paychecks.

ACOSTA: In his speech, Trump vowed to slash corporate taxes, guaranteeing robust economic growth and 25 million new jobs, though he didn't offer many specifics on how he would pay for his plan.

TRUMP: An explosion of new businesses and new jobs will be created. It will be amazing to watch.

ACOSTA: But the GOP nominee is sharing more details about his own physical fitness to be president, releasing a new letter from his personal doctor. That physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, finds Trump is an excellent health, but on the heavy side, weighing in at 236 pounds.

Trump told "The Dr. Oz Show" the only exercise he really gets is on the stump.

TRUMP: When I'm speaking in front of 15,000 and 20,000 people and I'm up there using a lot of motion, I guess in its own way, it's a pretty healthy act. And I guess that is a form of exercise.

ACOSTA: In releasing the letter, the campaign made a not-so-subtle to Clinton's bout with pneumonia that forced her to cancel some events, saying in a statement: "We are pleased to disclose all of the test results which show that Mr. Trump is in excellent health and has the stamina to endure uninterrupted the rigors of a punishing and unprecedented presidential campaign," a theme Trump continued in a talk radio interview.

TRUMP: I can say for this you need tremendous stamina, tremendous. I'm in three different states in one day.

ACOSTA: Trump is also vowing to be more transparent in his business dealings, promising to cut ties with his company around the world if he's elected president.

TRUMP: I will sever connections and I will have my children and my executives run the company and I won't discuss it with them.

ACOSTA: Where Trump's commitment to transparency gets cloudy is on his tax returns. Donald Trump Jr. suggested today that his father may opt against releasing his taxes.

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: He has got a 12,000-page tax return that is under audit. What we don't want to do is create a story where then every want-to-be auditor in the country is going through and saying, what if? What if? There's nothing there. But if there is, they're going to try to create a story.

ACOSTA: On a Philadelphia talk radio show, Trump Jr. blamed a pro- Clinton media that he likened to an execution squad.

TRUMP JR.: They have let her slide on every indiscrepancy (sic), on every lie, on every DNC game crying to get Bernie Sanders out of the thing.

If Republicans were doing that, they'd be warming up the gas chamber right now.


ACOSTA: There were accusations earlier today that Donald Trump Jr. was making a Holocaust joke with that gas chamber comment, but the Trump campaign insists he was only referring to capital punishment.

As for Donald Trump Sr., he has his own complaints about the media, Wolf, but is touting the latest poll numbers showing him pulling even with Clinton or even ahead in these key battleground states. He is slated to appear here in Miami tomorrow to make another pitch to minority voters here in South Florida, a crucial area that he has to do well in if he wants to beat Hillary Clinton in this very, very critical state -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Florida is critical indeed.

Thanks very much, Jim Acosta, in Miami for us.

In the last hour, I spoke with Trump campaign senior adviser Jack Kingston.

Joining us right now, we're joined by the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile, who is on leave. You're on leave as a political analyst, contributor for CNN. Just want to be up front with our viewers on that.

Let's talk a little bit about Hillary Clinton back on the campaign trail right now. Can she turn this message around? Because he seems to have a lot more momentum at this particular point than she does.

DONNA BRAZILE, INTERIM CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Wolf, look, he had four days to get his message out, four days to tell the American people his plan, while Secretary Clinton clearly tried to get her strength back.


You know, when you get pneumonia, when you have allergies, you lose your energy. Your spirit is sapped. She is back. She is strong. She is a warrior. And she knows how to lead this country.

I'm gratified that she is back, because I think unless she is on the playing field like Donald Trump, he gets pretty much away everything. She is focused as she is today on talking about the American people, talking about how to help families that are struggling. And tonight she will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

I'm confident that we are not only going to succeed in doing what the campaign has been doing for the last couple of weeks, and that's talking to voters, getting new voters excited about this race, and getting our message out to the American people.

BLITZER: She was diagnosed with pneumonia last Friday. The doctors say you better take it easy, you rest. She didn't want to do that. She went to the 9/11 memorial ceremony Sunday morning.

We saw her nearly collapse as she got into the vehicle. Was that an unforced error not to tell the American public she had pneumonia and she was going to rest for a few days?

BRAZILE: Over the last couple days, Wolf, I have heard this conversation litigated. I saw Hillary Clinton on Friday night.

And clearly you could tell she was under the weather a little bit. But you know what? She wanted to be there with her former constituents on 9/11. That was very important to her. She did that. And, yes, some people would have rested in bed, but this is a woman who likes to get up and continue to represent.

BLITZER: But you saw those coughing sprees she had in the days before this. Clearly, she was not in tiptop shape.

BRAZILE: Well, as you noted, I just cleared my throat.

When you're out there every touching hands, reaching out, hugging people who you love, you get germs. You get infection. But you know what? She continued to stay out there because she cares about the American people and she loves cares about the American people. And she loves what she is doing.

BLITZER: You think she should release more of her health records?

BRAZILE: I'm not a doctor, Wolf. And what I heard yesterday, she has released more records, more health records, her tax records, her e- mails.

Donald Trump continues to refuse to release his tax return. That one piece of paper that he gave to Dr. Oz, who -- I like Dr. Oz, but I'm like, really? No.

I think Hillary Clinton should focus on making sure that we keep the Affordable Care Act strong for 20 million Americans who have been able to have access to health care.

BLITZER: She has released statements from her doctor, this letter about her health, but she hasn't released her actual health records, which is what John McCain did in 2008.

BRAZILE: I have heard all of the arguments, Wolf. Look, her campaign speech -- for Secretary Clinton, they have released

a lot of information. I think we should digest what we have and to continue to ask for information, when Donald Trump isn't releasing anything but a lot of hot air.

BLITZER: He released a letter from his doctor today as well showing the results of his recent test.

BRAZILE: I saw the one-liners, excellent, healthy, great.

BLITZER: No, but he also released some numbers of his cholesterol.


BRAZILE: I look forward -- well, Hillary Clinton has released that as well.

I look forward to Donald Trump being in the next Olympics, OK?

BLITZER: All right.

Let's talk a little bit about some of these polls that are coming up. And you're a political activist. You understand poll numbers.

The Florida CNN/ORC poll, Hillary Clinton 44 percent right now. But look at this, Donald Trump 47 percent in Florida. That's a significant shift from weeks ago, where she seemed to have a pretty impressive advantage.

What else happened? Why has he developed all this momentum?

BRAZILE: He's been out there for four days by himself.

BLITZER: But this poll was -- this is not just a four-day poll.

BRAZILE: But, Wolf, he has been out there for the last four days. He -- constantly, he is out there taking up all of the time.

BLITZER: She had the president of the United States out there in Philadelphia campaigning.

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

And, look, the first lady is going out tomorrow. Here is what you want to ask me as an activist and you want to ask me about polls. You know what I tell the folks in Florida? And I was just down there just about two weeks ago in Orlando. Keep working. Don't focus on what the polls are today.

Keep getting new voters registered. The deadline in Florida is October 11. Early voting is starting in a couple states on September 22. Keep working. Keep working. Keep working.

BLITZER: In this poll, he's up by three points in Florida.

In terms of the ground game, she has 34 offices in Florida right now. He has one. She is outspending him advertising in Florida by a lot. And yet look at how close it is in Florida.

BRAZILE: It is not really just about spending money and opening offices. It's reaching people where they live, where they work and where they play and pray.

And that -- at the end of the day, that is going to be the difference on Election Day. And whether or not Hillary Clinton wins by two points or four points or six points, right now, she is reaching voters. We are getting new registered voters.

And as we speak, we have Congressman Keith Ellison over at the Democratic national headquarters, along with many, many others. And we are reaching out to millennials. We are making sure that the campaign and the party is strong, united, stronger together.

BLITZER: The poll in Ohio, the CNN/ORC poll in Ohio that we just took Trump, 46 percent, Clinton 41 percent. If he takes Ohio and if he takes Florida, potentially, he is on his way of becoming the next president of the United States.


BRAZILE: But, Wolf, let me just say this; 18 states and the District of Columbia, that's 242 votes. We only named Florida. Or we can have a combination of a Virginia and North Carolina, a Colorado, Nevada.

There are multiple paths, New Hampshire, of course the one electoral vote in Nebraska. There are multiple paths for Hillary Clinton to get to the White House. There are a lot of different highways and byways.

Donald Trump, I still believe, has an uphill battle. We're going to do everything we can as Democrats to build a bigger -- what I call a bigger pool of voters that will come out and support Hillary Clinton as well.

BLITZER: But you agree that if he carries Florida and Ohio, some of these other states you just mentioned, potentially they could swing in his direction as well.

BRAZILE: I don't see it, Wolf. I don't see it.

BLITZER: North Carolina, Virginia, for example.

BRAZILE: Wolf, Donald Trump has had a great four days. Maybe he has had a great two years, because he takes up a lot of oxygen in the room.

I am sitting here. I'm Hillary Clinton's -- I'm the DNC chair. And I'm talking about Donald Trump. I'm not talking about what the Democrats are doing. I'm not talking about the kind of literature, the kind of material, the kind of voter registration, the kind of campaign that Democrats typically runs that allows us to get our message out to voters.

Eight years ago -- and I still have a bad one -- but eight years ago, as you well know, Lehman Brothers collapsed. And we have had a president that has turned this economy around. More and more Americans are working. We have had consecutive job growth, 20 million Americans with health insurance.

So we are talking about Donald Trump every day, while Barack Obama is out there trying to keep this economy moving, keep the country safe and secure. And Hillary Clinton is going to be the president who continues to champion the kind of change that Barack Obama has fought for.

BLITZER: And I'm sure she is grateful for all of your support and the DNC's support.

Stay with us, Donna. We have much more to discuss. We're going to take a quick break.

I want to get an update also on what's going on at the DNC. We all know the hack that occurred there supposedly by the Russians. Much more with Donna Brazile right after this.



BLITZER: We're back with the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile, as Hillary Clinton returns to the campaign trail and also returns to her attacks on Donald Trump.

I want to get an update, Donna, on the hack that occurred at the Democratic National -- you're the interim chair right now because of the hack. Have you been told by authorities that it definitely was the Russians that hacked the DNC?

BRAZILE: Immediately after the attack on the Democratic National Committee, we hired a very, very good company, CrowdStrike, former individuals who worked in the government, cyber security. They are very, very smart.

And they informed us that what they learned and what they found, it had traces and of course links to Russian services. So, yes, we know that.

Wolf, it has been the most depressing, the toughest thing I have ever dealt with. I don't consider myself a cyber-expert, but I do consider myself to be cyber-wary. And I tell all my friends now watch what you put in those devices. Be careful of what links you turn on. And for God's sake, do not take a thumb drive out of your computer and stick it into a computer where you don't know if they have the protection.

We have learned a lot. We are stronger. Our foundation is much better. But, as you well know, some of this information that we are seeing right now is old information that they stole when they hacked into our computers.

BLITZER: Because, yes, some information was leaked just, what, a couple of days ago. I assume you're bracing for yet more documents, more e-mails to be leaked, potentially some pretty embarrassing stuff? BRAZILE: We established a cyber-security task force led by Rand

Beers, who has worked in -- under four presidents. He is a cyber- expert formerly with the Department of Homeland Security.

We have the former chief technology official from the White House Aneesh Chopra, Nicole Wong. We have a great team, Michael Sussmann, our lawyer who is a former federal official.

So, I am confident that we have a great team around us. We have a wonderful, experienced group of people who are helping us protect not just our data, but protect our building and all our other resources.

BLITZER: Yesterday, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul, said Republican political operatives -- he backed away from the RNC -- Republican political operatives, their e- mails have been hacked as well. What, if anything, do you know about that?

BRAZILE: I don't know anything.

But I can tell you one thing. If they hacked into Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, with his system, all of us, all of us -- some of us are not even aware that there is malware or spyware on your system.

I keep looking at your system, Wolf, because every time you turn on that computer and you link up to a system that's not safe, you're vulnerable to the kind of attack that we saw at the DNC.

BLITZER: How has that affected you, Donna? You used to be pretty active on e-mail, social media. Has that changed as a result of this?

BRAZILE: Well, I have a good protection system. But you're never protected enough.

This is something that not just political parties should be concerned about, but individuals, as well as just ordinary consumers.

BLITZER: What about the entire election system going right now into November? Because there is some fear the Russians or someone else could fool around and play with election systems and alter the course of a free and fair election.

BRAZILE: Well, as you know, Secretary Jeh Johnson of Homeland Security has been in touch with all of the secretaries of state.

I know the Department of Homeland Security is very concerned about that. And, again, we are taking prudent, effective steps to do everything to protect our system. But, look, this is not about partisanship.

When it comes to a foreign intelligence service or foreign government hacking into our system, trying to disrupt our election, putting out misinformation, I'm not a Democrat, I'm an American, and I'm a patriot. And I think we should all protect our electoral system in this country. BLITZER: And you're convinced it was the Russians?


BRAZILE: I am convinced, based on the evidence that we received from our sources, that it was Russian intelligence services.

BLITZER: Donna Brazile, thanks very much for joining us.

BRAZILE: And, by the way, congratulations. You're a grandpapa.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.


BLITZER: Donna Brazile joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Much more on the breaking news. Coming up, Hillary Clinton is back out there on the campaign trail after a bout with pneumonia and her race with Donald Trump is tighter than ever.

Plus, Donald Trump Jr. goes off message on his father's taxes, offering a new reason why the candidate won't release them.


BLITZER: The breaking news tonight: Hillary Clinton back on the campaign trail for the first time since her bout with pneumonia. She held a rally this afternoon in North Carolina and afterward took questions from reporters. And tonight she's back here in Washington, D.C., to attend a Congressional Hispanic Caucus event, along with President Obama.

[18:30:27] Let's get to our political panel. Gloria Borger, how did she look to you and sound to you...


BLITZER: ... during the rally and during her question and answer session with reporters?

BORGER: Good. You know, Wolf, I wouldn't -- I think she kind of dipped her toe in the water to get back in today. I don't think she took a full dive. It was -- it was a shorter than usual speech. It was a press availability but limited number of questions. And I think they decided they have to get back where they were before this whole pneumonia thing took them off track, which was everybody who doesn't like Donald Trump knows why they don't like Donald Trump. But she has to give them a reason to say, "This is why we do like her affirmatively. This is why we have to get, how we have to get our voters enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton.

Because there are some numbers that are really worrisome. I'm not talking about the battleground states. I'm talking about her numbers among younger voters that I think are, you know, really frightening for her, and the enthusiasm numbers, which are also scary for her. BLITZER: David Chalian, she's lost a lot of the momentum to Donald

Trump right now and this debate, this presidential debate, 11 days away. She's got a lot of work to do.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: She does. And Gloria's hitting on exactly the kind of work she has to do. And what you said at the top of the segment, that she's going to be with President Obama at a Hispanic organization, function. She needs a lot more of that right now.

Listen, I don't think we're in a world right now of Hillary Clinton cratering in some way. I don't think that's what's happening. I think what happened here is that Donald Trump cratered in August. He's now put a floor under him. Her post-convention bounce came down. We're now in this tight race. But what we are seeing is that she has an enthusiasm problem.

And in the snapshot of time that is right now, we have said for a year and a half her entire mission is getting the Obama coalition of young people, African-Americans and Hispanics out at the levels that Barack Obama was able to do. That's her path to victory. Right now that's not -- that's not where we see enthusiasm. We see enthusiasm on Donald Trump's side, and that is going to be a problem for her.

BLITZER: Did she, Rebecca, sort of make a mistake by ceding the spotlight, if you will, in August? She went on a low-key, relatively low-key, did a lot of fundraising. He sort of dominated the news cycle. Was that a major blunder on her part?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He did. Well, I think it was a miscalculation, because if you think back to the beginning of August, and just reference this, Donald Trump was imploding. He was making blunder after blunder. He was creating a controversy almost hourly. And he was offending a lot of people in the process.

And so her campaign probably made a calculation that, well, they should just let him do that, and they could back away and focus on fund-raising. And of course, they were spending millions of dollars on advertising in key battleground states at the same time, so amplifying some of their attacks on Donald Trump.

But he did get his act together. He started using the teleprompter. He started getting on message more frequently. And then there was a bit of bad news about the Clinton Foundation, which hurt Hillary Clinton with some voters. So I think it was maybe not a mistake, maybe a miscalculation; but with 55 days to go, she's going to be getting a lot of press in the last six weeks.

BLITZER: Don Lemon, you had a chance to interview Hillary Clinton yesterday. The interview aired this morning on the Tom Joiner morning show. And she spelled out that -- some of her controversial comments. I want to play a little clip for you, and then we'll discuss.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINE (via phone): I have said Donald Trump has run a deplorable campaign. He has accepted support and been cheered on by the likes of David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and other white supremacists. In fact, it was amazing the other day. His running mate, Mike Pence...


CLINTON: ... would even call former KKK leader David Duke deplorable.


BLITZER: So she's now saying the campaign is deplorable. She had once said, at one point, that half of his supporters were deplorable. Then she backed away from the "half." What was your impression in actually talking to her?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: My impression was that she realized that some of her supporters were a bit upset with her and had wished that she would not have backed down off those comments, because they actually believed that there are many Donald Trump supporters who would consider their actions deplorable, in their estimation.

So I think that she realized that, and she also realized that it's not smart to attack voters, especially when you're trying to get some of those voters who are in the middle, or who are on the fence. And it's a much smarter political tactic to go after the campaign and the candidate rather than the people who are voting.

[18:35:01] So I think that was something that she realized. And now she is -- that's where that conversation is turning. I don't think she's going to back away any more from those comments. So I think she's going to double down on these comments.

BLITZER: Is that smart, Gloria, for her to double down, if you will?

BORGER: I don't think she has any choice, honestly. She made a mistake. She apologized for the mathematics of it. But I think that she wants to continue to point out that, you know, there are racists who support Donald Trump. These are not, you know -- and I think she wants to continue to say that.

She gave a speech about the alt-right not too long ago. I forget when that was. But you -- and she -- so I think it's not -- I think she wants to continue talking about the alt-right, period. And I think -- I don't think she has any choice. You know, it's an issue. It's an issue she wants to raise. And it's something she believes can, again, motivate voters, because the enthusiasm gap we were talking about...

LEMON: That's where a young voter lives.

BORGER: Right. Exactly.

LEMON: Criminal justice and racism, and that -- she has a voter enthusiasm gap, or a lack of enthusiasm, among -- especially among young African-Americans.

BORGER: Exactly. LEMON: And young people of color. And that's where they live. They think that there needs to be -- you know, that there needs to be, when it comes to racial justice, that the system needs to be overhauled. And so if she's going to get those voters, she doesn't need to back away from comments like that. Maybe she can be smarter about the way she says it, but she needs to double down with comments like that.

CHALIAN: You're going to hear the word "deplorable" now a lot more about specific people like Donald Trump...

BORGER: Right.

CHALIAN: ... or David Duke or other supporters of his, not so much about his voters, broadly.

BORGER: And they want to use it as a motivator to get people out.

LEMON: Right.

BORGER: And I think she's -- she's smart to do that.

BLITZER: Because if she's going to be elected president of the United States, she has to recreate as much of that Barack Obama coalition that got him twice elected. That's a major challenge. He can help, the president, but she's got a lot of work to do right now.

Everybody stand by. We have much more coming up, the questions that prompted Ivanka Trump to walk out of an interview with a top women's magazine. Much more right after this.


[18:41:48] BLITZER: Donald Trump Jr. is going off-message, talking about his father's tax returns. Trump and his campaign -- campaign say he won't release them, because he's being audited by the IRS, even though no law prohibits him from releasing them -- from showing the IRS, showing the tax returns.

But Trump Jr. now says it's because the tax returns would detract from the candidate's message. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: He's got a 12,000-page tax return that's under audit. What we don't want to create a story where then every, you know, want-to-be auditor in the country is going through and saying, "What if? What if?" There's nothing there, but if there is, they're going to try to create a story. We don't need a story with everyone questioning everything, because you know what happens with that. Everyone will take a chance. "What about this? What about this?" And it's just going to change the dialogue.


BLITZER: Did he just acknowledge what may be the real reason that his father's not releasing the taxes? BORGER: Yes, I think he is the most truthful and honest about the

reason that the taxes aren't being released, which is that taxes are complicated. And they reveal a lot about you. And of course, people would be asking questions about them, just as they've done about other presidential candidates. And Donald Trump would be no different.

Which is why some presidential candidates have been smart and get it out there early so that, by the time you're in the heat of the campaign, it's already been asked and answered.

CHALIAN: Plus, did Donald Trump Jr. just get to the very essence of what a voter should be? We should have 150 million individual auditors of these candidates, basically. I mean, he -- of course that's exactly the point in disclosure, is opening up to allow all those questions, to allow every voter to sort of see and make a full assessment of the candidate.

LEMON: Can I just applaud David Chalian?

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead, David [SIC]. Go ahead, Don.

LEMON: Can I applaud David Chalian? Because David, you're actually right.

But listen, you know, I hate to burst your bubble, but that has been talking points from the surrogates for weeks now. They have told me, "I don't think he should release his tax returns, because people are going to go over with a fine-toothed comb, and they're going to be looking, and they're going to try to find a story.

And I said, "Isn't that exactly what we're supposed to do?" The voter's smart enough to know.

And they said, "Well, the voters are going to look and see that he has a low tax rate or he has no tax rate, and they won't understand what it's like for someone who's in real estate to pay taxes. And I said I think the voters are smart enough to understand that, and the voters need transparency. It's not just transparency on one side.

BORGER: I don't think it's the tax rate. Because I think he's inoculated himself against that to a great degree by saying, rightly, that he is in real estate; and real-estate people get really good tax breaks. And there's a lot of people that feel that -- that, you know, his rate may be lower than -- or zero.

LEMON: And the charitable giving?

BORGER: Well, I think the issue might be the charitable giving. And I think the issue also might be foreign investments, foreign entanglements and the question whether, as president, you would have potential conflicts. And those are important questions that I believe people need answered.

BLITZER: So Rebecca, presumably, the argument goes, it must be something embarrassing in those tax returns, preventing him from going ahead and doing what every presidential candidate has done to release the tax returns.

BERG: Sure. Well, here's the problem I have with what Donald Trump Jr. said, Don's point that people would have questions and maybe misconstrue the content of these tax returns, because they would be very complex; they would be very lengthy and extensive and detailed.

[18:45:06] The onus should be on the candidate to offer an explanation to voters, to characterize his business dealings, to characterize his investments, his charitable giving, and to offer an explanation as to why he did what he did, why he made the decisions he made especially if you have a candidate like Donald Trump who is essentially basing his whole campaign off of his business career. People deserve to know those details and he should be the one to explain it to them.

BLITZER: Ivanka Trump, she also caused a little bit of a stir, cutting short an interview with "Cosmopolitan Magazine" after she faced some tough questions about her father's plans for paid maternity leave. When Cosmo asked, "In 2004, Donald Trump said pregnancy is an inconvenient thing for a business. It's surprising to see this policy from him today. Can you talk a little about those comments, and perhaps what has changed?"

Ivanka Trump responded, "So I think you have a lot of negativity in these questions." She then ended the interview rather abruptly.

What was your reaction, David Chalian, to that?

CHALIAN: My first reaction when I read that this morning was, you know, as effective as his adult children have been out on a trail, at the convention, and they are. They are clearly, truly in love with their father, really believe in him and I think are good advocates for him out on the campaign trail. I also think they have been in a bit of a cocoon. They are high level executives at their company, at the Trump Organization. I don't think they are that used to being scrutinized in many ways like this.

So, I think that it's an uncomfortable, unfamiliar position for them to be in. But if Ivanka Trump is clearly associating herself with her father's policy, saying she helped drafted a policy on the child care cost, that she was out there helping introducing it all out, then I do think she is fair game to be subject to this scrutiny that we apply to other surrogates.

BERG: It's no secret they are all closely involved advisers for the campaigns. So, it's not like they are living in some sort of bubble here. They're involved in crafting their father's message and their policies. So, they should be able to answer these.

BORGER: But they have never done politics before. This is the big difference. If you have been in a political family -- and it's not like they haven't been on the public stage, but they haven't been in a political family and they are not used to getting these kinds of questions thrown at them. I think she got thrown, because she didn't know the quote and she couldn't defend it and she didn't want to talk about that. She wanted to talk about the maternity leave policy and the child care policy and that was it. BLITZER: Don, there was an awkward moment in Flint, Michigan, at a church, when the pastor interrupted Donald Trump as he was attacking Hillary Clinton. Let me play the clip for you. I'll tell follow up as well. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary failed on the economy just like she failed and foreign policy. Everything she touched didn't work out, nothing. Now, Hillary Clinton --

PASTOR: Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we've done in Flint, not to give a political speech.

TRUMP: Oh, OK, OK, OK. That's good. And I'm going to go back, OK.


BLITZER: All right. And then this morning, Donald Trump went on "Fox and Friends" in the morning. He called his pastor a nervous mess. Hillary Clinton this afternoon, she bitterly criticized Donald Trump for calling this pastor who was working so hard in Flint, Michigan, over the past year to deal with the crisis there, a nervous mess.

What was your reaction when you saw this chain of events?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: OK, you see what I'm going to do here? I'm going to be objective and say, it's the same as Hillary Clinton saying basket of deplorables. You don't attack the voter. You never attack someone personally. You don't need to have ad hominem of that pastor.

She was doing what she was supposed to do. She said she invited him there for a specific reason, not to give a political speech. I think that's, you know, he got right back on message and didn't do it. So, you have to, you know, commend him for doing that.

So, I need to have that woman on my show so she can deal with some of the surrogates that come on when they immediately deflect to the other candidates. So, I need her to be my interpreter to say I don't need you to talk about the other candidate. We're talking about your candidate. I think she was very effective.

BLITZER: Do you think Donald Trump will apologize this pastor for calling her, in his words, a nervous mess?

BORGER: No. I don't think so. But it is -- it is sort of typical Donald Trump. He fights back. If someone criticizes him or does something he doesn't like, we saw this with the Khan family, he fights back. That's what he has done his whole life. That's what he continues to do, and that's what he did with the pastor because he felt clearly offended by it.

BERG: In that moment, he was so gracious. It took him like 24 hours to be offended by it.

CHALIAN: (INAUDIBLE) guys give him his chance to speak. BORGER: But he was smart what he did in that room. But I think it

clearly graded on him as we heard the next day.

BLITZER: All right. Gloria, Don, David, Rebecca, guys, thanks very much.

Important note: Don will be back with much more on his program later tonight, "CNN TONIGHT". That airs, of course, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

There's other breaking news we're following right now. Police are attacked by a man with a cleaver in midtown Manhattan. We have new details that are coming in right now.

Plus, U.S. war planes take out an ISIS chemical weapons plant ahead of a looming offensive against the terrorist forces. What role will hundreds of new American troops in Iraq play?


[18:55:08] BLITZER: Breaking news in New York City, a map with a meat cleaver was police officers after confrontation near Midtown Manhattan's very busy Penn Station.

Let's bring in our national correspondent Deborah Feyerick.

Deb, what happened?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I can tell you is that police are responding to 911 calls. A man in that area wielding a meat cleaver. They responded, ordered him to put it down.

He essentially ran. They gave chase. They opened fire with tasers. He continued to run.

An off duty police officer, a detective stepped in, trying to stop him. There was a struggle where he heard the detective according to sources was injured in the face. He's now in surgery in Bellevue Hospital not for a far away.

The suspect is also taken down. He was subdued, police officers firing several shots. He too has been taken to a hospital and extent of his injuries are unknown.

But as you say, Wolf, this happened in a very time near Penn Station, which has a very heavily trafficked area. Macy's is in that area. So, you got a lot of people at that time of the afternoon. Police were able to subdue him.

They do know his name. They have identified him. There is a white car, the one that you are seeing there, they believe that that car does belong to the suspect. Appears they did search that car.

Again they were able to essentially subdue the suspect but that detective right now in surgery -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Any political motivation? Anything along those lines? FEYERICK: Well, that is something clearly that investigators are

going to try to determine. It's unclear whether he made any sort of threats to the police officers. It's unclear whether he was -- what he was doing and how people identified him as having some weapon especially at that time of the afternoon. So, all of that right now is under investigation. And we are being told now that police are expected to have a press conference at the top of the hour, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Deb Feyerick, reporting for us.

Other news we're following, new tonight, CNN has learned that hundreds of U.S. military personnel have now arrived in Iraq. Their mission: to support Iraqi forces in a battle to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS forces.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is working the story for us.

Barbara, this military offensive, it could start fairly soon. Is that what we're learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. If it all goes according to plan, U.S. troops may be heavily involved in coming battles in both Mosul and Raqqah in Syria in the coming days.


STARR (voice-over): Near Mosul in Northern Iraq, U.S. bombs hit this ISIS or Daesh chemical weapons plant fifty times.

LT. GEN. JEFFREY HARRIGIAN, COMMANDER, U.S. AIR FORCES CENTRAL COMMAND: intelligence indicated that Daesh converted a pharmaceutical plant complex into a chemical weapons production capability.

STARR: The fight to take Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, could begin next month U.S. defense officials tell CNN. Additional U.S. Special Operations Forces may be sent in to help advise Iraqi units moving on Mosul. U.S. advisors are expected to be closer to Mosul's front line, facing more danger several defense officials tell CNN.

South of Mosul, at the Iraqi air base near Qayyarah, hundreds of U.S. military personnel are now on site providing support for Iraqi units. U.S. jets could soon be flying attack missions from there. Timing of the Mosul assault depends on how ready Iraqi units are and if they don't get bogged down in coming days.

ANTONY BLINKEN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: The big remaining piece is the city of Mosul, which is where ISIL has tried to establish its so called caliphate. That is the next front.

STARR: The administration is optimistic on what may be the biggest test so far for Iraq.

BLINKEN: The Iraqis with the strong we've put together has taken back more than half the territory that ISIL once controlled.

STARR: Getting fresh intelligence is job one.

HARRIGIAN: I am constantly reviewing our resources. Whether it'd be ISR, strike platforms, tankers, people, to anticipate the operational environment.

STARR: For now, there is less optimism on Syria and the proposed U.S. agreement with Russia. In Aleppo, with a drop in air strikes, children are out playing but desperately needed humanitarian aid has not arrived.

PETER COOK, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Understanding those eight trucks have not yet been put into position to deliver the assistance that we think is critically required.


STARR: And tonight, Washington is also rejecting Moscow's claims that the U.S. is not abiding by the cease fire agreement -- Wolf.

STARR: All right. Barbara, thanks very much. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us. That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.