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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Tulsa Police Shooting Stirs Controversy; Protests in North Carolina; Trump: Black Community in Worst Shape "Ever, Ever, Ever"; Report: Trump Used Charity Money to Settle Legal Disputes. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 21, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Urging calm after two African-American men were killed by police officers in separate shooting incidents, one in North Carolina, the other in Oklahoma. We have new details on the investigations tonight.
And race and politics. As both presidential nominees respond to the new police shootings, a civil rights icon is calling Donald Trump on the carpet for claiming that black communities have never, ever been in worse shape.
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 this hour, a new search by the FBI in connection with the terrorist bombings in New York and New Jersey.
Investigators are looking for two witnesses seen on surveillance video who allegedly removed an explosive device from a duffel bag in New York on Saturday. Tonight, we're learning more about the critical evidence against the alleged bomber.
Authorities say there's video showing Ahmad Rahami igniting explosives in his own backyard just a couple of days before the bombings. We're also told the video came from the cell phone of a member of Rahami's family.
Also breaking, U.S. officials say ISIS may have launched a chemical weapons attack on U.S. and Iraqi troops in Iraq. So far, no Americans have shown any symptoms of exposure to what was believed to be a mustard agent. That is the substance being investigated.
And in North Carolina, fears of new unrest in Charlotte after a violent protest overnight following the shooting of an African- American by police. Tonight, the city's police chief says Keith Lamont Scott had a gun, disputing claims he was unarmed and simply reading a book in his car.
This hour, I will get the reaction of the president of the NAACP. And I will talk about the terror investigation with the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, along with our correspondents and analysts, as we cover all the news that's breaking right now.
Up first, let's go to our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown.
Pamela, what are you learning about the bombing investigation?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, tonight, Wolf, the FBI is looking for two unidentified men who they believe will provide critical in fact about the one of the bombs left behind in Manhattan and they're hoping to uncover crucial evidence that they took with them.
The men are not considered suspects at this point, but the investigation is still very active.
BROWN (voice-over): The FBI says the two men they're looking for are seen in surveillance video removing one of the bombs from luggage on West 27th Street in Chelsea a short time before a bomb went just off a few blocks away.
WILLIAM SWEENEY, ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR: They saw the bag on the sidewalk. The admired the bag. They opened the bag. They removed what turned out to be a device, a pressure cooker, placed it on the sidewalk, and they rolled the bag away or carried the bag away on the street.
BROWN: Also today, the first glimpse of the bloody journal Ahmad Rahami was carried when he was captured. It was revealed during a hearing on Capitol Hill.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: This is a copy of Mr. Rahami's journal that was found on his person when he was taken into custody. I know you're familiar with it. He talks about the sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets, praised Osama bin Laden as brother, talked about Anwar al-Awlaki and Fort Hood, Texas.
BROWN: Investigators says the notebook is full of terror-related ramblings, such as -- quote -- "Inshallah, the sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets, gunshots to your police, death to your oppression."
It also makes reference to terrorist leaders from a variety of terror groups, including former ISIS spokesman al-Adnani, killed recently in a strike recently.
PREET BHARARA, U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: The evidence, we believe, shows that this was premeditated act of terrorism.
BROWN: This video of the alleged bomber's backyard in Elizabeth, New Jersey, shows what appears to be scorch marks in the ground. In court records, investigators say a video from the cell phone from Rahami's relative shows the suspect setting off an explosive device in his backyard.
The FBI says you can hear laughing in the background. Two days later, bombs went off in New Jersey and New York. Surveillance video shows what investigators believe is Rahami driving out of the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. He's then captured on surveillance footage at the site of the blast an 23rd Street at 7:53 p.m.
At 8:30, a bomb explodes, injuring 31 people, a blast so powerful, it tossed a 100-pound dumpster more than 120 feet and shattered windows and buildings 400 feet from the blast site and three stories high. Two minutes after the explosion, Rahami is seen walking just a few blocks away on 27th Street near where an unexploded pressure cooker bomb is later discovered.
Twelve of his fingerprints were allegedly found on the device. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Rahami is seen leaving Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel.
BROWN: And the FBI says Rahami is unconscious and intubated at University Hospital in Newark and is not being moved any time soon. FBI agents are guarding Rahami around the clock at this hospital and hope to speak to him as soon as possible, Wolf.
BLITZER: I have been going through -- and I know you have as well, Pamela -- this journal. It's been bloody. The details are pretty shocking. This is like his own confession, if you will.
He writes in this journal, and it's bloody because it's the blood from him when he was shot by police as he was being captured. He talked about pressure cooker bombs, talked about pipe bombs. He said the streets -- he would plant these bombs on the streets and then he uttered the words as they plan to run a mile.
As you know, there was a Marine 5K race that was going to be happening in Seaside Park, New Jersey, that day. Planted a bomb there, but, fortunately, the race started late and no one was injured.
BROWN: Yes, it's really incredible that no one was killed when these bombs went off.
We know that the 31 were injured in New York. But this notebook that was recovered from the suspected bomber after that shoot-out with police, you see the bullet hole in the papers there, provides a glimpse into his thinking and the fact that there was really a mix of terrorist influences here, including the former ISIS spokesman, al- Adnani, Muhammad al-Adnani.
What's interesting with that, Wolf, is that in a complaint that was released yesterday, that's not mentioned, nothing about ISIS is mentioned. Al Qaeda is mentioned, al-Awlaki, the Boston bombers, Nidal Hasan, but not ISIS. So when you look through the pages of his notebook, really a diary of
sorts, there is mention of al-Adnani, the former ISIS spokesman who was killed recently, as you will recall, in a strike, Wolf.
BLITZER: In a U.S. airstrike, he was killed, al-Adnani.
But he also talks about bin Laden. He talks about Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed himself in a U.S. drone strike, the American-born al Qaeda leader, if you will, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. And he seems to have an allegiance to not only al Qaeda, but also to ISIS and potentially other terror groups.
And at one point, he speaks with glee about what happened in Fort Hood, Texas, when Major Nidal Hasan killed all those soldiers there.
And what authorities say is really this a blend here. This is someone who is influenced by various terrorist groups. And we have seen this before, not long ago in Orlando, with the Orlando shooter. He was also influenced by a blend. So, this is, unfortunately, a pattern we're seeing, Wolf.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown, thanks very much for your good reporting.
Joining us now, the top Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: You bet.
BLITZER: What's the latest you're hearing, first of all, on these two individuals? The FBI puts out this bulletin, individual -- unknown individuals, shows the picture of these two guys who were seen walking around that 27th Street. They saw the duffel bag, they opened it. There was a bomb inside. They took the duffel bag and left that cooker pressure bomb, if you will, in a plastic bag there.
What do we know about these two guys?
SCHIFF: Well, this is exactly right.
And, of course, it's very mystifying. They took the pressure cooker bomb out of this piece of luggage, took the piece of luggage away. Now, were they removing the luggage because they wanted to take it, they thought it had value, and they didn't realize what they were taking out of it? Or there are, I suppose, other possibilities too, that they thought the luggage might be tracked back potentially.
That would be a less benign explanation. But clearly law enforcement would like to talk with them. It may be a case that these two individuals, much like those that discovered the bomb in Elizabeth, are the luckiest people around, that they didn't get seriously injured or killed when they even touched this thing. But clearly we would love to see that luggage and have a chance talk to these people. BLITZER: As far as you know, these two individuals, they haven't come
to the police, they haven't come to the FBI, they're still sort of mysteriously missing?
SCHIFF: They're still mysteriously missing, as far as I know.
The other big mystery, Wolf, and I think this will be very telling when law enforcement gets to the bottom of it, is, where were the bombs assembled? And I think that will tell us a lot about whether there were either people who were accomplices or people who were knowledgeable of what he was doing.
It's hard to imagine if those bombs were constructed in a place where other people had access that they would be completely oblivious to what was going on. So that is, I think, one of the big remaining questions in terms of whether others were involved somehow.
BLITZER: Is there any indication that there might have been other bombs in that duffel bag? We know that one pressure cooker bomb was taken out in a plastic bag and left on the sidewalk there. Is there any indication maybe they walked away with other bombs?
SCHIFF: I haven't heard anything along those lines.
Now, I think in the alert that law enforcement put out, they said these folks were not wanted as suspects. And so that would seem to indicate that they didn't think that there were other bombs or that there was a somehow less than benign explanation for what they did.
But I don't have any information about anything else being in that piece of luggage.
BLITZER: Yes, authorities said they wanted these individuals as witnesses. They avoided saying that they believed they did anything wrong.
In the actual bulletin that was put out, it simply said: "The FBI is asking for the public's assistance in locating these two unknown individuals. Closed-circuit television recordings indicate that these individuals allegedly located a piece of luggage on the sidewalk, removed an improvised explosive device from the luggage, and then left the vicinity, leaving the device behind, but taking the luggage."
Do authorities believe, as of right now based on everything you know, that Rahami was acting alone?
SCHIFF: We still don't know. I think early indications suggested there might be others involved. I think it's less clear that that is the case now.
And we simply don't know. But, obviously, not knowing where these weapons were assembled, there are big pieces of the puzzle that are still missing. And, of course, we still know very little about what Rahami was doing in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, who he was meeting with, whether there was any radicalization that took place there, whether there was any training that took place there. So there could be accomplices, of course, who are out of the country, in the sense that they helped him plan or plot the attack.
These are still major unanswered questions.
BLITZER: But why would they say he was acting alone even before they interviewed these two witnesses?
SCHIFF: Well, I don't think they can say definitively that he was acting alone. I don't think we know the answer to that yet.
So obviously it still remains to be seen whether there were other parties involved here. I don't think you can say definitively or rule out the possibility that others were certainly knowledgeable, but more than that, could have been implicated as well.
BLITZER: Why did they wait four days to release the pictures of those two individuals who found that duffel bag with the IED inside?
SCHIFF: I don't know the answer to that. I suppose it could be for a number of investigative reasons.
It may be, if they were initially viewed as suspects, that they wanted the chance to identify where they were, who they were without tipping their hand. I think, in the early stage, very early stage, before they released the images of Rahami, they wanted to pursue leads before going public, and then decided they needed to go public.
They may have felt they had more time to try to track these people down without tipping their hand and, ultimately, not having enough leads, they decided to go public. But that's only one guess as to why they may have used the timing that they did.
BLITZER: Who was believed to have shot the video, Congressman, found on one of the recovered cell phones that shows Rahami apparently testing an explosion in his own backyard only a few days before the terror attack?
SCHIFF: I don't know the answer to that, and I also don't know whether he was testing an explosion there or whether whoever took the video or whether it was somehow set up and he took it himself, whether he was igniting material in a way you would a firework and it looked benign to whoever may have been videotaping this, or whether this was some kind of a dry run.
I don't know the answer to that. I don't know how substantial, for example, the explosion was. But that too is a question I think law enforcement still needs to answer.
BLITZER: A lot of questions need to be answered right now. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, new shootings by police reignite racial tensions. I will talk to the president of the NAACP about these new incidents and the possibility of unrest tonight.
And we're also getting reaction from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Trump raising eyebrows by criticizing the police.
BLITZER: You're looking at live pictures outside police headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, right now, where protesters have gathered.
The city is one edge tonight, after violent protests against the fatal shooting of an African-American man by police. The police chief now says the man who was killed had a handgun, disputing his family's claim that he was not armed.
We're learning, by the way, that President Obama has just spoken with the mayor of Charlotte, as well as the mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where an unarmed African-American man was also killed by a police officer over the weekend.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us now live from Charlotte.
You're there. Ed, what's the latest?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can see, and you mentioned that protest, and people are hoping that it stays calm like this, just chanting here on the doorsteps outside of the Charlotte Police Department.
So, the question is, will it remain like this the rest of the night or will we see a replay of the violence that occurred last night?
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Violent protests erupted on the streets of Charlotte just hours after Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by police; 16 officers were injured, tear gas was used to control the crowds. Some protesters threw rocks and bottles and tried to block roadways.
Five people were arrested. The shooting aftermath was captured on a Facebook live-stream recorded by Keith Lamont Scott's daughter. This is when she discovers her father is dead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They just shot my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) daddy! They just shot my daddy! He's dead!
LAVANDERA: The daughter lashes out at the officers on the scene, accusing them of planting a handgun at the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was sitting in the car reading a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) book. My daddy ain't got no (EXPLETIVE DELETED) gun. Look, plant, because that's what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you all do.
LAVANDERA: Scott's family denies he had a gun on him, but Charlotte police say there was no book and that Scott came out of a car twice with a handgun.
A team of four officers arrived in his apartment complex to serve a warrant on another man and that's when they crossed paths with Scott.
KERR PUTNEY, CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG, NORTH CAROLINA, POLICE CHIEF: It's time to change the narrative, because I can tell you from the facts that the story is a little bit different as to how it's been portrayed so far, especially through social media. So, Charlotte, the challenge is ours. I think the future can be bright, but the work has to be done by all of us.
LAVANDERA: Brentley Vinson, the officer who fired the deadly shots, is also African-American. He has been placed on paid administrative leave. Vinson is a young officer, joined the Charlotte police force in 2014, graduated from Liberty University, where he studied criminal justice and played football.
Several teammates described him to CNN as a stand-up guy. Charlotte's police chief says officer Vinson was not wearing a body-cam and he says other video from the scene doesn't show more of what happened in the confrontation. Community activists are demanding transparency from the police department.
JOHN BARNETT, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: They need to be very transparent and know that they need to be able to inform of us exactly what's going on. And it's still under investigation is not going to be good enough.
LAVANDERA: In Tulsa, Oklahoma, there's anger over the death of Terence Crutcher, shot and killed last night by Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby.
Crutcher was unarmed walking back to his SUV with his arms in the air. The officer's attorney says Crutcher wasn't responding to police commands and feared he was reaching for something inside the car, although it's not clear if the windows were open or closed.
LAVANDERA: So, Wolf, the mayor of Charlotte is pushing for the police chief here to at least -- they can't release the video publicly. It's not clear when the dash-cam videos or body cam videos of the shooting incident would be released publicly.
But the mayor is pushing for the police chief to show that video to family members and community leaders so they can get a sense of what police saw yesterday afternoon and how all of that transpired. When exactly something like that might happen isn't exactly clear.
In the meantime, tonight, as we mentioned, all eyes on the streets of Charlotte to see if there will be an eruption of violence like we saw here last night. Many people calling for calm. So we will be able to see if that -- how the evening transpires in the hours ahead -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We will find out soon enough.
Ed Lavandera, reporting for us from Charlotte, thanks very much.
Joining us now, the president and CEO of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks.
Cornell, thanks very much for joining us.
CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT, NAACP: It's good to be with you, Wolf, even on an occasion like today.
The police officer who shot Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, the police officer, Brentley Vinson, is black. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief, Kerr Putney, is also black.
How does that impact the response to this shooting of this African- American man?
BROOKS: Well, it does not necessarily influence the shooting, because the overwhelming -- I should say, many of the victims of these kinds of hashtag tragedies are people of color.
And so the fact that the officer is African-American or the police chief is African-American doesn't really alleviate the anxiety and concerns of the community. And so that's important to note, but it does not necessarily speak to the anxiety that people feel in the wake of the absence of information, i.e., videotape.
BLITZER: But you have confidence in the police chief, the police chief, Putney?
BROOKS: Well, here's what we know.
What we know is, in policing challenges like the one before us, it's important for us to be transparent, but also timely, that is to say, to get as much information as quickly as you can out to the public.
And so where we have a video of a grieving daughter, but we do not have the video on the father that she lost, that is a problem, particularly where we are in this climate of serialized, viralized violence at the hands of the police.
So it is critically important to get this video out, to get as much information out to the public as quickly as possible.
BLITZER: Yes, we heard the mayor of Charlotte wanting that video released ASAP as well.
Let's talk about Tulsa, Oklahoma, separate shooting. There is dash- cam and helicopter video showing how the shooting of Terence Crutcher unfolded, but there are still questions about what exactly caused that police officer to open fire. What should have happened differently in that incident?
BROOKS: Well, it's very troubling, where we have police officers responding to a 911 call.
This reminds us of the shooting of Walter Scott, where the video camera was from behind, a man being shot in the back, or Laquan McDonald, a young man being shot in the back.
Here we have an angle, if you will, from overhead, but the point being here is, irrespective of the angle, we have a man who appears to have his hands in the air, in a routine police encounter, who loses his life.
That is very, very, very troubling. And the community has every right to be on edge, particularly when we consider the fact that a young black man is 21 times more likely to lose his life at the hands of the police than his white counterparts.
In other words, there's an empirical reason for people to be concerned about police-civilian interactions.
BLITZER: Cornell, I want you to stand by. We have more to discuss, including the political reaction we're getting from the presidential candidates.
I want you to weigh in on that. We will take a quick break.
Much more with Cornell right after this.
[18:31:05] BLITZER: Live pictures coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from Charlotte, North Carolina. Some protesters already gathering on the streets there, protesting the shooting of an African-American man by police. We're watching this very closely.
The president and CEO of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks, is watching with us, as well. We're going to get reaction from him to that. Also, reaction to -- Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to the police shootings, what they're saying of this African-American man.
Let's go to our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, who's watching this serious discussion by both candidates today on these issues of race and justice.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Wolf. Donald Trump appeared before a largely African-American audience in Ohio, saying that he was very troubled by that shooting of the unarmed black man in Oklahoma.
And here in Florida, Hillary Clinton also said she doesn't have all the answers, but too many people are dying that shouldn't.
ZELENY (voice-over): Two more police shootings reverberating on the campaign trail tonight. Donald Trump bluntly suggesting the Oklahoma officer choked when shooting an unarmed black man.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This young officer, I don't know what she was thinking. I don't know what she was thinking, but I'm very, very troubled by that.
Did she get scared? Was she choking? What happened? But maybe people like that, people that choke, people that do that, maybe they can't be doing what they're doing.
ZELENY: At a church in Cleveland, Trump going where he's rarely gone before, criticizing the police whose support he often touts.
TRUMP: That man went to the car, hands up, put his hands on the car. I mean, to me it looked like he did everything you're supposed to do, and he looked like a really good man.
ZELENY: Hillary Clinton calling for new national standards for police using force. In Florida, acknowledging the challenges facing police, even while lending her voice to protests in Tulsa and Charlotte.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There is still much we don't know about what happened in both incidents. But we do know that we have two more names to add to a list of African-Americans killed by police officers.
ZELENY: Crime, punishment, and politics suddenly front and center in the presidential contest, sparking a conversation about race.
CLINTON: We are safer when communities respect the police, and police respect communities.
ZELENY: Trump said the shootings are tragic but one more sign the streets of American cities are in decline.
TRUMP: In some cases, they're less safe than places like Afghanistan. You know, we hear about Afghanistan. Some of the inner cities are less safe.
ZELENY: Surrounding himself by boxing promoter Don King, Trump trying again to extend his hand to black voters but drawing criticism for saying African-American communities are in more trouble than ever before.
TRUMP: Our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they've ever been in before, ever, ever, ever.
ZELENY: Congressman John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement, telling CNN that simply isn't true.
TRUMP: Is he saying that the condition are worse today than the signs that I saw when I was growing up? That said "White Men," "Colored Men," "White Women," "Colored Women"? Is this saying that the conditions are worse than when we were beaten at lunch counters for trying to get served?
ZELENY: Five days before their first debate...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary, Hillary!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary, Hillary!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary, Hillary!
ZELENY: ... Clinton is fighting to fire up the Obama coalition.
CLINTON: I know I don't have all the answers. I don't know anyone that does. But this is certain: too many people have lost their lives who shouldn't have.
ZELENY: Now, images of protests and violence, including perhaps more tonight in that battleground state of North Carolina, Wolf, are front and center in this campaign, just five days before that all-important debate next Monday -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jeff in Orlando, thanks very much.
Let's get back to the president and CEO of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks. Cornell, you heard Donald Trump say that African-American communities here in the United States are in the worst shape they've ever been in. Your reaction?
[18:35:10] BROOKS: Mr. Trump, for anyone to assert that the African- American community is in the worst shape ever, ever, ever, to say that, to assert that with a semi straight face is to demonstrate an insulting degree of ignorance and/or insensitivity; to ignore the fact that African-Americans were lynched, African-Americans were forced to drink out of colored water fountains, ride in the back of the bus, were enslaved in this country, treated as chattel; and to compare it to the challenges of today, demonstrates a profound ignorance of history, but also it demonstrations a profound insensitivity to what we are, in fact, going through at this very moment.
So this is just not the kind of serious, thoughtful commentary on contemporary African -- African-American community or contemporary race relations in this country. We expect more from our presidential candidates.
BLITZER: Cornell, at the Congressional Black Caucus even here in Washington over the weekend, President Obama said he would consider it, in his words, a personal insult to his legacy if black voters across the country don't rally to get Hillary Clinton elected in November.
Will black voters, especially younger, millennial black voters heed that warning from the president?
BROOKS: I think millennials, African-Americans, people from every walk of life, of every hue and heritage, if they focus on the issues, if they focus on the policing challenges before us, the economic challenges before us, even in the wake of this still uneven economic recovery, we should turn out en masse and in the millions.
Where we have literally serialized, viralized violence at the hands of a minority of police officers; where we have our cities teetering on the edge of racial tension, we have to show up and vote. It's not enough to demonstrate in the streets unless we show up in -- at the polls.
And so the NAACP, we are doing all that we can through our state Woke (ph) and Vote campaign to reach out to millennials.
But let me note this: this is a serious moment in the country, where rhetoric is insufficient. We have heard from at least one candidate, a kind of schizophrenic response to a serious policing challenge. On one hand, expressing sympathy for the loss of life in Tulsa, but on the other hand lifting up and praising this policy of Stop and Frisk, which was found to be racially discriminatory.
We have to look past the rhetoric, look at the issues and show up en masse and in the millions at the polls. To do anything less is not so much an insult to President Obama's legacy; it is an insult to who we are as Americans. We have to respond to the challenges before us. And that means voting, as well as protesting.
BLITZER: As you know, Cornell, Hillary Clinton, she's struggled to reach the same level of enthusiasm from African-American voters that Democrats saw back in the 2008 election, the 2012 election. Do you think she can improve her numbers with African-American voters before November?
BROOKS: I will simply say this. At the NAACP, we are nonpartisan, but we represent people, Americans of all backgrounds, who respond to a thoughtful message that speaks to the issues.
And so to the degree to which Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump specifically lifts up the issues that we're concerned about, they have policies, they have proposals, and they speak with authenticity, they can move people to vote.
And I will note this: Secretary Clinton has spoken to the issue of policing with great specificity, with great granularity. On the other hand, we're calling on Mr. Trump to do the same, because the American voters deserves no less.
The fact of the matter is, we are less than 50 days before this election, and we have bumper sticker simplicity by candidates at a moment where we literally have people in the streets, children crying for parents that they have lost to the hands of police misconduct and -- what would appear to be police misconduct.
We need a presidential campaign that reflects the seriousness of our times and the concerns that people are feeling in their hearts and on the streets; and that means we've got to speak with specificity.
And so in this first presidential debate, we don't need to see and hear what we've heard so often from these campaigns heretofore. That is symbolic sympathy without substance, at least in some instances, and without specifics.
[18:40:11] And so we're calling on the candidates to speak about voting rights, to speak about voter suppression, speak about police misconduct, speak about the state of the economy for all Americans, speak about the stake that millennials have in this economy, in their future. If you do that, we can have an election that we can be proud of, campaigns that we can be proud of. To do less than that is to literally sink beneath the standard that Americans have set for themselves and set for this democracy. We've got to do better.
BLITZER: All right, Cornell, thanks so much. Cornell William Brooks, the president of the NAACP joining us. We'll continue this conversation in the days and weeks to come. Appreciate your joining us.
BROOKS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, the Trump campaign struggles to respond to a new report that the Republican nominee has been using money from his family's charity to settle legal disputes.
[18:45:41] BLITZER: We're following the threat of a new protest and unrest after two separate police shootings of African-Americans.
Let's bring in our political team to talk about the implications for the presidential race.
Gloria, implications are pretty serious. We heard some strong words from both of these candidates today.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: We did. And I think what was most interesting to me is what we heard from Donald Trump, because it was different in both tone and substance from what we've heard from Donald Trump in the past. I'd have two things to say about that.
First of all, he responds to his audience. This was a largely African-American audience he was talking to. You know how he likes to play to the group he's talking to. So, he was saying, you know, I'm not quite sure what happened there. I didn't like what I saw on the tape, et cetera, et cetera.
Secondly, obviously, we just got a short time ago before this election, he's been trying to reach out to African-American voters, polls out this evening show that he may be as high as 7 percent with African-American voters. That is high for him. That would be around where Romney and McCain are.
He also wants to reach white voters who don't want to vote for somebody they believe is intolerant or racist. So we see this different tone from Donald Trump and a different substance. It was all blue lives matter before. Now, he's got a little bit more nuanced to his speech. BLITZER: It was actually very true.
At this black church, Don Lemon, he was introduced at one point by the boxing promoter Don King. And I don't know if it was deliberate or inadvertent, he used the "N" word introducing him, which was obviously a little awkward at that church. But I want to get your reaction, how is this playing out there based on everything you're hearing?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Don King specifically you mean and him say thing word?
LEMON: Listen, I think people realize what Don King has become. I don't like to speak ill of people and I don't want to call people names, but he said there are certain kinds of, you know, n-words, or Negroes or whatever, and then he talked about Michael Jackson and what he did.
The last one he used the dancing and shucking and jiving should be one that he should be careful of because you should be careful that you don't become what you fight against. So, I think, in this particular election, there are a lot of people, not just African-Americans, but among them, Don King and other people, who are trying to be famous, who want the spotlight, and they're trying to, again, become relevant again. I think Don King falls in that category.
The people who Donald Trump have in his column for outreach to African-Americans are people who have no outreach to African-Americans before or after Donald Trump. And I think, you know, Don King thought people were laughing out loud when they were laughing at him.
Juana Summers, the statement that Donald Trump made that black communities in the United States are in the worst shape than they've ever been before, then he said "ever, ever, ever." You heard Cornell Williams Brooks, the president of the NAACP, he was responding. Is he potentially in danger of being tone deaf when he utters statements like that?
LEMON: In danger? He is.
JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS EDITOR: I think your last guest put it exactly right. That statement ignores some of the biggest parts of African-American history in this country. Slavery, the Jim Crow laws, as Mr. Brooks noted, the fact that black people once couldn't drink at the same water fountains. Even if you put all of that history aside, which is really, really difficult, he's also not acknowledging that some of the gains that blacks have made recently. I'd point to the unemployment rate, which is now at 8 percent, which is half of the recession high of 16.6 percent.
So I do think he runs the risk of seeming tone deaf. You heard President Obama speaks to that very powerfully over the weekend, suggesting, you know, maybe there's a museum that Donald Trump could go through. So, I think if he wants to raise those numbers and stay around the kind of numbers we saw, as Gloria noted, from a Mitt Romney, from a John McCain, these kinds of comments aren't helpful and they're more risk that reward.
BLITZER: All right. Go ahead, Don. I know you want to weigh in. Go ahead.
LEMON: He's not going to get 7 percent of the African-American vote. It's just not going to happen. I think -- I hate to contradict polling, but it's just not going to happen.
Look, I have a feeling about these things.
[18:50:01] I -- you know, have an ear to the community. It's not going to happen. And I think he -- he doesn't not only risk becoming tone deaf. He is tone deaf.
Look where he gave his first speeches to African Americans -- in front of mostly white audiences. Everyone knows he's speaking to the people behind him rather than the people who should -- you know, he says he's speaking to, African-Americans. He's trying to make people comfortable with voting for him.
It's not going work. At least Mitt Romney didn't insult people by saying what else do you have to lose. And this is the worst African Americans have ever, ever, ever been.
I've lived on this earth 50 years, this is the best I've had and the best that most people in my family and most people I know. There may be temporary setbacks, there was an economic downfall and everyone suffered and African Americans lagged behind with that. But overall, when you look at the employment rate, better for African Americans now. When you look at household income, when you look at the number of people who are in college, much better for African-Americans now.
I don't know what he's talking about. He's living in an alternate universe.
BLITZER: All right. Rebecca Berg, Hillary Clinton, she's calling for new standards in the aftermath of the police shootings. She tweeted, "Keith Lamont Scott, Terence Crutcher, too many others, this has got to end." She's obviously wants to make a strong statement on this. So far, she's having her own troubles attracting millennium voters, especially African-American millenniums.
REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, it goes without saying that Hillary Clinton is not Barack Obama, so we're probably not going to see that sort of coalition among African American voters that we saw for him in 2008 and even in 2012. But she is still struggling to raise enthusiasm among all millennial voters, but also African-American millennial voters and African-Americans in general.
You heard the president come out recently and say that he would consider it a personal insult if this group did not turn out for Hillary Clinton and did not support her.
But she's going to have to make a stronger case to them to not stay home, not go to support a third party candidate. And that's what she's working on right now.
BLITZER: All right. Gloria, thanks very much to all of you -- Don Lemon, Juana Summers, Rebecca Berg.
Don, by the way, will be back 10:00 p.m. Eastern with much more on "CNN TONIGHT".
There's more breaking news coming up. We'll be right back.
[18:56:39] BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump's running mate says a new report about questionable spending by the Trump family charity is inaccurate. Mike Pence didn't actually explain what he thought the report got wrong.
Our political reporter Sara Murray has more on the growing controversy surrounding the Trump Foundation.
What are you learning, Sara?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Wolf, so far, the Trump campaign has not been able to offer any specifics about what they think is wrong in this report that raises some serious questions about how the Trump Foundation has spent its money. One thing is clear: Donald Trump was not interested in talking about it on the campaign trail today.
MURRAY (voice-over): After skewering the Clinton Foundation on the campaign trail --
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It's hard to tell where the Clinton Foundation ends and where the State Department begins.
MURRAY: Donald Trump is getting a taste of his own medicine. The Trump Foundation now under fire. That's after a "Washington Post" investigation found the GOP nominee may have used his charity for some not-so charitable purposes, like benefitting his business interests, a potential tax law violation.
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: Well, the tax law says that if you run a charity, you can't take the money out of your charity and use to it buy things for yourself or to help your own business. It's called self-dealing and it's against the law.
MURRAY: Among the questionable foundation expenditures "The Post" unearthed -- $5,000 to pay for advertisements for Trump hotels, $158,000 for a plaintiff's chosen charity to settle a lawsuit, a $100,000 to a veterans group to settle a legal dispute over the height of a flag pole at Mar-A-Lago. Tens of thousands of dollars to buy portraits of himself, one of which was apparently spotted by a Univision anchor hanging at Trump's Miami golf resort.
Trump's allies quickly came to his defense.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think this is a classic Donald Trump. He wanted to raise the American flag as high as he possibly could over Mar-A-Lago. I think a lot of Americans at this point would applaud that. And, of course, the town or the county said he couldn't do it. It had to be smaller.
MURRAY: The campaign issued a statement attacking "The Washington Post" reporter, saying, "'The Post' reporting is peppered with inaccuracies and omissions from a biased reporter." But the campaign didn't offer any specifics on the inaccuracies or provide any evidence to the contrary.
The Clinton campaign quickly seized on the report, releasing a statement saying, "Once again, Trump has proven himself a fraud who believes the rules don't apply to him." And calling on Trump to release his tax returns.
As for the billionaire businessman, he still insists he's given a lot to charity.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I've given a lot of money and raised a lot of money for the vets.
MURRAY: Even though there's little evidence to back that up. And as recently as Tuesday, Trump hit the trail gloating how he convinced others to foot the bill in the business world. A skill he hopes to carry over to the White House.
TRUMP: We're going to get the Gulf States to pay for safe zones. We'll lead the project. Like it's called OPM. I do that all the time in money, called "other people's money". There is nothing like doing things with other people's money, because it takes the risk.
MURRAY: Now, tonight in Ohio, Donald Trump talked tough on national security. He promised to tighten America's immigration laws, but he made no mention of the controversy surrounding his own foundation.
Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Sara. Thanks very much. Sara Murray reporting from Toledo.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.