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THE SITUATION ROOM

Clinton and Trump Prepare for First Debate; Ted Cruz Flip-Flops on Trump; North Carolina Police Shooting Video Released; President Carter Building A Legacy; Ted Cruz Endorses Former Arch-Rival Donald Trump; Wife to Police: 'He Has No Weapon, Don't Shoot'. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 23, 2016 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:03]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: First video. We're getting a new and disturbing look at the fatal shooting of an African-American man by police in Charlotte, as his family releases their cell phone video. Tonight, there are even more questions about whether or not Keith Scott had a gun.

Boiling point. The National Guard is on alert in Charlotte, with protesters expected back on the streets. Just as violence had eased, will the new video spark more unrest and racial tension?

Late to the party. In a stunning reversal, Ted Cruz now says he will vote for his bitter formal rival Donald Trump. Why is Cruz doing this now after refusing to back Trump during the Republican Convention?

And debate debut. Trump and Hillary Clinton both are behind closed doors preparing for their first face-off. We're getting new details about their strategies for a must-see event that will air live on CNN just three days from now.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, the gut-wrenching first look at the fatal shooting of an African-American man by Charlotte police.

Keith Scott's family releasing cell phone video of the incident after police refuse to make their footage of the shooting public. Tonight, CNN has learned that police say a gun recovered on the scene was loaded and that fingerprints, blood, and DNA on the weapon were a match with Scott.

But, as you can hear on this video, Scott's wife shouted at police that he was not armed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAKEYIA SCOTT, WIFE OF KEITH LAMONT SCOTT: He has no weapon. Don't shoot him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: This hour, the city of Charlotte is bracing for more protests and the possibility of renewed violence as the first images of the shooting become public. The National Guard will remain deployed through the weekend.

Also tonight, Hillary Clinton is urging city officials to release police footage of Scott's shooting without delay. She now plans to visit Charlotte on Sunday on the eve of her first debate with Donald Trump that will air live here on CNN.

Also breaking, a campaign shocker, Senator Ted Cruz announcing his endorsement for Trump. This comes after their incredibly ugly primary showdown and Cruz's dramatic snob of Trump at the GOP convention. Tonight, Trump says he's honored to have Cruz's support.

We're covering all of that this hour and much more with our guests, including the president of the National Urban Lead, Marc Morial, who is standing by, along with our correspondents and analysts, as we cover all the news breaking right now.

First, let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's in Charlotte with more on this just released shooting video.

Brian, what's the latest?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just moments ago, we got a statement from an attorney for the family of Keith Lamont Scott, the statement having to do with why they released this video.

According to this attorney, Charles Monnett, the family decided to release this in the name of truth and transparency. The family is still hopeful that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the city of Charlotte are going to release the videos that they have, those dash cam and body cam videos that they have.

And the family, as the attorney says, encourages everyone to reserve judgment about the case until the facts are known. The video is indeed, Wolf, very, very dramatic and actually could affect the dynamic on the streets of Charlotte tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Officers wearing bulletproof vests can be seen shielding themselves behind other cars. Police call out a warning at least half a dozen times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun!

TODD: Keith Scott's wife begged the officers.

SCOTT: Don't shoot him. He didn't do anything.

TODD: And she calls out that Scott is not armed and that he was previously diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.

SCOTT: He has a TBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun!

SCOTT: He is not going to do anything to you guys.

He just took his medicine.

TODD: She also pleads with her husband.

SCOTT: Keith, get out the car. Keith, Keith!

TODD: But, shortly after, shots ring out.

(GUNFIRE)

SCOTT: Did you shoot him?

TODD: The graphic cell phone video, which until today had not been shop to police or the public, shows parts of Tuesday's confrontation between Keith Scott and Charlotte police.

At issue and unresolved by the video is whether, when Scott exited the vehicle, he was holding a gun or threatening officers.

The video only offers a limited view of what happened and no explanation of why. Scott's family and some witnesses have said Scott was not armed. But police say they found a gun at the scene. This photo appears to show a gun lying on the ground.

A source close to the investigation tells CNN the gun recovered at the scene was loaded and had Scott's fingerprints, blood, and DNA on it. But it was not clear whether that evidence showed that Scott was holding it at the time of the incident.

Charlotte's police chief has said he believes Scott was holding a gun, based on evidence and witness statements, but has said the police dash cam video, which he has refused to release, is not clear enough to show it.

[18:05:02]

KERR PUTNEY, CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG, NORTH CAROLINA, POLICE CHIEF: I know the expectation that video footage can be the panacea. And I can tell you that is not quite the case.

TODD: Attorneys for Scott's family say that none of the videos, from his wife or from police, show Scott threatening the officers.

JUSTIN BAMBERG, ATTORNEY FOR SCOTT FAMILY: You can see what appears to be some type of object in his hand, but he never raises it any point. Actually, when he's shot, it looks like he is stepping backwards.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: And, tonight, the key question is, will the video of -- the dash cam video and the body cam video that the politics have, will that be released any time soon?

The mayor of Charlotte, Jennifer Roberts, has just issued a statement calling on the state bureau of investigation to release that video as soon as possible. The police chief, Kerr Putney, had said that he does want to release it any time soon because he believes doing so might compromise the investigation.

Wolf, the mayor and the police chief have kicked that decision over to the state bureau of investigation. And we haven't heard any definitive word from them yet whether they're going to release that video any time soon.

And, as we talk about that, Wolf, you can see across the street here National Guardsmen getting ready to deploy on the streets of Charlotte tonight. We're going to see what kind of an effect that newly released video has on what happens here in the streets.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you, Brian Todd in Charlotte for us. Thank you.

Right now, we want to show you more of that very disturbing shooting video released by Keith Scott's family. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: Don't shoot him. Don't shoot him. He has no weapon. He has no weapon. Don't shoot him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun! Drop the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) gun!

SCOTT: Don't shoot him. Don't shoot him. He didn't do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun! Drop the gun!

SCOTT: He doesn't have a gun. He has a TBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun.

SCOTT: He is not going to do anything to you guys.

He just took his medicine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun. Let me get a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) baton over here.

SCOTT: Keith, don't let them break the windows. Come on out the car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun.

SCOTT: Keith, don't do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun!

SCOTT: Keith, get out the car. Keith! Keith! Don't you do it! Don't you do it! Keith!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun.

SCOTT: Keith! Keith! Keith! Don't you do it!

(GUNSHOTS)

SCOTT: Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him? He better not be (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dead. He better not be (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dead. I know that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) much. I know that much. He better not be dead.

I'm not going to come near you. I'm going to record, though. I'm not coming near you. I'm going to record, though. He better be alive, because I'm coming -- you better be alive. How about that?

Yes, we here, over here at 50 -- 50 -- 9453 Lexington Court. These are the police officers that shot my husband.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Wow.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, the National Urban League president, Marc Morial.

Marc, thanks for joining us.

MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Thank you, Wolf. Good to be with you.

BLITZER: What is your reaction to seeing and hearing that video?

MORIAL: Well, mostly from the audio, it certainly appears as though his wife was pleading with the police.

And the most important part of that video is, she identified him as having a traumatic brain injury and having a condition or a situation which should have triggered some caution in those police as they responded.

But what this video really indicates is why it's so crucial, so critical, so essential that the video that is in the custody of law enforcement be released. Wolf, compare the handling of things in Charlotte with the handling of matters in Tulsa, where you had transparency and a really swift decision to bring charges.

This is not being handled right. It appears now that the mayor and the police chief are not only not on the same page, but that they passed the buck to the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation and said it's their decision.

We should demand transparency and release of the video, so that there's truth and there's complete information as to what happened. So, seeing this is shocking, because she's pleading with them.

Now, we can't really see from the video really well. But that's why we need the dash cam video. And that's why it's so essential. So, Charlotte and the handling of this is shocking and really is a best-case scenario on how not to handle a situation like this, vs. Tulsa, which seemed to have done a far better job in handling of their difficult situation, because these are no doubt difficult situations.

BLITZER: I know, Marc, you and so many others want the Charlotte police to release both the body camera video, the dash cam video, but you heard the police chief there, Kerr Putney.

He told me yesterday now that the state investigative bureau is in charge, it's up to them to decide. And, apparently, they're concerned if they release the video prematurely, it could undermine the investigation, to which you say what?

[18:10:07]

MORIAL: To which I say that I don't understand how it could undermine the investigation at all.

I think that's just a poor excuse, and it appears as though yesterday the police chief took full responsibility: I'm not releasing the video.

Today, it's in the hands of the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation. Clearly, there's basically a change in the story, a change in who is responsible. What's at stake here is the confidence that people are going to have in that police chief and in his department going forward.

And what's at stake here is that that confidence is being eroded by how this is being handled. This video should be released. You have got a public that's on edge. Now you have got another video with audio which seems to indicate that the wife was warning the police or asking the police or pleading with them not to use any force against her husband, who is now dead.

So, what I say is, I don't see how it's going to undermine an investigation, because by this point in time, any witnesses should have been interviewed, any forensic evidence that was at the scene has probably been analyzed.

Look at what happened in Tulsa. It simply, Wolf, does not take that amount of time to do at least a preliminary investigation, and public confidence is what's at stake. And now, in the 21st century, with these dash cam videos, they ought to be released and there ought to not be a continued stonewalling and obfuscation by the Charlotte Police Department or the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation or whoever is involved in this.

BLITZER: Yes, she did say a couple times, Mrs. Scott, that her husband had TBI, a traumatic brain injury, although I'm not sure -- the cops might have not known what TBI stands for.

She also said he's on his medication. But the gun, Marc, that police say they recovered from the scene of Keith Scott's shooting there was loaded, they say, at least a source close to the investigation tells CNN. The source also says investigators recovered fingerprints, blood, and DNA from the weapon that matched up with that of Scott.

So react to that. Could that change the direction of this investigation?

(CROSSTALK)

MORIAL: So it's important to know whether the gun was in his hand at the time he was shot.

But let's remember, I believe that North Carolina is a state where it's legal to carry a gun. Remember, per se, simply because he had a gun doesn't mean that that's a per se violation of the law. And that's what's happened across the country, as we have expanded -- quote -- "the ability of people to carry guns." It doesn't mean that the police have a reason simply because someone has a gun, there's no probable cause to arrest anyone if that gun is being carried legally.

So, it's material, Wolf. That's why we need the video, so that all of the facts -- what we have got is a drip, drip, drip of facts. You have got the police, which seeming to want to release information and leak information that they think is favorable to their side, which is there was a gun, there was DNA on the gun, there was blood on the gun.

Clearly, that means a forensic examination of that gun has taken place. Yet, on the other hand, they don't want to release the video. So what they're doing is they're undercutting their own credibility by releasing certain evidence, right, or leaking certain evidence through sources, and on the other hand not releasing other evidence.

You see, this is what is happening. This is a manipulation of the facts. And that's why full transparency is what will restore public confidence, so that people would have an opportunity to see what has occurred.

BLITZER: All right, Marc, I want you to stay with us. We're can't continue this conversation. There's a lot more to assess.

Much more with Marc Morial of the National Urban League right after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:18:35]

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, the first video of the fatal shooting by police in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was released by the family of the man who was shot, Keith Scott. Police still are refusing to release their own footage of the confrontation.

We're back with the president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans.

Marc, so this week, we have seen Charlotte and Tulsa. We discussed that.

Are these isolated incidents, or is there a bigger problem in the United States right now?

MORIAL: You know, it appears as, though, Wolf, there's a problem.

We have got to confront this problem of police-community relations. There's just too many incidents. I think there have been several hundred people shot by the police this year already. We have got to confront how you effectively keep communities safe without creating a climate where the community is at odds with the police.

Yes, it's a broader climate in this country, and it's part of this unfortunate cycle of violence we have in America, mass killings, terrorism, crime, police shooting citizens all too often.

You know, I just believe that it points to a larger issue in America. And to suggest that it isn't a problem, to suggest that there's not a racial element is to really be an ostrich and put your head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist.

[18:20:04]

Everyone wants effective policing. Everyone wants safe communities. The objectives are the same. But, somehow, along the way, somehow the climate of now is that the trust factor in many communities -- so, we hear about the cities that have problems.

We don't really talk about the cities that may have good relations, have a better situation. But this is part of a larger pattern. And I think the president's 21st Century Policing Initiative, our recommendations on how to reform police, all of these should be taken very seriously by cities, by mayors, by police chiefs, by rank-and- file police officers, by communities to try to advance the idea that we need to reform the relationship between police and community in this country.

BLITZER: As you know, the first presidential debate Monday night will be seen, of course, here on CNN. You have said each of the candidates needs to be more specific when it comes to how they would ensure what you call each citizen has equal political power.

What would you like to hear?

MORIAL: You know, I would like to hear commitments on an extension of the Voting Rights Act. I would like to hear commitments on what specifics are there to deal with the jobs crisis that exists in many parts of urban America.

I would like to see specifics on reformation of the criminal justice system. I would like to see a commitment to education and to educating our young people, specifics on that, not just rhetoric, not just slogans. What is your plan? How are you going to deploy presidential leadership?

And this idea that's really important in that is, how are you going to heal and bring this nation together for purpose and for cause and for the 21st century?

BLITZER: And you don't believe that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have laid out those plans?

MORIAL: Well, let me say this, Wolf.

I think we should all wait until Monday. The debate is going to probably be watched by many, many Americans. And I'll be like many. For 90 minutes, I'm going to be glued to my television set and I want to hear the responses and certainly hear the answers.

So, it's an opportunity to talk specifics. It's a wide-ranging format. I know there's going to be some sharp exchanges, which we all like, because, in a democracy, we like that fierce debate.

But I also want to hear specifics from these candidates, and I expect that it's going to be an interesting Monday.

BLITZER: It certainly will be. It will be aired, of course, right here on CNN.

Marc, thank you very much.

MORIAL: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Marc Morial with the National Urban League.

Just ahead, we will have more on the breaking news.

We're going to show you all of that new video of the Charlotte shooting. We will break it down with our legal experts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:27:32]

BLITZER: We're back with more breaking news.

The mayor of Charlotte is now joining calls for the release of police videos showing the fatal shooting of an African-American man, this after Keith Scott's family released their cell phone footage of the confrontation.

Right now, let's take a close look at the entire video released today and then we will talk about it with our experts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: Don't shoot him. Don't shoot him. He has no weapon. He has no weapon. Don't shoot him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun! Drop the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) gun!

SCOTT: Don't shoot him. Don't shoot him. He didn't do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun! Drop the gun!

SCOTT: He doesn't have a gun. He has a TBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun!

SCOTT: He is not going to do anything to you guys.

He just took his medicine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun! Let me get a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) baton over here.

SCOTT: Keith, don't let them break the windows. Come on out the car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun!

SCOTT: Keith, don't do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun!

SCOTT: Keith, get out the car. Keith! Keith! Don't you do it! Don't you do it! Keith!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun!

SCOTT: Keith! Keith! Keith! Don't you do it!

(GUNSHOTS)

SCOTT: Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him? He better not be (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dead. He better not be (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dead. I know that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) much. I know that much. He better not be dead.

I'm not going to come near you. I'm going to record, though. I'm not coming near you. I'm going to record, though. He better be alive, because I'm coming -- you better be alive. How about that?

Yes, we here, over here at 50 -- 50 -- 9453 Lexington Court. These are the police officers that shot my husband, and he better live. He better live, because he didn't do nothing to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is everybody good? Are you good?

SCOTT: He good. Ain't nobody touch nobody, so you all good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You good?

SCOTT: I know he better live. I know he better live. How about that I'm not coming to you guys, but he'd better live. He better live. You all hear it and you see this, right? He better live.

He better live. I swear, he better live. Yes, he better live. He better (EXPLETIVE DELETED) live. He better live. Where is -- he better (EXPLETIVE DELETED) live. And I can't even leave the -- I ain't going nowhere. I'm in the same (EXPLETIVE DELETED) spot. (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

That's OK. Did you all call the police? I mean, did you all call an ambulance? (END VIDEO CLIP)

[18:30:06] BLITZER: Let's bring in CNN anchor Don Lemon; CNN legal analyst Laura Coates; and CNN senior legal [SIC] analyst Tom Fuentes.

Tom, what's your reaction to this video? Because you know the family has raised questions about a gun that police say they recovered at the scene. There doesn't appear to be a gun, at least in this video, but a picture we saw earlier in the week did appear to show one by his feet. What's your reaction?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, Wolf, from the angle of that video that she's taking, I don't think you could see a gun even -- whether he had one or not. You don't see a clear view of his hands or whether he had one as he stepped out of the car and at the time he was shot. You do hear the police officers yelling at him emphatically five or six times to drop the gun.

And then later, you know, when the gun is recovered, you would have had this massive conspiracy of, you know, all of these police officers at the scene lying about that gun and about the fingerprints or the crime scene investigation of the gun. Then you have crime lab analysis of the DNA, blood, other material with that gun. So they would all have to be lying. And then all the way up to the chief of police lying.

So I just find it hard to believe that you would have up to a dozen professional law enforcement officers, technicians and analysts, lie about that gun and about the fingerprints and blood and DNA on that gun.

BLITZER: Laura, do you see any inconsistencies between this video, and it's powerful, more than two minutes that we just saw, and the account originally given by police?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And in fact, what Tom is talking about, finding it so hard to disbelieve that these officers are involved in any unlawful action, is exactly why the officers don't want to release the footage.

What they're trying to do is essentially what a prosecutor can do in a grand jury scenario, where they curate the evidence and they try to ensure that their premise -- the person is guilty -- is actually -- becomes a foregone conclusion for the grand jury.

But here, the officer trying to selectively leak and distribute information to suggest that they're not at fault. And what that does is show that there is a deliberate effort made by the police to ensure that the investigation is not the problem, but the investigators, their credibility is not undermined.

BLITZER: Don, what's your reaction to the fact that the family of Keith Scott released this video directly to the news media? I want to read a brief statement from the family -- part of the statement. "Today's decision to release cellphone video of the moments before Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed was made by the Scott family in the name of truth and transparency. The family is still hopeful that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the city of Charlotte will release all available video of the incident to the public so that people can draw their own conclusions about Keith's death. We encourage everyone to reserve judgment until all the facts are known. This is simply one step in our quest to find the truth for this family."

They released it publicly, the video. They didn't apparently release it first to the police department. What do you think about that?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know. Maybe you know more than I do. I'm not sure if they didn't tell police about it or show police, but you're right. They, in fact, did release it to the public. It showed up in the media, and you know, everyone saw it on television for the first time.

I think -- I think it speaks to that statement. I think it speaks to the heartbreak of the family. They -- you know, no one more than them wants to know what happened to their family member. And I think that's really all that they want. I think, you know, from speaking to the attorneys today several times, as they have said to me, "We're not trying to accuse anybody of anything. We just want it out there for people to see."

And I just think they have a lot of questions. And, you know, from what Tom said, you know, about the community, I think that this speaks to the distrust in the community, to the police officers. You know, he's saying that, from the police chief on down, there would have to be a whole lot of people lying. Well, I would tend to agree with him, but those things have happened before. I'm not saying that it's happened in this particular situation.

But that also just speaks to how the community and police distrust each other and that there is this disconnect there and that they would actually come together and speak and talk and say, "Look, we're being transparent. This is a video that we have as a family. This is a video that we have as a police department. This is what we can answer now. This is what we cannot answer." I think it would help everyone, and especially with the protests that have been going on there, and give this family some peace of mind, as much as they can have at this point.

BLITZER: The former New York police department chief of department, Phil Banks is also joining us. Philip, we can clearly hear officers in the video yelling, "Drop the gun, drop the gun" multiple times. Does that bolster their original account?

PHILIP BANKS, FORMER NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT CHIEF OF DEPARTMENT: Yes, it would bolster if it went to a grand jury. It could be that they believed that they saw a gun and, in fact, they may have seen a gun. Certainly, when I listen to the tape of the young lady, the wife, she did not believe that this person had a gun or maybe, in fact, that he didn't have the gun.

[18:35:12] But the bigger picture or another picture that I'd like to bring up, Wolf, here is that what's disturbing to me, as an ex-law enforcement official, is that the lack of tactics that repeatedly is over and over again with these officers.

They put themselves in a position all too many times where they bring it down to a split-second decision, and they have to use force. I would just suggest and make a plea to all of these big-city mayors and certain big-city chiefs to look at the tactics that are being employed. If you, in fact, believe that this particular person has a weapon, that there is also a time when you can take cover. You can withdraw from that particular scene just to make sure everyone is safe. Putting yourself in a position to be shot that you have to use force, I think is a major issue that we need to discuss and we need to take a look at.

BLITZER: Good point.

Everyone, stay with us. There's more information coming in. I need to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're back with our race and justice experts. More on the breaking news we're following, the first video of the fatal shooting by Charlotte police, released by the family of Keith Scott, the African-American man who was killed.

Tom Fuentes, what about the dash cam, the body cam video that the police have? The family has viewed it, but the police chief isn't releasing it. Why hold onto that video now, especially now that this other footage has been made public?

FUENTES: I think, Wolf, that now there has been long enough time to complete the entire crime scene investigation and to interview any and all witnesses that might be involved in this. We're, you know, in the fourth or fifth day now. That's enough time.

And I think that the argument of integrity of the investigation, which even I have been making all these days, reaches a point where it's not going to hurt the investigation to do that. And it may be time, you know, to do it.

BLITZER: So Laura, you agree that, with the release of this other video, the police should just release everything. Is that right?

COATES: Well, my opinion is not triggered by the release of this video. You know, I think it's more than that. It's the fact that the chief of police held a press conference where he described what he saw on the video. He was very specific about how inconclusive it could be, and also about other factors. So the idea that you would just prevent people from seeing what you've already described is very counterintuitive.

But, Wolf, I don't for one second think that perhaps there's some big conspiracy theory. I'm a prosecutor. I don't deal in emotion; I deal with facts. And what these videos show you is that these are just some of the vantage points.

But what neither video purportedly can show is whether there was provocation to engage in lethal force. And that's the question that the prosecutor will have to answer, if they want to try to indict the case or not indict the case. And the eyewitness testimony is the only way to get that, not these videos.

BLITZER: Don, the protests in Charlotte last night, as you well know -- you were covering them -- were relatively peaceful. With the new questions raised by the release of this new video from the Scott family, you believe the police can continue to maintain the peace with the National Guard troops that have also been deployed?

LEMON: Yes, and I think that, you know, well-trained police, well- trained police can always do their job properly and can handle big crowds. But I think that it would not be necessary, perhaps, to do that if they just released the video.

I think that, of course, with the National Guard there, that they can do it.

And, you know, to go back to your previous guest's point, there was also another interview that the police chief did on another network where he said there was other evidence that made him absolutely sure, he was confident, that the initial reporting of what happened to Mr. Scott was accurate, that he had a gun and on and on and on. So he is -- he is also talking about other evidence that he has seen and that other people have not seen, and this video, as well. Even though the video is inconclusive and it's ambiguous, in their words.

So law enforcement are at an advantage now, which you know, they should be, because they're doing the investigation. But they could help with this, at least giving the public some knowledge of what -- more knowledge of what's going on again by releasing the video. And then the police would not have to deal with these crowds, possibly, and angry protesters.

BLITZER: Philip Banks, you're a former NYPD chief of department. If you were in charge of this investigation, what would you do?

BANKS: You know, I would have to have a little more facts to answer that question, but I will say that, being on that side of all, unfortunately, hundreds of these incidents, I just can't fathom a reason why, in your fifth day, that this video is not being released. I would even so go [SIC] far as to say after the first or second day, I don't ever recall a situation where the video is not being released.

I don't want to be in the position as to second guess this police chief. He appears he has a lot on his hands, and he has a great reputation. But sometimes it's just part of the police culture to not be transparent. It's part of the police culture to not release. And we start doing things because we did it yesterday.

That video needs to be released. And I don't know who has the right to say, whether it's the mayor or the police chief, that the video is not to be released. Show it; let everyone make up their mind.

And I think that Laura brought up an excellent point about that video when she talked about, you know, what led to the police shooting was probably not going to be captured on video. We have to -- we have to get that video out. And I would just pledge [SIC] to all law enforcement officials throughout the country, you have to get these videos out to the public because they deserve it. And I don't think you have the right to withhold it.

COATES: And Wolf...

[18:45:09] BLITZER: Yes.

COATES: If I may, just if you would like proof that the Charlotte Police Department is capable of completing an investigation based on a video footage just a few days in, remember, they've already arrested a suspect who is now being charged with having killed another protester in Charlotte just two days ago, and how did they do that? Based on video footage. They're more than capable of resolving a criminal investigation with enough time to find probable cause based on video footage.

Why not here? The only difference, who was the suspect? A police officer perhaps.

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Also, Wolf, if they could release the dispatch recordings between the dispatcher and the police officers on the radio with each other, that would be pretty important. What were they told when they ran that license plate, when they approached that vehicle? What did they know?

BLITZER: All good points indeed. And it's a whole new world out there, with dash cam video, body camera video, all the cell phone video. Police have a lot of video to review right now, and the public does, as well.

Don Lemon, Laura Coates, Phil Banks, Tom Fuentes, thanks to all of you.

Don, by the way, will be back with much more on the breaking news, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, two hours of live coverage tonight. We'll see him then.

There's more breaking news ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn are still building homes for Habitat for Humanity, an annual tradition they started more than 30 years ago.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: We've built only 5,000 houses now. It's been one of the most gratifying and challenging things we've ever done, physically speaking, because we've got certainly older. I was a lot younger when I first started.

CUOMO: He was 56 and fresh out of the White House when he first took up the hammer as a volunteer home builder.

CARTER: We all better go like this all over the world. We're now building one home each day for poor people in need.

I happen to be a Christian. It's a practical way to put my religious beliefs into practice and use, and this is the best way I know to cross that very difficult chasm between rich people and people who never had a decent place on which to live.

CUOMO: Habitat for Humanity fields 1,400 groups in more than 70 countries. They raise awareness of the need for more affordable housing and bring volunteers together to build and renovate homes.

CARTER: The Habitat organization needing some volunteers to raise money, to serve food or to build a house in almost everywhere people live in the United States. Just the idea of volunteerism where you actually do some work side by side with people in need has been put on the forefront of people's consciousness through Habitat. And that's a good thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:52:28] BLITZER: Breaking political news tonight: a stunning reversal by former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. After a bitter primary battle and pointed rebuke of Donald Trump at the Republican Convention, Cruz is now endorsing the Republican nominee.

Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us.

Jim, Cruz's surprising turnaround comes, what, just three days before the first presidential debate.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And this was a surprising move. It does set aside a bitter primary battle to make this endorsement happen. Trump once questioned whether the Canadian-born Cruz was eligible to be president. He speculated that Cruz's father was involved in the Kennedy assassination. But a former Cruz advisor tells me this move is -- at least the hope inside the Trump campaign is that this will help win back some of those never Trump Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): With the clock ticking down to round one of his debates with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump just lured a crucial new ally into his corner. The same Texas Senator, who declined to endorse the GOP nominee at the Republican convention this summer.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution. I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation.

ACOSTA: Now, Cruz says he's backing Trump to keep the Supreme Court from tilting to the left, adding in a Facebook post, "A year ago, I pledged to endorse the Republican nominee and I'm honoring that commitment. And if you don't want to see a Hillary Clinton presidency, I encourage you do vote for him." After the violence in Charlotte, Trump is already previewing his lines of attack against Clinton for their first debate, accusing her of siding against the police.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Those peddling the narrative of cops as a racist force in our society and this is a narrative that is supported with a nod by my opponent. You see what she's saying, and it's not good -- shared directly in the responsibility for the unrest that is afflicting our country.

ACOSTA: The Clinton campaign says that's nonsense. Tim Kaine argues it's all about coming together.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you make the relationship between the police and community more adversarial, you're not going to close down the gap, you're going to widen the gap.

ACOSTA: Clinton's advisors are looking to drive their own wedge --

TRUMP: I'd look at right into fat ugly face of hers.

ACOSTA: -- between Trump and women voters in this ad aimed at energizing a key Clinton voting bloc.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you treat women with respect?

TRUMP: I can't say that either.

ACOSTA: After a busy week of rallies, Trump stayed at the office today, top advisor Rudy Giuliani called it a strategy session.

[18:55:06] Sources familiar with both candidates' debate preparation say Trump is watching videos of Clinton's past debates while Clinton is studying briefing books and Trump's debate performances for ways to get under his skin. While the Trump campaign is setting low expectations for their candidate, the GOP nominee has been trash- talking Clinton all week

TRUMP: Where is Hillary today? Well, they say she's been practicing for the debate.

Some people think she's sleeping.

ACOSTA: Both sides have colorful characters adding to the hype. College basketball legend Bobby Knight it talking up Trump's chances.

BOBBY KNIGHT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think people will really get a look at him that maybe they haven't seen before.

ACOSTA: While the Clinton campaign confirmed they have a brash billionaire on their side in Mark Cuban, who tweeted he just got a front row seat to watch Clinton overwhelm Trump at the humbling at Hofstra on Monday.

MARK CUBAN, CLINTON SUPPORTER: I think Donald Trump is an immediate and present danger to the security of this country. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Both Trump and Clinton will be back in debate prep this weekend, but not before a full two days before their face-off. Trump will travel to Virginia for a campaign rally tomorrow, and the Clinton campaign says the Democratic nominee will visit Charlotte on Sunday.

And, Wolf, we just found out in the last several minutes that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be meeting with both Clinton and Trump on Sunday. So, that's a very big development before this debate on Monday, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's going to be a busy on Sunday.

Thanks very much, Jim Acosta.

We want to bring in Gloria Borger and Sara Murray right now.

So, Gloria, Ted Cruz, he surprised a lot of us, formally almost enthusiastically endorsed Trump today. Given the bitter exchanges they have, this was a surprise.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think, it was -- it was a big surprise. There were people who were urging him to do it. I think for his own political future he was getting a lot of push back in the state of Texas. So, I think this is as much about Ted Cruz if not more than it is about Donald Trump.

The reason people are surprised is because he called Donald a pathological liar, a coward. He spoke before the Republican convention without endorsing Trump. Urging people to vote their conscience and said it was a matter of principle to reporters.

So, yes, you could say people were surprised and stun by this.

BLITZER: Yes. Remember, Gloria, at one point, he even raised questions answer Ted Cruz's father whether or not he had been involved somehow in the assassination of President Kennedy. That's a pretty bitter pill to swallow for Ted Cruz right now.

So, Sara, let's look ahead to Monday's night debate. It will air obviously here on CNN. President Obama is offering Hillary Clinton some advice. He says be yourself, explain what motivates you. What do you think? Are we going to see that from her?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, I think she certainly wants to get under Donald Trump's skin. Look, she wants to prove that he doesn't have the temperament to be president. But I think she also wants to show that she is more prepared, she is more knowledgeable on the issues and try to use that in a way that sort of exposes the lighter debate preparation that Donald Trump has been doing.

I think the big challenge is you are going to have a lot of voters who go into these debates, essentially hating both candidates. So, you also need to give people a reason to like you, to want to vote for you. And that's going to be a challenge for Hillary Clinton. She needs to

prove to people that she does have a softer side. That she needs to show who she is as a person and also give people a reason to trust her. That's been a really big negative against her throughout this campaign.

So, I think both candidates going with really steep challenges, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Jim Acosta is still with us.

The Trump campaign seems to be lower expectations. Is that a savvy strategy?

ACOSTA: Well, I think -- I think so, Wolf.

Earlier this week, they put out this memo, this debate expectations memo saying Hillary Clinton is almost too prepared. Donald Trump is going to be himself. He's not one of these Washington politicians who over-prepares for these debates.

But they have been opaque about their own debate preparations, Wolf. We know they were preparing for the debate today. They didn't want to admit but they were preparing for the debate today.

And one other thing I just wanted point out very quickly on Ted Cruz. I talked to somebody an advisor for Ted Cruz during that campaign. They are still upset inside his world that Donald Trump has not apologized to Ted Cruz for those comments about his father, for that retweet of that unflattering picture of his wife.

So, he's bringing a more united Republican Party to the convention on Monday, but they are still some bruised feelings inside that world and they feel like any other candidate would not have gotten away with those things, Wolf.

BLITZER: And very quickly, is it going to help him a lot do you think, Gloria?

BORGER: Look, it's not going to hurt Donald Trump because the one question conservatives have had about him is, is he conservative? And if you get the imprimatur of Ted Cruz that matters. Cruz obviously feels like Trump is with him on the Supreme Court, which is his number one issue.

BLITZER: That's all the time we have guys. Thanks very much.

That's it for me.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.