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Three More NRA Leaders Step Down Amid Spending Controversy; Manhunt Under Way in Stabbing Death of University Administrator. Aired on 6-7p ET

Aired August 20, 2019 - 18:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: So would new tax cuts make a difference?

Disloyalty. The president just made a shocking claim, that Jewish people who vote Democratic lack knowledge or loyalty. We're going to get reaction from a Democratic congressman this hour.

Tipped off. The feds make multiple arrests, responding to new mass shooting threats, including a teenager who allegedly warned of a slaughter at an abortion clinic. After El Paso and Dayton, are people more willing to tip off police?

And surging Joe. Our new CNN poll reveals a Biden rebound boosted by voters who say their top priority is defeating President Trump. Tonight, the Biden camp is sending a very blatant message to Democrats, that electability is everything.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KEILAR: We're following breaking news on President Trump's scramble to ease growing fears of a recession.

He just confirmed he's looking at a possible payroll tax cut hours after the White House denied that was under discussion. And he's once again picking on a favorite target, pressuring the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.

The president suggesting something needs to be done to boost the economy, while insisting the U.S. is very far from a recession.

Also breaking, the president takes his feud with a Democratic congresswoman who has been critical of Israel to a stunning new level. He says any Jewish voters who vote Democratic show either -- quote -- "a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty."

I will get reaction from Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch. He's on the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary committees. And our correspondents and analysts also are standing by for us.

First to CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta.

And, Jim, the president took these questions in the Oval Office about the economy, but a whole lot more as well.


And, as you said, the president sounded open to the idea of a payroll tax cut while talking with reporters earlier today in the Oval Office. The president said that would not be necessary because of any kind of looming recession. Then the president once again went after Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Minnesota.

And during the course of those remarks, the president said if Jewish people in the United States vote for Democrats, they are showing -- quote -- "disloyalty."


ACOSTA (voice-over): President Trump is ripping into forecast from economists that the U.S. could be headed toward a recession.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the word recession is a word that's inappropriate, because it's just a word that the certain people -- I'm going to be kind -- certain people and the media are trying to build up, because they'd love to see a recession.

ACOSTA: Still, the president revealed he's considering some proposals to boost the U.S. economy, including a payroll tax cut.

TRUMP: Payroll tax is something that we think about. And a lot of people would like to see. And that very much affects the working -- the workers of our country.

And we have a lot of workers. I have been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time. Whether or not we do it now or not is -- it's not being done because of recession.

ACOSTA: But the president contradicted his own aides, who had just batted down the idea a few hours earlier in the day.

QUESTION: Payroll tax cut being considered?

HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: It's not being considered at this time.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump is still touting the U.S. economy as the best in the world, but there are signs of possible trouble.

U.S. Steel announced up to 200 temporary layoffs in the critical battleground state of Michigan. That news came less than a week after the president said the steel industry was humming along.

TRUMP: We're doing steel. Steel industry is hot. The steel industry -- they were dumping steel all over. They were destroying our companies. U.S. Steel now, all of them, they're all expanding. The steel industry is back. It's doing great.

ACOSTA: On gun control, the president also seemed to downplay the need for tighter background checks. Sources tell CNN the president has soured on the idea of new gun laws after talking with lawmakers and the NRA.

TRUMP: A lot of the people that put me where I am are strong believers in the Second Amendment. And I am also. And we have to be very careful about that. They call it the slippery slope, and all of a sudden, everything gets taken away. We're not going to let that happen.

ACOSTA: But listen to what the president said earlier this month, when he claimed he didn't agree with the notion of a slippery slope, an NRA talking point.

TRUMP: NRA has over the years taken a very, very tough stance on everything. And I understand it. You know, it's a slippery slope. They think you approve one thing and that leads to a lot of bad things. I don't agree with that.

ACOSTA: The president also attacked Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who gave a tearful rebuke of Israel's decision to ban the Michigan Democrat, along with Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, tweeting: "I don't buy Tlaib's tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, words for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite."


TRUMP: All of a sudden, she starts with tears. Tears. And I don't buy it. I don't buy it. I don't buy it for a second.

ACOSTA: Then the president expanded on his rant, making a remark immediately condemned by some Jewish American groups as offensive.

TRUMP: I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.

ACOSTA: And just days away from the next G7 summit, the president resurrected his own talk of allowing Russia back in, after the group of world powers gave Moscow the boot over its annexation of Crimea.

TRUMP: We're talking about Russia, because I have gone to numerous G7 meetings. And I guess President Obama, because Putin outsmarted him, President Obama didn't thought it wasn't a good thing to have Russia in. So, he wanted Russia out. But I think it is much more appropriate to have Russia in.


ACOSTA: And getting back to the president's comment about Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a number of Jewish American groups have already weighed in condemning the president's remarks.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, has put out this tweet. We can show it, put it on the screen for you.

It says: "It's unclear who POTUS is claiming Jews would be disloyal to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews. As we've said before, it's possible to engage in the democratic process without these claims. It's long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football."

So, Brianna, a steady stream of condemnations of the president's remarks in the Oval Office coming in this evening after what he had to say about the congresswoman -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Jim Acosta, thank you so much.

We're going to have more on the president's comments about Jewish voters.

But, first, President Trump says no global threat or crisis is keeping him up at night, this even as his secretary of state is acknowledging that ISIS is resurging and may be more powerful in some places than it was a few years ago.

Let's go to the Pentagon and our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, just months ago, President Trump declared that ISIS was defeated.


And, tonight, President Trump is confronting the very cold, hard reality that, under his administration, ISIS is far from gone.


STARR (voice-over): The bloody aftermath of an ISIS suicide bomber attack at a wedding in Kabul that killed 62 and injured nearly 200, it is the latest devastating show of ISIS resurgence, remaking itself to organize, finance, and carry out attacks where security forces are fragile.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo trying to explain the renewed ISIS threat.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's complicated. There's certainly places where ISIS is more powerful today than they were three or four years ago. But the caliphate is gone, and their capacity to conduct external attacks has been made much more difficult. We have taken down a significant risk, not all of it, but a significant amount.

STARR: ISIS' lock on vast areas of Iraq and Syria is largely gone, often celebrated by President Trump.

TRUMP: And we have won against ISIS. We have beaten them, and we have beaten them badly. We have taken back the land. STARR: But the Pentagon has always warned that a victory on land is

not the defeat of ISIS' ideology, which has spread to Afghanistan, North Africa, and across the Middle East.

Today, there may be as many as 15,000 ISIS fighters and operatives inside Iraq and Syria, with the financing and weapons to organize and conduct attacks.

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: It means that ISIS remains a viable terrorist network. They were never just a caliphate.

STARR: And another 70,000 displaced persons are at this camp in Northeastern Syria, including nearly 50,000 under the age of 18. It's prime ISIS recruiting ground.

President Trump finding it tough to meet the promise to bring troops home. James Mattis suddenly resigned as secretary of defense when Trump wanted a full withdrawal from Syria. In Iraq, 5,200 troops are still a backstop for Iraqi security forces.

In Syria, there are just about 1,000 troops still conducting counterterrorism missions and supporting local Syrian fighters. And at least some 14,000 troops in Afghanistan may not be home by the 2020 election, as the president hoped, given the terror threat.

TRUMP: We are bringing some of our troops back. But we have to have a presence.


STARR: Now, President Trump also recently said a number of al Qaeda and ISIS leaders have been killed in combat missions in recent weeks, but, so far, he's not saying who -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you.

Joining me now is Congressman Ted Deutch. He's a Democrat who serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Judiciary Committee.


Sir, thank you for joining us.

REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL): Thanks for having me, Brianna.

KEILAR: I want to begin with something the president said.

This was just incendiary, what he said in the Oval Office today. He said -- quote -- "I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty" -- end quote.

What's your reaction?

DEUTCH: It's outrageous. It's offensive. And it's dangerous. I don't know who the president is talking about. Is he suggesting

we're being disloyal to him? Is he suggesting that he knows what it means to be loyal to my religion?

The president needs to stop dividing people. He needs to stop doing this, using this kind of rhetoric.

I don't -- Brianna, I went to the House floor in March, and I tried to explain to my colleagues what it means, what it has meant throughout the history of the Jewish people when charges of dual loyalty are leveled against Jews.

Now, to find myself having to explain to the president of the United States what it means when someone suggests that the Jews are being disloyal and what that has meant to the Jewish community throughout history, it sows -- it creates an environment that puts Jews at risk.

The president should know that. It is outrageous. I condemn it. And, frankly, everyone who cares about our democracy ought to condemn the president's words today as well.

KEILAR: How do you square that? You have been critical of your colleagues. You have been critical of Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. You have been critical when your colleagues have trafficked -- they have said inadvertently and apologized for it -- in anti-Semitic tropes.

That's on one side. And now you have the president saying this, as he's also trying to make, for instance, Rashida Tlaib the face of the Democratic Party.

DEUTCH: Well, you're right. I have been very clear.

And I think it's imperative that we all be clear that anti-Semitism should be condemned wherever it comes from. And the kind of language that contributes to anti-Semitism should be condemned wherever it comes from. That's why I spoke out against language that plays into classic anti-Semitic tropes, lies about the Jewish community.

I did that on the House floor about one of my colleagues. And that's why I would expect Democrats and Republicans alike would condemn the president of the United States for using language that throughout history has led to very bad outcomes for Jewish communities around the world.

The charge that somehow Jews are being disloyal to their government, that they're not really good Jews -- Brianna, I had a meeting with a group of veterans just yesterday, and many of them are Jews, and many of them voted for me.

The fact is that, just like my father, who served our country, just like these brave veterans that I was with yesterday, when they vote for Democrats because that's who they believe in, that's what they want, that's how they choose to exercise their right to vote, when that's what they do, and the president calls them out and suggests that they're disloyal Americans, how dare he? KEILAR: Is he being anti-Semitic saying what he said?

DEUTCH: Well, what the president is doing is creating an environment in which anti-Semitism can flourish.

When you start to use language like that, when you suggest that Jews are being disloyal to America or to him or whatever it is he meant -- there's no valid reason to say that -- but when you start using language like that, then the white nationalists hear it, and it sends them a signal that it's OK for them to use language that Jews are disloyal.

That's what he does. That's -- and to do that when we're not that far removed from the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in American history, which happened in Pittsburgh, when a shooter went in, and he went -- he was a white nationalist shooter who went to that synagogue the week after they had a sabbath service that was focused on immigrants and refugees.

That's why he chose to attack Jews. And then you look at language that plays right into the hands of white nationalists, we should -- I have said it before, and I'm sorry to be so emotional about this, Brianna, but it needs to be condemned.


The president needs to apologize to the Jewish community. He needs to apologize to everyone who is committed to a vibrant democracy with differences of opinion.

Just because more than three-quarters of the Jewish community chose not to vote for President Trump is not reason for him to use the kind of language that winds up fueling the anger of white nationalists.

KEILAR: Congressman, thank you so much for joining us, Congressman Ted Deutch.

DEUTCH: Thanks, Brianna. I appreciate it.

KEILAR: Just ahead, we have more on President Trump trying to use Jewish support for Israel as a political weapon against Democrats. But will it backfire?

And the feds arrest more potential mass shooters after new threats of violence at a church, a school, and an abortion clinic.



KEILAR: We're following breaking news, including President Trump's stunning statement that any Jewish people who vote for a Democrat show -- quote -- "either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty."

I want to dig deeper in this into -- with our correspondents and our analysts. And the reason this is so problematic is because this is an anti-

Semitic trope. And we have heard about it before, because a Democrat, Rashida Tlaib, waltzed into this trope herself, this idea of dual loyalty, and she was smacked down for it earlier this year.

This is something the president should be very aware of, Jeffrey. And yet it seems to be this unconscious kind of thing that just is coming out of his mouth, and it's unbelievable.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, one of the problems with having public officials like the president, who doesn't read books, who doesn't know any history, is that they don't realize some of the things they say, even if it's unconscious, plays into anti- Semitic or other sort of bigoted stereotypes.

The idea that Jews owe loyalty to Israel vs. the United States, that they are not loyal Americans, that's an old unvenerable anti-Semitic stereotype that statements like this play into. It's also just incredible arrogance, when you consider that 70 percent of Jews voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Are they all stupid? Are they all ignorant? The fact is, I think, you know, Jews can make up their mind like any other ethnic group about how to vote without having their loyalty or their intelligence questioned by the president.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and he's also being criticized by people on both sides of the aisle for this comment, not just the president's usual critics who don't like things that he says or say he oversteps the line.

But people who are on his side are saying, by making this comment, he doesn't realize why they have been critical of people like Rashida Tlaib, like Ilhan Omar for their comments in the past.

So, they're saying it essentially works against the president and his argument as today he was calling Rashida Tlaib on Twitter an anti- Semite after he watched that press conference, which is what led to him making these comment,s, criticizing her for crying, talking about her not going to visit her grandmother.

KEILAR: And there could be criticism of him in the same vein and he doesn't seem to realize that.

What's your reaction when you saw, when you heard this?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it reinforces for many that when the president complains of anti-Semitism, in particular as part of the sustained attack that he's had on Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and other members of the so-called Squad, he's really just doing it for political gain.

He's not actually taking seriously the issue of anti-Semitism. Certainly, we have talked about, and in the wake of the El Paso shooting, we were discussing the administration's lack of attention to the rise of white nationalists and the increasing threat that is posed by potential domestic terrorists who have white supremacist views.

It goes back to Charlottesville, when he equivocated between neo-Nazis who were marching in Charlottesville and counterprotesters from the left.

And so what he's trying to do is create an opening with Jewish voter. To Jeffrey's point, they have overwhelmingly favored Democratic presidential candidates over the last couple of decades. But, in doing so, he's really just throwing this around as more of a political talking point, rather than making any genuine appeal to the Jewish community in America.

KEILAR: David Swerdlick, is that -- is it going to work, or do you see where this backfires?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: No, I think it's backfiring already.

And I agree with everything that's already been said. And let me just add a couple points to it, Bri.

One, yes, anti-Semitic comments should be condemned no matter what side of the aisle they come from. Congresswoman Omar has made some statements that trafficked in anti-Semitism. She was rightly criticized. She walked some of those back.

President Trump, this isn't the first time he's dipped a toe in those waters. 2015, the Republican Jewish Coalition, he was giving a speech and said, I'm a negotiator like you, another anti-Semitic trope. There have been a couple other instances like that that I can't quote verbatim for you right now.

There was one rally where he talked about the pernicious influence of cosmopolitans, which is also toeing the line of anti-Semitism. But there's also a bigger hypocrisy in the conservative movement here.

Whenever you have a debate -- and this debate has been going on throughout the last decade, throughout the Obama era -- saying that -- many African-American conservatives, for instance, say that black people who vote overwhelmingly for Democrats are on the Democratic plantation.

This is like the president saying that those seven out of 10 Jewish voters are on the Democratic Party plantation. And where is the outcry from conservatives? Where is Kanye West? Where is Candace Owens? Where is Star Parker? Where are all these people calling out the president?


KEILAR: I wonder, too, Kaitlan -- and you cover this White House day in, day out.

Just to broaden this out to this idea of such divisive language, we just saw two mass shootings, one of which targeted Hispanics. That was the whole point of the shooter in El Paso. And it made a lot of observers say, is the president going to cool it with his rhetoric which is aligned with some of the rhetoric that we saw of the shooter?

There was this question of, do the words that he says, do they have consequences? And to this point, even talking about playing into anti-Semitic tropes, what has he learned?

COLLINS: Well, I don't think the president thinks his rhetoric is responsible for the shooting in El Paso, nor did it contribute. They have been on the defense inside the White House about that ever since he was first being compared to the manifesto that that alleged suspect wrote.

The question of whether or not it changes the president's tune depends typically on who his audience is. You saw that after the "Send her back" chants happened at the rally I was attending where the president was, where he did pause, he did let the crowd chant that.

But then when reporters confronted the president about it, he denied the events that had actually occurred. The president is really receptive to whichever audience he's in front of, whether it's reporters, whether it's supporters at a rally.

That typically is what changes his tune. It's not typically because he realizes he said something he shouldn't have said.

TOOBIN: And the president is also particularly fixated on the issue of loyalty. You know, he talks about it all the time, always in the context of loyalty to him.

You know, black people should be loyal because African-American unemployment is low. Remember the famous conversations with James Comey, which are part of the basis of the obstruction of justice accusations against the president?

SIDDIQUI: Yes, the loyalty.

TOOBIN: You know, I want loyalty. I need loyalty.

I mean, but it's always -- it's not about loyalty to country. It's not about loyalty to the rule of law. It's about loyalty to him personally.

KEILAR: All right, you guys, stand by.

We have a whole lot more to talk about ahead, especially some very interesting numbers in the polls. Who's up and who's down among 2020 Democrats?

We will show you.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: Joe Biden's presidential campaign is going all-in on electability as our exclusive new CNN poll shows him regaining his double-digit lead over his closest rivals. CNN Political Reporter Arlette Saenz reports from Iowa.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Tonight, Joe Biden expanding his edge on his Democratic rivals and claiming he's the best candidate to take on President Trump.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Donald Trump inherited a growing economy from the Obama/Biden administration, just like he inherited everything in his life. Now, he's squandering it, just like he squandered everything he inherited in his life.

SAENZ: Biden's electability factor at the center of his pitch, in the first T.V. ad of his campaign, hitting Iowa airwaves today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to beat Donald Trump. And all the polls agree Joe Biden is the strongest Democrat to do the job. No one is more qualified.

SAENZ: His wife, Jill Biden, stressing a similar message in New Hampshire, as she spoke to a group of teachers not necessarily committed to her husband's candidacy.

JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: Your candidate might be better on, I don't know, healthcare than Joe is, but you've got to look at who's going to win this election. And maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, okay, I sort of personally like so-and-so better. But your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.

SAENZ: The electability push comes as a new CNN national poll shows the majority of Democratic voters want a candidate with the best chance of beating President Trump, while 39 percent say it's more important for a candidate to share their views on issues.

In the overall race, the new CNN survey has Biden now with a double- digit lead over his closest rivals, as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren battle it out for second place. Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris both coming in at 5 percent, marking a 12-point dip for the California Senator since June.

Warren today honing in on the issue of criminal justice, releasing a plan that would repeal the 1994 crime bill, a measure Biden helped to write.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a direct criticism of a bill that has been very harmful to millions of people. We need to correct that mistake.


SAENZ: Now, Joe Biden started speaking here a short while ago in Urbandale, part of his two-day swing through Iowa.

And, Brianna, there's one other interesting figure in that CNN poll that was released today that shows that there's essentially a three- way race when it comes to liberal voters between Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.

KEILAR: All right. Arlette Saenz in Iowa following Joe Biden, thank you so much.

Let's bring our panel back in to talk about what we're seeing in these poll numbers. This was very interesting, right, what we saw here. What does this say, David, about Joe Biden's durability as a frontrunner?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, you do see Senator Warren catching up slightly to him and Senator Sanders, the two people who have run for president before. But so far, even with two lackluster debate performances, Vice President Biden is hanging in there with demographics that he needs, African-American voters, older voters, moderate voters, and they are sort carrying him to this steady lead in the polls.


That may change as some of the candidates drop out. But it's looking like candidates are going to beat him. He's not just going to falter on his own.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: What's so striking about these poll numbers is that they haven't really changed that much. I mean, Elizabeth Warren has come up somewhat, but, I mean, it's sort of like Trump's approval numbers. They haven't changed.

I mean, People seem to make up our mind in our politics these days and they don't change their mind much. I mean, this looks like the polls when Biden declared.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I knew you were going to compare those two. But also I do think it shows --

KEILAR: How did you know that?

COLLINS: I know Jeffrey Toobin.

TOOBIN: I have been boring to Ms. Collins for a long time.

COLLINS: Not true. But I do think it shows that when we talk about Joe Biden's gaffes, his missteps, a lot of that doesn't matter to voters who also some of them elected Donald Trump as president who didn't care about the things that he had said, the Access Hollywood tape, things of that matter, and I think that has to be -- thats kind of the style that Joe Biden is running on, that pick me, because, otherwise, you have Donald Trump. That's what we saw Donald Trump run on in 2016. Pick me or you have Hillary Clinton.

Now, a successful for him to an extent, will it be successful for Joe Biden is another question.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And it's important to point out that in the new CNN poll, Joe Biden is bolstered in part by support from voters who rank electability as a priority or defeating Donald Trump. And that's really been Joe Biden's pitch from the moment he launched his campaign, where he very much positioned himself as uniquely capable of limiting Trump's term to one -- presidency to one term.

And I think if you look at the message he's making on the campaign trail or delivering to voters, it very much comes back to this idea, he often has this line where the choice for voters is to decide if Donald Trump is an aberration or if he's given a second term and fundamentally change the character of the country.

And so he's really appealing to people who see the urgency of this moment. And for a lot of Democrats, they believe that the most urgent task for the party is not necessarily the big and bold ideas pitched by some of the progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, but, really, just finding a way to get Donald Trump out of the White House.

KEILAR: Jill Biden is making this case. Let's listen.


JILL BIDEN: Maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, okay, I sort of personally like so-and-so better. But your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.


KEILAR: It's not the sexiest, you know, play that she's making there, but the question is, does it work?

TOOBIN: It's also worth remembering that electability is fortunetelling, which is not necessarily accurate. I mean, the idea -- you know, a lot of people thought Donald Trump wasn't electable. That was one of the arguments against him. So, you know, including God knows people like me who were so wrong about the 2016 election, the people who think Joe Biden is more electable may be wrong. This prediction business, as I have learned painfully, is not so easy.

KEILAR: Yes, don't go too far out on a limb. I think we have all learned. All right, thank you guys so much. I really appreciate your insights.

And just ahead, a 19-year-old who allegedly threatened to shoot up an abortion clinic was just in court. We're going to have the details on that.

And other new arrests that may have prevented mass shootings. Is there new vigilance after Dayton and El Paso?



KEILAR: We have breaking news tonight. A 19-year-old accused of threatening an abortion clinic slaughter just appeared in court. The feds making a series of new arrests, attempting to prevent more mass shootings after the massacres in El Paso and Dayton.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is at the courthouse in Chicago. And, Omar, tell us what came out of this hearing.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna. The judge here described 19-year-old Farhan Sheikhh as deeply and inherently unstable as she denied his release. And according to the FBI, Sheikh even at one point told us these alleged threatening posts made on social media were just a joke, but also, he allegedly posted on this account that specifically it was not a satirical one and that, quote, I post what I mean and I will carry out what I post.


JIMENEZ: Tonight, a federal judge has ordered Farhan Sheikh held in jail, calling him a danger to the community. Federal prosecutors say the 19-year-old man threatened to kill people at an abortion clinic in North Chicago, allegedly posting on the social media platform, iFunny. I'm done with my state and their expletive abortion laws, and allowing innocent kids to be slaughtered for the so-called women's right. His attorney refused comment.

Prosecutors say the threat was specific that Sheikh had posted a date later this month as well as the name and addresses of the clinic, saying he would, quote, slaughter and murder any doctor, patient, or visitor I see in the area.

They say Sheikh even addressed FBI agents on the website, saying his post was not satirical. Prosecutors also say his post also mentioned another iFunny user named Justin Olsen out of Ohio. Olsen was arrested in Ohio two weeks ago for posting threats to police, including allegedly writing, shoot every federal agent on sight. He's been ordered held. His attorney cannot be reached.

Sheikh's arrest is one of several in the past few days that came from tips to the police. On Monday, the FBI arrested Thomas Matthew McVicker, a 38-year-old truck driver who they say planted dye carrying out a shooting. In a federal court filing in Alabama, the FBI said McVicker told a friend earlier this month he was, quote, thinking about shooting a church up, or that he would, quote, kill some people on the street.

[18:45:05] Prosecutors say last week, McVicker told the same friend he had settled on a shooting at a church in Memphis, Tennessee. The FBI said McVicker's mother told them he had a handgun and suffered from schizophrenia. Calls to his attorney were not returned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's under arrest currently for making a threat to cause a mass shooting.

JIMENEZ: In Florida today, police say they took a 15-year-old boy into custody after he made threats in a video game chat room that he was planning a mass shooting at his school. Investigators say the teen used a fake name and vowed to, quote, bring my father's M15 to school and kill seven people at a minimum. Police say the teen insisted it was a joke. Those arrests come on the heels of three others over the weekend.

James Reardon, a self-described white nationalist, was arrested in Ohio for allegedly threatening on Instagram to carry out a shooting at a Youngstown Jewish community center.

CHIEF VINCENT D'EGIDIO, MIDDLETOWN POLICE: That kicked off a very intense investigation. He was charged initially right now with telephone communication harassment and aggravated menacing.

JIMENEZ: Police say they found a trove of weapons and ammunition. He's pleaded not guilty.

Last week, in Connecticut, 22-year-old Brandon Wagshol was arrested and charged with possessing large capacity magazines. Authorities say he had weapons and tactical gear and expressed interest on Facebook in committing a mass shooting. He's being held on $250,000 bonds and will be in court in September.

And in Daytona Beach, Tristan Scott Wix was arrested after he sent a series of texts to his girlfriend in which police say he threatened to commit a mass shooting. She turned him in. He allegedly wrote, quote: A good 100 kills would be nice.

He's being held without bond. It's unclear if he has an attorney.


JIMENEZ: And in yet another case, Eric Lin, a 35-year-old Maryland man, was arrested and charged with threatening to kill Hispanics in Miami and in, quote, other cities. Lin made his initial court appearance today.

But overall, Brianna, a very serious issue to keep an eye on moving forward.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Certainly is. We know you will, Omar. Thank you so much, Omar Jimenez in Chicago.

And just ahead, fresh fallout from the NRA spending scandal. More top leaders are leaving the organization.

Plus, new details of the stabbing death of a university administrator and the manhunt under way tonight.


[18:51:59] KEILAR: There is new turmoil inside the NRA tonight. CNN has learned that three more leaders left amid a spending controversy.

Let's bring in CNN political correspondent Sara Murray with these details.

This is really just the latest sign of trouble for the NRA.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right and one of them is a staffer planning on leaving. But the other are big-name board enemies. As Richard Childress who own a NASCAR team and Craig Morgan who is a country music singer. And these guys have both been big names within the NRA. They've been prominent surrogates in the NRA. It's certainly a blow that they are leaving.

They aren't saying anything publicly that they're leaving because of the spending controversy. But Richard Childress earlier this year signed on to a letter raising concerns about the way NRA was spending money. He was particularly concerned about the money they are spending on outside attorney fees.

But throughout the last few months, we've learned about, you know, potential financial impropriety at the NRA spending on things like Wayne LaPierre's suits, he's the CEO of the NRA, his private travel to places like Italy, to the Bahamas. Also learned about the amount of money the NRA was shelling out for its outside advertising firm to pay for things like NRA TV. So, they faced, you know, a spate of negative headlines.

KEILAR: And, of course, gun control advocates look at this and they're just gloating. But is the NRA really in jeopardy?

MURRAY: You know, they are kind of tap dancing over this, thinking that this will mean a weakened NRA. I think the NRA is happy to let them gloat and celebrate prematurely. You know, the NRA has a very strong membership, and all of them are supportive of the Second Amendment even when they are furious with the leadership and many of them are.

And so, the idea you can count the NRA out and say they are not a factor in the gun control debates or not a factor in the next election I think is a little premature. You know, obviously, we saw a sign of that today with the Wayne LaPierre phone call to President Trump.

KEILAR: Could Wayne LaPierre be in jeopardy?

MURRAY: That is a good question. A lot of members would like to see new leadership at the top. He has done a good job of creating a board and leadership at the NRA that will support him no matter what, and making sure he gets rid of the people who won't. I mean, some of the previous board members that we've seen depart left because they raised concerns about the way the NRA was spending their money and then they were stripped of all their committee responsibilities and essentially said there is no place for me here.

But Wayne LaPierre remains a very powerful figure within the NRA. So, I'm not sure the scandal at this point it would take to overthrow him. But they are in certainly ion the midst of a lot of scrutiny both from Congress, as well as from attorneys general in New York, as well as Washington, D.C.

KEILAR: All right. Sara Murray, great report, thank you so much.

And just ahead, a university official stabbed to death in his car. Tonight, police asking for the public's help in finding his killer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:59:09] KEILAR: There are new surveillance pictures out tonight of a suspect in the killing of a retired university administrator in California. Fifty-seven-year-old Steven Chan was stabbed to death in his car at California State University-Fullerton on the first day of classes.

Now, there is a manhunt for the attacker described as a man in his mid-20s with black hair, black shirt and pants, who was last seen fleeing the scene on foot. And police believe he left a backpack with an incendiary device under the victim's car.


LT. JON RADUS, FULLERTON POLICE: Inside the backpack, there was a incendiary device that was located. Obviously, it was not triggered nor set off. Also inside the backpack were items that one would use to potentially use to kidnap somebody as well as a weapon that was similar to the weapon that we believe was used in the actual homicide.


KEILAR: Investigators think this was a targeted killing and they are asking for the public's help in identifying that suspect.

I'm Briana Keilar.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.