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Erin Burnett Outfront

ISIS Leaders Involved in Plotting Airport Terror Attack; New Video Shows Attacker Shooting Officer at Close Range; Trump Running Out of Time to Unify Republicans; Trump: "Disgraceful" Former Rivals Not Supporting Me; Clinton, Lynch Under Fire Over Private Meeting on Tarmac; Widow of Ex-Navy SEAL Killed in Benghazi Speaks Out. Aired 7- 8p ET

Aired June 30, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:09] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next. Breaking news, new details tonight about the suicide bombers behind the airport terror attack in Istanbul. Their identities and how they were directed by ISIS.

Plus, the new video of the attack unfolding one attacker shooting an officer at point-blank range and then a major blow to ISIS on the battlefield. U.S. airstrikes hammering hundreds of vehicles carrying ISIS militants. Why were they traveling so exposed in that convoy? More of the dramatic video ahead.

And is Donald Trump running out of time to unify his party. You won't believe what he's saying now about the GOP and Mexico. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we have breaking news. The terror trail. A disturbing new details emerging tonight about the three terrorists who murdered at least 44 people at one of the world's busiest airports. A source telling CNN the attackers that were part of an extremely well- planned plot originating from the highest levels of ISIS.

In fact, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Congressman Mike McCaul, just telling CNN the mastermind, the possible mastermind of the attack is a top lieutenant to the minister of war for ISIS operations. More on that in a second. This as Turkish officials are still working to I.D. the men themselves. They're showing this photo to people living near the apartment rented by the attackers.

Also tonight, new video of the attack unfolding. This angle from a surveillance camera shows a plain-clothes officer approach one of the attackers. The terrorist then pulls out his weapon and shoots the officer at point-blank range. With the officer down the gunman appears to shoot him twice, two times more before jumping in an elevator.

In dramatic new images are also coming in of the fight against ISIS. A massive air campaign targeting ISIS fighters. The explosions taking out hundreds of ISIS vehicles and militants. We have extensive coverage for you tonight. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon for us with breaking details on that huge operation against ISIS, but I want to first begin with Ivan Watson outside the airport in Istanbul. Ivan, you have new details about these attackers and the days leading up to the attack. Bring us up to speed.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate, but before I get to that, I just want to point out that the death toll grew to 44 today as a 25-year-old Turkish man named Yasin Ocal died of his wounds in a hospital. Many people are still fighting for their lives after this terrible attack and authorities here are still trying to identify some of the victims as this country is still in mourning. Meanwhile, the investigation very much moving ahead. Here's more on that investigation.


WATSON (voice-over): Turkish police say these grainy images show the terrorists allegedly foreign fighters from Russia and Central Asia as they unleash their deadly attack Tuesday night. Newly released footage first obtained by a Turkish newspaper appears to show one of the men armed with an assault rifle. Sources say all three men arrived wearing bulky coats apparently to conceal their weapons and explosive vests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through a translator): These people are not Muslim. They are going to be the occupants of hell. They have secured their places in hell.

WATSON: Reviewing video shot on cell phones and by security cameras including this video which apparently shows an undercover police officer confronting one of the attackers before being shot. While there have been no claims of responsibility, tonight a Turkish official tells CNN the government believes the attack was coordinated and directed by ISIS leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through a translator): The evidence documents and findings we've obtained corroborate the predictions that this attack was carried out by ISIS.

WATSON: The Turkish government now believes the men trained in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria before arriving in Istanbul last month. Sources say they rented an apartment here to plan the attack. Investigators say they found one attacker's Russian passport inside. Across Turkey today, police raided homes looking for anyone who might be connected to the attack. At least 22 people were arrested or detained. Tonight, the Italian newspaper Il Giornale has obtained what appears to be surveillance video inside the terminal, as travelers scramble to avoid being killed, it appears one of the gunmen throws his gun to the floor before picking it back up and racing away.


WATSON: Now, Kate, the apartment that these men are believed to have rented is about seven miles from where I'm standing right now in a working-class Istanbul neighborhood in called Fatih. And let's show you that photo of who we believe are the suspects there because the real state agency that rented out the apartment they have told CNN that police showed them this photo from surveillance cameras and they were able to identify the three men who had been renting that apartment.

Neighbors there have told CNN that the curtains were usually drawn on the windows of the apartment, though they periodically saw people smoking there, and at the window and one neighbor telling CNN that she smelled fumes that smelled like chemicals there a few days before the attack took place. So we're starting to learn more and more about the possible suspects behind this terrible atrocity -- Kate.

[19:05:42] BOLDUAN: And the clues leading up to this terrible atrocity. Ivan, thank you so much. Ivan Watson is in Istanbul for us.

Following this attack, ISIS tonight suffering a major setback. U.S. led forces unleashing a series of deadly airstrikes. This we're going to show you is video of it. Each one of the flashes that you're seeing, you see it on your screen, that is a strike that altogether destroyed 175 vehicles in that convoy. According to a U.S. coalition official, hundreds of ISIS militants were killed. Obviously.

Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT at the Pentagon for us. Barbara, what more are you learning about this operation? That video was pretty amazing.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: There were actually two operations, Kate. One in Fallujah, one in Ramadi. Both of these of course to the west of Baghdad. ISIS clearly on the run now that the Iraqis have seized back Fallujah and Ramadi several months ago now and really pushing ISIS out. The indications are in Fallujah that ISIS was felt so trapped by the Iraqi liberation of the city they made a run for it. They burst through a cordon on the southern edge of the city and tried to make a run for it in the desert and that is when U.S. and Iraqi warplanes chased them down.

There were some international aid groups in the area who were absolutely terrified by what happened. They were very close to the action. U.S. officials tell us they were as careful as they could be not to involve civilians to be as precise as they could be in targeting ISIS. The estimates by the Iraqis are significantly higher than the U.S. There's really no way to absolutely verify it. The estimates range upwards of 300 ISIS fighters killed but of course those are just estimates and no way of really telling how many were inside each vehicle -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

And also today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, he said that he wants to start the offensive to take back Raqqa from ISIS. This of course is a self-proclaimed ISIS capital in Syria and we are learning that the Istanbul attack was directed from. What does it mean?

STARR: Well, Raqqa has been in the Pentagon crosshairs for a while, but I have to tell you, today Defense Secretary Ash Carter was more blunt, more direct than I think any of us have seen him be on this point saying that they wanted to get to Raqqa just as fast as they could. No timetable yet, but he's making it clear very much that is next on the to-do list. He wants to isolate, collapse Raqqa and get that no longer to be thought of as the capital of the ISIS caliphate -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Barbara Starr. Thank you so much, Barbara. Great to see you.

STARR: OUTFRONT with me now, Bob Baer, former CIA operative, Michael Balboni, former New York State Homeland Security advisor and Michael Weiss, a senior editor of "The Daily Beast" and co-author of the book "ISIS: Inside The Army of Terror."

Guys, thank you so much for being here.

Bob, this attack was directed by ISIS leaders and not just inspired by ISIS. Do you see that difference in how they pulled off this attack and what more we're learning today?

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Yes, Kate. It's what was well organized. There was a central command for this. The fact that they had a safe house in a poor neighborhood in Istanbul. They were probably cooking the explosives there and the neighbors were right about the fumes. The fact that they had folding Kalashnikovs which easily fit into gym bags and they used taxis. The discipline of the attack was frankly, very, very good ask it doesn't surprise me at all. This was not a lone wolf attack.


BAER: And they did this on purpose because as Michael has been talking about, they're really mad at the Turks and this is their way of striking back so it all makes sense. This is what happens when you've got so much violence on your border like Turkey.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, in that detail that Bob's talking about, I find that an important detail, as well, Michael. I mean, you have got the neighbors around this apartment building saying they smelled chemicals for days leading up to that. That seems something is going on in there. What does that tell you?

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they also smell tobacco smoke which by the way is illegal under ISIS control. They're not allowed to smoke cigarettes. You could be thrown into a cage for several days as punishment. When these guys go abroad they tend to -- they act out and they tend to indulge in all of the temptations that they're not allowed under the so-called caliphate. Look, the same thing was seen or experienced in Brussels and there were strange smells coming from the apartment used by the Salah Abdeslam and some of the planners of that attack.

This is all fitting very characteristic sort of m.o., I think. Particularly when it comes to ISIS-directed attacks as opposed to the ISIS-inspired. ISIS-inspired attacks tend to be keystone cop affairs. They usually end in farce rather than tragedy thankfully because you've got idiots who are talking to undercover FBI agents on the internet.

[19:10:22] BOLDUAN: With no training.

WEISS: With no training. And it was very clear to me from the start when you see the CCTV footage they had combat experience. They had been trained. I'm waiting to see, I mean, we're getting some indication of who the suspects are. One of them is from Dagestan and the Russian Federation and other from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. I wonder if any of them served in their militaries before they went over to Syria and joined ISIS. This would not be uncommon. The ISIS war minister who was killed a few months ago in a coalition air strike.


WEISS: Abu Omar al-Shishani, the Chechen, as he was called. The Georgian national was part of Georgia's special forces, trained by the United States, fought against Russia in the 2008 summer war between Georgia and Russia and it is no wonder that he was one of the most sophisticated and capable battlefield commanders ISIS ever had.

BOLDUAN: When we're learning -- the more you are learning about the timeline, it played out Michael, you've got one explosion was diversion. The second to then where the attacks to kill. What's your take from that? Is this a new level of sophistication that we're seeing in these attacks?

MICHAEL BALBONI, FORMER NEW YORK STATE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: So what we've seen in the Middle East in particular is that you can have secondary attacks that you lies the initial explosion to be able to draw people out. But what you have is tremendous planning here. They knew when the planes were coming in. You know, when they can maximize a number of individuals that have coming in from other flights and they waited patiently and when they fanned out they went to different checkpoints so that they could maximize what the impact would be, they didn't just go in there in the middle and just to pull their cords.


BALBONI: They used small arms fire and that when combined the active shooter and the improvised explosive device has always been a very deadly combination as we've seen in other attacks like Mumbai.

BOLDUAN: These guys are well trained and directed. They were directed. That's what we're learning. How many other people -- do you think there has to be other people on the ground that were helping them directly, Bob? And if so, are they still in Turkey?

BAER: Oh, I'm sure they're in Turkey -- they could be. There's a huge network. You have a million Syrian refugees. The Turks can't keep track of them. You have lot of arms coming across the border. There's no way that you can completely seal that border with Syria. We still don't know how that one attacker was shot so many times and yet had the presence of mind to pull his switch.

BOLDUAN: Right. BAER: Detonate it. It is going to take time to get all of this. Or sometimes they take these guys and they tell them that there's a safety switch that turns the vest off, but in fact, it explodes the vest. I mean, that's the sort of sophistication these terrorists bring to an attack like this and, yes, they are military trained. They're used to fire. The fact that they executed a policeman, you know, very coldly tells me that these guys have been on the battle front and probably for a long time.

BOLDUAN: Do you see anything, Michael, as we learned more about the timeline that someone dropped the ball or was this a well-planned attack?

BALBONI: Obviously, they come from outside of the target area. They create a network and the question now, of course, is what else is out there?


BALBONI: What other caches do they have out there? And they bring in trained people. How long were they there? Who did they interact with? What were the signs? We've been talking about the taxi driver. You know, what could they have seen? The heavy coats. But it is so hard and we could look back and say a-ha. That should have been a moment.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

BALBONI: But when it happens, unfolds so quickly, it's so difficult to be able to sit there and say, that's the moment in which we should have done X, we should have stopped this. Very, very difficult.

BOLDUAN: Gentlemen, it's great to see you. Stick with us. We have much more to discuss.

OUTFRONT next, new details on the identities of the suicide bombers and what one had in common with the Boston bombers.

Plus, Donald Trump has a new message for top Republicans who have not endorsed him, he'd like to dust off his famous tagline with them, you're fired.

And Bill Clinton's private run-in with U.S. Attorney General -- with the U.S. Attorney General on a tarmac in Phoenix. A coincidence, they say. With Hillary Clinton under federal investigation, what were they thinking?


[19:17:38] BOLDUAN: Breaking news. Congressman Mike McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee just revealing to CNN that the possible mastermind behind the deadly airport attack is a Chechen rebel who quickly rose to the ranks of ISIS to become a top lieutenant within the organization. This coming as officials tells CNN that the airport bombers are from generally the same region, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, an area that analysts fear is a breeding ground for terrorists including the Boston bombers.

Deborah Feyerick is OUTFRONT.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The three men who carried out the deadly suicide bombings at the Ataturk Airport entered Turkey from Syria about a month before the attacks. A Turkish government source telling CNN there's strong evidence ISIS leaders were involved in planning the attack at the international terminal and a nearby parking lot.

WILLIAMS BRANIFF, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, START: Even after the one assailant was shot, despite the fact that there were no victims in his immediate proximity, he still killed himself using his suicide vest. These are people who were committed to seeing this attack out to its completion.

FEYERICK: Authorities found a Russian passport from Dagestan believed to have belonged to one of the bombers. The other men from the former Soviet Republics of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. ISIS puts foreign fighters into regional brigades based on their nationalities. It's possible the men served together says terror expert William Braniff.

BRANIFF: It's very likely that because of things like common language these individuals would have fought together as a part of ISIS. They would be then maybe more trustworthy to send across the border to conduct this kind of high-impact operation because they have a shared history and they can act as a cell.

FEYERICK: If Dagestan sounds familiar it's because it's the same war- torn regions associated with the two Boston marathon bombers. Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev came to the United States after living in Dagestan where authorities believe Tamerlan became radicalized. There are as many as 7,000 foreign fighters who have travelled from Russia and the former Soviet Republics to join ISIS. More than half are thought to be from Dagestan and neighboring Chechnya where Islamist leaders have pledged loyalty to ISIS. Experts say hitting a major tourist destination in Turkey which borders Syria is not surprising.

BRANIFF: Their modus operandi is to destabilize regimes, primarily in the Muslim world and so destabilizing Turkey is a really, really good way to remain strategically relevant even if you're losing terrain in Iraq and Syria.


FEYERICK: And another reason that these battle-hardened terrorists may have targeted Turkey is that the country has been cracking down and better patrolling the airports looking for these foreign fighters who have been crossing back and forth so readily. That does not sit well with ISIS which maybe showing Turkey that there is a price to pay for any kind of crackdown whatsoever -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Deb, great to see you. Thank you so much. We'll bring back our panel right now to discuss. Michael, we've been

talking about this guy, this possible mastermind that Chairman Mike McCaul was just discussing in "The Situation Room." Who is this guy? You know this guy. Does it surprise you that he would be behind it?

WEISS: No. Akhmed Chataev, he is designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2015 for being -- essentially being the top recruiter for ISIS inside Russia. There is a famous case that sort lit up the Moscow press core for several months of a young middle class girl, an attendee of Moscow State University studying comparative religion I think who was recruited by this man allegedly to go off and fight in Syria and was arrested and this was sort of a shock to the Russian society.

According to Kommersant which is sort of Russia's version of the Financial Times, although closely tied to the Russian government and take it with a pinch of salt. This guy has arrested by three different countries and let go. And they are Georgia, Ukraine and Sweden. Typically on gun charges, he is known as the one-armed man. He apparently got into a fire fight with Georgian Security Forces maybe in 2012 and lost actually the physical existence of one of his arms.

He's a notorious figure, and there's a lot of ambiguity surrounding this guy. The Russian counterterrorism services with the Russian security services don't really fight terror the way that we do in the west. It's been reported by a number of publications, the Novaya Gazeta which is still the independent newspaper in Russia, Reuters, the international crisis group and even myself at "The Daily Beast," up until about 2013, the FSB, which is Russia's, you know, FBI, what he's sending jihadists from Dagestan into Syria so that they can blow stuff up in the Middle East rather than in the Russia. And this is right before the Sochi winter Olympics. So, the idea was keep Russia safe and let them, you know, wreak havoc else.

[19:22:26] BOLDUAN: It kind of seems gee, whiz it doesn't seem a surprise at all that this guy might be the mastermind behind it. Bob, you know this region very well. Some of the guys and so many of the guys that are joining ISIS are coming from this region, why aren't we hearing more about it? Why isn't it more of a focus?

BAER: Well, because the Chechens cater such a mystery to us. When I was in the CIA, I was in charge of the caucuses, Central Asia and the whole area down there and we desperately tried to get inside the Chechen organizations and they were active many years before the Islamic State was founded coming down the Pankisi Valley and I used to work with the Georgian police and we just begged them to get sources and they couldn't do it.

And they were terrified of Chechens. They were armed, they were vindictive, they're good fighters and the fact that the Russians either killed them in the civil wars in Chechnya or sent them to Syria tells you how really nasty these people are and I don't mean that ethnically. They're just really, really, tough, tough people and the way to get rid of them as Michael was saying, is just send them to Syria and hope they're killed. BOLDUAN: And we're maybe seeing some of the results of that.

Michael, so Boston bombers, connection to the region. Now you've got this, these attacks has connections to the region. How concerned are U.S. officials? What are you hearing from the U.S. side? How concerned are they about the region here at home?

BALBONI: So, if you take a look at the literature that's been out there from ISIS and al Qaeda, the inspire magazine, Ramadan has appeared when they said, you know, if you come and do martyrdom during this period of time, it's going to be even enhanced in terms of what your reward is going to be. So officials in the security world, particularly with critical infrastructure airports and transportation hubs have been up on this and what they try to do is change up the security posture. So they have roving teams. They have rapid response teams. A lot more bomb dogs and bomb dog units and they try to push out the perimeter.

They're calling all of their contacts and there's a huge use of undercovers so they've been doing that for this period. The question, I just got off the phone with some of my sources who are working over this weekend and on one hand you sit there and say, we're ready, we see this across the seas. We'll going to be prepared and on the other sense is, wait a minute. This is the July 4th weekend, it's the end of Ramadan, it's July 5th, could they really afford not to have something happen and we're kind of fragile because of all of the all the people traveling.


BALBONI: So that's really the challenge that we face right now.

BOLDUAN: And the balance of people wanting to be safe when they head to the airport but not waiting too long of a line to keep them from getting on the flight.

BALBONI: That was the tension --

BOLDUAN: It absolutely is.

Gentlemen, great to see you. Thank you very, very much. Bob, great to see you. Thank you.

OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump slams fellow Republicans and admits the party is at war with itself. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: In some ways like I'm running against two parties.


BOLDUAN: Plus, a conservative group is asking for an investigation now into Bill Clinton's impromptu meeting on a private plane with the Attorney General. The Clinton campaign now dealing with the fallout. We'll be back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:29:19] BOLDUAN: Tonight, Donald Trump running out of time to unify the GOP. With the Republican convention just three weeks away now, let's just the Republican Party not such the perfect portrait of unity at the moment. Top Republicans still don't seem to know what to do with Donald Trump, take the top Republican in the Senate Mitch McConnell. He's endorsed Trump, but he is now saying that he is, quote, unquote, "getting closer." Meaning Trump is getting closer to being a credible candidate.

Moments ago, another example of the off the camp Trump to give Republicans such heartburn, Trump at a rally, talking about trade, his message about trade veered off track of it as a plane veered overhead adding this commentary.


TRUMP: I respect Mexico. I respect their leaders. What they've done to us is incredible. Their leaders are so much smarter, so much sharper and it's incredible. In fact, that could be a Mexican plane up there. They're getting ready to attack.


BOLDUAN: You could almost hear Mitch McConnell shrug and sigh.

Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump tonight struggling to unite the GOP, just three weeks from the party's national convention.

TRUMP: You know, it's almost in some ways like I'm running against two parties. I'm not sure it matters because I think we are going to win.

MATTINGLY: The presumptive GOP nominee lashing out at his former rivals so far hadn't or possibly won't get behind his candidacy.

TRUMP: They signed a pledge saying they will abide, saying they will back the candidate. They broke their word. In my opinion, they should never be allowed to run for public office again because what they did is disgraceful.

MATTINGLY: This is a top adviser to former opponent John Kasich blasted out an email to supporters on campaign letterhead noting that the Ohio governor still polling better than Trump against Hillary Clinton. And Utah Senator Mike Lee going off in a radio interview about Trump's myriad of problems, including campaign attacks on Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his family.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: He accused my best friend's father of conspiring to kill JFK. We can go through the fact that he's made some statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant. We can get into the fact that he's wildly unpopular in my state.

MATTINGLY: Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine is keeping the door open to Trump, but resting it almost all on one thing.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I'm going to see what happens at the convention. It's going to be very important to me whom Donald Trump chooses as his running mate. That is arguably the most important decision that a candidate can make.

MATTINGLY: Trump, for his part brushing off the party's concerns, keeping his focus trade and U.S. competitors.

TRUMP: We don't play the game the way they play the game. They play the game to win. We play the game in this country to survive. We're going to start playing the game to win.


MATTINGLY: And look, GOP officials knew this was going to take time. It was a nasty primary and 17 candidates and a lot of personal attacks and the problem is this. There's a lot of concern inside the Republican Party that Donald Trump is actually moving further away from coalescing the party than he is at bringing it together.

Take a look at this, a FOX News poll from yesterday pointing out that Trump's support in Maine was eight points higher in the Republican than he is now. He's going essentially in the opposite direction, Kate, and that, even amongst Trump supporters inside the party is really a big concern.

BOLDUAN: It's going to take time. You've been saying that for months now, Phil Mattingly. Great to see you, Phil. Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, yes, he's a broken record.

Donald Trump supporter joining us, Jason Osborne, and CNN political commentator Tara Setmayer, and executive chairman of the New York state Democratic Party, Basil Smikle and he also is a Hillary Clinton supporter, sorry, I couldn't get it out of my mouth. Donald Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany.

Let's begin. The intros are always the toughest for me.

Kayleigh, a play on the famous phrase was, with friends like these, with Republicans like these who needs Democrats when the infighting continues? What is Donald Trump's role as it's going to take time. What is Donald Trump's role in bringing the party together?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: His role is to speak with the Republican voter because, look, he ran against the political class, the political elite and some of the political elite includes my own party, the Republican Party and the Democrat Party, as well. He ran against politicians.

So, it's no secret that politicians who don't like Donald Trump, who wish they had someone else. It's Donald Trump's role to speak to the American voter with a very consistent message that I'm putting you first. I'm not going to renege on my promises. What I'm saying is going to happen. I'm going to fight for you on terrorism. I'm going to fight for you on the economy, and hammer that message home, speak to the Republican voter.

BOLDUAN: Right, at the same time he now seems quite upset that the Republican leaders and his rivals are not getting behind him. Now, he's saying, they broke their word, it's disgraceful, they should never hold office again if they don't get behind me. He doesn't need them because he's running against the establishment. Or he does need them. Which is it?

JASON OSBORNE, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think in terms of the pledge, I think he has a legitimate case to argue and be upset about the facts because we spent weeks going back and forth with the RNC, with every campaign, on whether you're going to sign the pledge or not, and everybody was attacking him for not signing the pledge. When he finally did come out and sign the pledge like everybody else had, they said, OK, now we're going to move forward and everyone is backing down saying, no, I don't have to do that, you know, they need to be consistent, as well.

BOLDUAN: Wouldn't people be lighting their hair on fire if the shoe was on the other foot and Donald Trump wasn't endorsing?

[19:35:01] TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The whole idea of the pledge was stupid to begin with, but they did that because they were worried Trump would run as an independent third party.


SETMAYER: But this was also before people thought that A, Trump would ever get the nomination. B, that he went around and behaved the way he's behaved since then.

There were a lot of things that have happened since the pledge was signed that has made Donald Trump untenable to the people in the Republican Party including 51 percent of the people on that recent FOX News poll who said they would prefer someone else. The majority of Republicans did not vote for Donald Trump in the primaries.

So, this whole idea about the pledge is nonsense. I mean, he's -- you know, people, when you start running around and making bigoted comments about an American-born judge because he's of Mexican heritage, he's not fair to you. When he starts saying things like, oh, maybe my rival's father was a part of the JFK conspiracy, when you go around talking about trade policies that are completely anathema to what Republican free trade and capitalism has been and the issue of liberty in the trade issue, that's something that's even Republican at all.

So, you're asking people to stay loyal to a pledge for someone that does not represent what we as a Republican Party represents.

BASIL SMIKLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We're spending a lot of time talking about a pledge. I don't even think that's the core issue here.

BOLDUAN: It's an issue of unity.

SMIKLE: Well, I go back to a comment that Mitch McConnell made in that same interview where he called Donald Trump an entertainer. He said you're really good at that. And to me, this is political theater for Donald Trump.

I cannot take anything that he said seriously. He's inconsistent. He's often incoherent. And to me, I don't think that there is any strategy there as may have been intimated earlier to unify the Republican Party because he doesn't care. He doesn't care.


SMIKLE: He hasn't campaigned at all.

BOLDUAN: The Republicans have issues and there's no question. The Democrats are not the picture of perfect unity, as well. Bernie Sanders is still not endorsing. If you had a chance to meet on a private plane with Bernie Sanders like what we're going to talk about in a while, what would you be telling Bernie Sanders right now, Basil?

SMIKLE: Well, I think he's got to get his supporters to be able to go get behind Hillary Clinton, no question about it.

BOLDUAN: Is time running out for that?

SMIKLE: Well, I don't think time is running out for that. I think Democrats feel more positive about their candidate than Republicans feel about theirs. So, I'm not as concerned about that because ultimately, I think that because of the kind of candidate Hillary has been and the fact that she is talking to the issues that Bernie Sanders is talking about, she will get those supporters. She got Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, President Obama out there campaigning with her and for her. I'm confident about our unity. I can't speak for anyone else.

MCENANY: That same FOX News poll that Tara cited show that 41 percent of Democrat voters preferred Bernie Sanders or someone else. So, there are unity problems there, and I have to push back on the notion that Donald Trump is an entertainer. He has stood up and said for the first time I'm putting American workers first. That means pushing back on free trade. He pushed Hillary Clinton to finally say radical Islam.

He is about putting Americans first. The Democrats don't want to look at the link between immigration and terrorism. They don't want to look at that because they're more concerned with political correctness.

BOLDUAN: Final thought. SMIKLE: I would like to ask which Americans he's putting first. That

is a key question because $ to me he spent more time dividing America and talking very specifically and negatively about many Americans rather than bringing everybody together under one tent. That is a concern.

SETMAYER: He put America first in his business practices for his entire career. He didn't put America first when he decided to have his ties made in China, his suits made in Bangladesh, with awful human rights records, with all of his properties that are overseas doing business in Turkey, Panama and Brazil.

He didn't put Americans first when he hired foreign workers over American workers at Mar-a-Lago. He didn't put Americans first when he hired illegal Polish workers to build Trump Tower. So, this is hypocrisy.


BOLDUAN: He's playing the game as the rules --


BOLDUAN: You know what I do? I'm very happy that we have solved the unity problem around this table tonight.

Thank you, guys. Thank you very much. We always need more time for those conversations.

OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump blasts Bill Clinton's private meeting with the attorney general. Evidence, he says, of a rigged system. How is the Clinton campaign responding and handling this one?

Plus, the widow of a former Navy SEAL killed in Benghazi believes officials lied. In her first television interview since the attack she tells us why.

We'll be right back.


[19:43:21] BOLDUAN: Breaking news: A conservative group tonight is calling for a Justice Department investigation into a private meeting between former President Bill Clinton and the attorney general. That meeting taking place on a tarmac in Phoenix. The attorney general saying that the chat was mostly about grandkids and golf games.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.

Jeff, tell me about the meeting. What more are you learning? And let me guess, Donald Trump is having a field day with this one.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He is, Kate. This is a case of poor judgment and this is an example where Democrats agree with him. Let's just talk about the meeting for a second. It came Monday night

in Phoenix on an airport tarmac. The attorney general was already there. The former president was there.

He boarded her plane and literally took her by surprise and they talked for 30 minutes. That's the unusual, odd part. Why 30 minutes? The optics of this when she is heading this email investigation into his -- any wrongdoing was done about this private email server. It just looks bad.

And this is what Donald Trump told a radio interviewer about this earlier today.


TRUMP: It was really a sneak. It was really, you know, it was something that they didn't want publicized, as I understand. I've been talking about the rigged system, how it's rigged and you know, this is terrible and nobody can understand why nothing's happened. And, you see a thing like this and, even in terms of judgment, how bad a judgment is it for him or for her to do this? I mean, who would -- who would do this?


ZELENY: And, Kate, Senate Republicans are now again renewing their call for a special prosecutor to be appointed to oversee the email investigation that probably won't go anywhere because the attorney general makes that decision.

[19:45:01] But also conservative watchdog groups are filing complaints with the inspector general, saying they really need to look into this. So, it is optically bad, and Kate, it is the last thing the Clinton campaign needed and this headache here which raises attention to the email investigation.

And don't forget, she still has an appointment with the FBI to be interviewed about why she set up that private server in the first place.

BOLDUAN: That's an important point to make.

Jeff, great to see you. Thank you.

OUTFRONT now, former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, David Gergen.

David, great to see you.


BOLDUAN: President Obama's former senior advisor, David Axelrod, he put out a tweet today about the meeting basically saying he believes Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch, that they -- no harm, no foul, that they didn't talk about the probe, but said foolish to create such optics. How unforced is this unforced error, do you think?

GERGEN: Very unforced. I -- I agree with David Axelrod. I've always known him to be honorable people, but this is a very bad call. It was a very bad judgment call because there's already a lot of suspicion out there.

You have a candidate in Mrs. Clinton and more than 50 percent of the people in the country don't trust her and this plays right into Donald Trump's hands and frankly, everybody going to law school know that ex parte proceedings in which in effect a judge talks to one of the parties, one of the parties at risk is inappropriate.

You just don't do that. I don't know how this came about and I don't know why they didn't put out the word immediately to protect themselves and it's only now come to light, but the fact is that this is a blow for the Clinton camp. And Donald Trump has a point.

BOLDUAN: And Hillary Clinton has trust issues with voters. She's acknowledged that publicly. What does this do to that?

GERGEN: Well, I think she has acknowledged it, but she has got to be very aggressive now and be as transparent as possible and putting everything out there.

But, you know, this whole issue is now mushrooming tonight because of a second related story about emails and that is the State Department has gone to a federal judge to say they would like a delay in releasing emails pertaining to the Clinton Foundation and these are emails among people working at the State Department under Mrs. Clinton, these are emails relating to the Clinton Foundation, and the State Department wants a 27-month delay in releasing those emails. That puts it well past the course of the elections.

BOLDUAN: This is --

GERGEN: And Republicans are going to look at that and say, of course, they're going to join forces saying, what are you talking about here? Why is the State Department has said we haven't handled this well.

Well, My goodness, they've had enough time to get this cleaned up by now. So, I think these are problems, a serious problem for Mrs. Clinton.

Donald Trump has his own set of problems. You know, we all know that. But I think the country would like to be reassured by Mrs. Clinton right now who is the front-runner for the presidency.

BOLDUAN: This issue is definitely not go away, as much as they'd like it.

GERGEN: I'm afraid not.

BOLDUAN: David, great to see you. Thank you.

GERGEN: Thank you. BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, the wife of a former Navy SEAL killed in the Benghazi attack speaks out for the first time about who is to blame.


[19:50:51] BOLDUAN: Tonight, an exclusive interview with the widow of Tyrone Woods, one of four Americans killed in the Benghazi attacks. This week, House Republicans released their long awaited results of their investigation into the attack. The report faults the Obama administration for security lapses but found no new additional evidence that Hillary Clinton was to blame.

Erin talked to Dr. Dorothy Woods about all of this in her first on- camera interview since her husband's death.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: It has been almost four years since you lost your husband in the Benghazi attack. Did this report that came out this week from the Republicans in Congress did it change your view of what happened and who is to blame?

DR. DOROTHY WOODS, WIDOW OF TYRONE WOODS: No. It didn't change my view of what happened nor who to blame. I was not looking for a specific person to blame. That doesn't change anything. You know, the report doesn't change anything.

I was fortunate enough to know also very early on the important things that happened, and that was good. That validated what I needed to know about Ty, and the type of American that he was that night which was, Americans needed help. He's going to go get them, you know? Who wouldn't do that in his position?

So, not looking for anyone specific to blame, but to place the blame, like I said, I place the blame on this sentiment, this attitude in the upper level of government that says, hey, you know what? I'm just going to lie about this, gloss over it because I want to protect what I look like and you know, I'm thinking about the next job. I'm thinking about my retirement, you know? Not being there, not remembering that they were here for us, the people that voted for them.

BURNETT: Dorothy, Hillary Clinton, was there a report obviously out this week that both Democrats and Republicans, this has become so politicized and there was a report that came out and here's what she had to say about it.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I'll leave it to others to characterize this report, but I think it's pretty clear it's time to move on.


BURNETT: How do you feel, Dorothy, when you hear that response? WOODS: Well, it -- it goes back to what I just said. I think that nobody in government can tell me how I feel, what I should feel about it. She has night nor does anyone in government have the right to tell me it's time to move on. They're not in my shoes.

You know, I think that -- you know, that's the essence of what they have done is they've been dismissive. The committee has been ridiculed. The committee has been -- they've been criticized and, you know, for them to sincerely do the right thing, to care about Americans, that's what's important, you know?

I agree in a way with her it's for the public to decide, some people have made their decision, others haven't, but the facts are there, and it's up to the Americans, the American people to really figure out where they fall in this.

BURNETT: Did anyone at the State Department and the White House whether it be Secretary Clinton or anyone else ever reach out to you to talk to you? Did they ever reach out to apologize for what happened?

WOODS: Well, I think that on a personal level, to be honest -- no, but I did in the very beginning get to meet with all of them as you've seen with the repatriation ceremony at Andrews and subsequent ceremonies honoring the victims and the survivors. So, I did -- I was able to meet with them, not necessarily on a one-on-one level, and not to the -- not to the extent that they reached out and said sorry. They said sorry for your loss which is the very least they should have said.

BURNETT: And when you say, you know, when you think back at what happened when you felt that it was looking at the next job and putting career and ambitions ahead of what had happened, do you think that this really was about politics?

[19:55:09] WOODS: Well, you know, I can only speak for myself. I think that, you know, that's for other people to answer. That's not for me. I think that the facts are out there.

BURNETT: And, Dorothy, you know, your son Kai was just 1-month-old when Ty's assignment in Libya began and I can't imagine, you know, it must have been so hard for you when he left because you have this newborn little boy, and you must have been looking so much forward to him coming home. What do you tell Kai about his dad in?

WOODS: You know, I'm very fortunate in that in losing Ty I've gained, you know, a great family, a great family of friends, of co-workers, and a great support network. So I'll have a lot of help, but what I do want to tell my son and how he will be raised is his -- he will know what is important, you know? He will know that his father served his country, and served it proud. He will know that there is a wrong and there is a right. He will know that the world is bigger than him, and sometimes that takes sacrifice.

BURNETT: Dorothy, of course, as we come into July 4th, a time to remember and honor your loss and your husband's sacrifice and your son's great loss, thank you so much.

WOODS: Thank you, Erin. I appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts right now.