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War Against ISIS; Hillary's Next Move?; Congressman's Facebook Rant; Reports: Sarah Palin & Family Involved in Brawl; Driver: George Zimmerman Threatened to Shoot Me

Aired September 12, 2014 - 18:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: declarations over of war. U.S. officials scramble to clarify their muddled message about America's newest fight against terror.



REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Make no mistake, we know we are at war with ISIL.


KEILAR: Plus, George Zimmerman's new run-in with the law. The man who killed Trayvon Martin is accused of threatening to shoot a driver. We have the 911 call.

And Sarah Palin making headlines along with her family at a party. The former vice president and her family reportedly were involved in a brawl with booze flowing and fists flying.

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

First this hour, U.S. forces are scoping out ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria with new authority to take out leaders of the brutal terror group along with their army of fighters. The CIA now estimates that ISIS forces have troubled, maybe even tripled in size. This is a rapidly growing threat just about 48 hours after President Obama launched a new offensive against ISIS that U.S. officials now are openly calling a war.

We have correspondents and analysts standing by to bring you all the new developments here in the United States and around the world.

First, though, to our White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski.

Quite an evolution today in what administration officials are calling this conflict, Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, especially since this administration has been so careful over the last few days to be sure to not call what the U.S. has been doing and planning a war. Now today we heard it for the first time that, yes, the U.S. is at war against ISIS.


KOSINSKI (voice-over): It looks like a war, sounds like a war, on the ground, if not in the messaging lately, except for today.

(on camera): The administration hasn't wanted to call this a war on ISIS, but is it not a war?

EARNEST: The United States is at war with ISIL, in the same way that we are at war with al Qaeda and its al Qaeda affiliates all around the globe.

KOSINSKI: And suddenly virtually the same words from the Pentagon today.

KIRBY: Make no mistake, we know we are at war with ISIL in the same way we're at war and continue to be with war with al Qaeda and its affiliates.

KOSINSKI: The State Department.

MARIE HARF, SPOKESWOMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: So we are at war with ISIL the same way that we are at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates around the world.

KOSINSKI: But it took some doing to get here. A day ago, we heard this from the secretary of state.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that's the wrong terminology.

KOSINSKI: All descriptions carefully omitting that one word. The president made no mention of it, though he said:

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.

KOSINSKI: And this from his national security adviser.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Is it fair to call it a war?

SUSAN RICE, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, Wolf, I don't know whether you want to call it a war or a sustained counterterrorism campaign. I think, frankly, this is a counterterrorism operation that will take time.

KOSINSKI: One senior administration official told CNN the reason they have avoided saying the W-word is concern it would only rev up ISIS even more and the administration clearly wants to distinguish this operation from the U.S.' prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, always pointing to no U.S. combat boots on the ground.

EARNEST: This is not a situation where it's the United States against ISIL. The fact is, ISIL has indicated that they're ready to go to war against the world. And this president, as is expected of American presidents, is stepping up to lead an international coalition to confront that threat and to deny ISIL a safe haven.

KOSINSKI: But one the administration says will look like over time a sustained counterterrorism operation with broad international support.


KOSINSKI: Do the words matter? Of course they do. They affect things like support and public opinion. The administration always so carefully chooses its verbiage and descriptions and then repeats it. Right now they're not staying why exactly this changed to agree that this is what it looks like, a war. But they say the mission, the strategy has not changed -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Michelle Kosinski at the White House, thank you.

We're learning more about America's war against ISIS and the strength of the terror group.

Let's bring in our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

Jim, when we hear about the, I guess, taking on the threat of al Qaeda, it's been conquering core al Qaeda or taking out the leadership. So when it comes to ISIS, what is really the plan here? Are we learning new things about this?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: In a way, I think big picture wise in the scale of war and war fighting, we're somewhere in the middle between the Iraq and Afghan invasions and the anti-al Qaeda war you have seen since then, airstrikes, drone strikes in Afghanistan, al Qaeda core in Pakistan, Al-Shabab in Somalia, AQAP in Yemen.

It's going to be more robust than that, but it's not going to be a ground invasion. For instance, one thing we learned today is that they are going to target senior ISIS leadership, which is of course a tactic that they have used against al Qaeda and Al-Shabab through and AQAP principally through drone strikes.

But you're also going to have a more sustained air campaign. Already in the last month, you have had 150-some-odd airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS. That's more than you have had in a number of years in either Yemen or in Somalia. It's a more robust campaign, so it's not quite -- it's far from an Iraq-like invasion.

KEILAR: We just heard from the former secretary of homeland security, Tom Ridge, obviously under George W. Bush during the Iraq war. He was talking about how at some point there really -- there needs to be some boots on the ground, because from airstrikes, if the goal is to destroy and not degrade, you can degrade from the air, he says, destroy on the ground. When you're talking to administration officials, what do they say about that?

SCIUTTO: You have that great line from Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, as well, who said, it's like casual sex.


KEILAR: Very colorful yes.

SCIUTTO: Excuse the language.


KEILAR: Gratification, he said, but there's no commitment.

SCIUTTO: Exactly. This is part of the reason Secretary Kerry is in the region, right, because it's not going to be U.S. boots on the ground, or whose boots on the ground will it be? They may want Jordanian special forces want to take part, but you haven't seen any public commitment to that from any of the Arab partners at this point.

I will tell you what intelligence officials and others say to me. They say, one, you do already have forces on the ground in Iraq. You have 200,000 Peshmerga, the Kurdish militia. You have 200,000 Iraqi military. That's a lot of forces, hundreds of thousands vs. 20,000 to 30,000 ISIS.

Inside Syria, though, I'll tell you it's a different picture. As we learned today from the Pentagon, both the scale and the timeline of this train and equip mission, so these moderate Syrian rebels they're going to train and arm, et cetera, it's going to be about 5,000 over the course of a year. That's a drop in the bucket when you look at the Syrian civil war.


KEILAR: We have heard that. It is not much. Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.

An ISIS recruiter now is revealing some of the tactics that are being used to lure hundreds of foreign fighters into the terror group, including Americans.

Our Brian Todd has been digging on that story -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, new information tonight from this ISIS recruiter who tells a chilling story. His account is consistent with one government official told us, that ISIS is -- quote -- "the hottest ticket" in the jihadi community.


TODD (voice-over): He's a 30-year-old with dangerous networking skills, Mourad Fares, said to be a key recruiter for ISIS. He's a French national, just handed over to the French by Turkish officials. BERNARD CAZENEUVE, FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator):

This dangerous terrorist is known by our services and was on the ground during jihadist operations from July 2013 until this August.

SCIUTTO: In an interview, Fares talked about the people he lured to jihad, 10 young ones from Strasbourg, two young ones from Toulouse, the 16-year-old girl and many others.

(on camera): How do they get teenagers to join groups like ISIS?

ARTURO MUNOZ, FORMER CIA OFFICER: They look for teenagers who are unsatisfied with their life and they're unsatisfied with their prospects. They offer a sense of belonging, the whole idea that you are a jihadist, that you are part of this heroic jihadi community.

TODD (voice-over): A CIA source says more than 15,000 foreign fighters from more than 80 countries have joined various jihadist groups in Syria. Of those, hundreds of Westerners are fighting for ISIS, including maybe a dozen or more Americans. Well-produced, polished videos showing other Westerners who have joined are a powerful draw.

This recent ISIS recruiting video shows a man identified as an American, Abu Abdurahman al-Trinidadi, saying, "Join the fight."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, all believers come who can make it come. Come to Sham as soon as possible.

TODD: Intelligence officials tell CNN ISIS target disgruntled Sunni Muslims pushed to the sidelines in their countries and kids from poor neighborhoods. Are they paid to fight?

MUNOZ: After you pass their vetting and they are convinced that you really are a genuine recruit, then you formally become a member of ISIS and then you do get a salary.

TODD: Once in the fold, part of a recruit's experience can be oddly civilized. One smuggler for ISIS told BuzzFeed correspondent Mike Giglio he would pick up foreign recruits at the airport like a chauffeur.

MICHAEL GIGLIO, BUZZFEED: He would stand in the arrivals hall and hold a sign with the jihadi's name on it and greet him, pick him up and then drive him to the border to be smuggled in.


TODD: Analysts say one reason groups like ISIS have slick advanced recruiting tactics is because they have a hard time holding on to foreign recruits.

Many of them end up leaving. A key reason experts say, they get worn down by the infighting between jihadist groups. The turmoil between ISIS and the al-Nusra Front in Syria is a prime example of that.

Brianna, they just get tired of the infighting between those groups, always battling it out amongst themselves.

KEILAR: Some of them actually can't handle it, right? They panic.

TODD: It's incredible.

One anecdote we got from Mike Giglio, the correspondent for BuzzFeed, he said the smuggler he talked to talked him about one recruit who became convinced once he got into the fold that he was being kidnapped and then he took off for several hours and hid from them before they brought him back.

Another recruit, an American, he says, panicked when a Syrian border town they were came under attack from the Syrian army. This American kind of wandered off aimlessly in the town in hysterics and then they found him and brought him back. It was this kind of this holy cow moment. There's another word you use when they get there and they realize what they're up against.

KEILAR: Yes, because it's very serious. Maybe it's more than they bargained for as well. Brian Todd, fascinating stuff. Appreciate it.

Secretary of State John Kerry is sounding confident tonight that the U.S. will be able to form a broad coalition against ISIS, but is a key U.S. ally holding back?

Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is traveling with Kerry and she's joining us live from the capital of Turkey, which tells you a little bit about the country we're talking about.

Elise, catch us up.

LABOTT: Brianna, today, Secretary Kerry announced that retired General John Allen will be serving as the coordinator of this international effort to combat ISIS. You remember he played a big role in the Sunni awakening in Iraq and he really knows the leaders of the region.

But just who is doing what in this global coalition is far from clear.


LABOTT (voice-over): Secretary Kerry came to Turkey seeking support from a pivotal partner in the fight against ISIS.

KERRY: Within the coalition, there are many ways that Turkey can help in this effort and we will continue our conversations with our military and other experts spending time to define the specific role that Turkey will play.

LABOTT: Bordering Iraq and Syria, Turkey would be an ideal place to base U.S. strikes. But with ISIS holding 49 Turkish government employees hostage, Turkey's foreign minister spoke only about "challenges and threats in the region." On Thursday, Kerry met with 10 Arab nations which ring Syria.

The U.S. wants them to join a global coalition to go after ISIS. After the talks, the country's "agreed to do their share" in the comprehensive fight against the militants, but few made specific commitments.

Neighboring Jordan already hosts a small CIA program to train Syrian rebels, but has been silent about requests to stage more operations there. U.S. officials say Saudi Arabia, which hosted Thursday's talks, has volunteered to train Syrian opposition on its soil, but when asked, the foreign minister was vague.

PRINCE SAUD AL-FAISAL, SAUDI ARABIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Saudi Arabia has always taken initiatives with regard to a firm position toward terrorists and against them. So there is no limit to what the kingdom can provide in this regard.

LABOTT: The U.S. also wants Arab states to cut financing to ISIS, which Secretary Kerry said was a focus of the strategy in an interview with CNN.

(on camera): You call Saudi Arabia a great partner in this coalition and praised the work of the kingdom. Yet Saudi support and financing for radical Islam, Wahhabism over the years is widely seen as part of the problem.

KERRY: Have they supported a certain ideological point of views? Sure. But that's different from supporting overt terror and the kinds of activities here.

LABOTT (voice-over): Syria wants to take part in the coalition, even though the U.S. faults President Assad's bloody crackdown on his people as a root cause of ISIS rise.

BOUTHAINA SHAABAN, ADVISER TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD: We are ready to be part of any coalition against terrorism.


LABOTT: And it's unclear, Brianna, what role Iran could play. There's been some talk that perhaps Iran could take part in this conference in France next week, countries that will be working in the coalition.

Secretary Kerry said with Iranian troops in Syria and the role it plays in sponsoring terrorism around the region, that Iran should not be in this conference. And don't forget he's also trying to balance other issues with Iran. He's trying to push through that nuclear deal and trying not to antagonize Congress -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Elise Labott traveling with Secretary Kerry, where so much of the action is right now in this story, thank you, Elise.

Let's bring in CNN military analysts retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General, when you hear that, a country like Turkey not allowing

the U.S. to use their air bases, how damaging is this for the U.S.' ability to call this a coalition?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's currently very frustrating.

Brianna, I think the comment Elise made about John Allen, General John Allen, one hell of a Marine, a great intellectual and a guy that has a lot of experience in this region, not only in Iraq, but remember he commanded the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.


KEILAR: And you know him well. So tell us a little bit about -- tell us about your personal experience with him and why you think he's the man for the job.


HERTLING: We were both in the National War College together. He's a great guy, super guy. Huge intellect. We were also together in Iraq. He was in the west where the Marines were when I was in the north. We coordinated a lot of border issues and we took the fight together against the enemy, as well as John and his boss.

But what's interesting, when he commanded an ISAF, he was linked also to NATO. He was spending a significant amount of time in Europe getting the partners that contributed forces to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan to contribute more, to continue with their efforts, to build the ISAF coalition. So he knows coalition operations and certainly he also knows the Middle East.

He's going to be the guy that talks to the governments, talks to the militaries, and then he has the additional added benefit or knowing what's needed on the ground. So when alliance partners offer things, he will be able to determine are these the right kind of things we need or do we say to that alliance partner, hey, how about some special forces or some intelligence officers? So he's able to dilute that a little bit.

KEILAR: So he's the guy to certainly coordinate a coalition, and that seems very clear. He's got credentials for that. But you need to form the coalition first, and there needs to be buy-in. President Obama, this is his main goal right now and this is what Secretary Kerry is doing.

One of our contributors said so many of these countries are just sitting around really happy for the U.S. to do the heavy lifting. How does Secretary Kerry get past that?

HERTLING: I think what will be interesting to watch is Secretary Kerry will use State Department language. John Allen will probably use Marine language as they go into these various countries. There's going to be a dual effort of different pressures from

both the diplomat and the military guy, and I think both of them wearing suits and kind of applying pressure to say you have talked the talk, now let's start walking the walk a little bit. I think that will be powerful. The coalition will be tough to build. And then there's also the issue, as it is built, who is going to command it and what forces are going to be placed where?

Coalition warfare, alliance warfare is an extremely difficult thing. We have a lot of experience with it over the last 10 years and we have more experience throughout our history. But it's tough and it's going to be even tougher here, because you have European members, you have members from other continents, you have Middle Eastern members. It's going to be a tough coalition to put together. Then you have to act once the coalition is together.

KEILAR: The arms are twisting in the Middle East, I will say. General Hertling, thank you so much.

HERTLING: You're very welcome.

KEILAR: Still ahead, George Zimmerman is accused of violent behavior, again, more than two years after he killed Trayvon Martin. Stand by for the 911 recording of a man saying Zimmerman threatened his life.

And Sarah Palin's family went to a party that apparently got very out of control. We're digging into allegations of a drunken brawl with at least one of the Palins reportedly throwing a punch. You will be surprised who.


KEILAR: Well, she's not officially a candidate, but she's doing everything that a White House hopeful should, and that includes an appearance this weekend at a key event in a critical state for any Democrat who is running for president.

Hillary Clinton is returning to Iowa.


KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton has been the inevitable candidate before. Nowadays, she's laughing along with the joke at a Friday service for poet Maya Angelou.

ELLIOTT MATTHEW JONES, GRANDSON OF MAYA ANGELOU: Next I would like to thank the amazing speakers and some dignitaries, first and foremost, Madame Pres -- excuse me.


KEILAR: This weekend, Clinton returns to Iowa for the first time since her stunning defeat to Barack Obama and John Edwards in the 2008 caucuses.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're going to get up tomorrow and keep pushing as hard as we can.

KEILAR: The Harkin steak fry, hosted by the state's longtime Democratic senator, is a must on the checklist for any Democrat with presidential aspirations. But for Clinton, Iowa is the state that hobbled her White House ambitions right out of the gate.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: She is as commanding a front-runner as we have had in the modern primary system. But there are a lot of Democrats who don't want her to take it for grant it, and Iowa certainly from 2008 is a reminder of the risks if you do seem to take things for granted.

So I think she has to begin to show Democrats that this is not something that she's expected to be handed to her. She's going to work for it.

KEILAR: Clinton last spoke here at the steak fry in 2007, along with the rest of the Democratic presidential field.

CLINTON: What we're doing today is building a new field of dreams for the country we love.

KEILAR: This time she', headlining with her husband, paying homage to Harkin and his final steak fry after three decades in the Senate. Clinton will likely buck up Bruce Braley, the Democrat locked in a tight race to replace Harkin. Clinton began her reintroduction to public life this summer in a book tour with many stumbles.

CLINTON: We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt.

KEILAR: The missteps provoked observations that Clinton's political skills are still rusty, but a new CNN/ORC poll has her going into Iowa with a huge lead among registered Democrats.


KEILAR: Let's get more now with CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, CNN political commentator Ryan Lizza, and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker" as well as CNN political analyst, and Maggie Haberman in New York.

Maggie, the wheels came off for Hillary Clinton in Iowa in 2008. This is like returning to the scene of the crime.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: She hasn't been back in more than 2,000 days, as counters from Iowa remind us.

She had a phobia about Iowa in the 2008 campaign. It was very problematic for her. This has been discussed at length that that is where she lost the primary. She does, Ron Brownstein said, need to show she's willing to work for it. This weekend is where the whole issue about inevitability and her front-runner status stops being theoretical and becomes very in practice.

How she sounds, what she says, how hard she leans into the idea of running or does she basically do the minimum? I think that she's going to have to show some leg, so to speak, about essentially either acknowledging she's had a tough time in Iowa before or she's seriously learning towards running or something. But I think just keeping it safe and about Tom Harkin is going to be tough.

KEILAR: Doesn't she, guys, need to go in -- she needs to go in with humility here, right?


She has to sort of drop the veneer. That's what Iowans did not like about her the last time around. She's now, as you know, talking more about being a woman and the difficulties women politicians face. So she's trying to kind of do that.

I think just by going to Iowa, obviously, they want to honor Tom Harkin, whom they have known for decades. But by just by going to Iowa means that -- something and it means that she's a candidate who is going to take it seriously.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I think the question for her is the expectations. Frankly, the last cycle, the first trip to Iowa, there was a lot more hoopla it seems like than will surround this one.

I think the way she's trying to enter this race is a little bit more gradually, not the bigger she is, the sort of harder she will fall as a candidate. The big disadvantage she has in a sense right now is she really doesn't know who her opponent is or if there's going to be a credible opponent.

I think she doesn't know -- that means she doesn't know where her messaging has to focus. She doesn't know if it will be an anti-war challenge or someone who will challenge her aggressively from the populist left yet. So I think everything is in a holding pattern right now until she figures out what the rest of the field looks like.

KEILAR: How important is this appearance? The folks close to her will say she's there to honor Tom Harkin. But to Maggie's point, this is a big deal. Right?

BORGER: It is a big deal, because as Maggie pointed out, she didn't do well here last time around.

This was a real problem for her, and these people all feel like they knew her and now they're getting reintroduced to her and they have to like her more than they did last time around. The question the last time around was not whether she was smart enough or she was competent enough. The question was whether they liked her and they didn't.

LIZZA: This an opportunity for all of us in the press to remind everyone about her faults, because Iowa was the place where all of her faults came out. It was the place where Obama beat her. So she's going to have to deal with that every time she goes back there. KEILAR: Isn't part of it, Maggie, she needs to connect? This is

one speech we expect she may just kind of be in and out in Iowa. But one of the things that then Senator Obama did was he just put in a little more time, right, to really get to know people in a real retail politic kind of way that she didn't.

HABERMAN: No question about that.

To another point made earlier about how she doesn't know how to craft a message because she doesn't know really what she's running against yet, she also has not I think -- doesn't have a campaign yet. I'm not saying that as a euphemism. I fully expect she's running and I believe everything she's doing indicates that.

But she does not have any kind of a messaging, large campaign style apparatus around her right now. She's not had a message throughout this book tour, and that was actually a problem for her. So I don't think we're going to have that for a time. I think what's going to be helpful to her, as I understand the way the program will be, she's going to introduce her husband and I think that that's going to help enormously to the point you're making about connecting.

I think that it, one, eliminates questions how she relates to her husband and comparing the two, which inevitably come up with both of them, and I also think it's going to sort of ease into the person who is a better campaigner and that is Bill Clinton.


KEILAR: Guys, jump in, jump in on this, because I want you all -- I want to get your take on all of this. Bill Clinton, he is a better campaigner, but he was a liability for her in 2008.

BORGER: Right. He was a liability for her. He's learned a lot since that time. He is the great explainer, as we know, from the way he helped Barack Obama.

To Maggie's point, he's going to be the message chief in Iowa at least. And if Hillary Clinton doesn't give a political speech, I guarantee you Bill Clinton will.

HABERMAN: That's right.

KEILAR: And I know I said jump in, but there's one topic I need to get your input on. And that would be Mark Sanford. He wrote, really, let's call it a diatribe, right; like 2,000 words. This is on Facebook. He's ranting about his legal battle with his ex-wife. Buried in the "Post," we learned that he's broken up with his mistress, Maria Belen Chapur B. He's in Congress now. I mean, what do you guys think about this? This is -- this is a little crazy, right?

LIZZA: Maggie, Gloria?

HABERMAN: Thanks, Ryan. So nice of you. BORGER: I think he's in the market for a new soul mate. What do

you think? Because he's broken up with his last one, and his wife is now suing him again. And I don't think we all need to know about it.

LIZZA: He's a very -- look, he's a very modern person. We live in the era of sharing.

KEILAR: Oversharing.

LIZZA: And oversharing.

HABERMAN: Twenty-four hundred words is a lot.


KEILAR: You know that, Maggie. Right, 2,400 words.

HABERMAN: Twenty-four hundred words is like double a news story. Now I mean...


LIZZA: ... news analogy.

HABERMAN: Exactly. It definitely has an overshare feel to it.

However, he has gotten elected against some pretty amazing odds. So I wouldn't bet against him.


HABERMAN: But this does -- this just continues to be such a drama and playing out so publicly.

BORGER: And I don't understand why he feels that his constituents absolutely need to know about his ex-wife's third...

KEILAR: That's right.

BORGER: ... lawsuit against him or the fact that he broke up with his soul mate.

KEILAR: And also, they may not blame her for that lawsuit.

BORGER: I was about to say.

KEILAR: All right, Ryan, Gloria, Maggie, great conversation. Thank you so much.

LIZZA: Thanks, Brianna.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

KEILAR: And just ahead, another run-in with the law for the man acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin. You'll hear the 911 call accusing George Zimmerman of road rage. Plus, we have breaking news: an NFL star indicted on felony

charges involving a child. Details coming up.


KEILAR: Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin is back in the spotlight tonight. Not for politics but because she and her family reportedly were involved in an alcohol-infused brawl.

Here's our national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Palins' reality show on TLC features the family dog. Target shooting. And caribou hunting. But according to blogger Amanda Coyne, who broke the story out of Anchorage, Alaska, reality may be a lot more interesting.

AMANDA COYNE, BLOGGER: I would describe it as a big brawl, as a lot of people and other people there were describing it, a big crazy brawl.

MALVEAUX: It allegedly happened here last Saturday at a joint birthday party in this suburban neighborhood. Coyne says Sarah Palin, her husband Todd and their children, Bristol, Willow and Track, pulled up in a stretch Hummer limo together. It was Todd's 50th birthday, so he was one of those the party was celebrating.

COYNE: Track approached one of Willow Palin's ex-boyfriends and got into some sort of scuffle with him. Then Todd Palin somehow got involved in that scuffle. That was broken up.

Willow and Bristol started approaching the family of the ex- boyfriend. Bristol, witnesses say, began to punch the owner of the house in the face.

MALVEAUX: Coyne says she talked to several self-eyewitnesses, including Eric Thompson, who told this to ABC News.

ERIC THOMPSON, EYEWITNESS: Bristol just reached back and started clocking him. And she hit him -- you know, reached way back here and caught him right in the chin. You know, I counted at least six times.

COYNE: Sarah Palin then herself, according to witnesses, got involved and tried to come and get into the middle of the -- of the brawl and was screaming and yelling.

MALVEAUX: CNN cannot independently confirm that the Palins were involved in the melee. But the Anchorage Police say the family was there, telling us, "Just before midnight, Anchorage Police responded to a report of a verbal and physical altercation taking place between multiple subjects outside of a residence. Alcohol was believed to have been a factor in the incident. Some of the Palin family members were in attendance." The Palin family has not commented on the alleged incident,

despite CNN's numerous attempts to reach out to them. Sarah Palin did post on her Facebook page the next day but made no mention of the party. She says, "I was traveling yesterday, so I'm posting Todd's 50th birthday greeting a day late. Which is fine, because the handsome guy barely looks a day over 50."


MALVEAUX: Anchorage Police tell us at the time of the incident, none of the involved parties wanted to press charges, and no arrests were made -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Thanks, Suzanne.

Just ahead, another run-in with the law for the man acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin. You'll hear the 911 call accusing George Zimmerman of road rage.


KEILAR: George Zimmerman has had another run-in with the law more than two years after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. A man told police that Zimmerman threatened to shoot him, and we have the 911 call as well as the new details about the incident in Florida.

Let's go now to CNN's Alina Machado. She is in Miami. Alina, what happened?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, the caller told 911 Zimmerman threatened to shoot him dead, and even though the man says he did not see Zimmerman flash a gun, he was still threatened enough and worried enough to call police.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in my car, rapping to myself with my windows up. And I looked over, and it's George Zimmerman was the driver. And they were threatening to kick my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and to shoot me.

MACHADO (voice-over): That 911 call made to Lake Mary, Florida police, by a man who says George Zimmerman threatened him from his car Tuesday. Two days later, police stopped Zimmerman after that same man called 911 to say he thought he saw Zimmerman near his office.

CALLER: It's a little disheartening to see him lurking around here.

MACHADO: This dash cam video shows an officer taking Zimmerman's gun. The 30-year-old appears relaxed, at times smiling, while he talks to officers. The police report says Zimmerman told him he was in the area for an appointment. He also admitted to being involved in a verbal incident earlier in the week but denied threatening anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty.

MACHADO: This is the latest a string of incidents involving Zimmerman since his acquittal last year in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

In November, Zimmerman was arrested and charged in Seminole County, Florida, for allegedly pointing a gun at his then girlfriend Samantha Scheibe during an argument. Charges were not filed.

Last year, police in Texas and in Florida stopped Zimmerman for speeding, and in September of 2013, Zimmerman's estranged wife, Shelly, called 911 saying Zimmerman had threatened her and her father. No charges were filed in that case either.


MACHADO: Now, as you saw in the video from this week's incident, police did talk to Zimmerman, but he was not arrested. They say because the alleged victim does not want to pursue any charges -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Alina Machado, thank you so much.

We have breaking news next. An NFL star charged with felony injury to a child. We're learning details of a new NFL scandal.

But first, impact your world. Here's how one Hollywood star is doing it.


KRISTEN BELL, ACTRESS: It's so basic. Water is the only thing that everybody needs.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Actress Kristen Bell says she was alarmed to learn that hundreds of millions of people don't have access to clean water. So, she found a unique way to try to change that.

BELL: For my 30th birthday, I handled it over to charity water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water crisis is vast. But we can solve it.

BELL: They have a spectacular program where you give up your birthday and you basically create a charity water page and you ask your friends instead of a present to donate building a well for people that are in need of access to clean water.

Together, you and I raised $100,000.

CUOMO: Charity water partners with groups already on the ground to build wells and rain collection systems, 100 percent of the profits go towards these projects.

BELL: There are so many after shocks of positivity. One of which is being they're really focused on gender equality, so the committees that are put together to oversee the maintenance of the specific wells are often headed by women. It creates a whole different dynamic in the village.

Impacting someone you don't know is such a next level karma of paying it forward. My mom taught me you had two hands for a reason, one is yours, one is to help.



KEILAR: We have breaking news: a new NFL scandal just exploding. Minnesota Viking star running back Adrian Peterson has been indicted by Texas grand jury on a felony charge of injury to a child. And just now, the Vikings releasing a statement saying that Peterson has been, quote, deactivated and that he won't play this weekend.

This comes just four days after video surfaced of former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee.

Let's get more now with CNN's Rachel Nichols. She's the host of "UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS" and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

First off, Rachel, deactivated, what does that mean?

RACHEL NICHOLS, HOST, "UNGUARDED": This is going to be extremely complicated going forward to the NFL because he's been indicted. He has not been convicted. How long do you hold him off the field for? They've just obviously been in the middle of this maelstrom with Ray Rice and the video evidence, of course, was a huge factor in that and then this Adrian Peterson case, there are some photos. The situation here according to multiple media reports is that this was a case of him disciplining physically his four-year-old son.

His lawyer in fact has just released the statement saying that Adrian disciplined him, quote, "in the manner that he was raised in East Texas, with a switch or branch from a tree." If you remember, though, Adrian Peterson is 6'1" listed at 217, his son is four years old and there are photos of the child's brushes and cuts.

The child's mother took him to the doctor after Adrian return the child from a custody visit because she was concerned about his son's health. Adrian's lawyer has said that he has fully cooperated with police, that he never intended to hurt his son in any way, that it was what he considered the regular disciplining of his child. But obviously, this is gong to be incredibly controversial and another big problem for a league that has had a week huge problems.

KEILAR: And, Jeffrey, the Vikings, they have deactivated Peterson, whatever that means. We're still I guess trying to figure that out.

NICHOLS: It means he won't play this week.

KEILAR: He won't play this week.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it means he won't play, yes, no.

KEILAR: But that is so -- what happens in the long-term. There will be something, I imagine and do you think he will face tougher legal consequences because of what we've seen with Ray Rice.

TOOBIN: This just happened this afternoon and I think it is certainly appropriate for him not to play this weekend. And everybody has to figure out what is going on. I think one of the problems is that the NFL has a sort of general policy, but it does not have a specific policy of what happens if you are charged with a felony, what happens if you are charged with a crime of violence? What happens if you are convicted but have a conviction on appeal?

These are situations where some people are playing, some people are not. As we have discussed, there are several people with pending charges of domestic violence against them who are playing as we speak. So, the NFL needs to inform its fans and certainly inform its players of what the standards are. In the meantime, it's certainly appropriate that Adrian Peterson, who, by the way, for people who are not sports fans, is arguably the best player in the entire National Football League, he will not play this week.

KEILAR: All right.

NICHOLS: He is certainly one of the best running backs in the league. And, by the way, Jeff, you make an excellent point about the arbitrary standards and that's part of Roger Goodell's issue and the problem he got into with the Ray Rice situation. And for years, players have said they need more consistency and Roger Goodell set himself up as judge, jury and executioner, and, in fact, the appeals court also saying, hey, you're just going to have to use my judgment.

Well, he held up his judgment -- himself up as judge and jury. And then his judgment, obviously, has come into major question in the Ray Rice case and it's going to come under scrutiny here as well, depending on what happens going forward.

KEILAR: I want to go a littler bit beyond football here. You did an interview, Rachel, great interview with Floyd Mayweather. He is going to make more than $40 million this weekend despite fresh domestic abuse charges. Let's hear what he said to you.


NICHOLS: Why should fans root for you with this kind of history? I mean, the incident you went to jail for, the mother of your three children did show some bruising, a concussion when she went to the hospital, it was your own kids who called the police, gave them a detailed description of the abuse. There's been documentation.

FLOYD MAYWEATHER, BOXER: Once again, no pictures, just hearsay and allegations. And I signed a plea bargain, so once again, not true. NICHOLS: I mean, are we really supposed to believe all of these

women are lying, including the incidents when there are witnesses like your own kids?

MAYWEATHER: Everybody is entitled to their opinions. You know, when it is all said and done, only God can judge me.


KEILAR: Wow, that is not a contrite person at all, assuming that something happened here. Does the whole sports world have these issues and we're just ignoring them until we see some horrible video that makes everybody pay attention?

NICHOLS: Well, it's not fair to paint everybody with a broad brush. The vast majority of people --

KEILAR: Sure, of course.

NICHOLS: -- who operate in the world of sports are law-abiding, up standing citizens just like the vast majority of people in a workplace. However, what is so spectacular when it does happen is the fame and fortune and the reward that still goes to a lot of these people even after the charges -- or in Floyd Mayweather's case, in that interview, it is not just a charge, he went to prison. He went to prison for two months, and according to the police report, he dragged the mother of his three children by the hair, punched her repeatedly in the head. This is a professional boxer punching a woman in the head over and over again, threatening to kill her in front of her children and then threatening to kill the children if they call police.

The children ran out into the yard any way and did manage to get the police to come to the house. He ended up going to prison for that, however, came out and was not suspended by the Nevada Boxing Commission the way Ray Rice has been suspended by the NFL and is making pay day after pay day and since then, as you noted, Brianna, there's been new charges from an additional woman of domestic violence and yet it doesn't matter. There's still going to be a lot of people who plop down $70 a pop for his fight tonight.

If you were thinking about it out there, I would urge you to take into consideration who this man is.

KEILAR: And real quickly, I have like 20 seconds. It's not just the fame and fortune. And there is some preferential treatment going on here for these stars.

TOOBIN: Sometimes. But also remember domestic violence isn't treated that seriously by courts in America, celebrities or not celebrities. So, you know, that's a factor, but celebrity is not the only factor. This is a bigger problem than just the sports world.

KEILAR: Well, and it's -- you know what, I will say, it is horrible watching this video. These are horrible things that are happening. It's a great conversation to have and I'm certainly glad we're having it.

Rachel Nichols and Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much. And just a reminder that you can watch "UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS" tonight. That will be at both 10:30 Eastern and Pacific.

And remember that you can always follow us on Twitter. Just tweet the show @CNNSitroom. Be sure to tune in on Monday and you can also watch us live, DVR us, as well so you don't miss a moment.

Thanks so much for watching. I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM.