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Massive Security Response Amid July 4th Worries; Pentagon: "Perpetual War" is New Norm; GOP Fears Backlash Over Trump's Rape Comments; Obama Jabs Republicans, Points to Improving Economy; North Korea Defends Space Program. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 2, 2015 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:15] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, overwhelming response -- dozens of emergency vehicles answer a single call about possible shots fired at a Washington, D.C., military facility, underscoring just how jittery authorities are right now about possible terror threats over the July 4th holiday. But how real is the danger?

Perpetual war, the nation's top military commander warns that as the world faces growing terrorism and chaos, America can look forward to constant combat against ISIS and al Qaeda, or even Russia or China. Is this the new normal?

No Trump. That may be what some of his Republican rivals are wishing for after the billionaire candidate sets off another firestorm with rape comments. Is he hurting the GOP brand?

And un small step. An exclusive look inside North Korea's space program. But is it really just a cover to develop missiles that can hit the American homeland?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: America right now on edge over July 4th security concerns, and with federal authorities warning of possible terror threats, a security alert at the Washington Navy Yard was taken very seriously today. Dozens of police and emergency vehicles responded to a 911 call of possible shots fired less than two years after a gunman killed a dozen people there. The base was put on lockdown, streets were blocked off, as SWAT teams conducted a room-by-room search, eventually sounding an all clear. That comes in the wake of bloody attacks abroad and a growing number of terror incidents and arrests right here in the United States.

As cities across the country boost security measures, the Pentagon has announced that another senior ISIS leader has been killed in an airstrike. Responsible for bringing weapons and foreign fighters into the war zone, he had a $3 million bounty on his head.

Our correspondents, analysts, and guests are standing by with full coverage on all of today's big stories, and I'll speak with the former House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers.

But let's begin with our justice correspondent Pamela Brown. She has the very latest. Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, today's overwhelming response from law enforcement came in part because of the eerie similarity to the naval yard shooting two years ago, but it's also the result of officials being on heightened alert leading into the Fourth of July weekend, given the significant terror concerns.

The events today unfolded with a 7:30 a.m. 911 call from a woman inside the Navy Yard reporting possible shots fired. The entire complex was put on lockdown right after that. As you said, dozens of law enforcement personnel converged on the area and helicopters hovered above. The White House even canceled all tours. Nearly three hours later, after every room in the building was searched, the all- clear was given, and the indication was that this wasn't a hoax, that this woman actually heard gunhots. And adding to the fear, around the same time, police in New Jersey were investigating a bomb threat at a mosque. That one did turn out to be a hoax. But the increased chatter (ph) from ISIS supporters leading into the holiday weekend of course has law enforcement not wanting to take any chances here, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a serious situation over there, obviously. There was considerable fear. With that massive response, was it the result of these heightened July 4th concerns based on anything you're hearing over there, Pamela?

BROWN: I think the feeling is that a lot of people are skittish right now, a lot of people in and out of laws enforcement, given what we've been talking about all week, the concern of the symbolic holiday coinciding with Ramadan, and this increased chatter from ISIS supporters online. So I certainly think all of that contributed to today's response, but at the same time, there has been -- there's a history there at the Navy Yard, in that building, from the shooting there a couple years ago, so I'm sure that also played a role. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Pamela. Thank you.

Federal authorities have put out a nationwide alert about possible violence and security has already been stepped up for the holiday. Let's bring in our justice reporter, Evan Perez. Evan, you were among the first reporters on the scene at the Navy Yard today. People were frightened.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Wolf, it was visible. The people -- there were people shaking, there were women hugging each other. This was a traumatic event for them in 2013, and you could tell, there were people I talked to who came out Building 197, which is the building where a shooter stalked the halls, hunting people down and shooting them in their seats, in their offices. So the fear there was very real; it was very palpable. And that was a reaction we had from law enforcement as well, because they also were traumatized, frankly, by the less than perfect response they had back in 2013. Today it worked a lot better. [17:05:00] BLITZER: What's the connection, because I know you're

speaking to your sources at the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the FBI, right here in D.C., the connection between these heightened pre-July 4th holiday concerns, the terror alerts that have gone out nationwide from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, to this enormous response we saw this morning.

PEREZ: Well, I think some of the response was frankly the result of 2013. And it definitely does play into the fact there are all these heightened concerns about this weekend, about this week. And, frankly, Wolf, after July 5th, it doesn't change. Ramadan is still continuing. ISIS is making these calls out for attacks. And we're told that FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies are keeping an eye, monitoring communications, that they believe indicate that there are people who are trying to plot attacks here in this country. That's what's drawing the -- not only the response today, but things tha you're going to see. I expect that we're going to have a few more scares over the next few days.

BLITZER: Evan Perez, thanks very much. Evan Perez reporting for us.

With much of the world in the grip of some chaos right now, terrorism on the ride -- on the rise, I should say -- and American forces in harm's way, the Pentagon is warning: Get used to it.

Our chief national security correspondent Jim Scuitto has been looking into this part of this story for us. What are you finding out, Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's a daunting read. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs completing the new national military strategy; this is delivered to the Defense Secretary. It outlines the military's priority and it's getting its first update since September 2011. It paints a daunting picture -- long wars against multiple enemies who cross borders, and with no clear victory, signs of conflicts that the military already seeing in Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan, and beyond.


SCIUTTO (voice-over0: A state of perpetual war the new normal, says the Pentagon in its latest military assessment. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey warns that today's global security environment is the most unpredictable he has seen in 40 years of military service.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Global disorder has trended upward, while some of our comparative advantages have begun to erode.

SCIUTTO: Deeply concerning as the Pentagon prepares the military to fight non-state actors such as ISIS, and AQAP, in extended conflicts that look much like the current fighting in Iraq and Syria.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILIARY ANALYST: We really are in a state of what I would call a new normal, where we're going to have these prolonged campaigns where we will be engaged militarily. SCIUTTO: Taking advantage of those non-state actors to their ends are

formidable national adversaries such as Russia, backing separatist rebels in Eastern Ukraine with both weapons and troops. And Iran, aiding Houthi rebels against the U.S.-backed government in Yemen.

Even more dauntingly, the Pentagon warnings of a low but growing threat of a major war against a major power, including Russia, Iran, and China, all countries that are aggressively pushing their influence well beyond their borders. China building and militarizing islands in the South China Sea 600 miles from its shores, and in waters the U.S. considers international, leading to tense confrontations in the sky, which we experienced firsthand in May.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are in military aircraft. This is Chinese Navy. You are approaching our military alert zone. Leave immediately.

SCIUTTO: The Pentagon assessment finds, quote, "None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies. Nonetheless they each pose serious security concerns."

MARKS: The United States is going to bump into these what I would call expansionist and growing aggressive nations in terms of trying to accomplish their national objectives.


SCIUTTO: (on camera) One other to add to the list of course is North Korea, growing nuclear capability. But just to highlight the point of long wars, keep this in mind. It's been more than 5,000 days since the U.S. military first deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, and of course, Wolf, U.S. forces still there.

BLITZER: Yes, that war continues. The longest war in U.S. history.

We're also just learning, Jim, that major ISIS leader has been taken out. What have you learned?

SCIUTTO: That's right. We learned this just a short time ago, coalition airstrike killing Tariq al Harzi, senior al Qaeda leader for responsible -- and this is crucial -- for moving foreign fighters and weapons into Syria and Iraq, but also for running suicide operations. The U.S. State Department had a $3 million reward on his head.

This is also key, Wolf, because al Harzi, he's Tunisian, he's believed to be in charge of the group's operations beyond Iraq and Syria, and of course we saw an ISIS attack, at least one that claimed responsibility for, in Tunisia on Friday killed more than 30 British foreign tourists there. It's showing ISIS's power beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria.

[17:10:04] BLITZER: All right, thanks very much. Jim Sciutto reporting for us.

Let's get some more on what's going on. Joining us now, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, CNN national security commentator Mike Rogers. Thanks very much, Mike, for coming in.

First of all, what do you make of this, the U.S. taking out this guy, what's his name, al Harzi, a $3 million reward. Big deal.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Big deal. He did a couple things. A, he was moving weapons, we think, beyond the borders of Syria and Iraq, which was helping out other affiliates. Secondly, he was the one that was coordinating suicide bomber operations. So they would use those suicide bomber operations in military tactics. If you recall, they'd send suicide bombers in, then they'd send troops in. He would also coordinate efforts for individual terrorist type suicide bombing attacks as well.

So this was a big get. It will be very disruptive to their operation for at least some period of time. Of course, key here is if this is what they do and we wait another six months, that lack of tempo will cause them and allow them to rebuild very quickly. And that's unfortunate if they let that happen.

BLITZER: Tariq al Harzi; they call him the emir, the emir of suicide bombers.

So is this the new normal that we're experiencing, as the Pentagon is suggesting? The war will be perpetual?

ROGERS: I think in the current conditional absolutely it'll be that way. If we're not willing to do a disruptive event in Syria, in Iraq, and I mean a logistics package that includes medevac, special capability soldiers, then I will tell you, we're going to be at this for a very, very long time.

I think, if you listen to what Dempsey said, he says perpetual on a curent path and we're losing some strategic advantage. What he's saying is that's self-inflicted to the United States. So when we -- what we -- if we draw back from the world, we don't take aggressive steps against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, we don't push back hard enough on China or Russia's expansion, they're going to continue to push that envelope.

I think if you listen to what he said, this is -- this is reversible, but we can expect to have a long, ugly, brutal war under the current conditions of which we're trying to fight it.

BLITZER: Is this the highest threat level going into a July 4th holiday weekend since 9/11?

ROGERS: I would say yes, but again, cautious is good, hysteria is not. The indicators that they would look at, Wolf, on all of these levels -- so they have the -- a leader of ISIS saying you'll get extra bon us points in heaven if you do an event in Ramadan. Obviously the Fourth of July is a big holiday. Then you saw early chatter saying we were going to have these broad events around the world, then you saw the events around the world, both with the British tourists, you saw it in Kuwait, you saw some activities in France and other places, you saw the arrests here in the United States. So their activities met the rhetoric. And so that's why I think they're going cautious. They're saying we

got a lot of rhetoric saying bad things are going to happen, we see lots of communication between people we're concerned about. Let's raise the alert. But again, there's nothing specific. I would not alter your plans this holiday; I don't believe it's that serious. I do think it's serious enough that they're worried that someone will self-activate and try to do something.

BLITZER: Because when you get these kinds of directives coming in from the Secretary of Homeland Security, the director of the FBI, the head of counterterrorism at the NYPD, people obviously are going to get nervous, but I think you give good advice.

Stand by. We have much more to discuss. We'll take a quick break. More with Mike Rogers, the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, when we come back.



BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story. With federal authorities warning of possible terror threats tied to the July 4th holiday weekend, law enforcement on alert, a heightened state of alert across the country. And a massive response for a 911 call this morning at the Washington Navy Yard, illustrates just how seriously the warnings are being taken.

[17:18:20] We're back with the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, our CNN national security commentator, Mike Rogers. Is the concern more about some sort of isolated lone individual, a lone wolf as he's called, inspired by ISIS? Or some sort of more complex plot directed by al Qaeda, shall we say, to take down a plane or bomb a building?

ROGERS: Primarily the former. The latter involves lots of logistical planning that allows law enforcement to disrupt our intelligence services to disrupt. And they would get some sense of that -- not always. I mean, there's no guarantee of that, but they would get some sense that there was a bigger operation.

What they're worried about now is, because of this self -- the calls through social media, think about that, how often they are touching people in the United States, around Europe, every day, they being ISIS, saying, "Hey, this is your time." It's Ramadan, we want you to step up to the plate and engage in some terrorist attack. That is -- it's still a touch. It doesn't necessarily mean they're a lone wolf, but they're activated in their own minds to go do something. That is so much more different for law enforcement, our FBI, our federal law enforcement here, local law enforcement and intelligence services to disrupt. Because it doesn't have the logistics package that goes with it where they can get some sense of what's happening.

BLITZER: What I'm told is they're obviously very concerned about the social media talent that ISIS, shall we say, has, the public information going out the holy month of Ramadan. You have until mid- July, or so. You get extra points in heaven if you go out and engage in some sort of suicide attack right now, but there's beyond the public rhetoric, the leader of ISIS sending out a message publicly on social media. There's a lot of chatter, as they say, that's now encrypted that's going on, as well. It's much more difficult to monitor.

[17:20:09] ROGERS: Well, it's very, very problematic for law enforcement. Remember, the big political debate in America was, we were concerned a phone call from Syria to the United States might be going to a U.S. citizen without a warrant. We are on the wrong side of this political debate. So they've made it more difficult for our intelligence services to try to get the information that they need. They'll get it. It just takes them longer, No. 1.

And No. 2, this encrypted communication that is now global, and so the terrorists have taken full advantage of a communications system that is -- that our intelligence service can't break, to communicate terrorist operational actions. This is a big and growing problem for all of us.

And I know the debate on privacy, and we certainly need to protect that. But we've now created a network, a social media network, that is immune from intelligence and law enforcement intervention that they can use to plan and carry out terrorist attacks. It's a huge problem. And that's why law enforcement is on edge.

BLITZER: We matter from congresswoman Martha McSally yesterday. She said, and she's done some checking, throughout the federal government, in terms of counters the social media capabilities of is and these other terror groups, you know how many federal employees in the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, State Department, elsewhere there are who are engaged in counters that social media pro-U.S. social media? You know how many she said?

ROGERS: I would be interested in her number.

BLITZER: Sixteen. Sixteen people in the federal government working against the hundreds, if not thousands of ISIS sympathizers out there who are spreading their anti-American terrorist propaganda.

ROGERS: Because even when I was chairman, Wolf, there was no coordinated effort to go against the social media messaging from ISIS. And you -- they have come a whole other generation beyond the al Qaeda videos, the grainy videos in the cave with Osama bin Laden preaching and providing advice and counsel to terrorists around the world. They are now aggressive, and they're doing it very well. So they have music. It's completely targeted to their audience, a younger viewer. They have music, and it's hip music. The messages is geared toward that individual, and it's about empowerment. And it's very well done, very flashy. It moves a lot. It would draw your attention, draw your eye, and inspire someone to do something that they might not want to do.

BLITZER: It's hard for me to believe they are so much better at social media than we are. ROGERS: Well, we can't get the policy right, because the policy, as

always, is always pushed back, including Congress, by the way. Well, you've got to be careful about pushing back on social media. There's some free speech in there. You know, my mother used to tell me, Wolf, that your free speech ends when the end of your fist touches the beginning of my nose.

When you have terrorists overseas propagandizing, calling for terrorist acts, teaching people how to build bombs, telling people, "This is your chance, grab a gun and go shoot somebody or get a knife and cut their head off," this is a time for us to act.

The reason there's only 16 is because there's paralysis across the federal government about what to do, how do you push back? Capability exists. We just need to be able to connect that capability with policy.

BLITZER: We know the president of the United States, the U.S. military, the CIA, they authorize drone strikes or whatever, to take out military commanders of ISIS. Just today we just saw the emir of suicide bombers killed, a $3 million bounty on his head. He's gone.

Is there a similar program to take out their social media propagandists, if you will? Or are they are off-limits?

ROGERS: Well, it's not necessarily they're off-limits. I think the policy just hasn't married up to what the threat is. Well, and so if the congresswoman is right and there's only 16, I think the intelligence services have a different set of capability.

If there's only 16 across the government, it tells you that there is no coordinated effort to go after a disruption activity. Now, that could kinetic, as you talked about in the case of al-Harzi, who was just taken off the battlefield, or it could be a cyber-disruption. And either way, you can help stop that messaging.

When you have a military organization combining its efforts, including social media, that means that they are legitimate targets when they declare war on the United States, as they're doing. Our policy hasn't matched up to that.

BLITZER: All right. Mike Rogers, thanks very much. Important information as we go into this July 4th holiday weekend. Thank you. It's quiet (ph).

Now coming up, Donald Trump talks about immigration and rape. Republican leaders cringe. They worry he's driving away, potentially, Latino voters. We're going to survey the political damage.

Later an exclusive, an inside look at Kim Jong-un's space program. Is it peaceful, as the North Koreans claim?


[17:26:23] BLITZER: There was some pandemonium at the Washington Navy Yard today, a massive security responsible to a call about a possible shooter inside. There have been worries of possible terror threats tied to the July 4 holiday weekend.

Joining us snow, our CNN national security analyst, Peter Bergen; our counter-terrorism analyst and former CIA official, Phil Mudd; our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes; and our military analyst, retired lieutenant general Mark Hertling. Guys, thanks very much.

Did they overreact this morning, Tom, at the U.S. Navy Yard here in Washington when they got a 911 call about a possible shooter?

TOM FUENTES, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Wolf, it's hard to tell, because we're seeing the view down the street of all the police cars and the flashing lights. We really couldn't tell by those camera angles how much of a respond they had.

[17:30:01] FUENTES: And Chief Cathy Lanier of the Washington Metro Police Department later said that this was the normal reaction that they had trained and prepared for. And it wasn't increased because of the Fourth of July holiday or any recent threats. That this is what they expected and that they planned this response after practicing, following the 2013 attack.

BLITZER: The 2013 attack, General Hertling, killed 12 people, some guy just opened up and started shooting. I suspect that played a big role when there was a 911 call this morning saying that there could be a shooter, there could be shots being fired at the Navy Yard today.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, all indicators, Wolf, were inside the Naval Yard, the base commander had a pretty calm and collected plan. He had coordinated with the police and the Navy security detail, that inside the yard, in the search of the buildings and the elements that occurred within his compound were pretty smooth and pretty coordinated, but I've got to tell you from a former commander standpoint, to me I think the Washington police need to do a quick after-action review of this.

I hate to critique, but it looked like a bunch of kids running toward a soccer ball in a 5-year-old game. It was uncoordinated on the outside. There were some things going on that it looked like everybody was heading towards the outer streets and then the Ninth around that Washington Naval Yard. We can't afford to continue to have that. We all need to take a deep breath when these kind of calls come in.

BLITZER: I think that's well said because it looked like there were so many law enforcement personnel, military personnel, Washington D.C. police, others just running towards that area. Fortunately there was no -- nothing bad occurred, but it could have been bad indeed.

Phil, I want to play a clip for you. This is from John Miller, he's the head of counterterrorism for the NYPD in New York, a lot of experience in this area. We all know him, used to be an intelligence analyst for ABC News, CBS. I want you to listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEP. COMMISSIONER JOHN MILLER, NEW YORK POLICE: This may be potentially the most complex counterterrorism overlay for this even ever.


BLITZER: That's pretty strong words. Looking ahead of this event near the July 4th holiday weekend.


BLITZER: The most complex terror overlay. What do you make of that?

MUDD: He's -- you've got to separate two things. He's talking about the police response to what's happening in New York, that is the celebration for July 4th. That's different than talking about the threat. There's been some people saying this is the biggest threat stream we've seen or the most concerned we've had since 9/11. This is nonsense.

We didn't understand the al Qaeda adversary after 9/11. We didn't understand their anthrax program. We saw a major plot again aircraft in 2006, a plot against New York subways five years ago. We're concerned because there's a group of sympathizers in this country, but anybody who says this is the biggest threat since 9/11, I'd like to go toe-to-toe with them. Go have a cold beer on July 4th. I think we'll be OK.

BLITZER: Because the secretary of the Homeland Security, the FBI director, John Miller, for that matter, Peter, are they overreacting to this potential ISIS threat out there going into this weekend?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, they face a very difficult quandary, which is if you say nothing, somebody happens, then -- and you knew something then, you know, there's a 9/11-style commission and you're called before it. On the other hand, if you look at, let's say, the dozen or so major threat warnings we've seen since 9/11, everybody wakes up the day after the threat expires and we're all alive, and my intuition is on July 6th, we will all, you know, be going about our normal business. That said --

BLITZER: You heard Mike Morell, the former CIA acting director, say a couple of days ago, he wouldn't be surprised if the day after July 4th, we all realize there was a major attack.

BERGEN: Well, we've got 48 hours to find out, but, you know, the Ramadan will continue until the middle of this month, and so there is obviously this heightened threat, but even in the worst case, it's going to be some kind of wannabe jihadi, or the type we saw in Garland, Texas, and they ended up both dead. There were no other casualties. So, you know, I think a little bit of perspective. I agree with my colleague Phil on this one completely.

BLITZER: General Hertling, I know this, but we just learned a British airbase used by U.S. forces has canceled the July 4th event over security fears. Should U.S. military bases in this country, overseas, go about business as usual during not only this weekend, but through the end of the holy month of Ramadan which ends in mid-July?

HERTLING: It's a tough call, Wolf. And I had to make that decision a couple of times as a commander of the U.S. Army in Europe. We in fact had about 60 bases around the country not only in Germany, but in Italy, in the Benelux, and some of the ones had constant threat streams that we had to monitor. You have to make your decision based on the intelligence you have at the location. It can't be a one-size- fit-all.

You can't cancel it across the board, but if you've got some kind of threat in one location and it's prudent to cancel the activities, it's a good thing for a commander to do. I don't know the situation at the British base where the U.S. forces are. That may be the case, and it's in England, from what I understand. So they've been having some difficulties with some jihadists in that particular country.

[17:35:10] BLITZER: We know a coalition airstrike -- I assumed the U.S. airstrike -- killed the emir of suicide bombers, a guy by the name of Tariq al-Harzi today. There was a $3 million State Department bounty on his head. Is this a big deal or a little deal?

BERGEN: Well, you know, one person being taken off the battlefield doesn't equal a successful campaign. I mean, you have to take out the entire network. And this guy is going to be replaced tomorrow by somebody else with the same job. Not to underplay that he was a significant player, but you have to take out the entire middle management of this group.

BLITZER: Phil, you agree?

MUDD: I would take a step forward. Look, I think it's a bigger deal than that. Not because of the one individual but because if you look at operations over recent months that have been successful, operations in Libya, airstrikes successful operations again the number two for al Qaeda in Yemen, we had the finance guy from ISIS taken down, so in sum, this is a significant. And I agree with Peter, if it's isolation, I'd say one at a time is not enough, but the outs tempo is pretty good.

BLITZER: We're going to stay on of this. Don't go too far away, guys. There's other news we're following as well.

Coming up, Republican leaders grow more and more worried about the potential backlash over Donald Trump's comments about illegal immigration and rapists.

And later, the last country on earth you'd expect to have a space program. We have an inside exclusive look at what North Korea's Kim Jong-Un may be up to right now.


[17:41:08] BLITZER: Breaking now, we're getting word of growing anxiety among Republican leaders because of all the attention and the potential damage among Latino voters generated almost every time Donald Trump talks about immigration. CNN's Athena Jones is keeping track of the backlash. What are seeing

over there, Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, this really could turn into a big political issue for Republicans. They're trying to expand the party's appeal to minorities this election season. Not shrink it. That's why we're hearing more and more contenders coming out against Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're killing our country.

JONES: A fiery Donald Trump.

TRUMP: Don, people are pouring over the border.

JONES: Combative as ever.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Why did you have to say they were rapists, though, Donald?

JONES: Telling CNN's Don Lemon his attack on Mexican immigrants as, among other things, rapists, is backed up by a 2014 Fusion report about Central American women raped while traveling to the border.

TRUMP: All you have to do is go to Fusion and pick up the stories on rape.

LEMON: That's about women being raped. It's not about criminals coming across the border or entering the country.

TRUMP: Somebody is doing the raping, Don.

JONES: One of the report's author says the real estate mogul misrepresented its findings.

The firestorm over Trump's racial remarks comes as the Republican Party is trying to make inroads with Hispanic voters to win back the White House in 2016, and it's pushing his rivals to distance themselves from him.

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think Donald Trump's remarks reflect the Republican Party.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The comments were inappropriate. They have no place in the race.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you label a group of people as rapists and drug dealers, it's more about you than it is them.

JONES: Last place candidate George Pataki calling on the rest of the field to denounce Trump, prompting the Twitter-happy tycoon to tweet insults at the former New York governor. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida governor Jeb Bush began blasting Trump even before Pataki's letter.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't agree with him, pretty simple.

JONES: Trump telling CNN he doesn't think much of Bush or of his chances of becoming president.

TRUMP: I don't think he's got the gravitas.

JONES: And that Christie's moments has passed.

TRUMP: I think it's just not going to happen.

JONES: But not everyone is piling on the former reality star. Texas Senator Ted Cruz prompted a thank-you tweet from the Donald when he defended him on FOX Tuesday, doubling down a day later.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he speaks the truth. I don't think you should apologize for speaking out against the problem that is illegal immigration.

JONES: While Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul ducked the question.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not in the business today of addressing and taking on other candidates for the race.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know what he's been saying, but he apparently is drawing a lot of attention.


JONES: And that attention is Trump rise in the polls, but it's costing him lucrative business deals with Univision, NBC Universal and Macy's. Now Serta is putting to rest its line of Trump mattresses. And the advocacy group Hispanics Across America is calling on Amazon, eBay and Century 21 Department Stores to cut ties with Trump, threatening to organize boycotts if they don't -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Athena, thanks very much.

In Wisconsin, meanwhile, earlier this afternoon, President Obama took a couple of swipes at the 2016 Republican presidential candidates. He also took credit for some of the best economic numbers of his presidency. We learned today that June's unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent. It hasn't been that low since April of 2008 when the jobless rate was 5 percent. The U.S. economy was just starting to collapse, and peaked, by the way, the unemployment rate, at 10 percent during President Obama's first year in office. It's been coming down slowly but steadily ever since.

Let's go to our White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski. She's joining us with more -- Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf. Yes, this was like a President Obama victory lap part two. But, you know, on the one hand, you always have the White House touting economic numbers, and then on the other you have some analysts who say, well, wait a minute, what about wage stagnation? Or how many people have just given up looking for a job out of frustration?

[17:45:15] So you're always left with this question is, is the American economy doing well or not? The answer is it is doing pretty well, and especially when you compare it to other countries overseas that are still grappling to recover.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bottom line is top- down economics doesn't work, middle-class economics works.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): President Obama today in Wisconsin fired up over jobs, another 223,000 added in June, unemployment at its lowest in seven years. Add to that another sharp dig at Republicans.

OBAMA: I'm lost count of how many Republicans are running for this job. They'll have enough for an actual "Hunger Games." They keep on coming up with the same old trickle-down you're-on-your-own economics that helped bring about the crisis back in 2007, 2008 in the first place.

KOSINSKI: Here in D.C.

RYAN JACKSON, RECENTLY HIRED: I got hired. See, a woman just said congratulations.

KOSINSKI: 26-year-old Ryan Jackson from Michigan just moved here to find better job prospects, and found two in one day at a restaurant and in retail. He accepted both. Not his dream jobs, but it's changed his life.

JACKSON: It was about me, my personality, what these people thought that I could bring to their companies. So it was an ego booster, financial booster.

KOSINSKI: The latest report on jobs shows some healthy hiring, including a welcome uptick in demand in white collar field. And yet another drop in unemployment to 5.3 percent now. This is the longest stretch of private sector job growth in U.S. history. 5.6 million jobs total added in just the last two years. And while wages remain largely stagnant, for those being hired, things are at least looking up.

JACKSON: That's two jobs in one day.


KOSINSKI: So one of the questions that's out there that's always up for debate is when you look at that lower unemployment number, how much of that is because a lot of people simply stopped looking for a job because they couldn't find one or large numbers of baby boomers now hitting retirement. Another good number to look at, though, is underemployment. How many

people are out there who have jobs but want to be working more hours and couldn't find it, or people who are overqualified for the jobs they've been able to find? That number is also down. And that is a good sign -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good to have a job, even if you're not necessary making as much as you'd like to have -- like to be making, it's good to have a job, certainly a lot better than being unemployed.


BLITZER: All right, Michelle. Thanks very much.

Coming up, CNN takes you inside North Korea for an exclusive look at Kim Jong-Un's space program. Is he interested in science or is he developing rockets that could hit the U.S.?


[17:52:23] BLITZER: Tonight we have an exclusive and disturbing look inside North Korea's space program.

CNN's Will Ripley traveled to Pyongyang. He spoke with North Korean insiders. Here's his exclusive report.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ninety seconds after launch in April 2012, this North Korean rocket exploded. It was the latest in a string of disappointments for Pyongyang's fledgling space program. Eight months later, a different story. A North Korean observation satellite reportedly made orbit.

Two of the scientists behind that launch deny claims from Western observers the satellite was damaged, essentially becoming space junk.

"It's running normally," says Yun Chang-Hyok. "Of course sometimes we do have problems with communication and data transmission."

The National Aerospace Development Administration, NADA, has so far seen more stumbles than success. That's not stopping North Korea from annual increases in space spending. Even as wealthier nations cut back. The U.N. World Food Program says 18 million North Koreans, 70 percent of the population, is food insecure. Highly vulnerable to food shortages.

(On camera): Is this a program that your country can afford?

(Voice-over): "It's essential," he says. "Our goal is to improve the economy and people's living standards." He says observation satellites will lead to advances in weather forecasting and agriculture. Helping North Korea reach its goal of producing enough food to feed its own people. Late leader Kim Jong-Il made science and technology one of North Korea's three pillars of power and prosperity, along with ideology and guns. Many international experts say Pyongyang's space program is really a

ballistic missile program in disguise. "We find that absurd," says Hyong Gwang-Il. "The United States and its followers are trying to stifle and isolate my country." He claims North Korea already has ballistic missiles that can hit anywhere in the world.

The U.S. and its allies also worry about Pyongyang's growing nuclear arsenal and suspected cooperation with nations like Iran.

"If I tell you which countries are cooperating with us, the United States will accuse them of developing intercontinental ballistic missile technology," he says, adding, fear of bullying and sanctions scares away prospective partners.

Crippling U.N. sanctions have hurt but not stopped North Korean space ambitions. These scientists say at least two advance satellites are ready to launch any time. Their message, especially to the American people, Pyongyang's, quote, "peaceful space program" poses no threat.

"Trust us," he says. "The West is too suspicious about our program. If you won't trust us, at least suspend the sanctions and don't stop us from going forward."

[17:55:08] RIPLEY (on camera): Despite decades of isolation, sanctions, and struggle, North Korea continues developing its space program. While they'd like international cooperation, they say they'll keep going with or without it.

Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.


BLITZER: And coming up, we're learning more about this terrible plane crash all caught on camera. We have new details about a pilot's stunning mistake.


BLITZER: Happening now, terror alarm. Police respond with a massive show of force to an active shooter scare here in the nation's capital. Tonight the lockdown is over. But are the counter terror teams ready for the worst?

[18:00:09] July 4 fears. Amid growing concerns about an ISIS-inspired attack this holiday weekend, a U.S. military celebration has just been canceled. We're tracking the terror threats across the U.S. right now.