Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Leads Bush and Rubio in Florida; E-Mail Controversy Sheds Light on Clinton's Confidante; Former President Carter Diagnosed with Cancer; U.S. Steps Up Warnings about Putin's Russia; Clinton Campaign Defending Email Practices; Obama Administration Says Iran Won't Self- Inspect Nuke Sites. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 20, 2015 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Putin's aggression. As the Russian leader keeps everyone guessing about his next moves, the U.S. and its allies now flexing their military muscles. And there's a sharp new warning from the Pentagon.

Classified controversy. Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state has been hurting her campaign to become president. Now a top aide, someone who Clinton calls a second daughter, is at the center of attention.

Grudge match. Donald Trump and Jeb Bush go after each other at a town hall showdown. As Trump stretches his lead over Republican rivals, is the primary campaign getting personal?

And Carter's cancer. The former president holds an extraordinary news conference to share details of his diagnosis. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta was there. He's standing by to join us.

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

The Pentagon is sounding a drumbeat of concern about the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Today top generals are calling Russia the top threat to America right now. The defense secretary, Ash Carter, today stepped up his dire warnings, as well, labeling Russia under Putin -- and I'm quoting him now -- as an antagonist to the United States.

Plus, Hillary Clinton's campaign is gearing up to defend her use of a private e-mail server as the secretary of state. It's a controversy that won't go away. And now the FBI has the server.

And a top Clinton aide is the focus of a hearing by a federal judge today. I'll talk with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa and our correspondents, analysts and guests, they're standing by with full coverage of all of today's big stories.

But let's begin with the very latest warning, and it is a stark warning from the Pentagon about Vladimir Putin. Let's go straight to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Wolf. You know, Vladimir Putin has cherished his action man image for years,

but now tonight the Pentagon expressing a good deal of concern about the reality of what Putin may be up to.


STARR (voice-over): As violence escalates in Ukraine, and Russia moves forward to deliver a sophisticated missile system to Iran, tonight new very carefully chosen words from the defense secretary about the Russian threat.

ASHTON CARTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Vladimir Putin's Russia behaves in many respects as -- in some respects, and from very important respects as an antagonist. That is new. That is something, therefore, that we need to adjust to and counter.

STARR: This follows the most senior generals also sounding a warning.

GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, INCOMING JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I'd have to point to Russia. And if you look at the behavior, it's nothing short of alarming.

GEN. MARK MILLEY, U.S. ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: I would put Russia right now, from a military perspective, as a No. 1 threat.

STARR: Why are they all saying this? Military intelligence analysts increasingly worry Putin would turn his eye on Eastern Europe, far beyond the violence he backs in Ukraine. As tensions rise...

A. CARTER: Russia poses existential threat to the United States by virtue simply of the size of the nuclear arsenal that it's had.

STARR: There's little indication Putin will help the U.S. in Syria by encouraging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to either step down or find a political solution to his war on his own people.

The Pentagon is struggling to find a way to train a moderate Syrian rebel force willing to fight ISIS rather than Assad. The first 54 U.S.-trained fighters essentially melted away after being attacked. The U.S. may now turn to others.

A. CARTER: The Kurds in both Syria and Iraq have been exactly what we've been talking about earlier, namely a capable and motivated ground force at taking and holding territory.

STARR: Training Syrian rebels, getting Iraqi forces able to retake Ramadi, and getting the Turks to shut down the border, all essential to winning the war on ISIS.

(on camera): The intelligence community says it's a stalemate.

A. CARTER: Then you can report that, but I'm not going to try to characterize it.

(END VIDEOTAPE) STARR: Now Carter says he is convinced the ISIS strategy is working, but U.S. military intelligence analysts have said behind the scenes, right now, at least in Iraq, it is a stalemate; and the outcome is not certain -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara, what else is the U.S. doing to counter this perceived threat from Putin?

STARR: Well, in Europe right now yet again, a series of military war games, the U.S. and ten NATO nations training intensively in airborne operations, meaning that they can all basically jump into a hot war zone and fight together as a NATO team, if necessary.

[17:05:14] Over the coming months, you are going to see an almost continuous presence of NATO nations, including the U.S., in various places in Europe, especially Eastern Europe. Training, exercising, conducting war games.

The feeling is Vladimir Putin is not a guy who's open to a deal, that you will have to show military strength for him to even begin to get the message -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, thank you. Hillary Clinton's campaign is now scrambling to get on top of the controversy surrounding the use of a private e-mail server as the secretary of state. The FBI now has that server, and intelligence officials want further scrutiny of some 300 e-mails that passed through it. Now a top Clinton aide is the focus of a hearing by a federal judge.

Let's get a closer look at how this whole controversy got started. CNN's Tom Foreman is here in THE SITUATION ROOM to walk us through what has gone on -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been a long timeline, Wolf. Let's sort it out.

Clinton's private e-mail server appears to have been set up in late 2008 or early 2009, just before she was confirmed as secretary of state. And she says she then used it for both her private and public e-mails throughout her four years in office.

It was not, however, until March of 2013 that we saw the first reports that would eventually reveal she was using this private e-mail for all of her official business.

She has said it was just for convenience, and she has dismissed the entire affair as basically a partisan tempest in a teapot. Listen.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's take a deep breath here. Everything I did was permitted by law and regulation.


FOREMAN: Still, it took until December of 2014 for her to turn over 50,000 printed pages of e-mails to the State Department. And it took until March of 2015, almost two years after she left office, for it to become clear that she had been using this private e-mail and that she had handed over 30,000 e-mails, and that 31,000, almost 32,000 had been deleted in this process. It was all being handled by a private server in her home. That's when it also became clear, meaning the government never possessed a complete record of her official communications while she was in office.

Clinton said at that time she'd handed over a grant total of all of these messages, and basically, she said the ones she deleted were personal. And she'd been very careful about what she said about the nature of classified information. First of all, she said there was no classified information in her messages. And now she's saying this. Listen.


CLINTON: I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received.


FOREMAN: And now we've reached this point, where her team has now handed over to the Justice Department that server that was in her home, that private server, even as the candidate has laughed off questions about whether or not the hard drive has been wiped of information. Listen.


CLINTON: What, like with a cloth or something? Well, no.


FOREMAN: In the end, the questions that had been raised by all of this come down to three really key ones here. First of all, members of Congress and other officials want to know, did she violate some basic -- let's get it up here so you can see it. Did she violate some basic regulations about keeping records by relying so heavily on a private system instead of a government e-mail account?

Second, what was in all those deleted e-mails? Right now we have only her word that they contained nothing of importance, it's just personal.

And third, any classified information left vulnerable by her e-mail practices, Wolf. These are the three questions that are coming out of that timeline that continue to drive this story.

BLITZER: Yes, it's certainly not going away, at least not yet. And it's clearly having an impact on her presidential campaign. Tom Foreman, thanks very much.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California. He serves on the Judiciary and the Foreign Affairs Committee. He's called for a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of private email -- a private email server.

Why do you think a criminal investigation instead of what the FBI is now doing is necessary?

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, Wolf, the one thing we now know is that, as they said, about 300 separate e-mails, maybe more, contain classified information. And I think it's important to get above the discussion of classified documents and so on. If you or I go to a briefing, and we receive classified information, and we then produce an e-mail that says things that were in that briefing, that is disclosing classified information. That appears to be what happened.

So without getting into legalese or classified at the time, it looks like her assistant may have produced e-mails back and forth with her that utilized classified information. That's clearly a crime. It not only is a wrongful disclosure potentially, but it made us very vulnerable by its very nature. Even if it had been done on a government site, it still would have been wrong.

[17:10:17] BLITZER: Because she continues to say and her aides say she didn't send or receive classified information, information that at the time was classified or marked classified. Do you have any reason to doubt that?

ISSA: Oh, no. I think she's a very talented lawyer, very smart woman. I think she clearly is use the "is/is" type terminology very carefully.

Again, if Huma had classified information in front of her, and she was typing e-mails back and forth to Hillary Clinton, and Secretary Clinton was receiving classified information, she's smart enough to know this was classified information.

There is a problem. That is a real question. Did somebody violate the basic "Keep a secret secret, don't send it out in an unclassified format"? And that appears to be what probably happened.

So is it classified documents being sent out? No. Is it classified information being sent out?

It's not an accident to have 300 e-mails become retroactively, if you will, determined to be classified. That means somebody sent out classified information and did not recognize it as classified.

Huma, her assistant, her second daughter, if you will, is brilliant. Hillary Clinton is brilliant. So the question is, are people that smart unable to recognize sensitive classified information? I don't believe so. And I think the FBI needs to look at this, because in fact her server may very well have been constantly observed by third parties, because quite candidly it's not a classified network. It didn't enjoy the robust protection that one would expect to have.

BLITZER: Well, my understanding is those 300 e-mails they're looking at now, that they haven't definitively ruled that it was classified information. They're going over it right now. There seems to be a dispute going on between the State Department and other agencies of the U.S. government what should have been classified, even if it had not been classified at the time. Is that your understanding, as well?

ISSA: Well, it is. But I'll give you a little piece of history. During my chairmanship, it was amazing how the State Department classified the most mundane information, even when publicly available. In this case, it appears as though State would like to say these things weren't particularly classified.

Well, the CIA and NSA and other clandestine agencies appear to be appalled that very sensitive information was sent out on her nongovernment server in an unclassified format.

BLITZER: Congressman, we have much more to discuss, including our top story, the latest stark warnings coming from the Pentagon about what Russia is up to. Stand by.

Much more with Congressman Darrell Issa, right after this.


[17:17:38] BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story. The Pentagon today issuing a stark warning about recent Russian moves under President Vladimir Putin.

We're back with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California. He serves on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committee.

The defense secretary, Ash Carter, says the U.S. needs to adjust -- adjust and to counter Russia's behavior. What do you recommend? What should the U.S. be doing right now?

ISSA: Well, I think the important thing is to stop looking at Russia as a partner in peace. They're not a partner with us in Syria; they're an obstruction. They're part of the reason that Assad is still there. They're playing games right now in Egypt. They're obviously trying to get a deal that's profitable for them in Iran.

One of the challenges for Putin, though, and I think we have to look at the existential threat that General Ash Carter talked about, and that is Putin, to hold onto power, has to have turmoil. He has to have something he's doing. So it's now in Vladimir Putin's best interests to be expansionist, to be involved in military conflict, in order to mask the fact that this glorified gas station he runs, this mineral exporting country, in fact, is not doing more for its people.

That's what makes him so dangerous. I think it's why the Department of Defense broadly knows it's a dangerous time, because Putin must do bad things in order to maintain his power.

BLITZER: Ash Carter, just to be precise, he's the defense secretary, not a general. But I know you misspoke.

ISSA: I corrected myself on that.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit about Iran right now. I assume you oppose this proposed nuclear deal with Iran, right? ISSA: The deal as it is, obviously, is worse than a status quo. And

I think that's becoming overwhelmingly accepted by both Republicans and Democrats.

BLITZER: The Obama administration, though, says that Iran will not be self-respecting that sensitive nuclear facility. It's called the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency. They say would have oversight, even as Iranian inspectors go in there and take out soil samples and other -- and other material. Is that OK with you?

ISSA: Well, since 2006, the IAEA has wanted to go into that site, and they've been stopped. At the moment that we signed a deal, Iran could have allowed them to go in on whatever protocol so they'd be satisfied they've looked at this prohibited site. They haven't done it. When the U.N. had its vote, they could have done it.

[17:20:08] The fact is that a side agreement can only limit the ability for those anywhere anytime inspections. So am I concerned that there are more things coming out that seem to limit a deal that already wasn't good enough, and that Iran, who easily could have said, good faith, let's let them into that site, is now still holding out until 90 days after ratification, which means the Congress has to vote first and then Iran will decide whether, after nine years, they're going to allow something that they've been clearly stonewalling for the last nine years.

BLITZER: Darrell Issa, Congressman from California, thanks very much for joining us.

ISSA: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, Donald Trump intensifies his attacks on Jeb Bush during a town hall in New Hampshire. Why is the Republican presidential front-runner suggesting Jeb Bush is putting his audience to sleep?


TRUMP: You know what's happening to Jeb's crowd, as you know, right down the street? They're sleeping.



[17:25:46] BLITZER: Donald Trump and Jeb Bush held dueling town halls in the key primary state of New Hampshire. Trump took the first swing last night, suggesting the crowd at Bush's event slept through the speech.


TRUMP: Right down the road we have Jeb. Very small crowd. We have 2,500. You have the best real estate, by the way. You have the best real estate. You know what's happening to Jeb's crowd, as you know, right down the street? They're sleeping! They're sleeping now. But you know, I saw that Jeb made a statement. And I wrote it down,

because I couldn't even -- I couldn't even believe it. We're talking about Iraq, OK? Now, we're in for $2 trillion. Thousands of lives, thousands, great people, great people. Wounded warriors who are the best.

And Jeb made the statement about the possibility of going back into Iraq. He said, I give you the exact quote -- "The Iraqis want our help" -- we don't even know if there is an Iraq. Every time a bullet is fired, they run. They leave our Humvees; they drop the equipment. You know, the enemy has our best equipment. We have the old stuff.

So he said, "The Iraqis want our help." Now listen to this. This is after all we've spent. "They want to know that we have skin in the game." Can you believe it? And I thought that was incredibly dumb, as dumb as, on immigration, an act of love. It's an act of love when they come in. It's an act of love. Or a belief in common core.

And the reason I talk about Jeb is, he was supposed to do well in New Hampshire. He's, you know, going down like a rock, how but does he do well?


BLITZER: But Jeb Bush fired right back, telling CNN's Athena Jones that Trump isn't a true conservative.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump, here, also in Iowa, nationally and in your own state in Florida, he said last night your crowd was sleeping. How do you respond to that?

BUSH: That's an insult.

JONES: The narrative that your campaign lacks enthusiasm?

BUSH: You're repeating the echo of the narrative. You know, so look, if you went to the event, you would have found that there was a lot of enthusiasm. And there's a big difference between Donald Trump and me. I'm a proven conservative with a record. He isn't.

I cut taxes every year. He's proposed the largest tax increase in mankind's history, not just our own country's history.

I have been consistently pro-life. He until recently was for partial- birth abortion. I don't -- I've never met a person that actually thought that that was a good idea.

I believe we need to reform our health care system to make sure that we stop the suppression of wages and allow people to have access to insurance. He's for a single-payer system. And he actually advocates these things.

He's been a Democrat longer than being a Republican. I have fought for Republican and conservative causes all my adult life. And I just think when people get this narrative, whatever the new term is, the compare and contrast narrative, then they're going to find that I'm going to be the guy that they're going to vote for. And it's a long haul, man.


BLITZER: Let's discuss what's going on. Joining us, our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin; our CNN political contributor, S.E. Cupp; and Republican strategist Eric Fehrnstrom. He's the former communications director to presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Guys, thanks very much.

Eric, last night Trump also specifically not once, but a few times went after your former boss, Mitt Romney. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Mitt Romney let us down. She should have won that election. He failed, he choked, no different than a golfer that misses a putt on the 18th hole. No different than a man who strikes out, a baseball player. He let us down. Mitt Romney should have won that election.


BLITZER: All right. What's your reaction when you hear that, Eric?

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Wolf, you remember that movie "Network" from the 1970s and the character Howard Beale? Well, Donald Trump reminds me a lot of Howard Beale.

Howard told people if they felt angry and frustrated, get up, go to the window, stick your head out, and yell, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."

The solutions to the problems weren't as important as expressing your frustration over them. And I think that's the type of candidate we have in Donald Trump.

[17:30:08] And I think this is a good pairing for Jeb Bush. I think Jeb wants this comparison. He wants people to decide between what he calls his proven conservative leadership versus Trump's bombastic shoot-from-the-hip style. And I think you're going to hear from the Bush campaign and probably from the other campaigns a lot more attacks against the Trump liberal record, whether it's his support for a wealth tax or single payer or his pro-choice position on abortion.

BLITZER: Which he says he's now changed. He's evolved on that sensitive issue.

S.E., there's a new Quinnipiac University poll, came out today. In Jeb Bush's home state of Florida, this poll now shows among Republicans Trump is at 21 percent, Bush is at 17, Rubio, the senator from Florida, down to 11.


BLITZER: He's even leading in Jeb Bush's home state. What do you make of that?

CUPP: A couple of things, the margin of error there is about 4.5 points, so he and Jeb were actually neck and neck.

BLITZER: Potentially.

CUPP: Potentially. That also means that 80 percent of Florida Republicans have decided not to make Donald Trump their number one guy. So I actually think it's August 2015, and Trump's got a long way to go to make those poll numbers lasting. And the more scrutiny the frontrunner faces as we saw last cycle with Rick Perry, with Herman Cain, the more scrutiny you get, the tougher it is to remain.

I'm now saying Donald Trump is going away any time soon. But I'm saying I don't think we need to get too overexcited about some of these poll numbers.

BLITZER: What do you think of the Jeb Bush new strategy to go out there and he's obviously got his talking points. He's got the opposition research his team is putting together to go after Trump on all these sensitive specific issues.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, one thing about television and about presenting yourself is that you can't fake your personality. You know, people are who they are. And Jeb Bush is never going to be Donald Trump. And I think he's doing frankly exactly the right thing. He is trying to call attention to the fact that he has a record, he has these conservative positions, he is not a particularly charismatic person, but he can't turn himself into Donald Trump. He can't turn into an electrifying speaker. So he is doing what's available to him and with a conservative electorate, it's probably a good idea.

BLITZER: Eric, if you are advising any of these Republican candidates, including Jeb Bush, for example, what would you tell them? What would be the strategy? Because you can't ignore the fact that on all of the national polls, in all of the polls now in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, this new poll in Florida, the poll in Quinnipiac did in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Donald Trump is doing so well.

FEHRNSTROM: Well, two things, Wolf. The first is be yourself. Nothing is more phony than a candidate who puts on a different persona. And then secondly, as Jeffrey said, you know, these campaigns are designed to be long enough so that voters can take the full measure of a candidate. If the election were held today based on the polling we're seeing, Trump would be our nominee. But the election isn't going to be held today. It'll take place over a period of months next year.

And you can't predict where things are going to be going, particularly -- I mean, now Jeb we hear that he's going to be spending $15 million starting in the middle of September right before the debate -- the second debate takes place. That's going to scramble all the summer polling that we'd seen. I don't know if they plan on attacking candidates or if it's going to be a pro-Bush message. Whatever they put up on the air is going to persuade people and move numbers. So we'll see where things stand in the fall.

BLITZER: If you were doing those ads, Eric, would you have them be anti-Trump ads or would they be pro, let's say, Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz ads? Would you go negative or stay positive?

FEHRNSTROM: I would stay positive, and I'll tell you why. With a field as large as this one, it's hard to predict where the -- let's say you attack Trump, I don't know if there is any attrition in his numbers where those voters are going to go. It's not guaranteed that they'd go to Bush. I think Bush could benefit from some general advertising about his record in Florida. You've heard him talk about it on the trail. Most people don't know it.

I think Jeb wants to tell that story. And at the same time I think he wants to point out the contrast with some very liberal positions that Donald Trump has taken over the year.

BLITZER: Because as you know, S.E., there's a lot of political advisers who are going to tell these other Republican candidates go negative.

CUPP: Yes.

BLITZER: Especially with the super PACs where the candidates can say well, we have nothing to do with these super PACs.

CUPP: Yes. Not yet. Because honestly not only don't we know where the Trump supporters would go, we don't know where they're pulling from. And it's clear they don't really seem to care that he's not strictly conservative. They don't really seem to care about his record or the wild things that he says. They're sticking.

[17:35:03] So going after Donald Trump on that stuff, I'm not sure that that really has any power among his diehard supporters.

TOOBIN: Another thing to keep in mind is we are in a post-Citizens United world, where a lot of these candidates in the old days might have dropped out because they didn't have any money. But with super PACs all of the -- even Rick Perry who's doing terribly has $17 million in a super PAC that could keep him in the race for a long time. So the division of the vote may continue longer than it otherwise would.

BLITZER: It's a whole new political world out there right now.

Guys, thanks very much. Eric Fehrnstrom, Jeffrey Toobin, S.E. Cupp.

Coming up, Hillary Clinton once referred to a top aide as her second daughter. Why is Hillary Clinton's confidante now at the center of a new controversy surrounding her presidential campaign.


[17:40:25] BLITZER: As controversy swirls around Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server and threatens to drag down her campaign, a woman that Clinton once called her second daughter has been thrust into the spotlight.

Our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with more on Hillary Clinton's longtime aide, Huma Abedin.

What are you finding out right now?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No question, Wolf. Ai mean, outside of the immediate family there may be no one closer to Hillary Clinton than Huma Abedin. As other aides has moved on over the years, she has stayed by Clinton's side, rising from an intern in the first lady's office nearly two decades ago to now the vice chair of her presidential campaign. But now she's also a central figure in this widening e-mail saga.


ZELENY (voice-over): She's never far from Hillary Clinton's side.


ZELENY: Huma Abedin, her loyal confidant for nearly 20 years, now at the center of Clinton's second bid for presidency. The latest controversy weighing down the campaign goes back to e-mail messages like this, from Abedin to Clinton on that private server she used as secretary of state. Few people are closer to Clinton.

CLINTON: So what do we need?



ABEDIN: It looks like a piece of your hair or something.


ZELENY: And just as this interview in Afghanistan ends, she hands Clinton a BlackBerry with a startling message.

CLINTON: Wow, unconfirmed reports about Gadhafi being captured.

ZELENY: Abedin is 39, born in Michigan, raised in Saudi Arabia. She's the nucleus of Clinton's orbit, around the world and on the campaign trail. She met Clinton as an intern in the first lady's office in 1996, often seen, but seldom heard.


ZELENY: Until she stepped into a firestorm of her own.

ABEDIN: This is the first time I've spoken at a press conference, and you'll have to bear with me because I'm very nervous. ZELENY: There she was standing by her man, former New York

congressman, Anthony Weiner.

ABEDIN: I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him. And as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.

ZELENY: Moving forward to a second presidential campaign. Once again Clinton's right hand. But now new questions about her transition as a State Department employee, to a consultant for the Clinton Foundation and other companies.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: The American people still do not know all the facts.

ZELENY: Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, asked how Abedin became a special government employee, allowed to work for Clinton in the private sector. Abedin said she worked in her personal capacity to help prepare for her transition from public service. No stranger to controversy.

ABEDIN: Our marriage, like many others, has had its ups and its downs. It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy to get to a place where I could forgive Anthony.

ZELENY: In this campaign she's no longer in the shadows, but weathering her own challenges, too, as vice chairwoman of Hillary for America.


ZELENY: Now the questions about Abedin's e-mails are part of what the Clinton campaign believes is a pure partisan witchhunt, but in federal court this afternoon as part of a separate Freedom of Information Act request, a judge was assured that all of her documents from the State Department would be turned over by next Friday. Just another sign that one of the closest person's in Clinton's team is now at the center of this controversy, too -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And no sign this controversy is going away anytime soon.

ZELENY: That's right.

BLITZER: All right, Jeff. Thanks very much for that report. Jeff Zeleny reporting.

Coming up, North Korea fires a shot across the border as military exercises continue in the South. Could Kim Jong-Un's threatening rhetoric send the situation out of control?

Also former president Jimmy Carter says he's still hoping to build houses in earthquake-stricken Nepal this year despite his cancer diagnosis. We'll have much more coming up from that very emotional news conference earlier today.



BLITZER: Former president Jimmy Carter today had a remarkable news conference, sharing details, personal details of his recent cancer diagnosis. The cancer that has now spread to his brain.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta was there, he'll join us in just a moment. First, let's go to our national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux for much more.

It was a poignant moment in U.S. history.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And it was really an extraordinary press conference when you think about this. I mean, he was warm, he was open, and he really was at peace with his future.

I've been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview him several times in Atlanta and he's always the same. He is straightforward and he is generous with his time. But today Carter described his battle with cancer as a new adventure that is now in God's hands.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Jimmy Carter appearing relaxed at the Carter Center in blue jeans and a blazer. Announced doctors removed cancer from his liver nearly three weeks ago and it has spread to his brain.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They think they got it all. But it's shown up now in four places in my brain. And it's likely to show up other places in my body as this cancer is detected in the future.

MALVEAUX: Carter will undergo four radiation treatments over the next three months to treat his melanoma and has already begun taking a drug to boost his immune system. His family has a history of pancreatic cancer which killed his father, brother, and two sisters. Carter described coming to terms with his diagnosis.

[17:50:14] CARTER: I just thought I had a few weeks left. But I was surprisingly at ease. I've had an exciting and adventurous, gratifying existence. Now I feel, you know, it's in the hands of God whom I worship. And I'll be prepared for anything that comes.

MALVEAUX: Carter said while he'd still like to travel to Nepal in November for Habitat for Humanity he'll put his treatment first. The 90-year-old former Georgia peanut farmer who became president was reflective about his life.

CARTER: Well, the best thing I ever did was marrying Rosalynn. That's the pinnacle of my life. And we've had 69 years together. Still together.

MALVEAUX: Carter said his biggest regret as president was that he was unable to free the Americans taken hostage in Iran on his watch.

CARTER: I wish I had sent one more helicopter to get the hostages. And we would have rescued them and I would have been re-elected. But that may have --


CARTER: And that may have interfered with the foundation of the Carter Center. And if I had to choose between four more years and the Carter Center, I think I would choose the Carter Center.

MALVEAUX: Through the Carter Center the former first couple have traveled the world for the past three decades doing humanitarian work. I asked President Carter in 2011 what he hoped for his life.

(On camera): What would you like to be remembered in terms of your legacy for your presidency?

CARTER: Well, we always told the truth. We kept our country at peace. We've brought peace to other people around the world. And we promoted human rights and never deviated from that commitment. Those are some of the things of which I'm proud.


MALVEAUX: Today Carter said he received call from both former presidents Bush, Clinton, Obama, their wives as well. Obama tweeted, "We are all pulling for you, Jimmy." Close friends have been sending them peach pies, their favorite. As for Carter he says he plans on teaching Sunday school this weekend as he does every Sunday -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He's a remarkable man. We wish him only, only the best.

All right. Thanks very much for that.

Let's get some more now on President Carter's diagnosis. Let's bring in our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

You were at the news conference in Atlanta today, Sanjay. Let's talk a little bit about it. President Carter revealed he has melanoma in his brain, possibly elsewhere as well. Melanoma is a skin cancer. How unusual is it for melanoma, which had not been diagnosed on his skin, all of a sudden to emerge in his liver and now in his brain?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a bit unusual, no question. And the question really becomes, did he have a skin cancer at some point? And they just didn't find it at the time? Or is this one of those rare situations with melanoma where it can infect, originate from somewhere inside the body, not necessarily on the skin?

We don't know the answer to that question. And as far as his treatment goes and everything else, it doesn't really matter because we know that it's melanoma. We know, as you heard just now, that it has spread to his liver and to his brain. And that's a therapy that he's going to be getting.

I tell you, Wolf, you know, being in that room today, it was -- it was emotional at times. Certainly. Just when he first said that he had this metastatic melanoma, you sort of feel the air go out of the room for a second. And you know, I never heard a president, a former president speak like this. So candid, as Suzanne was alluding to, so candid. Spoke without notes for a good 30 minutes about everything. And was just very forthright. Laid it all out. Was funny at times. But, you know, very emotional at times.

BLITZER: You're a neurosurgeon. I take it surgery in his brain is not in the cards right now? It's either going to be chemotherapy or radiation, is that right?

GUPTA: That's right. For the brain what we know is that there are four areas, four different areas of the brain that appear to have melanoma in it. So you would not typically recommend an operation in that situation because of the nature of this and being different areas of the brain. So it is going to be sort of pinpoint radiation. They use what's called stereotactic radiation and to sort of focus the beams on those areas. And he started that now, he started that this afternoon. He may be already done with his first treatment.

In addition, for the melanoma in his body, they're going to use a type of chemotherapy drug which basically serves to bolster up the immune system as again Suzanne mentioned. That helps the body's own immune system fight the cancer cells in the body. That drug incidentally, just to give you an idea of the status of cancer treatment, the drug he's going to be getting hasn't been approved for a full year yet. So these are some brand new options for him.

BLITZER: We'll wish him of course on behalf of all of our viewers only, only the best. Let's hope he does all right with all of this. He's 90 years old, almost 91 years old.

[17:55:03] Sanjay, thank you very much.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, a dangerous escalation between North and South Korea as live fire now exchanged across the border for the first time in years. So what's behind this sudden eruption of violence?

And concerns about new clashes tonight in St. Louis after a fatal shooting that's rekindled simmering tensions.


BLITZER: Happening now, trading fire. North Korea takes a shot at the South and shells fly across the world's most heavily armed border. Kim Jong-Un is making threats after a landmine blast escalated tensions. Is the situation about to explode?

Iran deal-breaker? We're learning more about an agreement that would allow Iranians to play a role in nuclear inspections of their own site. Tonight President Obama's critics are fuming.