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Donald Trump Rising; Interview With Washington Congressman Adam Smith; North Korea Fears; Gloves Come Off in Bush-Trump Battle; Jenner May Face Manslaughter Charge in Fatal Crash; Police Tear Gas Crowds Protesting Deadly Shooting. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 20, 2015 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: 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.

Bush vs. Trump. Stand by to hear how Jeb Bush is firing back at Donald Trump after the Republican front-runner repeatedly slammed him as unelectable and boring.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what's happening to Jeb's crowd, as you know, right down the street? They're sleeping.


BLITZER: And jail for Jenner? She's reveling in her new life as Caitlyn with the world watching on reality TV. But now she could face a manslaughter charge in a deadly chain reaction car crash. We will examine the case and the possible penalty.

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

Tonight, the United States is closely watching what North Korea's volatile ruler does next after Kim Jong-un's regime and South Korea exchanged rocket and artillery fire at the border. It's the firm armed confrontation between the enemies in five years, tensions clearly on the rise after land mines exploded, wounding two South Korean soldiers.

Tonight, tens of thousands of U.S. troops are in the region. They are engaging in annual military exercises. One false move at the Korean border has the potential to ignite a real war with a nation that has nuclear weapons.

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Adam Smith, is standing by live. He will tell us what he's learning about this new threat.

Our correspondents, analysts, they are also standing by to cover all of the news that is breaking right now.

First, let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He has the very latest on the nuclear -- potential nuclear tension along the Korean Peninsula.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the tension is palpable tonight across the border. This was the first exchange of live fire across that border, across the demilitarized zone, as you mentioned, in five years. It's the got the region on edge tonight.

It has officials in Seoul and here in Washington watching closely what a violent and temperamental young dictator is about to do next.


TODD (voice-over): A dangerous escalation between Kim Jong-un's regime and his sworn enemy. South Korean forces along the demilitarized zone detect a projectile, likely a rocket, fired toward a South Korean loudspeaker system. The South Koreans respond with 36 artillery shells. That's according to U.S. officials, who say they're closely monitoring this tense standoff.

MICHAEL GREEN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: It raises questions, frankly, about Kim Jong-un's style of making tension, provocations, escalation, and whether he knows how to control escalation.

TODD: The stress has been building for weeks. U.S. and South Korean officials believe the North Koreans started it all by planting land mines on the southern side of the DMZ. An explosion on August 4 nearly killed two South Korean soldiers. South Korea responded by resuming loudspeaker broadcasts toward North Korean soldiers for the first time in a decade, messages telling them Kim Jong-un's doing a bad job and there's a better life in South Korea.

And this week, a massive show of force by the U.S. and South Korea, some 30,000 U.S. troops, close to 50,000 South Koreans engaging in previously planned military exercises. One of the areas scheduled for live-fire drills is near the city of Pocheon.

TONY SHAFFER, FORMER U.S. ARMY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Roughly about right here, compared to Seoul being right down there.

TODD: Why do it's close to the DMZ and possibly provoke them?

SHAFFER: We want to make sure that the North Koreans understand that we are serious about making these exercises real with the South Koreas and us. That's why this is great be a live fire exercise. That is to say that you're going to have troops doing drills with actual weapons, with bullets.

TODD: The drills provoked a threat from Kim's regime, implying they could hit the U.S. homeland with a nuclear-tipped missile. U.S. officials and analysts say the North Koreans don't have that capability. But there's still concern tonight over the judgment and temperament of a 32-year-old dictator.

GREEN: The pattern clearly shows that Kim Jong-un, even more than his quite brutal father and grandfather, uses violence.


TODD: Including a pattern of violence in his own inner circle, which makes this escalation even more concerning tonight. Kim Jong-un recently executed his defense minister. A vice premier from North Korea has been missing for eight months. He executed his own uncle.

That, plus the fact that he was willing to launch his first external attack, planting those land mines on the eve of major military exercises by his enemies, is making officials in Washington and Seoul very nervous tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's not forget there are 30,000 U.S. military personnel along that DMZ, that border between North and South Korea.


I understand also, Brian that Kim Jong-un has just given another ultimatum. What's going on?

TODD: That's right. Kim's regime has warned the South Koreans to stop blaring those propaganda messages from the loudspeakers at the border.

The North Koreans say those messages have to stop by Saturday or they're going to take military action. We are going to have to see if this de-escalates from this point. Many people are hoping it will.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you.

Let's go to the region right now for more on these tensions. They're really very serious along the Korean Peninsula.

CNN's Will Ripley is joining us from Beijing right now.

Will, you have done excellent reporting from inside North Korea. You have been there now twice this year alone, and you recently were at the DMZ, the demilitarized zone at that region, which is so tense right now. What are you hearing?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I visited the DMZ in May, Wolf. I will tell you, when I spoke with a junior lieutenant colonel there, he said it was the most tense place on the planet, a place where violence could break out at any time.

And, of course, we are now seeing that come true with these very serious escalations. It's not uncommon, as you know, Wolf, to hear North Korea threaten war, but it is much more rare to see live fire across the DMZ.

And the big fear is that there could be a repeat of October 2010, when there were two separate incidents, including an alleged torpedo attack, that left 50 South Koreans dead. Keep in mind that there are more than one million North Korean soldiers and three-quarters of them are stationed near the DMZ. That is why you have the United States and South Korea watching so closely to see what Kim's next move will be.

BLITZER: And you make a good point. One million North Korean troops not far from the border. Almost one million South Korean troops. Those 30,000 American troops in between. It's a really, really tense situation right now. Let's hope it calms down. We will stay on top of it -- Will Ripley reporting for us from Beijing.

Also tonight, there is new ammunition for critics of the Iran nuclear deal. The Obama administration now acknowledging that there is a side agreement that would allow Iranians to be involved in inspections of their own sensitive military site.

Let's go to our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, who's been working the story for us.

What are you learning, Jim?


And not just times where Iran will be taking part in those inspections, but there will be times where they are carrying out parts of those inspections without the presence of IAEA staff or inspectors. Now, this may seem like a small detail, but for critics of the deal who are looking for, concerned about opportunities for Iran to cheat, to find wiggle room, this has certainly raised a firestorm, not just on Capitol Hill, but also on the campaign trail.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): This is Iran's Parchin military facility, long suspected to be a site of past efforts by Tehran to militarize its nuclear program. Under the draft deal with the U.N., Iranian staff would be involved in inspections at the site, an arrangement that has critics of the nuclear agreement in an uproar.

Republican senator and presidential candidate Lindsey Graham saying -- quote -- "Allowing the Iranians to inspect their own nuclear sites, particularly a notorious military site is like allowing the inmates to run the jail."

A senior State Department official told CNN that the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency would have "total oversight" of sampling and inspections of Parchin under the agreement, between the agency and Iran over access to Parchin.

Iran is not self-inspecting, the official said, though the official would not deny that Iranian inspectors will "play a role." The IAEA does allow for Iran to take swipe samples at Parchin, but IAEA inspectors must be present or monitoring them at the time. Swabs and containment bags used would be provided by the IAEA.

JAMES ACTON, ASSOCIATE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: You're literally taking a material that looks a bit like cotton, and you're swiping it over a surface and putting it in a bag. If it's a face-saving measure for the Iranians to do that, physically watch over by IAEA to insure it's done probably, then frankly I think that's an entirely unproblematic procedure. -

SCIUTTO: Today, the IAEA director said he was "disturbed by statements suggesting that the IAEA has given responsibility to nuclear inspections to Iran", adding that the IAEA has long established protocols for inspecting nuclear facilities or suspected facilities and the agreement will follow those protocols.

Today, the State Department emphasized that the inspection of the current facilities will be more robust.

JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We are very confident that this very aggressive inspection regimen that's in place in the deal going forward for the future is the strongest ever peacefully negotiated.


SCIUTTO: From the beginning of these negotiations, everyone involved has said it's really going to be the devil in the details. This is one of those details, Wolf.


It comes down to this kind of specificity. Will the IAEA be present at the site, whereas Iranian inspectors or officials taking samples elsewhere at the site, without IAEA personnel watching them? Seems like a small difference, but potentially it could have some meaning.

These are one of the things that U.S. officials consistently say that this is confidential, it's between the IAEA and Iran itself. But when you look at this draft agreement, as first obtained by the AP, it does appear to leave some wiggle room there. These are hard questions that the administration's going to have to answer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, they certainly are. Thanks very much, Jim Sciutto, for that.

Let's get some more on this and all the day's important international news. The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Adam Smith of Washington State, is joining us.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

It certainly sounds, at least on the surface, Iran going in, doing its own inspecting, even if the IAEA is around there, it sounds alarming, but what's your reaction?

REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: Well, I don't think it is anywhere near as alarming as it's being presented.

I'm still looking at the agreement. I'm leaning in favor. But I have questions still to be answered. But, frankly, this isn't one of them. This is something that the administration actually did brief members of Congress on some time ago.

And it's a matter of taking samples. And the Iranians want to take the samples themselves while the IAEA monitors them taking those samples. That's it. I think the critics -- go ahead.


BLITZER: Let me just press you on that one point, Congressman. The Iranians decide where the samples should be taken from? Or can the IAEA instruct those Iranian inspectors to go and take samples from very precise locations?

SMITH: My understanding is the IAEA controls that. And this is a small part of the larger agreement in the areas that are being monitored by IAEA.

This is not -- no one says this is an active site. This is not a place where they have centrifuges. This is not a place where they're enriching uranium. All of those other sites have complete control of the IAEA all the time doing the inspections. This is a small site based on past activity, which is important, but it is not as important as going forward making sure that Iran is not doing more that is in violation of the agreement.

And, there, the IAEA has very, very intrusive inspections in place in this agreement. So I think this is a small issue that's being blown out of proportion by those who oppose the deal for a variety of reasons.

BLITZER: You say you're still undecided, you have some concerns. I want to get into that.

But, right now, this new CNN/ORC poll that just came out, we asked, should Congress approve the nuclear agreement with Iran? Forty-one percent said yes; 56 percent said no. You know there's some influential Democrats like Senator Schumer, Senator Menendez, who already said they won't support it. What's your biggest concern right now?

SMITH: I think the thing that's making me lean towards the agreement is, if you judge it on, does it stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, does it put us in the best possible position to do that, it's a very strong agreement. They're forced to dismantle all but a relatively small number of centrifuges.

They're forced to get rid of all the enriched uranium, except for a very small amount, and they're under very aggressive inspection regime for a long time and unable to build anything further for 15 years.

I think it's a very strong agreement in that regard. But, look, Iran is a country that is doing all kinds of bad things in the Middle East and elsewhere. And if you want to say, look, Iran's a bad country, we shouldn't go a deal with them, well, then you're not in favor of any deal.

But the point of this deal was to stop them from getting a nuclear weapon. That was the focus. It wasn't somehow, if we do this agreement, Iran will become a pacifist country and won't be doing all these bad -- we still have to work on those other issues. We still have to protect Israel. We still have to protect our Arab allies in the region from Iranian activity.

But if you're looking at, how do we stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, no one has really presented to this point a better approach than what is in this agreement. And that's what I'm still looking for. I'm meeting with constituents. If they have a better approach, I'm anxious to hear it. But I haven't heard it yet.

BLITZER: In our new poll, we also asked this question, Congressman. How is President Obama handling the U.S. relationship with Iran? Thirty-eight percent approve of the job he's doing, but 60 percent disapprove.

What does he need to do to convince the American public that he's on the right track here?

SMITH: I mean, that's -- I'm not sure what he needs to do to convince the American public.

But I think what he needs to do to convince Congress is keep talking about the details of this agreement. Look, I mean, it's -- again, we have a whole lot of issues with Iran that have nothing to do with their nuclear program. But if you're solely focused on the nuclear program, that's what this agreement was trying to do.


I think what he would have to convince them is he's aware that it's not just about the nuclear program, that there is much more that we need to do. We need to work with Israel, as I said. We need to work with our Arab allies to try to contain a lot of the things that Iran is doing.

I think that's the point is to make sure that we know that this is not the only problem with Iran, but it is one very big one. We do not want an Iran with a nuclear weapon. How do we stop that? This agreement does as effective a job of it as anything that has thus far been presented to me.

BLITZER: All right, Congressman, stand by. We have more to discuss, including our top story, the new escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Don't forget, North Korea does have a nuclear bomb, maybe a dozen, maybe on their way to 100.

Much more with Congressman Adam Smith when we come back.



BLITZER: We're back with the top Democrat in the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Adam Smith of Washington State.

Congressman, the United States, as you know, right now closely monitoring -- the tensions seemingly escalating on the Korean Peninsula along the DMZ, where the U.S. still has about 30,000 troops. These are the first clashes we have seen now in about five years between North and South Korea.

At this time, though, as you well know, North Korea does have a nuclear bomb, maybe a dozen, maybe even more. How concerned are you right now that what has happened over the past 20 years in North Korea, they went ahead and developed a nuclear bomb, even though in the '90s, during the Bill Clinton administration, they worked out a deal to kill their nuclear program? How worried are you that Iran might do the same thing?

SMITH: Iran is an entirely different country.

North Korea is the most isolated country in the world with a crazy dictator. And they don't care about their own people. They starve, literally, a million, two million a year. So there's really no comparison between North Korea and Iran.

The reason Iran is at the negotiating table is because of the sanctions and because of the impact it's having on their economy. And if Iran violates this agreement in any way, those sanctions go right back on. Iran is a country that actually does hold elections. Now, they're not free and fair in terms of who the candidates are, but they have a populace that is actively engaged in what's going on in their country, even if it is a dictatorship that is controlling that engagement.

North Korea is a very, very dangerous country precisely because they are so irrational and so unpredictable. Iran is not really an irrational actor. They are dangerous. Their ideology is dangerous. They certainly threaten Israel and they threaten us. But the thing about North Korea is they are utterly unpredictable and completely irrational and armed with nuclear weapons in a very, very dangerous part of the world.

So, I don't think there's really a comparison between North Korea and Iran, not that that's particularly reassuring, given what North Korea has been up to recently. That is cause for great national security concern for us and for that entire region.

BLITZER: We know that Russia seems to be on the verge of selling advanced S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran. The Obama administration strongly opposes that. Is there anything the U.S. can do to block a sale like this from Russia to Iran?

SMITH: You know, I don't know that there is.

And, to some degree, this points up the importance of this nuclear deal, because the ability to get this deal has hinged on the fact that Russia, along with China and the E.U., have been willing to enforce sanctions on Iran.

And, as we can see, the ability of that sanctions regime to hold on, even if we don't have an agreement limiting Iran's nuclear weapons, is not -- not something that we can count on. So if we have an agreement that's going to control Iran's nuclear program like this one does, I think we'd be wise to seize it, because Russia, China, gosh, even some in the E.U. -- remember, some of the early equipment that was sold to Iran came out of Europe -- all those countries are more willing to do business with Iran than we are.

And how long the sanctions regime holds if we reject this deal, I think, is a wide-open question.

BLITZER: Congressman Adam Smith of Washington, thanks very much for joining us.

SMITH: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, Jeb Bush is sounding fed up with Donald Trump's insults. Can he turn the tables on the Republican presidential front- runner as their war of words gets uglier?

And might Caitlyn Jenner go from reality TV to serving jail time? We will talk about a manslaughter charge she may be facing in connection with a deadly car crash.



BLITZER: The Republican race for the White House clearly heating up right now, Jeb Bush firing back at Donald Trump after a series of verbal jabs by the GOP presidential front-runner against the former Florida governor.

CNN's Athena Jones is joining from us New Hampshire right now, where the two candidates held what are being described as dueling town hall meetings.

Athena, what's the latest in this battle between Bush and Trump?


Well, up until just a couple of days ago, Bush seemed hesitant to really take it to Trump. But that's changing in the face of his sagging poll numbers. Now the gloves are finally coming off.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You win when you campaign like this. You don't win when you're campaigning like this.

JONES (voice-over): Jeb Bush hitting back at Donald Trump today.

BUSH: You win when you connect with people about their aspirations, not about how great you are. How rich you are. How this you are, how that you are. That's not leadership.

JONES: Those remarks coming on the heels of Wednesday's war of words between Bush and Trump. The real estate mogul dissing Bush with comments like this.

TRUMP: I don't see how he's electable. Jeb Bush is a low-energy person.

JONES: And echoing an emerging narrative that the former governor isn't energizing voters.

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

JONES: In fact, one woman dozed off at Bush's town hall today. Even his fans say they're concerned about Bush's lack of energy.

BRIDGET PEARCE, BUSH SUPPORTER: He basically is just flat. He has no energy. Out of all of the Republican candidates, he's the one that I feel safest with. He would be the one that has the most experience.

JONES: I asked him today how he's going to change that narrative.

BUSH: There's a big difference between Donald Trump and me. I have fought for Republican and conservative causes all of my adult life.

JONES: New poll numbers show Bush is struggling even in his home state of Florida, where he served two terms as governor. He also trails Trump in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and here in New Hampshire, a state seen as key to his run.

The billionaire businessman is also drawing crowds several times bigger than Bush's.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

JONES: His campaign moved Friday's event in Alabama to a stadium after more than 35,000 fans RSVP'd for the event. This as other candidates struggle to command the spotlight. Senator Marco Rubio laying out his tax policy.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As president I would begin by fundamentally overhauling our tax code.

JONES: An event overshadowed the by the Trump/Bush face-off.


JONES: And I asked Bush why he's trailing Trump in Florida, his home state, in this new Quinnipiac poll. He said to me, "Look, I'm beating Clinton in Florida right now. Trump is losing to Clinton."

But Wolf, that's actually not true. In this poll Trump is beating Clinton as well in Florida right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's interesting. Governor Bush, he got sort of testy on the campaign trail today, as you know. On the issue of immigration and the term he was using, anchor babies, talk about that.

JONES: He did. Wolf, he got testy a few times during the course of that gaggle with reporters. He didn't like a lot of the questions he was being asked. But take a listen to how he defended his use of the term "anchor baby." (END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret using the term "anchor babies" yesterday on the radio?

BUSH: No, I didn't. I don't. I don't regret it.


BUSH: Do you have a better term?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm asking you.

BUSH: OK, you give me a better term and I'll use it. I'm serious. Don't yell at me behind my ear, though.


JONES: So he wasn't happy with that line of questioning. And I've got to tell you that this is the same argument that Donald Trump gave to reporters when he was asked during a gaggle last night about his use of the term "anchor baby," saying essentially, "Do you have a better term? If you have a better term maybe I'll use it." And essentially saying, "I'm going to stick with anchor baby."

I should mention to you, though, for the record that, if you talk to liberal Latinos, conservative Latinos, non-Latinos, many find "anchor baby" to be a very offensive term -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Athena. Thanks very much.

Let's talk about all of this and more with "Washington Post" columnist, the associate editor, David Ignatius; the chief political correspondent for "Slate," Jamelle Bouie; "TIME" magazine political reporters Zeke Miller; and our CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston.

Maeve, the Hillary Clinton campaign put out their own statement in response to Jeb Bush's "anchor baby" comments. Let me read it to our viewers.

"If Republicans continue to wonder how to label these children, Hillary has already made it clear to them they are not anchor babies; they are babies. They are our neighbors. They are our families." what about this term? How is it playing out there on the campaign trail, Jeb obviously -- Jeb Bush sticking with it?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it's kind of interesting Jeb is using that term. Because certainly he more than anyone else knows that is considered an offensive term to a lot of people out there.

But this is definitely a fight that Hillary Clinton wants to have. You saw her come out on Twitter not once but a couple of times on this issue. She's looking to bring Latinos into her campaign. Obviously, there will be a huge fight in states like Colorado and

Nevada over those voters next year. And right now she wants to do as much as she can to brand Jeb Bush with sort of the Donald Trump brush.

Because obviously, Donald Trump has offended a lot of Latinos with his comments about immigration, whereas Bush is trying to say, "Hey, I'm the guy that can reach out to Latinos. I'm the candidate that you actually want up against Hillary Clinton next year."

[18:35:07] So it's turning into a very interesting debate over these issues and one that's probably good for Jeb Bush, honestly, because it's sharpening him up a little bit and getting him out there punching.

BLITZER: Let's see if that happens.

David, you wrote a very strong column in the "Washington Post." And about Donald Trump, comparing him to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. You said this: "He uses crude, vulgar expressions that make him sound like an ordinary guy, even though he's a billionaire. He's a narcissist who craves media attention. And for all his obvious shortcomings he's very popular."

Now you were referring to Putin when you wrote those words. But you're saying very similar stuff about Donald Trump. Go ahead and explain.

DAVID IGNATIUS, "WASHINGTON POST" COLUMNIST: I got to thinking about Donald Trump's signature slogan, "Make America great again." And I was thinking, where have I heard that before?

And that's the baseline for Vladimir Putin and Russia and for many leaders around the world who say, "I want to restore my nation's greatness. We've fallen behind. We want to get back to where we were." And that's the heart of the Trump appeal.

To say he's like Putin is in some ways, I think, going to be upsetting to Americans and should be. But this is a very common theme around the world, and we're hearing it now in America.

BLITZER: But you don't actually think that Trump is deliberately mimicking Putin, just a coincidence?

It's the theme that's common to politicians all over. Americans historically have usually resisted this kind of appeal. This year they seem to be going for it.

BLITZER: Zeke, as you know, Donald Trump, in part thanks to you -- you're the political reporter for "TIME" magazine -- he's on the cover of the new issue of "TIME" magazine. He also posed -- and I'll show it to our viewers -- with a bald eagle for this "TIME" magazine photo shoot. Talk a little bit about how about how all of this came together.

ZEKE MILLER, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, obviously Donald Trump's at the top of the polls nationally, as discussed before. And, you know, we were looking to find a way to capture this moment. Not only what does this mean for Donald Trump, but what does it mean for all America?

And that was -- but in reporting the story, we found is that voters are frustrated with both political parties, certainly Republican voters are frustrated with their own party, looking pack that Obamacare hasn't been repealed, the slow economic recovery, rising income inequality. They're looking for authenticity.

And Donald Trump, you know, he is who he is in public; and he's the same person he was on TV when he was on "The Apprentice." That's resonating with voters. As absurd as it seems on its face, that's actually connecting.

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton, Jamel, as you know, she's got some serious problems right now. This Quinnipiac University poll that came out today. In three key states asked, is Hillary Clinton honest and trustworthy? In Florida only 32 percent thought she was honest and trustworthy. In Ohio 34 percent, Pennsylvania 32 percent. She's got problems on this issue of honesty and trustworthiness.

Absolutely. This is a long-standing problem for Hillary Clinton. From the beginning of her political career. You saw when she was senator from New York, you've seen in the 2008 campaign people have always viewed Hillary as being a little evasive, someone untrustworthy.

I think some of this, if she's the nominee -- I think she'll be the nominee -- will resolve itself over the course of the campaign as Democrats are reminded. But yes, they think Hillary Clinton is pretty good. They liked her quite a bit. Past that, I don't know.

BLITZER: David, Donald Trump also says that Hillary Clinton's controversy over her e-mail server, private e-mail server, in his words, Watergate on steroids. You and I are old enough to remember Watergate. What do you make, when Donald Trump says something like that?

IGNATIUS: This is a man who lives for the overstatement. For the bombastic characterization. And this is one of them.

We'll see how serious this Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal is when we get to the question of classified information. We don't know yet exactly what classified e-mails were there, why they were there, what she or others did about them. That's the heart of what's damaging about this, if there is something.

BLITZER: Is there an opening right now for the vice president, Joe Biden, to throw his hat into the ring? Given some of the problems that Hillary Clinton clearly has?

RESTON: I think, absolutely. And you know, we all would like to see Joe Biden go up against Donald Trump on the campaign trail. I think that would be quite the matchup. He's obviously known as the person who can connect with a lot of the blue-collar, middle-class voters who are angry about what's going on right now.

And I think it would be interesting to see that matchup certainly with those trustworthiness numbers. It does seem as though it leaves the door open for Joe Biden, at least to come in and see whether or not Democrats would -- would actually rally around him.

In the long run, I still think Hillary is, by leaps and bounds, obviously going to be the strongest candidate. But he certainly has a lot to think about on that front.

BLITZER: Zeke, in your interview with Donald Trump in his office in New York, he said that CNN, which is obviously hosting the next Republican presidential debate, September 16, he said CNN should donate -- this is what he said to you -- $10 million to charity. And he raised the possibility, if it doesn't, he might not show up. Explain what he was talking about.

MILLER: Donald Trump is a businessman, first and foremost. That's how he got his start, his career. That's what got him onto TV. That's how everyone knows him. So everything's a deal to him. And that's how he thinks. That's his thought process. That's, you know, one of the reasons why we included it in the story. It's not fully relevant, but it's key to understanding who he is: everything is a deal.

And so he's looking at if the ratings are going to be what they were, people are going to tune in to watch. Obviously, it's going to be a great show and he's assuming that a lot of that's going to be because of him.

And looking at the polls, a lot of people are tuning into this political process earlier now than they have in years past, partly because it's the Trump show. He's saying maybe CNN should give back a little bit. But he'll show up one way or the other for sure.

BLITZER: Sure, he'll show up. Don't you think? There's no way he's not going to show up to the Republican presidential debate.

IGNATIUS: I love the request for the $10 million contribution.

The striking thing about Trump is how he's pushing people off their games. Watching Jeb Bush struggling to be Trump-like. Trying to push back in a very awkward way, I thought. Shows you -- Jeb Bush is not going to win by trying to out-Trump Donald Trump.

BOUIE: What's going to happen if he continues to try to out-Trump Trump, then he's going to say something that in the general election is going to kill him. That snippy little comment, that was so unlike what we think of Jeb Bush.

MILLER: The most cautious candidate in this field, and today he got knocked off his game. He made a gaffe that could hurt him next November.

BLITZER: And look at the fact that Donald Trump, he goes on television shows; he does interviews. Ten minutes, 15 minutes, hour- long interviews.

Jeb Bush is much more hesitant, much more reluctant. We've invited him several times to come here into THE SITUATION ROOM. We hope he accepts at some point. But he's obviously very tentative at this point. We'll see what happens. Thanks very much for all of that.

The Republican presidential candidates, they're gearing up for their second debate. It will air right here on CNN on September 16, live from the Reagan Library in California.

And CNN will also host the first Democratic presidential debate. That's on October 13 in Nevada.

Just ahead, serious legal troubles right now for Caitlyn Jenner, now possibly facing a manslaughter charge.

And St. Louis bracing for more protests tonight after another controversial police shooting.


[18:47:07] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The world's most famous transgender woman may be in some serious legal trouble tonight. We're talking about the Olympic hero, the reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner.

Sheriff investigators plan to present evidence to a prosecutor that potentially could lead to Jenner being charged with a misdemeanor count of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the fatal car crash back in February. Jenner could face up to a year in jail if charged and convicted.

Jenner was driving a black Cadillac SUV that was the third vehicle involved in a chain reaction crash in Malibu. Jenner's vehicle hit a Lexus from behind, sending it into oncoming traffic where it was struck by another SUV. The 69-year-old woman driving the Lexus was killed.

The L.A. County sheriff's office has determined that Jenner was going at an unsafe speed for the conditions at the time, even though the SUV was actually traveling under the posted speed limit.

Let's bring in our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin for some analysis right now.

Involuntary manslaughter obviously sounds very serious. Explain what's going on here.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the difference between manslaughter and murder is intent. That a murder is intentional killing of another person, manslaughter is the unintentional killing. Involuntary manslaughter is actually kind of a redundant phrase because manslaughter is always involuntary.

BLITZER: She took a sobriety test at the scene of the incident, passed, no problem there. How does that factor in?

TOOBIN: Well, that's one of the factors. Manslaughter can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Apparently only misdemeanor is under consideration here, which you can understand if there is no issue of drunk driving, there's no issue of going over the speed limit. You can still behave in a reckless way without being drunk or without going over the speed limit. You can change lanes in a reckless way, but that leads to usually lesser charges than, say, a drunk driving homicide.

BLITZER: And the fact that she was driving under the posted speed limit but above what was regarded as an unsafe speed for the road conditions at the time, how does that play into this?

TOOBIN: Well, that would -- is one of the factors that is almost certainly leading the misdemeanor rather than felony to be under consideration. The fact that this was not apparently an outrageously bad piece of driving by Caitlyn Jenner, but something that could be criminal but in a misdemeanor.

Remember, misdemeanors in the United States, almost no one ever goes to prison for a misdemeanor, even though technically a year is possible, and almost never -- no one almost ever goes to trial on misdemeanors.

BLITZER: So, you don't expect a highly explosive, trial?

TOOBIN: You know, there are almost no misdemeanor trials in these sorts of circumstances. They are almost always worked out in plea bargains. So, you know, much as people might think, this is the second coming of the O.J. case in Los Angeles.

[18:50:05] I don't -- I don't think it's going to come to that.

BLITZER: You covered that O.J. Simpson trial.

TOOBIN: It's a very different situation.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see what happens. Jeffrey, thanks very much.

Meanwhile, in St. Louis, there's a fear of new clashes tonight between police and protesters in the wake of a fatal shooting that's stoking simmering tensions.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the scene for us.

Ed, what are you seeing in St. Louis tonight?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a lot of concern here tonight. SWAT teams will be at the ready here at the police station in St. Louis, armored vehicles in place.

This as the mayor, the police chief and clergy leaders are urging peace and tranquility across the city, hoping that that will help keep things calm tonight.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): A car set on fire, houses burning out of control and businesses burglarized. Tonight, police bracing for more scenes like this after crowds took to

the streets Wednesday protesting the shooting death of an 18-year-old African-American male by two white police officers.

Police say he pointed a gun at them before opening fire. Authorities attempted to disperse the crowds but moved in after protesters refused to move.

A line of officers with riot shields moved in. Police fired tear gas after they say protesters threw bricks and bottles. Some residents believe the police overreacted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police are driving down the street shooting tear gas where kids are.

LAVANDERA: But police disagree.

CHIEF SAM DOTSON, ST. LOUIS POLICE: Over the loudspeaker, it was repeatedly given, this is the first warning, this is the second warning, this is the third and fourth warning.

LAVANDERA: The eruption in violence comes just weeks after the one- year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American male in nearby Ferguson, Missouri.


LAVANDERA: And, Wolf, all of this started after police were serving a search warrant in that neighborhood where the violence erupted last night. Police say that as they served the search warrant, two men fled the house. As they were giving chase, say one of them, an 18- year-old man, turned and pointed a gun at two of the officers. That's when the officers fired back at that suspect killing him there at the scene. But once again here, city officials and city police are urging peace and tranquility tonight but getting ready for any more possible violent outbreaks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Have police tactics changed, Ed?

LAVANDERA: Well, you know, we were asked, we met with the police chief just a few hours ago. He was asked about those tactics and whether it was heavy handed. They did not believe it was heavy- handed. In fact, they said if things were to go the same way it did last night, to expect very much the same approach that they did last night. They don't see any other way around the situation here.

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera, reporting for us, thanks very much.

Let's hope it stays peaceful. Much more news right after this.


[18:57:29] BLITZER: Tonight, CNN takes a look at the original king of shock TV, Morton Downey, Jr.

Our senior media correspondent, the host of "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian Stelter, has a preview.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: He wants to take your house --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to know what I'm doing?

O'REILLY: Shut up! Shut up!

STELTER: Before Glenn Beck.

GLENN BECK, TV HOST: America, socialism is coming and it's time to wake up.

MORTON DOWNEY, JR., TV HOST: Go straight to hell!

STELTER: There was Morton Downey, Jr.

DOWNEY: As you're going to find out in the weeks, months and years ahead, certain things really burn my buns.

STELTER: His self-titled show premiered in 1987 with conservative abrasive talk, foreshadowing the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Springer.

DOWNEY: If I had a slime like you in the White House, I'd puke on you!

STELTER: Critics dubbed him the father of trash television.

But they conceded that he sure knew how to play to the camera.

BILL CARTER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It felt like it was a theatrical performance. His father had been a singer. He was a singer as well.

STELTER: Racism, gun control, abortion, Downey tackled it all, with edginess and sometimes going over the edge.

When the Tawana Brawley rape scandal made headlines, he seized on it.

DOWNEY: A brutal racial rape. The story is developing every single minute.

STELTER: A grand jury concluded the woman falsified her account. TV experts say that was the beginning of the end. By the fall of 1989, Downey had been canceled.

But not before in a seemingly desperate stunt for attention, Downey claimed that he was attacked by skinheads in an airport bathroom stall. Police could never verify it. Many assumed he did it to himself.

CARTER: You can only do this so long. You can only stir a pot so many times and have it boil over before it spills on you. And all he was doing was stirring a pot. I didn't feel it was a there there.

STELTER: After Downey's show came the rise of cable news. And more incivility and confrontation with perhaps Downey to thank or blame.

DOWNEY: Should we hang this kid?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN COMMENTATOR: Morton Downey Jr.'s program in the late '80s was absolutely a turning point. So much of what we see today is entertainment that is masked as news.

STELTER: Brian Stelter, CNN Money, New York.


BLITZER: And you can see "Evocateur", the Morton Downey, Jr. movie tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Please go ahead, tweet me @wolfblitzer. The tweet the show @CNNSitroom. Please be sure to join us again tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.