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Trump: Comments on Judge 'Misconstrued'; GOP Senator Kirk: Trump Lacks 'Temperament' for Job; Clinton About to Declare Victory, Sanders Says Campaign Not Over; Final Super Tuesday Voting in Six States; Interview with Robby Mook. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 7, 2016 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Making a statement, Donald Trump weighs in again on the judge he's been slamming. We have late details.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Textbook racism. That's what the nation's highest ranking Republican lawmaker calls Donald Trump's attack. The question is, why are he and other big-name Republicans still supporting him? And a new big-name voice has just weighed in, calling Trump Unfit for office.

BLITZER: And later: her story makes history. As the final Super Tuesday unfolds, Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman to win the title presumed presidential nominee here in the United States.

COOPER: Also still fighting or last hurrah? Where the Sanders campaign goes from here and how the Clinton forces plan to deal with it. What each side has to say as the convention gets closer.

I'm Anderson Cooper.

BLITZER: And I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with the latest word from Donald Trump, after a day of taking heat over his attacks on federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel. For that let's go straight to CNN's Sarah Murray.

Sara, Mr. Trump just issued a statement. Tell our viewers what he said.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, it was a very lengthy statement, part a defense of Trump University, but also to deal with this recent firestorm that he has set off by talking about the judge's Mexican heritage.

And in this statement, Donald Trump says, "It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent. The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial." And Wolf, he goes on in this statement to say that he will not be

commenting on this matter any further. Obviously, that's a big shift from just yesterday, when he was on a phone call with his backers, with his surrogates, encouraging them to defend Trump University publicly and also to go after this judge.

BLITZER: Sara, Chris Christie visited Donald Trump today. What do we know about that?

MURRAY: That's right. Chris Christie spent some time at Trump Tower today. What's interesting about that is Christie is one of the notable Republicans who has not been very critical of Donald Trump in this manner. Earlier today, he said he believes that Donald Trump is not racist. He said that Trump has a right to speak his mind, to defend himself in this case.

And of course, Chris Christie's heading up the transition project for Donald Trump. And aides have told us that, just because he is doing that role, does not mean he will be excluded from being a potential V.P. pick. So any number of things could have been discussed in that meeting today, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Sara, thank you. Sara Murray reporting.

More voices now on whether or not what Donald Trump has been saying constitutes racism. And one late very sharp edition from the Illinois Republican senator, Mark Kirk. He's tweeting -- and let me quote now -- "Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal."

And in a separate statement, Senator Kirk said he cannot support Donald Trump, regardless how it affects his candidacy or the party. The House Speaker, Paul Ryan.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, the South Carolina senator, Lindsey Graham, they are all weighing in, as well.

CNN's Manu Raju is joining us now from Capitol Hill right now with more on what they've been saying. What is the latest, Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hey, Wolf, Donald Trump is really on thin ice with Republican senators and spent the day really surveying the members who are up for re-election, people in the leadership and your rank-and-file Republicans.

And by and large, they are repudiating what Donald Trump said. And they're offering him a very tepid level of support right now. Now Kelly Ayotte, for example, of New Hampshire, Republican in a very difficult Senate race says she'll vote for him at this point, but she said she's not endorsing anyone, trying to create a distinction there.

Similarly, Ron Johnson, Wisconsin, I got a chance to catch up with him. He said I'm going to support the nominee, but I'm not going to endorse him. Also trying to what some would say split hairs on him.

But you're hearing others distance themselves even further. Governor Brian Sandoval, a moderate Nevada Republican governor, said that he doesn't know if he can vote for Donald Trump this fall. And earlier today, really, the tone was set by Paul Ryan at his Press conference when he really sharply criticized what Donald Trump had to say.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I disavow these comments. I regret those comments that he made. I don't think -- claiming a person can't do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It's absolutely unacceptable.


RAJU: Now, right now Paul Ryan says that he still supports Donald Trump, as most Republicans do on Capitol Hill. But that support is tepid. One reason why they're not abandoning him, they need his supporters to come out to the polls this fall, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Manu, you had a chance to speak with Senator Lindsey Graham about all of this today. What did he have to say?

[17:05:14] RAJU: You know, Lindsey Graham is part of one of those handful of Republicans who are member of so-called "never Trump" movement up here. And he was harshly critical about his comments, likening them to racism, likening it to Joe McCarthy, and he said a little bit more.


RAJU: Do you think it's a racist comment?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, clearly. But it's funny. I don't believe Donald Trump the way he's lived his life as a racist person. I believe he would hire somebody based on merit. But he's playing the race card.

If Mr. Trump continues this, which is clearly over the top, you may not think it's un-American. I do. You may not think it's racist. I do. But if he continues this line of attack, then I think people need to really reconsider for the future of the party and the future of the country, whether they should support him.


RAJU: Yes, that last point was pretty critical from Lindsey Graham. He wanted to make the case that, if Donald Trump continues to say that expect more Republicans to jump ship. Right now, we have not heard that. Mitch McConnell Senate majority leader also weighed in.

At a Press conference earlier, I asked if he was worried that this would overshadow his message as going into 2016. He said he is. Donald Trump needs to get on message and start talking about the issues. Really stern talk coming from Senate leadership, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very stern indeed. All right, Manu. Thanks very much.

More now on Hillary Clinton's entry into the history books. For the first time ever, the presumptive nominee is not a man. Jeff Zeleny is over at Clinton headquarters for us tonight.

Jeff, Clinton has been encouraging her supporters to go out and vote today, despite being the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Is that right?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: She has, Wolf. And this is the reason why. She has won already 13 million votes in these primaries across the country, but she wants her popular vote total to grow even more.

She right now is 3 million popular votes ahead of Bernie Sanders, but she wants to keep that going. That's why she campaigned so hard in California. She has won 24 states. He has won 20 states, so pretty close there.

She wants to make sure that she crosses the finish line with strength here, Wolf. That's why she's campaigning until the end. And they were actually a little bit concerned, her top aides were, they told me when the election was essentially called overnight, because they were afraid voters wouldn't come out.

But they believe turnout in California, particularly where many votes were actually cast by mail before today, were actually pretty strong here, Wolf. But it's that popular vote she's trying to get up even higher. That's why she's urging her voters so much to campaign or to get out and vote today, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeff, what are her plans going forward?

ZELENY: Wolf, they are already plotting the next move to the general election. Starting tomorrow morning, the Clinton campaign is going to start raising general election money. They're asking their top donors in an e-mail they sent out this afternoon to start gearing toward that.

So that is one thing. And she'll be campaigning in battleground states starting next week. In Ohio on Monday, in Pennsylvania the next day. And Wolf, they are charting out their course of battleground states that they believe they can compete well against Donald Trump.

And Wolf, this may not be the same series of battlegrounds that we've seen in campaign after campaign after campaign. They are following the words and controversy that he's been stirring up very carefully. Doing focus groups and polling and other things. They're trying to see exactly what battleground states will be in play here. Because starting tomorrow morning, Wolf, this is a new chapter in a new day of a new campaign, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jeff, thank you. Jeff Zeleny reporting.

Just a day after a massive concert and rally in San Francisco, the Bernie Sanders campaign is facing the possibility of doing well tonight yet waking up tomorrow facing growing pressure to wind down their entire effort. Brianna Keilar is covering all the late developments for us. She's joining us now.

Brianna, it's still a tight race in California, we're told, between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. How optimistic is the Sanders campaign right now?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When you ask Senator Sanders how he's going to do here in California, Wolf. He says we have a good shot.

Now, other times, when he is definitely going to win or the chances are more likely that he will win, he will come out and say that. So this perhaps is an acknowledgment of just how tight the race is here. It really is up for grabs. When you look at the polls, it's within the margin of error, so we really don't know what's going to happen here in California tonight, and neither does Senator Sanders or his campaign, though they're hopeful that he can pull this out with a lot of support from young voters here in California.

BLITZER: As you know, the Sanders campaign, Brianna, is saying they're still going to continue on after today. Do we know what that looks like exactly?

KEILAR: No, we don't. We do know that Senator Sanders will be heading back to Burlington, Vermont, after everything wraps up here in California. It's not unusual, Wolf, for a candidate to say that they are going to stay in this until, of course, they say that they're not going to. But Bernie Sanders time and again has said that he is going to stay in this race until the convention. And he's really stuck by that here in recent weeks.

[17:10:10] Now, his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, says the same thing, that they're going to the convention. I have heard from other advisors to Bernie Sanders who may be giving him some different advice.

Bernie Sanders wants for any voter who wants to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary to have a shot. There is actually, beyond this big night, a sort of smaller event in a week. The Washington, D.C.., primary a week from today. Will he go all the way to the Washington, D.C., primary and beyond to the convention? We don't know at this point.

But if there is a win for Bernie Sanders here in California, he's going to feel more emboldened by that. If he loses California, and the Clinton campaign feeling pretty good about New Jersey right now, there's going to be a wall of pressure that Bernie Sanders comes up against after these results come in today, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brianna. Thanks very much.

Anderson, over to you.

COOPER: Yes, Wolf, the panel is here to talk about the latest Trump statement. And our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, just ahead. We're hoping to speak with members of team Clinton and team Trump as we count down to poll closings on the final Super Tuesday before the ultimate Tuesday this fall.


[17:15:39] COOPER: Breaking news tonight: a new statement from Donald Trump not regretting his remarks about Judge Gonzalo Curiel but regretting that the remarks were, as he says, misconstrued. It is a long document. It covers a lot of ground, makes quite a few claims. We want to see how they stand with the facts.

Joining us, chief national correspondent, "Inside Politics" editor John King; senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Anderson; political analysts David Gergen and Gloria Borger; also Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany; conservative writer and Trump critic Mary Katherine Ham; Sanders supporter Bill Press; Clinton supporter Michael Nutter, former mayor of Philadelphia; and here to lend expertise, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Gloria, definitely a lot of moving pieces in this statement, but if -- if anybody was looking for Donald Trump to say, "I was wrong, I'm sorry," that's certainly not what this statement says.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it wasn't. And he's never said that during the campaign. And I think people shouldn't expect that from Donald Trump. What I think he did do was try to walk back to a degree by saying that "I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial."

So he tried to walk it back. Then he kind of re-litigated the case again and said, "OK, I'm done with it. I'm not going to talk about it anymore," which is clearly in response to the fact that all these Republicans are twisting themselves into knots, trying to figure out how to deal with it and distance themselves from Donald Trump on this particular issue.

He's caused such headaches in the Republican Party it's kind of astonishing to watch. Because these people have lined up to endorse him, because they want to keep the party together. They want to save races down the ballot. And he's given them every reason to back away from him. And they're trying not to do it.

COOPER: Jeb Bush just tweeted, "Donald Trump should retract his comments, not defend them. There's no place for racism in the GOP."

BORGER: Right, but Jeb Bush has not endorsed Donald Trump. He's not voting for Donald Trump. But there are a lot of people, most notably Paul Ryan, for example, who finally got to yes, and now he's -- he's in a really tough spot.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: In Jeb Bush's tweet, he's responding to a statement from "The Weekly Standard," which of course, is a conservative magazine, where they say Donald Trump's new statement only repackages his argument without substantially changing it. I think that's what a lot of Republicans, this is sort of their worst nightmare. They were looking for a different Donald Trump.

In many ways we've all been kind of looking for a different Donald Trump. Will he be more presidential? Will he change? He has very much said explicitly that he isn't changing.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a big conversation in the Republican Party about what is the Trump effect and what is its shelf life? And there are some good things. He's bringing in new voters to the process. He's exciting people to come out and vote.

But just imagine what you had today. Paul Ryan used to be a trainee for Jack Kemp, used to be an aide for Jack Kemp. He's a policy-driven man who, you know, Mayor Nutter may not agree with his ideas, but I think he accepts his principled commitment to let's do more about poverty.

Let's try to bring in African-Americans. Let's have a competition for the African-American vote. Let's get into the inner city. Standing there today surrounded by African-Americans, saying it's a racist statement, but I'm still going to vote for him.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, I think it's a racist statement. But I'm still going to vote for him. So whether Donald Trump wins or loses, now those guys are in a relatively safe seat. So maybe it never affects them, but it affects their political legacy. If you're Paul Ryan, you care about this stuff. If you think about other Republicans in tight races, if you say, "I think it was racist, but I'm going to vote for him," and there's a camera pointed at you...

COOPER: Stuck with him to go farther?


COOPER: We heard he's going to make a statement. It sounded like it might be something else.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought he would walk it back. I thought he would apologize and say, "I've been misunderstood. I didn't express myself well."

There's an argument that he has other reasons to think the judge is biased. What is not in -- what is not in play is the question of whether because the guy's a Mexican that automatically -- which is what he said.

It's absolutely remarkable that on a night, an historic night when a woman has finally wrapped up a nomination of a major party, the candidate of the other party is mired and is leading the news. It's the thing we're all talking about.

I think it's a measure of how much damage he has done to his campaign that we're sitting here at this hour on this day, arguing over these things. I think he's done lasting damage at a time...

COOPER: Although let me just say...

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Are we sure -- are we sure of that?

COOPER: Let me counter that. Kayleigh, how many times have pundits said, "Oh, this is the thing that Donald Trump has now gone too far," and if anything, it's bolstered his support? John McCain, making fun of a disabled reporter, I mean, the list goes on and on.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. We've heard this an infinite number of times. None of them turned out to be true. And I think this statement was really powerful, because the accusation levied against Trump for that statement was Trump does not think that someone of certain heritage can do their job. That's what we heard the news cycles say over and over and over again.

COOPER: That's what we heard Donald Trump say.

MCENANY: No, no, because context -- context and timing matter. And Donald Trump's intent was never to say no Mexican can do their job or no one who has Mexican heritage can do their job. If that was the intent, he would have said it two years ago when Judge Curiel was put on the case. He only said after a series of rulings came down that he disagreed with. He said that...

COOPER: He said that about Muslims.

MCENANY: He said that -- no, he said possibly, just like possibly a white judge could be biased.

COOPER: Let's play what he said about Muslims. Do we have that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it were a Muslim judge would you also feel like they wouldn't be able to treat you fairly because of that policy of yours?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's possible, yes. That would be possible, absolutely.


MCENANY: Sure, and I imagine if the moderator would have asked, "Do you believe a white liberal judge could be biased against you," his answer would have been just the same, possibly yes. There's nothing wrong with saying there is a possibility. Because, in fact, there is a possibility that any judge of any race could be biased.

The bottom line is Donald Trump is not a racist, as Chris Christie said. He's very wise to step back and not give one statement and criticize Trump, which people have donethis entire campaign, and say, "Look at the man." This is a man who's not racist. This is not someone who -- this is someone who believes all races are equal. This is someone who agrees with Martin Luther King. People shouldn't be judged by the content of their -- the color of their skin but the content of their character. That is the man that we are talking about.

COOPER: But the -- but...

MCENANY: That is what we are looking at.

COOPER: That's well said, but isn't he judging this judge by the ethnic history of this judge? Which by the way, he's wrong. I mean, he keeps saying the guy's Mexican. He's not.

MCENANY: He's judging him by the affiliations that he celebrates. He celebrates being part of this organization, La Raza San Diego, which has overseen scholarships to an illegal immigrant. They clearly are at odds in their views...

COOPER: Bringing up the scholarship. He never brought that up days ago. In fact, all the Trump people days ago were bringing up, "Oh, La Raza is the same group that has -- this activist group that's behind all these demonstrations."

Once you guys realized, oh, actually, we've conflated two different La Raza groups, now the surrogates have come up with this thing about a scholarship.

MCENANY: They both have the same intent, though. I mean, we're mistaken to think that La Raza was La Raza. That certainly was our mistake. It's understandable that people could be confused by that. But the point is...

MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Every now and then in this business -- Bill certainly knows this, as well, when you're in office or running for office, you make mistakes.

You should just say, "I made a mistake. I should not have said that. I apologize to that judge. A great judge. We'll debate our case. I'll litigate the case next year when the election is over. I'm sorry. Move on."

MCENANY: But he wants to win the case.

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Which he won't win in the American court of public opinion. I'm sorry.

What struck me about this statement and why it doesn't cut it, in my opinion, is he still says at the very end that he believes as a conflict of interest with this judge.

Now, think about that. Why would this judge have a conflict of interest? Because he's a Mexican, according to Donald Trump. And Donald Trump has said he wants to build a wall, and he wants to deport all these people. That has nothing to do with the case, which is about defrauding people, students of Trump University, who think they got cheated out of money.

COOPER: Let's just remind...

PRESS: ... against the ethnicity as his central point of conflict of interest.

COOPER: Let's just -- I think we have clips from what Donald actually -- Donald Trump actually said during these interviews. Let's just watch some of that.


TRUMP: I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He's a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel.

I think I'm going to do very well with Latinos or Hispanics. You know, I employ thousands of Latinos. I employ over the years thousands of Mexicans. They're great. They're great. I deal with them. I sell them apartments. I deal with them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it were a Muslim judge would you also feel like they wouldn't be able to treat you fairly because of that policy of yours?

TRUMP: It's possible, yes. That would be possible, absolutely.


COOPER: There was actually a lot more to that, but Mary Katherine, is -- does this statement put it to rest? Donald Trump says, "I'm not going to talk about this anymore."

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, he can try not to talk about it. I think that either he or the press will bring it up. He may do it first. I mean, he may decide in two days that he wants to talk about it again. That's the essence of Donald Trump.

You won't get a "Sorry." The best you will get in this campaign is a, "Hey, that seems like it became a thing. Let's move on." So that's the argument he's making.

But let me make a wider point. I have laid this at Donald Trump's feet, and it is unavoidable. And people have to speak out on it, because he was so clear; he said it so many times. Let me make a larger point.

I do think the media in past election cycles with the gaffes and the racist things and the frequent citing of just criticism of Obama as inherently racist in some way -- it's happened a lot over the years -- has created an appetite for a guy who says, "I do not care and I will not say I'm sorry." And in this case it's unavoidable, and it's real.

But in the past it has been -- hold on. In the past it has been binders full of women.

COOPER: Right.

HAM: I long for the days of the gaffes of binders full of women, but people -- they cried wolf, and now this is a wolf. COOPER: To John's question which is the media making too much of this

in terms of how people are going to react? Do you actually think this does hurt Donald Trump?

HAM: I think -- I think it won't -- I think it won't hurt with many of his supporters, because many of them like that he's just sticking a finger in somebody's eye. But with a larger electorate and with younger generations, yes, it will make a difference. And that's why people are worried about it.

But I think that the media and many on the left have had a "cry wolf" problem here. And when the wolf is here, people go, "I'm not sure I care."

HENDERSON: I also think if you look at numbers, it is hurting Donald Trump. I mean, that's why he's only getting 18 percent among Latino voters according to the recent polls he's like at 4 percent among African-Americans. He only wins white women in this most recent poll by Quinnipiac by one point.

Mitt Romney won white women by 14 percent, so this idea that somehow he's a Teflon candidate, it is...

KING: It's just the general electorate -- we don't have an election now until November that matters. We had primaries. Oh, John McCain thing didn't hurt him. Oh, build a wall didn't hurt him. Oh, ban the Muslims didn't hurt him. During the primaries.

Republican primaries are majority white, majority men. Overwhelmingly white and majority men. The general election is much more diverse and majority women. And it's very hard to see Donald Trump winning if he's at 20 percent among Latinos. It's just near impossible.

COOPER: Let me bring in Jeff Toobin. Jeff, just on a legal standpoint Donald Trump kind of has been re-litigating this case in the statement today that he put out.

This judge, though, has actually ruled in Donald Trump's favor several times in the case of this lawsuit. The very fact that this lawsuit is not moving forward until after November is because the judge ruled that way.

TOOBIN: And in fact, the party with the best chance of appeal in this case is the plaintiffs, not the defendants, because in the key ruling in the case, not the scheduling, which certainly went Donald Trump's way, he ruled that the plaintiffs in this case are not entitled to complete refunds if they win. Each plaintiff is going to have to argue what percentage of the fee that they paid to Donald -- to Trump University that was a rip-off.

So it's going to be a person-by-person determination of how much, if any, these plaintiffs lost. That basically kills the whole idea of a class action. And it's not even clear that the plaintiffs can proceed under that theory.

So, I mean, this is a judge who has, by and large, favored Donald Trump. The only thing he's refused to do is throw the case out altogether. But because of that, Donald Trump has said all these terrible things about him, which we've been talking about.

But I think as context, it's important to point out that this judge is not on some rampage against Donald Trump. By and large, he has ruled in Trump's favor.

COOPER: What do you think -- I mean, Donald Trump, Kayleigh, had said his comments were misconstrued. What do you -- if you believe they were misconstrued, what do you think was misconstrued?

MCENANY: His intent was misconstrued, because the media has reported this statement in isolation for the last five days, ad nauseam. We've heard it time and time again. But what they failed to mention is, in that same interview with Jake Tapper, Donald Trump listed a number of actions on the part of the judge that he thought were biased and caused him to step back and say, "Why is this judge treating me this way?"

And in that context, he made that comment. It was inartfully worded. But for days, his intent has been misconstrued. He clarified it right now, and I think it's time for the media to move onto issues that voters really care about, like the economy and like terrorism.

COOPER: So -- but Donald Trump did repeatedly link, "He's Mexican. I'm building a wall."

MCENANY: In context of the -- of the judge's actions. He stepped back and linked it to the heritage. He should have linked it to the celebration of his heritage, the organization that he's part of, the differences that they have politically...

COOPER: Let's play what he said to Jake Tapper, which sort of sparked a lot of this. You know, he initially brought up.


TRUMP: He's proud of his heritage. I respect him for that.

TAPPER: Are you saying he can't do his job because of it?

TRUMP: He's proud of his heritage. OK? I'm building a wall. Now, I'm going to do well with Hispanics.

TAPPER: He's a legal citizen.

TRUMP: You know why I'm going to do well with Hispanics? Because I'm going to bring back jobs, and they're going to get jobs right now. They're going to get jobs. I think I'm going to do very well with Hispanics. But we're building a wall. He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico.


MCENANY: And the minute prior to that, if we went back and watched the entirety of the clip, he spent the first minute pointing not to the judge's heritage but to the judge's actions, which caused him to step back and make that inartfully worded analysis.

BORGER: So why wouldn't his lawyers ask for recusal?

NUTTER: So why wouldn't you just go into court...

BORGER: Right.

NUTTER: ... and make that legal argument through your lawyer, as opposed to in an interview with Jake? And you keep repeating, I mean...

[17:30:04] PRESS: His lawyer chose not to.

NUTTER: ... "He's a Mexican. I'm building a wall. He's a Mexican. I'm building a wall. He's a Mexican. I'm building a wall." The judge is not Mexican.

PRESS: Right.

COOPER: Well, the lawyer's actually said in May that the judge has actually done a good job of competing interests and taking into consideration a variety of interests.

So this isn't coming from the law firm. This is coming from the candidate.

We've got to take a quick break. We're going to have more with the panel ahead. Back with the Trump surrogate, as well, as our coverage continues.


BLITZER: More now on the breaking news. A new statement from Donald Trump, saying it's unfortunate that his remarks about a federal judge have been misconstrued, his words.

[17:35:02] Joining us now is Ed Brookover. He's a senior advisor to the Trump campaign.

Ed, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: He also says in this lengthy statement -- I'll read the sentence -- he says, "I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial." But wasn't that exactly what he was saying: because of this federal judge's Mexican heritage, he effectively couldn't be unbiased and impartial in adjudicating this case?

BROOKOVER: No, I think -- I think from the beginning of this -- of Mr. Trump's statements on this, his point was that he'd had unfair statements made -- he'd had unfair rulings made against him. He was looking for reasons why. And he thought that his policies against Mexico, given this judge's heritage, may have contributed to that. And so it was not that -- a broad brush. It was not -- it was not a

racist statement. It's more about the policies he had and whether the judge was making impartial -- making partial rulings, of course, in being somebody who is against him based on their differences in policy.

BLITZER: So does he regret bringing up the whole issue of the judge's Mexican heritage?

BROOKOVER: I think he said, while that he wishes it had not been as misconstrued as it was. And so -- and that he wants people to understand what he meant, understand what his true feelings are. And I think, as Governor Christie said, he's not a racist, that -- and he wants people to understand that.

BLITZER: How should he have said it?

BROOKOVER: What's that?

BLITZER: How should he have said it? What would have been the best way to avoid what has really been a disaster for the campaign?

BROOKOVER: He probably should have talked more about it and explaining fully what he said right now, and not left it to people who speculate against him, who want to be against him, to fill in the voids. And so he's clarified that today. And we think hopefully we can move on from this.

BLITZER: Because until -- until this statement -- it's a very lengthy statement that he put out today -- he was doubling down, tripling down. And then over the weekend he also said that if the federal judge was Muslim that would be a problem potentially, as well.

BROOKOVER: Well, it could be if -- if they're making unfair rulings from the bench. And just as any judge could be, be it a white judge, be it, you know, any kind of judge in that instance.

And so I'm glad that he -- that he continued to clarify. And I think the American people will hear his statement, will understand what he meant and continue to support him.

BLITZER: You're watching, Tony (ph), it's not often you see the speaker of the House, a Republican, someone who had said he was going to vote for Donald Trump -- we're talking about Paul Ryan -- say today that what Donald Trump said, in his words, was the textbook definition of a racist comment.

BROOKOVER: I respectfully disagree with the speaker. I think if the speaker would have more fully understood what Mr. Trump was talking about in the fuller context, I think maybe he would have reached a different conclusion.

BLITZER: It's not just the speaker. It's basically almost all Republican leadership here in Washington.

BROOKOVER: Washington -- the Washington pundits, the Washington elites, be they Republican or Democrat, have been underestimating Mr. Trump in the way he communicates and underestimating his support among the American public all along. And we think that this will be another case of Mr. Trump carrying his message to the people, them getting what he's saying, and then him continuing to receive their support.

BLITZER: Because Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate, he said it's time to quit attacking and get on message. Lindsey Graham, you heard what he said: "This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy." And Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois said he's withdrawing his support for Donald Trump. He doesn't believe Donald Trump is capable of being the commander in chief.

BROOKOVER: Well, you know, these are all senators who've -- who are members of my party, who I respectfully disagree with both their understanding what Mr. Trump said, and hopefully as we continue to lay out our case, they'll continue to support Mr. Trump.

BLITZER: so he's not going to talk about it anymore? That's what he said.

BROOKOVER: That's what he said today. I take him at his word.

BLITZER: Let's see if that happens. All right. Thanks very much, Ed Brookover. Appreciate you joining us.

BROOKOVER: Good to be here, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to check back with the panel after a quick break. With Hillary Clinton now clinching the Democratic presidential nomination, what's Bernie Sanders' next move? We'll talk about that, a whole lot more. We'll be right back.


[17:43:29] COOPER: Voting is happening in six states right now, the home stretch of a primary season that has been unprecedented, historic: the first woman nominated for president from a major political party and a man nominated for the other major party who's under fire from many of its own leaders.

Back with the panel. Gloria, you've been, I know, talking to a lot of folks on the Democratic side. What is going to happen tonight? I mean, in terms of Hillary Clinton, what is her message to Bernie Sanders? What happens now?

BORGER: Well, I think whatever Hillary Clinton does, she's going to talk about this historic moment in American politics, and in her life and the comeback that she had from eight years ago. I think she's going to do everything she can to embrace those Sanders supporters. The real question is what is Bernie going to do?

And I was talking to some of his folks today. You know, we shouldn't expect that Bernie's going to throw in the towel tonight and say this is over. One of his top advisors said to me, "Look, it's going to be a long plane ride back from California to Vermont tomorrow." And you're laughing, Bill, but they've got to figure out does Bernie continue on? He is going to compete in D.C., I'm told. But how does he orchestrate this -- this dance? And I think it depends how he does tonight. That's the bottom line.

COOPER: Bill -- Bill, as a supporter, though, of Sanders, you want him clearly going through the convention.

PRESS: Not necessarily.

COOPER: Really?

PRESS: I think it's up to Bernie what he does. I think he's got a -- first of all, he's got to take some time to figure this out. Hillary took four days before she endorsed Barack Obama. He doesn't have to do it tonight, doesn't have to do it tomorrow.

[17:44:57] He ought to go back to Vermont, I think, again figure out what does he want moving forward. What does he want to do at the convention? What role does he want to play at the convention? What role does he want to play with the Democratic Party, with the DNC, with his new political revolution? And then how does he get the best leverage to achieve those goals.


PRESS: And so I'd say he's got between now and a week from today.



PRESS: The D.C. primary to figure that out and make his decision.

MICHAEL NUTTER, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Running for office is one of the toughest things you can ever do in life. It is the most public job interview process you will ever experience. And I've only run for mayor two times.

This is the presidency of the United States of America. You go to virtually every state and a bunch of territories, you're on a world stage all the time, everything examined. And so he and his family and the team have put a lot into this. Going to compete through next week in Washington, D.C. These voters get their opportunity and then he will have to take some time. And as Bill said he'll kind of figure it out.

COOPER: Let's hear from the Clinton campaign. I want to go to Wolf with a spokesperson -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Anderson.

Joining us now the Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook.

Robbie, thanks very much for joining us. Obviously a very historic moment tonight for the former secretary of state. I wonder what her message or focus is going to be tonight. Will she focus in on attacking Donald Trump, lay out a general election battle plan, or will she mainly appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters calling for unity?

ROBBY MOOK, HILLARY CLINTON'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I think first and foremost Secretary Clinton is going to thank the thousands of supporters across the country and millions of voters who have turned out to support her. As you know, Wolf, she has a lead of more than three million votes in the popular vote. So she wants to make sure to say thank you to those folks. She's also going to lay out what she's talked about from day one in this campaign, that she is in this race to help make sure that this economy works for everyone, that our next president fights for middle class families, so she'll talk about her vision for our country.

And of course she'll talk about the choice that is ahead for voters in this election between Donald Trump, his divisiveness, his reckless and dangerous rhetoric that will harm our economy as well as our national security. And as I said her own vision.

The last thing she's going to do, which is really important, is reach out to everyone who's participated in this primary, all the voters, all the volunteers, all the activists, in particular Senator Sanders supporters and talk about beginning the process of party unity, and how we all have to work together to make sure that Democrats maintain the White House this fall.

BLITZER: He says he has no plans, Senator Sanders, of quitting, at least not yet. Do you expect he will in fact concede?

MOOK: You know, I think it's too early for that. There's still a lot of hours left for voters to cast their votes in six states today. And obviously the District of Columbia. So we need to let people do that. And let Senator Sanders make his own decisions. But what I'm very confident of is that both Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton are completely committed to bringing this party together and getting everybody involved, everybody active in electing a Democrat to the White House this fall.

The danger that Donald Trump presents to our country is so grave, the stakes are too high. And we need all hands on deck. And that means that there's going to be a big and important place for both campaign supporters in the general election program. And certainly a lot of the issues that Senator Sanders has talked about in his race, reforming our campaign finance system, helping everyone to afford college, doing something about income inequality in this country, those issues need to be addressed in the general election. And those voices need to be heard.

BLITZER: Bottom line, will she declare victory tonight that she's the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee?

MOOK: Well, I'm very confident first of all that the popular vote lead I talked about will expand. She's more than three million votes. And that will get bigger. I also feel very certain that Secretary Clinton will have a majority of the pledged delegates tonight and will be celebrating the first woman to be nominated by a major party to be president of the United States in our history.

BLITZER: I'll take that as a yes. I will see. We'll stand by for that.

All right, Robby. Thanks very much for joining us.

MOOK: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: All right. We're standing by, six states they're voting right now. We'll have results throughout the night. Our coverage will continue right after this.



COOPER: Well, before the break you heard from Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, just want to get the panel's quick -- Mook, I should say. I always get that wrong.

David Gergen, how do you see this moving forward? We saw obviously Hillary Clinton and then candidate Barack Obama come together.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This is Hillary Clinton's last big speech before she gives the acceptance speech. It is a big deal for her. The reason this is so important is we've now entered the general election campaign when for the first time the voters are judging and sizing up this candidate versus that candidate. And at a moment when he's stumbling and trying to regain his bearing, she's catching hold.

She gave a speech last week that was very powerful. She's found her voice. Her organization is superior to his. And what she needs to do tonight is she can't -- is to crack through. If she can come out of this week with an eight or 10-point lead in the national poll, that would be really, really big for her.

COOPER: It's interesting that we hear that Donald Trump tonight is going to be giving a teleprompter speech.


COOPER: Which his not normal for him on a night like this.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And often you can tell when he gives those speeches he often ends those speeches by making clear how much he didn't like having to use a teleprompter.


[17:55:06] KING: Yes, but to the point, that would be interesting. To build perspective, Robby Mook there was just very diplomatic and very conciliatory. And very much saying of course we want to listen to Senator Sanders' message. Of course he's critical to the fall. Of course the issues he raised are critical to Secretary Clinton.

The Clintons are not always graceful at moments like this, especially after a heated campaign. Bill Clinton the other day saying he understood the Sanders got heckling because they're going to be toast on Tuesday. Bill Clinton will not be secretary of state in the Hillary Clinton administration if there is one, I suspect.


KING: But, look, if -- to the mayor's point this is hard and heated. And they're not always big. Yes, Senator Sanders -- she's right, Senator Sanders has to do some stuff but her being big is a big part of this process.

COOPER: Yes. We've got to take a quick break.

Much more ahead in THE SITUATION ROOM including Donald Trump's new statement about the judge he has been slamming. All that ahead.