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THE SITUATION ROOM
Obama Pleads for National Unity 'To Do Right'; Dallas Man Fears He Sold Rifle Used in Attack; Obama Calls for National Unity 'To Do Right'; Race to the White House. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 12, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Call to action. An emotional President Obama delivers one of his most powerful speeches, calling for national unity despite the attack on Dallas police and what he calls the fault lines that may he been widened by recent shootings and protests.
He's with her. After a bitter 14-month battle, Senator Sanders finally endorses Hillary Clinton for president of the United States. What about the millions of his supporters? Will they follow his lead? Will they stay home in November?
Frustrated. Republicans on Capitol Hill try to rake the attorney general over the coals. She refuses to take the bait. She -- and argue about the decision not to bring charges over Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Will the investigations continue, or will the controversy die down?
And supreme honesty. In an exclusive CNN interview, the Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg calls Donald Trump a faker, and says he should release his tax returns. Tonight, Trump is firing back.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We begin with breaking news, President Obama's call for national unity. Just a little while ago in a memorial service for the police officers killed in Dallas, the president also brought up last week's fatal shootings of African-Americans by police in Louisiana and Minnesota.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that Americans are struggling right now with what we've witnessed over the past week. With an open heart, we can worry less about which side has been wronged and worry more about joining sides to do right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We'll have much more from the president's emotional, very important speech, as well as the -- some of the remarks from the former president, George W. Bush, also a very powerful address. We're also following a long-awaited, very important development of the
presidential campaign. Senator Bernie Sanders finally endorsing Hillary Clinton today during a joint rally in New Hampshire.
And Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, he's standing by to take our questions. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of today's top stories.
Let's begin with President Obama's dramatic plea for national unity. Our national correspondent, Kyung Lah, is on the scene for us in Dallas. Kyung, the president clearly let his emotions show today.
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They were very visible. He was weary. He said he'd been to too many of them. Frustrated and angry. And he asked Americans to walk through these emotions with him to end up on the other side of unity.
LAH (voice-over): The interfaith service to honor the five police officers whose lives were lost too soon.
OBAMA: Like police officers across the country, these men and their families shared a commitment to something larger than themselves.
LAH: That the nation's president acknowledged his own failings.
OBAMA: I've seen how -- how inadequate words have been in bringing about lasting change. I've seen how -- how inadequate my own words have been. If we are to honor these five outstanding officers who we lost, then we will need to act on the truths that we know.
LAH: Among those truths, says the nation's first black president, there is bias in police shootings, and bias in claiming all police for the actions of a few.
OBAMA: So much of the tensions between police departments and minority communities that they serve is because we ask the police to do too much, and we ask too little of ourselves.
We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book. and then we tell the police, "You're a social worker; you're the parent; you're the teacher. You're the drug counsellor."
We tell them to keep those neighbors in check at all costs. And do so without causing any political blowback or inconvenience. Don't make a mistake that might disturb our own piece of mind. And then we feign surprise when, periodically, the tensions boil over.
[17:05:06] LAH: In a sign that pain is not partisan, Republicans joined the president on stage, including the 43rd president, who calls Dallas home, echoing the message of unity. GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: We recognize
that we are brothers and sisters, sharing the same brief moment on earth, and owing each other the loyalty of our shared humanity. At our best, we know with have one country, one future, one destiny. We do not want the unity of grief nor do we want the unity of fear. We want the unity of hope, affection and high purpose.
LAH: Now President Obama says the America he knows is better than this, and the best way to remember these fallen officers is to strive to be that one America -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Kyung Lah on the scene for us in Dallas, thank you.
As we follow the mourning in Dallas, we're also getting new information on the investigation. There are now new pictures of the building where the gunman was cornered and ultimately killed.
Plus, CNN has heard from a man who thinks he may have sold the killer the rifle used in the attack.
Let's go back to Dallas. CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us. Ed, start by telling us more about the gun sale.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have spoken with the man who sold the AK-47-style assault style to Micah Johnson. And according to this man, the sale was made in 2015, in the fall of 2014. And they met over through a Facebook gun forum, and that's how they connected. It was a $600 sale. The exchange happened in a Target parking lot. All of this perfectly legal, and the man tells us all of this, saying he's tormented by the possibility that this could be the gun that was used in this vicious attack.
BLITZER: And the whole notion of this investigation right now, when you speak to the investigators, when you speak to people close to it, how much more work do they think they have?
LAVANDERA: It doesn't sound like investigators are fully convinced, like they've explored everything they need to explore, the bomb making materials found in Micah Johnson's home. Federal law enforcement tells us it was about 3 1/2 pounds of various materials inside that home, but what's not clear is the intention, what was the goal of having this material? What was it supposed to be used for? That's one of the things that investigators continue to take a much closer look at.
BLITZER: Ed Lavandera in Dallas for us, thank you.
With us now, the president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial. Marc, thanks very much for joining us.
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Good afternoon, Wolf.
Let me play another clip from the president, a very powerful moment from his speech in Dallas at that memorial service. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: But America, we know that bias remains. We know it. Whether you are black, or white, or Hispanic, or Asian, or Native American or of Middle Eastern descent, we have all seen this bigotry in our lives at some point. We heard it at times in our own homes. If we're honest, perhaps we've heard prejudice in our own heads and felt it in our own hearts. We know that.
And while some suffer far more under racism's burden, some feel to a far greater extent discrimination is a thing. Although most of us do our best to guard against it and teach our children better, none of us is entirely innocent. No institution is entirely immune. And that includes our police departments. We know this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Marc, what's your response to the president's message we just heard?
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: The president in listening to that, Wolf, I think is going farther than he's gone in his presidency to acknowledge the existence of race, of racial exclusion, racial discrimination, and really, with (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I think to say you can't confront it unless you acknowledge its existence and you acknowledge its existence in everyone who has some form of implicit bias. Implicit bias, I should say.
So I think it was a very important step.
From here, as a nation, Wolf, it's about whether we can move forward to act. Because the words are certainly important in hearing not only the president but certainly also former President Bush together sends a powerful signal to the nation that, in order to confront this, we've got to and having to reach across the divide.
[17:10:15] But the systematic challenges of policing, the racial bias that exists in police forces, should never, never condemn all police officers. We don't want to do that. We've got to understand that there's something systemic in what we see, because it's too many incidents, and then the awful spate of the retaliation we must condemn forcefully, too.
BLITZER: Because he was obviously walking a fine line, a delicate line. He said at one point, "We must reject despair. We are not as divided as we may seem."
He says, "Look what I've experienced in my own life. That's the America I know." He kept referring to that theme, "This is the America I know." I know. I see what's possible. He says, "Race relations have improved dramatically in my life." Still problems, but you agree with him on that?
MORIAL: Well, look, it's important that we have to be hopeful and we have to recognize that one of the stories of America is race. But it's also been the ability of successive generations to build bridges to overcome.
But Wolf we're at a point now where we have to confront this, because if we do not, we will fail our children. We have to confront it for once and for all. And I think confronting it, policing, and in the criminal justice system is difficult. It's misunderstood, but we've got to do it.
We've proffered a number of ideas to, if you will, reform policing. And it's so interesting that the Dallas Police Department -- under the chief, we've seen publicly, has been a police department that's made progress, yet found itself still the target of retaliation.
So there are many examples of police departments in communities that are working to do the right thing, but those examples are not, if you will, widespread enough. We've got to confront that, Wolf, in a dramatic way.
So the words of today are designed, I think, to comfort and also, I hope, to inform and inspire. But action is so necessary, given this tremendous cycle of violence we've seen in this country over the last several years.
And Wolf, violence is violence. So violence by police against citizens, violence by citizens against police, violence by terrorists against citizens, I condemn every element of violence and every aspect of this unjust violence.
But at this point in time, we must work on the policing and the criminal justice challenges that we face as a nation.
BLITZER: Marc Morial, I need you to stand by. We're going to take a quick break. We have lots more to discuss. We'll be right back.
[17:17:43] BLITZER: We're back with Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, as we cover the breaking news: President Obama's vert powerful plea for national unity in the wake of the attack on Dallas police that left five police officers dead. Marc, I want to play another clip from what the president said. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And today in this audience, I see people who have protested on behalf of criminal justice reform grieving alongside police officers. I see people who mourn for the five officers we lost but also weep for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
In this audience, I see what's possible. I see what's possible when we recognize that we are one American family, all deserving of equal treatment, all deserving equal respect, all children of God. That's the America I know.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: So here's the question: the violence we've seen, will it force the president, indeed the entire nation, the political leadership to confront truths about this nation?
MORIAL: The political leadership must confront truths about this nation. And I think the president, with less than six months to go in his presidency, I think you can expect to see him make this a really important focus of the work that he has to do.
But I also believe, Wolf, that mayors and governors and local leaders are going to have to lean in, if you will. And as the president, I think, sought to do, is to say, look, while we may come at this issue from a different space, the idea that we have to find new common ground, we have to work together, we have to understand that the commonality is the value that this country must be based on in the 21st Century, I think that's important.
So let's not expect, and I've heard some commentators expect as though the president with a magic wand can solve this problem from Washington D.C.. I'm here to say the president has a very important role to play and can lead, but he needs political leadership.
[17:20:08] I know in the civil rights community, we are going to be fully committed to working on a solution-oriented approach. We need youth jobs. We've got to confront the underlying issues of economic opportunity. We've got to understand that the proliferation of guns and gun safety measures are essential, that retraining, de-escalation training, implicit bias training for police officers is essential.
That citizens, we have to talk to citizens about the role and relationship between police and community also.
This is a big and very significant undertaking, but the future of this country, I feel, given what we're seeing, given the anger across the nation, given the challenges we face, given the carnage and the deaths of too many people, is essential.
So political leaders, you need to step up. Take your Democratic hat off. Take your Republican hat off. Take your ideological hat off, and recognize that we're calling on everyone to play in not only good, strong words but the actions necessary. We want a safer nation. We want communities that respect police. We want police that respect communities. We can share that goal, but there's got to be action steps, Wolf.
BLITZER: And Marc Morial speaks as a former mayor of New Orleans, as well.
And Marc, what if anything can leaders like you in the civil rights movement do to prevent someone like this Micah Johnson, 25 years old, a U.S. Army veteran -- he served in Afghanistan -- who all of a sudden decides he hates white people, wants to kill white people, wants to especially kill white police officers. That's what he told the police, according to the Dallas police chief. What, if anything, can be done to prevent these individuals from developing that kind of hatred?
MORIAL: Well, let me say this, Wolf. I think that hatred is an absolute sickness and an illness, but what we've got to do is prevent people with that kind of sickness and illness from getting the instrument of destruction. The AR-15 was an instrument of destruction that we've seen time and time again used in these killings.
So I was struck by the fact that this person somehow found his way into the military. And certainly, the -- he was questionably discharged from the military. I'm not sure what the absolute circumstances are.
But I also want people across the nation to know that this gentleman does not, quote, "represent" all black people in this country in the same way that Dylann Roof, who shot up the Mother Emanuel Church does not represent all white people. So when we see a Dylann Roof or a Micah Johnson, let's not just see their race and their rage; let's see the sick individuals that they were.
But let's also confront the idea that we've got to tighten up access to weapons. And I think we've got to question why the AR-15 should be commercially sold in this country when it's meted out so much destruction in so many instances across the board.
BLITZER: Marc Morial is the president and CEO...
MORIAL: And I would say this. I would say...
BLITZER: Go ahead.
MORIAL: ... the last thing is, yes, is that, you know, leaders across the board -- and I accept this responsibility -- we have to promote unity. We have to promote tolerance. We have to promote understanding. We've also got to promote this idea of justice and fairness. And that's why I think that we're at this inflection point, we're at this tipping point.
I've talked to young people across the nation. They're not happy with the state of affairs, but it's our responsibility all across to board to try to promote and propose and address these systematic issues and not just talk about them.
BLITZER: Marc Morial, thanks very much for joining us.
MORIAL: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: There are new developments emerging right now. Let's take another quick break. We'll be right back.
[17:28:49] BLITZER: President Obama joined former President George W. Bush today to lead the nation in mourning. Those five Dallas police officers killed in a sniper attack. The emotionally charged speech was a call for unity and a call for action. Let's continue the discussion right now with our experts: CNN legal
analyst, the former federal prosecutor, Laura Coates; our senior law enforcement analyst, former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes; our senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson; and CNN anchor Don Lemon.
Nia, this is the 11th time that the president has spoken out after a natural tragedy, a shooting incident along these lines. Let me play another clip for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I'm not naive. I have spoken at too many memorials during the course of this presidency. I've hugged too many families who've lost a loved one to senseless violence. And I've seen how a spirit of unity born of tragedy can gradually dissipate, overtaken by the return to business as usual. By inertia and old habits and expediencyI see how easily we slip back into our old notions, because they're comfortable. We're used to them. I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change. I've seen how -- how inadequate my own words have been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:30:32] BLITZER: Nia, how personal is this issue of a racial divide in our country for the president?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think it's extremely personal for this president, because he is the country's first black president. And before he was the country's first black president, he was a black man who often had trouble hailing a cab, who was mistaken for a waiter at fancy events, events that he's talked about.
And I also think he -- he sees his presidency, and rightfully, as a sign of racial progress. I think as the nation's first black president, he has had a special burden, and in some ways, that may be an unfair burden, to be a repairer of the breach of this racial divide that he talked about.
But I think, in this speech, he also, I think, was calling on African- Americans to also take this racial divide personally, to essentially -- that race isn't just a problem for African-Americans; it's a problem for all Americans, and that Americans should -- should not just be tolerant but see themselves in other people's stories. It was a speech that I thought was a tricky balancing act. He here is speaking at a memorial service for five dead officers who are dead, partly because of their race, because of this racial hatred of this gunman.
So I think this is a theme he's going to come back to repeatedly, a theme of race that he has sometimes been reluctant to talk about, but in some ways has been thrust upon him by events.
BLITZER: And he did say, Don, the president, "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been," referring perhaps to the 10 other comforter in chief moments where he's had to address these kinds of issues. Will his words resonate this time?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I hope so. I mean, they have to, Wolf. I think that, you know, to many people, as he said, who so easily fall back into the way things were, into a comfortable rhetoric, I think that won't make a difference. Because if you -- not that I really care what people say on social media. I'm just using it as an example.
But if you go on social media and you look at the comments immediately after the president, the people who dislike this president, those words are just going to bounce off, and they're going to hate him even more, just because it came out of his mouth, even though what he said today makes complete sense.
His message was no different than George W. Bush's message, was no different than Police Chief Brown's message. They were all on the same message. So if this is bouncing off of you, and it's not resonating with you, then you should -- you need to check yourself and look from within.
Imagine George Bush saying the words that Barack Obama said. And vice versa. And then so you -- you know. And if -- if the police chief's words bounced off of you, as someone who may be on the, you know, more liberal side of things, then you need to check yourself, as well.
It is time for us to stop pretending that we don't -- that racism doesn't exist. That bias doesn't exist in this culture. And if you will allow me, I want to share a very personal story that happened this weekend as I was out with friends.
We were discussing the Dallas shooting at a bar/restaurant. And it was two African-Americans, me and someone else, and there were other -- that were with us in the immediate vicinity, and we were discussing it. And as we were talking about it, my friend is talking about it, who is a black guy, and the guy looked at him and said, talking about the Dallas shootings, he said, "How does that make you feel as a nigger?" And everybody just got quiet and looked like, is this 2016? Is this actually happening?
I swear on a stack of Bibles, on my life, that this happened just this weekend in a place that you would not even think it happened -- or would happen, in a place where there are intelligent; there are very liberal people in the sense of the types of people that they engage with.
So we have to stop pretending that these things don't happen, that people don't have implicit bias, that people -- you don't hear words and racism and prejudice, sometimes in your own family, or with people you love, or you don't overhear it. And it's not within you; it's within all of us. The president said none of us is innocent, no institution is immune. And so we should come from that place.
So instead of -- it was interesting, because the two black people who were in the immediate vicinity, me and my friend, were just kind of quiet, like "OK, how are we going to react to this?" And every single white person we were with was outraged and jumped on him. But we have to come from a place of listening. I could have cursed
the man out. I was outraged. I was upset by it. But my immediate response was, "Hmm, isn't this interesting? How am I going to absorb this? What can I do with this story? How can I teach him if it's possible to teach him?"
[17:35:14] So instead of becoming enraged, I became curious about why he was so ignorant and why did he felt that was OK to use those words.
BLITZER: That's really a shocking, powerful story.
Don, stand by. Everybody stand by. I want to continue this important conversation. We'll take another quick break.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:40:02] BLITZER: We're back with our experts as we cover President Obama's very emotional appeal for national unity.
Tom Fuentes, you were a beat cop before you became an FBI agent. You heard the president's words today. What are beat cops going to say? How are they going to react to what they heard from the president?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think what they're going to be hoping for is that much of what he said does resonate in the community and in the police ranks. And I think that in the past that's what's happened, is that when people hear these kind of speeches, you know, one side thinks, "How dare him say that about me?" And the other side thinks the same thing on their side.
I attended a speech by James Comey at the International Association of Chiefs of Police. I heard the speech in person, and yet, when it was recorded on it, when even the president commented on it, people picked out the side they didn't like to hear. And people were coming out of that speech, saying, "How dare him say that about we're racist or we're this and that?" And then the other side came out saying the opposite. They heard two different things. And too often, people hear what they want to hear and aren't even open to hearing the truth.
BLITZER: Do you think his words will make much of a difference, if any difference at all, Laura?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it will, because he said his words are really inadequate. It's gearing us to a different, now, paradigm shift. We're talking less about competing narratives and who's right, who is wrong, and more about the shared experience of both police officers and African-Americans.
Essentially, neither wants to be judged by the other, by the worst among them. And they want accountability for those who are doing the wrong thing. That is the shared narrative we all have. And I think his words today demonstrate. It's like we all have that shared responsibility.
And if that's the case, we have to move less from the dialogue and more to legislative action and taking a stand and saying, "Look, here's how we can make sure we have accountability on both ends." And it takes a successful prosecution and legislative action to ensure that everybody can be treated fairly when they commit unlawful acts.
BLITZER: Go ahead.
FUENTES: I think, Wolf, one suggestion that I heard from many of my colleagues past and present is that the police in these communities should establish a ride-along program with community leaders riding with the police, with media reporters riding with the police, with a GoPro camera strapped on, and get an idea and an understanding of what the police go through and not during the daytime when speeches are being made, but between 10 p.m. at night to about 4 in the morning. There's a different group of people that go on our streets that you don't even realize unless you're a street cop.
See what they encounter day in, day out, and they might be more inclined to work more closely together to resolve these issues.
BLITZER: And Nia, you've suggested that the president -- now he's got six months left in office, he's a lot freer, a lot more willing to express his views on these sensitive racial issues than he was in his first term or even earlier in his second term.
HENDERSON: Yes, I think that's right. I think he's very much evolved in terms of his view of talking about race. He, of course, gave that famous race speech when he was running in 2008 in Philadelphia. He gave that speech there.
And oftentimes I think he fell back on what's called black respectability politics when he talked about race, meaning he would talk about black behavior and was much less -- much less willing to talk about systematic racism, systemic racism, institutionalized racism.
He did that here in this speech in a way I hadn't seen him do before. A lot of people, I think, may have thought it might not have been the time and the place to do it. But he did talk about the stain of racism and how it is embedded in all sorts of institutions, not just police departments. So I think, you know, here is a president who was looking at his legacy. Here's a president who people thought would inaugurate this post-racial America. I think this is going to be a continuing part of his dialogue.
BLITZER: All right, guys. Hold on for a moment. I just want to alert our viewers once again, Don Lemon will be back for a special two-hour "CNN TONIGHT," 10 p.m. Eastern.
Also, an important programming note. Tomorrow night, join Don for a special CNN town hall event, "Black, White and Blue: America 2016." That's at 10 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
Coming up, Bernie Sanders throws his support to Hillary Clinton. Will his supporters, though, get behind her? Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Senator Bernie Sanders finally throwing his support behind Hillary Clinton and saying he intends to campaign for her in every corner of the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president. And I am proud to stand with her today. Thank you all very much.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The formal endorsement caps a long and contentious fight for the Democratic nomination.
Let's dig deeper with our political experts. CNN political analyst Rebecca Berg and national political reporter for Real Clear Politics. Our senior political reporter Manu Raju, our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.
Jeffrey, Bernie Sanders is on board. Will his supporters be on board?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the polls show that Hillary Clinton is actually doing better with Bernie Sanders supporters than Barack Obama was doing with her supporters in 2008 in a similarly contentious fight.
She is never going to get 100 percent of these supporters. These fights just don't work out that way. But she does have a secret weapon, which is Donald Trump. I mean, if anything that will unite the Democratic base, it's Donald Trump. So I think this event went about as well as it could have been planned.
BLITZER: You know, Dana, you're there in Indianapolis, I think, right now. There's a lot of speculation that Donald Trump is going to announce his vice presidential running mate maybe on Friday. What are you hearing right now about the finalists?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That it is an extremely short list.
[17:50:02] And as you said I am here in Indiana, the governor, Mike Pence, is one of those that we are told is on that extremely short list. Earlier today I was with the governor at an official event, not a political event here in Indiana. And I asked a question about the fact that -- the fact that there are lots of people who are qualified to be VP. But they have pulled out of the running. They've said that they don't want to be considered and asked him why he is different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA; Well, I'm very humbled. My whole family is very humbled and very honored to be considered for this position. But what I can tell you is that I think this is no ordinary time in the life of this nation, and I am very confident that Republicans are going to come together.
BASH: Could you be the guy to help unite them?
PENCE: I think that would be for others to say, Dana. I really would. I will tell you that we've been honored to spend some time with Mr. and Mrs. Trump. We were very moved by how gracious and kind they were to our family. And I think -- I think he is going to be a great president. I think he is someone who has connected with everyday Americans unlike -- no one since Ronald Reagan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Wolf, when somebody starts to compare the nominee or the potential nominee, Donald Trump, to Ronald Reagan, you know that that is a very, very clear signal that he wants this job. He wants to be very much considered for the VP slot. And so that's what we're going to be watching for at this event behind me to see the chemistry between Pence and Trump because Trump has made clear that that chemistry is important to him.
They had a private meeting as Pence alluded to there with their families earlier this month. But this is a different kind of thing. Trump wants to see Pence and how he kind of riles up the crowd on whether it goes along with the way that Trump does it.
BLITZER: It's clear, Rebecca, that Trump is down to only a few choices right now. He told the "New York Times," he said -- he said I have five candidates plus two, two that are unknown to anybody. So potentially there still could be a surprise out there.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I did actually pose this question to one of Trump's close allies today asking about those two mystery candidates. And I was told, quote, that that would be news to this source if Trump actually did have two secret candidates still in his pocket. So I think the smart money here based on conversations I'm having with sources close to his campaign and other Republicans is that this is really down at this stage to Newt Gingrich and Mike Pence.
Now Donald Trump loves to be unpredictable. He could surprise us all. He could surprise even his closest aides. But Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich are the smart money at this stage.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And Wolf, I talked to a lot of Republicans on the Hill today, and a lot of them are actually very excited about the prospect of Mike Pence getting the VP nod. They know him. He's a former congressman. He's a known quantity even though he didn't work particularly well with some members of the Republican leadership in the House. A lot of them like him and they feel -- they're comfortable with it. Even folks who are skeptical, I mean, people like Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told me today he likes Mike Pence. Jeff Flake, a person who opposes Donald Trump, says that that would be a good pick.
BLITZER: The speaker likes him, too. RAJU: The speaker likes him, too. I asked him about that today. He
said he has a very high opinion of him. So clearly this would go over well with the party establishment.
TOOBIN: If you believe that the first rule of picking a vice president is first do no harm, Mike Pence is clearly the choice. He is not going to set the world on fire. Perhaps he's not going to bring states into play that wouldn't be into play, but he certainly wouldn't be a drag on the ticket the way Sarah Palin was and perhaps Newt Gingrich was.
BLITZER: Yes. He spent, what, a decade plus in the United States Congress. He was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, now he's governor of a Midwestern state. He's -- you're right on that front.
Let me put your Supreme Court hat on right now and get your analysis of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court justice, what she's been saying. She told CNN in an interview regarding Donald Trump, "He's a faker, he has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes in his head at the moment. He really has an ego. How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns?"
Trump responded, and he put this out there, his criticism -- to the criticism from Justice Ginsburg, "I think it's highly inappropriate that the United States Supreme Court judge gets involved in a political campaign. It's so beneath the court. I would hope that she would get off the court as soon as possible."
Did she cross a line by publicly going after the Republican presumptive nominee that brutally?
TOOBIN: She did. I mean, I just don't think there's any doubt about this. This is not something that Supreme Court justices have done historically. It is a direct intervention in a presidential campaign. It's an endorsement or a non-endorsement of one of the only two candidates.
[17:55:01] I just find myself shocked by it. You know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of the great lawyers of the last century, but this is just not something that Supreme Court justices do. And if somehow this case winds up in the Supreme -- this election winds up in the Supreme Court, like it did in 2000, I don't see how she could help but recuse herself at this point.
RAJU: And not many Democrats on the Hill are willing to defend her either, Wolf.
RAJU: Really -- actually distancing themselves from her comments. A clear sign that, you know, even her closest supporters may have thought she crossed the line.
BLITZER: Right. And Jeffrey knows the history of the Supreme Court. He's written books on the Supreme Court. He knows where he's coming from on this. All right, guys, stand by. Also coming up, we'll have much more on
the president's very emotional speech today at that memorial for five slain police officers. We'll discuss what we heard and a lot more. The head of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks, is standing by live.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Scripture tells us --
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