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Interview With Lanny Davis; Presidential Race Tightening?; Trump's Immigration Plan?; Hacking the Vote; Trump Seizes on Clinton Aide's Separation to Attack Rival; Officials: Election Systems Breached in Two States; 10,000th Syrian Refugee Arrives in U.S. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 29, 2016 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A new national poll shows Hillary Clinton's lead over Donald Trump narrowing. As her convention bounce levels out, could Trump turn things around?

And hacking the vote. Cyber-criminals break into election systems in two states, potentially compromising hundreds of thousands of personal voter records. Could there be any impact on election results?

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, we're told Hillary Clinton's close and powerful aide, Huma Abedin, doesn't want her separation from Anthony Weiner to distract from Hillary Clinton's campaign. But Donald Trump has other ideas. He is seizing on the couple's breakup after brand-new allegations that Weiner has been sending sexually charged texts again.

Trump alleging that Clinton's connection to Abedin allowed Weiner to get close to highly classified information.

Also this hour, Trump is preparing to give a major speech on immigration on Wednesday amid new questions about whether he's softening any of his hard-line positions. A top campaign adviser telling CNN that Trump will make securing the border his first priority and possibly delay the conversation about what to do with millions of undocumented immigrants.

Tonight, a new national poll shows Hillary Clinton seven points ahead of Donald Trump, down from her double-digit lead after the Democratic Convention. The Monmouth University poll shows voters have historically negative views of both presidential nominees.

A longtime Clinton ally the former White House special counsel Lanny Davis, he's standing by. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.

Let's go first to our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, you're learning more about Huma Abedin's decision to separate from her husband, Anthony Weiner. JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Huma Abedin's decision to separate from Anthony Weiner came very abruptly over the weekend after friends said she was furious and sickened when she saw the photograph of their young son together with Mr. Weiner on their bed.

Now, Wolf, a long-simmering family drama here suddenly now is part of this unruly presidential campaign.


ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton's right hand, Huma Abedin, in the spotlight again tonight, interrupting a Hamptons fund-raising swing to say she's leaving her husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, after another sexting scandal.

He landed on the cover of today's "New York Post" with an explicit selfie next to his sleeping 5-year-old son. The paper says he sent the racy picture to a woman not his wife. In a statement, Abedin said: "After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband. Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life."

Abedin and Weiner were married by Bill Clinton. To both Clintons, they have been like family. Now it's a campaign issue seized upon by Donald Trump, who has been railing about Weiner for months.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Her number one person, Huma Abedin, is married to Anthony Weiner, who is a sleazeball and a pervert.

ZELENY: In a statement today, Trump said: "I know Anthony Weiner well and she will be far better off without him. I only worry for the country, in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information. It's just another example of Hillary Clinton's bad judgment."

It's the latest distraction in a campaign filled with them. Abedin already at the center of questions about a cozy relationship between the State Department and Clinton donors. New e-mails reveal the Clinton Foundation also asked her to secure invitations to a state lunch for three top donors. "Can we get her at Biden's table?" the foundation's Doug Band wrote of one donor. Abedin replied, "I will ask."

GOP running mate Mike Pence crying foul to Jake Tapper on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The simple fact is, this is becoming more and more clear through direct evidence in these e-mails that State Department officials under Secretary of State Clinton were extending access and special favors to major donors of the Clinton Foundation.

ZELENY: The Clinton campaign dismisses the criticism, saying there was no pay for play between the foundation and State Department.

The controversy has become a noisy soundtrack to the summer campaign the is nearing an end. August has been a gold mine for Clinton, raising at least $58 million, according to a CNN analysis of 31 fund- raisers throughout the month. She raised $11 million alone in the Hamptons on Sunday, following a $19 million swing last week in California, all this as the Democratic ticket is under fire for tying Trump to racists.


SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is their candidate because Donald Trump is pushing their values. Ku Klux Klan value, David Duke values, Donald Trump values are not American values.

ZELENY: The Republican National Committee calling Tim Kaine's comments vile and baseless smears, saying the Democratic running mate sunk to new lows with dirty and deplorable attacks.


ZELENY: Now, Huma Abedin has not been at Hillary Clinton's side today as she has traveled across the Hamptons for fund-raisers. She will have three in total.

She was at her side yesterday, Wolf, as she always is throughout this entire campaign. Now, it is clear that Donald Trump now intends to make Anthony Weiner front and center in this argument. There's no evidence at all that any of his accusations about classified information being jeopardized are true here.

But, Wolf, for Hillary Clinton's part, she did not talk about this today at the fund-raisers. A short time ago, she was actually asking some of her donors for help for their advice as she prepares for her debates against Donald Trump, said, "Frankly, I'm not sure which Donald Trump will show up." She's soliciting they're help. These New Yorkers know him very, very well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That first debate only a month away.

Let's get a closer look right now at Huma Abedin, her personal relationship with her estranged husband and her political relationship with Hillary Clinton.

Let's bring in our Brian Todd.

Brian, Huma Abedin's martial troubles, they have been going on for years.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. They have been going on for at least five years. She's been married to Anthony Weiner for only six years.

Tonight, we're getting new information on how these latest reports on Weiner put Huma Abedin over the edge after a series of embarrassments and various attempts to save her marriage.


HUMA ABEDIN, WIFE OF ANTHONY WEINER: I will be making no further comments. Thank you.

TODD: (voice-over): For someone who always seems to disdain the spotlight, Huma Abedin has repeatedly, unwillingly been pushed into it. Tonight, Abedin, Hillary Clinton's longest serving aide, is dealing with another humiliation caused by her husband, former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.

A new report from "The New York Post" that Weiner sent sexually explicit photos to another woman, including one picture with Weiner's and Abedin's 4-year-old son apparently sleeping next to him, prompted Abedin to announce she's separating from Weiner.

KIRSTEN POWERS, FORMER CLINTON ADMINISTRATION STAFFER: I can only imagine how painful it must be for her. She has a child with Anthony Weiner. They're family. And so I think this is a very personal thing that she's having to live out in a very public way. And I wouldn't wish this on anybody.

TODD: A close friend of Abedin's tells CNN Abedin and Weiner have "essentially been separated for months."

A clear sign of that, according to the friend, Abedin had been seen recently without a wedding ring, which people around the Clinton campaign noticed. Weiner's sexting scandals go back five years, when Breitbart News first published a racy photo of his underwear.

He first said he hacked, then admitted he lied, then resigned from Congress. Two years later, while Weiner was winning for New York mayor, more explicit messages from him were revealed. He had used the pseudonym Carlos Danger. From Abedin, an extraordinary show of support.

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

TODD: Around that time, a documentary on Weiner's campaign was produced. At one point in the film, Abedin clearly looks agitated as Weiner apologizes to his staff.

ANTHONY WEINER (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: The level of guilt and pain that I feel, I'm very sorry I put everyone in this position.

TODD: A campaign aide complains she is being harassed by the media. Abedin forcefully coaches her on optics.

ABEDIN: You will look happy.

TODD: Seemingly a signature response from Huma Abedin, tidying up with an obsession for detail, no matter how damaging the crisis.

Recently, e-mails obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch showed Abedin was often approached by Clinton Foundation staffers for donors' access to Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state. The e-mails show Abedin seemed to facilitate at least one meeting. The Clinton campaign denies wrongdoing, but after 20 years by her side, has Huma Abedin become a liability for Hillary Clinton?

POWERS: She's not a liability, except for the fact that her political enemies, Hillary Clinton's political enemies will try to make her a liability. I don't think it will stick, because I think most people recognize that Huma Abedin didn't do, anything other than try to make her marriage work.


TODD: That former Clinton aide, Kirsten Powers, says Hillary Clinton wouldn't get rid of Huma Abedin any sooner than she would get rid of Chelsea Clinton.

Abedin isn't saying anything tonight beyond her announcement, other than that she and Weiner are focused on doing what's best for their son. CNN has reached out to Anthony Weiner for comment. We have not heard back -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, Anthony Weiner's stock is clearly plummeting a lot further right now even as we speak. What's the latest?

TODD: That's right, Wolf.

Several news organizations tonight are, they are cutting or suspending their ties with Anthony Weiner. NY1, which is the news channel there, says he's on indefinite leave. He had been a contributor at that New York TV station. And "The New York Daily News" for which Weiner had been an occasional columnist said it's no longer running his columns.


BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting, thank you.

Now to Donald Trump's campaign and the lead-up to his highly anticipated speech on immigration policy. That's coming up Wednesday. After days of mixed messages, will Trump answer some key questions when he appears in Arizona to deliver that speech?

Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is covering the Trump campaign for us.

What's the latest you're hearing, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm told we will be learning more about Donald Trump's immigration plan when he lays out his policy on this issue later week. He has that speech set for Wednesday night in Phoenix.

A senior Trump adviser says, yes, the GOP's nominee determination to build wall on the southern border is as firm as ever. As what to do about the undocumented, though, that's another matter.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump may be signaling his latest shift on immigration, moving toward the idea prioritizing deportation to target criminals and away from removing all undocumented right away.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All the media wants to talk about is the 11 million people or more or less that are here illegally. On day one, I'm going to begin swiftly removing criminal illegal immigrants from this country.

ACOSTA: In what may be major departure from his controversial call for a deportation force that Trump issued during the primaries, a senior campaign adviser said the GOP nominee will announce in a speech later this week that he will secure the border first and suggests that the conversation on what to do the millions of undocumented should come -- quote -- "years from now."

As for Trump's proposal to build a wall on the U.S./Mexico border?

TRUMP: We are going to build a great wall on the border.

ACOSTA: The adviser said, don't bet on any cracks, adding, "It will be an impenetrable physical barrier." That is consistent with the candidate's promises just in the last week.

TRUMP: It's going to be as beautiful as a wall can be.

We will build the wall 100 percent and Mexico will be paying for the wall.

ACOSTA: In an interview on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, told Jake Tapper the policy is a work in progress, but insisted there will be no path to legalization in Trump's plan.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He will stand on the principles that have underpinned his commitment to end illegal immigration in this country.

NARRATOR: In Hillary Clinton's America, the middle class gets crushed.

ACOSTA: Still trailing Hillary Clinton if the polls, Trump is revving his spending on new ads aimed at winning back middle-class voters.

NARRATOR: In Donald Trump's America, working families get tax release, millions of new jobs created, wages go up, small businesses thrive, the American dream achievable.

ACOSTA: But Trump is still capable of stepping on own message. Take his tweets on the killing of relative of pro basketball star Dwyane Wade. Over the weekend, Trump saw the crime as vindication of his outreach to minorities, tweeting: "Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will vote Trump."

Hours later, he tweeted his condolences to Wade and his family. KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think you have to look at

both tweets, where he expresses his condolences. And he says -- and he reminds everybody he's been trying to make the case that the increase in random crime and senseless murders, the poverty, the joblessness, the homelessness in some of our major cities is unacceptable to all of us.


ACOSTA: And the Trump campaign will continue to reach out to minority voters with a speech scheduled this weekend for Detroit.

And the campaign is confident that Trump's immigration speech will settle any jitters among his supporters. A top adviser says the address will reflect the consensus of conservatives nationwide.

And, Wolf, that adviser emphasizes there will be deportations under Donald Trump's plan. It just may be that the criminal illegal immigrants will be at front of that line -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta reporting, thank you.

We spoke with a Donald Trump supporter, Congressman Sean Duffy, in the last hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Now let's talk about the presidential race with Lanny Davis. He is a longtime Clinton ally. He served as a special White House counsel during Bill Clinton's administration.

Lanny, thanks very much for joining us.

LANNY DAVIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Wolf, first of all, I would like to say I'm trying to look like Wolf Blitzer by allowing my beard to grow. I'm not sure I'm going to keep it that way, Wolf, because you really look much better.


BLITZER: All right, let's move on. Let's talk about the campaign right now.

The whole Huma Abedin-Anthony Weiner scandal that is clearly, clearly a major development today, how do you think the Hillary Clinton campaign should deal with it?

DAVIS: Supporting a great, brilliant, dedicated public servant.

I have known Huma for many years, almost 15 years, and only to say that this is a personal matter of great pain to her. Only Donald Trump, a person who seems to have no bottom, no shame, no decency, would try to use this painful, personal matter politically and exploit it. It's just shameful.


BLITZER: Because you saw the statement he released earlier today suggesting there are national security issues involved. Huma Abedin clearly has potentially, if she comes back into the government, national security classification credentials, if you will, and they're raising the possibility, Trump and his supporters, that there could be a national security issue here.

How should the campaign deal specifically with that accusation?

DAVIS: By repeating the words of Joseph Welch to Senator Joe McCarthy: "Mr. Trump, have you no sense of decency at long last?"

That's what Welch said to McCarthy. When he attacked a Gold Star mother, when he exploited the death of a woman, Dwyane Wade's sister, and now he's exploiting the painful experience within a marriage that Huma is going through.

Have you no sense of shame left, Mr. Trump? That's my response.

BLITZER: It was Dwyane Wade's cousin in Chicago.

DAVIS: Cousin, excuse me. Excuse me.

BLITZER: To be precise. Yes.

Let's talk about the Hillary Clinton e-mail issue because that is still very much alive. Back in March of 2015, you remember she said she and her lawyers deleted thousands of e-mails dealing with personal issues, yoga, wedding planning, stuff like that.

But since then, the FBI has uncovered nearly 15,000 documents, including e-mail, dealing with government State Department issues. All of these e-mails that were deleted were not simply personal. She said something that we now know is not true.

DAVIS: Well, I will quote the FBI director that is so often quoted by people who are critics. And the FBI director said that those deletions and those e-mails were not intentionally withheld. And I will certainly leave it to the FBI directors's opinion to answer your question.

BLITZER: How do you explain it? Because in March of 2015, at the famous news conference, she said: "At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal e-mails, e-mails about planning Chelsea's wedding or my mother's funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends, as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes."

But now we know that thousands of those documents dealt with specific government-related issues. Why? Why was there a blunder like that in the explanation?

DAVIS: Well, James Comey gave you an answer, and I can only repeat it, Wolf.

It may be satisfactory to you or to anybody else, but it is what Mr. Comey, who has been widely quoted when it -- to a political advantage of a partisan. Mr. Comey said that those deletions within unintentionally done and that the withholding of -- he saw no evidence of an intentional withholding. People delete e-mails, especially the secretary, who received many and who sent many, and many were personal.

And those deletions, according to James Comey, were not intentionally withheld.

BLITZER: But thousands of them dealt with other stuff, not necessarily personal information. Were the lawyers responsible for that, Hillary Clinton's lawyers, or was she personally responsible?

DAVIS: I don't know who was responsible.

But I hate to do this. It seems to happen a lot with us, Wolf. James Comey looked at this subject, interviewed the lawyers, interviewed with other agents, Secretary Clinton, and said publicly that these deletions and the failure to produce them were not intentional. I can't say it any more than three times, Wolf. And you're going to get it a fourth time if you ask.

BLITZER: Donald Trump just put out a new web video attacking Hillary Clinton on these inconsistencies. Listen to this.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am confident that I never sent nor received information that's classified. I had not sent classified material nor received anything marked classified.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James Comey said none of those things that you told the American public were true.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: One hundred 10 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information.


BLITZER: Lanny, a new Monmouth University poll shows she has a very high unfavorable number right now, 51 percent, and her lead narrowing a bit over Donald Trump.

Hasn't she done a disservice to herself by not giving more information on this whole private server on these e-mail issues? If you were advising her and you have been engaged in damage control for a long time, what would you tell her to do?

DAVIS: Well, first, let's get our facts straight.

James Comey said and confirmed that no e-mail marked classified occurred, and that Hillary Clinton did not see at the time any markings.


At one point, CNN reported that that wasn't true, that Mr. Comey had found markings.

Then, at the congressional hearing, CNN was contradicted -- and I was there the day that the misreport went out -- that Mr. Comey himself said, no, they were badly marked with a little C. And no expert would have recognized them as classified.


BLITZER: Lanny, let me interrupt you.

Lanny, he did say three e-mails did have the letter C for classification, as you know. And he also said a lot of the other e- mails, Lanny, that were not marked classified were in fact classified, including some at the highest levels of classification. He also said that.

DAVIS: Wolf, you know I respect you greatly, but you left out the second sentence of what he said.

He said no expert who saw that little C would have recognized that e- mail as classified. That's a fact. Check the quote.

Secondly, it's easy in retrospect, after you're seeing e-mails that at the time she did not think were classified, for people to say they were at the time or after. She did not believe they were classified.


BLITZER: Lanny, Lanny, why did she (sic) say she was negligent and extremely careless?

DAVIS: Mr. Comey had an opinion on extremely careless. I don't happen to share that opinion.

An investigator offering an opinion is what a prosecutor does. I respect James Comey greatly, but it's opinion. And many other people sent her e-mails in the top positions in the State Department, and did not consider those e-mails to be classified because they were sent through nonclassified channels.

So, Mr. Comey would express the same opinion about extreme carelessness, which I respectfully disagree with, about the 300 other people who sent her e-mails through nonclassified channels.

BLITZER: All right, Lanny, stand by. We have more to discuss.

Much more with Lanny Davis right after a quick break.



BLITZER: We're back with Lanny Davis, former White House special counsel during Bill Clinton's administration. We're talking about the presidential race. Lanny, the newly released e-mails show that then State Department aide Huma Abedin and a foundation, Clinton Foundation official were discussing getting representatives of foundation donors good seats at a luncheon with the visiting Chinese president.

In e-mails, Huma Abedin appears responsive, saying she will ask, even if she didn't grant access. Isn't it sort of reckless to respond like this? That's the charge that is being leveled against her?

DAVIS: Yes, it's being leveled by people who are trying to make something when there's nothing there.

So, Wolf, I always start with the facts. Fact one is that this luncheon, the three guests of executives of major executives, there's not a scintilla of evidence or fact that any favors, economic interests were asked or received or that there was any change in policy by Secretary Clinton for any donation that is transmitted and communicated online, all donors, transparently by the Clinton Foundation, in other words, Wolf, no there there.

BLITZER: Lanny, what about the appearance that favors will be granted to big donors of the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state?

DAVIS: Well, again, I love being on your show, and you know I respect you greatly, but you used the word will and you used the word appearances.

Notice neither of those words are facts. There's no evidence of any favor. You said will. Well, that's a maybe. Speculation is fine. Not a scintilla of evidence that Hillary Clinton ever changed or was influenced on a policy because of Clinton donors that, I will repeat, are completely, transparently communicated online, every one of the 300,000 donors.

So, this is another example where Donald Trump, having nothing else to do but smoke, smoke, smear, smear, is using something where there's no facts, no there there.

BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts on a political issue that's now come forward.

CNN has found Democrats' voter registration advantage is actually shrinking three key battleground states. It shows the GOP has improved its position in Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania by adding hundreds of thousands of voters. Could this be a serious problem if the race is close in those three key battleground states?

DAVIS: Well, actually, we're seeing every day that the answer is no.

If there are Republicans registering, there are more Republicans every day calling me, much less telling reporters, that they cannot support somebody who is as dangerous with his finger on the nuclear button as Donald Trump.

And you know that the polls are showing Republican suburbs around the country are supporting Hillary Clinton. So, I don't know about the data and party registration. I know that Hillary Clinton wants Republican votes, independent voters, and Democratic votes. And we will be happy with all voters, regardless of party, who right now are showing Hillary Clinton with a substantial lead.

BLITZER: Lanny Davis, thanks very much for joining us.

DAVIS: Thank you, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, is Huma Abedin a political liability for Hillary Clinton? We are going to have more on her separation from her husband, the latest sexting scandal surrounding her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.

And what were cyber-criminals looking for when they actually broke into election systems with the personal information of hundreds of thousands of voters?


[18:34:30] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, new fodder for Donald Trump's attacks on Hillary Clinton. Our political team is here to talk more about Hillary Clinton's very close aide Huma Abedin, and the scandal fueled break up of her marriage to former Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Gloria Borger, does Donald Trump make a sound argument that Anthony Weiner's behavior and his proximity of the Clinton campaign can actually compromise national security?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No. Good luck. Good try, Donald Trump. I know he's trying to do that.

But if you're looking at getting independent voters or persuadable voters, I don't think there's an awful lot of them who are going to decide to vote for Donald Trump because of Anthony Weiner and his issues.

[18:35:17] So, I'm not surprised that Donald Trump is doing it because of what he's trying to do is tie it to Hillary Clinton's judgment since she's used his judgment as an issue against him. But, you know, I'm not surprised he kind of threw it out there, but I don't think it's particularly effective.

BLITZER: Mark Preston, why did Donald Trump choose to go on the attack against Hillary Clinton on this issue of national security?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: It allows him to try to continue to talk about a very off color, in many ways a disgusting situation and a very sad situation, but yet allows him to bring it up to discuss it, to try to call Hillary Clinton's judgment into question. But to Gloria's point, I mean, I don't think it's necessarily going to help with the voters that he needs to persuade.

But you know what else it does, it allows him to say it in a media market in New York City that perhaps could grasp upon it. So, you may see the tabloids tomorrow, specifically "The New York Post" take what Donald Trump said today and blast it out there as they continue their coverage and Donald Trump, as we have seen, really feeds off the coverage of the New York media.

BLITZER: David Swerdlick, will we see Trump try to connect this, especially a month from now, in that first presidential debate, the Monica Lewinsky scandal?

DAVID SWERDLICK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, Wolf, I think we will. There's a level on which this is unfair to Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton, right? Second guessing what goes on inside someone else's marriage. But there's another level on which the Clinton campaign sort of opened themselves up to this back in December when Secretary Clinton's campaign described Trump as having a penchant for sexism. Remember that Trump sort of responded immediately, talking about problems in the Clinton marriage, problems with President Clinton and I think they have an opening, however unfair, to do that again.

BLITZER: Rebecca Berg, Trump, as you know had some serious debate prep over the weekend. Some of his family, campaign staff were there. So, apparently were Laura Ingram, Rudy Giuliani, the ousted FOX News chief Rogers Ailes.

Which Donald Trump, do you think, will show up at the debates? A more presidential version or Trump on the attack?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, actually, Hillary Clinton posed that exact question rhetorically to some of her donors earlier today in the Hamptons. She's wondering the same thing.

So, I actually posed this question to a source close to the Trump campaign who told me that we should expect the Donald Trump that we have come to know throughout this campaign. He will be tough, try to be very authentic. He'll certainly be unscripted. It's very difficult for him as we know to stay on script, short of having a teleprompter in front of him.

So, I think we'll see the unpredictable Trump that we are used to. Now, on the flip side, that means that he might not be more presidential. He might not be restrained in anyway. And that's a risk.

It could be a huge reward for him as well because he tends to capture sort of the entertainment value of a moment with his style and we saw this during the Republican primary. But it's also a big risk, because we know that Donald Trump can go off script in a way that comes back to bite him later.

BLITZER: Gloria, that new Monmouth University poll that came out today shows a tighter race. Hillary Clinton has lost her double digit lead, now stands at 43 percent to Trump's 36 percent. This among registered voters.

So, how important will the actual debates be for Donald Trump if he's going to catch up in the polls? BORGER: As he might say, it will be huge, Wolf. This is -- you know,

these debates are the moments when these people go at each other person to person and the American public sits back, and I guarantee you, this is going to be large, large viewership, and they get to see them going at each other.

You know, I've talked to a bunch of presidential candidates who have lost about this experience and one of them said to me, look, this was scariest moment of my life going out there because I knew what was at stake for me. And if you recall in 2012, Mitt Romney had a great first debate against President Obama. Kind of changed the whole narrative of the campaign for a little bit and he wasn't able to capitalize on that because Obama came back in a strong way.

But this is so important for Donald Trump not only as Rebecca says to be seen as presidential but for people to get a sense of how good he is on the issues and what difference he's going to make in their lives. And that's how you can do it on national television in that kind of a setting.

[18:40:01] So, so important.

BLITZER: Mark, we've seen the campaign's trade these allegations now of health problems. Now, Donald Trump is challenging Hillary Clinton to release more detailed medical records. Can he frame this as a transparency issue for her when she's actually released more medical information about himself than he has.

PRESTON: Well, the irony is, is I spoke to the Clinton campaign early this morning as this was really bubbling up. Now, this really popped late last night where we saw Donald Trump tweeting out that he would release his records if she released her records. And, of course, the Clinton campaign came out and literally line by line discredited or tried to discredit the doctor's letter that Donald Trump produced on behalf to say that he was extremely healthy and probably more colorful language than that.

But, look, the irony is the Clinton campaign is trying to make this a transparency issue about Donald Trump, saying that Donald Trump is the one who's not being transparent enough and they're actually trying to tie it to the release of his taxes, Wolf. So, it's interesting while they are fighting over health care, they're really not fighting over each other's health. What they are fighting over is the honest and trustworthiness of the voters right now, and this has really become -- the health care has become a proxy fight for really that big issue.

BLITZER: Donald Trump is 70. Hillary Clinton is 68 years old.

All right. Everyone, stand by. We're getting new information. The FBI now investigating a hack of state election commissions. Much more coming up right after this.


[18:46:31] BLITZER: We're back with our political team.

A new information about break-ins into the computer databases of two state election systems.

Our justice correspondent Evan Perez has been digging into this story.

What are you learning, Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the FBI is investigating the apparent theft of personal data of voters in Illinois and signs of another cyber breach in election systems in Arizona. Investigators think that criminal hackers probably based overseas are behind these bridges and what they're likely after is the names and addresses, Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers.

In the case of Illinois, officials say that the data of about 200,000 people may have been compromised. This is the stuff that hackers sell on the Internet to try to make money.

The big question that always comes up every four years, can someone hack into the election systems and rig the results. Now, state and federal officials that we've been talking to don't see that as a likely problem here. There's reason for that. The voting machines and the tabulation systems used by the states generally are not connected to the Internet.

So, while a hacker may be able to steal personal data and that's always a cause for concern, it's not likely that hackers will be able to swing an election using these methods. You know, that said, Wolf, these types of breaches get everyone's attention and it's a presidential election year. So, the FBI and Homeland Security Department are alerting state election agencies to make sure that security is as good as it can be -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very worrisome development, indeed. Evan, thank you very much.

Gloria, Donald Trump has been stoking fears of voter fraud, encouraging his supporters to, quote, "watch polling places in November". Does this news, today, bolster his warnings?

BORGER: You know, in a way, Wolf, it probably does. Ever since the election of 2000 and the recount, there have been discussions in this country about what you do to federalize the election process, right? And it's run by the states. It's not run by the federal government.

And the reason we don't all push a button and vote is because these systems are not nearly secure enough as we saw in the state of Illinois. And so, what I think both candidates ought to be doing is making sure the people can get to the polls and vote, or vote early, and that the polls will be open because every four years, we seem to be going through this.

And again, they tried to fix it after the recount in 2000. And there was a commission, a study was done, but we still have voter problems in this country.

The question is, whether there are enough to try to delegitimize an election, which is what a lot of people think Donald Trump may be sort of heading towards. And at this point, you know, the answer is no.

BLITZER: Rebecca, what effect could all of this have on election day?

BERG: Well, Gloria started to touch on this, Wolf. It really matters politically if this can be used to create some doubt, sow some doubt in the results of the election, whether there's any reason to believe that there is a problem or not in terms of hacking and the election results.

And what we have seen already is that Trump and his rhetoric on the campaign trial is starting to have an effect. There was a Pew Center report that asked voters, supporters of each candidate, whether they were going to be confident in the results of this election, or whether they had reason to doubt the election process and the fairness of it.

[18:50:00] Only 11 percent of Trump supporters said that they were very confident that the election would proceed in a fair way and the results would be valid. Compare that to 49 percent of Clinton supporters they would be very confident in the results of the election and the validity.

So, the problem here, as I've noted in this report, isn't necessarily that results are going to be affected by hackers, but what does become problem potentially is if politically, this could be used to cast some doubt on the results.

BLITZER: That's a good point.

And, David, what happens then if voters doubt the validity of the results in November?

SWERDLICK: Well, like Rebecca is saying, you can imagine a situation where Trump supporters, particularly because throughout the primaries and at times during the general, Donald Trump has campaigned on this idea that the system is rigged, the fix is in for the establishment, both on the Republican and Democratic side, that if Donald Trump loses certainly by a narrow margin, some of his supporters or even he might make this case after election day, if he loses.

But if the electoral map looks similar to the electoral map for Obama/Romney and Obama/McCain, I think it would be hard to make that case. Look at the state like North Carolina, you know, someone might say, well, look, Mitt Romney won it in 2012. What happens if Clinton wins it in 2016? Except that President Obama won it in 2008.

So, these swing states go back and forth. But a lot of the math is already sort of baked in.

BLITZER: As you know, Mark, Donald Trump has called for election observers to go out there and watch what's going on. Do you think we'll see Trump supporters challenging the results of the election if he loses?

PRESTON: Oh, no doubt. There's no question that if Donald Trump loses November, that you're certainly going to have people out there questioning the validity of every ballot that was cast. But let's just take a step back. We hear Donald Trump talking about this on the campaign trail, saying it's rigged -- the election is rigged, what we will see on Election Day is we will see election observers from both campaigns, specifically in urban areas, making sure that people are able to vote, that they don't over-vote and they're registered to vote.

We'll see that on both sides and also we'll see is teams of lawyers will be throughout every state that will be called into action if they think there's any question that there's irregularity or someone is being prevented from voting. So, we will see it on both sides. There's no question about that.

The question is, what happens afterwards and will we see an outcry from the loser?

BORGER: You know, which, by the way, is how it should be, right?


BORGER: I mean, you should have people monitoring elections. And don't forget in the election of 2000, you had Al Gore winning the popular vote, right, by 200,000 but losing in the Electoral College. So, what if you had something like that today? What would the response be on the person of the losing end of that, right?

It's a question of how you define "rigged system", right, and what you consider rigged and what you consider fair.

BLITZER: In the meantime, they've got to stop the hacking systems of these election systems in these states. That's a clearly very, very worrisome and very serious development.

All right, guys. Thanks very, very much.

We have much more coming up right after this.


[18:57:44] BLITZER: The Obama administration today announced it has met its target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by October 1st, refugee number 10,000 arriving in the United States today.

Let's go to our global correspondent Elise Labott.

Elise, how many more refugees are expected from Syria before the end of the year?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's no cap. Now, the White House likes to say that the 10,000 number is a floor not a ceiling. They have these regional quotas. So, they can add some more Syrians and take less from other Middle Eastern countries and this extra reserve that they can pull from. Last year, for example, they added more refugees from Asia and Africa where the need was the greatest. So, officials say the current pace of arrivals will continue through

the end of the fiscal year, the end of September. So, I'd say if they continue at that rate, we're looking at another 2,500 by then, for a total of 12,500 by the end of September.

BLITZER: As you know, Elise, Donald Trump has spoken about these refugees potential as threats, potential terror threats. What kind of tracking is done once they actually get to the United States?

LABOTT: Well, to be frank, Wolf, there isn't much tracking. The refugee resettlement agencies are in touch with these people. Once they arrive in the U.S., they help them get settled, they provide them with some services. But once these people are here, they're like any other immigrants to the United States, and they're able to travel freely.

U.S. officials say the refugees are the most thoroughly screened categories of any travelers in the United States, and they have been spreading out across about 40 countries. They're subject to more scrutiny, much more so than anybody just applying for a tourist or work visa. As we know, it takes about two years to vet these people. And the State Department, along with the Department of Homeland Security, the intel communities, and other agencies have been stepping up that capability. So, they say they're very heavily vetted, Wolf.

BLITZER: But they acknowledge it's not perfect, the system, by any means, right?

LABOTT: That's right. And they don't have that much visibility on these people. They're able to travel freely but say there's enough vetting that's done before they get here, that they're confident that these people are not posing risks.

And let's be honest. A lot of these are women and children. So, they say they're not men of fighting age that might pose the greatest threat.

BLITZER: Elise Labott, thanks very much.

That's it for me. Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.