Return to Transcripts main page


Source: Suspect's Notebook Mentions Terrorists; FBI Investigated Bombing Suspect in 2014; Trump Taunts Clinton Ahead of First Debate; Report: Trump Used Charity Money to Settle Legal Disputes; Sources: George H.W. Bush to Vote for Clinton; President Obama Delivers Final Address to United Nations. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 20, 2016 - 17:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's it for "THE LEAD." I am Jake Tapper. You can follow me on Twitter, @JakeTapper, or the show, @TheLeadCNN. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

[17:00:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: breaking news, inspired by al Qaeda. CNN has learned a notebook carried by the New York and New Jersey bombing suspect contains references to terrorism including the Boston Marathon bombings and an American-born al Qaeda leader. Also, the suspect's father says he tried to warn the FBI about his son in 2014. Why wasn't he on the radar?

Powerful explosive. We're also learning disturbing new details about the makeup of the New York bombs. One expert says they were significantly more powerful than the bombs used in Boston. Did the suspect receive special training?

Bush's burn. A political shocker from the former president, George Herbert Walker Bush. We've learned he told a room full of people he's voting for Hillary Clinton. Is it political betrayal, retribution for the way Donald Trump treated his son Jeb, or is it putting his country first?

And candy crushed. Donald Trump's son tries to score political points by comparing refugees to poisoned Skittles. Will the social media firestorm make him back down?

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news in the New York and New Jersey bombing investigation. CNN is now told the wife of bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami is cooperating with authorities.

We've also learned the suspect was carrying a notebook when he was captured; and it contains references to the Boston Marathon bombings and the American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed back in 2011.

Also, the suspect's father says he called the FBI two years ago when his son was acting violently. Two U.S. officials tell CNN the FBI interviewed the father after hearing a tip alleging his -- he was calling his son a terrorist back in 2014.

We're also following a shocker in the presidential race. Former president George Herbert Walker Bush, who once served as the Republican Party chairman, reportedly intends to vote for Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump.

I'll discuss politics and the bombing investigation with Republican Senator James Risch. He's a prominent member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.

Let's begin with all the new details coming in on the bombing investigation. Our national correspondent, Deborah Feyerick, is at the scene of the explosion in New York.

Deb, what are you hearing?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we can tell you is that the terror suspect is not talking to authorities. However, it does appear that his wife is cooperating.

And a notebook found on the suspect appears to shed some light into what he may have been thinking at the time of this attack.


FEYERICK (voice-over): Two years before allegedly detonating a bomb in Manhattan, Ahmad Khan Rahami came to the attention of the FBI. In 2014, agents interviewed Rahami's father Mohammad following a domestic dispute in which he allegedly called his son a terrorist.

(on camera): Why did you call the FBI two years ago?


FEYERICK: He doing bad? What did he do bad?

RAHAMI: He stabbed my son. He hit my wife. And I put him to jail. Two years ago.

FEYERICK (voice-over): At the time Rahami had just returned from a long trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Officials tell CNN FBI agents did not interview Rahami and ultimately concluded it was a family dispute.

WILLIAMS SWEENEY JR., FBI: We had a report of a domestic incident some time ago. That was -- the allegations were recanted. And I don't have any other information. We'll keep digging.

FEYERICK: Tonight, the FBI saying in a statement that, in 2014, the FBI conducted internal database reviews, inter-agency checks and multiple interviews, none of which revealed ties to terrorism.

While the FBI so far does not believe Rahami was part of a terror cell in the New York/New Jersey area, investigators are digging on Rahami's connections in the U.S. and overseas to determine if he had any help.

JAMES O'NEILL, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: Moving forward we have to identify everybody involved and see -- see what their backgrounds are, see where they've been, see what they've been up to.

FEYERICK: Rahami allegedly built at least ten bombs, eight of them pipe bombs. A federal law enforcement source tells CNN Rahami used a highly volatile chemical explosive easy to make at home. An explosive material more powerful than the one used by the Boston bombers.

Restaurant surveillance video near the first bomb site on West 23rd Street shows Rahami wheeling two small suitcases believed to contain the explosive devices. He was wearing a backpack and a pouch slung across his chest.

After he was caught following a shootout with Linden, New Jersey, police, investigators discovered a notebook. A law enforcement official tells CNN it referenced the Boston Marathon bombers and American-born al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in Yemen by a U.S. drone strike.

[17:05:17] Rahami's Pakistan-born wife was overseas at the time of the terror attack. Two U.S. officials tell CNN she is in the United Arab Emirates and is expected to fly back to America sometime this week.


FEYERICK: And, Wolf, the power of that blast was so extraordinary that, even though it took place on that side of the street just behind me, it blew out all of the windows on this side; and a number of the buildings are sort of pock-mocked with what looks like shrapnel but almost bullet holes, it looks like.

We told -- I spoke to somebody who is familiar, very familiar with explosives who told me that, given the volatility of the compound, it is a surprise that those bombs didn't detonate sooner. But right now this investigation in full swing as they try to put the pieces of this attack together, Wolf.

BLITZER: Deborah Feyerick in New York for us with the latest information. Thank you. We're also learning new details about the suspect's troubled family life including allegations of violence that brought him to the FBI's attention two years ago.

Our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, has spoken to people who knew him. What are they telling you, Drew?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: This was a financially stressed family, a dysfunctional family, Wolf. And Ahmad, the oldest son, was in constant battles with his father. At one point, a friend tells us, Ahmad Rahami was literally abandoned in Pakistan by his family. He came back to work very long hours in that family restaurant business and was in constant struggles with the family, essentially, Wolf, living in two worlds at the same time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GRIFFIN (voice-over): Friends of Ahmad Khan Rahami point to a life- long feud between the eldest son and his strict father who brought his family here seeking asylum but also tried to hold onto a strict family tradition of their home country, Afghanistan.

By the time Ahmad Rahami went to high school, he was outgoing, funny and looking forward to a future in law enforcement, something he spoke about to this former officer.

DAVID YANVARY, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: I knew -- I knew Ahmad. I knew his brother. They used to hang around the parking lot and play cricket. And they would talk to me when I was on patrol and stuff like that about being -- he wanted to be a police officer and go to college. Other than that, he was a very well-spoken boy. And I never had any trouble with him.

GRIFFIN: In high school, though, he got his girlfriend pregnant, and Ahmad struggled to make child support payments. During multiple trips back and forth to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ahmad and his brother married Pakistani cousins. He asked a congressman to step in when his wife had visa issues.

REP. ALBIO SIRES (D), NEW JERSEY: She needed a new passport. Then after they got a new passport, they found out after that she was 35 weeks pregnant; and they would not give her the entry visa. And they said that they would give her the visa when she had the baby.

GRIFFIN: After she was allowed into the U.S., Rahami and his wife tried to get away from the troubled family life, moving into this apartment. A friend says they couldn't afford it, were evicted, and then ended up back in the family apartment above the chicken shop.

Court documents show a family in turmoil. Lawsuits over big debts incurred by the father. An allegation of child abuse by the mother. The tight quarters led to family fights. In 2014 the violence escalated. Ahmad pulled a knife and, according to this arrest warrant, attacked his brother, stabbing him in his left leg.

Today Rahami's brother briefly told reporters he is the one who called police.


GRIFFIN: And that even led to more bad blood. Ahmad Rahami did spend three months in jail, Wolf, but a grand jury refused to indict. That's why that case went away. And as we know, whatever terror investigation took place then also led nowhere -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Drew. Thank you. Drew Griffin reporting.

Joining us now Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho. He's a key member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in. I know you've been briefed on what authorities know. What can you share with us? RISCH: Well, I think that this is similar to the kinds of incidents we've had in the past that you and I have discussed on this show. And that is this is a loner person acting, probably inspired, not directed, though they haven't done, obviously, the forensics yet on the computers and the phones and that sort of thing. Once that's done they'll have a better idea of what was the precipitating factor here.

As -- as frequently happens with these people, and it appears to be the case here, based on the information that you're showing here and that's come out, and that is he -- he had the American dream in his hand, was brought here as a young child, grew up in American schools and what have you, but then somewhere along the line, he was radicalized.

And what precipitated that, what caused that, maybe some of it will come off of the information on computers and that sort of thing. But as you know, that's a tough job. I have seen -- you've had the psychiatrists on here over the years trying to pick apart the California or the Florida or the Texas incidents; and it's very difficult to decide what was the turning point.

BLITZER: So is it the working assumption now, Senator, that he acted alone, that no one helped him build those bombs, which were pretty sophisticated?

RISCH: That is the working assumption right now. There is no evidence to lead to the contrary at this point. That doesn't mean that won't change as the -- as the investigation goes on.

BLITZER: When you say he was inspired, inspired by ISIS, al Qaeda, another terror group, the Taliban? We know he visited Afghanistan. We know he spent a long time in Pakistan, as well.

RISCH: The answer is yes. Don't know exactly which was which, but as was -- as has been pointed out now publicly, that he had on his person a number of things that talked about the jihadist movement. He had information that had been put out by Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, who of course, is deceased but continues to inspire from the grave. Probably the most inspirational speaker that they have.

BLITZER: Well, that's al Qaeda. Anwar al-Awlaki...

RISCH: They are.

BLITZER: ... that's al Qaeda. The American-born al Qaeda leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike several years ago.

RISCH: And the same with Osama bin Laden. This is little different than what we've seen lately.

BLITZER: But you're saying also that in the notebooks that they found, there were references to bin Laden?

RISCH: There were reference -- I'm told that there were references to bin Laden in there also. So this is kind of back to the future. I mean, the stuff that we've seen recently has all been ISIS. So far -- so far the view seems to be that it's the al Qaeda movement

that has inspired him. But remember, there isn't a lot of difference. There isn't a lot of room between these two. Al Qaeda, in essence, morphed into ISIS, and the -- certainly, their -- their M.O.s are different, but their objectives are the same.

BLITZER: Was it -- was it an issue of inspired -- because that's an important word, as opposed to directed. He did spend some quality time in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where there are elements of al Qaeda, very much in Pakistan right now, as well.

How do they determine whether he was directed, for example, by some al Qaeda operative to go back to the United States and do this as opposed to simply reading on social media and being inspired to do this?

RISCH: Well, direct evidence is hard to come by. But it's possible based on interviews that are done with people that are around him, perhaps even if they're able to track down what his movements were in Pakistan or Afghanistan when he was there. It's possible to get some direct evidence, but more likely, the conclusions are going to have to be based on third-party evidence and that sort of thing.

BLITZER: Circumstantial.

RISCH: Mostly circumstantial.

BLITZER: Is there evidence he pledged allegiance to al Qaeda?

RISCH: There's no evidence to that fact at this point, but we know that's not been uncommon. Usually it turns up somewhere in social media after the fact as the investigation goes on.

BLITZER: Now, for whatever reason, back in 2014, the FBI was called in to investigate. They spent some time investigating him. They thought it was a domestic issue that was nothing connected to terrorism. He was not put on any watch lists. He was not considered a terror threat, anything along those lines. With hindsight, was there some blunder there?

RISCH: Haven't seen that yet. Having said that, what it looks like -- and this is strictly in the preliminary stages. But what it looks like is he had this -- these internal issues in the family, which you just documented pretty clearly, which culminated with him stabbing his brother.

The father obviously took the side of the brother and called the FBI and reported the son and used the word "terrorist." But when you use the word "terrorist" and you contact the FBI, that is going to precipitate some movement. And the FBI actually did an investigation, but there was no evidence that there was any corroboration to the father's statement that he was a terrorist.

The word "terrorist" gets thrown around a lot these days, and that's possible that that's what happened here. But there isn't any evidence to indicate that they should go forward. There's various steps that they do when they open these investigations, and they didn't have -- they have to triage him. There are so many of these things going on, they have to take the most serious.

BLITZER: But at a minimum, you believe, Senator Risch, this was at least an al Qaeda-inspired terror attack in New Jersey and New York.

RISCH: I believe that.

BLITZER: I want you to stay with us, because there's more information coming in. We have more questions for you, Senator Risch. A member of the intelligence committee is with us. We'll continue the conversation right after a quick break.


[07:19:33] BLITZER: We're back with the Senate Intelligence Committee member, Senator James Risch as we follow breaking news in the New York and New Jersey bombing investigation. The FBI now confirming it opened an investigation into the bombing suspect back in 2014. But it never revealed ties to terrorism.

Do you have a good clue right now, Senator Risch, why he went to these four separate locations, including that Marine 5K run in New Jersey to plant these bombs?

RISCH: We really don't. Again, hopefully, that's information that they'll be able to glean from the social media, things that he's maybe posted from his...

BLITZER: Because in the notebook that they found, they found references to the Boston Marathon bombing.

RISCH: Right.

BLITZER: And then now there's a bomb put at a Marine 5K run in New Jersey that seems similar. Fortunately, it was delayed, the start of that run. Nobody was hurt. But that could have been a disaster.

RISCH: It could have been a disaster. The -- the fact that these pressure cookers were used, very, very similar to the Boston incident, has inspiration written all over it. I mean...

BLITZER: Copy-cat.

RISCH: Copy-cat type of thing. What amazes me is, if you look at the kinds of explosions that those pressure cookers cause, it is amazing to me that no one was hurt worse or killed in the explosion that happened.

BLITZER: It was a highly unstable, I'm reading here, explosive HNTD. That's a pretty powerful explosive.

RISCH: It is. It's unstable. But in addition to that, as has been reported, the pressure cookers were full of shrapnel kind of material. BBs, ball bearings and that sort of things. And, as been reported, the buildings around there show the marks of what looked like an explosion as you'd see during the war or like you still see in Europe, leftover from World War II, where the buildings are actually pockmarked from these kinds of explosions.

BLITZER: Those bombs, they could have hurt and killed a lot of people.

RISCH: It is amazing that this wasn't worse than what it was.

BLITZER: The wife, a few days before the terror attacks, all of a sudden flies off, heading, we assume at some point to either Afghanistan or Pakistan but winds up, at least an initial stop, in the United Arab Emirates. What do we know about her?

RISCH: I haven't been briefed on that yet, but she is talking to U.S. authorities, and we'll -- we will be briefed on that in the near future. That would tell me that something was going on with this guy. That's -- that seems to be the profile that we keep seeing, where something triggers this response in the individual just as -- remember the speculations we had when the incident that happened in California, where he'd gone to this Christmas party and then he got angry at the party or something, got up and left, and then the rest is history.

This -- again, something triggers, it seems like. And I suspect maybe that's what's happened here, and she saw something coming and left.

BLITZER: Any indication he's cooperating, he's talking? We know he's been in the hospital. He was shot in that incident where he shot a police officer, a couple of police officers. Is he cooperating? Is he talking? Is he saying anything?

RISCH: The last report was that he was not cooperating with authorities. That was the last report.

BLITZER: Do you agree with Senator Lindsey Graham, he should be cited as an enemy foreign combatant and not afforded the traditional rights, the Miranda rights and all of that?

RISCH: Well, you know, when you have an incident like this and you can clearly tie it to terrorism, I'm all on board with the -- with the debate that's been going on as far as, when you make war on your own country in this sort of fashion, when we are at war with a group like ISIS or al Qaeda, you should be afforded the rights that an enemy combatant has, not the rights that you've turned on your own country to abandon.

BLITZER: And the headline, at a minimum, al Qaeda-inspired terror attacks.

RISCH: At a minimum. And it may be directed -- but we're too early in the investigation to make that judgment.

BLITZER: Senator Risch, thank you so much for coming in. Senator Risch of Idaho.

We're continuing to follow the bombing investigation.

Up next, political payback. Former president George Herbert Walker Bush reportedly says he intends to vote for Hillary Clinton. Will other Republicans follow his lead?

Plus, Donald Trump's son sets off a social media firestorm by comparing immigrants to Skittles.


[17:28:27] BLITZER: We're continuing to follow the breaking news in New York and New Jersey bomb investigation, but there are other developing stories right now, as well.

With the first presidential debate just days away, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are locked in a very tight contest across several key battleground states.

Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is following the Trump campaign for us. He's in North Carolina right now. Jim, what's the latest?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, less than one week before the first debate, and Donald Trump just mentioned it a few moments ago. The GOP nominee is mocking Hillary Clinton's stamina and questioning her ability to defeat ISIS, and he is holding out the recent terror attack in New York as proof his policies on immigration and terrorism are the way to go.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Less than 50 days until election day and a bare- knuckle fight to the finish is on. The latest round on keeping Americans safe.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary Clinton talks tougher about my supporters than she does about Islamic terrorists.

ACOSTA: Donald Trump is once again questioning whether Hillary Clinton can go the distance, poking fun at her recent bout with pneumonia and showing off his busy campaign schedule, saying in a tweet, "Hillary Clinton is taking the day off again. She needs the rest. Sleep well, Hillary. See you at the debate."

Clinton isn't exactly napping. She's prepping for their first debate and making it clear she knows what's coming.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE (via phone): I can take that kind of stuff. I've been at this and, you know, I understand it's a contact sport. But I am not going to take what -- what he says about everybody else, you know.


CLINTON: You know, his attacks on African-Americans and immigrants and Muslims and women and people with disabilities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. There you go.

CLINTON: It's just... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.

CLINTON: It's just something we cannot tolerate.

[17:30:10] ACOSTA: But in the aftermath of the terror in New York, Trump isn't backing off his fiery rhetoric, keeping the door open to the profiling of Arabs and Muslims if he's elected president, even as he's denying it.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: You want to profile Arab or Muslim men. How would that work?

TRUMP: We have no choice. Look, Israel does it, and Israel does it very successfully.

O'REILLY: They do it...

TRUMP: But I'm not using the term "Muslim." I'm saying you're going to have to profile them.

ACOSTA: Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., are continuing to sound the alarm over the flow of Syrian refugees into the U.S. Trump Jr. said in a tweet, "If I had a bowl of Skittles, and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful? That's our Syrian refugee problem."

The makers of Skittles were not amused, saying in a statement, "Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don't feel it's an appropriate analogy."

A former aide to President Obama responded by tweeting the image of a bloodied Syrian boy.

But Trump says it's Clinton who doesn't get it.

TRUMP: Where is her condemnation of these people? Where is her condemnation of these countries?

ACOSTA: Trump is also facing serious new questions about his charitable foundation. A "Washington Post" is reporting the Trump Foundation spent more than a quarter million dollars to settle lawsuits, including $120,000 in fines he racked up in a dispute over the placement of a flagpole at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, potential violation of U.S. tax laws.

One dispute he hasn't settled is with the Bush family. After years of Trump's taunts aimed had his family, the former Republican president, George H.W. Bush reportedly will vote for Hillary Clinton. So says former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who said in a Facebook post, "The president told me he's voting for Hillary."


ACOSTA: Now as for that Skittles tweet, the Trump campaign is putting out a statement defending Donald Trump Jr., saying he is a tremendous asset to the campaign and also saying he is speaking the truth, Wolf. Speaking the truth, they say, on Syrian refugees -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta in North Carolina. Thank you.

Let's turn to our political experts for more analysis. Jamie Gangel, first to you. President Bush's spokesman, the first President Bush may not be confirming or denying it, but you're hearing that President George H.W. Bush did, in fact, say he would be voting for Hillary Clinton.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: That's correct, Wolf. I would say that the spokesman is dodging or deflecting the issue, but our sources have now confirmed for us that, in fact, President -- former President Bush did tell Kathleen Kennedy Townsend that he was planning to vote for Hillary Clinton.

That said, however, this was -- she is a member of the advisory board for Points of Life Foundation, which is a bipartisan group. And we're told it was in a receiving line, that there were about 40 people there for the occasion but that he really thought it was a personal conversation, not a public conversation.

And we're told also that the board, the other board members, Republicans and Democrats, were very upset that she posted it and went public at an event that everyone really felt was a private event.

When I last spoke to them, I was told she had not called to apologize or explain what she had done, but she has taken the post down. But we can confirm that president -- former President Bush 41, in fact, did say it to her. And my sources also tell me that he has said it to other people in the past. This is not the first time that he has told close friends that this was the case -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Jamie, stand by.

Gloria, there have been a whole bunch of other prominent, high-profile Republicans...


BLITZER: ... who said they're going to vote for Hillary Clinton, so how much of a surprise is this?

BORGER: Well, I think it's a surprise coming from a former Republican president who's been a stalwart of the Republican Party.

But in specific, when you look at George H.W. Bush and you understand the names that Jeb Bush was called by Donald Trump. And let me just read for you a list of former top Bush administration officials who have also said they are supporting Hillary Clinton. Among them, very close friend to the former president, Brent Scowcroft. Paul Wolfowitz, Hank Paulson, Richard Armitage.

And so it's not completely shocking that, of course, that Bush 41 would say, "You know what? I'm not." What is surprising, of course, is that it's become public, which is, I am sure, as Jamie points out, he really didn't want to occur. BLITZER: Mark Preston, Donald Trump Jr., he's come under some

criticism now for that Skittles comparison to the Syrian refugees. Was this a misstep by Donald Trump's son?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: No doubt it was. I mean, this is one of those moments during the campaign that I'm sure Donald Trump Jr. wishes he could take back.

[17:35:05] It won't hurt him with his supporters. His supporters probably believe that in many ways. It does fit into the whole narrative, certainly, the talking points that Donald Trump has been making about the Syrian refugee crisis, specifically having them resettle here to the United States.

But what's interesting in this campaign, Wolf, is that an incident like this just becomes another piece in this narrative that is really hard to explain, because in many ways, the electorate doesn't seem to care about the little things, even though this is a very big thing.

So will it affect him in the long run? Probably not. But what it does is takes the Trump campaign off message, certainly, for the day, if not a couple of days as they try to deal with this issue.

BLITZER: Olivia Nuzzi, following the terror attacks in New York and New Jersey, Donald Trump said that U.S. law enforcement, in his words, should profile people that maybe look suspicious. So what is he doing here? Is he playing to his base? What is he doing?

OLIVIA NUZZI, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE DAILY BEAST": He's absolutely playing to his base. But it's interesting. If you go back to this time in 2015 Donald Trump seemed to be against racial profiling. Macy's, a brand that he's had problems with in the past, had to pay a settlement for racial profiling. He criticized them relentlessly on Twitter for it, saying that racial profiling was bad; and people should protest Macy's for that reason.

But now, of course, he's playing into his base. He's trying to let them know that he's going to get the bad guys. He's going to do what Hillary Clinton won't do, which in this case means, I think, profiling people based on their race or religion.

BLITZER: And we're getting two very different reactions to the terror attacks in New York and New Jersey, Gloria, from Donald Trump and from Hillary Clinton.

BORGER: Look,, Hillary Clinton -- they're both playing to form, to type. Right? Hillary Clinton is saying that she is the strong leader and that he does not have the temperament. He is saying she does not have the judgment. And so each of them are, you know, reverting to form. And it's not surprising.

And by the way, the polls show, Wolf, that they are about equal on the question of who can best handle terrorism. She's a little ahead on foreign policy, but I think that, when this all plays out, it's probably going to be a wash for both of them. It's not going to -- it's not going to help either candidate. BLITZER: In our most recent poll he's a little ahead in who can best

handle terrorism.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: She's a little ahead in who would be a better commander in chief.

BORGER: Foreign policy, exactly.

BLITZER: So there's -- there's mixed results.

Everyone, stay with us. There's a lot more going on. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[17:42:10] BLITZER: We're following several political story lines tonight, including a report from the "Washington Post" that claims Donald Trump spent more than a quarter million dollars of charitable contributions to settle his personal legal disputes.

Let's discuss with our experts once again. Gloria, this report says the Trump Foundation since 2008, also from that charitable foundation that he has, has not given any personal contribution to the foundation. It's all come in from other people. And today "The Washington Post" says some of that money actually went to pay for legal bills. No response yet from the Trump campaign.

BORGER: Right. And "The Post" referred to it as self-dealing. Which means that, in order, for example, to settle a legal dispute he said somebody say, "OK, one way to settle it is to give a charitable donation. So he wrote out a charitable donation," according to "The Washington Post," from this foundation, which is not his own money.

And I think there's one way to answer all these questions, Wolf, and that is to release your tax returns. We have been talking about this for weeks and weeks. He is the first presidential candidate in 40 years not to do that. He is not required by law to do it, as we know, but it is tradition.

And there are things you can learn about a presidential candidate in a tax return, including charitable contributions but also potential conflicts of interest, foreign entanglements with his business and on and on. In order to be completely transparent, he ought to do it; and by the way, Republicans are saying that Donald Trump should release his tax returns.

BLITZER: And also the percentage of his income that goes to pay for some of those taxes.

BORGER: Exactly.

BLITZER: Jamie Gangel, you reported earlier that a group with about 40 people, former president, George H.W. Bush, said he was going to vote for Hillary Clinton. What about 43? What about Jeb Bush? What are you hearing they're going to do?

GANGEL: So we've been reaching out to former President George W. Bush, 43, repeatedly. He says he is sitting this one out. He is not discussing who he's voting for.

And we reached out to him again today, and his spokesman told us his concentration is getting senators and Republican -- Republican senators and congressman reelected to the Congress. He is not going to weigh in on this election.

Jeb Bush has told me that he is not voting for Donald Trump and he's not voting for Hillary Clinton; and he hasn't decided who he's going to vote for, but he may write someone in.

And I think this is important because the Bush family -- this is not a bloc vote. George Bush's son, George P. Bush, who's a Texas land commissioner in Texas, he has said he's voting for Donald Trump and has said that other Republicans in Texas should vote for Donald Trump.

[17:45:00] And Marvin Bush -- who is the brother not in politics like needle bush that maybe people haven't paid attention to as much -- Marvin Bush went on and did an interview and said he is voting for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson. So they're all over the place, Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting tweet, Olivia, today from Donald Trump as far as the debate next Monday, the Presidential Debate. We're all anticipating that. Hillary Clinton is taking the day off again. She needs the rest. Sleep well, Hillary. See you at the debate. As if raising questions once again about her stamina and her health.

OLIVIA NUZZI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. I mean, I think Donald Trump is obviously making an issue out of this. Initially, we recall his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, other strategists there said that he would be stepping back. He wouldn't be bullying her over this issue. He just wished that she would get well. Obviously, Donald Trump cannot help himself, and he's going to make this an issue for as long as he possibly can.

But I think it will be interesting to see how Hillary Clinton introduces herself to a new audience during the debate who perhaps have not been paying attention to this election very closely and maybe young voters who really don't know enough about her, who were not raised, you know, learning about her every day, hearing about her on the news every day.

BERGER: Well, what if she is actually preparing for the debate?

BLITZER: I'm sure she is. She is --

BERGER: Off the campaign trail. What about that idea?

BLITZER: She's very meticulous. She prepares for everything. Let's see how he's preparing as well. Monday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, and we'll have all day coverage getting ready for that debate.


BLITZER: Coming up, President Obama says farewell to the United Nations as he prepares to exit the world stage but not without taking a parting shot at Donald Trump.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself.



[17:51:05] BLITZER: Breaking news, two U.S. officials now tell CNN the United States has reached the preliminary conclusion that Russian war planes bombed an aid convoy and a Syrian Arab Red Crescent warehouse. Syria and Russia strongly denied their forces were behind the attack. The news comes as President Obama is over at the United Nations defending his global legacy and laying out a vision for solving some of the world's most difficult problems.

Our White House Correspondent Michelle Kosinski is joining us. She's outside the U.N. in New York. Tells us more. What happened today, Michelle?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. You know, as his last big address to the world, President Obama tried to get everything in there, from trade and refugees to the fundamental choices humanity now faces.

Now, he wanted to make the case that cooperation and diplomacy are the ways to solve problems, but this wasn't completely positive in tone. He bluntly called out the biggest problems as well as the people and the impulses that he sees as causing them.


OBAMA: We can choose to move forward with a better model of cooperation and integration, or we can retreat into a world sharply divided and ultimately in conflict along age-old lines of nation and tribe and race and religion.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): President Obama addressing leaders from around the world for his final time in office, wrestling with humanity's biggest struggles, greed in quality, authoritarianism, intolerance and calling out what he sees as the causes even within America.

OBAMA: Religious fundamentalism, the politics of ethnicity or tribe or sect, aggressive nationalism, a crude populism -- sometimes from the far left but more often from the far right -- which seeks to restore what they believe was a better, simpler age, free of outside contamination.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): False populism is a phrase the President has used before to describe Donald Trump's words and he made more than one more than obvious reference to the big choice America is facing.

OBAMA: Today, a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself, and the world is too small for us to simply be able to build a wall.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): But the President also saved rebuke for the leaders and countries that deny their citizens freedom.

OBAMA: History shows that strong men are then left with two pasts, permanent crackdown which sparks strife at home or scapegoating enemies abroad which can lead to war.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): He called out North Korea for its nuclear tests, Russia for taking over its neighbor.

OBAMA: In a world that left the age of empire behind, we Russia attempting to recover lost glory through force.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): And China for militarizing islands in the South China Sea.

OBAMA: A peaceful resolution of disputes offered by law will mean far greater stability than the militarization of a few rocks and riffs.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): With the world watching, President Obama made a sweeping case for liberal democracy.

OBAMA: Sitting in a prison cell, a young Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that human progress never rolls on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God. This is what I believe, that all of us can be co-workers with God.


KOSINSKI: Four times today, President Obama criticized the idea of building walls. He also hosted a summit on refugees urging countries to do more. He called the situation in Syria unacceptable, a test of our common humanity. He said, too often politicians are worried about attaining and holding on to power but they should be more united in trying to end this crisis, Wolf.

[17:55:02] BLITZER: Michelle Kosinski at the U.N. Thank you very much, Michelle.

Coming up, we have the very latest information coming from the New York and New Jersey bombing investigation. New information coming in. Will the suspect's wife provide new clues when she gets back to the United States?


[18:00:11] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news: missed warning. The father of the suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings said he called the FBI in 2014 when his son was acting violently.