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Interview New York Congressman Peter King; Shooting in France; North Korea Tensions; Judge Slammed By Trump to Hear Key Deportation Case. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 20, 2017 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Talking terror. President Trump says the Paris shooting looks like an act of terror, as the investigation is just getting under way, the commander in chief making new public comments about global threats, citing unusual moves within the last few hours in response to North Korea's taunts.

Ready for war? Hundreds of U.S. troops are training for combat on the Korean Peninsula right now, and Chinese attack planes are on high alert today. Is North Korea ready to launch a preemptive strikes, as it threatens to -- quote -- "completely destroy" the United States?

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories.

CNN has learned that U.S. authorities are preparing to seek charges and seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange just days after the CIA director declared WikiLeaks a nonhostile intelligence service. We're getting new information this hour.

Also breaking, an attacker opening fire right in the heart of Paris on the Champs Elysees. At least one officer was killed before police shot and killed the gunman. French authorities are looking at terrorism as a possible motive. CNN has learned the attacker was on the radar of French security services for radical Islamic activities.

President Trump says the Paris shooting looks like another terror attack. During a news conference just a little while ago, the president also spoke about what he calls the menace from North Korea, declaring that the U.S. response is in good shape, his words.

Tonight, we're told Chinese warplanes have been put on higher state of alert as North Korea threatens to launch a preemptive strike that would destroy the United States and South Korea, in their words, in an instant. A defense official tells CNN China's military is preparing for all contingencies, including a war in its backyard.

The U.S. is ramping up its defenses as well, with hundreds of U.S. troops now engaging in combat drills with South Korea. This hour, I will speak with Congressman Peter King. He's a key Republican on the Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our CNN international correspondent, Melissa Bell. She's in Paris covering this latest attack.

What's the latest, Melissa?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This police operation is still going on down here on the Champs Elysees. The avenue remains entirely blocked off.

It was three hours ago now, Wolf, that we now know that this man pulled up alongside a police vehicle, emerged from his car and began shooting. We heard the gunshots from up here on the CNN terrace, but assumed that it must have been fireworks.

We now know it was the sound of him shooting towards that police van, of course. One policeman, as you mentioned, has tragically been shot and already the political campaign that is in full swing here in France -- and we are just days away from what many had already suggested was likely to be a historic presidential election, with a massive shift possibly on the cards depending on who could get elected -- this story, these images from the Champs Elysees tonight are now almost guaranteed to dominate the final push to the -- with this new piece of information, the crucial one tonight, with sources telling CNN that this man was under active surveillance.

Now, one of the candidates in that race, Marine Le Pen, has made the question of what the French call the (INAUDIBLE) those people who are under active surveillance -- and there are about 15,000 of them at the moment in France. She has said within the last few days she believes they should be thrown out of the country and if she were president that's what would happen the very next day.

That crucial piece of information really likely to play into the political campaign over the next couple of days, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're just learning ISIS has now claimed responsibility for this attack on the streets of Paris. If, in fact, that turns out to be the case, Melissa, how will that play out? We know there are major presidential elections in France, national elections coming up on Sunday.

BELL: Again, another part of the far right's narrative is that the question of fighting Islamic extremism in all its forms and particularly in its violent forms here in France.

Now, what we have seen over the course of the last few months are smaller-scale attacks with fewer numbers of people targeted, unlike the big attacks we have seen over the last couple of years here in Paris, but specifically security forces targeted.

We saw it tonight on the Champs Elysees. We saw it at Orly Airport just a couple of weeks ago and before that in the Louvre museum. The very people out policing France's streets as a result of its state of emergency, the tens of thousands police men and women, the soldiers, they themselves are becoming the target often of these people acting alone in a much smaller-scale way, but deliberately targeting those out there protecting the streets of France.

That appears to have been what happened tonight in Paris.

BLITZER: Melissa Bell in Paris for us, we will get back to you.


Meanwhile, President Trump speaking out about the Paris attack and much more during a news conference just a little while ago.

Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, the president was quick to say Paris looks like another terror attack.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He was indeed, Wolf, and he urged strength and vigilance. And he said it looks like attacks like this are just simply not going to end.

But the president also focused his attention on the domestic agenda. The White House, of course, is keeping a close eye on that ticking clock of the 100-day mark that hits next week. The president says he's intent on reviving health care and keeping the government open.


ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump striking a bullish note today on health care, saying he's determined to revive the stalled Republican plan.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would like to say next week, but it will be -- I believe we will get it, and whether it's next week or shortly thereafter.

ZELENY: As the president welcomed the Italian prime minister to the White House, he expressed condolences and concern in the wake of the Paris shooting.

TRUMP: It is a very, very terrible thing that's going on in the world today, but it looks like another terrorist attack. And what can you say? It just never ends.

ZELENY: The president getting ahead of the French authorities, who opened an anti-terror investigation, but stopped short of declaring it an act of terrorism.

TRUMP: We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant and I have been saying it for a long time.

ZELENY: With the 100-day mark of his presidency fast approaching, the White House is eager to show at least some signs of action next week. Asked whether he would see health care or a government funding bill passed, the president answered like this. TRUMP: OK. I want to get both. Are you shocked to hear that?

ZELENY: Tonight, a new Quinnipiac poll offers a skeptical warning. Only 36 percent of Americans say Republicans controlling Congress should try again to repeal and replace Obamacare, while 60 percent say they should move on. The president made clear he was intent on moving forward regardless.

TRUMP: The plan gets better and better and better and it's gotten really, really good and a lot of people are liking it a lot. We have a good chance of getting it soon.

ZELENY: Moving to foreign policy, Mr. Trump also had tough words for the Iran and the nuclear agreement.

TRUMP: As far as Iran is concerned, I think they are doing a tremendous disservice to an agreement that was signed. It was a terrible agreement. It shouldn't have been signed.

ZELENY: His words far stronger than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said earlier this week, the U.S. will stick with the deal for now.

TRUMP: We're analyzing it very, very carefully. And we will have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future. But Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the agreement, and they have to do that. They have to do that.

ZELENY: The first face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni comes one month before the president will travel to Italy on the first foreign trip of his presidency. He will attend the Group of 7 summit, where leaders of the world's seven most developed economies will meet. The president also stoked speculation that he would have another meeting during his visit to Italy.

TRUMP: And I look very much forward to meeting the pope.


ZELENY: Now, there has been significant speculation about whether the president would meet with Pope Francis during his trip to Italy.

Now, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the president wants to meet with the pope at some point, but he said that meeting is not confirmed for by next month in Italy. In fact, the president at least at this point is not scheduled to go to the Vatican or to Rome. He will be in Sicily, but it's something you heard the president say he would like to do.

But, Wolf, on health care for one moment, the White House is intent on trying to get that jump-started. They have been working here behind the scenes, and I'm told they will be working throughout the weekend trying to get some of those Republicans in the middle and from the Freedom Caucus on the right together on this, but it's still very much an open question if they can get that kind of an agreement.

The president said he hopes next week, but he left the door open to the fact it might even take longer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jeff, thank you, Jeff Zeleny over at the White House. Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: All right, there's more breaking news tonight. We're getting new information about possible charges against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

Our justice companies, Pamela Brown and Evan Perez, are here with details.

Pamela, first of all, tell us what you're learning.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we have learned U.S. authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

This is according to U.S. officials speaking to myself, my colleague Evan Perez, and Shimon Prokupecz. The Justice Department probe of Assange and WikiLeaks dates back to at least 2010, when the site first gained widespread attention, as you will recall, for posting thousands of files stolen by the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.

Now, prosecutors over the years have struggled with the First Amendment precluding the prosecution of Assange, but now we have learned through these officials that they have found a way to move forward. The attorney general today was asked by my colleague about the focus on getting Assange.



LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You said crime reduction overall is one of your top priorities. And last week, we heard from CIA Director Mike Pompeo really discussing the scourge of WikiLeaks and Chelsea Manning leaks.

Can you talk about whether it's a priority for your department to arrest Assange once and for all?

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks. This is a matter that's gone beyond anything I'm aware of.

We have professionals that have been at the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quiet serious, so, yes, it is a priority. We have already begun to step up our efforts. And whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.


BLITZER: Evan, has something changed recently, because WikiLeaks and Assange, they have been in the U.S. crosshairs for years?


Under the administration of -- Barack Obama's administration, Attorney General Eric Holder and officials at the Justice Department determined that it would be difficult to bring charges against Assange because WikiLeaks wasn't alone in publishing these documents stolen by Chelsea Manning.

Several newspapers, including "The New York Times," did as well. The investigation has continued, but any possible charges were put on hold, according to officials that we have been talking to. Now, the U.S. view of WikiLeaks and Assange began to change after investigators found what they believe to be proof that WikiLeaks played an active role in helping Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, disclose a massive cache of classified documents.

And last week, Director of the CIA Mike Pompeo gave a strong hint about what has changed. Take a listen.


MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. It has encouraged its followers to find jobs at the CIA in order to obtain intelligence.

It directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of specific secret information. It overwhelmingly focuses on the United States, while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organizations.


PEREZ: And, Wolf, we have talked to Julian Assange's lawyer, Barry Pollack, and he says he's had no communication with the Justice Department, despite multiple efforts he's made to try to get some clarity as to whether or not this investigation is still ongoing.

He says that they have been unwilling to have any discussion about this and he says there's no reason why WikiLeaks should be treated differently from any other publisher. He says that WikiLeaks serves in the public interest, publishing information not only about the United States, but other countries as well.

BLITZER: Pamela, as you know, Julian Assange has been sitting in the embassy of Ecuador in London now for a long time, so can the U.S. get him?

BROWN: The government officials there have granted him asylum, and until that changes, Wolf, he will likely remain there in the embassy.

What's interesting here, within DOJ, they were closely watching the election in Ecuador, because one of the candidates had actually vowed to no longer give Julian Assange this asylum. That candidate did not win. And so I think within the department, there was also a strong feeling that they need to do to send a political message if nothing else in the interim.

BLITZER: All right, guys, good reporting, as usual. Pamela, Evan, as always, good reporting.

Let's get some more on all of this.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Peter King. He's a member of the both the House Homeland Security Committee, as well as the Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Thank you, Wolf. Thank you very much.

BLITZER: All right. So what's, first of all, your reaction to this breaking news that the Justice Department now is taking steps to arrest Julian Assange?

KING: I will have to see what the charges are, but based on what Pamela Brown is reporting, I think this is overdue.

I'm glad that the Justice Department has found a way to go after Assange. I think he's gotten a free ride for too long, and I have been very critical of people in both parties, including Republicans, who somehow thought Assange may be an ally of ours or may be willing to help us.

To me, he's caused tremendous damage to our national security, put American lives at risk, and to me, his motivation is anti-U.S. And I totally agree with Mike Pompeo. I served with Mike on the Intelligence Committee. He's an outstanding CIA director and I'm really glad that he put this issue out there front and center.

BLITZER: Does this signal to you, Congressman, that the president is taking this threat of WikiLeaks, the threat posed in the 2016 election, is taking it more seriously, because, as you know, during the campaign, he often would praise WikiLeaks?

KING: Yes. I think the president is seeing this now from a different perspective and realizing that, while maybe one day Assange can help you, overall, this is damaging to the interest of the United States, and again he's put American lives at risk over the years.


And it's -- I think it's important to stop him now or whenever we can. I know it's going to be difficult because of the fact that Ecuador is allowing him to stay there, the sanctuary and been given asylum. But the fact is that the type of secrets that come out, the type of information that comes out, maybe only 5 percent of it or 10 percent of it is damaging, but that 5 or 10 percent could put many American lives at risk. BLITZER: The fact that the U.S. now is going to go after Julian

Assange, does that suggest the U.S. might go after others? And do you see a direct connection between Julian Assange and the Russian government, specifically Putin?

KING: Now, I haven't seen enough of that.

Obviously, it seems as if there was collusion between Assange and the Russians in the last campaign. I have not seen all the evidence on that. I have an open mind on it. I will not be surprised if that is the case. It seems to me there is some connection there at least, and again there was damage done by him. So to me, that should be part of the overall investigation. And I have an open mind on it, but my inclination is, yes, that there was some connection.

BLITZER: Let's move on and talk about what happened today in Paris.

We have now received this claim of responsibility from ISIS for the Paris attack. They did so very, very quickly. Is it rare to hear a claim so quickly from ISIS? What does that say to you and do you believe it was ISIS?

KING: Again, it's too early to tell.

It certainly appears all the indicators, Wolf, are that this was terrorist and it was Islamist, and ISIS would be the most likely suspect in that case. The fact that the perpetrator who was shot was on a terror watch list or the French equivalent of our terror watch list makes it pretty clear to me that this was a terrorist event.

Whether or not it is ISIS or ISIS is just trying to claim credit for it, in either event, to me, I'm fairly certain that it was Islamists who did it. ISIS, you can never believe them. But, again, I think we are going to have to wait and see whether or not they actually are responsible or just trying to claim credit.

And either way, ISIS is an evil organization.

BLITZER: Yes, in their statement, by the way, which I have here, they say an Islamic State fighter carried out the attack on the Champs Elysees in Paris. They say that the group's media wing, Aamaq, was responsible. They also say that the attacker is a Belgian national and cited security sources.

That's from the statement from ISIS.

Let's move on and talk a little bit about another development, the State Department now confirming that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal.

So, what does the president, President Trump, mean when he says Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the agreement? As you know, within 90 days, they have to notify Congress of compliance. They have notified Congress that Iran is in compliance, but the president says they're not in compliance with the spirit of the deal. What does that say to you? KING: I think Secretary Tillerson said pretty much the same thing

yesterday after the State Department did certify that they were in compliance with the agreement.

But I think the understanding was, or at least the hope was from the Obama administration, that once this agreement was entered into, it would help to bring Iran into the community of nations, that they abide by some international mores.

But, in fact, almost from the moment the agreement was signed, Iran has been really flouting the spirit of it, the fact those American sailers were kept prisoner there back in, I guess, the last -- geez, it was two years ago now.

But, again, their behavior since then has been not at all cooperative. They are certainly, as far as I'm concerned, still with Hezbollah, Hamas. They're still a force for discord in the Middle East. Israel is more concerned about them now than they have ever been.

So, no, Iran, it's technically complying with the agreement, but I think the spirit of the agreement was that this would make Iran would cooperative as far as dealing with other nations, and that has not been the case. I think that's what the president is getting at. And Iran is under the agreement.

I was opposed to the agreement. It is there. It's in place, but it does put them on the path to ultimately being able to have a nuclear delivery system.

BLITZER: In maybe 10 or 15 years, assuming they comply all these years.

Iran has signaled, though, that it will resume its nuclear program right away if U.S., if President Trump were to back out of the deal. Can the U.S. afford to deal with escalating nuclear threats let's say not just from North Korea, but also Iran if this deal is broken?

KING: Yes, and that's something that has to be balanced. The secretary of state and his Cabinet have to look at that, I believe, also in consultation with Congress.

I would think right now the immediate focus is on North Korea, but also we have we have to be able to do more than one thing at a time. And I saw the other day, for instance, that Bibi Netanyahu was concerned about Iran. Also, with Syria, Iran again plays a very large as far as Syria is concerned.


So we just can't focus on one and ignore the other. But if you ask me which is the prime importance right now, I would say dealing with North Korea.

BLITZER: We're going to deal with North Korea in a moment.

I got to take a quick break, Congressman. We will discuss that and more right after this.


BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, ISIS now claiming responsibility for a shooting attack on Paris police that left one police officer dead. We will have more on that. That's coming up.

In the meantime, we're back with Congressman Peter King. He's a member of the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.

Congressman, I need you to stand by. We're getting new information on the Korean situation.

U.S. and South Korea and Chinese forces are all preparing for military action as North Korea threatens war, Beijing putting warplanes on high alert and American troops engaging in combat drills with South Korean troops right now.


Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, you're getting more information. What are you learning?


All of this an indication of the growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.


STARR (voice-over): China has put some bombers capable of carrying cruise missiles on high alert status, a U.S. defense official tells CNN.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The reason they have their bombers on alert is that they can respond should there be a kinetic strike against North Korea.

STARR: The U.S. also has seen an extraordinary number of Chinese aircraft being brought up to full readiness through intensified maintenance, all aimed at preparing for what the U.S. says is a North Korean contingency, but officials can't say what that contingency might be.

LEIGHTON: They see that possibility if North Korea were to implode as their biggest geopolitical worry.

STARR: As tensions rise across the region, the USS Carl Vinson strike group is expected to arrive within days. Its planes will conduct visible flight operations. U.S. submarines will be able to remain covert under sea conducting surveillance of North Korean communications if ordered.

A joint U.S.-South Korea military exercise named Max Thunder now under way, the second largest air exercise held on the peninsula, all aimed at ensuring the security of South Korea and the 28,000 U.S. troops there. No letup in the militaristic rhetoric from Kim Jong-un's regime. North Korea's state newspaper issuing a dire threat, saying, "Our preemptive strike towards U.S. and its followers will be the most merciless strike aiming for a complete destruction," and at the underground nuclear test site where the world awaits a sixth nuclear strike, a curiosity.

The latest satellite imagery shows a volleyball game in progress.


STARR: No one can say at this point how long the Chinese alert status is going to last, but U.S. officials say it's still their view that North Korea could conduct an underground nuclear test at any time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, thank you, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

Let's get back to Congressman Peter King.

Congressman, President Trump sounds confident that China is fully invested in trying to rein in the threat from North Korea. Do you trust China to do that?

KING: I trust China to do what it feels is in its best interest.

And right now, President Trump has convinced them or he's partially convinced them that it's in their best interest to side with the U.S. Now, what that exactly means, China has been more positive toward us vis-a-vis North Korea in the last two weeks than they've been probably in the previous 20 years.

Now, whether or not China can deliver on that, whether or not they will put economic pressure on, whether they make it clear to North Korea that they will not tolerate any attack by North Korea, any type of preemptive attack by North Korea, again, President Trump feels confident and his people feel confident from talking to the Chinese government, President Xi, that China is now closer to us than they have been before.

But, again, it's a very tense situation over there. Remember, President Obama did tell President Trump when they met in the Oval Office right after the election that his first major crisis will probably be North Korea.

This is a country or a situation which really is successive American administrations have not been able to deal with, and now when they are capable of an international delivery, intercontinental delivery of nuclear weapons, it's really reaching a critical point, and it can't be put off much longer.

BLITZER: Yes, I was told President Obama told the president-elect at the time that North Korea represents the gravest national security threat facing the United States right now. You have suggested, Congressman, the threat from North Korea has

reached what you call a crisis point. Here's the question, under what conditions would you support a preemptive U.S. military strike?

KING: Again, that's for the president and his people.

I would say if we saw that North Korea was about to plan an attack themselves, if they were going to plan an attack on some country in the Pacific, or God forbid on Europe or the United States, then that certainly to me would be the president's prerogative to launch a preemptive attack.

But, again, I don't want to be even talking about that. That's all the contingencies the president has to have. Right now, I think so long as North Korea knows and China knows that the U.S. is serious, I think that's the reason why we're seeing this type of action by China.

Now, whether or not it's smoke and mirrors, whether it's real, President Trump and his advisers, Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson, they believe that it's for real, so let's hope it stays that way, and let's make sure the administration keeps that pressure on and hopefully gets this resolved diplomatically, economically without having to have any type of hostilities break out.

[18:30:15] BLITZER: The American missile defense system designed to protect the American homeland, Congressman, against North Korea intercontinental ballistic missiles has tested successfully so far only about half the time.

If the continental U.S. is vulnerable to North Korean attacks, do you believe the administration is prioritizing enough to deal with this issue?

KING: I think that the Trump administration is doing all it can to prioritize. Whether it's on intercepting the ICBMs or whether or not it's using all the resources that China will make available; whether or not we have militarily -- ready, which I believe we will be. I mean, everything that can be done will be done.

Now the reality is that, even if it does become a military engagement, you know, we will ultimately be successful. But no matter what, you're talking about a massive loss of life, certainly on the Korean Peninsula and in other parts of Asia at the very least.

So nobody wants to go there, but we can't rule it out, because again, this is critical. North Korea now has nuclear weapons, and they are either capable or just about capable of launching them in a way that could certainly reach the U.S. within a year or so and certainly attack -- reach many of our allies right now. So this is very, very critical. We can't keep putting it off the way we've done, really, for the last 20 years.

BLITZER: Let's not forget the U.S. has nearly 30,000 military personnel along the Demilitarized Zone...

KING: Absolutely. BLITZER: ... on the Korean Peninsula, another 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan.

KING: Right.

BLITZER: Congressman, thanks as usual for joining us.

KING: Thank you, Wolf. Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we'll have more on the breaking news, the feds preparing to seek charges against Julian Assange. Is it a sign that the president's attitude toward WikiLeaks is now changing?

And a new legal showdown is in the works, pitting the president against the federal judge he famously criticized during the campaign. Will the feud influence a key deportation case testing the president's immigration policies?


[18:36:59] BLITZER: We're following lots of breaking news this hour. ISIS declaring that one of its fighters carried out a shooting incident in Paris tonight that left the attacker and one police officer dead.

Also, CNN has learned that U.S. authorities are now preparing charges to seek the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

Let's bring in our national security and political experts. Gloria, what does it tell us that -- about the shifting Trump administration attitudes towards WikiLeaks, because remember what he used to say during the campaign?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I do. He used to say he loved WikiLeaks, remember that? But at a news conference earlier this year -- I just went and looked at this -- the president tried to make a distinction. He said in one case you were talking about highly- classified information, the theft of assuming of cyber-tools used by the CIA; and he said in a another case you're talking about John Podesta saying bad things about the boss.

And I think that what we saw from the CIA director, Pompeo, was a clear indication that they believed that this is not a First Amendment issue, but is, in fact -- the question is whether WikiLeaks was directing its sources to steal -- to steal information.

BLITZER: And it follows the nearly, I think, unanimous conclusion of all the U.S. intelligence agencies and the law enforcement agencies that WikiLeaks was used by the Russian government during the campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton's presidential ambition.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, the Trump administration initially, they kind of -- didn't really start with a lot of credibility on this issue. So they have every incentive to really go -- to really go hard after this, because it will bolster their case that they're -- that they're in a different place. This isn't the campaign anymore, and now it's about the security of the United States.

BLITZER: You served as the State Department spokesman, John, and also as the Pentagon spokesman. During your time there, do you remember if there was serious consideration to formally filing charges seeking the arrest of Julian Assange?

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I know that there were broad interagency discussions about a whole range of options. I don't know about this specifically or what the discussions were. I wouldn't have been in the room for that.

But I do know they discussed a broad range of options to try to deal with the WikiLeaks challenge, including internal. You know, looking at how we -- how we do cybersecurity, how we train our troops to treat sensitive information. So it was a pretty comprehensive look.

BLITZER: He's got the protection of the embassy of Ecuador in London, so is all this simply moot if the Ecuadorian government lets him stay there?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I don't think it's moot. I mean, he's still a young man. Are you talking about he's going to live in the embassy for another 30 years?

I think we've got to put paper on the table at some point. Because if he ever moves, and the Department of Justice says, "What do we do now?" we look bad. You've got to prepare for the fact that someday the Ecuadorians are going to say, "It's time for you to leave," and we're going to go to the Brits and say, "Extradite him."

BLITZER: If the U.S. does seek the arrest of Julian Assange, file formal charges, what's the message that sends to Russia?

MUDD: Not much. I mean, if you're thinking that we send a serious message, you've got to look at the wake of what happened in the American election last year and what's happened in the interim.

[18:40:09] We have a French election coming up in a few days. If the Russians took a message from the American warnings, you would think they would have backed away from the French elections. Instead, what do we hear from Europe? They're doing the same thing with right-wing candidates in Europe and France that they did to America. That is, pumping fake news, false information into the election to influence. They don't care.

BLITZER: ISIS now claiming responsibility for this attack on the Champs Elysees in Paris. What does that say to you?

KIRBY: I'm not surprised by it. I don't know about the veracity of it. I think that's going to have play out as they investigate this. But I'm not surprised that they would want to claim responsibility for it, whether they had anything to do with it or not. It kind of fits their narrative of somebody who is radicalized, most likely self- radicalized and conducts an atrocious attack.

BLITZER: Gloria, you watched the president at his joint news conference with the Italian -- visiting Italian prime minister today. What did you think of the way the president handled these national security issues?

BORGER: Well, at the beginning of the press conference, I think he missed an opportunity, because I think and I expected him to just open it by sending his condolences to the people of Paris and France. And he came around to that and he did it later, but it did kind of surprise me because that's what we've come to expect from presidents, when things happen like this.

I was also surprised that he announced it was an act of terrorism so early on before word was officially confirmed.

BLITZER: What do you think, Jackie?

KUCINICH: That's something he's done in the past, during the campaign.

BORGER: Yes, yes.

KUCINICH: And I wouldn't be surprised if they use this to try to bolster their narrative for the court case that's still going on with the various travel bans. Because they've used narratives that don't necessarily fit what the -- what actually happened to try to bolster that in the past, like San Bernardino and Orlando and in Paris, for that matter. So we'll have to see how they use this, but it wouldn't be surprising.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody stay with us. Don't go too far away.

Just ahead a flash point from the 2016 campaign comes back to haunt President Trump as the judge he accused of being a hater is assigned to hear a case that could be pivotal for the Trump administration.


[18:46:51] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, breaking news tonight.

ISIS is now claiming responsibility for a shooting attack on Paris police that left one police officer dead. More coming up right at the top of the hour.

But, first, a new legal showdown between President Trump and federal judge he lambasted during the presidential campaign. That would be Judge Gonzalo Curiel who presided over a lawsuit against Trump University. Now, he's been assigned to hear the case of a man who says he was improperly deported by the Trump administration.

CNN's Jessica Schneider is following the story for us.

Lots of irony here, Jessica.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Definitely a lot of twist, Wolf. It was completely random that Judge Curiel was assigned to a case involving a Trump administration agency. Well, now, Judge Curiel will decide whether Customs and Border Protection needs to hand over documents to a 23-year-old man who lawyers say, he was improperly deported.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. A hater.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge who heard the class action lawsuit accusing Trump University of fraud called out regularly by Donald Trump on the campaign trail.

TRUMP: He's a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel.

SCHNEIDER: Then-candidate Trump attacked the California-based district court judge for his Mexican roots.

TRUMP: We have a very hostile judge. Now, he is Hispanic, I believe, and he is a very hostile judge to me.

SCHNEIDER: Even though Judge Curiel was born in Indiana, Trump telling CNN's Jake Tapper.

TRUMP: I've been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I'm building a wall, OK? I'm building a wall.

SCHNEIDER: Trump tweeted on May 30th, "I have a judge in the Trump University civil case, Gonzalo Curiel, San Diego, who is very unfair, an Obama pick, totally biased, hates Trump."

Trump later issued a statement in June 7th, saying in part, "It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent."

In January, Curiel approved a $25 million settlement in the Trump University suit.

Now, a new complaint has been filed against the Trump administration's Customs and Border Protection and the judge randomly assigned to the case is Gonzalo Curiel.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's called "The Wheel". It literally goes into a barrel and it gets assigned randomly to a judge.

SCHNEIDER: Judge Curiel is set to preside over the case brought by 23-year-old Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez. Montes' lawyers allege he was deported to Mexico earlier this year even though he had active protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

But the Department of Homeland Security says Montes initially left the U.S. voluntarily, something that requires preclearance under DACA. So, he lost his DACA protection. And when he tried to sneak back into the country on February 19th, he was caught by Border Patrol.

JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: He once was covered by DACA. But because of his behavior, his illegal behavior, he lost that status. And now, he has been removed to his country of origin.


SCHNEIDER: Now, this lawsuit isn't about the actual legality of the deportation of this 23-year-old. Instead, his lawyers want the records from Customs and Border Protection to eventually find out whose story matches up, since Mr. Montes says he was deported the first time by Border Patrol, but Homeland Security says he left on his own and they deported him once he tried to come back to the United States -- Wolf.

[18:50:14] BLITZER: All right. Good reporting. Jessica, thanks very much -- Jessica Schneider reporting for us.

Much more news right after this.


BLITZER: Tonight on CNN, the music that defined history. The first episode of the original series, "Soundtracks", explores the theme of racial justice and the songs that helped empower the civil rights movement.

Look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The early '60s, you have the hymns of unity and change. Once the black power movement comes along, the hymns fade and are replaced by much more militant sentiments of the music.

You have the assertion, the rhythms and the sort of starkness. MUHAMMAD ALI: The men and white people who mean right and in heart

want to do right, but there are so few. If 10,000 rattlesnakes was coming down this aisle now and I had a door I could shut. And in that 10,000, 1,000 meant right, 1,000 rattlesnakes didn't want to bite me, I know they were good. Should I let all these rattlesnakes come down hoping that a thousand get together and form a shield, or should I close the door and stay safe?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You c you couldn't see people with big free throws, (INAUDIBLE) and fists up saying, we shall overcome, it just seemed incongruous.

KATHY SLEDGE: And all of a sudden, there was a sense of identity through style and music.


SLEDGE: James Brown, "Say It Loud", I'm black and I'm proud.


BLITZER: Brings back memories.

Joining us now, the president and CEO of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks.

Cornell, thanks so much for joining us.

Tell our viewers, how did music help shape the civil rights movement in the United States?

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT & CEO, NAACP: Well, music in a real sense is represented back in the day and certainly even today a spiritual rather than digital download into our hearts, into our souls. It inspires resistance. It inspires courage. It inspires a commitment to a day better than the day in which you're now living.

It's also -- it also represents an affirmation of a dignity and identity.

So, one of the things I think about is the Black Power Movement and the Black Lives Matter movement of today are both about affirmations of identity as well as inclusiveness. And so to assert that I'm black and I'm proud is an assertion of identity and dignity and self-worth. And I think that those sentiments ring and resound as true today when you have a generation asserting of the Black Lives Matter. And that is an assertions are made by people who aren't black, who aren't all black.

BLITZER: So, besides James Brown, we just heard him, who else stands out? What musicians stand out? What songs stand out in your mind?

BROOKS: Certainly -- I mean, when you think about Nina Simone singing about Mississippi, Nina Simone singing about the death of Martin Luther King as an eulogy of grief and also as a hymn of hope, bruised but unbroken, we think about Marvin Gaye singing about and describing mothers crying over sons being lost in Vietnam. Those words resound and reverberate as true today. We think about the mother of Philando Castile or the mother of Michael Brown grieving the loss of their sons.

And so, music has always not only reflected what we're going through as a nation, but it has also marked where we're going as a nation, what we aspire to be as a nation. And so, music has been incredibly powerful.

When we think about in contemporary times, rise up or Kendrick Lamar's "All Right" or Beyonce's "Formation" -- these songs aren't just an expression of the hearts. They're an expression of the movement.

And to be clear: music has been incredibly important in the work and the life and aspiration of the NAACP. And so, I love it. I love music. I've always been inspired by it. In fact, when we sat in then-Senator Sessions' office, we sang. Even in the police van, we sang and we inspired ourselves.

BLITZER: You've seen this documentary that's going to air later tonight. Very briefly, give me your review.

BROOKS: I think it's powerful. Nina Simone should be -- her words and her lyrics should be on the lips of Americans across the country. James Brown is just iconic, when we think about "We Shall Overcome" as a kind of a hymn of not only patriotism but protest. This series is powerful in that it speaks to not only then but now.

BLITZER: Cornell, as usual, thanks very much. Cornell William Brooks of the NAACP.

BROOKS: Thank you.

BLITZER: And to all of our viewers, please join us later tonight. The original series "Soundtracks" premieres tonight 10:00 p.m. only here on CNN.

That's it for me. Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.