Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Administration Moves To Ban Flavored E-cigarettes; Acting White House Chief Of Staff Ordered Commerce Secretary To Have NOAA Disavow Tweet Contradicting Trump; Interview With Rep. Will Hurd (R- TX) On Trump's Foreign Policy Affairs; Trump Marks 9/11 Anniversary Without Permanent Intel Director, National Security Adviser; Refugee Camp Filled With Widows And Children Of ISIS Fighters Called A "Ticking Time Bomb"; Chinese Woman Guilty On Two Counts In Mar-a-Lago Security Breach. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 11, 2019 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And so best of luck and I hope somebody watching looks into this and agrees to donate.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @JakeTapper. Tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Happening now, breaking news: flavored e-cigarette ban. The White House moves to ban flavored e- cigarettes amid a growing number of vaping-related illnesses and deaths.

Was the president pushed to act by the first lady?

Tweet retreat: a White House official confirms it was acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney who ordered NOAA to disavow a weather service tweet contradicting the president's hurricane warning.

What did the president know about Mulvaney's move?

Very big mistakes: on the anniversary of 9/11, President Trump trashes former national security adviser John Bolton in front of cameras in the Oval Office.

Is it the start of a war of words with the ex-White House official?

And three-way race: ahead of tomorrow's presidential debate, CNN's exclusive new poll shows Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders dominating the Democratic pack. We'll show you who is up and who's down in the race for the White House.

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news. WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): We're following breaking news, dramatic action by the Trump administration in response to a growing number of deaths and illnesses related to e-cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration is moving to completely ban flavored e-cigarettes, which especially appeal to young people.

And as President Trump was making the announcement from the Oval Office, he veered into sharp criticism of former national security adviser John Bolton, who, he said -- and I'm quoting the president now -- "made some very big mistakes."

Also breaking: a White House official confirmed to CNN that it was the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who spoke with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about NOAA's handling of a tweet that contradicted President Trump on Hurricane Dorian.

The official said Mulvaney urged Ross to, quote, "fix the problem."

We'll talk about the breaking news, much more with Congressman Will Hurd of the Intelligence Committee and our correspondents and analysts are standing by.

But first to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, the administration is looking at having the flavored e-cigarettes completely removed from the market.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Wolf. The president talked about that and President Trump is still justifying his decision to fire John Bolton, saying the former national security adviser made some, quote, "big mistakes" before he was kicked out of the administration.

President Trump trashed Bolton in front of the cameras, saying even North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un wanted nothing to do with him. The president made these comments just as he was announcing his administration is considering a sweeping ban on flavored e-cigarettes.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Vowing to tackle the epidemic of teen vaping, President Trump announced his administration is finalizing a new policy to crack down on flavored e-cigarettes, noting even the first lady is urging federal regulators to take action.

TRUMP: We can't allow people to get sick and we can't have our youth be so affected. And I'm hearing it and that is how the first lady got involved.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But the president had one other ban on his mind, as in his decision to fire his national security adviser John Bolton.

TRUMP: John is known as a tough guy. He's so tough he got us into Iraq. That is tough.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump fired off the first rounds of what is shaping up to be a war of words with Bolton.

TRUMP: And I told him, John, if too many people -- you're not getting along with people.

I'm sure he'll do whatever he can do to -- you know, spin it his way.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president defended his decision to give Bolton the boot in part over his handling of North Korea.

TRUMP: He made some very big mistakes when he talked about the Libyan model for Kim Jong-un.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Insisting the now former national security adviser was wrong to suggest that dictator Kim Jong-un could be handled in the same way as Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, who was overthrown after giving up his nuclear ambitions.

TRUMP: I don't blame Kim Jong-un for what he said after that. And he wanted nothing to do with John Bolton.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But a source close to the White House said Bolton was leery about Trump's dealing with dictators and was worried about what would happen if he sits down with Iran's leaders, saying, quote, "John doesn't really like the idea of a meeting because it is his view that Trump caves. He gives them way too much."

TRUMP: This could be one of the most unbelievable experiments ever, North Korea. And I also say the same with Iran. Iran could get back to business.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The White House is still cleaning up after the president's mistaken claims that Hurricane Dorian posed a threat to Alabama. A White House official confirmed acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney spoke with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to have his department disavow a tweet from the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service that contradicted the president.

Mr. Trump told reporters he didn't instruct Mulvaney to do that.


TRUMP: No, I never did that. I never did that. That is a whole hoax by the fake news media.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The acting head of NOAA, which issued a statement backing away from the National Weather Service tweet, reassured forecasters they are not under attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one's job is not under threat. Not mine, not yours. The weather service team has my full support and the support of the department.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Earlier in the day the president marked the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and discussed his recent decision to host the Taliban at Camp David, a summit he scrapped. TRUMP: We had peace talks scheduled a few days ago. I called them off when I learned that they had killed a great American soldier from Puerto Rico and 11 other innocent people. They thought they would use this attack to show strength. But actually what they showed is unrelenting weakness.


ACOSTA: Now while the president is taking action on e-cigarettes, it is not clear where things are headed on new gun safety laws. The president spoke with both Democratic and Republican senators earlier today about the potential for new gun control legislation.

Mr. Trump is still not committed to the idea publicly of universal background checks despite polls showing that kind of system is nearly supported by all Americans. The president told reporters earlier today there are some things that, quote, "will not happen," Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House for us, thank you.

Let's go up to Capitol Hill now, where Democrats are wrapping up their probe of President Trump but unsure whether to formally call it an impeachment inquiry. Our Congressional Correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty is joining us.

Sunlen, tonight it appears there is a lingering divide among Democrats over the issue of impeachment and the messaging around it.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And seems to be a growing problem, a bigger issue by day for House Democrats. Many are not on the same page over the messaging around impeachment.

Many concerns coming from many members about those problems. Some are saying, yes, this is an impeachment inquiry we're in and others are saying, no, it is not yet. This is just an investigation.

And this comes as tomorrow the House Judiciary Committee is readying to vote on a resolution that would indeed formalize their committee being in an impeachment inquiry.

But it is notable, Wolf, that many top Democrats up here on Capitol Hill are trying to shy away from calling it just that. Just check out how Hakeem Jeffries, the congressman, answered this question when I asked him today about the conflicting language over impeachment.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-N.Y.), MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We'll move on as Judiciary Committee members, myself included, to deal with what is before us as it relates to that resolution tomorrow. And then we'll make some determinations as to characterization. But I don't want to get caught in semantics.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SERFATY: And Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, too, has shied away from calling this a formal impeachment inquiry, saying they are right now just in an investigation. All of this really underscores the balancing act that a lot of House leaders have within their party balancing the competing factions in the Democratic Party.

Wolf, that really highlights that division that House Democrats still have over impeachment.

BLITZER: Sunlen, the president also said today, among other things, he's been talking with senators from both parties about the issue of gun reform.

What are you learning about the talks, the behind the scenes developments?

SERFATY: A lot going on behind the scenes but especially a lot of uncertainty tonight on Capitol Hill on what President Trump actually will do. One senator saying today this is approaching the witching hour. He believes the next 24 to 48 hours they'll hear formally from the White House and from President Trump on what exactly he supports.

The president did hop on the phone today with three key senators, a bipartisan group, Senators Manchin and Toomey and Chris Murphy, working on their background check proposal.

And the senators left that call, saying they found it was encouraging but notable that still President Trump did not indicate or commit in any way to a proposal. A big factor here, of course, the only factor now that matters is what President Trump will support.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell uncertain what he will support and he's not willing to bring anything to the floor without the president's backing. So uncertainty and limbo as Capitol Hill braces to hear what, if anything, the president will support.

BLITZER: Sunlen, thank you. Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill.

We have more breaking news. A newly released CNN poll of Democrats showing former vice president Joe Biden still leading his rivals ahead of the next presidential debate. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are in a close race for second with the rest of the candidates far behind.

Let's bring in our Political Director, David Chalian.

David, take us through the headlines of the new CNN poll.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That is right, Wolf. Joe Biden does still maintain this lead.


CHALIAN: There is no doubt about that. Warren and Sanders in this tied battle for second place, look at the overall numbers here. Joe Biden at 24 percent. This is Democratic-leaning independents; Warren at 18 percent; Sanders at 17 percent. And then everybody else is in single digits, 8 percent for Harris and 6 percent for Buttigieg, O'Rourke in 5 percent and you see Booker, Gabbard and Yang round out the group there at 2 percent.

I want to show you what is critical to Joe Biden's leading status here: the African American vote. Among black Democratic voters in this poll, Joe Biden has a 30-point lead over Bernie Sanders. He's at 42 percent with this group. That is an enormous lead and it is what is keeping him up front.

The other issue that you and I have talked about a lot is the notion of electability. And we asked Democrats, which is more important to you, somebody who can defeat Donald Trump or somebody who shares your positions on the issues?

Going away, Democrats are looking for somebody with a strong chance to beat Trump: 55 percent, a majority of Democrats say that. We've seen that throughout this campaign but this is fascinating. Among that group, among that 55 percent, Elizabeth Warren is making some significant strides.

Take a look among those Democrats who want a Trump defeater, if you will. Biden had 35 percent with that group in August. He's now down nine points to 26 percent while Warren, in August she was among -- she had 15 percent support among this group and she's up six points to 21 percent.

We see a little dip there for Sanders within the margin of error but what you see is -- and we know electability means different things to different people -- what we see Elizabeth Warren is starting to make some strides on this notion with voters who are looking for somebody who could beat Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Very significant indeed.

What does our poll, David, reveal about voter enthusiasm heading into the 2020 election?

CHALIAN: I think this is one of the most astounding numbers in the poll; 45 percent of voters in this poll show us -- tell us that they are extremely enthusiastic about voting for president. Look at how that compares to the four previous presidential elections at this point in the cycle.

It is far and away above what we've seen before -- and here is what is so interesting. Among that 45 percent of the extremely interested voters, they split almost evenly between the parties, a slight edge for Republicans actually.

But it's almost an even split, 51 percent of Republicans say so and 47 percent of Democrats. It doesn't matter which side of the aisle you are on, Wolf. This is a turbocharged electorate. Voters are very, very enthusiastic about voting in this election.

BLITZER: Very important numbers indeed. All right, thanks very much for that, David Chalian. We'll talk about all of the breaking news, all of these late breaking developments. Congressman Will Hurd of Texas, a key member of the House Intelligence Committee, there you see him in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill.

Congressman, I need to take a quick break. We'll have our conversation right after this.





BLITZER: On this anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks, the president is criticizing his now fired National Security Adviser, John Bolton. Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas is joining us, a key member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. Let me get right to your reaction to President Trump actually today siding with Kim Jong-un over his former national security adviser John Bolton. That was in the Oval Office earlier today.

What was your reaction?

REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): Well, Wolf, I actually haven't seen it. However, I'll say this. I've known John Bolton for quite a long time and I'm pretty sure -- I think I know him well enough to know he'd probably be outraged that the Taliban would have been invited to the Camp David three days before 9/11.

I think he would also be pretty outraged that we haven't responded or shown support to the protests happening in Hong Kong, especially after these protesters are waving the American flags and singing "The Star- Spangled Banner." Knowing John, I know he's pretty opinionated and he's not afraid to speak his mind.

BLITZER: Was the president right to push him out?

HURD: Ultimately, the president has a choice to be able to have the folks he wants, especially in the White House. But I don't know if pushing out is the way I would characterize this.

My understanding is that Ambassador Bolton gave his offer of resignation on his own. So that looks like he's walking away and so that is the way things look. But ultimately the president should have the team that he wants and that is his prerogative.

BLITZER: He clearly didn't want Bolton anymore. I was actually surprised he picked Bolton to begin with, given Bolton's support for the Iraq War and the president saying that was a disaster, winding up costing the U.S. trillions of dollars.

As you heard, a source close to the White House is telling CNN that John Bolton was wary of letting the president meet with some of these dictators because he might give away too many concessions.


BLITZER: Would you share those concerns?

HURD: Well, ultimately I think what you want is to have the major principals negotiate the final deal. They should be the ones that sign off and allow nuance and negotiating to happen amongst other folks.

And so I think that would be my guidance. That would be ultimately my advice. And this is -- understanding the background of some of the previous negotiations, it is always important in order to make sure you land a good deal.

And I will say this, if you're talking, you're not fighting. That is always a good sign. But if you look at the example in negotiating with the Taliban, they were still attacking U.S. troops, still attacking our allies while we were negotiating. You shouldn't -- that is not a sign of good faith that you're willing to negotiate.

BLITZER: Why do you think the president was willing to invite the Taliban leadership to Camp David for this high-profile meeting on the eve of 9/11?

HURD: I can't -- I can't answer that, Wolf, because I'm not privy to those decisions that went in. But I also think we owe it to our allies like Afghanistan, they'll have to be the ones that keep the peace and ultimately be the ones that need to take over the -- defending their borders and we should include our allies in those negotiations and not bring them in at the last minute.

Again, I think we reduce our footprint and having the goal of reducing our footprint in Afghanistan is a worthwhile goal. But we have to make sure that we continue to prevent that from being a place where terrorist groups can train and attack the homeland.

We're 18 years after the 9/11 attacks on our homeland. If you would have told me on September 12th, 2001, while I was in the CIA, working to be involved in supporting the invasion of Afghanistan, that we would still be in the war 18 years later, I would say that is hard to believe.

But if you told me it is 18 more years before another major attack on our homeland and I would have said you are crazy and the reason we haven't seen that is because of the men and women in our intelligence services and diplomatic corps and military are still operating as if it is September 12th.

So we don't want to see Al Qaeda come back or see ISIS or continue to metastasize and we have to keep the pressure on them.

BLITZER: Good point. Congressman Will Hurd, thank you so much for joining us.

HURD: Wolf, always a pleasure, my friend. BLITZER: We have a lot to discuss. Our political and national security experts are standing by. We'll have that conversation right after this.





BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories, including President Trump unexpectedly calling reporters into the Oval Office today to announce his administration's cracking down on e-cigarettes and vaping.

But the president also took the opportunity to slam once again his fired national security adviser John Bolton, calling him -- and I'm quoting the president now -- "a tough guy who makes very big mistakes."

Let's bring in our political and national security experts to discuss.

"Not smart, big mistakes."

Why do you think, Susan, the president is continuing to attack Bolton so publicly?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY ATTORNEY: It is certainly a strange strategy, especially considering the fact that John Bolton is somebody with a reputation for holding a grudge. Actually made a statement today, saying he's waiting to see how the White House handles the situation before deciding whether or not whether he'll weigh in.

Clearly Trump has decided to personalize this. He's made the story of the dismissal of his third national security adviser in three years into sort of this interpersonal back and forth, who was fired, who was quit, kind of back-and-forth and made the story once again sort of be one of palace intrigue and just the chaos that dominates this White House every day.

BLITZER: I fully anticipate it. I wonder what you think, Jackie. Bolton will not remain quiet in response to what the president is saying. I expect he'll do some TV and eventually writing a book.

JACKIE ALEMANY, NEWSLETTER ANCHOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, if there anything that Ambassador Bolton is notorious for it's for sharp elbows. I texted him earlier today, asked him if he had any comment and he hasn't gotten back to me.

But he did tell Bob Costa yesterday that he'll have his say in due course. Seems to be sort of a Mattis approach that maybe potentially when he feels it is appropriate, he'll have his say. But at the end of the day, the ideological chasm between Trump and Bolton was always known. We've seen it permeate media report throughout his tenure but what broke the camel's back was the disloyalty that President Trump felt from the Bolton team.

And so I wouldn't be surprised if the president continues to bash the ambassador and his decision-making process, that Bolton will not hold back in letting his side of the story known.

BLITZER: Nia, weigh in as well.

What did you think?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Again, this is on display. This is a president who came in, saying he would hire the best people. And he's only had praise for Bolton as Bolton was going into the administration. He clearly didn't know who John Bolton was.


Everyone in D.C. essentially knows who John Bolton is, that he's very hawkish, that he's somewhat brusque in terms of his interpersonal dealings with people.

So that the President comes out now and finally who John Bolton is after working with him for many, many months, I mean, again, it just shows that perhaps he didn't have the best judgment in bringing Bolton into his administration.

And in many ways, I think this turned out like people thought it would turn out. The surprise, I think, was that he even hired him to begin with, knowing that there was this big split in terms of how John Bolton feels about the role America should play on the -- on the international stage.

He is very much an interventionalist. He is very much a hawk. And the President, of course, is closer to being a Rand Paul Republican, much more of an isolationist, so this was doomed from the start in so many ways.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Sabrina, because this is, what, the 18th anniversary of 9/11. There are a lot of vacancies as far as national -- key national security positions are concerned, not only the national security adviser but the Director of National Intelligence, a whole bunch of others. You need these positions filled in order, potentially, to deal with another national security crisis.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Right, it doesn't matter who is in the White House. Whether it's a terrorist attack or whether it's a hurricane or some kind of other crisis, the American public expects that an administration will be well equipped to handle the challenges before the country.

And with this administration, in particular, there has been an unprecedented level of turnover. It's not just, as you point out, national security advisers, but the President has also lost his former Defense Secretary, James Mattis; the former DHS Secretary, Kirsten Nielsen; the former Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson; the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats.

It's quite a long list of people who have left this administration, in part because when you're working for this president, he doesn't allow the people who leave these departments and agencies to give him their candid assessments of the realities on the ground. He wants people to tell him what he wants to hear, and that's why it's going to be -- continue to be a challenge for whoever comes in place of John Bolton.

And in addition to this, Bolton's departure is coming at a time when the President is preparing to attend in two weeks the U.N. General Assembly, where he's going to be confronted face-to-face with both allies and adversaries, once again, projecting dysfunction emanating from his administration.

BLITZER: And he -- and he makes it clear, his Secretary of State -- his Secretary of the Treasury making it clear he is willing to have a meeting with the leader of Iran without any preconditions at the U.N. General Assembly.

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so one thing that will be interesting sort of in the wake of John Bolton leaving is what Mike -- what role sort of Mike Pompeo's impulses play. Mike Pompeo has essentially decided to accept the President as he is with somewhat contradictory sort of instincts, being tough on Iran but also setting no preconditions, sort of this fire and fury rhetoric on North Korea, but then also willing to meet with them without any conditions.

And Mike Pompeo has made clear that he is willing to facilitate that and has seen his influence in this administration rise.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around, there is more news. We're following an exclusive and very disturbing look at a one-of-a-kind refugee camp. U.S. allies are warning it's an ISIS academy because it's filled with widows of the terror group's fighters and children and lots of hatred.



BLITZER: On this anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks, we have an important and very disturbing look at a place where hatred of the West is rampant and growing. Our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon has been to a refugee camp inside Syria, a camp filled with the widows and children of ISIS fighters.

Arwa is joining us right now live. Arwa, tells us more about what you saw.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it isn't until you actually get there and see for yourself that you can really understand what a toxic environment this is while, at the same time, being a massive humanitarian disaster.


DAMON (voice-over): It's called Al Hol, a camp that sprung from nowhere, now the size of a small town. The wind and sand mercilessly blow through the tents in the baking heat of the Syrian summer. But it's the anger, the seething hostility, that strikes you. To step into this camp is to witness a strange mutation of ISIS kept alive by the widows and wives of the terrorist group the Trump administration says has been defeated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There are cells here. They are organized.

DAMON (voice-over): A spirit of vengeance seeps into the next generation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I tell them their father was killed by the infidels.

DAMON (voice-over): Hatred and enmity are magnified by the wretched conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You see, you think it's a camp.

DAMON (voice-over): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it's a prison.

DAMON (voice-over): The camp was established by the U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish forces. But now, it's a place in limbo like no other refugee camp on Earth, shunned by the international community. Kurdish forces say this place is a ticking time bomb, an ISIS academy where its brutal ideology is incubating. They don't have the resources to keep control.

Many of the women here don't know where their husbands and teenage sons are. They tell us quite openly, they're teaching their children to hate anyone who doesn't subscribe to their radical, those who imprisoned and killed their fathers and brothers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If the prisoners aren't released, the hatred will grow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The biggest ISIS cell will be the women. If the men aren't released, I will go crazy.

DAMON (voice-over): The camp's population swelled while ISIS was making its last stand not far from Al Hol. Many of the new arrivals have direct ties to ISIS. They were organized and quickly established their version of the moral police, terrorizing those who refuse to wear the full veil. Beneath the black uniformity, some women want nothing more than to leave. I don't care if it's the Kurds or even the Americans who control my

town, this woman pleads. But there is no reintegration program. This is an open-air prison.

DAMON (on camera): What do you want?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to go home. Are you scared of -- from us?

DAMON (on camera): Should I be?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just asking. A lot of people, that's why they are talking in our countries. Because they're scared to take us back.

DAMON (on camera): If they gave you an option, let's say, of creating a -- another caliphate for you --


DAMON (on camera): No?


DAMON (on camera): You're done?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of women, they think the same.

DAMON (voice-over): But few countries are willing to take back their people now living in the camp.

The living conditions are horrendous. It's filthy. There's little access to medical care, clean water is scarce, food is rationed. A Telegram chat group has turned this place into a cause for ISIS, referring to it as the Al Hol death camp, alleging atrocities by the pig enemies of Islam.

DAMON (on camera): There is a lot of propaganda here, a lot of promoting of the ISIS ideology, but then they're also using this platform to send messages.

DAMON (voice-over): It's where they posted this video, the ISIS flag being raised inside the camp. That happened here in the part of the camp for Syrians.

It's a reaction to the psychological pressure on us, one woman says.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They should know that more can be done than the raising of a flag.

DAMON (voice-over): And more has been done. Foreign women here are no longer allowed to leave their annex and go to the market after two incidents when Kurdish guards were stabbed. The more radicalized women threaten and terrorize those less devoted to ISIS. One woman says her tent was burnt down; another, that she is so afraid of being stabbed, she barely sleeps at night. Outside the camp, we get access to a prison. A surreal scene. Former

ISIS fighters painting and crafting papier-mache models. This man says ISIS held his family hostage to coerce him to join.

ISIS gave me the bombs, he tells us, and then showed me on WhatsApp how to plant them. He's serving 20 years, the maximum sentence.

In the crowded cell, some men say they never supported ISIS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My cousin turned us in. He said I was ISIS but he is an ISIS spy.

DAMON (voice-over): Others accept their fate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I raised my hand. I said I'm ISIS. I'm not scared. I'm here. I will pay the price.

DAMON (voice-over): The Kurds are doing their best to separate the true believers from the rest. In this rehabilitation center, there are scores of teenage boys. This 15-year-old was an ISIS fighter. His first mission, to plant explosives at a U.S. base. He describes how they were given the bombs, weapons, and suicide vests.

We covered everything with the women's black veil, he says, so the jets in the sky would not target us.

The operation failed and he ended up in prison. But even there, ISIS ruled, he says.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): But at the rehab center, things are different.

DAMON (voice-over): I've left ISIS behind, he tells us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was a mistake. I learned from it.

DAMON (voice-over): But the center barely reaches a fraction of the children indoctrinated. There just aren't enough resources. If the situation stays like this and nations don't help, ISIS will come back, Musa'ab Khalaf, an administrator here, tells us.

MUSA'AB KHALAF, ADMINISTRATOR, AL-HOURI REHABILITATION CENTER (through translator): We hear about it, the sleeper cells. They take advantage of the children, trying to recruit them.


DAMON (voice-over): And the children are so vulnerable. They know nothing but conflict, destruction, and grief. Some have no parents like this little boy.

DAMON (on camera): He's just visiting his friends here. His tent is somewhere else. And he says that his mom was killed, his dad has been detained, and it's just him and his siblings, the oldest of which is 16. [17:44:56]

DAMON (voice-over): Children pay for the sins of their parents but, in turn, are preyed upon. There's only so much Kurdish officials can do to contain the situation, and there is a shocking lack of international involvement here. The place is forgotten, the legacy of yesterday's war, and that makes it uniquely dangerous. Because if allowed to fester, this sprawling camp contains the seeds of the next war and ISIS' revenge generation.


BLITZER: And Arwa's joining us live right now. Arwa, are there any long-term solutions even being discussed right now to get these people out of this situation?

DAMON: No, Wolf, there are not, and that really goes to the heart of the problem. The Kurds are effectively being left to handle this on their own. And they are telling us that they estimate that about 70 percent of that camp's population no longer or never did subscribe to ISIS' ideology, but because they are confined in this space, they are being subjected to it all the time.

The children have no way to escape this brutal way of life. The children don't have an education. There needs to be a program, a way for the children to be able to focus their energy on something else. There needs to be rehabilitation programs on a very wide scale, a mechanism to be able to differentiate between those who are still radical, hard-core ISIS and those who can move back into societies, but there is nothing.

And, look, there is no blueprint to deal with the humanitarian, moral, and security challenge that Al Hol presents, but one thing was starkly clear from our trip there and from talking to a number of officials. That to leave it like this, to ignore it and think that the problem is going to somehow go away, that is quite possibly the worst way to handle the situation, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks so much for going there, Arwa. Excellent and very important report. We're very appreciative. Arwa Damon on the scene for us as she always is.

Coming up, verdicts in the mysterious case of a Chinese woman who breached security at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.



BLITZER: In Florida tonight, verdicts in the trial of a Chinese woman who breached security at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us. Brian, tell us more.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. Tonight, a federal jury has convicted Yujing Zhang of sneaking into Mar-a-Lago and lying to federal agents about it, but there are still important questions about just why she was there and whether she was working for someone else.


TODD (voice-over): The trial of Chinese businesswoman Yujing Zhang was as bizarre at the case against her. During the proceedings, she refused to hire a defense attorney, told a judge more than once she thought her trial had been canceled, and even delayed the trial when she claimed she didn't have the right underwear. Each time, the judge angrily rebuffed her, saying she knew full well what was going on

ERIC O'NEILL, NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGIST, CARBON BLACK: I think she's trying to play herself a little bit more batty than she really is.

TODD (voice-over): Zhang's case began on a Saturday afternoon in March, prosecutors say, when she gave different excuses at three security checkpoints for why she was at Mar-a-Lago, including once saying she was there to use the pool even though she was wearing an evening gown. But it's what she had with her when she was stopped by the Secret Service that had national security experts concerned.

ANTHONY FERRANTE, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION CYBER DIVISION: She carried into Mar-a-Lago or was able to carry into Mar-a-Lago a modern-day burglar's tool kit.

TODD (voice-over): Among the high-tech devices Zhang had with her, a thumb drive, a laptop, an external hard drive, and four cell phones. When they searched her hotel room, investigators found even more -- another cell phone, five SIM cards that change a phone's number, nine USB drives, thousands of dollars in cash, and a signal detector, a device for detecting hidden cameras.

The one question that wasn't answered at the trial is if Yujing Zhang was a spy for the Chinese. She wasn't charged with espionage, but a person familiar with the situation told CNN her case has been connected to a larger federal probe of potential Chinese spying efforts.

Former FBI counterintelligence agent Eric O'Neill says it's possible she wasn't a spy or that she could have been an informal operative, someone who was not highly-trained but who Chinese officials loosely sent in to test security.

O'NEILL: To see how easy it is to get into Mar-a-Lago. And if she does get in there, she could have a basic knowledge of intelligence gathering to just extract some intelligence, such as what kind of people are in Mar-a-Lago? How do you get toward where Trump might be?


TODD: CNN has reached out to Chinese authorities multiple times, but so far, they have not responded to the suggestions that Yujing Zhang might have been spying for them. Friends and family of hers have described her to the "Miami Herald" as a mere opportunist who sought access to the President and the property, Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thanks for that update. There's more breaking news. Next, the Trump administration moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes amid a growing number of deaths and illnesses tied to vaping.




BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Banning flavored vaping.