July 26th, 2015
10:23 AM ET

Donald Trump calls into SOTU, says what Hillary Clinton has done "is criminal"

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, 2016 GOP Presidential Hopeful, Donald Trump, spoke with anchor, Jake Tapper.

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.


Topics: CNN • Jake Tapper • State of the Union
July 26th, 2015
09:07 AM ET

CNN/ORC poll: Trump elbows his way to the top

(CNN) In the first national telephone poll since Donald Trump earned rebukes from Republican leaders over his comments about Senator John McCain's military service, the real estate mogul has increased his support among GOP voters and now stands atop the race for the party's nomination.

The new CNN/ORC Poll finds Trump at 18% support among Republicans, with former Florida governor Jeb Bush just behind at 15%, within the poll's margin of error.

They are joined at the top of the pack by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, with 10% support among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote. Trump's backing has climbed 6 points since a late-June poll, while support for Bush and Walker has not changed significantly. FULL POST

Topics: CNN
July 26th, 2015
08:59 AM ET

CNN/ORC poll: GOP voters want more Trump

(CNN)Most Republican voters want Donald Trump to remain in the race for president, and he's the candidate GOP voters are most likely to say they want to see on the debate stage, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll.

Trump, whose campaign for the presidency has come to dominate much of the news coverage of the Republican presidential field since he formally announced his candidacy in mid-June, remains a person Republican voters want to see more of, and a sizable 22% say they think he'll eventually win the party's nomination for president - second only to Jeb Bush.

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote, 52% say they want Trump to stay in the race for the party's nomination, while 33% hope that he drops out. Another 15% say they'd like to see him make an independent run for the presidency. FULL POST

Topics: CNN
Video: Joseph DiGenova & Lanny Davis Talk Hilary Clinton's Emails with CNN's Smerconish
July 25th, 2015
01:37 PM ET

Video: Joseph DiGenova & Lanny Davis Talk Hilary Clinton's Emails with CNN's Smerconish

Please Credit Reference & Usage: “CNN’s Michael Smerconish”

 Michael Smerconish talks with Joseph DiGenova and Lanny Davis about the investigation into Hillary Clinton's “classified data emails. 

 Smerconish airs Saturdays at 9amET and replays at 6pmET
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST:  Joining me now, two people I suspect with strong differing opinions, the first is former federal prosecutor, Joseph DiGenova, who’s worked from everything from the Jonathan Pollard spy case to prosecution of would-be assassin, John Hinckley, to the Clinton’s 1992 passport controversy.  He joins me from the D.C. bureau.
      And, Lanny Davis, a lawyer and crisis manager who served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton and who's most recent book is crisis tales, five rules for handling scandal and business, politics and life.  
      Lanny, it's easy to get lost in the weeds here.  But here is what I think the fundamental question - did Secretary Clinton compromise classified security by storing classified material outside a secure system?  
      LANNY DAVIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL COUNSEL, CLINTON WHITE HOUSE:  No.  I wish I could address the headline that you read and we'll get to that.  But the answer to your question is no.  The server that she stored her e-mails on, protected by both Secret Service, because it also resided in the home of a former president, was absolutely secure, and those who think the federal government has a more secure system ought to read the newspapers about the breach of security by Chinese and other hackers into the most sensitive federal government national security information.
      So, to suggest that because she had it protected on a home server, that was less secure than the federal government opened apparently data system to the Chinese is not proven, as far as I’m concerned.  
      SMERCONISH:  Joseph DiGenova, Kurt Eichenwald for "Newsweek", formerly of "The New York Times", himself says this is no Clinton scandal.  This is a big snooze fest and, in fact, this is all about FOIA officials not the secretary of state.  
      Does he have it right?  
      JOSEPH DIGENOVA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  No, he doesn’t.  First of all, there was a compromise of national security information.  When Mrs. Clinton made the decision to store all of her official government property on a private server in her private residence, that proved conclusively that she had violated her non-disclosure agreement, which she signed when she became secretary of state and agreed to receive classified information pursuant to certain government rules.  Those e-mails were compromised because she never gave anybody a chance in the classification system to review them before they were sent.  
      That is what is wrong with her having a personal server.  The problem was, from the beginning, Mrs. Clinton decided she was not going use government servers, she was going to use her personal server for one reason, to prevent disclosure to Congress, the courts, the press, and the public.  It was designed to prevent disclosure.  
      But in so doing, she insured that classified information would be compromised and in fact it was.  
      SMERCONISH:  Joe, what to Lanny's point that these materials were never marked until classified until after the fact.  
      DIGENOVA:  And you know what?  That's the reason, she should have never had a personal server, because if it had been a government server, she would not have been able to click "send" without that information having been previously reviewed by a government person who has responsible for classification.  
      The secretary made a decision that she was going to be able to do whatever she wanted, and she chose a server that was not secure.  By the way, it doesn't matter that the Secret Service is standing outside of a door to protect the physical server, anyone can get into a server.  
      And Lanny's point that the Chinese got into the most sophisticated service in the federal government, almost insures categorically that they got into her server at her residence.  
      SMERCONISH:  Lanny Davis, respond.  
      DAVIS:  Well, first of all, I don't attack motives.  Joe is doing that.  It's up to him.  I respect Joe, I often written nice things -  
      DIGENOVA:  Whose motive?  
      DAVIS:  Let me finish my point, Joe.  
      DIGENOVA:  Absolutely.
      DAVIS:  I want to mention four facts that are not included in "The New York Times" story or on your opening presentation.  
      Fact number one, you already mentioned that the inspector general said not deliberate, inadvertent is the word he used about Hillary Clinton's treatment of the e-mails, if there happened to be classified information.  
      Secondly, this is a post facto judgment.  At the time, they were not labeled by the individuals.  And you made that point.  It was also omitted from "The New York Times" in its first story, and then cleverly tried to be corrected, even though it was in the inspector general’s report not labeled, the first story didn’t say that.  
      Number three, most importantly, the State Department and many other people disagree with the judgment on classification these are four e-mails about a FOIA argument.  And there’s disagreement on whether they were classified.  That, too, was omitted.  The entire "Times" story never mentioned that the State Department was on record saying, no, these were not classified.  Disagreeing with my friend Joe DiGenova.  
      And, finally, the notion of a criminal referral that went all over the Internet yesterday, published by "The New York Times", now retreating by "The New York Times" saying, well, a Justice Department official told us that, without naming the Justice Department official who got it wrong when referred to a criminal referral about Hillary Clinton.
      So, how can "The New York Times" get that expression, criminal referral wrong?
      SMERCONISH:  Joe, wait, Joe, I want to ask a follow-up of Lanny before you get back that this.  
      Lanny, "The Times" says this was an unforeseen consequence of her unusual computer set-up.  Wasn't it an entirely foreseeable consequence of the way she decided to handle her e-mail?  
      DAVIS:  Well, I’m not sure it's foreseeable.  Non-labeled e-mail, two years after she left office and maybe six years since she became secretary would be in some sector of the government, two I.G.s determining it to be classified for e-mails.  How could she foresee her own State Department in a FOIA argument about their Freedom of Information Act also omitted this is a FOIA argument about the State Department's two I.G.'s judgment, and both of them may have respectful opinions.
      How do you foresee that?  
      But one other thing, Michael, Hillary Clinton did say, in retrospect, she should have done it differently.  She should have had two devices rather than one.  Colin Powell, who I respect greatly had one device like she.  He's omitted from the discussion.  
      It's always good to have wisdom by hindsight.  My friend Joe DiGenova is great at that.  
      DIGENOVA:  By the way, Colin Powell did not have a private server in his home which he conducted all government business.  I mean, this is ludicrous comparison.  
      Number one, Hillary Clinton chose to have a private server thus making it impossible for people with a responsibility to vet classified information to review her material before it was sent.  She clearly knew that was going to be the case, that's why she did it.  
      She knew that when - by the way, Lanny said in March of this year, that he thought that her server should be turned over to a third party for analysis -  
      DAVIS:  Actually, that’s not accurate.
      DIGENOVA:  - so all of the e-mails could be looked in -
      DAVIS:  I did not say that.  
      DIGENOVA:  Lanny, let me finish, please?  
      DAVIS:  You just quoted me.
      DIGENOVA:  Lanny, I direct you to the March 8th, 2015 transcript of "FOX Sunday News" where you said - you thought it would be a good idea for some third party -  
      DAVIS:  No, I did not.  
      DIGENOVA:  - to review the e-mails.  
      DAVIS:  No, I did not.  
      DIGENOVA:  I’m sorry, Lanny, I just read it.  
      DAVIS:  I said if there was a subpoena.  Don't read omit the "If there was a subpoena", then -
      DIGENOVA:  Apparently, there were several subpoenas.  
      SMITH:  I said, if there was a subpoena -  
      SMERCONISH:  Gentlemen, I have another question.  I’ve got a question for Lanny.  Lanny -  
      DAVIS:  Stick to your own talking points, but don't misquote me.  
      DIGENOVA:  I don't have any talking points.  I just have the facts.  
      SMERCONISH:  Hang on.  Lanny Davis, what should the attorney general, Lanny, what should Loretta Lynch do with this hot potato now?  
      DIGENOVA:  Run for cover.  
      DAVIS:  Well, the Justice Department is saying and everyone is saying, including the inspector general, that this is a civil dispute between the two agencies, the intelligence agencies and I.G.s versus the State Department over the Freedom of Information Act and that is not a criminal referral.  
      "The Times" has misled and still wouldn't withdraw its mistake and explain why it relied on an anonymous story -
      SMERCONISH:  Lanny, you know, I have to note.  It's not FOX News.  It’s not "National Review."  It’s "The New York Times", not exactly a conservative bastion that's raising this issue.  
      DAVIS:  Look, I consider "The New York Times" one of the great newspapers in the history of our country.  And when "The New York Times" gets something wrong and it's possible, it's inadvertent error, they omit deliberately in today's story.  That's an intentional omission, that, number one, they got wrong, that there was no labeling on these e-mails.  They said it in today's paper.  Yesterday, they said it wasn’t clear.  There's a direct statement by the I.G.  These e-mails were not labeled.  
      That goes to Mrs. Clinton's intent.  She sees an email.  She forwards it to somebody.  It goes to the State Department person that's part of the State Department system to suggest that's a deliberate, intentional mishandling of classified information which "The Times" did, they can get things wrong, but they’ve got to make the correction and admit they got it wrong and they didn't.  
      SMERCONISH:  Gentlemen, I wish - I wish we had more time.  Joseph DiGenova, Lanny Davis, thank you so much for being here.  
      DAVIS:  Thank you.  
      DIGENOVA:  Thank you, Michael.


Topics: CNN
July 23rd, 2015
06:33 PM ET

FBI Director: "ISIL is not your parents' al Qaeda"

CNN's Wolf Blitzer sits down with FBI Director James Comey at the Aspen Security Forum, to discuss a range of threats to the homeland.

Additional information: The Situation Room:http://www.cnn.com/shows/situation-room


MANDATORY CREDIT // The Situation Room  



BLITZER:  Mr. Director, what keeps you up at night?


COMEY:  What keeps me up at night is, probably, these days, the ISIL threat in the homeland.  And I worry very much about what I can't see.  You know, that's what keeps me up.

If you imagine a nationwide haystack, we're trying to find needles in that haystack.  And a lot of those needles are invisible to us, either because of the way in which they're communicating or just because they haven't communicated or touched a place where we could see them.

BLITZER: Is that now a bigger threat to the U.S. homeland than al Qaeda?

COMEY:  Yes.  Yes.  The - the threat that ISIL presents, poses to the United States, is very different in kind, in type, in degree than al Qaeda.  ISIL is not your - your parents' al Qaeda.  It's a very different model.

BLITZER:  Why is ISIS so powerful?

COMEY:  Well, they have adopted a model that takes advantage of social media in a way to crowd source terrorism.  They have invested about the last year in pushing a message of poison, primarily through Twitter, but other parts of social media, that is a siren song with two dimensions.

They are preaching through social media to troubled souls, urging them to join their so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq, or if you can't join, kill where you are.  And Twitter is a valuable enterprise, because it works to sell shoes or to sell ideas.  It works to sell this message to troubled souls.

With al Qaeda, if you wanted to consume their propaganda, you had to go find it somewhere on the Web.  You'd read their magazine.  If you wanted to talk to a terrorist, you might send an e-mail in to their magazine and hope that somebody answers you.

ISIL has changed that model entirely, because ISIL is buzzing on your hip, right.  That message is being pushed all day long.

And if you want to talk to a terrorist, they're right there on Twitter direct messaging for you to communicate with.

It’s the reason we have these investigations all across the United States, that year of investment is producing a warped view of the world.

And the people that ISIL's trying to reach are people that Al Qaeda would never use as an operative.

BLITZER: Why is that?

COMEY: Because they are often unstable, troubled, drug users and - and ISIL also does something that Al Qaeda would never do. They'll vet an operative by tasking them. Right? Give them as assignment, go kill somebody, as a way of checking out whether they are a real person or an informant of some kind.

BLITZER: So when ISIS publicly puts out there on social media, if you can't come over to Iraq and Syria and fight with us, go out there and kill U.S. military personnel or law enforcement officers, you take that seriously.

COMEY: Very.

BLITZER: You told us recently that you and your colleagues thwarted a July 4th attack or attacks, right?

COMEY: Correct.

BLITZER: What can you tell us about that?

COMEY: Not much.


COMEY:  There were a number of - what's interesting about the ISIL model there too is the normal terms inspired, directed or enabled blend together with ISIL. Because they just push it - they're like a devil on somebody's shoulders saying kill, kill, kill all day long. So to figure out whether someone was directed or inspired or enabled is actually a waste of time in many cases. There were a number of people who were bent on engaging in attacks in the United States, killing innocent people, timed to the July 4th holiday. And thanks to great work, not just by the FBI, but by our partners, State, local and Federal law enforcement, it was disrupted.

BLITZER: And that's why you concluded now that ISIS represents the major threat to the U.S. homeland as far as terrorism is concerned?

COMEY: Right. And one of the reasons I say that is the sheer volume. Again I have investigations - the FBI has investigations related to this threat all across the country. There are hundreds of investigations. We're trying to understand where somebody is on the spectrum of a consumer of this poison on Twitter, to an actor who's about to try and murder innocent people, and evaluate where are they on that spectrum. We have hundreds of people we’re looking at on that spectrum. The ISIL Tweeters in theory have 21,000 English language followers. Hundreds of those people, probably thousands, are in the United States.

And the other challenge that we face, again, totally unlike your typical Al Qaeda model, is what we call the flash to bang, is both short and unpredictable with ISIL, that is often an operative will have an idea to do something, say on July 4th and wake up on June 2nd and say, you know, I'm not waiting. Today's the day I'm going to go kill people. Which poses an additional challenge for us conducting investigations.

BLITZER:  You think you have a pretty good appreciation of how many Americans have actually gone over there and trained with ISIS?

COMEY:  I think we have a reasonable idea.  It's not a high confidence read, because there's lots of ways to get to Syria.  But I think we have a pretty good sense.

BLITZER:  How many?

COMEY:  I'll - I'll give you dozens of people have gone with ISIL, to ISIL.  Again, it's hard phenomenon to track, because they range in age from 18 to 62.

BLITZER:  What's the biggest stumbling block you have right now, because we were talking about the encrypted communications, the dark side?

COMEY:  I'd say one of two stumbling blocks in these cases.  The first is the technological one.  ISIL's MO is, they'll broadcast on Twitter, get people to follow them, then move them to Twitter direct messaging while they evaluate whether they're a potential live one, either to travel or to kill where they are.

Then they'll move them to an encrypted mobile messaging app where they go dark to us.  And so that's what I mean by the needle becoming invisible.  We can, with court authority, get access to the Twitter contacts, but we don't have the ability to break strong encryption.

So if they move to the mobile messaging app, we're going to lose them.

BLITZER: What do you need now, legally, in order to get access to that?

Because as you know, there's a big controversy.  A lot of people who don't want their privacy infringed on.  They don't want you to have access to that.

COMEY:  They - we need what the FBI needs in all of our investigations, right, we want to listen to that communication or intercept the content flowing back and forth.  We've got to get a court order.

So we go to a judge or, if it's sitting on a device, we go to a judge for a search warrant. But the problem we're facing is, even with judicial orders, which is at the core of our work, we are unable to find out what people are talking about when we've demonstrated probable cause to believe they are terrorists or they are serious criminals.

BLITZER: Why is that?

COMEY: Because of the nature of the encryption. We don't have the ability to break the strong encryption.
The way in which the, the mobile messaging app for example has been designed, stops it by virtue of its design. It is end-to-end encrypted so, without the key of one of the two devices at the user end, you have no ability with a court order to intercept and look at that communication.

BLITZER: So do you want the software manufacturer to allow some sort of key that would give you that kind of access, once you get a court order?

COMEY: The answer is, I don't know exactly. I can picture the end state we need. We need judges' orders to be complied with. Now how to figure that out? Lots of people, smart people, tell me, oh, it's too hard. I don't buy that. I don't think we've tried hard enough yet. If we recognize that we all share the same values, I think smart people can figure out how to do it.

July 23rd, 2015
10:27 AM ET

FBI Director Comey tells Wolf Blitzer Khorasan Group diminished

FBI Director James Comey says U.S. military strikes have diminished the al Qaeda offshoot Khorasan Group, but the bigger threat faced by the U.S. is now ISIS.

Comey, in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, used an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum to raise concerns about encrypted communications the FBI can't access, comparing ISIS militants to needles in a regional haystack.

"If you imagine a nationwide haystack, we are trying to find needles in that haystack. And a lot of those needles are invisible to us either because in they are communicated or just because they have communicated in a place that we can't see them," Comey said. "And knowing there are needles out there that you can't see is very worrisome."

Comey said Wednesday SIS has become a bigger threat to the United States than al Qaeda.

"The threat that ISIL presents and poses to the United States is very different in kind, in type and degree than al Qaeda," Comey said. "ISIL is not your parents al Qaeda. It's a very different model. And by virtue of that model, it's currently the threat we are worried about in the homeland most of all."

The Pentagon announced Tuesday Muhsin al Fadhli, a Kuwaiti-born jihadi and leader of the Khorasan Group, was killed earlier this month in a targeted strike. The strike happened July 8 while Fadhli was traveling to Sarmada. Syria.

"His death will degrade and disrupt ongoing external operations of al-Qaeda against the United States and our allies and partners," Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a written statement.

While terrorist groups like ISIS and the al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra are responsible for much of the violence inside Syria, the Khorasan Group was believed to direct most of its energy plotting external attacks in the West.

Comey also said Wednesday that investigators haven't determined why Mohammad Abdulazeez carried out the shootings that killed four Marines and a sailor last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He said the FBI is determined to "understand every second of his life" for the last two years, at least.

Comey said the prospect of a terrorist group launching a cyberattack on the United States is a small but growing problem.

CNN Receives 14 News And Documemtary Emmy Nominations
July 22nd, 2015
03:59 PM ET

CNN Receives 14 News And Documemtary Emmy Nominations

CNN received 14 nominations for the 36th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, it was announced today. CNN’s diverse nominations encompass television programming, newsgathering, digital, and Spanish-language, and include:

Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast

The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer

Ÿ Rescue from Mt. Sinjar, reported by Elise Labott, Barbara Starr, Ivan Watson, anchor Wolf Blitzer

Outstanding Investigative Journalism in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast

Anderson Cooper 360

Ÿ Crisis At The VA, Veterans Dying While Waiting For Care, reported by Drew Griffin

Ÿ Theme Parks Investigation, reported by Kyra Phillips


CNN Politics #1 for Four Straight Months
July 22nd, 2015
11:29 AM ET

CNN Politics #1 for Four Straight Months

Top Political News Site Sees Double Digit Growth in June

CNN Politics solidified its position as the Web’s top destination for political news and information in June by outperforming all competitors for the fourth month running. Since March of 2015, CNN Politics has dominated its category in multiplatform unique visitors, views and video starts. Strengthening its lead over Vox.com, HuffPost Politics, Fox News Politics and Politico.com, CNN Politics became the top site for mobile unique visitors in May and maintained its position in June.  

In a historic month that saw landmark cases from the Supreme Court, a nationwide debate over the Confederate Flag and the lead up to a nuclear deal in Iran, CNN Politics posted double-digit growth across the board:


July 21st, 2015
06:26 PM ET

Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee joins Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee shared his views on the recent Iran nuclear deal on  The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, here is what he had to say.

Additional information: The Situation Room:http://www.cnn.com/shows/situation-room FULL POST

July 21st, 2015
05:39 PM ET

Jake Tapper interviews presidential candidate Carly Fiorina

Jake Tapper interviews Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

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