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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

CNN Poll: Trump Tops GOP Rivals in Iowa; Trump Facing Large Gender Gap In Iowa; Trump, Sanders Shaking Up 2016 Campaign; Inmates: Guards Abused Us During Manhunt For Murderers; Aired 7-8:00p ET

Aired August 12, 2015 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:05] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. Donald Trump dominating. New CNN poll numbers just released has Trump on top of the republican pack, this time in the key state of Iowa. But there is one major sign of weakness for the frontrunner.

Plus, more breaking news. A massive explosion, the final death toll still unknown. More than 250 people injured. Wait until you see this amazing video.

And allegations of brutal interrogation tactics used on prisoners after two killers escaped from a New York maximum security prison. What really happened there? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, Trump on top. Donald Trump with a commanding lead over his republican rivals in the key states of Iowa. That's according to a new CNN poll that was just released. Trump topping the field with an eight point lead. Ben Carson is seeing a big bump post-debate now in second place with 14 percent. Former GOP frontrunner in Iowa, Governor Scott Walker, he is now knocked down to third. Moments after the polls released, the never humble Donald Trump claimed right here on CNN he was just that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I'm really honored. I'm honored by your call and 22 percent, that's a big number. That's a really big number. And so, it's a great honor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: As for the Democrats, our new poll shows Hillary Clinton is standing strong in Iowa with a 19 point lead over Bernie Sanders.

Senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT with us tonight. So, Jeff, first to the Republicans. Trump is just dominating almost across the board.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He is without a doubt and we heard he is honored by these results. But there's no questioning them, Kate. He is in full command of this republican field in Iowa, at least for now. His support extends across the board. That's why this is so interesting. With strong perceptions that he would do the best job on several top issues. He is on top of the poll on handling the economy, on illegal immigration and terrorism. Now, this isn't necessarily surprising. Because his lead is so big that in the small specific issue areas, he is expected to hold more of a lead overall.

But in this crowded field, it's still significant. Also Kate, he is the most electable in the field in a general election. I found that to be one of the more surprising things when you talk to republican activists and establishment leaders, most of them say he couldn't win a general election. That's not what Iowa Republicans are saying. But it's important to point out this point, Kate. Two-thirds of Iowa Republicans said they are still trying to make up their minds and they could easily change their mind in the coming months.

BOLDUAN: Still keep having to remind ourselves, it's still early. Though we have been in it for quite some time at this point. There does seem to be though Jeff, one big sign of weakness for Trump in this poll. Lay it out for us.

ZELENY: It is. And that is the gender gap. Perhaps not surprisingly here, he is the choice of 27 percent of men but only 15 percent of women. Now, the gender gap is very critical in a general election. Democrats win again and again because of that. But it's not quite as important in a republican primary. But it's still one potential sign of weakness. And Kate, one other thing that caught my eyes as I was reading this poll this afternoon. On the area of which candidate represents the values of Republicans, there's no clear leader on this. Trump is right in the center of the rest of this very crowded field. And values, of course, are key to all republican voters, certainly those evangelicals in Iowa -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Certainly those evangelicals in Iowa. Absolutely, Jeff. Great to see you. Thank you so much.

ZELENY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT with us tonight, former deputy campaign manager for Mitt Romney, Katie Packer-Gage. Also CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, he's a former advisor to President Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, just to name a few. And Andy Dean, a Trump supporter who has also worked for Trump for seven years. Great to see all of you.

A lot to get through. So, Andy, Trump no doubt loves these polls oh, so very much. But they also show a very big gender gap, as Jeff Zeleny was just pointing out. A sign of weakness. You need women to win. How big of a liability is this?

ANDY DEAN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Okay. Well, first, if we take a step back and look at the aggregate numbers, it's excellent news for Donald Trump. It's also showing you another thing when Ben Carson coming in second place. But the American public do not want a career politician as usual. So, if you are at Trump plus Carson, and you're talking about almost half the electorate. And if you look at the voters who made up their minds, they go strongly for Donald Trump and strongly for Ben Carson. So, that's a good sign. As far as the women vote, that's to be expected. Donald is still in second place. Carson is at 20 percent. Trump is at 15 percent. That's because he has been taking a pounding in the media for the past couple of weeks. And as that works itself out, I think you will see Trump rise to the top of the women as well.

BOLDUAN: Katie, it's all the media's fault? Despite that gap, the poll does show that Trump has any point out and it is the truth right now, he is dominating in Iowa. He is even the top pick for the candidate with the best chance to win in the general. Nothing seems to leave a mark on this guy. What is it going to take for the other Republicans to knock him off the top?

[19:12:15] KATIE PACKER GAGE, FORMER DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR MITT ROMNEY: Well, there's a difference between being the easiest candidate to beat -- or the strongest candidate in the general and being perceived by Iowa caucus goers as the strongest candidate in the general. The reality is with all due respect to CNN News, this isn't really news. This is basically where he was a week ago. Roughly, you know, 20 to 25 percent of republican primary voters, we have seen that nationally. I have maintained, I don't think that's going to change all that much. I sort of think it's a ceiling. He enjoys 100 percent -- nearly 100 percent awareness. All of these other candidates are just getting known. But the reality is, if you look closely at those numbers, 78 percent of republican caucus goers in Iowa are saying, no thanks.

And they basically have all the information about Donald Trump. And they're saying that they are not that interested. I think the gender gap is an issue. The reason it's not typically an issue in republican primaries is because there isn't this much disparity. It's really unusual to see a ten point difference between two republican candidates or a handful of republican candidates. I think that this is really an issue for Donald Trump. And, you know, he maybe has taken a beating to some degree but he's also had sort of 24-hour news coverage on him. CNN has virtually been the Trump network for the last several weeks. So, he is enjoying the whole lot more limelight than the other candidates as well.

BOLDUAN: I think there are a few people that would dispute that this is the Trump network.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Certainly with Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: Certainly with Donald Trump.

GAGE: It's a lot of coverage on him.

BOLDUAN: He is the frontrunner.

DEAN: Real quick before David jumps in.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Andy. DEAN: I want to say one thing before David jumps in. Is that

Katie Packer just said that Trump has between 20 percent to 25 percent of the vote. That's not breaking news. Actually it is breaking news after the debate. It shows that the American people feel like he won the debate.

GAGE: It was news on NBC on Sunday. So, it's not new. It has pretty been consistent over the last week.

DEAN: Stop! Katie, please, show some manners for the love of God. I know Mitt Romney camp they don't show manners.

GAGE: Really Andy --

DEAN: He is running against 15 other people. So, look, if you ask people who their second choice is down the line, it's Donald Trump. So, that shows a lot.

BOLDUAN: Ding, ding. Pause in the fighting for one second. David Gergen, get in on this. Trump is leading on these key issues and I want to get your take on this. He is not only topping in, you know, in the big number. He's leading on the economy, he's leading on immigration, he's leading even on terrorism. This all -- he is leading on this without laying out specifics on these issues. How do you explain it?

GERGEN: I think we're in times of turbulence and for many people it's a time of uncertainty. And they're looking for a strong leader. And Donald Trump exudes strength, masculine strength, sometimes to his detriment we have seen many times here with his behavior. But nonetheless, I do think people look for a strong leader. And they are more willing to follow them. I think if we were in a time of, you know, contentment in the country, you wouldn't see him leading. But, you know, the bigger news to me out of this polls tonight are that it may be early but angry voters are on the march. The candidates who are doing the best are the anti-establishment candidates. Three of them in Iowa, starting with Donald Trump but also Ben Carson, a meteoric rise, and Carly Fiorina. And what do we see in the democratic side today? A surprise poll -- Bernie Sanders now leads maybe, small gap over Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

GERGEN: Another anti-establishment candidate. Walker, the governor, the establishment, went down in Iowa. You know, he was expected to win this thing in Iowa. Now he looks like he is struggling. Jeb Bush at five percent in Iowa? That's a tough go.

BOLDUAN: It's a tough go. And on these issues, Andy, I have to ask you. I mean, Trump keeps saying the specifics are coming. He just doesn't want to lay them out anytime that he is asked, is he afraid to go specific? Don't voters deserve the details?

DEAN: Kate, I just reject the premise of the question, because if you look at Donald Trump last night on Sean Hannity show --

BOLDUAN: Right.

DEAN: He spoke for half an hour about the issues. During the debate, he wanted to talk about the issues. It was Megyn Kelly who brought up all the side issues. I think Donald Trump is a guy that --

BOLDUAN: On the immigration issues though, Andy, he always talks about the wall. When you ask how are you going to get them to pay for it? He says, just trust me, I'm going to make them pay for it. That's a --

DEAN: That's not accurate. Last night on FOX News, he said, look, in trade negotiations, if I have to, I will slap a tariff on Mexico. And Donald Trump has been very tough on Mexico. Also in China. Look what China did just a couple days ago. They devalued their currency which hurts our manufacturers and allows China to dump in cheap goods. And Donald Trump will stand up to the Chinese government doing this. He is very specific, actually.

GERGEN: Do we know what he would do with the Iranian agreement? What he would objects to in the Iranian agreement? Do we know what he would do in Syria? What's his policy in Syria?

DEAN: Oh, absolutely.

GERGEN: The Israelis and the Palestinians --

DEAN: If I may --

GAGE: I have heard more detail from Andy tonight than I have from Trump.

(LAUGHTER)

DEAN: If I many, he is very clear about ISIS. You bomb the oil fields. As for Iran, you rip up the agreement. That Iranian agreement. Donald Trump has been -- 150 billion of Muslim terrorists.

GERGEN: What does he want to do? What does he want instead? (INAUDIBLE)

DEAN: Okay, look, I can tell you. Okay, look, how was the Iraqi program destroyed in 1981? The Israelis destroyed it. Syria, 2007, how was that nuclear program destroyed? Thank God the Israelis destroyed it. We need to back off and let the Israelis took to the region and take care of business. It's as simple as that.

[19:10:25] GERGEN: What I hear you saying tonight, his position on Iran is tear up the agreement and get the Israelis to bomb? Is that what you are saying?

DEAN: No. I am not Donald Trump. Okay? My position is the Israelis should bomb. Donald Trump's position is he should tear up the agreement.

BOLDUAN: Here's the problem. Here's the problem though. We hear tear up the agreement, but we don't hear specifics. But here is also a problem for the other Republicans, Katie. Voters don't seem to care at this point. Trump has this amazing way of turning a negative, not going specific, into a positive for him. Here is another example. And I have to get your take on this. He points out at every turn how rich he is, at every possible opportunity. And for all of you out there, if you have been living under a rock, just listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Here is the good news. I'm very rich.

I don't have anybody giving me money. I don't need anybody's money. I'm the most successful person ever to run.

I'm much richer than people ever thought.

I'm not doing that to brag because you know, what? I don't have to brag. I don't have to. Believe it or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: He said at one point that he has a Gucci store that is worth more than Mitt Romney. He does have billions more. Why then Katie is Mitt Romney's -- was Mitt Romney's wealth such a liability? And Trump has been able to make it his biggest asset. Isn't there something to learn there?

GAGE: Well, I don't think that it was his wealth that was the liability. I think it was the way the Democrats portrayed him and the way that he accumulated his wealth. And of course, the Democrats would do the same thing to Donald Trump if he actually came under that kind of scrutiny as the nominee. Which I again, you know, will reiterate, I do not think is going to happen. You know? But I don't think it's the wealth that's a liability. I do think what is a liability with Donald Trump is this constant bravado, this constant braggadociousness that I think is having an effect in terms of being a turnoff to women. And in a general election, it's going to be a bigger problem. And you know, people want to point to it as this great success. I would remind people, Mitt Romney actually did win the nomination. So far, Donald Trump has been able to get about 22 percent of the vote. You know, if he wins the nomination, then he can start giving advice on whether or not bragging on your wealth is a great political strategy.

BOLDUAN: And we have only gotten more time to go. Iowa polls just out. David, Katie, Andy, thank you guys so much. Great to see you all.

GERGEN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, more of our breaking news. A new CNN poll has Hillary Clinton deal on top in Iowa but another has her falling behind Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, Jeb Bush, a distance sixth in Iowa. What's happening to the once presumptive frontrunners?

And inmates charge, they were beaten and severely abused by guards after that daring New York prison break. But is it true?

And Donald Trump, he says he is leaving open the door to a third party run. But could he win that way or would he guarantee victory for the Democrats?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:27] BOLDUAN: And breaking news, Donald Trump slamming Hillary Clinton, distancing himself from the democratic frontrunner, despite donating money to her past campaigns. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Poll numbers sort of indicate that maybe it's troubling for her. I think that I would be her, you know, worst nightmare in a sense. I think nobody has been tougher on Hillary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: But it isn't Trump who is being tough on Clinton in the polls right now for sure. A new poll of democratic primary voters in New Hampshire shows populous Senator Bernie Sanders gaining steam now polling ahead of Hillary Clinton. And that's not the only challenge facing the Clinton campaign today.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (voice-over): A soaring summer for Bernie Sanders. He is front page news today, vaulting over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. His populous price catching on.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a message to the billionaire class. And that message is, you can't have it all.

ZELENY: And his candidacy is taking off. For the first time, a new Franklin Pierce University poll shows him with the seven-point an edge over Clinton. But in Iowa, Clinton holds a strong lead. Our new CNN poll shows her over Sanders by 19 points. But she's facing new questions about the private email server she used as secretary of state. She's agreed to surrender it to the Justice Department. It has given Sanders an opening to be a potential spoiler of the 2016 campaign. And he is not alone.

TRUMP: President of the United States. Donald J. Trump.

ZELENY: Republicans have one of their own, Donald Trump is leading their pack. His spoilers are upending the race, sending establishment stars like Clinton and Jeb Bush to the back burner, at least for now.

TRUMP: Jeb and Hillary on the same day, they said Donald Trump has too strong a tone. The world is cracking up and they're worried about my tone. ZELENY: But instead of taking on Trump, Bush turned his attacks

to Clinton last night in the speech on Iraq at the Reagan Library in California.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the President himself, she had opposed the search, then joined in claiming credit for its success.

ZELENY: And instead of challenging Sanders, Clinton is fixated on Bush and the GOP field.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to draw a contrast with the candidates on the other side of the aisle.

ZELENY: While Trump is used to the spotlight, it's a new phenomenon for Sanders. The 73-year-old Vermont senator who proudly calls himself a democratic socialist. His rallies drawing more than 100,000 people in recent weeks are the biggest of any 2016 candidate.

ZELENY (on camera): Are they underestimating Bernie Sanders?

SANDERS: People often have underestimated me. I'm in this race.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Now, Bernie Sanders is smiling a lot these days. He is drawing some of the biggest crowds we have seen in years. But the challenge for Sanders, Trump and other surging candidates is to turn all this enthusiasm into a strong campaign organization to actually get their supporters out next winter when the voters will finally have their say -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Jeff, thank you so much.

OUTFRONT with us tonight, Ana Navarro, CNN political commentator and Jeb Bush supporter. And Brad Woodhouse, the president of Correct The Record, a pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC. Great to see you both of you.

So, Brad, Jeff laid it out really well. Clinton is still ahead in Iowa, but she cannot seem to tamp down Sanders' appeal. He's pulled ahead in New Hampshire now. So, should the Clinton campaign be raising the alarm?

BRAD WOODHOUSE, PRESIDENT, CORRECT THE RECORD: Well, look, I think every campaign should run like they are ten points behind. I have heard Hillary Clinton and the campaign. We have said they expect this to be a competitive primary. So, I don't think anyone should be surprised that the Senator from next door in New Hampshire -- next door in Vermont is running well in New Hampshire. I do think you have to look at more than one pole, the aggregate of the polls in New Hampshire have Hillary Clinton ahead. And a 19-point lead in Iowa is pretty significant. Not to mention, she has deep support among democratic constituencies across the country, far more support than any of her rivals.

BOLDUAN: So, Ana, they are not concerned one bit about --

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I didn't say that.

BOLDUAN: I'm kidding, Brad. But Ana, Jeb Bush is also facing trouble in the polls as well. You've seen them. We've all seem them. He has now dropped from the top five in our new poll of republican Iowa caucus goers. Is that all because of the debate, do you think?

NAVARRO: Well, I think it had a lot do with it. And I think it's what we have seen in the past where debate performances can make polls fluctuate points enormously. I would tell you that yes, Carly Fiorina's surge is all about the debates. People got to see her. Her name I.D. went up. So, yes, the debate had a lot do with it. And I think we're going to see a lot more poll fluctuations in the republican side, particularly as the field goes winding down and whittling down. You know, I think Hillary Clinton's bigger problem is that she's got Joe Biden on a family vacation this week who is probably reading all about her e-mail issues and is deciding and mulling over with his family and taking their counsel on whether he should run. If Joe Biden runs, he's going to will take a huge chunk out of her, particularly out of her piece of the pie.

[19:21:55] BOLDUAN: Brad, is that a consideration? You guys looking at and watching that so closely?

WOODHOUSE: Well, I mean, look, you know, Vice President Biden will make his own decision. We have always said this would be, you know, a competitive primary. I think, you know, look at all of the focus. Every republican at the debate, 32 times mentioned Hillary Clinton, we've had erroneous reporting from New York Times about Hillary Clinton. The entire focus of this campaign is on Hillary Clinton. She's still beating every republican. She's still winning in Iowa, aggregates. She's winning in New Hampshire. And she's winning across the country in democratic primary. So, you know, given all the slings and arrows she's taken, I think she's in pretty good shape.

BOLDUAN: You know, Ana, you know, one person who is definitely going on the attack --

NAVARRO: She's not beating every republican in polls, she's not beating every republican in the swing states.

WOODHOUSE: That's not true, Ana. Marist came out with polls last week that showed, she was winning in every single state against every single republican they polled. Other polls have shown something different.

BOLDUAN: It's so funny, you guys. We like the polls when we're on top and we don't pay attention to the polls when we're not. It's amazing.

NAVARRO: Isn't it funny how it works that way?

BOLDUAN: You know, I think there must be something to it. Ana, let me ask you this. One republican is Jeb Bush who has been on the attack on Hillary Clinton, especially when he was laying out in his big foreign policy speech. He was attacking her on the issue of Iraq. This is something we have discussed. He stumbled over the Iraq issue multiple times. Why is he going there then? Is he just -- does he risk just reminding voters of what could be his greatest vulnerability so far, his last name?

NAVARRO: First of all, I have to tell you, I think every time that Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are duking it out over policy, it's good for American voters, because they get to see a stark contrast. And it's frankly good for Jeb Bush and for Hillary Clinton. I think she would rather be duking it out with Jeb on policy than having to give explanations about her e-mails being investigated by the Department of Justice. Jeb needs to do this. Why? Because we face a huge threat from radical Islam. And anybody running for president, frankly, should be doing what she's doing which is laying out specifics and a plan, a strategy, something that this administration by their own admission has not had on how we are going to defeat what is this enormous threat to our country.

BOLDUAN: I think a lot of people would welcome more specifics than less, except I've been seeing in the polls that a lot of voters don't seem to care at this point yet about that it seems. Brad Woodhouse, Ana Navarro, it is great to see you guys. Thanks.

WOODHOUSE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, inmates charge that guards that tried to beat information out of them in a desperate attempt to find out more about the escape of two killers from a New York prison. So, are they telling the truth?

And breaking news, this huge, huge fireball has killed at least 17 people. Ahead, why firefighters are struggling to bring it under control still.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:28:46] BOLDUAN: Tonight, shocking claims of abuse during the desperate hunt for two escaped convicts in Upstate, New York. Inmates at the Clinton Correctional Facility, they say they were beaten and placed in solitary confinement just hours after Richard Matt and David Sweat slipped out of the maximum security prison. "The New York Times" first reported that guards even threatened to waterboard at least one prisoner during those interrogations. An investigation is now under way to determine what really took place.

And Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT tonight for us. So, Miguel, CNN spoke to one of these prisoners who claims that he was abused. What did he say?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the guy who was also in the honor ward with Matt and Sweat. Manuel Nunez, he has now been transferred to Sing Sing. He says he was roughed up in his cell. He was transferred without any cause whatsoever. That while he was transferred, his ankles were shackled so tightly that it left bruises to this day. The producer who went to speak to him at the Sing Sing saw those bruises on his ankles. He was kept in solitary confinement for up to two weeks. And that he has now filed a grievance.

"The New York Times" spoke to an inmate named Patrick Alexander. He was in the cell next to Matt's, at one point he says, he was put into a broom closet. He is the one that claims that a plastic bag was put over his head, they beat him very badly, they threatened to waterboard him. At one point he says, Governor Cuomo, when he went on that tour, the prison, even walked up to his prison cell and said to Alexander, "I bet you heard a lot of sawing last night, didn't you?" And gave him his best tough guy stare he said. And then the Governor walked off. All of this says the prison services of New York that is hearing these complaints says, there are so many complaints out there and so many of them are of similar nature, it's worrisome -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: They are racking up, 70-plus at this point have been filed. What do prison officials say?

MARQUEZ: Well, two things, the union -- the corrections union calls these one-sided complaints by convicted felons, remains people that these are allegations and says they are cooperating with the official investigation and doesn't want to take the concerns of convicted felons basically into account. They call it misinformation.

The New York State Department of Corrections says there is an investigation being done. It has been referred to the inspector general of New York state. And if it is found that guards abused any prisoners, they will be punished to the full extent of the law -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Miguel, thank you so much.

And OUTFRONT with us now, Erik Jensen. He is a former inmate at Clinton Correctional. He served time with the escaped prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat.

Also with us, Jeff Dumas, a former sergeant at Clinton correctional facility.

Thank you both for being here.

So, Eric, you heard what Miguel was laying out. I mean, you have inmates who are claiming they were not only abused, they were placed in solitary confinement. "The New York Times" reports that one inmate said guards put a plastic bag over his head.

Do you believe it?

ERIK JENSEN, FORMER CLINTON CORRECTIONAL FACILITY INMATE: I mean, from what I have seen in my experiences in Clinton, I don't think it's too far from the truth. I mean, I do believe that these things do happen. Now that Clinton is in the spotlight and that people are beginning to speak out, the world is listening, because they want to know what actually goes on insides these places.

BOLDUAN: Did you ever see any retaliation like this yourself? JENSEN: I have seen many, many forms of retaliation, but I have

never seen them put a plastic bag over anybody's head or use anything to choke them out, like a windbreaker. I did see them check people out with their arms, their hands. They beat them up. They sent them to their cell, put them in solitary confinement because they want the wounds to heal before they release them into the population.

BOLDUAN: It's so interesting, Jeff, I heard a similar story what Erik is saying, a heard a similar story from another inmate that was at Clinton Correctional earlier today. What do you make of it?

JEFF DUMAS, FORMER SERGEANT, CLINTON CORRECTIONAL FACILITY: Typically, what I think of this is that because the spotlight is now on Clinton correctional facility, all the -- any inmate that has any type of grudge can now voice whatever he wants to and somebody is going to listen to him. These guys said -- actually, inmate Jensen -- or former inmate Jensen across from you, he stated that early that Joyce Mitchell had sexual relations with inmate Matt or Sweat in a broom closet. Well, that was found to be untrue because there are no broom closets for security reasons.

So, these guys that have been sitting in their cells for 20 something days watching TV have come up with the story of the broom closet. They said that people from CIU with the blue windbreakers came in and interrogated them, did whatever, you know, what they're claiming. But if you look at "The New York Daily News" I believe, they had the front cover because CIU was used for delivering water and food and supplies to the certain members that were out in the field. They were not allowed in the facility.

BOLDUAN: So, hold on one second, Jeff.

DUMANS: The interrogation --

BOLDUAN: Erik, answer to -- answer to Jeff.

JENSEN: I have never said they had sex in a broom closet. There's a material room inside the tailor shop which I'm sure you are familiar with. That is what I said.

And if the allegations were true or not, they asked my opinion on that subject, and I gave it to them honestly. It was the opinion of the whole tailor shop at that point when we were in there working. And these allegations that are coming out, of course, people are going to speak up now because they can be heard. When they couldn't -- when they didn't have a voice and nobody would listen and that code of silence kept them silent inside those walls, you know, their screams were still coming out, but just nobody was listening.

BOLDUAN: And, Erik, this speaks to -- Jeff speaks to what we have heard from the guards union, that they say -- they point out really quickly that this information, these claims are coming from less than reliable sources is what they are saying.

JENSEN: So, a human being is a less than reliable source. If it came from on other side of the world, it would be a reliable source. You know, we all make mistakes. I'm a convicted felon. It doesn't mean everything I say coming out of my mouth is a lie.

And I do -- I do to some point maybe there is some exaggeration and embellishments from some inmates.

[19:35:00] But in a consensus, I do believe that some of these allegations did happen.

BOLDUAN: What do you do, Jeff? I mean, when it comes down to it, it's going to be -- how do they get to the bottom of it? It's going to be an inmate's word against the guards.

DUMAS: Well, to a point, though, because like what I was saying, you know, they implicated CIU. CIU wasn't there because it's been photographed, videotaped.

The only people that were doing the interrogations were the New York state police and the internal affairs division of the Department of Correction's I.G.

So, you have video proof. You have photo proof. And then you have two separate entities separate than the facility doing the investigations. Anytime an inmate is injured, like these guys claimed that they were left in their cell, they didn't seek medical attention.

Any time that a convict says, I have injuries, I have been roughed up by staff, immediately he is brought up to medical and photographs are taken of his body, front, rear, left side, right side. And then we take individual pictures of any injury that he says he has on his body, whether there's one mark or 100, we take pictures of every single body part.

So, there's proof everywhere you go. We have to cover our job. We have to cover ourselves. All the photographs are taken. Documentation is there.

And with all those people in the jail, the governor was there by 11:00 a.m., you had the state police, I.G. and the FBI in there. So, you are telling these guys are trying to say that with all those entities, all those higher up people that they're getting beat up?

I just -- I don't believe it. I think it's for money.

BOLDUAN: We can see clearly here the mistrust and the challenge now that investigators have to weed through this.

Erik, thank you very much.

JENSEN: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: Jeff, thank you as well.

OUTFRONT for us next, tonight we are learning new details about the 49-year-old rookie officer who shot and killed this unarmed Texas teenager, including what he did before he joined the force.

And new details on this massive explosion that's killed at least 17 people and injured hundreds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:41:08] BOLDUAN: And breaking news: a violent explosion killing at least 17 people, injuring as many as 400 others in a port city about 90 miles from Beijing. Look at this.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

BOLDUAN: The blast tearing through a warehouse containing what local media is calling dangerous and flammable material. As firefighters struggle to control the blaze, two more explosions rocked the city. The shock waves were felt miles away. Some local residents said they thought it was a nuclear blast. Others likening it to an earthquake. It's just amazing.

That's still happening tonight.

Also for us tonight, the rookie police officer who was fired after killing a black unarmed teenager. He is fighting back. Brad Miller's attorney says his client only acted to save his and other officers' lives. But the police chief sees it very differently.

Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT in Arlington, Texas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Officer Brad Miller's lawyer says the Arlington police chief's biggest fears are getting paper cuts and protecting his six figure salary. That's just part of the lawyer's blistering reaction to the firing of the 49-year- old rookie officer who now faces possible criminal charges for the shooting death of Christian Taylor.

WILL JOHNSON, ARLINGTON POLICE CHIEF: Officer Miller exercised inappropriate judgment.

LAVANDERA: Miller's lawyer says the police chief is acting like a Monday morning quarterback and that Officer Miller's decision was made in the heat of a violent confrontation to save his and other officers' lives. Miller's boss says he wasn't convinced by Miller's reasoning to use deadly force the night he entered the car dealership and confronted Taylor without his training partner.

JOHNSON: This fear and feeling of isolation was a result of his poor decision to enter the building without assistance and without an arrest plan.

LAVANDERA: A former Dallas area police officer and now defense lawyer Pete Schulte says the chief's decision has stunned cops on the force.

PETE SCHULTE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely kills morale in a police department when you have officers who feel like this is a rush to judgment. I have heard that officers think the rookie was a scapegoat. LAVANDERA: Brad Miller graduated from the police academy this

past March and was in the final days of his field training.

(on camera): Before becoming a cop, Brad Miller spent five years working as a hairdresser in an Arlington, Texas salon. Two of his co- workers who asked not to be identified describe him as very kind, someone who would bring flowers on Mother's Day for the women in the salon. They also say toward the end of his time before joining the police academy, he often talked about how much he wanted to be a police officer.

(voice-over): Adrian and Josh Taylor still question why Officer Miller fatally shot their brother.

JOSH TAYLOR, VICTIM'S BROTHER: He didn't do anything in that video that would sentence him to death. You know? Or anything, you know, maybe jail time maybe, or burglary or charge here, or probation here or there.

LAVANDERA: Taylor's family says they aren't looking at the shooting as a racial issue.

ADRIAN TAYLOR, VICTIM'S BROTHER: Every person's life matters. Yes, my brother was black. He couldn't help it. We're going to trust in the system. We're going to trust in God. Just keep praying.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: And, Kate, those portions we read from the statement from the lawyer for Brad Miller were just part of it. He also accused the police chief of caving to anti-police activists and also described his actions by firing Officer Miller as an insult to rank and file police officers. So, a scathing, blistering attack there from the lawyer for Brad Miller.

Meanwhile, here in Arlington tonight, the family of Christian Taylor expected to be at this church at a gathering where the police chief will also be appearing as well -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: That case is before the district attorney there.

Ed, thank you so much.

OUTFRONT next, why does Donald Trump keep threatening to run as an independent?

[19:45:01] Well, could he really win if he does? It might be tougher than he thinks. A special report is next.

And this ram quietly munching his lunch until a drone of all things drops in. Jeanne Moos has that story.

(COMMERIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Tonight, Donald Trump's opponents not so happy he is standing firm atop the polls. Moments ago, Rand Paul mocking and mimicking the GOP front-runner. Look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My favorite is, you know the reason I tell women they're ugly is because I'm so good looking.

(LAUGHTER)

Everybody knows I'm good looking, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:50:00] BOLDUAN: Paul may not want Donald Trump in the Republican primary, but would a Trump third party run be even worse for the GOP? He keeps threatening it, will he do it?

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT with tonight's money and power.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Of all the headline-grabbing moments at the GOP debate, nine words by Donald Trump may be all that really matters. His answer to the question: Will you rule out running as an independent?

DEBATE MODERATOR: You are not going to make the pledge?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will not make the pledge at this time.

DEBATE MODERATOR: OK. All right.

KAREN TUMULTY, THE WASHINGTON POST: Essentially, you know, with this threat he is saying to the Republican Party, you know, it's a nice little party you've got there. It would be a shame to see something happen to it.

FOREMAN: There are several factors to kid if an independent Trump appears. First, the votes. In the past five presidential elections, the average margin of victory in the popular vote has been 4.5 percent. So, any independent who siphons off just that much could make a difference. And it has happened.

ROSS PEROT, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would only run as an independent --

FOREMAN: In 1992, billionaire businessman Ross Perot captured 19 percent of the vote. Politicos still argue over precisely how that affected Bill Clinton's win over George H.W. Bush. But Trump has made his thoughts clear, "I think every single vote that went to Ross Perot came from Bush."

Second, the money. Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and their supporters spent close to $1 billion in 2012. So, Trump without a party behind him might have to pony up close to a half billion. As point of reference, Perot spent $108 million inflation adjusted dollars, and remember he lost.

And then there is election law. Ohio, for example, has what is called a sore loser law. Meaning a candidate who runs for a party's nomination and loses cannot then run as an independent in the general election. So, officials there have already ruled. Trump is either a Republican or he's off the ballot.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: All of that suggests if Trump gives of on his hope of becoming the Republican nominee and goes independent, he is almost certain to lose. But he still could be a factor in shaping the election, pushing issues and deciding who wins -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: He sure can. Tom Foreman, thank you.

OUTFRONT for us tonight: Sal Russo, who served as political director for Ross Perot's historic third party presidential run.

Sal, thank you so much for coming in.

You know third party runs. And you now know Donald Trump. Can he pull it off?

SAL RUSSO, POLITICAL DIRECTOR FOR 1992 ROSS PEROT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think so. I don't think he is going to attempt it. You know, he is a smart businessman. The prospects for a third party are remote.

I think he sees himself as leading the polls as a Republican and he is going to give it his best shot. If he makes it he makes it. If he doesn't, he doesn't.

But a third party is doomed to failure. And let's face it, Donald Trump doesn't like failure. So, I've don't see him going that direction.

BOLDUAN: That is true, Sal. Ross Perot's bid was the most successful third party run in presidential history. And Trump, he has even more money. So, why wouldn't he be just as successful or even more so? What is it, do you think?

RUSSO: Well, you know, he's talked about running for president. I first heard it back in 1984 when he was at the Republican convention in Dallas. So, I think this is something on his mind. I think he shares the frustration that so many Americans that things aren't working in Washington.

So, I think he's at this, let's give it a shot. And, you know, he captured the Americans attention. He's leading in all the polls.

I mean, Ross Perot was leading in 49 states in the general election when he first got into the race. So, you know, there are some opportunities out there. It's just a difficult path.

But right now, his focus has to be on trying to win Republican primaries and, Republican caucuses. I think that's what he is going to focus on.

BOLDUAN: Sal, thank you. Great to see you.

RUSSO: You bet. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next: Jeanne Moos with the midair collision between an eagle and a drone. Here's the hint. The drone lost.

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[19:58:13] BOLDUAN: And here is Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When we send in the drones what must the animals think? It's enough to make a gator glare and a ram wonder.

Does that thing bite? The latest confrontation pitted an Australian eagle against a drone. The eagle used its talons to knock the drone out of the sky.

The videographer wrote, "This is the last thing a small bird sees when a wedge tailed eagle decide that you are dinner."

The eagle was said to be uninjured. The drone operator had some advice for his fellow pilots. If you see a bird of prey while flying, land.

The same could be said if you see a chimp waving a branch at a zoo in the Netherlands. Tushie demolished a $2,000 drone and she and her friend had their mug shots taken as they examined the debris.

Who needs a stick when you have got horns? A New Zaland ram named Rambro head-butted a drone. Then went after the guy who came to retrieve it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move out.

MOOS: At a zoo in Naples, Florida, an agitated alligator could do nothing but lunge. While elsewhere in Florida, a swarm of bees engaged in aerial combat -- with a TV news drone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you see the video, it looked like, you know, "Star Wars."

MOOS: Even landing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is sitting there trying to sting the lens.

MOOS: For a pair of weeping labs the drone was nothing but an expensive dog toy, a Frisbee with blade.

Perhaps the most futile effort to down a drone was made by a golfer who missed by a mile when he threw his club. That doesn't count as a birdie. But this does. Jeanne moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: "AC360" starts right now.