Return to Transcripts main page


Seattle Mall Shooting Suspect Captured; The Charlotte Police Shooting; Videos Of Fatal Encounter Leave Questions Unanswered; The First Presidential Debate of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump; 200 Strikes Pummel Ravaged Aleppo, Activists Say; U.N. Security Council Meets Today On Aleppo Crisis. Aired 6-7a

Aired September 25, 2016 - 06:00   ET



[06:00:16] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Good to have you this Sunday. I'm Victor Blackwell.

[06:00:19] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. Always grateful to have your company. The man accused of shooting five people to death in a Seattle area mall, we can tell you this morning, has been captured. Police say 20-year-old Arcan Cetin, surrendered quietly after he was spotted just walking unarmed down the street near his home. So far, here's what we know, authorities say they see no evidence of a link to terrorism, but they say it is too early in this investigation to rule anything out. CNN correspondent, Stephanie Elam is live in Burlington, Washington. Stephanie, what have you learned about their ability to hone in on this man and get him into custody?

[06:00:58] STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Christi, this one was different than we've seen shootings across the country, but what was different about this one, is that after this man appeared inside this mall that we're standing in front of here yesterday or -- this one, two days ago, when he appeared there, he walked in without a rifle. Then he was seen on surveillance video with a rifle inside of Macy's where he then shot and killed four women and a fifth man that he shot who later died from his injuries. Then after that, he disappeared and ran out to Interstate 5 which runs the length of the west coast. At that point, they did not know where he went, but they started looking into video around here, they started doing surveillance. And if you listen to the police, they'll tell you a little bit more about how he was captured. Take a listen.

CHRIS CAMMOCK, MOUNT VERNON POLICE LIEUTENANT: We began interviewing acquaintances, family members associated with the tip, and it grew a stronger -- a stronger connection for us. In addition to that, the investigators had been able to pull down all of the security video footage outside the Cascade Mall from area businesses and in reviewing that footage, we were able to identify a suspect vehicle which we didn't have earlier.

ELAM: So being able to find video of the vehicle helped them out, and then, it was in his hometown where he lives, Oak Harbor, which is about 20 miles away from this mall, where he was arrested. What happened was though, one of the officers happened to just be looking at images of Arcan Cetin on his computer, when he saw the man walking down the street. So, he said he did a U-turn, went back and approached him. And he said that when he went to arrest him, he said he was kind of zombie like, that's the way he described it, without incident and that he was unarmed at the time. We should also note that we do know that Arcan Cetin immigrated to the United States many years ago. We don't know exactly what year, but is a naturalized citizen of the U.S., Christi and Victor.

PAUL: All right, I know spent a lot of time talking about him, but I mean, I want to give due respect to the victims here. Do we know anything about these people?

ELAM: No. We don't know yet who the victims are. We don't know yet if there was any personal connection between them. At this point, too, police are saying that they don't see any connection to terrorism, but they are not ruling it out as this investigation continues.

PAUL: Alrighty. Stephanie Elam, thank you so much for the update. We're grateful for it. I want to bring in CNN's Senior Law Enforcement Analyst, Tom Fuentes now. Tom, you just heard Stephanie's account of happened based on what she's learned out there. I had read local media reported that surveillance shows him walking into the mall. Police say he walked back out to the car and then came back into the mall with a gun. What do you take from that report? The fact that he left and came back in.

[06:03:52] TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Christi, that's just typical as we've seen in some shootings that a person goes in and if he was looking for a particular individual that he wanted to shoot, maybe he went in to look if that person was in the mall or checked out security in the mall first, and then went back out, got the gun, came back in. So, it just shows that these malls are completely soft targets and there's not much that anybody's going to be able to do about that. There are so many entrances and they're open for so many hours, that whether it's a mall or a shopping theater, these are -- these are locations where we're just not at a point, where we're going to be able to put somebody -- and if it's a big enough mall, it might have 100 entrances. So to put magnetometers and equipment and security at every one, is nearly impossible.

PAUL: What do you think, Tom, about the report from the arresting officer who characterized the suspect, saying he was almost like a zombie. When the suspect was under arrest, this police officer said, they said, "The suspect didn't even say anything. He looked so average, so non-threatening." Because that's what's so frightening and frustrating, isn't it?

FUENTES: Absolutely. And, you know, he does look average and we saw that in the very first photos that were released, you know, walking in a t-shirt, shorts, you know, everything was normal except for carrying a rifle, when we saw that photo. So, yes, that's what makes these incidents so frightening is someone walking around that you would never know if it wasn't for the weapon that they meant anybody any harm. PAUL: Uh-hmm. All right, Tom Fuentes, so grateful for your incite.

Do stick around with us here because we'd love for you to weigh in on this next story as well. Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, we're taking you back to Charlotte were police have answered the public outcry and released the dash cam and body cam video, at least some of it, of their fatal encounter with Keith Scott, but the videos, they really don't answer some of the significant questions about the shooting. Investigators released only two pieces of video despite there being several officers on the scene. A police chief there says that, "The videos are the most relevant and more video will be released once the investigation is complete." Our Brynn Gingras takes a look at the newly released tapes to see what, if anything, they reveal.


POLICE OFFICER: Drop the gun.

RAKEYIA SCOTT: He doesn't have a gun.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The tapes became public, one day, after a video recorded by Keith Scott's widow, was released publicly. Her video shows the moments leading up to the killing of her husband by a Charlotte police officer.

SCOTT: Don't shoot him.

GINGRAS: The dash cam video provided by the police department, Saturday, shows a patrol car approaching the scene, where one plain clothes officer with his weapon drawn on Scott, is visible. Moments later, a uniformed officer joins the first officer's position behind a truck.

POLICE OFFICER: Drop the gun.

GINGRAS: Someone shouts, drop the gun, several times, before Scott exits his SUV. While walking backwards, Scott is shot at four times by Officer Brentley Vinson, who was off-camera throughout both videos.

JUSTIN BAMBERG, FAMILY ATTORNEY: What we see when we look at this dash cam video is, Mr. Scott steps out of the vehicle, he doesn't appear to be acting aggressive towards any of the law enforcement officers on the scene. He doesn't appear to be making gestures or motions as though he's arguing with anybody. He doesn't lunge at the officers. Appears he has his hands by his side. Again, there is no definitive evidence in this video as to whether or not there is an object in his hand and if there is, what that object is.

GINGRAS: Meanwhile, the body camera video worn by a uniformed police officer, shows that man running up toward the encounter. The officer moves beside a white truck and pauses next to a plain clothes officer before running around to his left to the other side of the vehicles. As the officer passes a gap between cars, Scott is visible, with his right arm by his side. The next time Scott is seen, he is lying on the ground with five officers converging on him. Neither video appears to show Scott pointing a gun at police officers and neither seems to answer some of the most significant questions in the shooting. Police say, the released videos are just a sampling of their evidence which will show the shooting was justified.

CHIEF KERR PUTNEY, CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG POLICE: I stand behind the truth. People can interpret anything they want based on one piece of evidence and I can tell you, I suspect they will based on the video footage, but what I say is, you have to put all pieces together. We interviewed a lot of people. We've interviewed all of our officers involved, and the consistent themes, were the facts, and that's what I stand behind.

GINGRAS: And that's a big question the family has at this point, was the shooting justified? To clear up any confusion about whether or not there was a gun on Scott, police released even more evidence, three pictures, in fact, of a handgun at the scene, also a holster and also a picture of a marijuana cigarette. The family says that they -- that was the first final that they've seen those pictures when police

released them yesterday, and they still stand by the fact that they don't believe, Scott had a gun. Victor?


BLACKWELL: All right, Brynn Gingras there for us in Charlotte. Let's try to get a question in about what and why, here. First, what does this video show and bring back Senior Law Enforcement Tom Fuentes. Tom, when this video was released, the department released a statement. I want to read a sentence from the statement for you now and our viewers. Officer Vinson perceived Mr. Scott's actions and movements as an imminent physical threat to himself and the other officers. What imminent threat do you see in this video, or have they released enough of it for you to even answer that question?

FUENTES: Well, it's not a question of releasing enough, Victor, it's a question of the angles of view of the various cameras don't really show his hands clearly enough to tell if he is -- you know, if he's holding a weapon. And if he is holding it, what position it's in, but if that gun is in his hand, and he disobeys about 10 emphatic shouts from the officers to drop the gun, and doesn't, and his hand is moving around, it would take, you know, a tenth of a second to raise that gun and pull the trigger, and even "Wild Bill" Hickock wouldn't be able to react in time to stop it and prevent the bullet. And even if he's walking backwards, that bullet is going to come out of the gun at 700 feet per second. It's going to close on the officer very quickly.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about why, why the department has released this video after starting the week saying, they would not release it, and then you'll hear what the Chief said at the very end of the week. This is a bit of what we heard from the Chief throughout the past several days. Watch.


PUTNEY: We're still going through all of the footage from both body worn and dash, but until the investigation is complete, it's a part of the investigation and can't be released at this point. But release would be to the masses, and that's what I'm not going to do. I don't want to set a bad precedent that I'm releasing lots of video and I think you could be destroying some of the trust that some of our most vulnerable victims, especially those of domestic violence and sexual assault. What impacted this decision is the information I've been getting from this community all along, as soon as you appropriately can, release the video, and that's what I was going to do anyway.

BLACKWELL: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, he says I'm not going to release it, and then we hear on Saturday, he says, "Oh, I was going to do that anyway." Was this a response to the video that the family released, was it public pressure, or did you expected this video would've been released, when it was anyway?

FUENTES: I expected it to be released after they definitely witnessed -- interviewed every witness to the event. You want to interview people before they've seen other videos or any other information, so that what they're telling you, is what they saw from the event, not what they saw on TV.

BLACKWELL: All right. Tom Fuentes, thanks so much, and we'll talk again next hour. Christi?

PAUL: Here right now, in Southern California, officers are searching for a teenage girl after three people were found dead in her home. Now, let me get you the story here. Police say they rushed to this home after a child called and said her parents had died. Investigators got there, they found the bodies of two men, and a woman inside a home in Fullerton, which is about a half hour, Southeast of Los Angeles. Take a look, if you would please, at your screen. This is a 17-year-old girl police are desperately trying to find right now. Katlynn Goodwill Yost, she lives in that house but they cannot find her, she's missing. You see, there she has strawberry blond hair, dark colored eyes. Authorities say the two other children that were found in that home, are unharmed, but again, this is the girl that they are looking for and feared to be in dangered right now.

BLACKWELL: All right. Check the countdown clock on your screen. We're no longer counting days, we are counting hours until the first Presidential Debate. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty, is live from Hofstra University where the showdown will happen. Sunlen?

[06:13:13] SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. And here, the stage is being set here at Hofstra University and both candidates today are spending the day in private, behind closed doors, huddling with their teams, making the final preparations before their first face off.




[06:11:50] PAUL: All right. First Presidential Debate tomorrow, airing right here on CNN at 9:00 p.m., and a Washington Post, ABC News Poll, new this morning, has the two candidates neck and neck, Clinton at 46 percent, Donald Trump, close behind at 44 percent, and a lot could hinge on what happens at this debate tomorrow.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. Both sides are playing, shall we call it, the mind games with one another. Billionaire, Mark Cuban tweeted, Clinton has offered him a front row seat, and he will be there, followed by Trump's response that he wants to invite Gennifer Flowers, the woman with whom Bill Clinton admitted to having a sexual relationship decades ago. And according to The New York Times, Flowers told them via text message, "Yes, she will be there."

PAUL: CNN Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty is there at Hofstra University. Sunlen, so let's talk about what's happened thus far this morning. We wake up and find out that according to The New York Times, Gennifer Flowers says, "Yes, I'll go." What is the reaction from people?

SERFATY: Well, it's really interesting, Christi, you know, this is basically amounting, you know, 24 hours before the debate to rather high-level, high-profile taunting by Donald Trump, potentially bringing in Gennifer Flowers, and really threatening to bring in the factor of Bill Clinton's past indiscretions up there on the debate stage. Now, the reaction from Clinton campaign has really been to try to brush this off. Clinton campaign aides say that this shows that Donald Trump is impulsive in nature, that he's already been set off by their invitation of Mark Cuban and to sit in the front section of the big audience. And this is something that clearly the Clinton campaign has factored in as they start preparing for the debate and as they're really making the final preparations this weekend, this degree of uncertainty on how Donald Trump's personality will mix up there on the debate stage. Will he be the more reserved Donald Trump that he's been trying to be in recent weeks, or will he be the more impulsive Donald Trump that kind of shoots from the hip. So this will be the big question up there on the debate stage, and I think team Clinton is getting a small hint of that this weekend.

PAUL: Alrighty. I want to ask you about Ted Cruz. We know that he seems to be one of the new Trump surrogates, not really strong language from him, though, as I understand it, when it comes to getting out there and getting people to vote for Trump, is that right?

SERFATY: That's right. He made this his debut, so to speak, as a Trump surrogate, 24 hours after endorsing Donald Trump, and he really almost put a spotlight on his -- that he's still not fully behind Donald Trump. He was asked in an interview if Donald Trump is fit to be president, and he repeatedly declined to say, yes or no. He kind of just said, look, we have two options here, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I'm going with Donald Trump. Here's more of what he had to say in that interview.

TED CRUZ, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I wrote a long op-ed (INAUDIBLE) laying out the reasons for announcing that in November, I'm going to vote for Donald. Now, as you know, this was not a decision I reached easily.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do know that.

CRUZ: These last several months have been like a lot of voters. This election is not a typical election. I feel confident I'm not the only voter here, I'm not the only voter in the state or in the country, who has agonized about what's the right thing to do in this election.

SERFATY: So really, defending his decision there to endorse Donald Trump, but really not giving a full throated endorsement there, kind of still puts a spots light - spotlight on that. He has painted himself into a tough political bunker. Christy, Victor.

PAUL: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thank you. Good to see you this morning. And don't forget, you can watch the first Presidential Debate. It's tomorrow night, right here on CNN, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

BLACKWELL: Well, imagine this, children trapped in the rubble as bombs fall from the sky. Our Frederick Pleitgen is live in Syria, where a renewed offensive has brought fresh horrors.




[06:24:32] BLACKWELL: Well, there it is now a fresh round of horror, seizing families in Syria this morning. Activists say that more than 200 strikes have rained down in just the past two days on the ravaged city of Aleppo. And this comes after that ceasefire crumbled. Activists blamed the stepped up attacks on forces from their own government bolstered by Russian jets.

[06:24:52] PAUL: The U.N. Security Council is set to meet in less than five hours now, to talk about this latest offensive, as the world debates what to do, though. Take a look at some of the pictures that we're getting in, of these cars, of these buildings, of these people who are just walking through rubble. Many of them have died, and you can understand as you look at this, just a little bit, not fully, but a little bit about the suffering of these people.

BLACKWELL: Let's go now to our Senior International Correspondent, Frederik Pleitgen. He's in the Syrian capital there of Damascus. Fred, give us an idea of what's on the ground there now, what the situation is.

[06:25:37] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's an awful situation, Victor, and it really is those tragic images that we're seeing basically over the past three days, as this offensive has been going on. Now, the Syrian government, for its part, has acknowledged that it is conducting a widespread offensive up there in the eastern districts of Aleppo. Those are the ones that are held by the opposition, and they say that that offensive encompasses both air power as well as ground forces. Now, we know that there's Russian jets and Syrian jets, absolutely pounding that area, you were just saying, about 200 airstrikes that have taken place in the last couple of days. And you know what, they don't even have an exact death toll at this point in time, because most of the time, it's too dangerous for most people to go out and try to even count those who were hit in those airstrikes. The other thing that's going on is they're having real trouble trying to reach some of these people that are still buried underneath the rubble, because also it's so dangerous at night. They don't have any electricity to actually see anything, and then they simply don't have the manpower, because so many people have been wounded. And, you know, speaking to people here, on the ground, it is really very difficult for them to see whether or not the international community is going to be able to make some sort of ceasefire last. Of course, the U.S. had been pushing it for that, but also questioning whether Russia is really serious about trying to end the violence here in Syria.

BLACKWELL: All right. Fred Pleitgen for us there in Damascus. Fred, thank you so much. A police in Charlotte, North Carolina have answered the calls that you've seen and heard night after night, to release their dash cam and their body cam video, showing the deadly encounter with Keith Scott. Why police say Scott was an obvious threat despite what's shown in that video.

PAUL: And also, Donald Trump in debate prep mode, as is Hillary Clinton, but Trump slamming moderator, Lester Holt. Is the NBC newsman rattled? How big a role is he really going to play in tomorrow's first Presidential Debate? We're going to ask the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."




[06:29:35] PAUL: Mortgage rates were up slightly this week. Here's your look.




PAUL: Always grateful for your company. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

The man accused of shooting five people -- shooting and killing those five people in a Seattle area mall has been captured. Police say that 20-year-old Arcan Cetin was seen spotted just walking on the street near his home. Police say he surrendered quietly.


LT. MIKE HAWLEY, ISLAND COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: I did an abrupt U- turn, hit my lights, pulled my gun, and myself and reserve deputy Eric Rombah (ph) took the individual into custody. He said nothing. He was just kind of zombie-like. That was the best way I can describe (INAUDIBLE). (END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Now so far authorities say they seen no evidence of a link to terrorism, but they say it's too early in the investigation to rule anything out.

BLACKWELL: We have new pictures and video of that deadly police shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Authorities released body cam and dash cam video showing officers' fatal encounter with Keith Scott. Investigators say, an officer shot Scott when he made a threatening move with a gun. Police have released these photos also of a gun and an ankle holster recovered at the scene. But Scott's family maintains that he did not have a gun that instead he had a book.

And the disturbing videos the department released do very little to answer some significant questions about the shooting. These are just snippets of longer recordings. Investigators release only two pieces of video, although there were several officers on the scene. Now the police chief says these videos are the most relevant, and more video will be released once the investigation is complete.

So let's now talk about this. I want to bring in Minister Corine Mack, the president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg's chapter -- the branch, rather, of the NAACP.

Minister Mack, good morning to you. And I want to start with your reaction to this bit of video. This is the first time we're talking since their release.

CORINE MACK, PRESIDENT, NAACP CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG BRANCH (on the phone): Good morning. I'm concerned that we're getting piecemeal videos that we haven't received all videos. So the first thing I want to say is that we still call for complete transparency, that we receive all videos. That's number one.

Number two, what I'm asking from CMPD (ph) is that they don't send us stills, which is their narrative of what happened. I believe that it's important that we see the video as everything plays out so that we can all see for ourselves the last moments of the stolen life of Mr. Scott.

BLACKWELL: Now with this --

MACK: It's so important.

BLACKWELL: With this video the department released a written statement. I want to read just a small portion of it for you, and there is a sentence here that says, "Due to the combination of illegal drugs and the gun Mr. Scott had in his possession, officers decided to take enforcement action for public safety concerns." The chief says that Scott had marijuana with him in the car, but I read that you said that it's irrelevant that he had a gun. Explain that for us.

MACK: At the end of the day that we all know that in North Carolina it's not against the law to own a gun. In fact, many citizens own a gun, blacks and whites alike. And so my concern is that the victim once again is being demonized.


We have to remember the reason the police officers said they were in the area. They were there to pick up someone on a warrant, someone who was not Mr. Scott, someone who did not look like Mr. Scott. And my understanding is there is a policy in which -- and protocol in which police officers have to act when they're on the job. I'd like to know who gave them the authority to now leave the initial reason they were there to now engage Mr. Scott, because it's interesting to me that someone seated in a car now is being engaged by police.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You're certainly --

MACK: He's (ph) simply (ph) seated in the car.

BLACKWELL: You're certainly not the only person with that question.

Quickly because we have to move on to the other story developing overnight. Are there protests -- are there rallies scheduled for this morning, this afternoon, later tonight?

MACK: There is a rally scheduled for 5:00. We're still working on where and why we're going to do the rally because everything has to be symbolic for us. We'll probably start in Marshall Park once again and march down towards Romare (ph) Park around...


MACK: ... the CMPD (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

BLACKWELL: All right. Around 5:00 today. Minister Corine Mack, thanks so much for being with us.

MACK: But can I also tell you that on Sunday at 6:30 at Marshall Park we have a rally as well? So we know -- (INAUDIBLE) will be doing that.

BLACKWELL: 5:00 and 6:30. All right. Thank you so much.

MACK: Sunday. Thank you. Have a good day.

PAUL: Thank you, madam.

We're going to have more to discuss on the presidential debate, who the candidates are planning to invite to the event with our political panel. A. Scott Bolden, Scottie Nell Hughes -- Gennifer Flowers really going to show up? We'll talk about it.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the moderator, NBC's Lester Holt set to moderate tomorrow's big event. Will be truth squad or will he be the truth squad for these candidates or just keep the clock? We'll ask the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."



PAUL: All right. New this morning on the eve of the first presidential debate airing right here on CNN at 9:00 p.m. a "Washington Post/ABC News" poll has the two candidates neck in neck. Hillary Clinton at 46 percent, Donald Trump at 44 percent.

Hillary Clinton hunkered down at a hotel preparing for the debate we understand. And last night Donald Trump was at a rally in Virginia. Right before the big debate on stage both candidates some say may be playing mind games perhaps.

Clinton inviting billionaire Mark Cuban to the debate offering him, as we understand it, a front row seat. Trump now retaliating by tweeting that he'll invite Gennifer Flowers. Yes, that Gennifer Flowers, the woman that Bill Clinton admitted to having a sexual encounter with decades ago. Flowers now telling "The New York Times" via text message -- quote -- "Yes, I will be there."

Here to talk about this debate and more, A. Scott Bolden, Hillary Clinton supporter and former chairman of the Washington D.C. Democratic Party, and Scottie Nell Hughes, CNN political commentator and a Donald Trump supporter. Good morning to you both.



PAUL: All right. Scottie, you know what I'm coming for, don't you? You know it. So here's --

BOLDEN: I want to go first. I want to go first.

PAUL: You want to go first?

Well, listen. No. I want to give...


PAUL: ... first here. Here's the thing. Donald Trump already has a problem with women voters. I believe, and in many of conversations I think you will agree with this, there are an awful lot of women and men who know what it's like to be cheated on. How is inviting Gennifer Flowers to this debate going to further his cause with women?

HUGHES: Well (INAUDIBLE) it is. This made for some great fodder yesterday, Christi, on social media but this was started by Hillary Clinton. This sort of (INAUDIBLE) seems like a cut scene from like "Mean Girls" rather than from someone -- thing that you would expect from a presidential candidate.

I think this was -- this was something that she began and it shows that she actually doesn't have very much confidence I think in her message. So she's going to play these types mind tricks in order to try to distract what's actually going to happen on the debate.

PAUL: But he reacted. But he reacted. And he reacted in a way that is -- many would say is much different than her putting -- putting Mark Cuban in the front row is one thing. Getting the woman who had a sexual encounter with your husband while you were married to him is a different level, is it no?

HUGHES: Well, but they're both -- but it's a mind game. It's a mind trick that she started. If she's going to play this game, remember, Mr. Trump is the ultimate trumper if you watched the primaries, if you watched the games that were played. You would always have something come back. But this just shows that this is why -- why is she playing this game? Does she not have enough respect for the American voters who want to actually a poll -- a debate of substance?


PAUL: But, Scottie, I can turn around and say why is he playing the game then?

HUGHES: Well, let me just say this. I think it's a joke. While I can see Mr. Trump did tweet that out, I think he actually has no intent of putting Gennifer Flowers.


HUGHES: I think he's pushing back on this. I think it just shows -- you know, because if he was, there are a whole plethora of people for a ghost (ph) from Hillary and Bill's past that he can put in the front row for the next three debates.

PAUL: Do you think it was just fodder? You don't think he's inviting her?

HUGHES: I -- every inclination I get from the campaign right now shows that this is just some form of -- this was just a joke and a push back to her initial mind game trick that she played.

PAUL: OK. OK. Now Hillary Clinton's camp, Scott, they have reacted. And I want to read those statements. They say, "Hillary Clinton plans on using the debate to discuss the issues that make a difference in people's lives. It's not -- it's not surprising that Donald Trump has chosen a different path."

Now to Scottie's point, did they not start with by inviting Mark Cuban to sit in the front row?

BOLDEN: Absolutely not. And, Christi, here's the biggest difference. The biggest difference is is that Mark Cuban tweeted that he was invited to the debate as a -- as a voter, as a citizen, and as a critic of Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton's campaign did not put it out that they were inviting him in order to antagonize Donald Trump.

Now listen, with Gennifer Flowers, I think he's dead serious. I think it's crass. I think it's tacky. I think it's classless.


But that's the mind of Donald Trump. And you see he's prepping you by attacking her personally already even before the debate. He's attacking the moderator.

He's prepping you for poor performance or loss in this debate because he knows he'll be on stage alone. And he's a very dangerous candidate when he's on stage alone without a teleprompter and without Kellyanne and her team on his right shoulder. So it is a problem.

PAUL: Scott -- Scott, now this is 90 minutes and two people which is very different obviously than any of the debates from Donald Trump thus far.


PAUL: But when we are hearing this back and forth just 30 some hours, 38 hours before this debate is going to take place, what does that tell you about the tone? Are we entering an era or an arena here with this debate where nothing is off limits?

Scottie, to you first.

BOLDEN: Well -- oh, I'm sorry.

HUGHES: And I (INAUDIBLE) on that, Scott, I'd give you that one. But there's a difference between having somebody there who's speaking for your campaign or putting them in the front row, which is what Mark Cuban is. It's totally a mind game that she started.

And I think when you look at the polls tightening as you start off the segment with, that you see that she's actually getting very desperate and trying to play some of the same path and some of the same games and some of the things that we've seen in this campaign season. And it's not going to work for her.

My best advice for Hillary Clinton, be Hillary Clinton. Don't try to be other people. Try to be yourself. And that has gotten you obviously the nomination so far but instead she's going to continue to play these kind of tricks. And it just shows how desperate that -- the whole campaign is.


PAUL: Scott, how dicey do you think this could be tomorrow not just -- I mean, a lot of people are wondering how much policy are we going to see. But once you get into personal attacks, we know that -- I read yesterday that, you know, a debate can't win an election for someone but it can certainly lose an election for someone.

BOLDEN: Exactly.

PAUL: Do you think there's a potential for this here?

BOLDEN: I think there's a huge potential with Donald Trump because he reverts to personal attacks. I don't think anything is off limit. I think Hillary Clinton is going to stick to policy. I think she's going to use Donald Trump's words and policies against him.

And to Donald Trump, that's a personal attack even though it's just an attack on his policy. He's going to be on stage alone. It's going to be 90 minutes. There will be two fact checkers on the stage against him. That's one -- Clinton, and then there's the moderator who are going to fact check and keep him honest and keep him close. He's not going to be able to run from that or hide from that and that's going to be a problem.

Watch him lash out because the mind of a narcissist goes back to what they know best, and with Donald Trump it's personal attacks, it's bullying tactics and he has got to remember that he has a female candidate on the other side with millions of female viewers and voters watching. It's going to be a problem.

This debate is going to be a risk and it could be a change point in this election, especially for Donald Trump in the negative.

PAUL: Scottie Nell Hughes, A. Scott Bolden, always appreciate having your voices in this conversation.

BOLDEN: Thank you.

HUGHES: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. So you heard what Scott said there about Donald Trump, that there's going to be a fact checker on the stage. Will it be Hillary Clinton or will it be the moderator, Lester Holt? Huge audience tomorrow. Expected to shatter records. What can we expect from that moderator, Brian?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's going to be one of the most important questions. There's only one man in the middle on that stage. I'll introduce you or reintroduce you to Lester Holt right after the break.



BLACKWELL: So we've got 38, 38 1/2 hours now until the big debate. And we're talking the television audience for this will be huge. The numbers -- we're talking Super Bowl numbers, academy award numbers. But consider this may really be the biggest event ever in the history of American politics.

Analysts expect between 80 to 100 million viewers tomorrow night. This, of course, is the first head to head showdown for this extraordinary, unprecedented in many ways, election season.

PAUL: Very good description. Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump it could get messy as we just heard from our guests. The man in the middle of it though has quite a job. Brian Stelter gives us a glimpse to debate moderator, Lester Holt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STELTER (voice-over): Right now Lester Holt has the best and worst job in TV. The best because he's gearing up to moderate the most anticipated presidential debate ever. But worst because he's under a microscope like never before in his career.

The anchor of "NBC Nightly News" knows 100 million people could be watching. Normally he reaches 8 million a night. So right now Holt is in study mode taking a few days off his NBC newscast.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Savannah Guthrie in for Lester.

STELTER: And dropping no hints about his debate strategy at Wednesday night's news Emmys.

LESTER HOLT, PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE MODERATOR: Good evening. Thank you. Thank you. Before we get to the next awards, I just want to -- shoot. These are my debate questions.


HOLT: Do you mind holding this for me?

STELTER: Meanwhile, everyone else is talking about Holt.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I think there is too much pressure on him.

STELTER: Donald Trump has been working the refs by complaining that other people are telling Holt to be too tough.

TRUMP: They're gaming the system. That's what they're doing and that's why they're doing it.

STELTER: At issue is NBC's recent "Commander-In-Chief Forum" when Holt's colleague Matt Lauer let Trump off the hook.

TRUMP: I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at "Esquire" magazine from '04. You can look at before that, and I was against the war in Iraq because I said it's going to totally destabilize the Middle East, which it has. And has absolutely been a disastrous war.

STELTER: There is no evidence Trump was against the invasion when it started but Lauer let it slide. And the hashtag LaueringTheBar was born. Thus raising the question of whether Holt will fact check in real time.

The debate commission wants the focus to be on the candidates, not the moderator. And that's what Holt wants, too. But Trump has been buzzing about Holt all week.

TRUMP: And by the way, Lester is a Democrat. It's a phony system. Lester's a Democrat. I mean, they're all Democrats, OK?

STELTER: Holt is actually a registered Republican. Some Clinton allies did not like the sound of that, but Clinton herself is not saying anything about it.


Instead she told Steve Harvey she's focusing on Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (on the phone): I am going to do my very best to communicate as clearly and fearlessly as I can in the face of the insults and the attacks and the bullying and bigotry that we've seen coming from my opponent.

STELTER: As for Holt and all of the pressure he's under, his wife says he's unwinding by playing the bass.

Yes, Holt is a news man by day. Band mate at night. He still is new in the weekday job. Remember he took over his anchor when Brian William had to step down amidst the scandal last year. But Holt has a 35 year reporting track record. He anchored "NBC Weekends" for over a decade and he is beloved inside "NBC News."

Now colleagues like Chuck Todd are helping him write questions and rehears. But once Holt takes the stage he'll be alone, the referee between two people vying for the world's top job.


STELTER: So what will Holt ask Clinton and ask Trump? We'll find out tomorrow night. Victor, Christi.

BLACKWELL: Looking forward to it. Brian Stelter, thanks so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: And of course, Brian is back at 11:00 with "RELIABLE SOURCES."

PAUL: And CNN will be all over tomorrow night's debate, by the way. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump head to head for the very first time. Live coverage begins at 9:00 Eastern.

It's also, by the way, his birthday tomorrow so wish him happy birthday.

BLACKWELL: It is. It is. What a gift. What a gift.


PAUL: What a gift. Yes. Thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: We have much more ahead on the next hour of your "NEW DAY" starts right after this short break.