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Trump: Women's Claims are 'Pure Fiction & Outright Lies'; Examining Michelle Obama's Election Event Appearance; Russian Official Says Victory for Clinton Equals War; Trump Accuser Speaks to CNN's Anderson Cooper. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 13, 2016 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, horrible liars. Donald Trump launches a furious counter-attack against the growing list of women who say he groped or kissed them against their will. Trump calls the claims outright lies, insisting they were cooked up by the Clinton campaign and the media.

[17:00:20] Hurtful and hateful. Michelle Obama denounces Trump, saying he's bragged about sexual assaulting women and calling his language and behavior below basic standards of human decency.

Out of reach? The latest polls show Clinton with growing leads in critical battleground states. Is there any way Trump can reach the necessary 270 electoral votes?

And Russian war warning. A chilling comment from a top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who says if Americans vote for Clinton, it could mean war.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news. Donald Trump fights desperately to save his presidential campaign, lashing out furiously against fresh claims from women who say he groped, grabbed or forcibly kissed them. Trump is calling the allegations pure fiction and outright lies. He claims they were orchestrated by the Clinton campaign and its alleged media allies, because he represents, in his words, "an existential threat to the political establishment."

Trump is threatening lawsuits, but the "New York Times" and "People" magazine, they are standing by their stories. There was an extraordinary answer to Trump today from Michelle Obama. Campaigning for Hillary Clinton, she ripped into Trump, calling his recent caught- on-tape comments shocking and below basic standards of human decency.

Her voice shaking at times, the first lady said it's unbelievable that a presidential candidate has, quote, "bragged about sexual assaulting women." She said Trump's remarks went beyond locker-room banter, saying he spoke openly and obscenely about sexually predatory behavior. And a powerful supporter of Russia's Vladimir Putin says that, if

Americans vote for Trump, they are voting for peace. But he warns ominously, if they vote for Clinton, quote, "It's war."

Our correspondents and analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.

Let's begin with Donald Trump, trying desperately right now to pull out of a tailspin after the latest round of allegations from women who say he attacked them.

Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, joining us. Jim, is this a last-ditch effort on his part to save his campaign?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's an us- versus-them moment. Donald Trump today basically accused the media of being in a grand conspiracy with the Clinton campaign to bring down his presidential bid, and he is pushing back hard on allegations that he abused women.


ACOSTA (voice-over): With a massive crowd of supporters cheering him on, Donald Trump blasted away at allegations that he has sexual assaulted women as lies, told by a dishonest news media.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false.

ACOSTA: The fiery speech was in response to a "New York Times" story featuring two women who say Trump made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including Jessica Leeds who claims he groped her back in the '70s.

JESSICA LEEDS, TRUMP ACCUSER: He was like an octopus. It was like he had six arms. He was all over the place.

But if he had stuck with the upper part of the body, I might not have gotten -- I might not have gotten that upset. It's when he started putting his hand up my skirt.

ACOSTA: That account prompted Trump attorneys to demand a retraction or else, saying, "Failure to do so will leave my client with no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies," a threat Trump made clear at a rally in Florida.

TRUMP: The story was a fraud and a big embarrassment to the "New York Times." It will be part of the lawsuit we are preparing against them.

ACOSTA: The women say they came forward after Trump denied he ever groped anyone at Sunday's debate, despite the fact he once bragged he had done just that in a hot-mike moment caught on video.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Have you ever done those things?

TRUMP: Women have respect for me. And I will tell you, no, I have not.

COOPER: Trump is also denying a story in "People" magazine filed by a reporter who says the New York businessman once forced himself on her, writing, "I turned around, and within seconds, he was forcing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat."

Trump lashed out as his accusers.

TRUMP: Take a look. You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don't think so.

These people are horrible people. They're horrible, horrible liars.

ACOSTA: Trump insisted their accounts are all part of a media conspiracy to destroy him weeks before the election.

TRUMP: And their agenda is to elect Crooked Hillary Clinton, at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy. They will attack you. They will slander you. They will seek to destroy your career and your family.

[17:05:16] ACOSTA: Ever since the "Access Hollywood" video surfaced of Trump making lewd comments about women...

TRUMP: I'm automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.


TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

ACOSTA: Allegations of more improper conduct have been building following his every step.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, can you deny -- did you ever touch her or kiss her?

ACOSTA: One woman, who was the subject of Trump's hot-mike comments, says it's a teachable moment.

ARIANNE ZUCKER, ACTRESS, "DAYS OF OUR LIVES": I want to teach my daughter that, if she ever gets put in a situation like Mommy is right now, that she will hold her head high, as well.

ACOSTA: But many of Trump's supporters aren't buying any of it. After a speech in Florida, they lashed out at the press, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not going to believe you anymore. We're mad. Yes. We want our country back. We want you to stop lying.


ACOSTA: Now, Donald Trump said today he wants to stick to the issues in the final weeks of this campaign, Wolf, but I talked to a Trump campaign official earlier today who said they plan to respond to these latest allegations by having more Bill Clinton accusers come forward.

And just to give you a sense as to what we're dealing with at these rallies, Wolf, one Donald Trump supporters left this sign on a press table in the press pen. It shows a swastika and the word "media." It is shaping up to just be a race to the bottom in the final weeks of this campaign, Wolf.

And it is, at times, just getting downright scary. The people who are surrounding our press pen at the end of these rallies are really yelling some things at us that they would not want caught in a hot- mike moment, Wolf. It's pretty bad stuff.

BLITZER: Jim, getting back to that one sentence he said, you look at her. Referring to the "People" magazine reporter who says she felt sexually assaulted, if you will, by Donald Trump. "You look at her." It's getting a lot of buzz out there because it suggests that maybe, if you look at her, she might not be, in his words, attractive enough for him to make such a move. What's been the reaction from the Trump campaign to that?

ACOSTA: Well, Wolf, basically, they're saying that all of these allegations that have surfaced in the last 24 hours are false, that they are fiction. And that really flies in the face of what Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, has said herself, that the allegations, the accusations, the stories of women who are alleging sexual assault and abuse should be believed. They say that should be the standard applied to former President Bill Clinton, but they are not applying that same standard to themselves or to their candidate at this point.

But, Wolf, it is a blanket denial coming from the candidate about all of these allegations at this point, and there's just no sense inside the campaign that they're changing that whatsoever -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta reporting for us from Florida. Thanks very much.

The first lady, Michelle Obama, did most of the talking for the Clinton campaign today, with a fiery and passionate rebuke of Donald Trump. Let's turn to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. This was an extraordinary address by the first lady, Sunlen.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly was, Wolf. And you could see very clearly that Michelle Obama wanted this to be a very personal speech, talking about her personal pain and her personal anger that she felt in hearing these allegations against Donald Trump.

In fact, she basically admitted that she threw out her normal campaign speech, because all this had disturbed her so much, and challenged all voters from both sides to confront this head on.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to tell you that I -- I can't stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted. SERFATY (voice-over): Michelle Obama giving a personal and emotional

indictment of Donald Trump, rebuking the GOP nominee for his comments, bragging about sexual assault.

OBAMA; It's not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season. Because this was not just a lewd conversation. This wasn't just locker-room banter. This was a powerful individual, speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior and actually bragging about kissing and groping women.

SERFATY: The first lady, dismayed by the latest allegations of sexual assault against Trump.

OBAMA: To make matters worse, it now seems very clear that this isn't an isolated incident. It's one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life.

SERFATY: Hillary Clinton echoing the first lady's comments today.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I hope you will see Michelle Obama's speech today in New Hampshire. Once again, she not only made a compelling and strong case about the stakes in the election, but about who we are as Americans. And we cannot let this pessimism, this dark and divisive and dangerous vision of America, take hold in anybody's heart.

SERFATY: Twenty-six days out...

CLINTON: When they go low, we go high!

SERFATY: ... the Clinton campaign's path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House is looking more favorable. A trio of new polls show Clinton pulling ahead in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, narrowing Trump's potential route to the White House.

And sources tell CNN the Trump campaign is now pulling out resources from Virginia, essentially conceding the battleground state to Clinton.

But the Clinton campaign is still facing headwinds of its own, having to fend off from the daily drip from the hacked e-mails released by WikiLeaks.

New revelations in today's batch show a snapshot of team Clinton deliberating over each word and sentence Clinton would use in making her first public statement about the existence of her private e-mail server. Quote, "It seems like a strained attempt to make her seem relatable," Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon e-mails in August of 2015 about Clinton's planned statement.

Another e-mail from John Podesta one month later discusses their approach to Clinton apologizing: quote, "She can say she is sorry without apologizing to the American people. Tell her to say it and move on. Why get hung on this?"


SERFATY: And certainly not a shock but speaks to authenticity. The hacked e-mails also show long discussions within the Clinton campaign staff over Hillary Clinton's signed tweets, which are supposed to signify that she crafted them and typed them out herself. In at least one instance, the signed "H" at the end of the tweet did not mean that Hillary Clinton was actually responsible for that tweet.

BLITZER: Sunlen, stay with us. We're standing by to hear from Donald Trump. He's going to be speaking at Columbus, Ohio. You see Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, warming up the crowd there. We'll monitor that. We'll wait for Donald Trump. Also I'll speak with a top Trump advisor. That's coming up this hour.

In the meantime, let's get some analysis from our political experts.

David Chalian, your our political director. Trump said he hit back at these latest allegations of sexual assault by the women, calling these reports pure fiction and outright lies. What's your take to his response?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, my take is that that's not going to end this story for him. I mean, that -- and I doubt he thinks just calling it an outright lie or pure fiction is going to be the end of this.

In fact, he did tell us that he is going to prove that these are outright lies soon, very soon, I think he said. So I think it is going to require for him, to really put this to bed, some irrefutable evidence to push back as we're in this "he said, she said" contest.

Politically, I'm not sure that's the wisest thing. I don't know that Donald Trump wants to spend the next 26 days going through allegation by allegation, but I don't think a blanket denial is going to put it to bed.

BLITZER: He says, at the appropriate time, presumably soon, in his words, Mark Preston -- he is also threatening to sue the "New York Times" for the story they reported last night. He also says he is ready to show, as we say, the proof that he has. Is he ready to really show some of that proof?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, a couple things. One, logistically, I don't know how he does that. We're talking about allegations coming from all across the country, from multiple people, from different varied backgrounds, different points in time. You would have to go through each one and try to dispute what those assertions were.

Also, we've heard this before from Donald Trump. He said, "I'm going to show you the proof. I'm going to show you the proof that Barack Obama was not born in the United States." We never saw that proof.

We saw Donald Trump say, "I'm going to show you my taxes," which I know it's not the same equivalency of this. But we never saw it. Logistically, Wolf, I don't know how you do it. To David's point, we're not talking about policy. We saw Rudy

Giuliani trying to talk about policy right there. We're talking about Donald Trump in an absolute freefall right now.

You know, we also have heard him say that he grabs women and kisses them without their consent, as well. And that's exactly what some of these women are saying that he did. So that doesn't really lend a lot of credence to his case at all.

BLITZER: Listen to what he also said. These remarks are causing a lot of concern. I want to play them for our viewers.


TRUMP: Take a look. You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don't think so! I don't think so.


BLITZER: You think he was suggesting she wasn't attractive enough for him to make some sort of sexual move with her, the magazine -- the "People" magazine reporter?

KUCINICH: It certainly sounded like that. Why say that? That's what's so bizarre about that speech. He went through each -- he repeated all of the -- most of the allegations, and then went to refute them one by one. And then he seemed to make a personal remark about this -- about this reporter. Why do that? It just makes him -- it makes him...

PRESTON: Makes him look small.

KUCINICH: Exactly.

SERFATY: And it gives a lot of ammunition, potentially, to the Clinton campaign, and certainly there's already a lot of outrage over these three words, "Look at her."

And it wasn't necessarily just those words. But to me it was also the tone. He was kind of taking a poll in front of his audience. Kind of stepped back to the podium: "Look at her. Do you think I would do that?" That entered into the locker-room territory that we've all been discussing recently.

[17:15:13] BLITZER: But does he really think, Sunlen, that by blaming these women, victims, if you will, that's going to help his campaign?

SERFATY: I don't think that's a winning strategy for him. I don't think that's how you answer these accusations by, you know, essentially taking a shot at the accuser. I think that's something, a pattern we've seen Donald Trump follow in the past. And I don't think that this is doing him any favors right now.

BLITZER: That speech today earlier in Florida, in West Palm Beach. It was, what, almost 40 minutes, if not longer. And about 30 minutes was designed -- rebutting these accusations; spoke a little bit about some other stuff.

CHALIAN: Unbelievable. At first, when I was first listening to the speech, I thought, here he is really trying to take on the outsider message again, that everybody's against him and that he really wants to shake up the system, which I think is a message that works for Donald Trump quite well.

And then veered into this case by case, allegation by allegation, you know -- that is the clearest sign that he is in a tailspin right now, because he has no answer. And he just, again -- we've seen this time and again -- Donald Trump cannot handle a slight. This isn't a slight. This is a pretty serious accusation of sexual assault, but he can't handle any kind of attack without trying to deal with it one on one. It's what we saw with Alicia Machado and those 3 a.m. tweets.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by. Anderson Cooper just spoke with one of those women who's accusing Donald Trump of this sexual abuse. Anderson is standing by. We're going to talk to him, play some of that interview. We'll be right back.


[17:21:07] BLITZER: Breaking news. My colleague, Anderson Cooper, has just spoken exclusively with one of the women who came forward with new accusations of sexual aggression by Donald Trump. Anderson is joining us now.

Anderson, tell us more. How about that interview go?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Jessica Leeds is her name. She was the woman interviewed by "The New York Times" and appeared on the front page of "The New York Times" today. That story broke last night.

She says it was the moment in the debate where I asked Donald Trump whether or not he had actually done what he had talked about doing to women on that bus 11 years ago and that, she says, when Donald Trump denied ever having done anything like that, that is the moment that Jessica Leeds decided to tell her story publicly.

Here's some of what she said happened on a plane she says she rode on with Donald Trump back in, she believes, 1979.


LEEDS: Why doesn't he say something. I mean...

COOPER: Could other people see?

LEEDS: The guy in the seat across the aisle could see. And I kept thinking, well, maybe the stewardess is going to come, and he'll stop. But she never came.

COOPER: Do you know how long that went on for?

LEEDS: Not real long. No. No. I would say it was just about, what, 15 minutes? That's long enough.

COOPER: That's a long time.


COOPER: Did he actually kiss you?

LEEDS: Yes. Yes.

COOPER: On the -- the face or on the lips?

LEEDS: Wherever he could find a landing spot, yes.


COOPER: She later went on to say she wasn't sure if it was 15 minutes, but it certainly felt like 15 minutes.

She also said that it's when Donald Trump, in her words, put his hand up her skirt. That is when she stood up and grabbed her bag and went back into coach and sat all the way in the back of the plane.

She also says, Wolf, about two years later at an event, a party at Saks Fifth Avenue, ran into Donald Trump again, that he actually recognized her. She would not say the words that Donald Trump used to her, but she said that Donald Trump said something to the effect of, "You're the blank from the plane." She wouldn't say what derogatory term Donald Trump actually used. She didn't want to, in her words, add more fuel to this fire, but that was the last time she had an encounter with Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Did she tell you, Anderson, why she decided now to come forward and tell this story?

COOPER: You know, she said that over the last year and a half, she has told friends, neighbors, people, her family, her kids, her grown kids, once Donald Trump actually started running for president. But at the time did not tell anybody. She said, look, this was 1979, she believes. She was the only woman working in her company, working on the road, she said. It was a job she wanted. She didn't want to make waves. And, she said, it was a different time. And this is what a lot of women, she said, at that time had to put up with.

But she said, really, it was the debate Sunday night. First it was the tape on Friday that angered her, but it was the debate on Sunday night when Donald Trump publicly denied ever having kissed a woman without consent or groped a woman without consent, that that is the moment she decided to do something. She said she couldn't sleep all of Sunday night, and she finally decided Monday morning to write a letter to the editor of the "New York Times."

BLITZER: Did she see Trump's speech today in Florida in West Palm Beach, Anderson? Because he said these accusations by these women, including this woman, vicious claims, are totally false, fabricated, outright lies. She said -- they said -- he said they're false, smears, and they will be part of a lawsuit that he's going to file against -- at least the "New York Times" and "People" magazine. Did you interview her after that speech? Did she see what he had to say?

COOPER: I read her the comments that Donald Trump made. I believe her response to that was, "Well, good luck to him."

And also, I read him -- read her comments that he made about the "People" magazine writer who's also come forward. She thought it was particularly telling that Donald Trump often, in her opinion, talks about women by the way they look. She feels that is very telling. She thought that was reflected in some of the comments that he made about a "People" magazine writer.

BLITZER: Yes. He says take a look at this "People" magazine journalist, as if she wasn't attractive enough. That's the commotion that was generated by all of this today. Go ahead.

BLITZER: Yes, in fact, Jessica Leeds, the reason she actually wanted to show old photos of herself was because she said she knew, when she came forward, that Donald Trump, or people from the campaign, would look at her, a lady -- very distinguished lady in her 70s, and discount her because of the way she appears now.

So she felt it was important to show some photos of her from back in that time to provide to counteract what she was concerned that Donald Trump or people from the campaign would essentially be saying, commenting on her looks.

BLITZER: Did she have a message for Trump?

COOPER: You know, it was interesting. I asked her if there was anything she would want to say directly to Donald Trump. And she said she didn't think it was worth saying anything to him, because he wouldn't really listen. Those were -- in her opinion.

BLITZER: Anderson, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, an important note. You can see the full interview with Jessica Leeds later tonight, "A.C. 360." Tune in, 8 p.m. Eastern exclusively right here on CNN.

Joining us is Trump campaign senior advisor, the former U.S. Congressman Jack Kingston.

Congressman, I need your reaction to all this and a lot more. We've got to take a quick break. We'll resume this conversation in just a moment.


TRUMP: ... on the front page today.

BLITZER: All right. Donald Trump speaking now about these latest sexual accusations against him. He's in Columbus, Ohio. We'll listen.

TRUMP: Because the paper is going out of business. It's only a question of when. But it's the failing "New York Times." And they're inventing false claims without any evidence. No witnesses, no nothing. An act that's supposedly years and years ago. I never met these people. I don't even know who they are. They're made-up stories, filed right before the election. Right before the election. I wonder if that had anything to do with this, right? It's a disgrace. I really mean, it's a disgrace.

I want to talk about policies affecting our lives, but I did want to mention that we did spend some time talking about that today. It just came out. The sad part is we don't talk about WikiLeaks, because it's incredible. But WikiLeaks just came out with a lot of new ones. And it would be wonderful if these very dishonest people back there would talk about it. It would be wonderful. It would be wonderful.

They don't want to talk about it, because they want her in there because they perpetuate -- but these are very -- not all. But a big, big percentage. Very dishonest people.

In fact, the reason I was late to the podium was because they weren't ready. We waited for them. I said, "Let's go up without them. Who cares?" But -- but my people said, no, we should wait till the press is ready. I am sorry to keep you waiting, but it's their fault, not mine. Right now...

BLITZER: We're going to continue to monitor Donald Trump in Columbus, Ohio. We heard what he had to say earlier in the day. We'll continue to watch what he's saying now.

But in the meantime, I want to bring in a Trump campaign senior advisor, the former U.S. congressman, Jack Kingston.


BLITZER: Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

KINGSTON: Thank you.

BLITZER: So in light of everything we have heard over these past couple of days, do you still support Donald Trump for president?


BLITZER: And the main reason is?

KINGSTON: We need to have change in America. Now, let me say this, Wolf. Certainly, I -- and I know Donald Trump and every Republican and Democrat alike treat or regard sexual harassment or sexual misconduct very, very, very seriously.

And if you look at Donald Trump's track record of somebody whose -- 43 percent of his employees are female, yet the majority of his managers are also female, and you have people like Louise Sunshine, who was his former executive vice president, and Jill Martin, who's one of his attorneys, and others who have stepped forward and said, you know I worked for this man for many, many years and not only did he behave well, but he also promoted me and looked after the rights of other females. BLITZER: But Congressman, are you saying that these accusations by

these women who have now come forward, and we just heard one of them, are you saying that these are simply fiction or fabrication?

KINGSTON: You know, Wolf, I've been involved with sexual harassment cases as an employer, and I don't think you can ever dismiss one of them with a, oh, that's just fiction. I do believe, though, you have to listen to what Donald Trump said in very, very sobering terms just a minute ago, that he seems to be taking this very seriously. But at the same time he is saying this is not true.

You know, I think that the campaign is in a difficult position on this because, you know, if these cases were to be true, then they're certainly legal matters. And to litigate them you know 25 days outside of an election is very difficult, at best.

You know, I am saddened. And I know, you know, the cases I've been involved with, the women brought them to my attention immediately. But I also know that, in many cases, it may take years for women to come -- to step forward. So that's why this stuff is very, very difficult.

But again, looking at the track record of Donald Trump with women employees -- and there is a great article about it November 24th, 2015, in the "Washington Post" and the "Washington Post" and the "New York Times" have probably been the most active critics of Donald Trump and everything he stands for, frankly, yet -- yet they had great things to say about him, again, November 24th, 2015.

BLITZER: I want to --

KINGSTON: And I'm very specific about that because people could read it.

BLITZER: Right. I want you to listen to some of the accounts that these women are telling us and other news media. And I want to get your reaction on the other end because these are the back and forth. Listen.


JESSICA LEEDS: It was a real shock when all of a sudden his hands were all over me. If he had stuck with the upper part of the body, I might not have gotten -- I might not have gotten that upset. But it's when he started putting his hand up my skirt, and that was it.

VOICE OF DONALD TRUMP, (D) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the [ bleep ]. You can do anything.

TASHA DIXON, FORMER MISS ARIZONA: All 50 contestants are in one room. It was announced Donald Trump was going to come in. And before you could put a robe or kind of dress yourself, he walked in, and you know, some women were half naked. Others were in the process of changing.

VOICE OF TRUMP: I'll go back stage before a show. And everyone's getting dressed and ready and everything else and I'm allowed to go in because I am the owner of the pageant, and therefore I'm inspecting it. They're standing there with no clothes. Is everybody okay? And you see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that.

DIXON: I'm telling you Donald Trump owned the pageant for the reason to utilize his power to get you know, around beautiful women.


BLITZER: Alright, so here's the question Congressman; he's describing almost exactly the behavior these women have been reporting. So how can you doubt these women's accounts when Trump himself provides almost exactly the same descriptions?

KINGSTON: Well, Wolf, as you know, this is a legal question and a very, very emotionally charged question in which there, you know, are going to be different stories and different reports. I was vicariously involved with the Duke Lacrosse scandal in which every single member of the lacrosse team was found guilty, almost within a week of the incident, even when evidence reported, you know, reported evidence and accepted evidence pointed against them being guilty. And yet it took over a year to unravel the mess and every single one of them was innocent.

And the point that I'm saying is this in sexual harassment cases it is very difficult. And now, you know, unfortunately, the timing of these accusations is right on the eve of an election.

BLITZER: But Congressman, when you are suggesting these -- maybe he said, she said -- these are allegations that he actually himself spoke about.

KINGSTON: Well, I will say this. I think that that bus conversation was, as repulsive as it might be, it was still in the context and the shadow of the Hollywood culture where there is this kind of bravado that's almost encouraged for show business. Not anything that you and I and most Americans stand for or like. It was 11 years ago. That is not the Donald Trump I know. He has shown remorse. He has apologized. But I've gotten to know Donald Trump and his family, and I can tell you, Wolf, that's not the Donald Trump of today.


BLITZER: But do you believe -- do you believe he committed these acts?

KINGSTON: I believe that he did not commit these acts. I do believe that there was things that went on and there are things that --

BLITZER: So tell us why you don't believe it. Do you think these women -- that these were all consensual exchanges?

KINGSTON: Well, I guess because I do know Donald Trump and I don't know these women, and, again, taking it very, very seriously, in the context of, you know, 25 days out from a huge election, when there has been a -- BLITZER: So, I guess the question is, Congressman, how long have you known Donald Trump? Have you known him for 30 years?

KINGSTON: No, I have not. Now a lot of the people, for example, Kellyanne Conway I have known for almost 30 years. Maybe more like 20. And these are people who take all this stuff very seriously. You know we're not --

BLITZER: And how long have you personally known Trump?

KINGSTON: Less than a year.

BLITZER: And you've had a lot of exchanges with him? Based on the exchange you've had with him over the years you believe him as opposed to the accusers?

KINGSTON: Well, I don't know the accusers at all Wolf. But let me say this; Mike Pence said you can't fake good kids. And I have seen the kids and I have seen him as a dad interacting. And this is a guy who I think is a decent human being. I do agree many things that he probably said and did 11 years ago are not things any of us want to embrace. But I do believe he's a different man today.

BLITZER: So do you think 11 years ago he committed these acts?

KINGSTON: I don't -- I don't think he did. But I'll say this, that, you know, it's not the Donald Trump that I know today. And, again, as an employer, having dealt with a couple of these cases myself, it's very difficult, in the cases I've been involved with, the women were so upset, they immediately talked about it. But, I also want to be quick to say there are cases where women don't say anything immediately, and those are still legitimate cases. It might be --

BLITZER: All right.

KINGSTON: -- a little question that, you know --

BLITZER: I guess the question is your reputation is obviously, also, Congressman, on the line. So, I guess the bottom-line question is, can you vouch for his character 10, 15, 20 years ago since you've only really known him for a year?

KINGSTON: No. But let me say -- let me say this, Wolf. That I have been with him enough to believe that he is a serious, kind human being. And he has this persona out in public that does not represent the private Donald Trump that I've have known and seen interacting with his employees and with his kids.

And, if he had a track record of sexual abuse, I believe we would have known about it well through the primary season. Because I can tell you 16 other Republican candidates would have loved to have known this information. If it is true.

But, you know, here we are on the eve of something, and I would say, you know, this is a very -- these are very serious accusations. People take them seriously. But, at the same time, if you look at what's been going on with this election, it's very difficult to say, well, let's embrace, this, at this point. You've got to get to the bottom of it.

BLITZER: So, I guess -- I guess the question is this. Donald Trump, just over the past few days, has been urging people to believe Bill Clinton's accusers, so why should people believe those women, stuff that may have happened, may not have happened, 20, 30 years ago, but not the women who are making accusations about Donald Trump?

KINGSTON: You know, I think that, if you measure all these women with the same yardstick, it might be that the best interests of republicans and democrats alike, all throughout the land, and just say, OK, what really went on between Bill Clinton and his accusers, what went on with Donald Trump and his accusers. You know, unfortunately Hillary was involved with devaluing the testimony of those women at the time. She played an active role in suppressing --

BLITZER: She did say -- she did say some negative things about Jennifer Flowers. But the other women, whatever she said, was in private. She wasn't publically going against them. She also said something negative about Monica Lewinsky but it wasn't like a whole bunch of stuff that she was saying.

KINGSTON: Well, she didn't go out publicly campaigning against them. She did it through proxies. And she was in the war room. And I use that term very accurately. She was in the war room with as you remember it was the Clinton term "bimbo eruptions" which I think is extremely offensive and derogatory, by the way. But, you know that was part of the operation that Hillary was very on-hands about.

So, you know Wolf, nobody likes this stuff at all; republicans or democrats. You know, again, I take these women very seriously --

BLITZER: By the way, Congressman, I agree with you. Nobody likes this stuff. But as I pointed out earlier, of the 40-minute speech that he delivered today, Donald Trump, about 30 minutes was devoted to this particular subject. He himself is raising it. He himself is the one who brought the Bill Clinton accusers to the debate the other night.

So it's obviously going to be a story as long as he keeps pushing it forward. Unfortunately, Congressman, we're out of time. But we will continue, obviously, these conversations down the road.

KINGSTON: Thanks, Wolf.



CHALIAN: ... the most effective surrogate for Hillary Clinton this year.

BLITZER: And she's going -- she's obviously a powerful voice out there. And even when Hillary Clinton is not on the campaign trail like today she's doing some fundraising, she's got these surrogates if you will that really help her.

PRESTON: Yes, no doubt. I mean look when Michelle Obama goes out there to speak -- she doesn't speak often, but when she speaks, she speaks very powerfully to David's point. And I think when she speaks she doesn't speak in political terms, she speaks in terms of being a woman and being a mother and being a wife. And quite frankly, just being a citizen of the United States. I think that that's what makes her so powerful and why she's such a good surrogate for Hillary Clinton.

At the same time we have the likes of Jack Kingston who has to come on and try to defend the indefensible at times when we're, trying to figure out whether it's true or not. To come out and blatantly say that he doesn't believe that it's true I think is very difficult for a lot of people.

BLITZER: He says he believes Donald Trump even though he's only known him for a year so he can't vouch for his character of 30 years. Some of these allegations go back at least that length.

All right guys, stay with us, don't go too far away. We're also following the breaking news fallout from the latest sexual assault accusations against Donald Trump and his angry denials. We're standing by for Trump's next campaign rally. Stand by for that as well.

And up next, a chilling comment from an ally of Vladimir Putin who says if Americans vote for Clinton, it's war.





BLITZER: We continue following the fallout from the latest accusations of sexual assault by Donald Trump. Trump is campaigning right now in Columbus, Ohio. He just wrapped up a speech at a rally. Later tonight he's in Cincinnati.


BLITZER: Also in the news, a stunning and chilling comment from a top ally of the Russian President Vladimir Putin who says that if Americans vote for Hillary Clinton, it could mean war.

Brian Todd has been looking into this. Brian what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have learned that tonight, at least publicly, the Kremlin is distancing themselves from this man's comments. But we're also told the man in question, lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky fills an important role for Vladimir Putin and Putin's inner circle.

It seems that tonight Zhirinovsky has again done Putin's bidding, taking the vitriol against Hillary Clinton to a level where Putin can't quite go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TODD: One of Vladimir Putin's most powerful supporters, a man who just won big in a parliamentary election in Russia, makes a menacing prediction. Vladimir Zhirinovsky an ultranationalist firebrand who now leads Russia's third biggest party, warns Americans about their votes.

VLADIMIR ZHIRINOVSKY, RUSIAN LAWMAKER: (Translator): They're voting for peace on planet earth if they vote for Trump. But, if they vote for Hillary, it's war.

TODD: Zhirinovsky says Hillary Clinton "craves power, that she would create panic if elected." Then he goes even further.

ZHIRINOVSKY: (As translated) If Hillary Clinton wins, it will be, the last U.S. President ever.

TODD: The Kremlin scrambled to distance himself from Zhirinovsky, a foreign ministry spokeswomen telling CNN that was just his personal opinion. But analysts say Zhirinovsky is helping Putin.

PROF. JAMES GOLDGEIER, DEAN, AMERICAN UNIV, SCHOOL OF INTL. SERVICE: President Putin has stoked nationalism in Russia in recent years in order to shore up political support. And so it's useful for him when he has these types of ultranationalist characters Like Zhirinovsky making these kinds of remarks.

TODD: Meanwhile tonight Putin and his inner circle are pushing back against the latest allegations that their hackers are trying to sabotage America's vote.

CNN has learned investigators believe a cyber-attack, which exposed voter data in Florida was the work of the Russians.

The Obama administration has just publicly named and shamed Putin's government for hacks of the Democratic Party, accusing the Kremlin of trying to destabilize America's political system. Putin says the U.S. is trying to deflect from the damaging content of the stolen e-mails.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: (Translated) They started this hysteria saying that this hacking is in Russia's interests. This has nothing to do with Russia's interests.

TODD: Analysts say if there's anything to what U.S. officials accuse Putin of doing, this is unprecedented.

GOLDGEIER: It's extraordinary for a foreign leader to go to these lengths to interfere in an American election. And, you know, I think it -- partly it shows how bad the relationship is between the United States and Russia at this point.

TODD: Experts say if his hackers are meddling in America's election, it's a cold calculation by Putin.

FIONA HILL, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: What he wants to show is that whoever it is that becomes the American President after November 8th is as flawed as the next person.


TODD: Analysts say Putin is also trying to deflect world attention away from political corruption in his own country by trying to portray the American system as being just as bad. And he's trying to hit back for what he believes was America's interference in his last election four years ago. An accusation U.S. officials has denied. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian, you're again hearing how Vladimir Putin very likely without benefit from Donald Trump getting elected President of the United States. What are you hearing?

TODD: It's a growing chorus Wolf. Every analyst we speak to says Vladimir Putin first and foremost he really personally dislikes Hillary Clinton. But they say he also feels he can manipulate Donald Trump.

One expert telling us today Putin as a former KGB Agent watching Trump's behavior, how he's throwing public temper tantrums and is so undisciplined, Putin is salivating at the thought how he could manipulate Donald Trump.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you. Brian Todd reporting for us.


BLITZER: Coming up, Donald Trump launches a desperate counterattack against the growing list of women who say he groped or kissed them against his will.


TRUMP: These people are horrible people. They're horrible, horrible liars.



BLITZER: Happening now. Breaking news. State of denial.


BLITZER: Donald Trump reacts to a wave of new sexual assault allegations, calling them "pure fiction and outright lies." He verbally attacks his accusers and threatens lawsuits as his poll numbers fall and his campaign reels. Can Trump pull it out -- pull out of this downward spiral?

This is not normal. Michelle Obama expresses disgust at Trump's recorded boasts of groping women. The First Lady uses words like disgraceful and intolerable and beneath human decency, her voice shaking at times. How will Trump respond?