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Trump Slams 'Rigged System, Phony Allegations'; Obama to Trump: 'Stop Whining'; Trump Says He'd Meet with Putin Before Inauguration if Elected. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 18, 2016 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, corroborating witnesses. "People" magazine takes Donald Trump's dare, identifying six people who back up a former writer's story about being assaulted by Trump. And now Trump's daughter, Ivanka, has harsh words for her father's comments on that 2005 video.

Will allegations about Trump's behavior derail any comeback?

Stop whining! President Obama blasts Trump, calling his claims of a rigged election unprecedented and irresponsible. But Trump isn't backing down.

Not-so-short list. WikiLeaks reveals the inner workings of the Clinton campaign, including a list of vice-presidential prospects that was longer than we knew. Generals, CEOs from Apple and Starbucks. And even Senator Bernie Sanders. Are the constant revelations just a distraction or a real threat to Clinton's campaign?

And pandering to Putin? Donald Trump says, if he's elected president, he might meet with Russia's Vladimir Putin before the inauguration, causing President Obama to blast what he calls Trump's flattery of Russia's leader.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

We're following breaking news. Barnstorming in Colorado this afternoon, Donald Trump complained he's under constant attack over what he calls phony allegations of sexual misconduct. Trump, Trump's wife and daughter are backing up his denials. But "People" magazine just named six witnesses who corroborate a former writer's claim that Trump attacked her during an interview. We're standing by for another Trump rally.

At the White House this afternoon, President Obama said there are no facts to back up Trump's claims that the election is rigged. The president scornfully told the Republican nominee to, quote, "stop whining." The president also accused Trump of flattering Russia's Vladimir Putin. And in a new interview, Trump complains the president and Hillary Clinton constantly insult Putin. Trump says, if he wins the election, he might meet with the Russian leader before taking office. I'll be speaking with Trump's special counsel, Michael Cohen. And our

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

Let's start with our national correspondent, Jason Carroll, who's waiting at Donald Trump's next campaign stop in Colorado. Jason, Trump isn't backing away at all from the claim that this election is rigged.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not backing off at all. In fact, Wolf, despite members of his own party who have come forward to say it's not the case, Trump keeps pushing this unfounded claim. He did it at his last stop; expected to do it again when he takes the stage just a few minutes from now.


CARROLL (voice-over): Donald Trump is escalating his talk that the election is being rigged against him.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is an election about truth. And you're not going to get it from the dishonest media.

CARROLL: The GOP nominee is blaming the media for playing a role in the rigging process by reporting on sexual misconduct allegations against the GOP nominee, which he continues to assert are all false.

TRUMP: They have rigged it from the beginning, by telling totally false stories, most recently about phony allegations where I have been under constant attack.

CARROLL: In the case of one of Trump's accusers, "People" magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff, six people are corroborating to the magazine her account of being attacked by Trump in 2005 while covering Trump and his wife Melania. One of Stoynoff's friends, a former journalism teacher, says she called him soon after the alleged incident.

PROF. PAUL MCLAUGHLIN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: And she was distraught. Crying and angry and very confused.

CARROLL: For her part, Melania Trump is defending her husband amid the controversy, telling CNN's Anderson Cooper that former "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush encouraged Trump to make his sexually aggressive comments, caught on a hot Mike in 2005.

MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: They were kind of boy talk. And he was lead on, like egg on, from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You feel the host, Billy Bush, was sort of egging him on?

M. TRUMP: Yes. Yes.

CARROLL: All as Donald Trump digs in his heels, charging, without evidence, that there is a conspiracy to undermine the electoral process by allowing dead people and undocumented immigrants to cast ballots.

D. TRUMP: People that have died ten years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting. I mean, where are the street smarts of some of these politicians? They don't have any, is right. So many cities are corrupt, and voter fraud is very, very common.

CARROLL: Some of Trump's fellow Republicans are strongly rebuking his unfounded claims, including former primary opponent Marco Rubio.

[17:05:07] SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: There's no evidence behind any of this. And so this should not continue to be said.

CARROLL: As the campaign enters its final weeks, Trump looking to go back on offense against Hillary Clinton by seizing on her latest e- mail controversy after newly-released documents by the FBI raised questions as to whether a State Department official sought to have the bureau declassify the contents of an e-mail from Clinton's private server.

D. TRUMP: This is worse than Watergate.

CARROLL: While he takes aim at Clinton, Trump is still feuding with House Speaker Paul Ryan, suggesting the top Republican in Congress is not defending Trump, because he has his eyes on the White House in 2020.

D. TRUMP: Maybe he wants to run in four years. Or maybe he doesn't know how to win.


CARROLL: And, Wolf, just a few moments ago the Trump plane landed, so he will be taking the stage any minute from now, where he's also sure to unveil one of his new campaign messages, called drain the swamp. He wants to clean up Washington, impose term limits on members of Congress. But what's frustrating to some members of his own party is that they say he keeps stepping on his message -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jason, thanks very much. Jason Carroll reporting.

Let's get to President Obama right now. He's insisting this election is not rigged, and he's telling Donald Trump, and I'm quoting him now, "Stop whining."

Let's go to our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski. Michelle, the president really let loose on Donald Trump today during his news conference.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's clear he sees questions like today's as an opportunity, because we see him take that question and then run with it. In fact, it's hard to believe it was just a few weeks ago the president said he was tired of talking about Donald Trump, that he didn't feel like he had to make a case against him, because he feels Donald Trump was doing that himself. Well, evidently now the president feels much differently, because we

see him more than willing to make that case and go farther than expected, even in the Rose Garden during a foreign leader's visit.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democracy by definition works by consent, not by force. I have never seen, in my lifetime, or in modern political history, any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place. It's unprecedented.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): President Obama directly takes on Donald Trump from the Rose Garden during an official visit by the Italian prime minister, calling Trump's claims of a conspiracy to rig the election against him irresponsible.

OBAMA: It happens to be based on no facts. Every expert, regardless of political party, regardless of ideology, conservative or liberal, who has examined these issues in a serious way will tell you that instances of significant voter fraud are not to be found.

KOSINSKI: This just steps away from the Oval Office.

OBAMA: Doesn't really show the kind of leadership and toughness that you'd want out of a president. You start whining before the game is even over? If, whenever things are going badly for you and you lose, you start blaming somebody else, then you don't have what it takes to be in this job. Because there are a lot of times when things don't go our way, or my way.

KOSINSKI: While Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, is in Las Vegas, spending days off the campaign trail, preparing for her final debate matchup with him Wednesday...

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Like a lot of women, I have a tendency to over-prepare.

KOSINSKI: ... she continues to face her own tough questions and criticism over e-mails. Now WikiLeaks releases more, stolen from her campaign chairman, John Podesta. The latest show him e-mailing Clinton a list of potential vice-presidential picks. Podesta said he, quote, "organized names in rough food groups." Groups that, while not labeled as such, fall clearly along gender, racial and ethnic lines. The list included Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda.

Adding to the swirl of questions over how this debate will unfold, beginning with that opening moment, will they even shake hands?


KOSINSKI: You know, we also heard the president take a strong shot today not only at Donald Trump's praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin but also Republicans who continue to support Donald Trump. And of course, with days remaining now before this election, we're

going to see both the president and the first lady again out on the campaign trail this week -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Three weeks from today, election day here in the United States. Michelle, thanks very much. Michelle Kosinski at the White House.

Joining us now, Donald Trump's special counsel, Michael Cohen. Michael, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: Let's talk about President Obama today. He said bluntly in front of the visiting Italian prime minister, he said to Donald Trump, stop whining before the game's even over. Here's the question. Why is Donald Trump questioning the validity of this election even before the election day, even before people vote?

COHEN: Sure. Well, when Mr. Trump talks about it being a rigged system, there's really two parts to it. The first is the media. And the second is the voter fraud. That's what he's referring to.

When it talks about the media, if I am not mistaken, there was a study done: 96 percent of all of the donation by media companies, including Time Warner Cable, your parent company, all went to the Clinton -- went to the Clinton campaign. This is clearly...

BLITZER: Time Warner -- by the way, Time Warner Cable is no longer part of Time Warner. So Time Warner Cable has nothing to do with Time Warner.

COHEN: So Time Warner, your parent company, is one of the seven largest donors to the Clinton campaign.

When it comes also to voter fraud, which is what Mr. Trump is talking about, I think the number was 1.8 million deceased people, according to a study that was done on 10/17, meaning today, showed that they're still registered on the -- on the roll.

BLITZER: But everybody -- let me just interrupt.

COHEN: One second, Wolf. Wait. One second, Wolf.

BLITZER: Michael, let me just interrupt.

COHEN: One second. Then there's 2.75 million are registered in more than one state. And that's by -- by Pew. I mean, these are really serious numbers.

BLITZER: But let me -- let me just point out a couple of things. First of all, CNN's policy is that journalists who work at CNN cannot make any political contributions. That's the first thing.

Secondly, all of the major fact-checkers and the major organizations that look into alleged voter fraud have found out it is rare in the history -- at least in modern American political history. Take a look at all the studies that have come out over these past many, many years.

COHEN: OK, but let's talk about this election, not about past years. Not only do you have that, but you have 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.

BLITZER: Who says that?

COHEN: That is done by Pew Center of the States, and the study was done, actually as -- it was released today, as well.

You also have approximately 24 million, one in every eight voter registrations, in this country are no longer valid and are significantly inaccurate. And that study was done also by the Pew Center.

BLITZER: Yes. But the bottom line is, and I think the Pew Center themselves say, even though there are some problems, it doesn't prove that an election was part of fraud, was rigged, if you will. And that's the key issue right now.


BLITZER: The key issue is that there's no evidence that there's been major rigging, if you will, of elections.

But I want to get to the point that the president of the United States made, and I want your response. Donald Trump seems to be blaming the media, rigged elections, the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, other Republicans, if he fails. He seems to be already, three weeks before the election, laying out blame if he loses instead of potentially blaming himself. That's the criticism the president of the United States is leveling. Your response?

COHEN: OK. So the media has 23 times attacked Mr. Trump on these alleged accusations by these women, than the total amount of air time that was dedicated to the WikiLeaks, the Hillary Clinton e-mails. And when you start to -- 23 times. You have to put that into perspective. You're talking about a massive amount of air time dedicated to nonsense.

You know, Wolf, truth be told, there's 21 days right now left till the election. Wouldn't it be a marvelous thing if the media would all agree that the American people are no longer interested in all of these scandals, whether it's Hillary's, whether it's the alleged Mr. Trump scandals, and they really want to hear from the candidates the important issues like taxes...

BLITZER: All right. I think that's...

COHEN: ... like the economy...

BLITZER: I think that's a fair point.

COHEN: ... like jobs, like health care.

BLITZER: So -- Michael. That's definitely a fair point, but the question is this. Why is Trump continuing, including today -- I listened to his 45-minute speech earlier in Colorado. He spent so much time talking about these allegations, talking about a rigged election, talking about these women who have made these sexual accusations against him. He is the one who keeps talking and talking and talking about it.

Have you had this conversation with him advising him as his special counsel...

COHEN: Well, Mr. Trump is responding, Wolf...

BLITZER: ... "You know, what? Maybe you should talk about the issues, instead of all of these" -- let's call it these minor issues.

COHEN: Sure. Wolf, Mr. Trump wants to talk about these important issues, because none of this is going to help to put a single dollar into the pockets of the American people.

BLITZER: So why doesn't he do that?

COHEN: When it comes to feeding their children, or paying their rent or mortgage or health care. So why is he responding to it? Because the media, again, 23 times more coverage on these issues. Mr. Trump must respond to them. These are serious allegations...

[17:15:14] BLITZER: But you know, Michael, when it comes to these kinds of things...

COHEN: ... that are being -- that are being alleged against him.

BLITZER: ... usually the presidential candidates are above that. They have aides who go out on television and do what he himself is doing. I know his instinct is, when somebody hits him, he hits back harder, but is that really presidential?

COHEN: Well, I think Mr. Trump is extremely presidential, and I think that he would do a great job for the American people, especially on the issues that count.

BLITZER: When the election -- he was suggesting in the Republican primaries that the election was rigged, as well. He won those primaries. He beat, what, 16 other Republican senators, governors. Was there...

COHEN: Well, Wolf, I've got to stop...

BLITZER: Let me ask you a question.

COHEN: Wolf, I've got to stop you hear for a second. Wolf, I've just got to stop you for one second.

BLITZER: Was there voter fraud in the primaries? COHEN: Well, I don't know. If you take a look at some of these

WikiLeaks e-mails, you certainly see there was a conspiracy against Bernie Sanders.

BLITZER: What about against him? But he won. He says -- he says there was fraud against him.

COHEN: Well, Donald Trump is an anomaly. But you certainly see that there's a lot of internal things going on that probably should not be going on.

BLITZER: But do you believe there was voter fraud in the primaries?

COHEN: I don't know. I don't have any information to corroborate or deny those...

BLITZER: He's getting a lot of heat. The Republican Ohio -- the Ohio secretary of state, who's a Republican, he called Trump's comments about a rigged election irresponsible. Once again, he's a Republican. You heard Marco Rubio say the same thing. What does he say to those Republicans who say, "You know, this is dangerous. It questions the entire American democracy"? What do you say to that?

COHEN: Well, it actually does question our democracy, and I'm certainly not ecstatic about that either.

However, Mr. Trump has a belief, and the belief is that, between the media with the 23 -- 23 times coverage, along with the things that are going on in terms of voter registrations and people who are deceased that are still the rolls, these are real serious issues. And Mr. Trump is in this to win. He's not in this to play games.

You know, since the very first day that he came down those escalators, everybody has been making fun, saying he's not really interested in being the president; this is some sort of publicity stunt. It's not.

Mr. Trump truly cares about America. He loves this country. He cares about the American people. He knows what it's going to take to fix it. He knows how to create jobs. He knows how to protect our borders.

BLITZER: All right.

COHEN: He knows how to increase our military. He has a real game plan...

BLITZER: Very quickly...

COHEN: ... along with some really great people that will be beside him...

BLITZER: Very quickly.

COHEN: ... once he becomes the president.

BLITZER: If he loses, will he concede and congratulate the winner? COHEN: Oh, I certainly hope so. I think whoever loses, I think the

concession speech is extremely important. You know, right now, as a country, we're very fractured. You start to see people, whether they're wearing a "Make America Great Again" outfit or a Hillary "I'm with her" T-shirt, getting assaulted. You start to see even now that they put this naked statue of Hillary somewhere in Manhattan, which caused a raucous. It's not right. It's disrespectful. And I don't want to start infringing on anybody's First Amendment right. Just because you have the right to do it doesn't make it right.

So I truly hope that whoever loses, that the concession speech is something that will bring America back together as a people, because, you know, we're much better than that as a country, and we're much better than that as a people.

BLITZER; All right, Michael. I need you to stand by. We'll continue our conversation. I want to look ahead to the debate. Tomorrow night in Las Vegas. I'll be heading out there for debate. We have more questions, more of your answers right after this.


[17:23:17] BLITZER: As we stand by for Donald Trump's next rally in Colorado we're back with Donald Trump's special counsel, Michael Cohen.

Michael, I want to talk about you about one of the subjects, one of the themes that's going to be in the debate tomorrow night according to the moderator. Fitness to be president. And people -- his opponents, his critics, are saying he's not fit to be president. You hear that from Hillary Clinton all the time, because lately of these sexual allegations.

Today Ivanka Trump, his daughter, spoke out about her father's comments in that "Access Hollywood" videotape. Let me read to you what she said: "My father's comments were clearly inappropriate and offensive. And I'm glad that he acknowledged this fact with an immediate apology to my family and the American people."

Does her father, Donald Trump, and you know him well -- you've worked with him for ten years -- does he agree his comments to Billy Bush were inappropriate and offensive?

COHEN: So the answer to that is yes. And I believe it was October 7 he put out what -- I also believe was a 90-second video where he apologized to the American people.

I, too, agree with both Ivanka, as well as Melania, who I thought did a wonderful job last night. And I certainly commend Anderson Cooper on a fantastic interview. I thought Melania was great. She was strong. She spoke her mind.

And the thing I appreciated most about Melania last night was the fact that she said, "Please don't feel sorry for me. I'm much stronger than that. Please don't say, 'Oh, poor Melania.' I'm much stronger than that." Which she is. And I've gotten to know Melania very well over the years. And she's a wonderful, and she's a lovely person. But I, too, I condone the statements by both of them.

Look, in all honesty, I think every person watching the show today, at some point in their life, has said something that we are thankful that we were not miked or that it did not get out there, because it was completely inappropriate.

[17:25:11] And I really -- I commend Mr. Trump for coming out and apologizing to the American people...


COHEN: ... for those statements. And I think it's really time to move on. I don't think...

BLITZER: Well, let me just press you on one point, though. You've known him for ten years. You've worked closely with him for ten years. Was this just a one-time deal when he said these kinds of things to Billy Bush?

COHEN: Wolf, I have to be honest with you. I've never.

BLITZER: Have you ever heard him -- have you ever had locker-room talk, boy talk, as Melania Trump called it yesterday, with him along those lines?

COHEN: Wolf, I have never heard Mr. Trump say anything even remotely close to the statements that I heard. When I first heard that there was a tape that was going to be coming out, I said it's got to be fake because -- and I spend thousands of hours with Mr. Trump a year. And I can tell you I have never heard him say anything, anything even close to that.

In honesty -- truthfully, Mr. Trump actually respects women very, very much. And it's indicative of the company...

BLITZER: So let me ask you this.

COHEN: It's indicative of the number of women that are executives; and the way that he promotes women is identical to that of men.

BLITZER: So do you agree -- do you agree with Melania Trump that Billy Bush egged him on?

COHEN: You know, that's Melania's opinion. I'm not, certainly, going to refute it. Do I think he egged her on? You know -- that he egged Mr. Trump on? I don't know. I didn't hear what, you know, led up to it. I wasn't paying that close attention. I don't know whether or not the full clip was ever actually released.

But any way that you slice it, the words that came out of both of their mouths were -- were terrible. They never should have been said. Again, Mr. Trump apologized. I believe the American people understand that he was extremely sincere in that apology. He was embarrassed by that scenario.

I know Melania certainly wasn't happy with it. I know they had their discussions, and she's forgiven him. And I think the American people have forgiven him. And I really think it's time for us to start talking about important issues. And I'm going to go back to them -- Jobs, economy, national security, health care, et cetera, because none of this stuff is going to help the American people put one single penny into their pocket to help them.

And right now America needs jobs, we need to fix our economy, we need to stop this crazy debt of $20 trillion. We need to really fix America.

BLITZER: Here's -- you're a lawyer, and a good lawyer. Donald Trump said -- you know, and Mike Pence, his vice-presidential running mate, said they would produce evidence exonerating him from these nine women who have come forward and made these sexual allegations.

"People" magazine, by the way, today published accounts from six people who say they can corroborate the former writer, Natasha Stoynoff's, story of being attacked, she said, by Donald Trump back in 2005 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach in response to Trump saying that these were all lies.

Let me quote from this woman, this former "People" magazine writer: "We cannot be silent anymore. I didn't tell my story for politics. I told it some that six people say almost contemporaneously she spoke of what she called this attack.

COHEN: Those are all statements that she has made to other people. I don't believe that any of these people were there with $ them at Mar- a-Lago. What I can Tell you is that the accuser -- and I'd never want to turn around and tell an accuser that, you know, "the story that you're relaying is a lie." I'm not going to be one of those people that attack and accuse somebody who has been attacked. It's not -- it's not who I am.

However, I will say, for example, the woman that was on the airplane in first class, I think most people who heard the story are somewhat, you know confused as to her accounting of the story, that she sits down next to a stranger, and for 15 minutes, he's all over her.

Now, remember in first class, you have the steward and the stewardesses. They're on top of you from the moment you sit down, offering you an orange juice, a champagne until the second you leave offering you champagne.

Hard to imagine that somebody was all over another person who's a complete stranger. That person didn't in a second say, what are you doing, right, and make a scene or a steward or stewardess or somebody who was sitting next to her. And let me just say one last thing.

BLITZER: Let me ask you this.

COHEN: We actually found somebody...

[17:30:00] BLITZER: Hold on a second, Michael. People have raised questions about his credibility.

COHEN: Let me just finish one last point.

BLITZER: But go ahead. Make your last point.

COHEN: The point is, you know, we do have a process here that you're innocent until proven guilty. And just because somebody says something doesn't make it -- doesn't make it right. And I think Mr. Trump is entitled to that same.

BLITZER: But if six people come forward and corroborate and say they, almost contemporaneously heard these allegations from this former "People" magazine writer, that has some standing, right?

COHEN: Well, I would turn around, and I would like to speak to each one of these people, and I would like to find out how they heard the conversation, were they there? Did they witness it?

Please understand, Wolf, and you know this very, very well. Mr. Trump is never alone. Especially not at Mar-a-Lago, where there's always an employee or security that's around him. It's very hard to imagine that he was by himself, sitting by a bar -- because we know Mr. Trump doesn't drink alcohol...

BLITZER: No, that was a different -- that was a nightclub in New York. In Mar-a-Lago, this writer says she was doing a piece about their anniversary, and he then took her into an empty big room, where he allegedly made these moves.

COHEN: All right, but Mr. Trump is never alone. I mean, I've been trailing him on many of these sort of reports, whether it's with a "People" magazine, or "TIME," whether it's with "Forbes." I'm constantly, or someone is constantly with him all the time. And if it's not someone like myself in my position, security is always around him, 24/7.

And so, you know, look, again, I don't want to be the guy that turns around and says, "Hey, you know, you claim that you were abused." And nobody should ever touch anybody or abuse anybody. It's wrong.

Again, he is entitled to his day and...

BLITZER: Were you -- Michael, very quickly, because we're almost out of time. Were you comfortable when he suggested these women weren't very attractive?

COHEN: You know, I don't even want to talk about that. You know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You know, some people may think that they're beautiful. Others don't. I don't think it's relevant to the conversation at all.

BLITZER: Well, he's the one who said they -- you know, take a look at them or, you know, whatever he said. You know, he was suggesting that they weren't attractive enough for him to make such a move.

COHEN: Well, I think what Mr. Trump is really trying to say is that they're not -- they're not somebody that he would be attracted to, and therefore, the whole thing is nonsense. BLITZER: That's what he's saying. All right A final question on Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House. Trump said in an interview Ryan doesn't want Trump to be president because Paul Ryan, he suggested, has his own presidential ambitions, looking ahead to 20/20.

Do you think it's appropriate at this stage, with only three weeks to go, for Donald Trump to get into a fight like this with the speaker of the House, the top Republican in Congress?

COHEN: You know, I'm going to -- I'm going to tell you, I'm very disappointed in so many of the Republicans, which is fine for me, because I'm a registered Democrat. But I'm so disappointed in the Republican Party. Many of them made the pledge. Some of them adhered to the pledge that they made that they held Mr. Trump to, and others didn't.

And shame on Paul Ryan and any Republican that doesn't want to support their nominee. And they need to remember that potentially, one day they may be lucky enough to be in the position that Mr. Trump is in. And, you know, not to have your party stand behind you. You may not agree with Mr. Trump on everything that he says, and nobody should agree with everything that Hillary Clinton says either. But at the end of the day, your party has to be behind you, because without your party behind you, it's very, very difficult, and it becomes a harder challenge.

And the Democratic machine, as we all know, is very strong, and they're very organized. And the truth is, we need the Republicans to all unite around Mr. Trump. Again, there's 21 days. It's about time that they stop with all this nonsense and let the American people hear from the candidates on what's important. And I really hope that tomorrow's debate...

BLITZER: All right.

COHEN: ... is substantive and not more of this sort of nonsense that you see on -- on Bravo.

BLITZER: Only 21 days to go. Donald Trump, by the way, said at that rally today he doesn't believe in these polls anymore. For much of his cane [SIC] -- much of his campaign, the primaries and now, he's often talked about the polls. Now he says even if he's winning at some of the polls, he doesn't believe them. Is that where he stands right now, because most of the polls, the national polls, are showing he's considerably behind.

COHEN: Well, the last time we talked about polls, I got myself in trouble on this show. But you weren't moderating at the time. I will tell you that right now, with the polls, I believe that nationally, there's "The L.A. Times" that has Mr. Trump up by 1. You have Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire, all within the margin of error.

[17:35:05] And to anybody that thinks, like "The Washington Post," who again, is very anti-Mr. Trump, that this race is over and that Mr. Trump should concede tomorrow, I just want to remind you of something called Brexit, where they also didn't think something was going to happen. And Mr. Trump's supporters...

BLITZER: All right.

COHEN: ... are very loyal, and it's going to be a large turnout. That's my prediction for this -- you know, for this election.

BLITZER: And I know you still believe that Donald Trump will win, right?

COHEN: I hope he wins. That's certainly for sure. And I do believe that he'll win.

BLITZER: Michael Cohen. Thanks so much for joining us.

COHEN: Wolf, good to see you again.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, what will dominate tomorrow's third and final debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? Our political experts are standing by.

Also, the president accuses Trump of flattering Russian leader Vladimir Putin. But Trump says if he wins the election, he might meet with Putin before inauguration day.


[17:40:25] BLITZER: As Donald Trump slips in the polls, he's ramping up his rhetoric about voter fraud. He's casting doubt on what he believes will be a rigged election.

President Obama has two words for Donald Trump: Stop whining!

Let's discuss with our political experts. David Chalian, let me go out to you first. How damaging is this kind of rhetoric from Donald Trump on the whole democratic process, if you will?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it's potentially damaging because, if indeed, he is successful at delegitimizing the election results, Wolf, and if he loses the election, imagine what his supporters will feel. They will have listened to him for the better part of a month at that point, saying that the system is rigged and it's not a legitimate result. And then how are they going to feel, represented by the new president-elect if, indeed, that is Hillary Clinton?

So that could create such a terrible breach in our -- in our society, and that is where I think the potential danger comes from this. I think that's why President Obama, you know, took the opportunity when asked, to really drive the message home about it.

BLITZER: Abby. Abby Phillip, the -- Trump keeps saying that it's rigged, and he often refers to some major urban areas that could be stolen, he says, from some voters in certain cities. He often mentions Philadelphia, St. Louis, Chicago. All these cities have high African-American populations in these urban areas.

Trump even said he gets called racist for saying this. But what do his supporters hear when he says, when he makes that suggestion?

ABBY PHILLIP, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think they hear exactly what you're saying, which is that they need to sort of go out there and make sure that places that have typically high Democratic turnout -- maybe they're urban areas with high African-American or minority populations, and they need to do their part to go and monitor those places.

But the problem is that there are actually rules for how you're supposed to do this sort of thing. If you want to sort of make sure that the election is operating fairly, there are rules in a lot of places for how to do it. And Trump is not equipping his supporters with that information. And so they could end up crossing that line from monitoring to intimidation pretty quickly.

And I think that's the big risk here for both parties.

BLITZER: Trump just arrived, by the way, Grand Junction, Colorado. We're showing our viewers some live pictures right there. He's going to be having a rally momentarily. We'll, of course, watch that as we will, this the day before the third and final presidential debate.

Dana, you know, the whole allegations, the sexual allegations against him, this former reporter from "People" magazine, Natasha Stoynoff. She now says -- "People" magazine now has corroborated her story with six people who say almost contemporaneously they learned of this -- this attack, what she calls this attack, by Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.

Trump keeps promising that he's got evidence to back him up. Mike Pence said the evidence would be coming out later, one day earlier in the week. We still haven't seen that evidence, have we?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. And what we've seen are, you know, one accuser's cousin saying, no, no, this is not true. A letter that they sent out.

Michael Cohen, just on with you, saying that they have an eyewitness who says he didn't see something, which just on its face kind of doesn't make any sense at all.

But I think that that is certainly something that they're going to have to be dealing with.

If I just might add to the conversation you were having about voter fraud and whether or not it's real, of course, the inner cities, that is one area that the Trump campaign points to, alleging that there has been voter fraud in the past. But then even Michael Cohen with you, Wolf, was talking about a Pew study and some other things. And PolitiFact, have done a lot of fact-checking on this.

And just Pew, for example, it did talk about millions of people being registered to vote when they should not be. But being registered to vote and actually going and voting are two very different things.

These are -- no question, facts or -- at least studies that Donald Trump is probably going to raise on the stage tomorrow. And I would imagine that Hillary Clinton is going to be armed with these facts to try to combat those things. Because as you heard, the president himself, and on down the line, more importantly, maybe Republicans, are very concerned about what will happen on election day with all of this sort of rhetoric coming from Donald Trump.

BLITZER: And tomorrow night, the final debate, Mark Preston. Is it smart for Trump to go forward with what some are calling a scorched- earth strategy, if you will?

[17:45:07] MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Absolutely not. He should focus on the issues. He should focus on the idea that he knows how to govern. He should try to hit Hillary on the e-mail issue. That is still an Achilles' heel. Of course, we've seen some new information has come out with the FBI. Although the president, Barack Obama, himself said today that that is not true, that there was no quid pro quo, as Mr. Trump has been saying. But the bottom line is for him to go out and go scorched-earth means that he's basically giving up the election, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, everyone stand by because we have more coming up. And, by the way, be sure to join us tomorrow night when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton face off for the last time before the election. CNN's special coverage of the final presidential debate. It all begins 4:00 p.m. Eastern from Las Vegas.

Coming up, Donald Trump suggests a pre-inauguration meeting with Vladimir Putin may be in the cards if he is elected. President Obama calls Trump's embrace of the Russian president unprecedented. Hillary Clinton slams Trump for his cozy relationship with Putin. We're going to bring you the latest details on this controversy when we come back.


[17:50:44] BLITZER: Donald Trump is once again praising Vladimir Putin and blasting Hillary Clinton for insulting the Russian president. Trump is also raising eyebrows for suggesting he'd meet with Putin before taking office if he wins the election next month.

Our Brian Todd has been tracking reaction to Trump's comments. Brian's joining us now with the latest. What are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDNET: Well, tonight, Wolf, Donald Trump is being roundly criticized for that idea to meet with Putin before he takes office, the Clinton campaign dismissing Trump as a cheerleader for Putin. President Obama has weighed in, but Trump is holding firm tonight, saying he can fix a relationship with Russia that's been broken by Clinton and Obama.


TODD (voice-over): Donald Trump pushing hard on one of his most controversial ideas -- his embrace of Vladimir Putin. Trump tells radio host Michael Savage Hillary Clinton shouldn't be talking so tough about Russia ,and says if he's elected, he'd do something never seen before. TRUMP: I think I could see myself meeting with Putin and meeting with

Russia prior to the start of the administration.

PROF. HOPE HARRISON, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: It's a slap in the face to Obama, to Hillary. And of course, frankly, to many Republicans. I mean, it's long been a part of Republican platform to be so skeptical of Russia.

TODD: In a statement today, Hillary Clinton's campaign said she would stand up to the Russian president and, quote, "not coddle him". The Obama administration directly blames Russia for the hacking of the Democratic Party, and Trump's been blasted for encouraging it.

TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

HARRISON: I mean, the notion that someone running for the U.S. presidency is encouraging a foreign power to spy on American citizens -- you know, I mean, if someone else did this, do you know what Trump would call that? Treason.

TODD: Today, President Obama said Trump's affinity for Putin is inexplicable.

OBAMA: The degree to which he appears to model many of his policies and approaches to politics Mr. Putin is unprecedented in American politics and is out of step with not just what Democrats think but out of step with what, up until the last the few months, almost every Republican thought.

TODD: Trump believes he can work with Putin to defeat ISIS, and slams Clinton and President Obama for failing to work with the Russian leader.

TRUMP: They insult him constantly. I mean, no wonder he can't stand Obama and Hillary Clinton.

TODD: Putin himself has teen flattering Trump, which analysts say is the pure calculation of a former KGB agent.

MASHA GESSEN, AUTHOR, "TE MAN WITHOUT A FACE": I can imagine, at least in the early stages, Putin through getting Trump to believe everything that he says by flattery, by taking Trump seriously, by complimenting him on his leadership ability, and then being a bad faith negotiator, which he always is.


TODD (on camera): Masha Gessen points out that Putin even tried to manipulate Barack Obama, who did have foreign policy experience before winning the White House. And President Obama today practically admitted as much, saying he tried work with Putin on Ukraine and on Syria only to see Vladimir Putin turn around and act aggressively in both places. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian, we've got a response from Putin to Trump's ideas of meeting him before the inauguration, right?

TODD: We did, Wolf. CNN got an immediate response from the Kremlin to Trump's idea. Putin's spokesman saying, quote, "President Putin has said that he was open for dialogue with any candidate who is ready to talk and cooperate."

Kind of a boilerplate response there. But there are many out there who think that Vladimir Putin is just waiting for his chance to play Donald Trump.

BLITZER: At least there is a quick response from Putin on that one. Brian, thank you very much.

We're watching Donald Trump's rally right now. He's making a new promise to Colorado voters. Can he bring higher standards to Washington and, in his words, drain the swamp?


[17:59:38] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, horrendous things. Donald Trump rails about alleged voter -- voting fraud, an electoral process he says is rigged against him. But the controversy over harassment and assault allegations is still dogging him. "People" magazine is offering new evidence Trump forced himself on a reporter. And tonight Ivanka Trump is breaking her silence. What is she saying about the lewd recording rocking her father's campaign?

[18:00:06] "Not based on facts." President Obama slams Trump's allegation of a rigged election, accusing the GOP nominee of, quote, "whining before the game's even over".