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Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Debate Preparations; Trump Alleges Voting Fraud; Harry Reid Says Trump Has 'Sickness with Women'; Obama Blasts Trump as Whiner. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 18, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: What is she saying about the lewd reporting rocking her father's campaign?
Not based on facts. President Obama slams Trump's allegation of a rigged election, accusing the GOP nominee of -- quote -- "whining" before the game is even over. The president says Trump is inventing a conspiracy theory. Is he also weakening the country with his claim?
E-mail insults. Stolen e-mails from the Clinton campaign reveal behind-the-scenes clashes and sniping involving top Democratic officials, Clinton advisers and even Chelsea Clinton. Now they're also revealing some surprising names that were floated for a possible Clinton running mate. Which famous business leaders made the list?
And debate gamble. Clinton and Trump roll the dice ahead of tomorrow's Las Vegas debate, inviting guests each candidate hopes will unnerve the other. Clinton will have two billionaires in her corner, highlighting about Trump's real net worth, while Trump will bring a mother whose son died in the Benghazi attack. Will there be any surprise guests?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, Donald Trump is raising new allegations that the presidential election is rigged against him. He is specifically citing alleged voting fraud and singling out cities like Philadelphia and Chicago, where he says -- quote -- "Horrendous things are happening."
He is also dismissing polls that show him trailing Hillary Clinton nationally, saying flatly that he doesn't believe them. President Obama, meanwhile, is responding to Trump's claims of a rigged election, saying Trump is -- quote -- "whining" before the game is even over.
The president says the allegations are not based on facts and he warns they could undermine faith in the U.S. political system. All of this comes on the eve of the final presidential debate tomorrow night in Las Vegas. We're covering all of that, much more this hour, with our guests, including Congressman Adam Schiff. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's begin with the Trump campaign.
Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is in Colorado, where Trump has been holding rallies ahead of tomorrow's debate.
Jim, Trump is new allegations of a rigged election and voter fraud. He is also singling out cities with large African-American populations like Philadelphia and Chicago. What's the latest?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
Donald Trump is continuing to say that this election is being rigged against him. But there is now more evidence of sexual misconduct against Donald Trump than there is of voter fraud.
ACOSTA (voice-over): With his crowds chanting "Tell the truth" to the national news media, Donald Trump is making the case day after day that the fix is in to rig the election and guarantee a Hillary Clinton victory.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is an election about truth. And you're not going to get it from the dishonest media.
ACOSTA: Trump maintains the media are in on the conspiracy by reporting on women who say the real estate tycoon sexually abused them.
D. TRUMP: They take things and statements and put it in from 30 years ago, from 20 years ago, by the way, just so you understand, just to be very clear, events that never happened.
ACOSTA: But "People" magazine now says six people have come forward to corroborating claims from one of the publication's reporters, Natasha Stoynoff, who says Trump forced himself on her in 2005.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: He said he apologized to you.
ACOSTA: Trump's wife, Melania, told CNN's Anderson Cooper she believes her husband and blames his hot mike moment that generated the accusations of assault on "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush.
MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: It was kind of boy talk, and he was led on, like egged on.
ACOSTA: And Trump's daughter Ivanka broke her silence, telling the Web site Fast Company saying, "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." D. TRUMP: If we let crooked Hillary's cartel, and just remember this,
run this government, history will record that 2017 was the year that America lost, truly lost its independence.
ACOSTA: Trump is painting a dark picture of what will happen if he loses, and he is offering unfounded claims that election officials are allowing just about anyone from the dead to the undocumented to cast a ballot.
D. 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.
ACOSTA: The truth is that multiple studies have shown voter fraud is extremely rare. A Loyola Law School found between the year 2000 and 2014, there were just 31 cases of voter fraud out of one billion votes.
ACOSTA: The scandals have thrown Trump off-message at a critical time, when Republicans would rather focus on Clinton's e-mail saga.
D. TRUMP: This is worse than Watergate.
ACOSTA: Democrats note it's Trump who has rhetorically cozied up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who U.S. authorities say is meddling in the November election.
President Obama argues Trump's praise for Putin should give Republicans pause.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The degree to which he appears to model many of his policies and approaches to politics on Mr. Putin is unprecedented in American politics.
ACOSTA: Trump still has his own issues with top GOP leaders, insisting House Speaker Paul Ryan, who says he will vote for Trump but will no longer defend him, is backing away from his party's nominee because he is eying 2020.
D. TRUMP: He maybe he wants to run in four years or maybe he doesn't know how to win. Maybe he just doesn't know how to win.
ACOSTA: And Donald Trump unveiled a new theme for his campaign, saying he wants to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. He backed it up by saying he wants congressional term limits in Washington.
And, Wolf, he is sowing more seeds of doubt within the electorate. Earlier today here in Colorado Springs, he encouraged the crowd here to stop trusting the mainstream media and instead just read the Internet -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jim, thank you, Jim Acosta reporting. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign is grappling with the steady drip of stolen e-mails being released by WikiLeaks.
Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is in Las Vegas for tomorrow night's debate.
Jeff, it was President Obama going after Donald Trump today, not Hillary Clinton.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
Hillary Clinton arrived here just moments ago. She is off the campaign trail yet again. She is going directly to another round of debate preparations, I'm told, with her team of advisers who she was flying here with. That's the reason President Obama took his turn taking on Trump today. He blasted him for calling the election rigged and he accused him of being a whiner.
ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton arriving in Nevada tonight for her final face-to-face showdown with Donald Trump, staying off the campaign trail and above the fray, President Obama weighing in from the Rose Garden, taking aim at Trump and his talk of a rigged election.
OBAMA: I would advise Trump to stop whining and go try and make his case to get votes.
ZELENY: On the eve of the third presidential debate, aides to Clinton tell CNN she is bracing for the toughest tangle yet. They believe Trump is becoming increasingly desperate.
An uncivil tone in Saint Louis, starting without a handshake, could escalate in Las Vegas Wednesday night. Since their last meeting, Trump spiraling among Republicans, but new questions for Clinton, too, on hacked campaign e-mails revealing one calculation after another and paid speeches to Goldman Sachs showing a friendly approach to Wall Street and whether the State Department pressed the FBI to return e- mails retroactively classified to their original unclassified setting.
It was here in Las Vegas one year ago when Clinton breathed a sigh of relief on her e-mails.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Enough of the e-mails. Let's talk about the real issues facing America.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Bernie.
ZELENY: Yet, three weeks before Election Day, it is hardly behind her. Advisers tell CNN that Clinton devoted considerable time in debate practice once again to put to rest the lingering controversy over e-mail and serious questions about her honesty and trustworthiness.
But those questions have been overshadowed by Trump's own talk.
D. TRUMP: It is a rigged system. But you have to say, we figured it out, right? We figured it out.
ZELENY: The president stopping just shy of mocking Trump, seemingly trying to provoke him on the eve of the debate.
OBAMA: Wherever 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.
ZELENY: To extinguish Trump's talk of a rigged election, Democrats are trying to run up the score, making new investments in red states like Arizona, Georgia and Utah, and trying to capture control of the Senate by winning seats in Indiana and Missouri, all this as Democrats are still dealing with the fallout from campaign chairman John Podesta's stolen e-mails.
Another batch published today on WikiLeaks reveals House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's reluctance to back Clinton. Top aide Huma Abedin wrote campaign manager Robby Mook: "HRC asked for her endorsement and she didn't say yes. HRC said she felt it was a nonanswer." Mook replied: "That's frustrating, but I think she will get big kudos for asking."
Pelosi's endorsement came nearly a year later after Clinton's primary fight with Bernie Sanders. The hacked e-mail shows Sanders is also the subject of scorn, Podesta displaying his contempt for Sanders after the Paris climate agreement, writing, "Can you believe that doofus Bernie attacked it?"
ZELENY: Well, now that doofus is an example of a good soldier. Bernie Sanders, Wolf, is campaigning again tonight for Hillary Clinton in the state of Arizona, holding two events there, a state they are trying to make even more competitive.
Now, I talked to a senior adviser Senator Sanders, asking him about that language. And he said, Wolf, frankly, we're surprised it wasn't even worse than that, because that primary, as we know, was so heated and competitive.
BLITZER: It certainly was. Jeff Zeleny in Las Vegas for us, see you there tomorrow. Thank you.
Let's get some more on all of this.
Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is joining us as well.
Thanks so much for joining us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks, Wolf. Good to be with you. BLITZER: All right, so these newly published stolen WikiLeaks e-mails
show the Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's reluctance to back Hillary Clinton.
Do these slowly released e-mails drip by drip every single day show real cracks in the Democrats' support of Hillary Clinton at this, a critical time when she needs to get people out to vote?
SCHIFF: No, I don't think so.
I think they are what you would if you, frankly, steal e-mails from a campaign that was a hard-fought campaign, as that primary campaign was. But there have been so many of them. Frankly, I think they're becoming the background noise of this campaign.
And Donald Trump shows the ability time after time to step on his own message. So, no, I don't think they're doing real damage, although it is a sustained kind of a background noise in the campaign.
The other broader point, though, which troubles me far more, frankly, is the fact that the release of these e-mails is playing into the Russians' hands. They have stolen these e-mails or many others. They're purposely dumping them. And then you have Trump once again doubling down, tripling down on his admiration for Putin and calling on WikiLeaks to release more of these stolen e-mails.
It's just the most bizarre specter of a GOP nominee in full embrace with a Kremlin that is hacking into democratic institutions and interfering with our election.
BLITZER: Can you confirm -- and you're the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee -- that Russia is behind the WikiLeaks release of these Podesta e-mails?
SCHIFF: Well, I can only say with respect to the Podesta e-mails, as the administration has acknowledged more generally, that the hacking of these, the release of them, fit perfectly within the Russian method and within their motivations.
So I think it is pretty plain what the Russians are seeking to do here, as the administration has acknowledged the evidence of Russian hacking and its role in the manipulation of the data in terms of dumping it, is pretty plain on its face.
And that represents really quite an unprecedented interference with our political affairs. That ought to be shunned by both parties, but instead you have this bizarre specter of a nominee embracing the brazen theft and interference by a foreign and hostile power.
BLITZER: The director of national intelligence and the secretary of homeland security and I believe you as well have all said publicly that Russia is definitely behind the cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee, other Democratic Party institutions, Colin Powell's e-mails as well.
But you're not yet ready to go that far and say it flatly as far as the WikiLeaks are concerned?
SCHIFF: Well, before I make any acknowledgement, as Senator Feinstein and I did earlier, it is something that we have to make sure that we vet. And that takes time.
And, frankly, I don't know that there will be time between now and the end of this cycle to do that. But I do think it is very important for the American people to know what has already been acknowledged. And that is, Russia is trying to interfere in our elections. Plainly, they have a preferred candidate here.
And that is a deeply dangerous thing. It is not something to be embraced by either party. Neither party should make itself an accomplice to this.
BLITZER: So, Congressman, why do you believe Putin, and I suspect you do believe, why do you believe Putin wants Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States?
SCHIFF: Well, I think there are two reasons.
First, Trump has demonstrated time and time again that he is supportive of Russian positions on things which are deeply against U.S. interests. Putin -- Trump has said, for example, that he might acknowledge and recognize Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, that he might relax or do away with the sanctions on Russia.
He has embraced Putin's authoritarian manner. And he has belittled NATO. For all these reasons, the Russians have got to love a Trump candidacy. But more than that, what they're doing is just discrediting our democracy.
And here you have a Russian leader who has dismantled the democratic institutions in his own country. And the best way for him to deflect criticism for doing that is to point at the United States and see, look, their democracy is in disarray, and the fix is in, in the United States.
And it is a perfect complement to the Trump campaign message right now, which is that the election is somehow going to be rigged. So, Trump once again playing into Russian hands in a way that is so deeply damaging to his own country.
BLITZER: Are you confident, Congressman, that the Russians won't try on hack into the overall election system, the voting, if you will, on November 8 and impact and have an impact on the outcome?
SCHIFF: I don't think it can have an impact on the actual outcome because our state systems are so different and disparate and largely disconnected from the Internet.
What worries me the most, Wolf, is that between now and the election, the Russians dump information that has been fabricated. And we have seen the Russians do this before in Europe. It certainly is not beyond either their capabilities or what they have done in practice. And to get a last-minute dump of e-mails that contain fabricated e- mails that are widely reported in the press and there isn't enough time to fact-check and demonstrate the forgery, that is what you're concerns me.
BLITZER: But have you confirmed that any of the e-mails released over the past two weeks, if you will, by WikiLeaks are fabricated or doctored?
SCHIFF: I'm not in a position to be able to do that, because I would have to compare what the originals were and what the released e-mails are.
And, frankly, with the volume of these coming out, I don't know that anyone is in a position to do that. And this is again why I think it is so dangerous to encourage this kind of meddling, as Donald Trump seems to be doing.
BLITZER: All right, I want to you stand by, Congressman.
There is a big debate, the third and final presidential debate tomorrow night. We are going to talk about that and more right after this.
BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, Donald Trump firing up a campaign rally with new allegations of a supposed rigged election and dismissing polls that show Hillary Clinton leading the race nationally.
Trump says -- and I'm quoting him now -- "I don't believe the polls anymore."
He is campaigning tonight in Colorado just ahead of the final debate with Hillary Clinton tomorrow night in Las Vegas.
We're back with Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff from California. He's the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, why isn't Hillary Clinton out on the campaign trail more? Could that be hurting her? Because over the past several days, she's been silent. She's been preparing for the debate.
SCHIFF: No, I don't think so at all.
These debates have been quite pivotal. I think nothing has really changed the trajectory, other than probably that released audiotape, more than the debates in the last month. So she is, I think, wise to spend the time in preparation. Donald Trump probably should have spent a lot more time in preparation.
And she doesn't probably have to be out there as much, when Donald Trump is out every day basically shooting himself in the foot. So, I think she has adopted the right approach.
I know she will do well tomorrow. And she has got to stand up to the bully that he is and I think also try to help restore credibility in the election process with all of these quite anti-American sentiments that Trump is expressing, trying to cast doubt on the very credibility of our democracy.
BLITZER: Should Democrats, do you believe, be expanding the map right now, for example, focusing in on Arizona, a state in a presidential contest the Democrats haven't won in a long time, or should the Clinton campaign be focusing its efforts on those key states they really need to win? In other words, is there a risk of losing focus?
SCHIFF: There's always that risk.
But I think, frankly, at this point in the campaign, the Clinton team is wise to be expanding the terrain, to be going after states that are usually very difficult for Democrats, but are now within the possibility of winning in this campaign. It helps not only I think expand the playing field for both sides, but also it helps the Senate campaign candidates. It helps the House candidates.
It will hopefully improve the ability of Secretary Clinton, if she is successful in the election, to work with Congress and get more things done. So I think it makes a lot of sense to expand the playing field.
BLITZER: And be honest with this next question. Do you think it is realistic that the Democrats have a shot of becoming the majority in the House of Representatives? As you know, they need a net gain of 30 seats.
SCHIFF: Honestly, Wolf, we would need a very big wave for that, but a very big wave appears to be taking form.
We usually don't have, frankly, this much notice that a wave is taking shape. But all of the indications are, when you look at the incredible support for Democrat candidates, Democratic candidates, in the generic ballot contest where you vote Democratic or Republican, we're at a historic high, I think, about seven points right now.
And as the bottom falls out of the Trump campaign, the House suddenly has become in play. And this is not just the view of optimistic Democrats. It is also the view of Republicans that are shifting their money and putting it behind Republicans who otherwise would have been considered eminently safe.
So this is not just Democratic spin, but it is borne out by the polls, but also borne out by how the Republicans are behaving.
BLITZER: What should her closing message be tomorrow night at the debate?
SCHIFF: I think it should be a positive one, that she has a vision for America that she wants to bring forward, that she wants to work with both parties in Congress to try to achieve it, that she will do everything possible to put this ugly campaign behind not only her, but behind the country, roll up her sleeves and get the work of the country done.
I think this has been a very traumatic election for everyone. And I think the indication that she will help the healing process, I think, could be very important for people to understand that this would be part and parcel to the Clinton presidency.
BLITZER: Congressman Schiff, thanks for joining us.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: We're counting down to the final presidential debate. We will take a closer look at the candidates' strategies for tomorrow night's Las Vegas showdown when we come back.
BLITZER: New allegations of voting fraud tonight by Donald Trump firing up crowds in Colorado with charges the election is rigged against him, but without offering any evidence at all.
Gloria Borger and our panel is with us right now.
Gloria, Donald Trump saying that the election is rigged, telling his supporters that dead people, undocumented immigrants are voting, how could this affect turnout?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think what he is trying to do is make his closing argument -- and I think it is kind of a strange one, Wolf -- but make his closing argument to his base of support, to get his supporters riled up that they need to get to the polls, so that the election is not rigged against them.
[18:30:14] I think in another sense, what it could also do -- and I think this -- this worries the Clinton campaign to some degree -- is that it could affect their voters, who might just say, you know, the heck with this election. I am not going to go out and vote and brave polling places that might have some issues.
And so, you know, you see that he has made a clear decision here, Wolf, to appeal to his base, and there is some feeling in the Trump campaign that there are more people in that base than we have polled and that perhaps that could get him across the finish line.
BLITZER: Three weeks from today. We'll see.
David Swerdlick, he also says, Trump, and these are fighting words, that the election, in his words, could be stolen in cities with big urban populations, Philadelphia, he mentioned St. Louis, Chicago. All have high African-American populations in those cities. When his supporters hear that, what's the message?
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It is hard to get inside the mind of Trump on this and inside the mind of his supporters. I do know that what African-American voters hear is that they're -- they're being scapegoated for a tilt in the vote toward Democrats.
But look, here's the thing. This discussion has been going on throughout the Obama years. If you're the Republican Party, if you're Donald Trump and you're getting less than 10 percent of the American vote, a quarter of the Latino vote, a quarter of the Asian-American vote, the thing to do is not pass a bunch of voter I.D. restrictions; it's not to complain about rigging or voter fraud that study after study says isn't there. The thing to do is figure out a way to go out and win those votes, and that's the thing that Trump is still struggling with.
BLITZER: Showing our viewers some live pictures. Trump has just wrapped up that rally in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Jeffrey, President Obama, he minced no words at all today. He chastised Trump about this allegation of a rigged election. I want you to listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.
If you start whining before the game 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.
I'd advise Mr. Trump to stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So does this get under Trump's skin when he hears the president say that? That he simply doesn't have what it takes to be president?
TOOBIN: Well, I would certainly anticipate Hillary Clinton saying something along those lines, because there's nothing like -- nothing that Donald Trump likes less than to be diminished, to be treated like a child, like a baby, and that's what they're -- that's what they're doing here.
And I think what President Obama is saying is much like Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say. He said everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but they're not entitled to their own facts.
And the fact is there are no fraudulent elections in this country. There has not been any sort of voter fraud that affects outcome of elections. And just repeating it every night in front of his adoring crowds doesn't make it true for Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Donald Trump getting ready to board his plane, getting ready to leave Grand Junction, Colorado. Jeff Zeleny, the "People" magazine reporter who alleged Trump
assaulted her at his -- at his estate in Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach -- we're talking about Natasha Stoynoff, now has six friends, former colleagues, corroborating her story in the new issue of "People" magazine.
Trump, meanwhile, has apparently chosen not to divulge what he had called evidence he promised would exonerate him of these allegations. Does this change the calculus in voters' minds?
ZELENY: Wolf, I'm not sure it changes the calculus in voters' minds directly. To anyone who believes Donald Trump after all of these series of instances and allegations, I think they will continue to believe him.
But for people who maybe wanted to believe him, or people who desperately want change in this election and are not drawn to the Clinton candidacy but simply can't stomach Donald Trump, I think this just adds another layer onto that.
The audience of "People" magazine, largely, are the same people that Donald Trump is trying to go after: women. Women voters in the suburbs and elsewhere. And that is exactly something, you know, having six people come forward to corroborate this story, you know, makes it seem pretty air tight, I believe.
[18:35:05] So among his supporters, the people who see him in rallies, of course not. They would not believe it, or if they believe it, they don't -- aren't moved by it. They say he's a changed man. Some voters we talked to say, "Look, we support him. This is He has changed in those ten years or so."
But I think the demographic here that he's after, Wolf, it's very troubling to him. And that's one of the reasons his campaign is in a bit of freefall tonight and this week, Wolf.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Gloria.
BORGER: And you know, Wolf, that's why they put -- that's why they put Melania Trump out on television, because they understand that they're bleeding women voters. And Melania Trump did as good a job as she could possibly do defending her husband, saying she had forgiven him, and talking about that "People" magazine story, saying the part that she was involved in personally, which was meeting this reporter on the street, she said was not true.
It is an indication, though, of the fact that the campaign understands the real problem that this story and all the other stories have caused them with women voters. And it's an ongoing problem for them, and it's something that we're going to have to look at tomorrow night to see how Donald Trump handles it.
TOOBIN: Can I also mention that it is not just women voters who are offended by men who sexually assault women? BORGER: That's true.
TOOBIN: I think there are actually a lot of men who are assaulted -- who are offended by it, as well. So I'd just like to...
BLITZER: Do you think, Jeffrey, that they're going to shake hands at the start of that debate tomorrow night? At the second debate, they didn't shake hands before the debate. They did shake hands at the end of the debate.
TOOBIN: You know, Wolf, I'm going to say the three words you're never allowed to say on cable news. I don't know. I don't know if they're going to shake hands. It will be pretty interesting. We'll see.
BORGER: I can tell you it's not going to be a bear hug.
BLITZER: Everybody -- everybody stand by. We'll find out tomorrow night if they will shake hands before the debate.
There's breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. The Senate's top Democrat now speaking out to CNN about the allegations women have made against Donald Trump, saying Donald Trump has, in the words of Harry Reid, a sickness with women.
[18:51:56] BLITZER: The Senate's top Democrat is now speaking out about Donald Trump. Our senior political reporter, Manu Raju, is in Las Vegas for tomorrow night's final presidential debate.
Manu, you just interviewed the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada. What did he tell you?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, as you know, Wolf, Harry Reid not known to mince words, especially when it comes to Donald Trump. He's become one of Hillary Clinton's most attack -- aggressive attack dogs on Donald Trump, trying to tie him to down- ticket Senate Republicans.
And he didn't hold back when asked about Donald Trump's latest controversies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: You've obviously seen the "Access Hollywood" video that came out, Donald Trump talking in vulgar terms about women. What was your reaction when you first saw that video?
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: Well, I have -- in my younger days, I was an athlete. Football, baseball. Of course, I was in a lot of raunchy gyms when I was fighting. And you know, we -- no one talked that way. No one. You'd be picking a fight with somebody. You know? That stuff left us in elementary school, when you didn't understand what life was all about. We have now ten women that we know of that have come forward that he
sexually assaulted them. You know, that's a crime.
RAJU: Do you think he's committed a crime?
REID: I don't know. You know? You have to have somebody file a complaint. You can't do it without someone having done something. These are -- you know, these are people -- these are people who are trapped. They are with this man in public places, and, like an airplane, he puts his hands under somebody's skirt on an airplane. The woman moves her seat.
I mean, for me, I can't understand. I don't know about a crime but it is kind of a sickness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, in addition to suggesting that Donald Trump may have committed a crime, Donald -- Harry Reid also criticizing Donald Trump's claims of election rigging, attacking Republican leaders, as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: The last few days, Donald Trump has talked about this election being rigged. He talked about voter fraud being rampant. What is your response to that?
REID: I've always felt that everything we can do to get people to vote, we should do it. He obviously is in a different school than I am. He wants people not to vote.
I just think it's so untoward for him to try to scare people into elections are rigged. I was listening to this interview today, one of the world's leading experts, an Ohio State University professor there, said you can't rig an election. You know, we have 50 different elections run by states. We have -- we're not centralized. It just can't be done. It's just make believe, a lot of -- just like a lot of the stuff that Donald Trump says.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, Harry Reid also going after Paul Ryan, the House speaker, for saying that he will still endorse Donald Trump but not defend him anymore, saying that's a perplexing statement by the House speaker.
And Reid also expressing optimism about taking back the Senate majority, saying that they can win in red states like Missouri specifically and expressing new optimism about Florida, where Marco Rubio has had a steady lead for months.
[18:45:12] Harry Reid, Wolf, thinks that the Florida race is tightening.
BLITZER: Manu Raju, thanks for the good work as usual. Thanks very, very much. David Swerdlick, what was your reaction? Harry Reid, the top Democrat
in the Senate, calling Trump's treatment of women a sickness.
SWERDLICK: So, Manu got a great interview. I think there are privately Democrats who like the idea of Harry Reid, a party elder statesman, going right after Donald Trump. But if they step back from it, I think they'll realize that he is making himself part of the story, getting in the way of Trump getting in his own way on this story. Donald Trump doesn't need any help to look bad right now and Harry Reid doesn't -- you know, doesn't serve Democrats by inserting himself.
BLITZER: You know, Gloria Borger, it's pretty unprecedented as Reid himself said to have a candidate possibly trying to decrease turnout before Election Day. Isn't it?
BORGER: Uh-huh. Yes. It's completely unprecedented. And you have had Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, who is no huge fan of Trump, come out and say that he is fully confident in the electoral process in this country.
And you've had a lot of Republicans distance themselves, Wolf, from this because don't forget. They have to get elected, too. If you start challenging the democratic process in this country, which is what separates us from dictatorships, then their elections are illegitimate as well.
So, they don't want to go down this road, A, because they think it's fake, false. And B, because it could only boomerang against them as well, particularly if they win. If you have a Republican in a state like Ohio, say Trump loses Ohio and Portman wins, or the other way around, which is legitimate and which is illegitimate? That's difficult. And it is not anywhere any politician wants to go. It's the very basis of our democracy in this country.
BLITZER: So, Jeffrey Toobin, how is Hillary Clinton preparing to answer questions about WikiLeaks, the FBI documents tomorrow on that debate stage because you know the subject is going to be raised?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think Adam Schiff, congressman, Democrat from California, whom you just interviewed, gave you a good preview. I think her best defense is going to be a good offense. I think she's going to talk about how the WikiLeaks documents were stolen by Russia.
And Donald Trump once again is celebrating the activities of the Putin regime. I don't think there's anything substantive in the WikiLeaks documents, in John Podesta's e-mail that is some sort of scandal she has to respond to. But I think she is going to try to turn it around and say once again, Donald Trump is in league with Vladimir Putin and let him try to explain why these documents are so terrible for Hillary Clinton's campaign.
BLITZER: But, Jeff Zeleny, she will to have answer questions about the speeches she gave to Goldman, for example, the transcripts, at least the alleged transcripts have now been released. What's going to be her strategy as far as that is concerned?
ZELENY: Wolf, I think, she will have to own up to that as well as everything else in those e-mails that we've been pouring through. But I think on the speeches specifically, this flies in the face of the populist movement and feeling coursing through not only the Democrat electorate, Wolf, but the Republican electorate as well.
So, I look to expect Donald Trump to seize on that as another way to say that, look, she doesn't represent change at all. She has been cozy with Wall Street since she's been a senator from New York, and I think it really could feed into his change argument.
Now, who knows if he'll actually do that? He may get sort of caught in some other type of rabbit hole which we've seen him do time after time after time. But I do think that she will have to own up in some respects that she was addressing a different audience. And she's become a much, much more populist leftist candidate if you will in 2016 than she was in 2013 when she was giving the speeches at $250,000 a crack to Goldman Sachs.
BLITZER: David Swerdlick, we're going to show our viewers, hold on a second, Gloria, for a second. I just want to get David Swerdlick's reaction. The polls since the second debate, take a look at the numbers. These are national polls. Monmouth poll has her 12 points. The NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" up 11. CBS News up nine. ABC News/"Washington Post" up four.
Has she reached her ceiling right now? What could happen if she has a great performance tomorrow night? What could happen if Trump has a great performance tomorrow night?
SWERDLICK: Either one really dominates the other, maybe like Clinton sort of dominated Trump in that first debate.
[18:50:02] That could be a game changer. Could put Clinton over the top or it could sink Trump once and for all?
Going back to what Jeff was saying a moment ago, Clinton, I think she has to play some defense, not dwell on those e-mails but at least acknowledge that it's not pretty for the American people to see the sausage getting made, either in campaign or in government because Trump is going to come after her on that. This is his last chance on the debate to attack her on WikiLeaks. She's got the play defense.
BLITZER: Certainly is. Gloria, go ahead.
BORGER: Well, I want to just add to that, because I do think that Hillary Clinton has some vulnerabilities here. She still hasn't provided a great answer to the question of how do you differ with the FBI Director James Comey? Where she said there was no classified information that went out on these e-mails and he said, yes, there was.
I think she's going to have to answer questions about a potential quid pro quo. I think they tried to do that already. The thing Donald Trump has to do is go after her specifically on these
specific issues. And he has not been very good at all at doing that. What he does is make these large generalities that he's more of the same and she's the status quo and that's all well and good. But he has to go after her with specifics and try and trip her up a little bit. And he just hasn't been able do that, Wolf, because he either goes down the rabbit hole of his own personal issues or he just makes the larger points that we've heard over and over again at rally. He has to say something a little different and approach it differently.
BLITZER: All right. But, Jeffrey Toobin, I assume Hillary Clinton will try to get under his skin tomorrow night, to see if he says something that's going to be counterproductive.
TOOBIN: Well, and I think what we have not heard is Hillary Clinton's view at all on all these women who have come forward since the "Access Hollywood" tape. What is she going to say about his sexual assault on women? I mean, that is a very target-rich environment for her. And I cannot believe she will simply avoid that issue.
I think she will point out that these women keep coming forward. And the fact that this woman from "People" has six women -- six people corroborating her story, you know, I think you can only one --
BLITZER: All right. Everybody stay with us. Don't go too far away. We're staying on top of this story.
And remember, be sure to join us tomorrow when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton face-off for the last time before the election. CNN's coverage of the final presidential debate begins tomorrow 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
There is breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. U.S. Special Operation Forces advancing on ISIS, along with thousands of Iraqi soldiers. We're getting new information about the battle to oust the terrorists from their stronghold in Iraq.
[18:57:24] BLITZER: We're following breaking news. New details of the battle under way right now the liberate Iraq's second largest city from ISIS control with American special operations forces playing a key role.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is working the story for us.
Barbara, what's the latest intelligence update on what's actually happening on the battlefield?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Wolf.
We are learning much more today about what those U.S. Special Operations Forces are doing. About 200 of them with both Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Many of them out in the field with very elite 12-man teams and they are providing very precise guidance and information to the Iraqis and Kurds for them to conduct their air strikes, their artillery strikes. Also for U.S. forces to conduct air and artillery strikes. This is a very key test.
I want to show some video our own Nick Paton Walsh shot, what appears to be those American forces just east of Mosul. They're all moving in from both the east and the south. The Pentagon not confirming these are Americans, but all indications are that they are American equipment, American uniforms.
Key test of the Obama strategy. Can you win Mosul? Can you get it out of ISIS control by advising and helping the Iraqis without putting a large footprint of American troops on the ground? Wolf?
BLITZER: We saw that one. They look like armored vehicles. We saw ALSA written on one of them.
What is the threat right now?
STARR: Well, as they move closer to Mosul, the threat is believed to -- will grow significantly. They haven't run into significant opposition just yet but inside Mosul, there may be upwards of 4,000 ISIS troops. And U.S. officials are saying they believe those ISIS troops are largely foreign fighters, some of the most zealous and dedicated ISIS operatives. They are not going to give up Mosul without a fight.
And so, the question is, of course, as U.S. and Iraqi forces move closer to that city, how much will the danger grow for them? Will U.S. forces be able to stay safe? Wolf?
BLITZER: And most analysis -- analysts say it could be months, not necessarily weeks for this war to be over with.
STARR: Absolutely, Wolf. Weeks possibly to get inside Mosul. And still, Raqqah, ISIS's stronghold across the border in Syria lies ahead.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr reporting for us at the Pentagon, Barbara, thanks very much.
Once again, be sure to join us tomorrow. I'll be live in Las Vegas with our entire political team for the final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Our coverage begins 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.