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Clinton Aides in Hacked E-mail: "Clean Up" Server Issue; Republican Super PAC to Spend $25 Million on Senate Races; Pentagon Suspends Efforts to Collect Reenlistment Bonuses Paid to National Guardsmen. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 26, 2016 - 11:30   ET



[11:34:31] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look at your television. On the left, we are waiting for Hillary Clinton. She will be holding an early voting rally in Lake Worth, Florida. She will take the stage any minute. We're watching for that. On the right of your screen, Donald Trump and his family are celebrating the opening of his hotel in Washington, D.C. We will be listening for that, for any campaign news. If that happens, we will bring it to you.

At the same time, we are watching this. A brand new batch of hacked e-mails posted by WikiLeaks, this time, it's about the biggest controversy that's faced Hillary Clinton's campaign, her use of private e-mail servers and what those closest to her said about it as the story was breaking.

[11:35:11] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Want to bring in Adam Hodge, communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

Adam, great to see you again.


BERMAN: I want to read to you part of the release we just got from WikiLeaks of the hacked e-mails. It's an e-mail exchange between Neera Tanden and John Podesta, now the chair of the Clinton campaign. This was early on. "Why didn't they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy." She's talking about Hillary Clinton's e-mail server. Podesta responds, "Unbelievable. Neera Tanden, "I guess, I know the answer, they wanted to get away with it."

My question to you is, Adam, get away with what?

HODGE: Look, John, let's be clear, what we know is that Russia is behind the hack of these e-mails. We know that the intelligence community has pointed the finger right at Russia and saying they are behind getting the documents to WikiLeaks.

BERMAN: Yes. Yes. That -- that --

HODGE: And that's a real issue.

BERMAN: It is a real issue.

HODGE: I'm not going to --


BERMAN: But also -- Adam, also -- also at issue --



HODGE: John, I don't want to read your e-mails and I don't think you want to read mine.

BERMAN: I agree. I think it would be awful to ha your e-mails released and made public.

But it's out there. We are reporting on it. And Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server is a campaign issue and it is of interest. And when someone close to Hillary Clinton is saying that people around her wanted to get away with it, you don't think it raises questions?

HODGE: John, I don't even know if that e-mail is real. Look, just last week we found out that there was a fake op-ed that was sent from the DNC to "The New York Times." Turns out, the e-mail to "The New York Times" was fake, and the e-mail with the op-ed supposedly from Tim Kaine was fake. I don't know what's real, I don't know what's fake.

The real thing we need to be remembering is that this is a hack directed at the United States to influence our election on behalf of one candidate, Donald Trump. That's again something that should trouble all Americans.

BOLDUAN: Look, there is ample time and ample opportunity and ample networks that would be happy to have either Neera Tanden or John Podesta on to say this e-mail exchange never happened. They have not done that this point. We will note that.

Let's try this exchange then. This is between a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Mills, a close, close adviser to Hillary Clinton over the years, a top aide when she was at the State Department. Josh Sherwin e-mails, "Jen, you probably have more on this but it looks like POTUS" -- the president -- "just said he found out Hillary Clinton was using her private -- personal e-mail when he saw it in the news." This came out in a CBS interview. Mills then forwarded that e-mail to John Podesta saying, "We need to clean this up. He -- meaning the president, you assume -- "has e-mails from her. They do not say"

This clearly suggests they knew they had one. They had a mess on their hands. And Trump has already been out there -- to John's point, this has become the campaign issue. Trump is out there saying this shows the president was involved. What do you say?

HODGE: Well, Josh is a really good friend of mine but I don't know when he sent that e-mail or what was behind it. I fully believe the president found out about it when he said he did, and so we will just leave it at that.

BOLDUAN: You are comfortable just saying we're not going to be answering to this issue that's become a campaign issue?

HODGE: Look, it's not that we don't want to talk about the issues on the campaign. Quite frankly, I think this isn't the most important issue of the campaign.

BOLDUAN: Kind of sounds like it.

HODGE: No, no, no, Kate. Look, the really important issue around this is that Russia is behind this attack and they are doing it to influence the election.

BERMAN: Which --


HODGE: I'm not going to do Russia's bidding.

BERMAN: We have talked it. We have talked extensively the Russian involvement, so that is covered. We understand you won't answer any more questions about that, so we'll move on.

Let's talk about what Donald Trump is doing today. He's in Washington, D.C. opening up a new hotel. There are people that have been critical of it. But his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway said why. Listen to this.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Hillary Clinton has time to go to an Adele concert and everyone thinks that's cool. Donald Trump stops off to unveil just an incredible stunning piece of architecture, a new hotel, first-class hotel, and everyone's hair is on fire.


BERMAN: People's hair is on fire, although not ours, about Donald Trump opening this hotel. But Hillary Clinton's at an Adele concert. Fair criticism?

HODGE: No. It's not fair at all. Look, this is the 32nd time Trump has used one of his properties as a prop for his campaign. He's talked about his great business record but we know that back in the '90s he lost nearly $1 billion. So he can have events outside of his hotels. We will keep talking about his failed business record and why he can't be trusted to be president and to be commander-in-chief.

We are going to keep talking about why Hillary Clinton is talking about investing in the middle class, growing the economy, and making - investing in infrastructure, and making college more affordable. That's the issues the American people want to hear about. That's what they want to talk about. We will take for the next 13 days.

[11:40:23] BOLDUAN: And they are voting as we speak in many places.

BERMAN: It's Election Day.

BOLDUAN: It is Election Day.

Adam Hodge -- check your calendar -- great to see you. Thank you very much.

HODGE: Always a pleasure, guys.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

So how nervous are Republicans about potentially losing the Senate?


What? Stop laughing at me.

BERMAN: I read ahead.


BOLDUAN: You got to love to read ahead. You ruined the tease.

How nervous are Republicans about losing the Senate? $25 million nervous. That's how much they're throwing at a select list of Senate races with less than two weeks to go in hopes of saving their majority.

BERMAN: We'll be right back. Sorry.



[11:45:12] BERMAN: It is fortnight minus one. If you live in one of these six states, get ready for a slew of new ads for your Republican Senate candidate. Why? The Republican super PAC, Senate Leadership Fund, is spending $25 million combined in Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

BOLDUAN: The goal, a pretty simple one, to save Republicans' control of the Senate.

Joining us to discuss, national correspondent at "The Hill, Reid Wilson.

Reid, great to see you. Thanks for being here.


BOLDUAN: So these reports, Manu Raju is reporting, seeing it other places as well, the super PAC is dumping money into these Senate races. What are you hearing? WILSON: Well, the Senate leadership fund has been the largest outside

group spending on behalf of Republicans trying to maintain their Senate majority this year. And these advertisements, $25 million is a lot of money but a lot of other outside groups have also put in that much money. And by the way, the Senate Leadership Fund has put in twice that so far in all the key battleground states.

What I think we learned from the map that you just showed is that the Senate landscape is evolving, that control of the Senate is going to come down to probably four or five states. The states we are talking about here are Nevada, the only state on that map controlled by Democrats, then Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. States that are all controlled by Republicans, where Democrats think they have got the upper hand going into the final two- week stretch.

BERMAN: I will say that anxiety, political anxiety is day to day and minute to minute. Republicans, to me at least, seem a little less nervous today than a day and a half ago, but that could change.

BOLDUAN: $25 million two weeks out.

WILSON: Well --

BERMAN: That could change in a heartbeat.

Go ahead.

WILSON: It's funny how sort of their mood has changed over the last month or so. Talking to Republicans about a month ago, they were sighing a little bit of relief because Donald Trump had not proved to be the albatross they really feared. Then came the first debate where very poorly, then came the leaked tape, and all of a sudden, internal Republican polls showed that voters were associating Donald Trump with their Senate incumbents. Now I think the slide has been arrested a little bit. It's not clear whether or not they have entirely made up the ground that they lost in that early October period. But look to that, the last week of September, early week of October, that's when Republicans started to get really nervous about control of the Senate. Now here we are two weeks to go, and I think both sides feel pretty confident. That being said, they are confident that their candidates are essentially tied which means control of the Senate is still a coin flip.

BERMAN: Quickly, how nervous is Paul Ryan after this election about his leadership position and potential backlash?

WILSON: It's almost certain Republicans will lose seats in the House of Representatives. They would have to lose 30 to lose control of the House, which is probably not going to happen. The problem for Paul Ryan is that the seats they are going to lose are largely centrist moderate Republicans, who are most likely to back him. Meanwhile, the arch-conservatives, who have been the biggest thorn in his side, they're the ones who are going to stick around. That means they will have more power in the next Congress and that's something Paul Ryan will have to deal with. BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Reid, thanks for coming on.

WILSON: You got it. Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Some news just broke moments ago. After an outpouring of outrage, the Pentagon is now suspending all efforts to recollect bonuses from members of the National Guard. We will have details on this breaking story ahead.

BOLDUAN: Also, minutes from now, we are awaiting, we are watching live pictures. Hillary Clinton to speak in battleground Florida. Waiting for her to begin her live remarks. We will bring them to you when she starts.


[11:52:49] BOLDUAN: An about-face from the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordering officials to stand down in making some in the National Guard payback reenlistment bonuses.

BOLDUAN: That initial order to collect reimbursements some 10 years after they were paid out stirred up outrage among veterans and their families, and a lot of people around the country.

CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has details.

Jim, is the Pentagon considering forgiving these loans or this disbursement altogether?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They're clearly trying to draw a line under this. The first line of Secretary Carter's statement gets to it, "There's no more important responsibility for the Department of Defense than keeping faith with our people." Clearly, he sees here that this is a problem. You gave these bonuses out, and now these veterans, many of whom are facing financial challenges, forced to pay back tens of thousands of dollars years later.

Now he does say in this statement that some of these servicemen and women should have known they weren't eligible for these bonuses. So it's possible, leaving the window open there that some of them do have to pay it back. But when he was pressed about this after giving that statement, he was asked if he might permanently suspend these payments, he says he has to work within the law but left that possibility open.

I don't think anybody, including him, wants to be in a position of clawing back bonuses the military has already paid to these families.

BOLDUAN: How did this all happen, Jim?

SCIUTTO: This happened in effect with recruiting officers, specifically with the California National Guard, who had very ambitious recruiting goals to meet and who offered bonuses to soldiers, men and women, who weren't eligible for the bonuses, which is fraud. And people are going to prison for this. The person who was spearheading this for the California National Guard was sentenced to 30 months in prison, so significant fines there.

But there is a bigger issue problem here, during the two longest wars in America's history, the military had trouble keeping up with the demands of that. The soldier who was killed in Afghanistan a couple days ago was on his 14th tour. 14th tour. You know, how is that possible? And the only way the military's been able to meet those goals is by offering bonuses, calling people back, sending them multiple times to these war zones, and that's the bigger issue here that really neither side, neither party has figured out an answer to.

BERMAN: All right. Important developments.

Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Jim.

[11:55:14] BERMAN: Moments ago, Donald Trump weighed in on the Newt Gingrich/Megyn Kelly dust up over sex.

BOLDUAN: Fascination over it.

BERMAN: Hear what the Republican nominee is saying. That's next.



TRUMP: By the way, congratulations, Newt, on last night. That was an amazing interview.


TRUMP: That was amazing --


BOLDUAN: And so that just happened in Washington, D.C. So it continues between Donald and Megyn Kelly and now Newt Gingrich.

BERMAN: That gives "Inside Politics" with John King a whole lot to talk about. We'll hand it over to him right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: John and Kate, thank you.

And welcome to "Inside Politics."