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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Donald Trump to Speak in Michigan; Interview with Dr. Ben Carson; Eight Days Until Election Day; Iraqi Troops Could Enter Mosul Any Day Now. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired October 31, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have real problems with ballots being sent. Does that make sense? Like, people say, oh, here's a ballot being -- here's another ballot. Throw it away. Throw -- oh, here's one I like. We will keep that one.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: As both sides trade barbs on the trail, they're also pointing to bright spots in early voting.
Democrats are running ahead of their 2012 total in Colorado. And they're cutting into the GOP's advantage in both Arizona and Florida. But so far, Republicans appear to have made gains in Iowa and Ohio compared to 2012.
MURRAY: Now, we're expecting Donald Trump to take the stage here in just a couple of moments, and his challenge here in Michigan is not just to dampen the enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton by going on the attack, but also to get some of these working-class white voters, people who are members of unions who have voted Democratic in the past to turn out for Trump on Election Day -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Sara Murray, thank you so much.
Joining me now is Dr. Ben Carson, a former Republican presidential candidate and current adviser to the Trump campaign.
Dr. Carson, thanks so much for joining us.
Let's start with Michigan, your original home state. Do you think that Donald Trump can actually win the state, which hasn't gone Republican for president since 1998?
DR. BEN CARSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I do think so. I was there yesterday or the day before yesterday, and just a tremendous amount of enthusiasm.
But you have to look at a state like Michigan, which was once a big manufacturing state, and you look what's happened. And a lot of that can be attributed to some of our trade policies and some of the regulatory issues.
A small manufacturer, for instance, has to pay $34,000 per year per employee in regulatory costs. It makes it very difficult to compete with others in other nations. So, I think those kinds of things will resonate. And, as I have said before, I really don't think this is about Democrats and Republicans.
I think it's really more about the political elite class and the people.
TAPPER: I want to play for you a clip from a brand-new TV ad from a liberal group, Priorities USA. It plays the song "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" while showing empowering images of women. And then it takes a turn. Take a look at this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PRIORITIES USA AD)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She ate like a pig.
Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely.
Boob job is terrible.
She's a slob.
Lips are too big.
Flat-chested, it's very hard to be a 10.
I moved on her like a bitch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The ad ends with the tagline, "How does Donald Trump make you feel?"
What would you say to a woman voter out there who watches that ad and says, you know, Donald Trump makes me feel like he does not respect women?
CARSON: Well, I would say look what he's done at with his organizations, promoting women to high positions long before it was fashionable to do so.
But I would also say, you know, this is an incredibly important election coming up. And the issues are incredibly important. Please think about your children, think about your grandchildren, and what kind of a nation do we want?
In one direction, we go toward a government-centric nation, and the other one, we go toward a people-centric government, which was the original intent. I think that's a very important issue. And don't be sidetracked.
TAPPER: Donald Trump has long boasted that he's given tremendously to charity for decades.
A "Washington Post" investigation this weekend reported -- quote -- "Trump had sought credit for charity he had not given or had claimed other people's giving as his own."
There are eight days until the election. Wouldn't a simple way for Mr. Trump to quiet his critics be to release his tax returns, so the public can find out how much he does actually give to charity?
CARSON: I suspect, if he were to release them, there would be so much flutter about it that we certainly wouldn't be talking about the critical issues.
We need to be talking about the economy and jobs and immigration and our stature in the world and the military and our children, education, our prison system, not to mention health care, my goodness. These are big issues for people right now.
TAPPER: Let me ask you a question about Iraq and ISIS. Mr. Trump has insisted that the battle for Mosul is not going well and that he could teach U.S. generals a thing or two.
Iraqi troops are right now preparing to enter the city itself. They say the campaign is going faster and better than originally anticipated. Does that mean Donald Trump was wrong, or are the Iraqi, Kurdish and U.S. officials wrong?
CARSON: Well, when he talks about teaching the generals a thing or two, what he's talking about is in terms of how to stand up, you know, to the commander in chief when you have a better idea.
That's what he's talking about. Does he know more about military strategy? Of course not.
TAPPER: All right.
Dr. Ben Carson, always good to see you, sir. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
CARSON: Absolutely. Thank you.
TAPPER: What impact will the FBI e-mail investigation have on the election, especially since millions of Americans have already voted? We will talk about that next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
With eight days before the election, my political panel joins us now. We got a lot to talk about.
Republican strategist Ana Navarro is with us, senior adviser to a super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton Paul Begala, national reporter for RealClearPolitics, and "New York Times" reporter Michael Schmidt, who broke the original story revealing the FBI investigation into Clinton's e-mail use on March 2, 2015.
Michael, congratulations, or condolences, depending on one's point of view.
But let me ask you, what's the latest on the FBI investigation? Do you think we're going to hear anything more out of the Bureau before November 8?
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": So, latest is, today, they have taken the e-mails, they have put them into their computer system and they are beginning the process of combing through them, taking out the duplicates, seeing which ones they have seen before.
Are they personal e-mails? Are they work-related e-mails? Are there classified e-mails that we have seen? And then the question is, is how quickly can they move? Over the weekend, the FBI was saying it's going to take several weeks to do this. Yesterday, they were saying we could get it done by -- may have to get it done by Election Day.
So, will we see something here? I don't know. The rules have been completely thrown out the window since July, when Comey had the press conference. So applying previous behavior to this doesn't work here.
TAPPER: And were you surprised that Huma Abedin is supposedly saying that she was surprised that any of these State Department e-mails were on this computer belonging to Anthony Weiner?
SCHMIDT: No, I'm not surprised, because I know, with my own phone, I connect it up -- you charge it here, charge it there.
And maybe this is an instance where she was charging her phone on there and it was downloading the e-mails. We still don't have a lot of clarity about how these e-mails ended up there. But we charge it in all sorts of places. And your data moves with you in different ways. And I'm sure there's computers that have my stuff on it that I don't even remember.
TAPPER: Not to mention the iCloud. Who knows what they have there?
Do you think this was going to...
ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That was the most terrifying thing that you just described. I don't know about you guys, but as he's sitting there talking about it, I...
TAPPER: Yes, I can just imagine what you got in there. But go ahead.
NAVARRO: I would have to move out of the country. (LAUGHTER)
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You're going anyway. You're being deported. Come on now.
TAPPER: But let me ask you, do you think this is going to have an impact on the election?
NAVARRO: Look, it's having an impact already.
It's having -- in the sense that we are talking about it. We have been talking about it now for four days. We haven't been talking about Donald Trump and his flaws.
Hillary Clinton is having to fight off Comey, instead of fighting off Donald Trump. It is a huge distraction. It would be foolish to say that it is not affecting the election. Absolutely, it is.
TAPPER: And one of the ways that the Clinton team and other Democrats are going after this is that they're going after Comey, although we should point out, in September, Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon tweeted this about a Republican senator who was unhappy with James Comey at the time.
"Grassley," a reference to the Iowa Republican, "now restoring to trying to bully the FBI into serving his partisan interests. Shameless."
That's now what people are now saying about the Clinton campaign.
BEGALA: Well, yes, but I'm more interested not in what the Trump campaign or Hillary's campaign says, but in what former Justice Department officials from the Bush administration and the Obama administration and the Clinton administration are saying, people who have led that department, attorneys general of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, deputy attorneys general.
They said that what Comey has done is outrageous. And, as a strategist, Ana is right. This hurts. It hurts the most, I fear, as a Hillary guy, with college-educated white people. The only good about that elite criticism of Comey is that those are folks that college-educated voters listen to, far more than a hack like me, Right.
Here's Larry Thompson, was one of the top two people in the Justice Department under President Bush. He says this is outrageous and unfair. wow.
So, in that sense, the elite criticism of Comey, not the political criticism, the elite Justice Department criticism, I think, may stanch some of the bleeding. TAPPER: Rebecca, one of the things the Clinton people are hanging
their hat on, they're happy about, is they say the early voting numbers are good for them in many places.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And they are. That's true.
And it helps obviously, for obvious reasons, to build up that advantage before Election Day, because it lessens the opportunity for Trump to take advantage of something like this, which is a huge gift for him politically.
And that's why he's been talking about it on the stump nonstop. But that said, Hillary Clinton is still going to have to have work to do on Election Day, and that's why she has built up a very formidable organization in these battleground states, and Donald Trump has not, and that's still going to be a major problem for him on November 8.
TAPPER: And, Michael, we're seeing a lot of stories that seem to suggest a lot of people in the FBI are talking to reporters about decisions that have made that they don't like, both in your newspaper by you, but also in "The Wall Street Journal," decisions that have been made, FBI agents that wanted to probe the Clinton Foundation, told not to.
What is going on there? Explain the dynamic. My impression was that people in the FBI really respected and liked James Comey.
SCHMIDT: No, I don't think there are issues with Comey.
I think these are investigators that want to dig. They just want to keep on going. But this election has brought the FBI into politics in a way we have never seen before. You had the e-mail issue. You have had Harry Reid calling for FBI investigations of Trump.
You have had these -- both parties sort of trying to use the Bureau to use criminal investigations against the others. And that has put the Bureau in a very, very difficult spot.
And I don't think the agents' issues are with Comey.
[16:30:02] You know, maybe some of them were upset with the e-mail decision. You know, FBI agents tent to be a little more conservative than others, but I think they understood there wasn't enough evidence there to really make a case, because they understand the day-to- dayness of that and I think they were probably in lock step.
TAPPER: So Paul, how can Hillary Clinton win this election? What does she need to do for the next week and a day?
BEGALA: Well, what she needs to try to take the offense again, get off her defense on these e-mails.
TAPPER: But you say that she's talking about this in her speeches.
BEGALA: Because she has to. She's got to answer to it, right? And she's been much more proactive about this since Mike's original story ran, right. I think she was slow and gave that answers. This time she was very quick. She even answered questions by the press, her favorite thing to do. She does not like answering questions but she did. She got out in front of it.
And I think that she wants to do is two things. Reassure college- educated white people tend to be Republican and they take an chance on her. They could bleed away easily. But also fire up her base.
You know, where you're talking to communities of color who for years have been telling us law enforcement is biased against us? And now here's one of the most powerful people in the country looks like she can make a claim that at least the FBI director has been unfair to her, too? There's a way to rally your base about this. But ultimately you want to get off of that, that's why you showed Dr. Carson at the Super PAC advisers running, right, which attacks Trump on -- it depends Hillary is been great with women and attacks Trump, not about all this stuff we're talking about now, but all the things he said about women. The thing that gave Hillary the lead in the last several weeks.
TAPPER: And if you were advising Donald Trump which I know would never happen. But if you were, what would you tell him to do, just talk about the e-mail scandal from now until election day?
NAVARRO: Shut up. Read your teleprompter. Do not offend any groups. Do not offend women. Do not offend African-Americans. Do not pick a fight with gold star families. Do not pick a fight with Rosie O'Donnell. Do not a pick a fight with Megyn Kelly. Do not pick a fight with POWs. Do not pick a fight with John McCain. Do not pick a fight with anybody. Stick to your script and just let this thing unfold.
The biggest surprise would be if he's got the restraint to be able to do this. One of the things that is really helping Donald Trump right now is that we don't have any more debates. We don't have anymore platforms where 80 million people can see him at the time and be reminded he is a jerk. So, Hillary Clinton, the spotlight is all her and it is not a good story she's telling. I don't think this changes one iota where the loyalists.
BERG: And the problem of course is that Donald Trump has already done all of these things that you listed and voters aren't going to forget that in the next week and Democrats are certainly not going to allow voters forget that in the next week. We're going to see millions of dollars of advertising to remind people of those things that Donald Trump has said.
TAPPER: All right, fasten your seat belts folks. Really appreciate it. Ana, Paul, Rebecca, Michael thank you so much.
As we speak, Iraqi forces are in position just yards from Mosul ready to move in and take on ISIS. What will they face when they go in? We will talk live with the CNN team on the ground. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:52:01] TAPPER: Welcome back to "The Lead." Let's turn to the World Lead now. It seems destined to be a vicious and bloody file showdown. Iraqi troops could at any time enter Mosul. It has been under ISIS control for more than two years. The terrorist group has left a trail of death and destruction ever since coalition force is loosened its grip on the city. As many as 5,000 ISIS terrorists are said to be holed up in and around Mosul ready to fight to the death. Let's get right to CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh. He's in Irbil, Iraq.
Nick, you've embedded on the frontlines with Iraqi and Kurdish troops since the offensive began. What are the conditions like on the ground right now?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is tough moving down that road from the east of Mosul toward the city limits themselves. Iraqi military loud on rhetoric today saying they're nipping those city limits in certain areas, suggestions from residents (inaudible) city proper. But yes, they are hearing gunshots. They are seeing Iraqi army nearby, airstrikes following them, too. But it's going to be a hard fight.
As we saw ourselves, intense resistance on Saturday night that we observed on that main road. They headed into the remainder of the village Baswara near where we were, certainly, but it isn't clear if this is part of a broader bid by the Iraqi military to show only narrative to kind of take back, if you like, from the coalition's suggestion that few days ago they should pull and consolidate their rear to make sure they're not attacking behind as they move further into the urban sprawl.
Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister very vociferously saying they'll cut off the head of the snake here, appealing to Mosul residents to stay indoors. And Jake, another problem is narrative to, what's happening inside the city. What we know there are 1.2 million civilians there who have risk being caught on the crossfire or used as human shields.
What slightly more off the radar is the insurrection potentially beginning there. We've known and spoken to resistance fighters who are waiting for what they call zero hour. While in the last 24 hours, some senior ISIS officials have been shot dead in drive-by instance in that city when ISIS position attacks as well. It is a beginning of resurrection? Is the zero hour now upon those people? We'll that change the equation when it comes to how long ISIS can resist the Iraq advance? All unknowns. What's pretty certainly there is the episode of fighting inside the urban sprawl Mosul will be certainly bloodier than they already pretty complicated advance. They've had across the deserted around the city itself, Jake.
TAPPER: Nick, obviously ISIS is not going to go down without a fight to the death. What types of countermeasures are they taking to defend their stronghold in Mosul which they've controlled for more than two years?
WALSH: You can't believe, Jake, the sheer volume of booby traps and mines laid everywhere and in almost every house in the village we were in, they have to clear it painstakingly. You never know if the soft toy on the floor is linked to a bomb or simply something a child discarded as they fled. It's very hard people to return to life. Very hard for Iraqis soldiers simply to move through areas and that's in the disserted villages that frankly ISIS don't care so much about.
Imagine what they've got in store for Iraqi security forces in the city proper, a densely packed urban environment. Many civilians caught in there. Urban street, street fighting hard enough in the best of times. The best equipped militaries, Iraq's security forces, special forces that we saw, a brave job indeed, courageous, but facing a tough job ahead certainly inside that city, Jake.
[14:55:24] TAPPER: All right, Nick Paton Walsh in Irbil. Just recently embedded with Iraqi forces trying to recapture Mosul. Thank you so much Nick, please stay safe over there.
Back to politics. Huma Abedin once again not travelling with Hillary Clinton. Just eight days before the election. Is the long-time aide now Clinton's biggest political liability? That story ahead. Stay with us.