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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries; FBI Too Political?; Trump Gaining Steam, Courting Blue States; Clinton Campaign Alleges FBI Double Standard; Battleground Bombardment; Military Called In to Prevent Election Cyberattacks; Troops Within Hundreds of Yards of ISIS Stronghold. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 1, 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: Democrats question the timing, coming one week before the election. And now sources tell CNN the agency has also been investigating allegations of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Is the FBI director cherry-picking which investigations he makes public?
Battleground bombardment. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dispatch top surrogates to critical states in an effort to squeeze out a victory. And with the race tightening, Trump is now aggressively courting some states that Clinton seemed to have locked up. Can he move them to the GOP column?
Air wars. The candidates launch a massive final commercial campaign with Hillary Clinton returning to the airwaves in states where her ad buys ended months ago. And she's out with a new minute-long indictment of Donald Trump underscoring his remarks about women. Is the final battle of the election unfolding on TV?
And striking distance. Iraqi forces backed by U.S. troops are now within hundreds of yards of the ISIS stronghold in Iraq. Terrorist fighters are now taking desperate measures, including using civilians as human shields. Will we see an ISIS defeat before the election?
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: We're following breaking news, a new controversial and politically charged revelation by the FBI one week before Election Day.
The agency has released files from its investigation more than a decade ago into a pardon granted by President Bill Clinton to a former hedge fund trader charged with tax evasion. The Clinton campaign is openly questioning the timing of the FBI's release, which is sparking fresh criticism of Director James Comey, already under fire for revealing renewed Clinton e-mail investigation.
Democrats are also questioning whether the agency has a double standard, citing the FBI's silence on investigations into possible ties between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia. Sources are telling CNN little has come from those probes so far.
With polls showing the race tightening, the Clinton campaign is dispatching its biggest guns to critical states in an effort to eke out a victory in the battlegrounds and shore up support in states leaning toward Clinton. But Donald Trump is seizing the moment, now campaigning in blue states he believes he can turn red.
There's also breaking news in an unfolding battle against ISIS. Iraqi forces with U.S. advisers close behind are now within hundreds of yards of the city of Mosul seized by terrorist forces more than two years ago. Once inside, officials expect the fiercest fighting yet to play out street to street, even house to house.
We're covering all angles of the breaking news this hour with our guests, including Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. And our correspondents and our expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's begin with the breaking news in the presidential race.
Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is with me with the latest.
Pamela, more dramatic developments and potentially embarrassing developments as well.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We were all surprised by this, by the FBI's document release today from its 2001 investigation into President Clinton's pardons and his foundation.
And it came out of nowhere and had a lot of people scratching their heads today. The timing just days after Director Comey notified Congress about the renewed Clinton e-mail investigation is only fanning the flame and the Clinton campaign was quick to pounce.
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, the FBI under increasing scrutiny after releasing heavily redacted documents from its 2001 investigation into President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich, a donor to his presidential library foundation.
The timing, seven days before the election and on the heels of the FBI director's controversial letter to Congress, invited more criticism of the bureau. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon tweeting: "Absent a FOIA litigation deadline, this is odd. Will FBI be posting docs on Trump's housing discrimination in the '70s?" -- a case settled years ago.
The Twitter account for the FBI Records Management Division, which it calls the Vault, has been dormant for a year, until this weekend, when a tweet was posted pointing to documents relating to Donald Trump's father.
An FBI official insisted to CNN today's release was not political and that Freedom of Information Act requests are automatically posted to the account when they're ready for the public to view and when there's public interest. The official says not posting the documents would have been a change in standard procedure.
Today, Comey appeared at a memorial service in Washington alongside Attorney General Loretta Lynch. CNN has learned the two talked on Monday for the first time since Comey went against the department's recommendation not to inform Congress of e-mails found on Anthony Weiner's laptop. Comey is a Republican who has donated in the past to GOP candidates like Mitt Romney and John McCain, but has not made contributions since he was appointed FBI director by President Obama.
But, tonight, sources say he's feeling the heat from both sides of the aisle, including Republican Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley, for not releasing more information about the newly discovered e-mails from Clinton's top aide, Huma Abedin. Sources tell CNN Comey won't update the public until the investigation is complete.
JEFF CRAMER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: We're not going to get through that process by next Tuesday. And that's something that's going to take weeks, possibly months, depending if there's a large number of e-mails and various agencies that they then have to talk to.
BROWN: Tonight, Democrats say there's a double standard, speaking publicly about the Clinton server investigation before there's clarity, but not about investigations connected to the Trump campaign, those around them and connections to Russia.
Sources tell CNN multiple FBI investigations into allegations of connections between Russia and the Trump campaign have yielded little so far, including into his former campaign manager's alleged ties to pro-Putin forces in Ukraine and Trump supporter Roger Stone's possible role into the Clinton campaign chair's hacked e-mails released by WikiLeaks. This is what Stone recently told NBC.
ROGER STONE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I have a back-channel communications with WikiLeaks, but they certainly don't clear or tell me in advance what they're going to do.
BROWN: The Clinton campaign is crying foul amid reports Comey argued against publicly naming Russia to hacks of the Clinton campaign so close to the election.
ROBBY MOOK, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: They don't say a thing when it comes to Donald Trump and investigations against him, yet when it comes to Hillary Clinton, for some reason, they are more than happy to talk.
BROWN: And, to be clear, our law enforcement sources say Director Comey wasn't hesitant to name Russia because of the election, but rather ongoing investigations with the country and questions about whether Russia was the culprit in the hacks.
Meantime, the Clinton campaign says the FBI still hasn't reached out to Huma Abedin, but she would be happy to cooperate if they ever want to talk. Typically, Wolf, as we know, the FBI interviews subjects at the end of an investigation.
Thanks very much for that, Pamela Brown, reporting.
All of this as the Clinton campaign working furiously in both battleground states as well as traditionally blue states. President Obama campaigning for Hillary Clinton right now in Ohio.
Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is joining us with the latest.
Joe, the campaign is trying to turn attention back to what it sees as Donald Trump's liabilities. What's the latest?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The campaign says no state is more important than the state of Florida, Hillary Clinton doing three events here today, including one right here in Sanford.
With the e-mail controversy swirling in the background, Hillary Clinton going all in against Donald Trump on his interactions with women. But the campaign called it a reframing of the choice in the days before next Tuesday.
JOHNS (voice-over): Hillary Clinton in battleground Florida today.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has shown us who it is. Let us on Tuesday show him who we are.
JOHNS: Looking to shift the focus from the FBI e-mail investigation to a familiar line of attack, Donald Trump and women.
CLINTON: It's not OK to insult people. It's not OK. And look at what he does. He calls women ugly, disgusting, nasty all the time.
JOHNS: Clinton joined in that effort by former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who accused Trump of calling her Miss Piggy after she gained weight.
ALICIA MACHADO, FORMER MISS UNIVERSE: He does not respect women.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MACHADO: He just judges us on our looks. He thinks he can do whatever he wants and get away with it.
JOHNS: It's a message the Clinton campaign is driving home in a new television ad.
QUESTION: Do you treat women with respect?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't say that either.
JOHNS: Highlighting Trump's past offensive remarks about women.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
JOHNS: CNN has learned the Clinton campaign is going on the air in Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, and New Mexico, looking to block any efforts by Trump to make inroads in its Democratic firewall. Tim Kaine campaigning today in Wisconsin, which hasn't backed a Republican for president since 1984.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can't take anything for granted because polls can be wrong. You can't take anything for granted because it's kind of been a season of surprises.
JOHNS: That as Clinton zeros in on Trump's fitness to be president.
CLINTON: One week from today, we will be choosing our next president and commander in chief of the United States. I don't think the choice could be any clearer.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JOHNS: A new Gallup poll shows Clinton has the clear edge among likely voters in the personality and leadership qualities a president should have.
And while Clinton is selling her leadership skills across Florida today, she has a high-profile team of surrogates blanketing key battleground states on her behalf. President Obama in Ohio.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not something you can take for granted. All the progress we have made goes out the window if we don't do our jobs in these next seven days.
JOHNS: Vice President Biden in the Carolinas.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, this is a guy who for 1,000 reasons is unfit to be president.
JOHNS: And former rival Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: We have got some bad news from Mr. Trump. And that is not only is he going to lose on November 8, but he and his billionaire friends are going to start paying their fair share of taxes.
JOHNS: And Florida, where we are tonight, is leading the country in the number of people who have early-voted, so far 3.6 million votes. Republicans have a slight edge in that. The Hillary Clinton campaign says they hope to make it up with votes and ballots that are mailed in.
Nonetheless, there is some concern about the minority vote, it appears. Congressman John Lewis speaking to this crowd tonight and others. So this race continues -- Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Joe, thank you, Joe Johns reporting from Florida.
Let's get a little bit more on all of this.
Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York is joining us. He's a member of the Judiciary Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: What do you think of the release today, all of a sudden, 2001, final days of Bill Clinton's presidency. He pardons Marc Rich, a controversial pardon, a week before the election, the FBI releases a lot of documents from its vault on this?
Are you suspicious about that? Or is this simply the result of a Freedom of Information request?
JEFFRIES: Well, it's another very puzzling development. We're in the final stages of an important presidential campaign, perhaps the most consequential election of the 21st century.
We should be talking about issues and the very different visions that Hillary Clinton has in terms of moving the country forward, Donald Trump turning back the clock. Instead, because of the FBI's actions, we're talking about e-mails, Anthony Weiner, and a 15-year-old pardon.
That doesn't make any sense and it undermines the integrity of the democratic process. I think the FBI and the director owe the American people an explanation as to what's going on.
BLITZER: Is this a violation of policy, from your perspective?
JEFFRIES: Well, this certainly appears to be a violation of the Department of Justice policy, which is to tread carefully in terms of a law enforcement investigation or activity interfering with an election that is ongoing.
We are within that 60-day window where the Department of Justice generally has said that the FBI and all Department of Justice law enforcement personnel should proceed with caution, and that apparently is not taking place.
BLITZER: Does the FBI director, James Comey, have an obligation to tell the American people between now and Election Day, one week from today, to give an update on the Huma Abedin e-mail situation that all of a sudden last Friday came to light?
JEFFRIES: Well, it is totally unacceptable for the director of the FBI to parachute into a presidential election, drop a bomb on Hillary Clinton without any evidence of wrongdoing, and then hide behind his desk at the Department of Justice's or FBI offices once occupied and named after J. Edgar Hoover.
I mean, this does not inspire confidence in the criminal justice system and in the law enforcement process. And so I think he absolutely has an obligation to come forward and level with the American people. Make it clear there's no evidence of wrongdoing. There's no indication that these e-mails have anything to do with Hillary Clinton.
These are third-party e-mails that may even be personal in nature and not relate to Hillary Clinton's time at the Department of State.
BLITZER: His aides say he did have an obligation to inform Congress because he promised them he would if there's a new development. And they also say some of his FBI agents in this other unrelated case involving Anthony Weiner, the former congressman, he's accused of having a sexting relationship with a 15-year-old girl -- that's why the FBI has been investigating him -- all of a sudden did find some e- mails on his computer related to Huma Abedin and maybe to Hillary Clinton's private server as well.
JEFFRIES: Well, there have been several mistakes that the director has made.
Now, listen, I think he's a talented law enforcement professional. But even the best of us can make mistakes. The first thing that he did wrong was that he decided to elaborate on his decision not to recommend prosecution against Hillary Clinton. He should have simply said case closed. That is traditionally what the Department of Justice does.
Instead, he goes into this long elaboration as to why he thinks that she may have made some mistakes, but it's not criminal. Totally unnecessary. And then he comes before the Judiciary Committee and he answers a question where he says that if there's additional substantial evidence that, of course, he'd take a look at it.
But, Wolf, I have reviewed the transcripts. No one has been able to point where he actually promised to Congress that he would provide an update as to the reopening of an investigation.
The FBI doesn't have an obligation to run back to Capitol Hill and inform Congress every time it decides to go on a possible fishing expedition. That's inconsistent with our democracy and separation of powers in our government.
BLITZER: I looked at that exchange as well. He was asked, if there's substantial new information, will you come back and tell us? At he said, I would take a look at it. But you're right. He didn't flatly say he would do it. But he took a look at it and he decided to tell Congress.
Congressman, stay with us. We have much more to discuss. Let's take a quick break. We will resume this conversation in a
BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, a new controversial revelation by the FBI with unknown impact on the presidential election, now just seven days away.
The agency has released files from a 2001 probe into a pardon, a very controversial pardon that President Bill Clinton granted to the husband of a major Democratic donor, that pardon to Marc Rich.
We're going to have much more on that coming up.
We're back with Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
Congressman, once again, thanks for joining us.
One of the problems apparently that Hillary Clinton is facing right now, she -- and you can correct me I'm wrong -- she doesn't have the enthusiasm of African-American voters that President Obama had four years ago and eight years ago. He's trying to help her, President Obama, right now, and others are trying to help.
But what is the problem there? Why are so many African-Americans apparently unenthusiastic compared to the way they were four years ago?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think that President Obama's election and then reelection were historic in terms of him becoming the first African- American ever to sit at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It was a defining moment for many African-Americans, one that most people thought that they would never see in their lifetime.
So it's understandable that there would be some degree of an enthusiasm gap. But what I have seen over time is that many in the African-American community understand the importance of this election, both as it relates to preserving and protecting the legacy of Barack Obama, building upon the great things that he has done and giving Hillary Clinton the opportunity to take the baton and continue the progress that has been made in this country.
And I think on issues such as reducing mass incarceration, dealing with the college affordability problem, making sure we create an economy that works for everyone, Hillary Clinton is the clear choice for the overwhelming majority of African-Americans who are going to race to the polls to get this done.
BLITZER: What advice do you have for her campaign in these final seven days? What do they need to do to get the vote, to turn out the vote? Because in states like North Carolina or Virginia, for that matter, Ohio and Florida, the African-American vote can be critically important. JEFFRIES: Well, I think what we're going to see is that people will
take an all-hands-on-deck approach. We have seen surrogates deployed from all throughout the country. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee are going to be all in the battleground states.
I just returned from Ohio. We will probably be going to Pennsylvania. And we're going to be making the case that on the issues that the African-American community cares about, Hillary Clinton is the clear choice. She has a plan to deal with these things. She started her campaign delivering a speech in Harlem about the mass incarceration problem that we have.
She's laid out an objective for dealing with inner-city African- American poverty, as well as the pathway into the middle class for those who have been left behind for decades in this country. And as long as we continue to talk about the importance of issues, I think she's going to be OK.
BLITZER: And what do you say to Donald Trump when he tells audiences that the Democrats take the African-American community for granted, he's better, give him a chance, don't go with the Democrats?
JEFFRIES: Well, it's a completely absurd statement that has no basis in reality. Donald Trump has a track record of doing everything possible to undermine the interests of the African-American community, whether it goes back to the housing discrimination case that was brought against him in the 1970s by the Nixon Justice Department, of all people, the way he went after the Central Park 5 in New York, and, of course, him leading the racist lie that President Obama was not born in this country.
I think African-Americans are also going to be motivated by the fact that Hillary Clinton is being subjected to a clear double standard in the way in which the FBI is treating her in terms of disclosure, but refusing to discuss the fact that Donald Trump's allies may be wrapped into this Russian hacking scandal and the attempt to interfere with our election.
BLITZER: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, thanks for joining us.
JEFFRIES: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Appreciate it.
Just ahead: With the race tightening right now, Donald Trump and running mate Mike Pence, they team up to bash the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. Can Trump pull some blue states out of Hillary Clinton's column and into his?
BLITZER: There's breaking news in the presidential race tonight, the FBI releasing files from a 2001 investigation into a very controversial pardon by then President Bill Clinton.
Democrats are questioning the timing, coming one week before the election, as Donald Trump is closing his gap with Hillary Clinton.
Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us now.
Jim, the Trump campaign is energized tonight. What is the latest?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf.
With Hillary Clinton dealing with new questions about her e-mails, Donald Trump appears to be gaining momentum at just the right time, staying on message and reaching out to Republicans who have rejected his campaign to come home. The question is, can he keep that going?
ACOSTA (voice-over): Pulling into a Pennsylvania gas station one week before Election Day, Donald Trump's campaign is hardly running on empty. With the race tightening, Trump is eager to flip this state that's become a Democratic firewall, appearing with his running mate, Mike Pence, for a tag-team assault on an issue that rallies Republicans, the health care law GOP congressional leaders tried dozens of times to kill.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we win on November 8...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: ... and elect a Republican Congress, we will able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. Have to do it.
ACOSTA: The GOP nominee is gaining steam at a critical time, cutting Hillary Clinton's lead in CNN's poll of polls in half in just one week, a momentum shift that started before the former secretary of state's new e-mail mess. And as she is questioning the FBI's handling of the matter, Trump is so far staying on message.
TRUMP: To accomplish our goals, we must cut our ties with the small, bitter, petty politics of the past.
ACOSTA: And he is expanding his ad campaign into states like Pennsylvania that seemed safely in Clinton's column.
NARRATOR: Donald Trump will bring the change we're waiting for. America, better, stronger, more prosperous.
ACOSTA: But Trump is still struggling to close the deal even inside his own party. Ohio Governor John Kasich, a former Trump foe, wrote in John McCain for president, even as he voted for the other GOP candidates on the ballot.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told FOX he voted for Trump, while appearing to avoid uttering the GOP nominee's name. REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I am supporting our
entire Republican ticket. I have been all along. What my focus, which has not changed at all, my focus personally right now is saving our House majority.
ACOSTA: Pence said it's time for Republicans who bailed on Trump to get back on board.
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time to come home and elect Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PENCE: It's time to come home and reelect Republican majorities in the United States House of Representatives and the Senate.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
[18:30:12] ACOSTA: But there are some supporters the Trump campaign says it can do without. The campaign denounced a robo-call placed by a white supremacist in Utah, where Trump could lose to independent candidate Evan McMullin.
WILLIAM JOHNSON, WHITE SUPREMACIST: My name is William Johnson. I'm a farmer and a white nationalist. I make this call against Evan McMullin and in support of Donald Trump.
ACOSTA: Now, while the polls show Trump is picking up support and closing on Hillary Clinton, his ground game still lags behind Clinton, which means that he has fewer campaign offices, fewer staffers in these key battleground states.
All of that means, Wolf, that the Trump campaign will have to hope that these big rallies like what we'll have here tonight in Eau Clair, Wisconsin, will translate into support at the polls. It is something that worked for them back in the primaries. But we have not seen that theory tested in the general election campaign. It gets tested one week from tonight -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The Trump campaign has fewer cash on hand, as well. Jim Acosta with the Trump campaign. Thanks very much.
Let's get to our political panel.
Jeffrey Toobin, let me start with you. All of a sudden the Clinton campaign is calling on the FBI to release more information about these supposed investigations going on involving the FBI, investigations, Trump connections with Russia right now. What -- they're saying the FBI is cherry-picking what to release to the public, releasing information that's negative about her but not about him.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's a terrible idea. A bedrock principle of the Department of Justice is you don't release information about pending investigations. You put up or shut up: you file charges or you say nothing at all.
The whole problem that the FBI got into is that Comey violated this principle particularly close to an election. But the worst thing the FBI could do is compound that by disclosing partial information about Donald Trump.
A big problem here, though, is that the FBI is leaking like a sieve. So James -- so it's, in a way, the worst of all possible worlds. There's this partial, perhaps inaccurate information coming out. But the FBI should do its job and shut up until they have charges to bring.
BLITZER: And all of a sudden, Dana, today the FBI releases documents related to the controversial pardon of Marc Rich by President Bill Clinton back at the end of his term in 2001, and a lot of people are wondering why are they doing this a week before the election? That case was closed back in 2005.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You just can't make this up. The reason that -- they say that the reason they released it today was because it was part of a freedom of information request, and the documents became available, that they did all that they needed to do to make it public. And when that happened they just -- poof, they put it online, because that's what you do. Except for the fact that what they put on line is highly political, given the fact, as you said, it's about what Bill Clinton did back in 2000, 2001 right before he left office, a controversial pardon. A reminder of the Clintons doing controversial things when they're in the White House.
We're waiting for a statement from -- from the -- from them to try to explain why they did this. They say that. in order to not do it, it would have been a political move. It would have been overtly political, and they would have had to get special permission to hold it. But the whole thing is bizarre because either way it is incredibly tone deaf...
BLITZER: Yes, Marc Rich's wife was a major contributor to the Democratic National Committee.
BASH: Of course.
BLITZER: So Gloria, the political campaign says it's not -- none of this is really having a big impact on her support, that she's still getting a lot of support...
BORGER: It doesn't matter. Nah. It doesn't matter.
BLITZER: If anything, they say, it's energizing that Democratic base. More people are going to go out and vote for her.
BORGER: That's their spin, and they're sticking to it. Wolf, I think it's a little early for us to say. We see a race generally tightening, whether it would have tightened or not. Otherwise, we don't know.
I was talking to some folks involved in Senate campaigns who see their races tightening, but they're not sure what the cause of it is.
I think the more likely result on this is really on turnout and depressing turnout. You have a small number of people who haven't decided. And whether it will encourage them to give Donald Trump a chance rather than vote for Hillary Clinton, or whether it will encourage them just to stay home and say, "A pox on all your houses," I don't know.
The Hillary Clinton people would like to think that it gets their base enthused, because they've been mistreated by the FBI. But the people who were enthused were already enthused about her, particularly on the e-mail issue. So I think the more likely impact is putting the brakes on turnout a bit and depressing enthusiasm for her.
BLITZER: David Swerdlick, all of a sudden at the end of this campaign we see Donald Trump showing up in traditionally Democratic or blue states, whether Wisconsin or Pennsylvania. And some of his strategists are saying he should really focus in on those battleground states that he desperately needs to win: Ohio, North Carolina, Florida. He's spending time there.
But why is he going to these traditionally Democratic states, as well? Does he really think he has a chance to capture one or two of them?
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, Wolf, at one level you've got this cat and mouse game, where you've got Clinton going to the traditionally Republican states like Arizona. You've got Trump going to some of these traditionally Democratic states.
But every time I check in with folks that I talk to close to the Trump campaign, they don't suggest to me that this is being done with any precision, but they at least know that they have to expand that Romney map.
Romney had 206 electoral votes. To get to 270, he needs either three big states to flip, or he needs two big states and some combination of smaller states. Otherwise, there's no path.
BLITZER: Jackie Kucinich, all of a sudden the Clinton campaign is putting money into Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, states where they -- they basically stopped giving -- doing advertising a while ago. Are they worried about these states? What are they doing?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They're just saying they have a big war chest, and they're spending it. But I think it's not that they're spending money. It's how they're spending it. These are negative ads that are going into these states. These are ads that are anti-Donald Trump. And we had seen the campaign sort of takin a positive turn, there for, you know -- it felt like a week, but it was probably a day or two. And then, all of a sudden now we're back to the negative ads. Now we're back to tearing Donald Trump down. And that -- that is more telling than any money they can spend.
BORGER: Can I just say something about Colorado? There is a huge disparity when you talk to Democrats about Colorado and when you talk to Republicans about the state of Colorado.
There are Republicans who are advising the Trump campaign, who believe that Colorado is a very close race, one or two points. And you talk to Democrats, and they say just what you're saying, Jackie, which is "That's not -- that's not true. We're just -- we've got extra money to spend, and we're going to spend it there." But the Republicans seem to be convinced that there is some headway that Donald Trump can make in that -- in that state.
BLITZER: One advantage, Jeffrey, that the Democrats have, that Hillary Clinton has, they have a lot more money still that they can spend over these final six or seven days. They also have a much better ground game. A lot of people out there in these key battleground states who can go out and encourage people to vote.
TOOBIN: They do, but there's also -- there's a problem that's arisen since 2012, particularly in North Carolina, is that they have -- the Republicans who run the state have shut down polling places in African-American communities. They have limited early voting in African-American communities. And African-American turnout is down in North Carolina.
So yes, you can have a good field operation, but you can't get people to vote if the polls aren't open. And this is something, really, to keep an eye on, because there is certainly no more competitive state in the whole country than North Carolina; and African-American turnout is not what it was in 2012.
BASH: And I think that is part of the reason why the Clinton campaign decided to expand the map on the air and start to advertise in Wisconsin, in Michigan for first time in the general election, because they want to make sure that people who are maybe considering pulling the lever for Donald Trump won't do it.
Again, I phrased that intentionally that way, because these ads, as Jackie said, are negative: "Don't you think about what it would mean for a Trump presidency. Look at all these things that he said. Look at all these things he would do." So it's more about suppressing the Trump vote than encouraging the Clinton vote.
BLITZER; You know, Jackie, all of a sudden in these final few days, Hillary Clinton's campaign, they're really going on the attack, especially on the women-related issues. A new ad that they're putting out highlighting some of the very controversial horrible things that Donald Trump over the years has said about women, in his own words. They have had former Miss Universe out there introducing Hillary Clinton today, Alicia Machado.
This is a new strategy, if you will, because usually in the final week, the closing arguments have a much more positive note than attack, attack, attack.
KUCINICH: Well, this is an old new strategy for the Hillary Clinton campaign, because this worked for hem over the past month. This hammering Donald Trump on his record, particularly in how he treated -- how he treats women. And bringing back Alicia Machado, maybe they're hoping Donald Trump will take the bait and go after her again. They've seen that play work. They're running very similar plays.
But yes, they want to get back on offense; and this is something that worked in the past. We'll see if it works for them. But that ad that they're running has all of his own words again. You know, we've seen this over and over again from the Clinton campaign.
BLITZER: In the past hour alone, David Swerdlick, the president, he sort of echoed that theme, that attack theme. Let me play the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the way, this is not just one tape where he's bragging about how being famous allows him to get away with actions that qualify as sexual assault. This is a lifetime of calling women pigs and dogs and slobs and grading women on a 10-point scale.
[18:40:00] If you disrespected women before you were elected, you will disrespect women once you're president.
And I -- and I know that my wife is not just my equal but my superior. And I want -- I want every man out there who's voting to kind of look inside yourself and ask yourself, "Well, if you're having problems with this stuff, how much of it is, you know, that we're just not used to it?" So that you know, like -- when a guy's ambitious and out in the public arena and working hard, well, that's OK. But when a woman suddenly does it, certainly you're like, well, why is she doing that?
I'm just being honest. I want you to think about it. Because she is so much better qualified than the other guy. She has conducted herself so much better in public life than the other guy. That this notion, that somehow, "Oh, you know, this is hard to choose." It shouldn't be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So David Swerdlick, that's a powerful argument the president is making on her behalf against Trump.
SWERDLICK: Yes. It's effective for a couple of reasons. Both because the president as a popular, at least in terms of his approval ratings, outgoing president, even though he's a Democrat and a partisan, he's able to make that case against Trump and these accusers in a way that's a little more effective than Clinton has been able to make it for herself. It may not be fair, but I think that's the way it's playing out in the last few weeks.
And then also just to remind voters about this issue that was effective for Clinton and Democrats until this FBI issue came along and sort of knocked that off the front pages.
BLITZER: We're also hearing Bernie Sanders, Gloria, all of a sudden he's campaigning for Hillary Clinton. He's in New Hampshire right now and wants to try to solidify that state.
Some of his supporters, though, reading those WikiLeaks documents, if you will. They're pretty disappointed in what's going on before the campaign when they were both running for the Democratic nomination. Are they going to show up and vote for Hillary Clinton?
BORGER: Well, if Bernie Sanders has anything to say about it, they will. He's actually been a very active surrogate for Hillary Clinton since Labor Day. He's been going around talking to a lot of college campuses, talking to a lot of young people. And he is making the case that this is a binary choice, and that he doesn't really care what was in the Podesta e-mails. He's made that -- he's made that very clear.
So I think in terms of surrogates you look at who Hillary Clinton has. We just saw Barack Obama out there. We've seen Michelle Obama. We've seen Vice President Biden out there. Bernie Sanders out there. And the list continues. And Donald Trump doesn't have that large group of surrogates that get the press, that can spread out across the country. When you saw him doing a rally with his vice-presidential nominee together today, rather than being spread out.
So the campaign of Hillary Clinton can hit a lot of spots and get a lot of local press at the same time, and I think Donald Trump has more -- much more difficulty that way.
TOOBIN: Three of the four last Republican nominees for president aren't even voting for Donald Trump.
BORGER: Well, that's -- or didn't go to the convention...
TOOBIN: Much less campaigning for him. The two Bushes and Mitt Romney. I don't know where John McCain is today.
BORGER: And neither are Senate candidates.
BORGER: Neither are Senate candidates.
KUCINICH: But I have to say I do wonder how much Bernie Sanders supporters are going to listen to him. I really do. You hear them still wavering the most as you go out there and talk to people.
BORGER: And that's why these women -- the ads about women may really impact millennial women voters. I think that's one of the groups they're really targeting with these ads.
BLITZER: All right. We've got an update on our top story. All of a sudden, the FBI releasing these documents related to the controversial Bill Clinton pardon of a financier whose wife made major contributions to the Democratic Party back in 2001.
FBI has finally released a statement. Let me read it to our viewers: "The FBI's records management division receives thousands of FOIA" -- Freedom of Information -- "requests annually, which are processed on a first in, first out basis. By law, FOIA materials that have been requested three or more times are posted electronically to the FBI's public reading room shortly after they are processed. Per the standard procedure for FOIA, these materials become available for release and were posted automatically and electronically to the FBI's public reading room in accordance with the law and established procedures."
Jeffrey Toobin, this was the official statement from the FBI, hours after, all of a sudden, this emerged.
TOOBIN: The official statement from me is give me a break.
[18:45:00] I have made FOIA requests, and they take years. It is a very difficult process.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Fifteen years?
TOOBIN: It can sometimes take 15 years. And the idea that they were on top off Comey's statement about Hillary Clinton last week, it just shows at least that they are oblivious and incompetent if not actively partisan in this presidential race.
BLITZER: You know, David, I want to play for you what's going on in Utah right now. All of a sudden, there's a robocall in Utah from a white nationalist going after Evan McMullin, the third-party candidate, who's popular in Utah.
Let me play a clip from that.
BLITZER: Oh, we don't have it. Let me read a little bit of it for you.
"Hello, my name is William Johnson. I'm a farmer and a white nationalist. I make this call against Evan McMullin and in support of Donald Trump. Evan McMullin is an open borders, amnesty supporter. Evan has two mommies. His mother is a lesbian, married to another woman. Evan is okay with that. Indeed, Evan supports the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage.
Evan is over 40 years old and is not married and doesn't even have a girlfriend. I believe Evan is a closet homosexual."
The Trump campaign has condemned this robocall but here we see politics really at its worst.
SWERDLICK: It's politics at its worst. I guess kudos to the Trump campaign for coming out in a relatively short time frame and condemning it.
I will say this, one of the reasons again that I think Evan McMullin is doing well in Utah is partly because he's running in a state that where there's a significant Mormon voting population. Mormons -- Evan McMullin is a Mormon. Mormons are a religious minority that have been persecuted in the past, in the 1800s, driven out by force, from Illinois, from Missouri.
The kind of bigotry that has been expressed by Trump supporters, not necessarily Trump but up to and including the Muslim ban by Donald Trump proposed last year, doesn't sit well I don't think with Muslim voters. They're reliably Republican --
SWERDLICK: Excuse me. Mormon voters. Thank you for correcting me.
They're reliably Republican usually, but not as much in this case. I also, if I could just say one more thing, wolf, the issue with Evan McMullen's mother to me is I'm going to say personally disgraceful. I have two mothers-in-law. To me, there's not two balanced sides to this issue.
This I will just personally say is bigotry and even though it's not ascribed to the Trump campaign, it is, as you said, the worst in politics.
BLITZER: Yes, certainly is. You know, you spent some time recently in a battleground state, Iowa, Dana, and you found some interesting developments there. This is emerging as a real battleground state.
BASH: It is. And Iowa has gone for the Democrats the last six out of seven presidential elections, but now, Wolf, they think in the Trump campaign that this is one they can snatch from Clinton's column.
BASH (voice-over): Knocking on doors. Pounding the pavement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're with the Iowa GOP.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of our supporters, all of our Democrats to vote.
BASH: In Iowa, the urgency is palpable. It went for President Obama twice. Now, it's a dead heat, and Republicans are working to turn Iowa red.
ERIC BRANSTAD, IOWA STATE DIRECTOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: We are ready for change, and Mr. Trump brings that change.
BASH: Eric Branstad, the son of Iowa's long-time GOP governor, runs Trump's operation here and says his appeal reaches beyond the GOP base.
BRANSTAD: I have gone to Republican rallies my entire life. We are seeing new voters like we've never seen before.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Application for an absentee ballot right here.
BASH: Early voting has been under way for over a month. Democrats usually win the early vote. This year, Iowa GOP officials are trying to better compete.
BASH: Talk about the enthusiasm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's at an all-time high. BASH: So far, Republicans are doing better than in 2012 but still
lagging, with 33.9 percent of the early vote, compared to 43.2 percent from Democrats. To push the early vote, both candidates recently came to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, just hours apart.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She is the candidate of yesterday.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have come too far to let Donald Trump take us back.
BASH: The challenge for Democrats, Iowa was never Clinton country. Her stunning 2008 Democratic caucus loss was the beginning of the end for that campaign. And her 2016 win against Bernie Sanders was a struggle.
Iowa Democrats argue their voters are fired up, especially against Trump. And they insist their get out the vote operation is superior.
DR. ANDY MCGUIRE, CHAIR, IOWA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: It is a tossup state. And it's going to come down to that organization, and I think that's what's going to get us to the win.
BASH: The Trump campaign is relying on the Republican National Committee for its get out the vote operation both in Iowa and other battleground states, and it uses, Wolf, an app with the latest technology. People go around on their phones.
The question is whether or not the Democratic grassroots organization really is as vaunted as it was.
[18:50:02] And we're going to take a look at that actually later in the week as both campaigns prepare for their last 96 hours before Election Day.
BLITZER: All right. Good work. Thanks very much.
Everybody, stay with us.
Just ahead, there is breaking news of a critical battle against ISIS right now. Iraqi troops backed by U.S. forces are within yards of terrorist stronghold.
BLITZER: Anxiety over potential cyberattacks against the election has spread to almost every state. CNN's Rene Marsh is working the story for us.
Rene, some states are now taking rather extraordinary measures. What have you learned?
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, forty-six states have asked the Department of Homeland Security for help fending off cyber attacks on their election systems. And more than 20 states have experienced attempted hacks.
But the battleground state of Ohio is taking it one step further.
MARSH (voice-over): The critical state of Ohio has taken an unprecedented step, calling on the National Guard's elite cyber unit to help protect the election.
(on camera): You called on them to essentially hack the state's systems.
JON HUSTED, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: We want to be tested.
[18:55:01] Cyber warfare is a new front for the military, for business, and now, for elections.
MARSH (voice-over): Hacking voting machines in the nation's 9,000 jurisdictions would be a tough task since they're not connected to the Internet or each other. There are also security measures.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, you can't get into that machine without breaking any one of these seals.
MARSH: But voter registration databases with names, numbers, e-mails and addresses are vulnerable. There were breaches in states including Arizona and Illinois. Hackers could use voter contact information to send erroneous voting locations. Hackers could also wipe the database clean, making the names disappear from voter logs, sparking confusion and long lines.
MAJ. DAVID CARPENTER, CYBER PROTECTION SQUAD: We call this room the hunters den. We're cyber hunters.
MARSH: The National Guard cyber team in Maryland is on standby to assist its state.
Major General Linda Singh runs the operation.
MAJ. GEN. LINDA SINGH, MARYLAND ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: These are the folks who are out responding to the snow storms, the floods, the hurricanes, but they're not necessarily thinking that we are out fighting the technology war.
MARSH: Both here and in Ohio, the goal is the same: identify and stop cyber intruders.
(on camera): You are looking for anything that doesn't look quite right, meaning malicious activity.
CARPENTER: Malicious activities, bad guys pulling information away.
MARSH (voice-over): With the election just days away Ohio is confident your vote will count.
(on camera): How can you truly be prepared for something that really the country has never experienced before?
HUSTED: Doesn't mean the cyber attack couldn't occur which would create an inconvenience but it is not going to change any outcome of an election.
MARSH: Wolf, these National Guard cyber teams, they test computer networks by trying to hack them. They're called penetration test, to essentially look for vulnerabilities hackers could exploit. Now, these cyber units are not yet in every state. There are 23 units and on other three years, the plan is to have these cyber teams in 34 states -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Rene. Thank you, Rene Marsh, reporting.
There's also breaking news in the battle to retake Iraq's second largest city from ISIS forces.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is working that story for us.
Barbara, update our viewers on this critical military offensive.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, the Obama administration is saying the fight for Mosul is actually ahead of schedule.
STARR (voice-over): A brutal sand storm challenging the Iraqi advance on Mosul's eastern edge. CNN's Arwa Damon is there.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are less than a kilometer away from its outskirts. But what ISIS has been doing and what we saw them do on this day is seemingly send small groups of fighters to try to circle around and attack the more fixed positions that the Iraqis have been setting up.
STARR: Iraqi forces are constantly trading fire with ISIS. Another few hundred meters and the Iraqis will be inside the city itself. U.S. military advisors are close behind. The Pentagon has not said if U.S. troops will enter Mosul right away.
SETH JONES, RAND CORP.: American forces anywhere near the field of battle right now and this is in an urban field of battle, will become at risk of sniper shooting, of suicide attacks.
STARR: While U.S. troops help pinpoint ISIS target in a city of up to one million, victory may come neighborhood by neighborhood for Iraqi units but shroud down perhaps by the presence of people being used as human shields by ISIS.
JONES: What they are trying to do is leverage the local population in Mosul to mobilize and rise up eventually against the Islamic state.
STARR: Once government centers are under Iraqi control, it's more likely U.S. forces would move in to advise directly. As the Mosul offensive moves forward, in Syria, planning is urgently
under way for military operations against ISIS's declared capital Raqqah.
JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We know that because Raqqah holds such importance to them and because the citizens there, those that remain are in every day in great danger. We know that something is going to have to be done about their presence in Raqqah.
STARR: For anti-ISIS fighters like these we visited in northern Syria, getting to Raqqah and holding onto it may be tough and there is no agreement on who would govern if ISIS is defeated.
STARR: And what is the cost of all this now? The latest price tag, $9.5 billion since the war against ISIS began in 2014 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Is that U.S. taxpayer money you're talking about?
STARR: Indeed, Wolf. Most is not reimbursed by the Iraqis. We heard today that the food, ammunition and resupply that the U.S. is giving the Iraqis is not being reimbursed at this point, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Barbara Starr, thanks very much.
That's it for me.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.