Return to Transcripts main page


Trump visits Pittsburgh synagogue and shooting victims; met by protesters calling for him to denounce White Supremacists. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 30, 2018 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Will Ripley reporting for us. Thanks very much for watching. ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the President facing fierce resistance in Pittsburgh tonight. Officials, victim's family members and protesters telling him he's not welcome. The Allegheny County executive who refused to meet with President Trump is my guest tonight.

Plus, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has reinterviewed Steve Bannon, the topic, Roger Stone.

And the President claims he can defy the constitution and end birthright citizenship. Melania Trump's immigration attorney, well, he begs to differ and he's my guest too. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, I'm Jake Tapper in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT, tonight, unwelcome? The President of the United States making a controversial visit to Pittsburgh today after the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. The President was greeted by hundreds of protesters singing "This Land Is Your Land."

Protesters with signs saying the President is not welcome until he stops what they perceive to be his assault on immigrations and refugees, until he fully denounces white nationalism to their satisfaction. The protests on one level are not surprising. Pittsburgh is after all a very capital D Democratic city. And one week before the midterm elections tensions are of course running high.

On the other hand, this is not a normal time and President Trump is not a typical President. Over the past several years even many conservative Republicans have expressed concerns about the President's incendiary rhetoric to say the least. President Trump's trip also comes as several Pennsylvania officials and community leaders urged him not to go, not at this time.

The mayor of Pittsburgh, the governor of Pennsylvania, Allegheny County executive all saying they would not meet with the President on this trip. Many victims' families also saying they would not meet with the President. As the President and First Lady arrived along with Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, there were no elected officials, Democrats or Republican, on the tarmac to greet them.

Instead the President was greeted by a member of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and his wife, an unusual sight to say the least. Congressional leaders including Republicans also declined to accompany the President, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, even the state's Republican senator Pat Toomey all declining for various reasons.

Now this all come, of course, as the first funerals are being held today for the victims. Those laid to rest today include Brothers David and Cecil Rosenthal and Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz.

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT in Pittsburgh for us. And Kaitlan, President Trump and his entourage, they just left the city. The White House was expecting some resistance but did this year number of protesters and there's welcomers surprise them?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It seemed to Jake, because those protesters, you could hear them from where I'm standing right now, right outside the Tree of Life Synagogue. And when President Trump and the First Lady Melania Trump first arrived here, they went inside with the Rabbi and we were standing out here with some of the President's senior staff including his Chief of Staff John Kelly, the Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, several other members of the administration as well.

And you couldn't see the protesters from where we are because, of course, the secret service has a lot of this blocked off for his arrival. But you could hear them pretty clearly from where we were standing. And we saw several officials look down the road, try to see where they were coming from, where the protesters were, because that was just shortly after they had landed here in Pittsburgh.

But that was all President Trump was inside. They lit a candle for each of the 11 victims from Saturday's shooting while they were in there with Melania Trump and the Rabbi. And they came out here to this memorial that has -- the community has created outside of the Synagogue. And they laid stones on each of the stars of David, one for each person who was shot, each bearing their name, of course, surrounded by flowers and balloons.

The members of this community brought here since that shooting on Saturday to pay their own respects. And then the President went to UPMC Presbyterian. Jake, that's the hospital where a lot of people who were shot here on Saturday were treated as well. That's where they were taken. It's a ten-minute drive or so from the Synagogue. And the President was there for more than 80 minutes just now not only meeting with the medical staff who treated those people who had been shot but also meeting with those police officers who ran into the Synagogue when everyone else was trying to get out. Including one, Jake, who the White House says is still in Intensive Care Unit.

So the President was there for about 80 minutes or so. We'll likely get a read out of what exactly was going on while he was in the hospital there today. Of course cameras in there but he has now left and has gone and on his way back to Washington, Jake. TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, thanks so much.

I want to get now to Miguel Marquez, he's with some of the protesters. Miguel, what have you been hearing from them? Why do they not want the President there? Do they not see the President is having good intentions trying to comfort them?

[19:05:13] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They see the President as a divisive character in all of this. Many people coming up to me and saying that, but for the President, this horrific, you know, killing of Jews would not have happened. You cannot walk around this neighborhood without finding people who are just in tears everywhere. And today that sort of it manifests itself in a protest. Thousands of people turned out.

I want to show you what's happening right now. This is sort of the last number. It's a small number of people who have taken over Forbes Street here right near Murray. A few blocks from the Synagogue. They are singing. They are grieving. This is their neighborhood. It's sort of a direct action. There's been a lot of police activity as well. Police have tried to clear the streets. And there are several police officers, several dozen police officers in this area here.

It is not clear whether they are going to clear the street or just allow them to sing, to grieve and to have their moment here. But we're certainly watching it. It has been a remarkable day to see. We did not expect a protest and then we heard there might be one and there was 20 people. And before long, it was thousands of people in the streets here singing, chanting, praying and hoping that this community, this town can get beyond this and hoping that the political rhetoric takes a different, a different path at this point. Jake.

TAPPER: Miguel, it sounds as though from their singing "This Land Is Your Land" and the like, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds as though it's a peaceful and not an angry protest. Is that obviously different? There would be individuals and different people reacting it. But it's, am I getting the right impressions?

MARQUEZ: There is some anger. I don't want to -- completely I mean it is the vast majority is peaceful. It is prayers. They -- a lot of Jewish traditions where they took black pieces of paper or ribbons and held it up and, you know, tore it in half to show that they are not whole. Very, very powerful moments where they were walking along by the fire station that was closest to the Synagogue and the police station, applauding the firefighters and the police officers. They're hugging them and thanking them.

But there is also anger. There was at least one arrest. There were people sort of pushing in on the barricades as the President was leaving. They -- there are a lot of signs that are very disrespectful of the President and of his office. And it is a mix of emotions, but that deep well of sadness, that emotion, it was a little concerning about where -- what direction it would take today. But it clearly people in this neighborhood, they love their neighborhood. They want to get beyond this. And they hope this will help heal this neighborhood, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, painting a complicated picture. Miguel Marquez in Pittsburgh. Thanks so much.

OUTFRONT now is Democratic Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. He declined to meet with President Trump today. Thanks so much for joining us. What did you make of the President's trip to Pittsburgh from his point of view? He was, you know, he went in there with the best intentions. Do you think he struck the right tone?

RICH FITZGERALD (D), ALLEGHENY COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Well, I haven't seen a lot of the coverage of what when the President was here. But my understanding is it was not a rally type of event. It was more of a solemn remembrance and respectful, the stone -- putting the stones on the memorials at the Synagogue, which was appropriate.

But I also, you know, knowing that this is a pretty politically volatile time, just coming now, you know, when emotions are so raw, when we're burying our dead, when we're grieving and trying to comfort the families could really turn out to be something, something different than what we really need here in this community right now.

TAPPER: But it's not just the timing, right? Let's be honest. I mean Pittsburgh is a very Democratic city. You're a Democrat. A lot of the officials who refused to meet with President Trump are Democrats. This is about President Trump personally. That's why you didn't want to meet with him, no?

FITZGERALD: No, that's not the case at all. It just wasn't the right time. And I think you probably saw that other elected officials, Democrats and Republicans, that the Republican leaders from the Senate, the House refused to come here as well. That the Republican elected officials here did not meet as well. I think they had a sense. We were all together Saturday and Sunday.

Democrats and Republicans who were in town, even those that didn't live here came, our Republican Speaker of the House was here. And it was -- it's about being respectful and having a tone that is allowing the families to be first. The attention should be on the families and on those 11 -- those 11 victims and their families and the community. And this is a community that does come together.

[19:10:11] It is also a politically active community. I will certainly acknowledge that. It's probably the most politically active community in western Pennsylvania. But that doesn't necessarily mean that we want our politics to be out in front at a time like this.

TAPPER: I don't mean in a political way, but we've heard from a lot of the protesters and some of the people who are part of the community who don't like President Trump's tone, don't like his rhetoric. In some cases they hold him in some ways responsible for the hate crime, the acts of violence that have occurred. Isn't that part of it as well?

I mean, President Obama, he went to Aurora, Colorado, I think two or three days after the horror there. He went to Sandy Hook just a couple of days after the horror there. It's not that unusual. What I mean -- I don't mean it's because President Trump is Republican. I mean it seems like it's about him though that what -- that people are objecting to, but you're saying that's not the case at all?

FITZGERALD: Well, I can't speak to what happened, you know, the elected officials in Colorado or in Sandy Hook or in other places. But what I can tell you is, again, I think it was the timing. And I think the mayor and I and the Governor all have said, you know, we were hoping maybe a week or two, you know, allow a little bit of a time for, again, for the families to bury their dead, the Sit Shiva, to have the appropriate time of healing. And then certainly come in to town and let's meet with the family. Again, if the families want to do that even a week or two from now.

But it was just the timing that I thought was maybe not the right -- not the right way to go. So, again, from all sides, from right and left, there's a lot of anger. There's a lot of vitriol right now on all sides. And, again, we didn't want a carnival, political carnival, political sideshow if you will when this really is about the families and about a community, a special community that we love very much. And it was nothing more than that.

TAPPER: Well, tell me how the community is doing. How are people coping? Obviously, the family members of the 11 individuals killed and those wounded will, you know, it will take months or years or they will never be made whole. How are other people in Pittsburgh and Squirrel Hill doing?

FITZGERALD: Well, people, you know, and I live in this neighborhood. I, you know, about 100 yards is the Synagogue in this way and a 100 yards that way is my home. And as I saw my neighbors walking around on the sidewalk the last couple of days up and down the street they're in shock. They have numb looks on their faces. And I think that's emblematic of what's happening throughout Squirrel Hill. It's a strong community. It's a very much a community of families, multigenerational families of multi-different faiths. And people are comforting each other.

I just came from a Zionist organization of America. Their annual dinner just happened to be tonight and there were a lot of people that showed up because they just want to connect with people. They don't want to be sitting by themselves. They want to be with others and having that social contact. And it's kind of what this neighborhood has really been about all along and I think we just want to be there for each other.

TAPPER: All right. Well, thank you so much Rich Fitzgerald for being with us tonight. We really appreciate it.

FITZGERALD: Thank you.

TAPPER: OUTFRONT next, the Republican Congressman and Trump ally under increased scrutiny tonight over his white nationalist rhetoric. Is his own party now abandoning him?

Plus breaking news, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team interviewing Steve Bannon again? What does Mueller want from Trump's former chief strategist?

And Kellyanne Conway's husband George Conway just out with a new op-ed co-authored calling the President's proposal to end birthright citizenship through an executive order, unconstitutional. Stay with us.


[19:17:49] TAPPER: President Trump on his way back to the White House right now after visiting Pittsburgh, the visit happening despite numerous calls from some Pittsburghers to delay or cancel the trip.

OUTFRONT we have former Republican Presidential candidate and perhaps more importantly former Senator from the Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum also from the Pittsburgh area, National Affairs correspondent for the nation Joan Walsh and CNN Political Director David Chalian.

Senator Santorum, let me start with you, what did you make of the fact that so few, if any, of the city's leaders were there or the states commonwealth's leaders were there to greet the President or be part of his visit? Obviously the Rabbi was there, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers.


TAPPER: But the mayor, Allegheny County Executive, the Governor, they weren't there.

SANTORUM: I was disappointed. I mean when the, you know, I always said this, you know, when the President would come into my state whether Bill Clinton or George Bush when I was in office, you show up if you're invited because he's the President. And I may not agree with him. May not like him personally even, but he's the President and he's there to express the condolences of the nation as the President to this, you know, to the people would suffered to this horrible tragedy.

And, you know, we talk about the divisiveness and then yet when you have an opportunity as local and state officials to not be divisive, to actually step up and say, you know, this is the President. I don't like his politics. I don't even like him. I don't like what he says, but he's here to honor these people. And I'm going to be the bigger person here.

And, you hear this all the time. Trump needs to be the bigger person. Well, it comes back at you if you're the governor of Pennsylvania or -- and, look, I have good relationships with Rich Fritzgerald. He's a really good man.

TAPPER: The Allegheny County --


SANTORUM: After the -- yes, the commissioner we just saw.

TAPPER: -- executive we just saw. SANTORUM: He's a good man. And I know he lives in that neighborhood. And I know there's a lot of tensions are running high. It could have been an opportunity for Rich to step up and say, you know, this is something that's probably not be politically smart for me to do because I know this is, you know, heated time and do something. And, you know, show that we can be bigger than this. That we can forgive and we can move forward and I just -- I think they missed that opportunity.

TAPPER: Joan, let me bring you in here. President Trump insisted he was going to visit Pittsburgh to honor the victims. He went to the Synagogue. He put stones on the not real graves but the faux graves of 11 victims.


TAPPER: Isn't Senator Santorum, right, this was an opportunity -- I get why people are mad at President Trump and I get why people in the community are angry but wasn't this potentially a moment for healing that, not President Trump, but other people missed?

WALSH: I don't think so, Jake, I really don't. He was asked not to come now. He was never asked not to come. And I would point out that Senator Pat Toomey who was a Republican he was not there today to meet the President.

Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan were invited along. They were not -- they did not go either. I think they had the sense to realize that this was a day of mourning when the dead needed to be the focus, that this neighborhood is grieving. That it is challenge that there are security challenges.

Barack Obama waited several days and all of the cases of mass murders until he would not take away from the emergency response, the police response, the police are grieving and I think, you know, Jeff Zeleny reported earlier in the day that the reason the White House was giving for why it had to happen today is that the President's schedule is chock-full of campaign rallies before the midterms for the next week. So if that's not the definition of political posturing, I don't know what is.

TAPPER: David Chalian, earlier today on my 4:00 show I asked Paul Begala who worked in the Bill Clinton White House about when Bill Clinton went to Oklahoma after the Oklahoma City bombing. Oklahoma, you might not be surprised to hear, not a hotbed of pro-Clinton sentiment. He said that they waited for the governor, Governor Keating at the time, to invite President Clinton, that it really had to do with the state bringing him in and obviously -- and for whatever the reason and you certainly would go threw a list of all the things President Trump has done to get Governor Wolf mad of whatever reason that didn't come, that invitation didn't come?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. So you can have a conversation about the timing and Joan pointed out the reporting about a campaign schedule and maybe if that was not the case, the President would have waited more for local officials to be on board. But I think it's a lot of sound and fury signifying not much today because I think, at the end of the day, Jake, what Pennsylvanians and what the country sees is that image of the President and First Lady paying condolences, putting those stones on those makeshift temporary graves, on behalf of a mournful nation.

That is a really important image and I think that the White House accomplished that today. And, yes, I know that we can chat about an awkward arrival or not the protocol of who is normally there but at the end of the day, imagine the reverse if the President did not make a visit at all. And how that would be treated if we didn't have that moment of the President doing that, so I can -- there may have been less politically charged way to deal with this and timing on this but I think at the end of the day the right image of the President is the one that was projected to the country tonight.

TAPPER: So Joan, so when President Trump arrived. He arrived with Ivanka Trump, his daughter, who has converted to Judaism, her husband Jared Kushner who is one of the President's senior advisers, also Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was there. The Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer was there. They were met at the synagogue by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, the Rabbi of Tree of Life Synagogue.

That image and what we saw of the President today, you know, I understand what you're saying that the scheduling maybe that's a little crass, the idea that he had campaign events that he couldn't tear himself away from. I think the White House official said they couldn't have him go to Pittsburgh and the same day and also go to a campaign event. And the midterms are on Tuesday. But that image is in my -- a lot of Americans might see that and say that's the President doing what presidents do and trying to heal and trying to be a comforter. He did so in a low-key way. You didn't take that from it?

WALSH: I did not. You know, it cannot erase the years of awful rhetoric from the President. For me, Jake, if anyone took comfort from that and especially if any family member to comfort from that, God bless them, I give them that. I would never take it away from them. I would say I saw a lot of people in that neighborhood who were not comforted. I saw people who were depicted as protesters who were saying the mourner's Kaddish who were singing Hebrew songs of grief and mourning. I saw people who were not comforted but I certainly -- if one person in the country was comforted, if one family was comforted, I understand that and that's their right. I was not comforted.

TAPPER: What did you think of the fact that the President brought, David Chalian, Ivanka and Jared and Steve Mnuchin who is, I guess, there is a bit of highest ranking Jews in the Trump Administration?

CHALIAN: I see nothing wrong with that.

[19:25:00] TAPPER: Yeah.

CHALIAN: It seems to be a totally appropriate move and in fact among the images that you were talking about, you saw Jared Kushner sort of rubbing the back of the rabbi as they were walking in.


CAHLIAN: I mean, there was a connection there obviously based in their faith. Obviously being so closely related to the President and his senior advisers, it seemed like a no-brainer of a kind of a move that you would want to bring in. I am sure Jared and Ivanka wanted to personally to express their condolences.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about another subject. If I can, Senator Santorum, which is Republican Congressman Steve King, who I think you served with him in the House, did you not?

SANTORUM: Yeah, see him there.

TAPPER: So he's been under a lot of scrutiny for his rhetoric about George Soros. He's retweeted some very questionable characters and he endorsed a woman with a very questionable past for Toronto mayor.

The Republican Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee Steve Stiers, Congressman Steve Stiers, I think of Ohio tweeted, "Today, Congressman Steve King's recent actions and retweetes are completely inappropriate. We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms and strongly condemn this behavior."

I have to say, one week before a midterm election where at least one poll indicated that Steve King has something of a competitive race. I was kind of surprised to see that. Were you?

SANTORUM: I was -- well, yes and no. I mean, I think that Republicans need to be very, very direct and when it comes to these types of comments that may give the impression that the Republican Party somehow, you know, has some quarter for white supremacists which we do not. And so anybody that seems to give that quarter needs to be called out and I'm glad that they did it. I mean, look, I don't believe Steve King is a white supremacist nor supports it but if he does things that are out of bounds, he needs to be called out on it.

TAPPER: All right. OUTFRONT next, the President's Former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon interviewed again by Robert Mueller's team. What the Special Counsel appears to be focusing on tonight?

Plus, is it the Trump defense, a man convicted in a plot to kill Somali-Muslim refugees is now blaming the President's rhetoric with the attack? We'll explain.


[19:30:36] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We have some breaking news for you now. President Trump's former chief strategist meeting again with special counsel Robert Mueller's team. The focus of this meeting: longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, and whether Stone made private comments to campaign officials in 2016 that suggested Stone had advanced knowledge of those hacked Democratic emails that were ultimately released by WikiLeaks.

Shimon Prokupecz is OUTFRONT.

Shimon, what else do we know about this latest meeting between Bannon and Mueller's team.


And this is the third time we're told that Bannon has met with the special counsel. Significant in the sense that we know there's this ongoing probe of Roger Stone and whether or not he had any knowledge ahead of the release of those emails. And so, we're told that this was the focus of some of the questioning by the Mueller team of whether or not Roger Stone had some knowledge in advance.

You know, keep in mind that Bannon both worked on the campaign and also obviously worked at the White House, so the thing here that the special counsel we're told has been trying to figure out whether or not Roger Stone if, in fact, he was communicating with WikiLeaks and had knowledge, of these emails, did he tell anyone ahead of time about this and that could be perhaps why the special counsel and investigators were talking to Bannon, because they want to see if he knew anything about it. We don't know.

Significant also we should say is that Bannon has not testified before the grand jury. So, it was just a meeting with the special counsel with their investigators and we'll see. There's always a chance that Bannon could be brought back maybe to go before a grand jury or for whatever other reason.

TAPPER: All right. Interesting. Stick around.

I want to bring in Harry Sandick, former assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York and Shan Wu, who's a former federal prosecutor, also a former lawyer for former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates who is now cooperating with the Mueller probe.

Harry, let me start with you. What do you make of the fact that Bannon has been interviewed again? It's at least the third time Bannon's met with Mueller's team, although never in front of the grand jury?

HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Sure, I think what it means is that as this investigation is progressing, Mueller's team is hearing things from other witnesses about let's say Roger Stone and Steve Bannon. And so, in order to make sure that you're getting all the details right, it makes sense to go back, see the witness again, bring in Bannon to meet with the investigators another time, a third time, however many times you need to find out what actually happened and to hear the account from as many different witnesses as possible. And so, I think what must have happened here is that some witness made reference to their being communications with Bannon and then Mueller's team said, let's get Bannon back in and hear what happened.

TAPPER: Shan, it was two months ago that Roger Stone sent out a fund- raising email where he wrote, quote: I'm next on the crooked special prosecutor's hit list because I have advised Donald Trump for the past 39 years. Discounting that crazy claim that he's crooked, that Mueller is crooked and, you hear this latest reporting. I guess the question is, does it sound like Stone's right that he might be next on the list?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, I think Roger's instincts are right on that count. And --

TAPPER: What's the crime? What's the potential crime?

WU: Well, the crime for him would be part of the collusion notion which is that he might be the interface with the Russians --

TAPPER: Collusion is not a crime. So, it would be conspiracy?

WU: Conspiracy to interfere with the election and I think the problem for him is these sorts of investigations are musical chairs. You don't want to be the last person standing when music stops. They are working their way in to him. So, even if that doesn't mean indictment, it means he is the focus and he's going last and so that's something to be worried about.

TAPPER: Bringing the squeeze on.

To that point, Shimon, Mueller's team has interviewed a lot of close associates of Roger Stone, including conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, radio host Randy Credico, and former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg, who has called Stone a mentor.

But to the best of your knowledge, Mueller's team has not interviewed Stone.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, no, in fact, Stone has told us as much, that they've not interviewed him. Shan will know that's both troubling -- that could spell trouble for Roger Stone. The fact that he's not been interviewed could indicate that he is a target.

Look, it's clear he is a target in the investigation. They keep bringing people in one after another. This whole host of characters that you just named that they keep bringing in before the grand jury. Some people have been in there more than once.

Obviously, Steve Bannon but in particular to the Roger Stone issue, there are some witnesses who have been brought back. They've left and come back and been asked for more documents. So, in the end, it does seem like there's something going on.

[19:35:02] We don't obviously know much about what goes on in terms of the special counsel's investigation. But this is the one thing we keep hearing about, Roger Stone, Roger Stone. And interestingly enough, while Roger Stone doesn't think he's in any kind of trouble, he's certainly fund-raising off it, right?

He's asked for money to help his defense so we'll see. Look, we're getting close, it seems. You know, maybe perhaps after the election, we'll see some activity. We certainly expect that.

But, you know, it just still keeps going, Roger Stone, Roger Stone, Roger Stone.

TAPPER: Very interesting.

And, Harry, Stone has a history of comments that suggests he knew something was coming during the campaign. He tweeted at one point during the campaign, it will soon be Podesta's time in the barrel. That's before the Podesta emails release. I have total confidence that WikiLeaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon, he said.

And here's what he said to a Republican group in August 2016. Take a listen.


ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe that the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation but there's no telling what the October surprise may be.


TAPPER: I'm sure this is all information that the special counsel has at the quick and ready as well.

SANDICK: Yes, absolutely. And so this is really what Mueller is trying to figure out. Was there any basis for what Stone said in August and he said it on many occasions about his contacts with Assange and if so, would that make him the missing link between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks? Or, was he as he is saying now, just puffing, exaggerating his influence, raising money, getting people excited but he was making it all up?

And so, to answer that question, Mueller needs to talk to other witnesses to look at emails and any documents in order to figure out whether Stone's comments in the summer were accurate and has a significant back story or whether he was just making it up and his comments today denying any real connection to WikiLeaks are the accurate comment.

TAPPER: And, Shan, just to reiterate that point, Stone denies any wrongdoing. He denies any advance knowledge of the content or time frame for the WikiLeaks release. Let's take a listen.


STONE: Let me say it yet again, I had no advance notice of the source or the content or the actual release date of the devastating material that WikiLeaks published.


TAPPER: Can he square that with his previous comments?

WU: I think it's hard for him because of the timing of so much of this. I mean, have you that rather important date where the "Access" tape comes out on Trump. It's almost as, though, WikiLeaks is responding to that.

When you put that in conjunction with his perhaps puffery, his bragging about what he knew, you have to look very carefully at that timing and maybe it's just a spin and maybe his spin has some truth to it.

TAPPER: We'll see what Mueller has, if anything. Thanks one and all.

OUTFRONT next, a man convicted of a plot to kill Muslims now says President Trump's rhetoric is at least partly to blame and he's not the only one using Trump's words as a defense of their actions and President Trump claims he can end birthright citizenship through an executive order. Kellyanne Conway's husband George Conway publicly calling that unconstitutional. First Lady Melania Trump's immigration lawyer also saying not so fast. He's my guest.

Stay with us.


[19:42:19] TAPPER: Call it the Trump defense. A Kansas man convicted in a 2016 plot to kill Somali-Muslim refugees is now pleading for a lighter sentence. His argument, that Trump's heated rhetoric influenced him and should be taken into consideration by the judge.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day after Donald Trump's stunning election win, Patrick Stein and two other men had their own surprise planned out west.

TOM BEALL, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY: The defendants conspired to detonate a bomb at an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, where Muslim immigrants from Somalia live and worship.

FOREMAN: A recording played in court nad reported by "The Washington Post" has the Trump supporters saying the f'ing cockroaches in this country have to go, period. They are the threat in this country right now.

He was convicted but his attorneys want the court to go easy at sentencing because they say Stein was pushed over the edge and he directly cited explosive and at times false claims by Donald Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They caught 50 radical Islamic terrorists. They took a pig and then they took a second pig and they cut the pig open.

FOREMAN: The court cannot ignore the circumstances of one of the most rhetorically mold-breaking violent, awful, hateful and contentious presidential elections in modern history driven in large measure by the rhetorical China shop bull who is now our president.

Legal analysts say courts may recognize the president's inflammatory words.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: But at the end of the day, everyone is responsible for their own conduct, right? You've heard a million time, right, by your parents if someone else jumps off the bridge, does that mean you do?

FOREMAN: Trump denies spurring violence, asked about his fan accused of sending bombs to top Democrats and CNN --

TRUMP: He was insane a long time before -- you look at his medical records. He was insane for a long time.

FOREMAN: Still, a man charged with assaulting a protester at a rally said Trump urged him to do so. The courts have now said, no, it wasn't Trump's fault. But the president criticized low-level criminals being offered deals to testify against bigger players and now his remarks are coming up in courtrooms cited by defense attorneys.

TRUMP: It's called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal.

FOREMAN: And federal prosecutors say a man recently groped a woman on an airplane and even in that case he tried to argue, Trump said it was okay.

TRUMP: They let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


FOREMAN: Again, legal analysts say, this precedent set by a president will probably not get anybody off the hook, but they add we probably have not seen the last of the Donald Trump made me do it defense.

[19:45:11] TAPPER: We just don't -- so it hasn't worked yet.

FOREMAN: It hasn't worked and it probably won't, but that won't keep them from trying.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks so much, Tom Foreman.

This news just in, Kellyanne Conway's husband co-authored a new column in "The Washington Post" saying the president's plan to end birthright citizenship is unconstitutional. George Conway, a noted and respected conservative attorney in Washington writes, quote, along with Neal Katyal, quote: Such a move would be unconstitutional and would certainly be challenged and the challengers would undoubtedly win. Our Constitution is a bipartisan document designed to endure for ages. Its words have meaning that cannot be washed away.

President Trump is trying to rally his base a week before election day with this legal questionable promise of getting rid of birthright citizenship. The president saying he will sign an executive order and that will be enough to end the right of citizenship for anyone born in the United States, including the children of noncitizens, including the children of undocumented immigrants.

OUTFRONT now, First Lady Melania Trump's immigration lawyer Michael Wildes. He's also the author of "Safe Haven in America: Battles to Open the Golden Door".

Michael, thanks for joining us.

You helped the president's wife and her parents become U.S. citizens. But we should note, you're also a Democrat and former mayor and a current mayoral nominee in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

What do you say to the president's promise to end birthright citizenship with an executive order and that's going to be enough?


TAPPER: Oh, pardon me.

WILDES: And I represent Mrs. Trump on immigration matters but I helped her parents more recently. And I'm here as an individual lawyer not in any official capacity of the first lady.

Look, do I feel it meets muster? Absolutely not. This is again a political ping-pong that's going to be bandied about. An executive order, Jake, cannot be put forward unless the constitutional authority is vested in the president here in Article 1, Section 8, it's with Congress.

Did Congress ever cede authority to it? Did they remain silent in this? Absolutely not. Supreme Court held a hallmark case in 1898 after the 14th Amendment had been ratified 30 years before that. Again, those hallmark amendments 13, 14 and 15 dealing with the Dred Scott and the evolution of the reconstruction area, Amendment 14 itself stating specifically that persons born in the United States are American citizens. Again, articles in the Constitution referring to it as well.

And finally, the Supreme Court then coming up with a decision at the time two parents who were subject to Chinese Exclusion Act had a child born in the United States and was well settled by the Supreme Court.

And if that wasn't enough, go to 1952, the Walter McCarron act, 18 U.S. Code, Section 1401, a child born in the United States is an American citizen.

TAPPER: OK. So you don't buy it but let me ask you this -- what if the president did sign this executive order if it exists and isn't just a mechanism to motivate his base for the midterms. He did sign this executive order, it was challenged in court, and then it worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Is it not possible that it could be upheld and these immigration laws and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution would remain but not applied to the children of those would were in the country illegally?

WILDES: So, first of all, it's dead on arrival in a district federal court. It's not going to an appeals court and not getting to the Supreme Court. That's just plain fact.

But let's pull the lens back if we can on the territory here. A child who comes to the United States or is born in the United States and my father who is an immigration lawyer had a hallmark case where a child was born on an American flagged airplane. When the plane landed, the mother had immigration issue, the child was an American citizen.

But you understand fundamentally when the case hits the court system, it is not going anywhere and there are mechanisms and protections to protect the using or bootstrapping yourself in an unsafe way. Look, the dialogue has deteriorated tremendously. The notion of an anchor baby and the fear that the president is instilling is just not factual. I have not seen in my 30 years of practice a woman coming in pregnant so that 21 years later, yes, Jake, 21 years later a parent can then be sponsored by a child but only if that parent entered legally and overstayed.

So, we have legal mechanisms and we shouldn't be playing to fears and this is just another political effort unfortunately where immigration is a ping-pong. And, again, we have foreign students that are looking to on board into the workforce and competing against them. We're distracting the most vulnerable and scores of people watching this, clients that are coming to immigration lawyers throughout the nation are living in fear every time something like this happens.

[19:50:06] Do not fear. This won't work.

TAPPER: Here's the argument that Vice President Mike Pence made today, not surprisingly, in support of President Trump. Take a listen.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We all cherish the language of the 14th Amendment. But the Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th amendment subject to the jurisdiction thereof applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally.


TAPPER: Is he wrong?

WILDES: Yes. 1898, they ruled in U.S. versus Ark, that hallmark case where the difference of just (INAUDIBLE) and just saying one. Again, we want to understand that most European countries have a blood line of citizenship.

It's a very charming, Jake, in America that we have a combination. There is some you can inherit and there is some where you have to earn it by having boots on the ground, that a person who's born physically in America can actually aspire and become president of the United States.

And that whole articulation, that little caveat, read the 14th Amendment itself. All persons born are naturalized in the United States are citizens. The notion of them being subject to something else, it's in the context of the civil rights that were being accorded post-slavery and so forth.

TAPPER: All right. Michael, thank you so much for your time. We always appreciate it.

OUTFRONT next, our race of the day. Tonight, we're going to take you to Missouri where a Democrat is trying to hold on to her seat by running away from the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Will it work? Stay with us.


[19:55:50] TAPPER: The CNN election music. It's time for the OUTFRONT race of the day. We're just one week away from the midterms.

And there are races across the country that are neck and neck including the Missouri Senate race. It's a race so close Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill has created an ad in which he not only insists she's not a, quote, crazy Democrat, but is now distancing herself from more progressive counterparts.


SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Elizabeth Warren sure went after me when I advocated tooling back some of the regulations for small banks. And credit unions. I certainly disagree with Bernie Sanders on a bunch of stuff.




DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrat Claire McCaskill rolling deep in rural conservative Missouri in search of every possible vote to send her back to the Senate.

MCCASKILL: I mean, we're realists about this. It's not that anybody believes I'm going to be able to win Jasper County. But you know what we can do? We can win a few more votes. Because I've got news for you, it's close.

BASH: In many ways, it's a political miracle this two-term Senate Democrat even represents this red state President Trump won by nearly 20 points. She first won in 2006, a Democratic wave here, and again in 2012 after GOP Todd Akin talked of legitimate rape.

MCCASKILL: Health care is on the ballot.

BASH: Like many Democrats in tough races, she tries to stay focused on health care and preserving Obamacare's protections for pre-existing conditions. Her GOP opponent josh holly says he supports them too but he's part of a lawsuit that could strike down those protections. He's casting the race as a clear choice.

JOSH HAWLEY (R), SENATE CANDIDATE FROM MISSOURI: We don't like the Washington establishment. We think that there needs to be a shake-up in both parties. And, you know, voters were very adamant about that. This campaign is really about that.

BASH: Hawley is a staunch Trump supporter, elected Missouri attorney general just two years ago.

The blunt McCaskill launches regularly one-liners at her 38-year-old Ivy League educated challenger.

MCCASKILL: As Ronald Reagan said, I'm not going to try -- I'm going to try not to hold his youth and inexperience again him. He may be a Yale-educated lawyer, but I'm a Mizzou educated lawyer and I can keep up.

BASH: She's running on her experience yet running from the left wing of her own party.

MCCASKILL: It may irritate some of you in this room that I'm proud that I'm a moderate. There may be people in this room that think I am not liberal enough to carry the banner of this party.

BASH (on camera): You have the radio ad out saying that you're not one of those crazy Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Claire is not one of those crazy Democrats. She works right in the middle and finds compromise.

BASH: What does that mean?

MCCASKILL: Well, the crazy Democrats are the people who are getting in the face of elected officials in restaurants and screaming at them. The crazy Democrats is whoever put a swastika on one of Josh Hawley's signs in rural Missouri. That is the kind of stuff I'm talking about, the extreme stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the radical left from passing the social agenda.

BASH (voice-over): Tying her to liberal Democratic leaders is the centerpiece of Hawley's campaign, seizing on her votes against both of President Trump's Supreme Court nominees.

(on camera): That was a big deal?

HAWLEY: Big deal, very big deal.

BASH: Like that could make the difference?

HAWLEY: Yes, I do. Very big deal.

BASH: In what way?

HAWLEY: Because I think voters were so appalled by what they saw and just appalled by the smear campaign.

BASH: She did say how she would vote before the hearing and all that.

HAWLEY: She was honest in saying that she was voting against Justice Kavanaugh because he was a conservative.

BASH (voice-over): She says she voted no because Kavanaugh supported unlimited campaign cash.

MCCASKILL: I would be a big hypocrite if I voted for Kavanaugh because of dark money.

BASH: She's making an effort to connect with Trump voters she needs to win in other ways like on immigration.

MCCASKILL: The impression he's giving Missourians that the Democrats are in favor of our border being overrun. I am not. I support the president 100 percent. Doing what he needs to do to secure the border.

BASH: Rallying supporters to get out the vote, the Democrat reminds them she's beaten Missouri's odds before.

MCCASKILL: And because of all of you and you're commitment, they're going to say that Claire McCaskill, she's done it again.

BASH: Dana Bash, CNN, Kansas City, Missouri.


TAPPER: Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts right now.