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THE SITUATION ROOM

President Obama Makes Midterm Election Push For Democrats; President Trump Blames Media For Violence; Interview With Congressman Ted Lieu; U.S. President and Predecessor in Dueling Rallies; Interview with Senator Jeff Flake; Melania Trump a No-Show during Midterm Campaign Push; Trump Defends Racist Campaign Ad He Tweeted; Federal Judge Rules Thousands of "Pending" Georgia Voters Must Be Allowed to Vote. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 2, 2018 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:03]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tampering and obstruction? Newly revealed text and e-mails show longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone telling an associate targeted by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, not to talk and to plead the Fifth. Will Mueller hold that over Stone's head or charge him?

And scaring off votes. New information about the shockingly racist campaign video retweeted by President Trump demonizing Mexicans and blaming Democrats. Our fact-check reveals misleading and flat-out false allegations.

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: Breaking news: President Trump and former President Obama both campaigning tonight, trying to get out the vote for the midterm election, now just four days away.

And they're trading barbs, with Mr. Trump calling his predecessor's record -- and I'm quoting now -- "lie after lie, broken promise after broken promise."

But President Obama says Mr. Trump is the liar and he accuses him of using racial and religious division to anger and scare voters.

I will talk about that and more with Congressman Ted Lieu. And our correspondents, analysts and specialists are also standing by.

First, let's go to our White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. She is in West Virginia, where President Trump just finished the first of two political rallies tonight.

Kaitlan, the president really went after his predecessor.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He did, Wolf. Some of his most cutting words were for President Barack Obama. President Trump said he watched President Obama speaking in Florida while he was on his flight here to West Virginia because he said he had nothing better to do.

He criticized him for his health care plan. He criticized him for criticizing Trump for going after the media, but some of his harshest words about Obama were about his record, saying it was broken promise after broken promise.

But, Wolf, Obama wasn't the only topic on the president's mind here tonight. He also had immigration front and center.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (voice-over): As the president barnstorms across the country tonight, visiting two states as he heads into the final weekend before the election, he's not letting the facts get in the way of his last- minute midterm message, stoking fear of immigrants.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But caravan after caravan is forming, unvetted illegal aliens trying to flood into our country.

COLLINS: As he left the White House late today, Trump pulled back on changing the rules of engagement for U.S. troops he is sending to the border. After saying Thursday he considered rocks thrown by migrants to be equal with rifles, implying soldiers could fire their weapons in return, the president said today he'd only detain them.

TRUMP: I didn't say shoot. I didn't say shoot. But they do that with us, they're going to be arrested for a long time.

COLLINS: Tonight, the president blaming the violence in the country on the media when asked if his own rhetoric has anything to do with the division in the country.

TRUMP: A lot of the reporters are creating violence by not writing the truth. The fake news is creating violence. If the media would write correctly and write accurately and write fairly, you would have a lot less violence in the country.

COLLINS: During his rally in Missouri Thursday night, the president complained that the pipe bombs sent to his political opponents and the tragedy in Pittsburgh had diverted attention away from the issue he wanted to focus on in the waning days of the campaign, immigration.

TRUMP: We did have two maniacs stop a momentum that was incredible.

COLLINS: The president softening his frustration by adding:

TRUMP: We don't care about momentum when it comes to a disgrace like just happened to our country.

COLLINS: But in hopes of revving up Republican momentum, the president has taken his immigration on the road with multiple rallies a day.

TRUMP: Does anybody think this makes sense?

COLLINS: The president getting a course of boos throughout an airport hangar in Missouri Thursday night when he dismissed the 14th Amendment guaranteeing birthright citizenship amendment as nothing but:

TRUMP: This crazy, lunatic policy that we can end.

COLLINS: Trump blaming Democrats for what is in the Constitution.

TRUMP: The Democrats want to continue giving automatic birthright citizenship to every child born to an illegal alien.

(BOOING)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Wolf, immigration was at the top of the president's priority list here in West Virginia, but he did briefly mention that impressive jobs report that came out today, saying that there are people who keep telling him he needs to be talking about it more, but adding -- and I quote -- "Sometimes, it is not as exciting to talk about the economy because we have a lot of other things to talk about."

Wolf, that is not something Republicans want to hear just a few days before the midterms.

[18:05:03]

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Good point, indeed. Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much.

President Obama, meanwhile, is in Atlanta getting ready for his second rally of the day.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung.

Kaylee, the former president has been sharply critical of President Trump.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

And, for one, earlier today in Miami, he called out President Trump. President Obama saying that the rhetoric we have heard from some in the closing days of this campaign has been designed to divide us, to make us fearful, to make us angry.

President Obama was fired up earlier in Miami. We expect to hear more of the same when he takes the stage behind me in about an hour-and-a- half.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know there are sincere conservatives who are compassionate and must think there's nothing compassionate about ripping immigrant children from the arms of mothers at the border.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I'm assuming that they recognize that a president doesn't get to decide on his own who is an American citizen and who's not.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: That's not how the Constitution of the United States works. That's not how the Bill of Rights works. That's not how our democracy works.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: People who think it's wrong to spend eight years trying to take away people's health care, and then spend the final days pretending your Mother Teresa, that you're Florence Nightingale,.

People who -- I'm assuming people must get upset when they see folks who spend all their time vilifying others, questioning their patriotism, calling them enemies of the people, and then suddenly pretending they're concerned about civility.

And we don't need more mealymouthed elected officials who say, oh, well, I'm very concerned, or I'm terribly vexed by this bad behavior, but there's nothing I can do about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: President Obama delivering fierce words there, a call for urgency, as he told voters this might be the most important election of our lifetimes, as the stakes are just that high, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Kaylee, thank you very much, Kaylee Hartung reporting for us.

There's more breaking news tonight. President Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, is speaking out about what he says were repeated uses of and racist language and references by Mr. Trump in personal conversations before he became president.

Our national political correspondent, M.J. Lee, is working the story for us.

M.J., Michael Cohen has now been one of the president's biggest critics.

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We are again seeing Michael Cohen letting loose on Donald Trump in this new "Vanity Fair" interview.

He says in the years he worked for Donald Trump, on more than one occasion, he heard Donald Trump using racist and chilling language in their private conversations. Three examples, Wolf, that I want to point to from this story. Michael Cohen says that in 2016, Michael Cohen and Donald Trump were

discussing a Trump rally and Cohen noticed -- noted that many members of the audience were white. He says: "I told Trump that the rally looked vanilla on television." And Trump responded, "That's because black people are too stupid to vote for me."

Another example, Wolf, after Nelson Mandela's death, Michael Cohen says Donald Trump said to him, "Name one country run by a black person that is not a shithole," adding, "Name one city."

The third example, Wolf, is from the late 2000s. Michael Cohen says that he was traveling with Donald Trump for work and they were traveling from the airport to the hotel when they went through what he referred to as a rougher neighborhood. And at this point Michael Cohen said that Trump made a comment to him saying, "Only the blacks could live like this."

Now, the motivation, Michael Cohen says in this "Vanity Fair" interview, for speaking out right now is that he knows probably better than anybody else that Donald Trump's language in private is actually worse than some of the things that he says in public and that he would like the American voters to be informed, so that they're actually aware of Donald Trump's real character.

Now, this, of course, is just one example of the complete 180 that we have seen Michael Cohen do when it comes to Donald Trump, his former boss. We have reported over the last couple of weeks that he says he had changed his party registration from Republican back to Democrat.

He has also said that he is willing to campaign for Democrats and against Donald Trump, and when we caught up with Michael Cohen just last month, he said the American people need to get out and vote against Donald Trump, because, otherwise, we are going to see two to six years of more craziness -- Wolf.

[18:10:01]

BLITZER: Any reaction from the White House to these statements made by Michael Cohen?

LEE: No reaction that we have gotten from the White House so far, though we have reached out.

But you can easily imagine, Wolf, that Donald Trump, if he is watching this, is going to be bothered. We have seen his rhetoric when it comes to Michael Cohen change over the last couple of months as well, from sort of defending his former lawyer as somebody who had been loyal to him for many years, and now saying that he is not someone who is credible.

And one thing that you can imagine is going to bother Donald Trump as well is the fact that Michael Cohen has been speaking with investigators over the last few weeks. Last month, for example, we reported on a meeting that Michael Cohen had with officers from the SDNY, the New York attorney general's office. We also know from our previous reporting that Michael Cohen has also

spoken with folks from special counsel Robert Mueller's office. Now, we obviously don't know exactly what he has been saying in these meetings, but you can imagine him arguing, Wolf, that not only does he know about Donald Trump's personal life very well, but that he also knows a lot about the inner workings of the Trump Organization -- Wolf.

BLITZER: M.J. Lee reporting for us, thank you.

Let's get some more on all of this.

Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California is joining us. He is a member of the Judiciary and the Foreign Affairs Committees.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

Let me get your immediate reaction from what we heard from M.J., M.J. Lee, about these statements alleging that Donald Trump made racist comments over the years.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Wolf, for your question.

The statements described by Michael Cohen that Donald Trump made are highly disturbing. They are starkly racist. And if this makes people mad, I hope they vote this Tuesday and get others to vote, because that it is a message that Donald Trump would understand.

BLITZER: The economy, as you know, added 250,000 jobs in October. Unemployment is at a 49-year low, 3.7 percent. Why is the president's closing message during these days just before the midterms all about fear of refugees and immigrants?

LIEU: I think one reason is because many Americans don't actually feel the fruits of the economy.

You still have wage growth that has not kept pace, and then you have inflation that's eating into wages, and many Americans are actually either the same or worse off than they were two years ago. That's why I think the president is trying to double down on his hateful rhetoric and to try to turn the subject away from what people really care about, which is wages, as well as health care.

BLITZER: You served in the military, the U.S. Air Force. You are a colonel in the Reserves. Do you think the deployment to the border of U.S. military troops, maybe 15,000 troops, is an appropriate use of resources, costing, we've got just in a few days, $42 million to $110 million?

LIEU: Not at all.

This caravan is about 1,000 miles away. And there's been caravans over the years and they always get disbanded. Imagine walking across Mexico. It is incredibly difficult. By the time anyone reaches our borders, if they reach it at all, it is a very small group of people. Most of them are turned away. And to deploy the U.S. military down to the border is simply a waste

of federal resources, and they can't even take any actions. They are just there in a support capacity, so really this is just a big waste of taxpayer funds.

BLITZER: The president continues to lament that the serial bomber and the synagogue shooter -- quote -- "stopped the tremendous momentum," his words, leading up to the midterm elections. What message does that send?

LIEU: That the president really thinks this is all about him, it is all about winning, when, in fact, we had 11 people that were murdered in a Jewish synagogue. And my heart goes out to them, as well as their family members.

And we also had a mass assassination attempt of Democratic officials. And for the president to not take those things seriously is highly disturbing, as the leader of the free world.

BLITZER: The president today admitted that Republicans could lose the majority in the House of Representatives and said he would work with Nancy Pelosi if Democrats win control of the House on Tuesday. Are you willing to work with President Trump?

LIEU: Yes, if the president wants to move America forward on issues like reducing health care costs, investing in infrastructure.

But if the president wants to pass hateful, divisive laws, then we're going to stop him. And that's what this election is about this Tuesday, having a check and balance on the executive branch, which is how the framers of intended our government to work.

BLITZER: Do you think the Democrats will become majority in the House on Tuesday?

LIEU: I do. I'm a vice chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. We are targeting over 90 seats, and not only are we doing well in blue states and purple states, we're also doing well in red states like Alaska, Utah and Kansas.

I am very optimistic about this Tuesday, and I believe we will flip the House.

BLITZER: You sit on the Judiciary Committee. If the top Democrat on your committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York, becomes the Democratic chair of the committee, what do you see the agenda looking like?

[18:15:05]

LIEU: Well, I think we have to, first of all, look at immigration, which does come through our committee.

I believe we need to call in Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen and ask why are there still hundreds of kids that were ripped away from their parents. We also deal with issues regarding the Department of Justice. The president's continued attacks on the DOJ are highly disturbing. We need to call in Department of Justice officials to see if there's been undue influence by the president.

There are a number of issues the Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over, and I think we're going to have a very strong committee that is going to act as a check and balance on the executive branch.

BLITZER: If you are in the majority, I'm sure it will be a very, very busy period in the months ahead.

Congressman Ted Lieu, thanks so much for joining us.

LIEU: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead, there's breaking news in the Russia investigation. Could newly revealed text and e-mails open longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone to witness tampering or obstruction charges?

President Trump tonight defending the racist campaign ad he tweeted saying -- and I'm quoting him now -- "All I'm doing is just telling the truth," but our fact-check shows he's not.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:20:49]

BLITZER: We have breaking news in the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation tonight involving texts and e-mail exchanges between longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone and an associate who has been questioned by Mueller's team.

Our political correspondent, Sara Murray, is working the story for us.

So, Sara, what is in those text and e-mails?

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're not very pleasant text and e-mails, and they are conversations between Roger Stone and his associate Randy Credico, who he has now identified as what he claims was his back channel with Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder.

Credico says that's true. In this first set of text messages, Credico tells Roger Stone, I have got a subpoena from Mueller. And Stone replies, "Waste of your time. Tell him to go F. himself."

And Credico says, "Who?" And Stone says, "Mueller."

Now, we talked to Stone about these messages. He says now that it was just kind of a joke and you need to see these message in their totality to understand what he said, things like that, and when he asked Credico if he was wearing a wire, that this was all a joke.

But the messages continue, and they get a little bit more animus. And these guys are people who've known each other for more than 15 years, but you can watch this friendship kind of devolve, especially in this e-mail where Roger Stone is threatening Randy Credico's dog, which is a 14-pound little white fluffy thing named Bianca.

Stone says: "You back-stab your friends, run your mouth. My lawyers are dying to rip you to shreds. I'm going to take that dog away from you. Not an F-ing thing you can do about it either, because you are a weak, broke piece of 'expletive'" there as well.

Credico responds: "You don't have a constitutional right to threaten me and especially not threaten my dog. You crossed a red line."

And Roger Stone replies: "Rot in hell."

So you can see the toll the Mueller investigation has taken on their friendship, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, we got some pictures of that dog too, some video of that dog as well. He likes to go every place with that dog.

MURRAY: He even went with Randy when they -- when he testified in front of the grand jury. The special counsel's office gave him special permission to bring the dog there, Bianca.

Roger Stone says he wouldn't actually do anything to the dog, he's a pet lover, but he was concerned that Randy Credico was not taking proper care of the dog.

BLITZER: What could Mueller charge Stone with? And would that put pressure on Stone to cooperate?

MURRAY: So, the legal issue here is, you know, we're waiting to see if Mueller's team does brings charges against Roger Stone.

And it's possible they could bring something related to collusion, if they can pin down that he had some kind of contact with WikiLeaks, that he shared information with Trump's inner circles.

But when you look at these messages, the question is whether there was any kind of obstruction issue, whether there was any kind of witness tampering issue.

And when I spoke to lawyers, they said, this is something where Mueller is going to have to look at the totality of these messages, like Roger Stone said in his statement to CNN, and he's going to have to decide, are these just two grumpy old men griping at each other, which is how Roger describes this conversation?

Or was this an effort to manipulate Randy Credico's testimony and to threaten Randy Credico, which is -- could be another perception on these messages?

BLITZER: Could be.

Well, we will watch it very closely, see what happens. After the midterms, I suspect there will be some activity.

Sara, thank you very much.

MURRAY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, President Trump is back out there on the campaign trail playing the race card, stoking fears about immigrants, trying to walk back his threat that U.S. troops may shoot migrants who throw rocks.

Our experts are standing by to weigh in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:28:43]

BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, President Trump about to start the second of two campaign rallies after walking back on the green light he gave U.S. troops yesterday to fire on rock-throwing migrants.

Let's get some more on all of this.

Our correspondents and analysts are with us.

So, Laura Jarrett, yesterday, the president seemed to suggest it is OK if they throw a rock at you and you're in the military along the border. You can fire, you can use your rifle, and hit them and kill them if necessary.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Treat it like rifle.

BLITZER: Today, he denied that he ever said that, although it is on tape. We all saw it. What do you make of that?

JARRETT: Well, something has got him changing his tone dramatically on this.

And perhaps it is the fact that a number of retired generals came out and said, wait a minute, Mr. President, this is completely inappropriate, this violates the rules of engagement, this violates basic principles of proportionality.

And so maybe that has got him stopping in his tracks on that. But it is also interesting, Wolf, our colleague Ryan Browne reported tonight an interesting story out of the Pentagon, which was essentially that they were asked to provide for crowd control and said no.

And so there's clearly a disconnect happening about the proper role of the military at our border.

BLITZER: It is a very significant development, indeed.

Jackie, the president, you know, he is campaigning, but the former President Barack Obama, he is campaigning as well, and he is telling voters not to listen, in effect, not to believe what they're hearing from President Trump.

Listen to this.

[18:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now in 2018, they're telling you the existential threat to America is a bunch of poor refugees 1,000 miles away.

They're even taking our brave troops away from their families for a political stunt at the border. And the men and women of our military deserve better than that.

A president doesn't get to decide on his own who is an American citizen and who is not. That's not how the Constitution of the United States works. That's not how the Bill of Rights works. That's not how our democracy works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think the impact of President Obama's words will be?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it is unclear. I think the people that were at that rally and the people that agree with the president are going to go vote. They're excited. They're ready to go.

But this is about making sure that people turn out, particularly the black vote and the Hispanic vote. That is who he is speaking -- that is why -- one of the main reasons Barack Obama is in Florida today.

BLITZER: How do you think it is going to play out, this fight that's going on between the current president and the former president?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: I mean, I think Obama is trying to point out what is patently obvious here, is that Trump has created essentially an imaginary issue in the home stretch the last week of this campaign.

There's no threat on the southern border and I think this whole debate over, rock, gun and then, you know, the military comes out and debate whether it is too much force, the entire thing is like that movie, "Wag the Dog."

It's an entirely manufactured crisis that Trump is using to shift the debate to this issue that he feels benefits him. So you know, I think a lot of Democrats are -- shouldn't be taking the bait and should be, you know, talking about their own issues. I think that's what Obama was trying to say there.

BLITZER: What do you think, Jeffrey?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I agree with all of that but I don't even get why he's talking about this stuff at all. I mean, the economy is booming. We have -- like the American economy doesn't get any better than this.

The unemployment rate is under 4 percent. Why is he telling lies about immigration when he could be telling the

truth about the economy?

BLITZER: Well, I will explain that.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: It is so bizarre.

BLITZER: Let me explain that to you, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: Please do, Wolf.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: This is what President Trump said himself today, and I'm reading his words, he's not talking that much about it because, quote, "sometimes it is not as exciting to talk about the economy."

That's why he is talking about immigration, the migrants and all of that, because talking about the economy is not that exciting.

TOOBIN: Oh, God.

Is that real?

I mean, I know; you're obviously quoting him correctly and he's the one who is President of the United States, not me.

But why is he doing it?

That is a ridiculous reason, that the economy is boring. It is not boring, it's interesting, especially if you have a job and you didn't have one before.

And you know, everything is booming and, instead, he's got this fantasy of this caravan, which seems only to be alienating suburban voters and swing voters. It is only appealing to the people who are already going to vote for Republican candidates anyway.

I mean, if this election does not go well for Republicans and, certainly, in the House of Representatives it doesn't look like it is going too well, why he became fixated on this out of pure racial animus, really?

Maybe it is. But it just seems crazy to me.

KUCINICH: But voters rarely go to the ballot box to say thank you. And so by creating this urgency of this caravan, he's reanimating maybe some of those voters who were going to stay home and giving them a reason to show up.

I'm not saying it is right or wrong, I'm just saying it is -- that could be a factor here.

BLITZER: Yes, he really wants to talk about the immigration, the migrants, what is going on with the so-called caravan, which is still 1,000 miles from the United States. It could take weeks, if not months, whoever is left in the caravan -- a lot of people are dropping out -- to reach the United States. But he is making it sound like -- and he uses the word invasion, like there's an invasion about to take place in the United States.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And the economy doesn't stir up fears the way --

KUCINICH: Right.

JARRETT: -- these passions are erupted and triggered by things like the video that he tweeted out last night, showing somebody -- go ahead. Jeffrey is ready.

(CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: He's ready to go.

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: I know but, I mean, whatever happened to James Carville, you know, 1999, it is the economy, stupid?

I mean, don't people vote on jobs?

Don't people vote on low inflation and peace and prosperity?

Isn't that like a good thing if you are president?

JARRETT: But he's clearly banking on his base not. He's clearly banking on his base being --

[18:35:00]

JARRETT: -- riled up by something else, otherwise he wouldn't do it. He wouldn't do it if it wasn't in his self-interest.

KUCINICH: But he didn't invent this either. He didn't invent this tactic.

In 2014, I believe, there were -- Republicans were saying that immigrants were going to come across the border carrying Ebola, for goodness sake. That was very much part of the conversation, particularly in Southern races.

So this is not -- he didn't create this. It has been effective in the past, frankly, for those races that are very close and really depend on turnout, that lean Republican.

CILLIZZA: This is nothing new. Fear in American politics is using fear of the Other, fear of outsiders, fear of an invading force, fear of Communists, fear of Muslims during the worst days of the Al Qaeda threat. This is absolutely nothing new. And it is Trump's brand. That's how he won in 2016.

BLITZER: The next four days, we will hear a lot more of that.

Jeffrey, give me a final thought.

TOOBIN: Well, I mean all three of them are smarter than I am and obviously they are correct, that they think -- that Trump thinks these are the right issues for him.

But, you know, Ronald Reagan warning in America things are getting better, I mean that's a message that actually has succeeded in American politics.

Now maybe Donald Trump is simply constitutionally incapable of stoking anything but fear and racial resentment and bigotry and that's his brand and that's the only thing he knows how to do.

But it just seems crazy to me that you have such a healthy economy and he's never talking about it.

BLITZER: I think you are a very smart guy, Jeffrey. I know you went to the finest schools, too. You must be a very smart guy.

Just ahead, the first lady, Melania Trump, noticeably absent from the president's marathon campaign swing.

Why is she sitting out the midterm race?

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

BLITZER: We're back with our correspondents and our analysts.

And, Jackie, in the last hour we spoke to Republican senator Jeff Flake. He weighed in on some of his thoughts, some of his picks in this midterm election. Listen to this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You wrote a check for $100 to the Democratic Senate candidate, Doug Jones, in Alabama, when he was running against Roy Moore last year.

Are you donating money to any Democratic candidates, even symbolically, this time around?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZ.: I'm cheering a few on out there. I mean -- but that was the best $100 I've spent in an election, I think. Doug Jones is a good colleague and I think, eminently, a better senator than Roy Moore would have been.

And I think, frankly, I did Republicans a favor there as well. So I -- there are a number of good candidates on both sides of the aisle out there.

BLITZER: Who are you cheering for on the Democratic side this time?

FLAKE: Well, one in Iowa. I mean, we have a candidate on our side of the aisle that isn't exactly, I think, making things easy for Republicans moving forward. It's not the best face of the party.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You're talking about Representative Steve King?

FLAKE: I am. I am. Some of the statements he's made over the years with regard to migrants coming across the southern border and more recent comments in this regard have just not been good for the country, certainly not good for the party.

BLITZER: Yes. He said some pretty disgusting things recently; not just recently, for a while.

Any other Democrats you're cheering for?

FLAKE: I'll keep it to that right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A lot of Republicans have been embarrassed by representative Steve King of Iowa and certainly you heard that from Jeff Flake.

KUCINICH: Jeff Flake and Steve King go back quite a while. They served in the House together and were on the opposite sides of the immigration issue then. So it doesn't really surprise me.

Also, it is not like the biggest profile in courage right now to not stand behind Steve King and the Republican Party. Jeff Flake obviously is not running again but -- so this particular move by him isn't terribly surprising.

BLITZER: Kate Bennett is with us.

Go ahead and make your point.

TOOBIN: When Jeff Flake leaves, you know, the all-talk-no-action caucus is really going to miss him, I think.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a zinger, exactly.

CILLIZZA: This is actually an instance where he is supporting a Democrat over a Republican with some really toxic views that no other Republicans in Congress have stood up and denounced and supported the opponent. So give the guy a little bit of credit for this one.

But, Ryan, here is the thing.

Where was he last year? Where was he the year before that?

KUCINICH: Steve King has been in Congress a really long time. And now the fact that he is vulnerable -- you are seeing people sign on and, you know, try to push him out. Whether it is going to work, it is a really conservative place in Iowa.

BLITZER: Meeting in Austria with neo-Nazi types, that's a little bit beyond the pale.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right, Kate, let's talk a little bit -- you are doing excellent reporting on the first lady, Melania Trump. We don't see her much out there on the campaign trail. She could be appealing to women voters in suburbs, stuff like that.

Where is she?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sure. She's nowhere to be found, much like the presidential campaign. She is not someone who wants to get out there. She doesn't really feel comfortable still public speaking.

But she does have the highest favorable rating of any Trump family member or frankly administration member. She is 13 points higher than her husband.

We saw her soften him a little bit, too, in Pittsburgh this week. It is crucial to have a first lady out there on the trail -- and others have done it. Hillary Clinton did it when she was first lady. Michelle Obama, of course, you remember, "When they go low, we go high."

Certainly first ladies can have an impact. It is strange but it is not out of the ordinary for this particular first lady, who doesn't like the campaign scene.

BLITZER: Are you surprised that she is not out there on the campaign trail, Jackie?

KUCINICH: I think Kate obviously is the Melania expert on the panel.

BLITZER: She certainly is.

KUCINICH: But, no, but given her -- she does seem to like to be more behind the scenes or something where she's -- she can have a symbolic role. And the campaign trail, as you said, just isn't her scene.

BENNETT: And the White House did say that she is focused on, of course, raising her son, Barron, which is what she said during the presidential campaign. She is also focusing on some international travel coming up, a hint perhaps that she maybe is going to the G20.

[18:45:02] And then, of course, the holidays, they said, are busy times. WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We'll get ready for all of that.

Do you believe, Jeffrey, the president has basically given up on the so-called moderate vote?

JFFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think he has given up, but, you know, his campaign, like his presidency, has been geared entirely towards his base, which is largely rural and in smaller cities, you know, outside of the urban and now suburban areas. I don't think he has given up, but he is certainly pitching his campaign towards people, you know, in more rural areas, Second Amendment, immigration, grave concerns there. Whether it is effective, you know, we'll find out in four days.

BLITZER: You know, Laura, he certainly is basically alienating a lot of people who are not in his core, in his base.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: And continuing to war with the media. Just today we saw him on the White House lawn tell a reporter that simply asking a question created violence. I mean, imagine that, right? Questions don't create violence. Questions hold people in power accountable for their actions.

Really, the question is on Tuesday whether people are going to hold him accountable, whether his base is going to hold him accountable for things he says.

BLITZER: He is doubling down on the media, the enemy of the people.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

BLITZER: Now that the media is creating this violence. It's really obnoxious.

LIZZA: It is really obnoxious. I mean it is just a whirlwind of pretty out-there statements this week. He also said today that Democrats want people who are born in America to become citizens automatically. Of course, that's what the -- literally the language of the 14th Amendment. So, it's just this, you know, wild Trump scatter shots in the home stretch here.

And as all of the fact checkers have pointed out, the number of untruths that Trump has been telling in the last few months has skyrocketed, right? He's just -- there's no cost associated with him lying and he's just -- you know, he's doing it with abandon right now.

BLITZER: Speaking of untruths, I want to get to this. We are following breaking news right now. President Trump once again defending a shockingly racist campaign video. He tweeted, saying, and I'm quoting the president now: All I'm doing is just telling the truth.

But our fact check revealed he is not.

Let's go to CNN's Tom Foreman. He has been comparing the video's claim to reality. Tom, what are you finding out?

TOM FOREMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, despite the president's insistence that he is telling the truth in this, his team is playing it very fast and loose with the facts in the run-up to the midterm and especially in this video.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice-over): Using an actual court appearance by convicted cop killer Luis Bracamontes, is the video gets this right. The Mexican man who entered the United States illegally did say he'd like to kill more police officers.

LUIS BRACAMONTES: I will break out soon and I will kill more.

FOREMAN: But then it goes factually off the rails with two big claims. Democrats let him in and Democrats let him stay. Both are misleading at best. At worst, flat-out false.

Here's why: records indicate he entered the U.S. illegally and was deported more than once before those murders. True, an immigrations and customs official told CNN it occurred under Democrat Bill Clinton in 1997. But it happened again in 2001 when George W. Bush, a Republican was in office.

"Sacramento Bee" newspaper also found records indicating Bracamontes was back in the U.S. again in the early 2000s, still under President Bush. Bracamontes was arrested at least three times in Maricopa County, Arizona, on drugs and weapons charges. That was the territory of then Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an outspoken supporter of President Trump. So much so, Arpaio was pardoned by the president when the sheriff's racial profiling of immigrants ran afoul of the courts.

"The Bee" and other sources found he was deported twice and once released in those cases.

Arpaio's assessment?

JOE ARPAIO, FORMER MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA SHERIFF: I don't know how many times he was arrested and slipped through the cracks. It's my gut feeling it wasn't just two times he's been deported.

FOREMAN: Still, the video goes further, suggesting scores of other immigrants could be just as threatening.

Homeland Security has even said the caravan approaching the border is harboring more than 200 folks with criminal histories, while offering precious little proof and few details.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: So the Trump administration through this video and statement is strongly suggesting the caravan is filled with young men just as dangerous as Bracamontes, gang members, killers, drug dealers, while denying the overwhelming evidence of how many men, women and children who come to the U.S. border seeking asylum are themselves fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Tom Foreman, good report. Thank you very much.

Just ahead at the last minute, federal court ruling that could impact the closely-watched governor's race in one key state.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:54:42] BLITZER: Tonight, just four days before the midterm election, a federal judge has ruled that more than 3,000 recently naturalized U.S. citizens in Georgia, whose voters registrations were placed on hold, must be allowed to vote on Tuesday. Georgia secretary of state and Republican gubernatorial candidate, Brian Kemp, was trying to prevent them from voting, citing a state law that critics say is designed to oppress minority voting.

[18:55:06] That's the subject of a CNN special report tonight.

Our senior national correspondent Kyung Lah is joining us now with a preview.

Kyung, what does this federal ruling mean for these Georgia voters?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in short, it means that those 3,000-plus votes, Wolf, are going to matter.

Now, originally, they were held under Georgia's exact match rule. But because they're new citizens, their status didn't match the existing driver database in Georgia. But it's the database that wasn't updated. Now, this is the type of barrier that voting rights activists told us that they see again and again.

And as we crisscross the country, we, too, witness it is a repeated tactic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA ANTHONY, MILWAUKEE RESIDENT: I feel like they really, really knew that the turnout of this election would not have been the same because a lot of would not have their ID.

LAH (voice-over): Andrea Anthony (ph) was one of the thousands of Milwaukee residents who was unable to cast a ballot in 2016.

ANTHONY: The right to vote is so important to me, because it makes my little voice a bigger one.

LAH: Andrea lost her driver's license, but brought her expired Wisconsin ID to the poll instead. For this election, that wasn't enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you go and vote in Wisconsin, you don't have one of the IDs listed on that very limited list, you are given what's called the provisional ballot and that's a ballot that will only count with you present one of those IDs to your clerk by Friday at 4:00. LAH: Between juggling two jobs and caring for her children and

grandchildren, needless to say, Andrea never made it to city hall. So for the first time in her life, she says, her vote wasn't counted. Andrea was planning to vote against Trump.

ANTHONY: I feel in a way like I know I probably put too much on my shoulders, but I feel like maybe if I did follow through with it, it could have made a difference.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: You can see there voting is so personal. The reason why it's so personal is that it's truly the only way to be equal in our democracy, regardless of your socioeconomic background, your racial background, it is the only way to be equal in a democracy, Wolf.

So you are going to hear that repeatedly over this hour, that it should not be harder to vote in this country -- Wolf.

BLITZER: As you know, on the other side, those advocates say restrictions are needed to prevent voter fraud.

LAH: And what they'll do is repeatedly point to data that shows that voter fraud largely, simply, does not exist. Yes, there are some cases where people are confused or they double vote, intentional voting, if you look at the Brennan Center for Justice, they found an incident rate of 0.0003 percent. The data is simply not there to say that you should block all these thousands of people of having access to our democracy, Wolf.

BLITZER: CNN's Kyung Lah, thank you very much.

And we are looking forward to seeing your special report later tonight, "Democracy in Peril: The War on Voting Rights" airs at 11:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight, only here on CNN. Worth watching.

Meanwhile, a week of funerals in Pittsburgh concluded today as 97- year-old Rose Mallinger was laid to rest, the oldest of 11 people killed by an anti-Semitic gunman as they worshipped at the Tree of Life synagogue. She was a mother of three, grandmother of five, and a great grandmother of one. But everyone simply called her Bubbie, Yiddish for grandma.

She was part of the synagogue for more that six decades. Her family says the synagogue with the center of her very active life. Her 61- year-old daughter was also shot in the attack, but she survived.

The front page headline of today's "Pittsburgh Post Gazette" underscores the scoop of the city's grief over the 11 lives taken. It's the first word of the Kaddish, the Jewish mourners prayer in Aramaic, that's similar to Hebrew.

And it reads, and I'm quoting now from the Kaddish -- magnified and sanctified, be your name. It's a prayer that's been recited all week, and will be especially be recited tonight and tomorrow as the Jewish Sabbath begins. In fact, it's beginning right now at sun down and Jews all over the country will be attending services, many non-Jews will as well.

The first Sabbath since the first anti-Semitic attack in the United States. May they rest in peace and may their memory be a blessing.

Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.