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President Trump Meets Day after Day with Attorneys on His Responses to Mueller; NY Times: Schumer Told Top Intel Dem To Back Off Of Facebook; Seventeen Democrats Vow To Vote "No" For Pelosi As Speaker; Broward County Misses Florida Recount Deadline By Two Minutes; Avenatti Blames Far Right Writer For Domestic Violence Arrest. Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired November 15, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the President meeting day after day with attorneys on his responses to Mueller. Rudy Giuliani calling some of the questions possible traps. All of this as Trump launches an epic attack on Mueller.

And Melania Trump says she's not surprised that critics have chosen to ridicule her for speaking out about what, what's prompting that bold statement tonight.

Plus Michael Avenatti arrested, blaming far right conspiracy theorists, specifically Stormy Daniels, meantime, says she might have to get a new lawyer. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, President Trump hunkered down with his lawyers. CNN learning Trump has spent the past three days with his legal team, hours upon hours. The topic, his written responses to Mueller's questions. The Washington Post reporting there are at least two dozen of them. The President's Attorney, Rudy Giuliani, telling The Post that some are, quote, possible traps but answers could be anticipated as soon as to tomorrow.

Well, when you think about possible traps and hours with his attorneys, the President's fear and loathing is boiling over tonight. After days of not tweeting about Russia, he lashed out today, starting with this. "The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess.

They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our nation and don't care how many lives they ruin. These are angry people, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller who worked for Obama for eight years."

OK, there's a lot there, but let me just start with a couple of important facts. First, Mueller is a registered Republican, nominated to be director of the FBI by President George W. Bush in 2001, and his term was extended by two years by President Obama. So, he served about five years under Obama, not eight. He's a Republican named by a Republican. OK.

Now, from what people have been questioned by the Mueller team have said to me, including Tom Barrack and Mark Caputo, both of whom, right, have sat down extensively with these guys, Mueller's team is professional, prepared, calm, they know the answers before they even ask the questions. Their experience with team Mueller is as far as it gets from screaming or shouting or anger. But the President's renewed attack on Mueller is coming as Republican Senator Orrin Hatch is joining the Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, in rejecting calls to vote on a bill to protect the Special Counsel.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We don't need that. And frankly, even if you did need that bill, all you'd do is get into a big hassle.


BURNETT: Big hassle? Is that a reason to not do something if it's the right thing? Because tonight, President Donald J. Trump has unprecedented power to disrupt Mueller's investigation. He's not just boiling over with anger. He is taking action, right? He fired Jeff Sessions, replacing him with a man who has waxed sycophantic to Trump about Mueller's investigation.


MATT WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: They're trying to suggest that essentially the Trump campaign had these deep ties into Russia, which is not true.

Why don't these folks hurry up? I mean, there is -- it is not helping this administration.


BURNETT: So, why won't Orrin Hatch and Mitch McConnell protect Bob Mueller? Joining frankly some of the Republican colleagues like Chuck Grassley who support a bill to do just that. It doesn't make sense. When the President of the United States tonight is clearly making Bob Mueller a top target.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT at the White House to begin our coverage. And Jeff, let's start with this. The President clearly appears to be boiling over on this. Why on the Bob Mueller tear today?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, good evening. I think there one thing is clear, that the walls are closing in, the end is nearing to the report from the Mueller investigation. There's no question here that -- this has been on a bit of a hiatus, if you will. The President has not tweeted at all about the Special Counsel really

for a month or so. So this morning when he went on a tear very specifically it seemed like a bit of deja vu, going back into crooked Hillary, going back into Democrats who were responsible for the collusion.

He was trying to misdirect and discredit the Mueller investigation. But, Erin, one thing is clear as you said in just a few moments ago, the President has this clearly on his mind and it's affecting his mood. He has met with his private lawyers here at the White House, we're told, for the last three days, going over these written questions, going over exactly what the Special Counsel wants to ask him.

Of course if you'll remember back in the beginning of this year, the President always said, I want to talk to Bob Mueller, I want to sit down with him. That, of course, did not happen. So they're doing this in written form.

But the President has this at the front of his mind. He seems to know more than we all do. He seems to know where this may be going. And if you just look at what his tweets are saying, he is trying again to discredit all of this.

The question is when this other shoe falls, if there are indictments or other things, we do not know, how will he react then? But clearly, the White House, everything that they have done and really it's playing out for all of us to see on his twitter feed, he's agitated by this and increasingly, we're told, fixated by it, Erin.

[19:05:03] BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny, and it certainly is. We are back to this fixation and tweets like this. Pretty stunning when you think about what it may mean for his reaction to the report.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who sits on the Intelligence Committee which, of course, has been investigating this Russia as well. Senator, thanks for being with me. I mean, look, it doesn't --

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Erin, let me first say congratulations on the new arrival in your home. We're glad you're back.

BURNETT: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. That's kind of you. When you hear Orrin Hatch today, right, it would be a big hassle, Mitch McConnell obviously saying that there's not going to -- not going to let this bill go forward which would protect Bob Mueller. Do you think there's any way around this now that you've got Hatch saying this and McConnell doing that?

WYDEN: I think the American people are making it very clear that the President is not above the law. They're very concerned about the role of Whitaker. You've got the chairman of the Judiciary Committee saying that this is necessary. Look, the President is acting now like a guilty man. He seems terrified about what Bob Mueller has, and it just looks to me like he thinks a very big shoe is about to drop.

BURNETT: I mean, right, he's using the word, mess. Horribly screaming, shouting, disgrace, angry people, ruining lives. I mean, there was nothing left off the table there.

WYDEN: And that's very important, because Bob Mueller has worked in government for decades, for Democrats and Republicans. He always does it by the book. There is no shouting. There's no grandstanding. There's no press conferences. And by the way, I disagreed with him on plenty of issues, like encryption.

BURNETT: Now, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham today told us that he did meet with Attorney General Matt Whitaker. He said that Whitaker told him he plans to, quote, follow regular order. Those are the words, when it comes to the Special Counsel. Does that give you peace of mind that, you know, Whitaker said, oh, I'm not going to do anything, even though, of course, what he said indicates the opposite, but he's now changing his tune?

WYDEN: It gives me very little hope. Look, the facts are that what he indicated is that he saw, when he was a private citizen, that it was just fine to starve the Mueller inquiry. That's basically like shutting it down.


WYDEN: And it seems to me what we're seeing in this administration, starting with the President, is an attack on our democracy and it's an attack on our rule of law.

BURNETT: So, I mentioned that I had spoken to a couple of the people who have been interviewed by Mueller's team and they couldn't have emphasized more its professionality. But when the President said in that tweet they are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. You've obviously been involved, Senate investigation here, so are you -- can you say categorically nothing like that's happened?

WYDEN: What I can tell you is I have had a chance to watch Bob Mueller for decades. I have watched him when he was working in a Democratic administration, in a Republican administration. He has worked with both political parties. This is a war hero. This is somebody who always puts country first. So I can tell you, I've just seen absolutely not even a shred of evidence of the kind of conduct you're talking about.

BURNETT: Senator, I want to ask you about another major story this hour. Facebook, which, of course, was a major source of Russian interference with the Presidential election, you've been a vocal critic of their behavior. There's a new report in the New York Times now and they're saying the Senate Democratic Leader, Chuck Schumer, intervened on Facebook's behalf to Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, on which you sit as part of this investigation.

The Times writes, "Back off, Schumer told Warner, according to a Facebook employee briefed on Mr. Schumer's intervention. Mr. Warner should be looking for ways to work with Facebook, Mr. Schumer advised, not harm it. Facebook lobbyists were kept abreast of Mr. Schumer's efforts to protect the company." According to the employee, pretty stunning if all of this is true. Are you aware of any of it?

WYDEN: What I can tell you is I don't believe there is anybody in the Democratic Caucus who's been more involved than I have been in these technology issues. I have been pushing, as your statement indicated, Facebook very, very hard. Senator Schumer never once has indicated that I should back off.

BURNETT: Never once. Never felt pressure, never heard anything of it?

WYDEN: Never once. And here are the facts. Facebook really can't be trusted. They downplayed Russia's involvement in terms of electoral activity. They wrongly took advantage of users' data. The only answer here is to pass my strong privacy legislation, radical transparency, let people control their data and make sure we have tough enforcement.

[19:10:07] BURNETT: Well, I think people on both side could agree with that. They want to protect their own data. Thank you very much, Senator Wyden. I appreciate your time tonight.

WYDEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the national security official who crossed the First Lady out of the White House but not the administration. So, where did she land? Why is this still a mystery tonight?

Plus, a congresswoman who could challenge Nancy Pelosi. Her message about Pelosi tonight.


REP. MARCIA FUDGE (D), OHIO: It's one thing to give people credit for winning if you also make them responsible for losing.


BURNETT: And it didn't end there.

And breaking news out of Florida. Three counties blowing it, missing a crucial recount deadline tonight. Was the entire recount all for naught?


BURNETT: Tonight, voting no on Nancy. At least 17 Democrats signing a letter vowing they will not vote for Nancy Pelosi as House speaker. CNN confirming the names today. Our Manu Raju pressed Pelosi about it. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: There are at least 17 members who have signed a letter saying they will not support you on the floor.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Have you seen the letter?

RAJU: I have not seen the letter.

PELOSI: You haven't seen it. OK. You haven't seen it, OK.

RAJU: So there are more, apparently, who are willing to vote no. You've expressed total confidence to get their vote.

PELOSI: I do. OK. Next question.


[19:15:10] BURNETT: She went (ph) parts of that. Manu is with me now. I mean, Manu, she really didn't -- she didn't like it. Didn't like that question.

RAJU: No, and she's getting a lot of those questions today. From reporter after reporter trying to press her on that key issue. How do you get the votes when they may not be there? There is dissension within the Democratic ranks among a small number of members who are trying to deny her the votes in order to become speaker.

You mentioned 17. That number could potentially grow but Pelosi is confident that ultimately those members will come around and support her on the floor. There will be a vote later this month to nominate her from the Democratic side for speaker and then in January is that key vote on the floor of the House, and that's where she expects some of those members who may say no now may ultimately vote yes when she is a nominee.

And Erin, behind the scenes, she is working to secure votes, going to faction by faction within the Democratic Caucus, including one bipartisan group of members who is trying to push for a broad rules change that would make the rank and file more powerful and something the leadership has resisted for some time. She is entertaining that idea and may even win over at least one Republican who told me that he would support her potentially, Tom Green of New York, would support her if she endorsed that rules change. Those are the types of things that members are trying to push to get some leverage as Pelosi is trying to lock down support. And, of course, she may face an opponent at the moment.

Marcia Fudge of Ohio considering jumping in. We'll see how that changes the dynamics going forward. But Nancy Pelosi still very confident that she will be the speaker next year.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Manu. And stay with me.

I want to bring in Karoun Demirjian, the Congressional Reporter for the Washington Post and our Political Analyst, and Mark Preston, also Senior Political Analyst. OK, so Karoun, let me start with you because Manu just mentioned Marcia Fudge and the name keeps coming up as a real challenger to Pelosi. The Ohio Congresswoman, she spoke to CNN today pretty extensively. Are you surprised, Karoun, that this anti-Pelosi movement hasn't gone away? I mean, there's clearly a lot of people who really resent her.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right. I mean, it's not surprising given that this has started with Seth Moulton as the leader. He came out early last Congress and said he'd be opposed to Pelosi. And also, because a lot of the people that were campaigning to get to Congress in this last election cycle did so promising to not vote for Pelosi or they were wishy-washy on her or didn't want to bring it up because nobody was quite sure how she played out.

Now, as it turns out, she helped orchestrate a winning strategy for the Democrats to win the majority back. But she's always been a very kind of testy figure and so she has people that have said, we won't vote for her. It would be difficult for people that are coming, especially from districts that went with Trump two years ago to say, actually, we changed our minds despite that campaign trail promise.

So, she's got to win people back who have not made a hard no commitment to vote against her and try to win over the people who have with various things like committee assignments. I mean, this is the brokering that Nancy Pelosi is good at, though. This is what she's going to be (INAUDIBLE).

BURNETT: You got to be tough and, you know, I don't want to use a pejorative word but you got to be tough to get these kinds of jobs. You don't just get there by being nice to people.

Mark, you know, Fudge, though, you know, she is possibly a contender here, and she's being really direct about Pelosi's qualifications. OK. Sure, she's responsible for some wins but also here's Fudge.


FUDGE: She also was the person who over the last eight years lost seats. It's one thing to give people credit for winning if anything you also make them responsible for losing.


BURNETT: Sounds like she's ready to fight, Mark.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Seems ready to fight. You know, a couple things going on here, which I think is really interesting. I'm not sure if I know anybody in Washington that is going to be betting against Nancy Pelosi right now. Is the Marcia Fudge challenge right now a serious challenge? It's serious in the fact that you have Democrats after winning back the House of Representatives are now infighting right now.

There is no real deep bench of younger lawmakers that could come up immediately and fill these roles, so that's interesting. It's also interesting as well to see Marcia Fudge and see where the Congressional Black Caucus comes down. She used to lead that organization. They are strong allies of Nancy Pelosi.

John Lewis just released a letter, clearly timed politically, a couple hours ago saying he was endorsing Nancy Pelosi to be the next speaker so this is going to get very ugly and certainly over the next couple of weeks if not month or so.

BURNETT: Manu, let me play another thing that Marcia Fudge said.


FUDGE: I also think that as I continue to hear not only her but other people talk about this is the most diverse Congress we've ever had, then our leadership should be diverse as well.


BURNETT: OK. Not even thinly veiled there, Manu, and you know, you talk about diversity. You can talk about race. You can talk about gender. You can talk about age.

[19:20:08] Nancy Pelosi's going to be 79 years old this spring. Are a lot of members behind Fudge on this point?

RAJU: Well, it's unclear at the moment. I did spend the afternoon talking to a lot of members who are just uncertain about this challenge. Even members from the Congressional Black Caucus, the leadership of that caucus has pushed for one of the two top spots to be run by a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, but even some of those members are not sure if they're going to back Marcia Fudge.

Emanuel Cleaver, for one, a Democrat in that caucus, told me that he's very close to Marcia Fudge but he still wants to understand why she's actually doing this. So there's a significant split going on, and he said, as others have echoed, he's concerned about another Freedom Caucus being formed within the Democratic Caucus.

Of course that's a reference to that very conservative faction of the House Republican side. There's concern that maybe forming on the Democratic side on the left. So it's uncertain how much support she could ultimately get, but it will complicate things going forward potentially for Pelosi.

BURNETT: Karoun, Pelosi's also not afraid to play the woman card. Here's how she's doing it.


PELOSI: If Hillary had won, I could go home. I hopefully we'll have a woman President very soon but that's not the fact that we almost had one would have been motivation for me to say there's a woman at the table. It's very important. You cannot have the four leaders of Congress, the President of the United States, these five people and not have the voice of women. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Obviously, women are a big part of the story here when it comes to the House right now, Karoun. How are Democratic women responding to sort of that whole, well, you know, there needs to be a woman? Is that convincing or does it make people mad?

DEMIRJIAN: It depends on who you're talking to again. For the people that have stood by Pelosi, first female speaker, wants to resume that position, they are endorsing that sort of argument. But there's also women who are in the new crop of the freshman class that are saying, look, you don't have to tell me to vote for a woman just because I'm a woman. That's not really a fair argument either.

I think at this point, you know, Pelosi is making a point that is endorsed by the fact that there was such a big wave of women coming into Washington this year, that it would make sense to see a woman among the leaders as well. But to go back to the other point that you were making, you probably can't go the direction of just having another white guy in that position at this point. Fudge obviously is a woman and she represents a minority group, and so that would be an argument in her favor.

But you know, Pelosi's trying to make the point that, like, I'm -- at least I'm a girl. So you're going to have at least as diverse as Nancy Pelosi is, probably heading forward for the Democrats.

BURNETT: Right. Which, of course, Mark, she isn't in so many other ways, right? I mean, because she's -- the leadership here is much older, right? She's going to be 79 in March. That does not reflect what we saw among the wave that is coming in here, right? She's not reflective of that at all.

PRESTON: No, but Congress as a whole is not reflective of that at all and this is one of those turning points, I think, that we'll see the Congress change. But just worth noting, and Marcia Fudge might have made the argument for Nancy Pelosi to become speaker again. Nancy Pelosi made history when she came in and became the first woman speaker. Marcia Fudge correctly noted that Nancy Pelosi was the speaker when Democrats lost the majority.

Nancy Pelosi does not want to go down in history as the speaker who lost the majority twice. And going into 2020, when you have 20-plus Democrats seriously thinking of running for President, House Democrats are going to be severely at a disadvantage for raising money and getting enough oxygen to try to win seats or defend their seats. They're going to need somebody like Nancy Pelosi or someone like that to run the House Democratic Caucus.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all.

And next, First Lady Melania Trump firing back at critics who have taken issue with her effort to stop bullying. Why would anyone think that's strange, right? Melania Trump bullying? I mean, it would make sense, right? Plus, breaking news, Florida's contentious Senate race now heading for a manual recount. And now we are learning President Trump will have a ringside seat.


[19:27:40] BURNETT: Tonight, where is Mira Ricardel? No answers from team Trump about her fate. It's been about 25 hours since the White House announced the Deputy White House National Security Adviser was, quote, transitioning to another role. A move forced by Melania Trump's stunning public call for Ricardel's head.

Now, would this function clearly on public display in the White House? The President was in denial, insisting in a tweet that, "The White House is running very smoothly and trying to make things look that way". The First Lady and the President appearing together all smiles, visiting troops together at the marine barracks in Washington, D.C., but the truth is much darker.

Sources telling CNN Trump was blindsided by the First Lady's comments and felt like a boost around husband. And a White House official telling CNN Trump is, quote, pissed at damn near everyone. He's bitter, furious, some of his long-time confidants say unwell.

OUTFRONT now, a member of President Trump's 2020 reelection Advisory Counsel, Rob Astorino and of course I want to note you signed a non- disparagement agreement with the Trump campaign and National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation, Joan Walsh. OK, thanks to both of you.

Twenty-five, 26, 27, whatever hours later, from the actual transition announcement, which itself was more than 24 hours after the First Lady demanded it in public because she wasn't listened to in private, we still have no idea where Ricardel is.


ROB ASTORINO, TRUMP'S 2020 REELECTION ADVISORY COUNCIL: She's in a wood shed somewhere at Pennsylvania Avenue, that's where she is.

WALSH: I mean, it's mysterious. I mean, this White House is always mysterious. I mean, people are not leaving, but then suddenly they're leaving. They're leaving, they don't leave. I mean, she could be anywhere.

BURNETT: With Ricardel, she was going to be fired and then we were switching the wording because the President was sort of indicate, well maybe he wouldn't even abide by the, you know, public forcing by his wife, right?

WALSH: And I just love that little angle that he doesn't like being bossed around by his wife. I mean, his wife has put up with an awful lot from him. I'm not going to go into the details, but, you know, if she wants to release it to a tweet and a statement saying she wants this woman gone, I don't know. It's the least he can do for her, in my opinion. BURNETT: I mean, Rob, the President, then, you know, comes out with all of this and says the White House is running smoothly. Now, here's the thing, though. His confidants, and, by the way, the byline on the CNN story on this had, I don't know, six or seven people so when we talk about confidants and sources, this is a lot of people at the point I'm getting that are sharing this information.

[19:30:02] Pissed, dark, unwell, gained weight, even catty things like that are being put in. These are by his friends and confidants. This does not sound smooth.

ROB ASTORINO, MEMBER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S 2020 RE-ELECT ADVISORY COUNCIL: Well, let's start with this. You know, we just had the midterms. Things went, I think, as expected, quite frankly. The House went to the Democrats. I don't think anyone, if they had truth serum in them, would say it was going to happen otherwise.

BURNETT: That wasn't going to happen.

ASTORINO: Right. So, we knew that.

They did have pickups in governor's races in important states and they picked up in the Senate. So, the problem for him now is he's going to feel like a caged animal because the House is going to go after him with a vengeance every day. It's going to be pure chaos for the next two years, and he still has to govern.

The first step --

BURNETT: Pure chaos as compared to --

JOAN WALSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: To what we had, the smooth running machine.


BURNETT: -- the difference being the chaos caused by him and chaos put upon him.

WALSH: Correct. Well, yes.

But the chaos has resulted in legislative victories. The Republicans have moved things along. Now, I think that's going to be frustrating but the thing they did yesterday, first step is a really good first step if they could actually get things done in a bipartisan way. Prison reform.

BURNETT: Prison, OK.

WALSH: I think that was great.

BURNETT: This is the one thing. Yeah. Joan, the first lady, you know, today, appeared with him. It was all smiles. Let's -- OK.

She's firing back at criticism that she has made bullying a key priority, all right? And she's doing -- always interesting, doing exactly what her husband would do. Here's what she said to the Family Online Safety Institute today.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: It is not news or surprising to me that critics and the media have chosen to ridicule me for speaking out on this issue, and that's okay. I remain committed to tackling this topic because it will provide a better world for our children.


BURNETT: She uses the word, ridicule. I would use the word hypocrisy. She has been called out for hypocrisy.

WALSH: Yes. I mean -- and it is hypocrisy. She's already gone through this. I feel like she's trolling us. OK, this is -- this is her cause. Go work on your cause. Do it quietly. Have a press conference occasionally.

But she's using her bully pulpit, I don't know what the first lady bully pulpit is but whatever it is, she's using it to kind of whine again about her treatment, which she's already done when people are right to notice that her husband is cyberbullying everyone, with an emphasis on women, on black women.

BURNETT: All right. So, Rob, just to --

ASTORINO: She's cutting everybody off at the pass. She's like, I know what's coming so let me just hit it straight on and we can move along.

BURNETT: Can I remind everybody why it's hypocritical first? I just want to play it.

ASTORINO: Go ahead.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Maxine Waters is leading the charge. Maxine. She's a real beauty. Maxine. A seriously low I.Q. person.

She's shocked that I picked her. She's like in a state of shock.

REPORTER: I'm not. Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: That's OK. I know you're not thinking. You never do.

REPORTER: You want him to rein in Robert Mueller?

TRUMP: What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions.


BURNETT: And that -- and then there's horse face, dog, crazy, low IQ online. I mean --

ASTORINO: Half the country, by the way, is cheering what he's doing because the press is always beating him up, but I don't think that's the right thing to do. I think if he could work on his tone and his temperament, everything would run smooth and he would be reelected in a second.

Now, I know it's been very hard for him to do, but I just hope that he could tone it down, because I think he'll be extraordinarily successful and unbeatable in two years.

BURNETT: Does she really get why people are calling her out for this or is she, in fact, trolling?

WALSH: I think she's trolling. I think she's absolutely trolling. Of course she gets it. Of course she sees what he does. I don't think she's happy with what he does but this is her thing. This is what she's chosen and he's got to, you know, come out and whine at us.

ASTORINO: She's playing offense. She's a strong woman. You said she's whining? She's a strong woman.

WALSH: She's whining. She can be a strong -- she must be a strong woman to put up with what she's put up with.

ASTORINO: She's going on the offense. I think it's good.

WALSH: I think it's ridiculous. I think it is trolling.

ASTORINO: We've seen Hillary Clinton throw elbows, Michelle Obama has certainly thrown her elbows around the White House when she need to. Ronald Reagan's wife did that, Nancy Reagan.

WALSH: Absolutely. There's nothing wrong with that. I just think that there really are a lot of children's causes like literacy, you know, pre-K, lots of things that she could have done to help children that wouldn't put her right in this line of fire where she has to look away from the fact that her husband is the biggest bully in the world.

BURNETT: And of course the one setting the most public example of the worst of the worst.

WALSH: Of cruelty.

BURNETT: And not doing anything about it, cruelty. I mean, that is the reality. I'm not saying she doesn't believe in the issue. I'm sure she does.

[19:35:01] Of course she does.

But if you're not going to do anything about the person who is causing this tone in discourse, then it's very hard to take it seriously.

ASTORINO: Well, I think that's a point of view that some have. Others would say, OK, he's fighting back, like no one's ever fought back before. He's using the form, Twitter, to get his message out and play offense where everyone has meekly sat back and, oh, I'll take it, just keep hitting me. He's playing offense and to many people in this country, including everyone who voted for him, most people, that's a good thing.

WALSH: Most people did not vote for him.

BURNETT: I would simply say that I hope children are never subjected.


ASTORINO: He's going after politicians and professionals. He's not going after kids.


BURNETT: He's going after reporters. He's going after Stormy Daniels.

ASTORINO: Media who have a strong say in changing public opinion.

BURNETT: He's gone after plenty of people.


WALSH: Black women who are doing -- simply doing their jobs. They're not even me. They're not opinion people. They're not trashing him.

ASTORINO: I don't agree with it. I don't agree with that style.

WALSH: Then don't defend it. You're better than that.

ASTORINO: No, because people in the media who are used to jabbing but never getting something back, they're getting it back this time and they don't like it.


BURNETT: Calling someone a dog or a horse face or a low IQ is not getting it back. We don't speak like that.

ASTORINO: I think that language is inappropriate and certainly not needed to come from the president of the United States. But the fact that he is hitting back and not standing on his heels like most people would do and the media is accustomed to seeing, you know what? I think he should play offense and it's time.

BURNETT: I understand the point you're making but I think a lot of this stuff is said without -- it's not jabbing back at all. This thing --


BURNETT: You rarely do. Imagine your boss saying things like that. It's shame and embarrassment and he thrives on making people feel that way. There's no denying that, whether you like him or not. It's (INAUDIBLE) making people like that way. All right. Thank you both.

ASTORINO: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, breaking news, a stunning failure in Florida, one of the state's largest counties failing to meet the state deadline. That is pathetic. How could it happen?

Plus, Michael Avenatti's stunning arrest on domestic violence. Why he is now pointing the figure -- finger, I'm sorry, at a far right conspiracy theorist.


[19:40:44] BURNETT: Breaking news, three crucial counties in Florida failing to meet tonight's deadline for the machine recounts. Those counties, Broward, Hillsborough and Palm Beach. That means their initial totals stand for the Florida Senate race so we've gone through all this recount and their recounts didn't even count.

Like I said, that's fair to say that is a pathetic waste of money. That race, though, now going to head to a manual recount. So, nine days after the election, the race between the Republican Rick Scott, the Democrat Bill Nelson is now facing a second recount.

The new numbers just released from the Florida secretary of state show Scott leading Nelson by 12,603 votes. That is 0.15 percent, within the legal margin for a hand recount. And by the way, in the recount numbers that were submitted, Scott actually gained 41 more votes.

Jessica Dean is OUTFRONT in West Palm Beach.

Jessica, how does this manual recount play out from here?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening to you, Erin.

Yes, we look ahead now not manual recount and you see that I'm standing in front of some empty desks right now in Palm Beach County. That's because here in Palm Beach, they still have to go through the process of separating out the ballots that they have to hand recount.

So, how does it all work? Well, with a hand recount, they are only looking at ballots that are considered over ballots and under ballots. That's pretty much exactly what it sounds like and an over ballot, that's where a voter selected two, maybe three or they're trying to figure out what exactly the intent was there, and an under ballot, maybe may didn't vote in a particular race but they voted in other races.

So, in theory, in all the counties in Florida, as they went through the previous recount, they were kind of flagging those, pulling those, beginning to separate them out so then they could go to those in the hand recount. Well, here in Palm Beach County, as you mentioned, they didn't make it through that first recount because the machines here are old, they overheated, they broke down, they just could not get it done. So, now, they're going to be working through the night tonight to make

sure they can separate those out. They're hoping to begin that process at 11:00 a.m., Erin.

BURNETT: Wow. All right. Jessica, thank you very much. Giving us what we need to know.

I mean, I want to go now not Palm Beach County state attorney, Democrat Dave Aronberg.

And, Dave, I appreciate your time.

So, when deadlines get missed and then all of a sudden the initial totals are being used, for your county and two others, does that mean the recount's been all for naught?

DAVE ARONBERG, PALM BEACH COUNTY STATE ATTORNEY: The machine recount, you could say, was for naught because they're not going to be used. They're going to go back to the original count and now, they're going to do the manual recount just for the three races that are within the 0.25 percent margin. So, yes, it's fair to say that all that counting was for naught in those three counties and in Broward County, what's amazing is that they finished the count two minutes late. They submitted the results two minutes late, so they will not be counted.

BURNETT: Yes, and that -- I mean, in that case, you know, I don't know, the law's the law or do you let that in. I understand.

But let's talk about Palm Beach County, you know, where you are, right? Look, we've had one problem after another there. 11-year-old machines, Jessica just talking about it overheating so they couldn't give an accurate total. Mechanic then had to be flown in to fix some of the issues. The supervisor of elections in the county, Susan Bucher, said yesterday she was in, quote, prayer mode.

I mean, that's a terrible thing to say. We're talking about elections here. The county's had troubles before. Is it true Palm Beach County was just unprepared for something like this to ever happen again, a recount?

ARONBERG: It is sad that we're the butt of jokes for the whole country.


ARONBERG: The machines are 11 years old. They were going to be replaced after this election but Palm Beach County's machines could only count one race at a time in a recount and we had four different recounts and so they were unable to do it and then the machines broke. So, look, I'm not going to create excuses over it. I hope that the county can do better next time, but ultimately, it's going to come down to a hand recount and that will go on as planned.

BURNETT: So, Palm Beach County, people, remember, you know, you talk about not wanting to be the butt of jokes for the whole country and yes, you're right, I mean, you are, but it's also deeply serious, and people are upset about it. I mean, 18 years ago, the butterfly ballot, right, the heart of the 2000 recount.

[19:45:00] That, of course, Palm Beach County. People were confused.

So, the big question here is, is this really going to be fixed? You're getting new machines in and it's never going to happen again? I mean, are we going to be looking at 2020, where all of a sudden when you have one of the most contentious elections in American history, which I think it's safe to say we're going to have, and Florida's going to be at the center of it and you guys might not have it together?

ARONBERG: The legislature needs to fund new machines for Palm Beach County, without a doubt, because the current machines not being able to do a recount for more than one race at a time is so unacceptable. These are antiquated machines, and so, hopefully, that will help for 2020. Also, I would hope that we could make sure that the delays are eliminated, the transparency is increased, but I can say this as the state attorney, the chief law enforcement officer of the county, there has been no evidence of any widespread election fraud.

So, at least we've got that, and I think there's a lot of hyperbolic rhetoric out there that have really diminished faith in our institutions. So, at least on that front, I can tell you, the election has been fair but, yes, I cannot defend the delays and the lack of transparency.

BURNETT: All right. Dave, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

David Aronberg, as I said --

ARONBERG: Thanks for having me.

BURNETT: -- is Palm Beach County state attorney.

And next, Michael Avenatti telling CNN, he's confident that he's going to be exonerated. Michael Avenatti has been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. He was booked. So, what are police saying tonight?

Plus, Jeanne Moos donning a disguise and she's not the only one after Big Don's latest conspiracy theory.


BURNETT: Questions swirling tonight around the arrest of Michael Avenatti. The arrest stemming from domestic violence allegations. He is denying them. He was, of course, arrested, and now, the ubiquitous lawyer, who shot to stardom as Stormy Daniels' attorney, is trying to blame a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist.

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Avenatti's most recognized client, porn star Stormy Daniels, spoke nor the first time publicly about the serious allegations against her attorney at a debate society in Oxford.

[19:50:03] I will say that right now, they are just allegations, and I'm going to reserve judgment and I hope everyone does, she said. Trust me, I know what it feels like to be on the other end of that, until all the details are discovered.

But if the allegations are true, she says she will definitely be seeking a new attorney. Avenatti is known for verbally and legally attacking President Trump on behalf of Daniels and went after Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, while representing a woman who accused Kavanaugh of being at drunken parties where gang rapes occurred, accusations that Kavanaugh strongly denied.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: She is 100 percent credible. And when the American people hear from her, they will determine, as I have, that she is to be believed.

SIDNER: Now, Avenatti is asking the public to believe him, as he faces allegations of domestic violence. Los Angeles police arrested Avenatti Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of felony domestic violence. The arrest indicates police believed there was evidence of physical violence in the case.

Avenatti was booked, posted $50,000 bail, then spoke to reporters.

AVENATTI: I have never struck a woman. I never will strike a woman. I have been an advocate for women's rights my entire career. And I'm going to continue to be an advocate. I am not going to be intimidated from stopping what I am doing.

SIDNER: Avenatti told CNN he is confident he will be fully exonerated. Police have not named his accuser. But Avenatti's ex- wife and estranged wife who he is currently divorcing, both came to his defense, making clear neither of them are the accuser. His estranged attorney said, my client states there has never been domestic violence in her relationship with Michael, and that she has never known Michael to be physically violent toward anyone.

In an odd twist, the company with ties to Jacob Wohl, the mega Trump supporter and right wing writer, seemed to take credit for Avenatti's arrest. Surefire Intelligence tweeting, Surefire Intelligence strikes again.

Surefire Intelligence is the same company that Wohl used in a failed attempt to try to embroil special counsel Robert Mueller in a sexual assault case that Mueller reported to the FBI.

But in this case, Avenatti seemed to latch onto the idea that Wohl was behind the arrest, tweeting, first Mueller, and now me. When we're fully exonerated, I'm coming for you, Jacob Wohl, aka Surefire.


SIDNER: Now, as you know, Michael Avenatti has been considering whether to run for the presidency in 2020. He had set up something called the Fight PAC for himself. He had also been speaking to crowds all over the country from Iowa where we saw him all the way to California across the country. He was supposed to be speaking at a Democratic event in Vermont this week that has been canceled due to the news of his arrest -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much.

And next, Jeanne Moos on President Trump's latest conspiracy theory. This one has sparked a craze.


[19:57:30] BURNETT: Tonight, just, quote, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt and vote again. That's the president's newest and perhaps wildest unfounded claim of voter fraud.

Jeanne Moos investigates.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Halloween is over, so why are disguises making a comeback? Thank President Trump for his voter fraud theory about how some people vote more than once. In the president's exact words -- sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Samantha Bee likewise donned a disguise, on my way to vote again.

The actor who played Luke Skywalker tweeted his costumes for multiple ballots. There were dogs in disguise, cats in disguise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted last week as myself, and I'm going to vote this week as Bette Midler.

MOOS: The president's fraud theory reminded some of when Met's manager Bobby Valentine got ejected from a game, then snuck back into the dugout in disguise, changing his hat and shirt, applying the kind of stickers --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a sunny day, and I pulled one off and put it over here and pulled another one off and put it over here. I looked at the mirror and I looked at them and I said, they'll never know.

MOOS: Valentine was famously nabbed on camera.

Whoopi Goldberg confessed to casting multiple ballots.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTRESS: Last week this was me at the midterms. Then I voted a second time and yes, I voted a third time, too. Go ahead, Phil.

MOOS: It's enough to make you paranoid. Is this the real Donald Trump? Is someone pretending to be Donald Trump so he can vote twice? But if you do wear a disguise, make sure it doesn't interfere with your ability to read your fraudulent ballot.

What's the last line?

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: Sometimes you have to be able to laugh at things even when they aren't funny.

All right. Before we go tonight, we have some good news. We want to welcome the newest member of our OUTFRONT family. Our publicist Pamela had a baby girl on Tuesday. This is Isabella Jeanine Hill, seven pounds, four ounces, 20 inches long.

Mom, dad, and baby Isabella are doing great. There's Pam, you can see her there with her precious, precious little girl. We are so happy for you and congratulations, Pam. Enjoy that wonderful time.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us.

"AC360" begins now.