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Backlash Over Trump's Refusal to Acknowledge Election Results; Debate Results; Forces Advance Toward Mosul. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 20, 2016 - 09:30   ET



[09:31:51] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

It was fight night in Vegas. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trading barbs on the debate stage for the last time before Election Day. But the American electoral system may have been the one taking the punches, as Mr. Trump says he will refuse to concede if he loses the race.


CHRIS WALLACE, MODERATOR: Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely, sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I will look at it at the time.

WALLACE: Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?

TRUMP: What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Let me respond to that, because that's horrifying. You know every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is is rigged against him. That is not the way our democracy works. We've been around for 240 years. We've had free and fair elections. We've accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them. And that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.


COSTELLO: Trump's performance sparking a swift backlash from some Republicans. Ted Cruz's former campaign manager tweeting, "hold it together, man. It's all in the line. Not just you, all of us." Trump critic, Arizona Governor -- or Arizona Senator, rather, Jeff Flake tweeted, "Donald Trump saying that he might not accept election results is beyond the pale."

So let's talk about this. I'm joined by Donald Trump supporter and former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, along with CNN political commentator and Hillary Clinton supporter Sally Kohn.

Welcome to both of you.


BETSY MCCAUGHEY, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, first, let me just correct what was said here because he did not say he would refuse to accept. That's the distortion. He said wait and see.

COSTELLO: That he'll keep us in suspense.

MCCAUGHEY: Wait and see. That's different from refusing.

KOHN: Oh, that's so much better.

MCCAUGHEY: Let me point out that if Nixon had not automatically conceded to LBJ and Kennedy in 1960, despite large evidence of voter fraud in Texas and Illinois, now confirmed by historians, we would not be suffering with the consequences of the Vietnam War.

COSTELLO: President Nixon never said before the election ever took place that he would not accept the result.

MCCAUGHEY: It doesn't matter what he said ahead of time. The fact is --

COSTELLO: Yes, it does.

MCCAUGHEY: That we -- this nation has been victimized by rampant election fraud.

COSTELLO: That is not right.

KOHN: No. No, no, no.

COSTELLO: That is not true.

MCCAUGHEY: And there is so much evidence of it this year.

COSTELLO: There is -- that is not true.

MCCAUGHEY: No, don't say it's not true. I'd like to cite the evidence.

KOHN: It's -- it's not --

MCCAUGHEY: Just a moment.

COSTELLO: We -- we have cited the evidence so many times on CNN.

MCCAUGHEY: No, excuse me.

KOHN: This is irresponsible a dangerous and reckless.

MCCAUGHEY: Excuse --

KOHN: There are facts and there are untruths. MCCAUGHEY: The Pew Foundation says one out of every eight voter registrations is either a dead person, a duplicate, or an illegal voter.

KOHN: But they're not voting, they're dead.

COSTELLO: We had -- we had the secretary of state, who manages the elections in the state of Ohio --

KOHN: A Republican.

COSTELLO: A Republican, who's going to vote for Mr. Trump by the way, strongly saying that there is no evidence of widespread election fraud in the state of Ohio or the nation.

MCCAUGHEY: Well, of course not. Of course --

KOHN: Yes.

COSTELLO: So let's just dispense with that.

MCCAUGHEY: Wait a second. The New York City election commissioner, Al Shookum (ph) said the other day there is rampant fraud in New York.

KOHN: There is not rampant --

MCCAUGHEY: And then Mayor de Blasio said, shut up, kid.

COSTELLO: It is so -- it is so -- no, no, no, I can't.

MCCAUGHEY: The incumbents always protect the system.

COSTELLO: I can't. I can't. There's no evidence --

MCCAUGHEY: No matter how corrupt it is.

COSTELLO: There's no evidence of voter fraud, widespread voter fraud in this country.

KOHN: I'm sorry, but --

MCCAUGHEY: Excuse me, but compare -- the cooperative congressional research report cited by "The Washington Post" points out that somewhere between 2 and 5 percent of illegal voters vote.

[09:35:08] COSTELLO: Betsy, please, I can't. I can't. We've cited some (INAUDIBLE) evidence on --

MCCAUGHEY: Those were registered voters.

KOHN: It's not true.

COSTELLO: Stop, stop, stop, or I'm going to have to cut this interview short. Let's talk --

MCCAUGHEY: You don't want people to hear the evidence? COSTELLO: It's not --

KOHN: Facts.

COSTELLO: I -- I have presented the evidence to my viewers and my viewers trust me to tell them the truth. We've cited studies. I've talked to secretaries of state who are Republicans. I've talked to many Republican officials who say there's not widespread fraud.

MCCAUGHEY: Secretaries of state are elected. They're a part of the system.

KOHN: OK, you know what, I'm sorry, but, listen, this isn't -- this isn't OK anymore. I'm -- I'm -- I'm with the nasty woman in the pants suit. This is horrible. You are threatening the integrity of our democratic process. You are threatening --

MCCAUGHEY: No, I want it to be honest.

KOHN: Excuse me, you are. You are threatening, by the way, what makes this country great.


KOHN: We are not a country that transitions power through violence and threats.

MCCAUGHEY: That's right.

KOHN: Look, and I understand the behavior, but I'm not --

MCCAUGHEY: I have a Ph.D. in American History and I understand the value of a peaceful transition of power from one party to the next.

KOHN: Betsy -- Betsy -- oh, my God.

MCCAUGHEY: But I don't understand why the Democratic Party --

KOHN: You --

MCCAUGHEY: Repeatedly insists on defending fraudulent voter rolls.

KOHN: OK, because it's not happening!

COSTELLO: It's not --

KOHN: Listen, there were a billion votes. Look, the Loyola (ph) study, there were a billion -- Betsy, I'm sorry, I know facts seem banned in this election --

COSTELLO: No, no, there was a Loyola -- Loyola Maryland -- that's right.

MCCAUGHEY: No, I'm citing the facts.

KOHN: But please, please don't (INAUDIBLE) the integrity of our election. That's --

MCCAUGHEY: And what about the media bias? What about the IRS suppressing conservative groups?

KOHN: Can I -- can I speak?

MCCAUGHEY: What about the Project Veritas (ph) tape that showed that VIP (ph) groups --

COSTELLO: I thought you -- I thought we were talking about alleged voter fraud, Betsy.

KOHN: They're -- there --

MCCAUGHEY: Are busing people illegally from polling place to polling place.

KOHN: There are --

COSTELLO: OK, I'm going to stop this right now.

KOHN: There were a billion votes cast.

COSTELLO: I'm going to stop this right now. I want us to take a break and I want my great wonderful producers to pull the secretary of state from the state of Ohio, a Trump supporter, and a Republican, talking about whether there's voter fraud in the state of Ohio or in this country. I want you to pull that tape from just a couple days ago.

We'll be right back.


[09:40:58] COSTELLO: All right, we were talking about alleged widespread voter fraud. There is no such thing. And I'm about to show you why. I spoke just a few days ago with the secretary of state from the state of Ohio. His name is Jon Husted. He is a Republican. He is a Trump supporter. He is in charge of the electoral process in the state of Ohio. Here's what he told me just a few days ago.


JON HUSTED, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: I can reassure Donald Trump, I am in charge of elections in Ohio, and they're not going to be rigged. Our institutions, like our election system, is one of the bedrocks of American democracy. We should not question it or the legitimacy of it. It works very well in places like Ohio. We make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. We have a bipartisan system of elections. Frankly, it's the only place you can find Democrats and Republicans working cooperatively together.

It's bipartisan. It's transparent. And there's -- there's just no justification for concern about widespread voter fraud.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: OK. There you have it from a Republican and a Donald Trump supporter from the state of Ohio. Kellyanne Conway, who is Donald Trump's chair, right, she came out just Wednesday and said there is no widespread voter fraud in this country. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe there will be widespread voter fraud?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No, I do not believe that. So absent overwhelming evidence that there is, it would not be for me to say that there -- that there is.


COSTELLO: All right. Now I'm going to talk about the Pew report that you cited, Betsy, proving supposedly that there is voter fraud because 1.8 million deceased individuals are registered. OK, so if you really look at that Pew report, the report did not allege that 1.8 million deceased people actually voted. Rather, Pew said that it is evidence of the need to upgrade voter registration systems. There's absolutely no evidence at all that those 1.8 million deceased people actually voted because they caught it.

KOHN: Correct, and they're dead.

MCCAUGHEY: No, but I'd like to point out that the cooperative congressional research report, cited by "The Washington Post" --

COSTELLO: Betsy, let's just -- let's just put this to bed. Put it to bed.

MCCAUGHEY: Did cite that between 2 to 5 percent --

KOHN: But she won't put it to bed. She won't.

MCCAUGHEY: Of illegal immigrants in the country who are of voting age vote.

COSTELLO: Put it to bed. Here's -- here's -- no, no, no, here's why I think it's so -- here's why I think it's so dangerous to keep talking about this.

KOHN: It's irresponsible.

MCCAUGHEY: Dangerous to get to the truth?

COSTELLO: Laura Ingraham --

MCCAUGHEY: Irresponsible?

COSTELLO: Let me tell you why. Laura Ingraham, who's a passionate Donald Trump supporter, she tweeted last night, Trump, he said, Trump should have said he would accept the results of the election. There is no other option unless we're in a recount again. That's from Laura Ingraham.

MCCAUGHEY: Well, I think that's what Donald Trump is suggesting.

COSTELLO: OK, no, no, wait, wait, there was a response to that tweet.



COSTELLO: There's a response to that Ingraham tweet. And here it is. There's another (INAUDIBLE) called the Second Amendment. If you (INAUDIBLE) tolerate this, you're mistaken.

MCCAUGHEY: Well, nobody would associate with that kind of discussion of violence --

KOHN: (INAUDIBLE) maybe --

COSTELLO: Really? Really?

KOHN: Well, actually, Donald Trump kind of set that one up himself, didn't he?

MCCAUGHEY: No. No. It's not fair to take some wacko woman and associate her with me or with a presidential candidate. No.

KOHN: He's -- he did (ph) what Donald Trump said.

COSTELLO: I am not associating with her. I'm just saying that these are the passions that are aroused by -- by insinuating that there's widespread voter fraud when there's not.

MCCAUGHEY: Well, you are by reading them together. Let me -- let me clarify that yesterday --

KOHN: OK, wait, wait, wait, wait --

MCCAUGHEY: Just a moment, Sally. Yesterday --

KOHN: Oh, again with the (INAUDIBLE).

MCCAUGHEY: Project Veritas released films -- firsthand films that show people who said they are under contract to the DNC claiming two things, that they hire agitators to create violence at the Donald Trump events, and that they bus people from polling place to polling place for repeat voting. It's important to be vigilant. I'm not asserting widespread voter fraud, but after all, Al Franken, for example, in his state, won by 312 votes. So we (INAUDIBLE) always (INAUDIBLE) vigilant.

COSTELLO: There are rules put into place that when there's a close election that you can contest the election and then --

MCCAUGHEY: If we believe in our system, we should be vigilant. That's what Al Gore did.

KOHN: I -- I'm sorry but this is --

COSTELLO: Sally, last word.

KOHN: This is dangerously irresponsible and everyone knows what Donald Trump is doing here because, look, he undermines --

MCCAUGHEY: No, but --

KOHN: Excuse me, I did give you your turn.

[09:45:00] MCCAUGHEY: Yes.

KOHN: He undermined President Obama's presidency in the first place, as did many Republicans, by suggesting he wasn't even an American citizen. He wasn't -- shouldn't be president. He questioned that long after the proof that he should have never had to provided was proven. And now, it's not enough for Donald Trump to just lose. He is losing. Let's be clear, if he loses, it is because of no one but himself, because of his complete lack of qualifications (INAUDIBLE)


KOHN: But, Betsy -- Betsy he can't accept that he's losing. And so what is he going to do. He's going to try and take down our entire democracy with him and undermine faith in that democracy by the American people. Out of a billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014, there were 31 possible, not even proven, but possible examples of fraud.

MCCAUGHEY: Well, that's not according to the reports that "The Washington Post" writes.

KOHN: According to what Donald Trump has said. So I'm sorry but this is -- we all want an honest system.

COSTELLO: I'm going to end it here. Thanks to both of you. Thanks to both of you.


COSTELLO: I've got to go to break. I'll be right back.

MCCAUGHEY: Thank you.


[09:50:20] COSTELLO: The debate ratings are in. And if the firestorm on social media last night wasn't enough to call it, now it is official. A lot of people were watching. CNN's Brian Stelter joins me now live to tell us more.

Good morning.


Looking at the early overnight numbers, Carol, this debate meets in the middle between debate number one and debate number two. You know, the first debate was a record in American history, 84 million viewers. The second debate fell down to 66 million. And this third debate's going to rank somewhere in between the two.

I think it is notable this debate ticked up from debate number two because one of the theories after the town hall debate was that people were just sick and tired of this and couldn't take this politics anymore. Well, there was a bigger audience last night. And that's partly because there was no football game competing with the debate. There was a big baseball game, though, so it's interesting so many viewers did tune in.

I think when the final numbers come in later today, it will be 70 or 75 million viewers, which is a huge number. Much higher than the third debate in 2008 or 2012. Just another sign that Americans are obsessed with this election. Maybe scared, maybe excited, but definitely tuning in.

COSTELLO: And I must say, Chris Wallace was amazing. He did an amazing job. So I just wanted to send my kudos to him.

STELTER: Yes, the reviews have been unanimous for Chris Wallace. What an enormous opportunity for him and he really took advantage of it. He's been praised by both sides and by the journalists who were watching.

COSTELLO: All right, Brian Stelter, many thanks, as usual.

STELTER: Thanks.

COSTELLO: One of the biggest prizes on the map, my home state of Ohio. Eighteen electoral votes up for grabs and Trump holds a narrow lead there. He's on the ground in the buckeye state today. Hillary Clinton is there tomorrow. And I will be, too.


COSTELLO: Back in the good old days, my dad worked here at Republic Steel. He worked inside that factory for 30 years. Back then, 4,000 people worked at Republic Steel. Today, just about 200 work behind those factory walls.


COSTELLO: Join me tomorrow morning from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Eastern. I'll be live in Columbus talking about the issues that matter most to Ohio and the rest of the country in these critical days, the final days of the race.

I'll be right back.


[09:56:39] COSTELLO: The battle to retake Mosul reaches the city's outskirts. Iraqi-led forces launching a new multi-pronged offensive attacking ISIS' last stronghold from the north and from the east, where our own Arwa Damon came under gunfire a few hours ago.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here on the outskirts of town is where the battle is really intensifying. The counter terrorism unit moving in from here is really laying down with everything that it has. They're not entirely sure what to expect as they begin to move through street by street to clear it of ISIS fighters.


COSTELLO: We now go to CNN's Clarissa Ward, who is with forces also east of Mosul.

Hi, Clarissa.


Well, just this morning the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said that, in fact, the progress for Mosul is going much better than he expected. He said that, in fact, they're making better progress, that things are moving quite swiftly on the ground. But from what we're seeing here at this vantage point, it's a slightly different story. And let me explain that to you.

This town behind me has been getting pummeled by artillery, by air force jets and air strikes all throughout the day. We have been hearing a heavy amount of fire going in there. But the ground offensive to actually start to liberate that town still is not going on yet. And I think what this gives you a sense of, Carol, is just how difficult it is, just how slow and methodical and plodding. We're talking village by village, going through methodically, trying to rout ISIS militants. And it only takes a few dozen of them to inflict quite a lot of damage.

CNN also had some news coming in just recently. We're hearing from the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, that dons of Yazidi women who were held as sex slaves by ISIS have now been moved from Mosul to the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, in, of course, Syria. That gives you a sense that ISIS is preparing. They are making contingency plans as the battle for the city of Mosul gets closer to them.


COSTELLO: All right, Clarissa Ward reporting live from the battlefield in Iraq. Thanks so much.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.


CHRIS WALLACE, MODERATOR: Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely, sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I will look at it at the time. I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: That's horrifying. You know, every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is, is rigged against him.


COSTELLO: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

Donald Trump still managing to shock despite an ugly election season that has left many voters calloused from the insults. The defiant nominee challenging a pillar of American democracy and refusing to say that he will accept the outcome of the election. All of this less than three weeks before Americans choose their next president.

So, the sprint is on as both the Trump and Clinton campaigns fan out across battleground states that are still up for grabs and, today, both campaigns are boasting that they won over undecided voters in a debate that was ugly, angry and sometimes shocking. Here are some of the key moments.

[10:00:05] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Assuming he can't figure out how to get out of it. But what we want to do is to replenish the Social Security trust fund.

TRUMP: Such a nasty woman.