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Pence Plane Skids Off New York Runway, No One Hurt; Trump Gains Ground, Still Faces Uphill Battle; Wikileaks: New Questions About Clinton Foundation; Clinton Hints He Might Sure Over "Locker Room" Tape; Lawyers Offer to Defend Trump's Sexual Accusers; Trump Barnstorming Battleground States; Putin Rejects Claims of Meddling in U.S. Election; Coalition to Target ISIS on 2 Fronts; Slab Thought to be Part of Christ's Tomb Uncovered. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 28, 2016 - 01:00   ET


ISHA SESAY, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN HOST: I'm John Vause. Great to have you with us. You're watching "Newsroom L.A."

SESAY: A hard landing and some terrifying moment for U.S. vice presidential candidate Mike Pence when a charter plane skidded off a rain-soaked runway while landing at New York's LaGuardia Airport just a few hours ago. No one was hurt. But Pence cancelled a fundraiser.

VAUSE: He's expected back out on the campaign trail Friday with events in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. His running mate Donald Trump was in Ohio when he got word.


TRUMP: I just spoke to our future vice president and he's OK. Do you know he was in a big accident with a plane?

The plane skidded off the runway and was pretty close to grave, grave danger. But I just spoke to Mike Pence and he's fine.


Got out. Everybody's fine. Everybody's fine.


VAUSE: It was a big plane but not as big as Donald Trump's. Pence tweeted this, "So thankful everyone on our plane is safe, grateful for our first responders and the concern and prayers of so many.

Back on the trail tomorrow.

SESAY: Well, joining us now, "Talk Radio" host Ethan Bearman and Republican Consultant, John Thomas.

Gents, good to have you with us. John, I'm going to ask you what everyone else is -- you know, the joke

everyone's making, planes skidding off the runway, metaphor perhaps or what's going on your side of the street?

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: You -- you -- you know, I could see that conclusion. But I actually would say it's more reflective of Hillary Clinton's campaign right now...


THOMAS: ...because all she has to do is land the plane if she wants to get across the finish lines. But she's having trouble right now with Wikileaks.

VAUSE: Let me feed your lion. It is indicative of our failing infrastructure and why the administration has failed the American people and it's about time...

THOMAS: It's a little farfetched but all right.

SESAY: Ethan?

ETHAN BEARMAN, HOST, TALK RADIO: Yes, trying -- trying a little too hard, aren't we (ph)? No, she's -- Hillary Clinton is surviving this just fine. The poll numbers are still strongly in her favor.

The electoral map -- it's almost impossible for Donald Trump to win at this point. I mean, clearly, we hope Mike Pence is fine. I'm glad the plane turned out OK.

VAUSE: Yes...

BEARMAN: But you know, not today, man (ph).

VAUSE: OK, you say -- everyone is saying that right now, it's impossible for Donald Trump to win. But there is this new scandal, which has come out by Wikileaks, which is this drip, drip, drip of e- mails for the last couple of days.

It just seems to never end. And the latest batch, this no show (ph) is bad to Bill Clinton. It portrays him as Bill, Inc., they called him.

And let's look at one of the e-mails. It comes from his long-time aide, a guy called Doug Band. This is what he e-mailed out.

"Independent of our fundraising and decision-making activities on behalf of the foundation," that's the Clinton Foundation, "we have dedicated ourselves to helping the president secure and engage in for- profit activities. We also have solicited and obtained as appropriate in-kind services for the president and his family for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like.

You know, John, if you go through these e-mails, Band goes through, you know, a whole list of moments where they're essentially shaking down corporate donors for the profit of his boss, Bill Clinton. THOMAS: I mean, look, this is shocking. But this isn't the first --

the Wikileaks have really confirmed what we knew to be the worst in the Clintons.

It's -- it's the question of, you know, look, there's no direct smoking gun. But why did a Saudi king give a million dollars for Bill Clinton's birthday for five minutes of his time?

You know, smacks of this quid pro quo, abuse of power -- what did they do when she was secretary of state? And what will they do when she's president of the United States?

It's putting themselves first, you know, before the foundation and before the people.

SESAY: Ethan, so how you (ph) -- when you read that e-mail, what do you take away from it?

BEARMAN: Well, I take away that's clearly borderline unethical behavior. There's nothing illegal...

THOMAS (?): Yes.

BEARMAN: ...about it. But it's unethical. And we would need to change the laws if we really want this type of behavior to change because you're naive to think this hasn't been going on since John Adams was president.

Corruption happens. And in this case, it's unethical, but not illegal.

THOMAS: Corruption happens. But we don't want it in our commander- in-chief.

BEARMAN: Yes, but he's not commander-in-chief. Bill Clinton is not running for president. He was prosecuted in the '90s.

Hillary Clinton is running for president.

THOMAS: I think the question is Clinton, Inc. to me is Bill and Hillary. They are one in the same. They're a machine together.

And so Bill authorized this activity. You have to assume that Hillary knew it as well.

VAUSE: OK, this was such an obvious one (ph) for Donald Trump because in these e-mails, they talk about Bill Clinton getting $30 million now, $60-something million over the next nine years. And as you raised the issue, you know, in the White House, what can they expect?

Donald trump picked up on that.


TRUMP: If the Clintons were willing to play this fast and loose with their enterprise when they weren't in the White House, just imagine what they'll do given the chance to once again control the oval office.


VAUSE: And Ethan, this has been one of the -- one of the concerns or the criticisms, if you like, from the very beginning. Are Americans ready to relive the Clintons in the White House?

BEARMAN: Yes, if you would ask me that question, six months ago, I would say no. But with Donald Trump being the candidate for the Republicans, yes, I think many of us are willing to put up with some of the scandal that's going to happen with the Republicans attacking the Clintons again.

But I have to make this very clear. Bill Clinton needs to step away, not give speeches. The Clintons can have nothing do with the Clinton Foundation when Hillary Clinton becomes president.

SESAY: All right, let's read you the statement put out (ph) by the Clinton campaign, says this, "The State Department has made clear that Hillary Clinton's actions were made in the best interest of American foreign policy and that she never made decisions because of donations to the Clinton Foundation."

John, you hear that. Is it enough for you or...



Of course, guys. Look, she gave speeches...

VAUSE: I'm surprised.


THOMAS: ...which seems to me like a form of legal bribery. You know, it just -- the whole thing stinks. And I think if she does become president, which it does look like she's on track to do that...


THOMAS: ...her administration, out of the gate, is going to be riddled with scandal.

VAUSE: But -- but Ethan, you said that Bill Clinton needs to step aside from this, so, too, Chelsea Clinton. I wonder if the Clinton Foundation can even survive.

Can it continue on?

BEARMAN: Yes, that's a great question. I -- I actually have said that I think it should be rebranded. And the Clinton name should be removed from it.



VAUSE: You have (ph) Bill Gates.

BEARMAN: Well, we're in (ph) the Gates Foundation. But let's create something new and come up with some fun new name.

SESAY: And what about the image of Chelsea that emerges from all of this, because she's also named in a lot of these e-mails. Talk to me about your takeaway of that.

THOMAS: You know, she looks like a force for good in this process. I know that internally, they called what (ph) -- they called her a spoiled brat and some other things.

But it looked like she was the one being a whistleblower, basically saying, you know, look, all these other people are trying to get rich and exploit the Clinton Foundation. It clearly is a business. And they don't like her...


SESAY: And people will see (ph) her concerns that she -- there to express (ph)...


THOMAS: Because they don't care about her. It's about making money.

VAUSE: That's a harsh call.

THOMAS: Well...


THOMAS: ...from those e-mails, it didn't look like they cared about -- about her.

VAUSE: OK, well...

SESAY: John Vause's (ph) Christmas has come early.

VAUSE: Oh (ph), no. OK, Hillary Clinton out campaign (ph) -- she really hasn't addressed this. But she was out campaigning for the first time with the first lady, Michelle Obama. And as we've been noting, they really, really, really like -- a lot of love -- they really like each other.


OBAMA: If people wonder, yes, Hillary Clinton is my friend. She has been a friend to me and Barack and Malia and Sasha. And Bill and Chelsea have been embracing and supportive from the very day my husband took the oath -- oath of office.

(APPLAUSE) CLINTON: There were times during those three debates when I'll tell

you, the loop running in my head was what Michelle said to us at the convention, right? When they go low, we go high.



VAUSE: OK, are they trying way too hard here?


THOMAS: Oh, my gosh.

VAUSE: I mean, do you (ph) -- do you buy this?

THOMAS: No. Here is the thing.

SESAY: Are you just being -- are you just deeply cynical? Come on now.


THOMAS: Well, well, well, here is -- here is the deal. Michelle is incredibly popular. And they're smart to trot her out.

But the fact is Michelle's name is not the name in the ballot booth. This is a classic case of they're trying to put lipstick on the pig here.

But you know, no, you've got to underline the problem (ph).

VAUSE (?): Come on.

SESAY: Ethan -- Ethan?

BEARMAN: This is a classic case of marketing, which is Michelle Obama is highly popular. She -- she is exceptionally popular in all the circles that Hillary needs to make sure turns up to vote.

So put her next to Hillary Clinton and that halo effect, as what it's called, happens to Hillary. If I'm Hillary Clinton, I want Michelle Obama everywhere I need to go right now.

SESAY: And (ph)...

THOMAS: I think the different is people are showing up to those rallies not for Hillary Clinton. they're showing up for Michelle Obama.

Trump's people are showing up for Trump.

SESAY: Yes, but no -- no one else is turning up to stand next to Trump on those -- on those -- those stages.

THOMAS: Oh, well, that might be true. (CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: They're afraid...

THOMAS: ...but he's got -- he's got a whole theater and rally filled with people.

VAUSE: Right. Well, the good news for Hillary Clinton, as we've been saying, is that her opponent in this race is Donald Trump.

THOMAS: And she's lucky for that.

VAUSE: Absolutely. He was actually asked a couple of hours ago on Fox News if he thought he would be in a better place right now in terms of the polling if that "Access Hollywood" tape, where he was making those lewd comments, hadn't been released. This is what he said.


TRUMP: I think it was very negative. It was locker-room talk. The microphone was not supposed to be on -- not that I make that as an excuse for myself.

But certainly, it was an illegal act that was NBC. It was not supposed to be on but I just...

(O'REILLY): You think it was illegal what they did putting that tape out?

TRUMP: Oh, absolutely.


VAUSE: So he says he's not entirely sure if things would be better. But come on, he would be in a much better place right now if that tape hadn't been released.

THOMAS: He would, although I think he has a -- a fundamental challenge here. And that's that he never shifted from running a primary campaign to a general campaign.

He never convinced educated white women to cross over for him because it always became -- if it wasn't about the tapes, it was about the Khan family or something else. So look, I think the tapes might have been the final nail in the coffin.

But I think he's still in this demographic, you know, hole that he never could get out of.

SESAY: Ethan?

BEARMAN: It absolutely was the final nail on the coffin. I was an undecided voter until that tape came out. And I started talking to hundreds -- no joke -- hundreds of women who all have similar stories of sexual abuse at the hands of men like Donald Trump. And we, as men, have to stand up and not allow that to be normalized.

That is absolutely the final nail in the coffin for Donald Trump.

VAUSE: OK, let's look at some of the polling because if we look at the map right now, it is getting a little tighter. Donald Trump is doing good in certain states.

If we look at like Florida and Nevada, they've gone from leaning democratic now to toss up. And in the CNN poll of polls, Clinton is still leading.

She's ahead 47, 41.

SESAY: Let's bring in our John King to break down the polling numbers and to still just highlight how hard it is for Trump to win.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Our new CNN electoral map shows a tighter race on the surface. But looks can be deceiving.

Here are our new numbers -- 272 for Secretary Clinton, 179 for Donald Trump, the dark blue states, solid Dem, the light blue states, lean Dem, dark red, solid Republican, light red, lean Republican. What's different? Just yesterday, we had Florida and Nevada leaning democratic.

But new polling in those states shows dead heat. So we've shifted them back into the toss-up category. That's what makes the race look tighter.

But if you look at some new state polling data, you'll understand just how steep -- very steep the hill is for Donald Trump, heading in to the final 10, 11 days of campaigning. Let's start in Iowa -- a state where Trump has been consistently ahead.

Well, new Quinnipiac University data shows a tie -- 44 percent to 44 percent. And that poll shows Hillary Clinton doing very well in the early voting in Iowa. So Iowa may be back on the map for the Democrats.

Now, Georgia, yet another ruby red state, like Utah, like Arizona. Donald Trump should be well ahead at this point in the campaign. Instead, Quinnipiac University finds a 44 to 43 race, so Trump ahead.

But statistically, that's a tie. And again, the poll found among those who had voted early, a big edge for Secretary Clinton. Let's move up the coast.

It's about time we just take Virginia and put it in the solid blue column. This is the latest poll, again, from Quinnipiac, showing a double-digit Clinton lead in Virginia, a state Republicans very much wanted to get back this time.

Twice, it went for Obama. Pretty soon, we just might as well say, game over in Virginia, a big leap for Clinton. And North Carolina -- there's a reason Hillary Clinton decided to campaign with Michelle Obama for the first time in North Carolina. It is that important. Donald Trump cannot win without it. And

Quinnipiac says Clinton, 47, Trump, 43 -- a small lead but this has been consistent -- stubborn, small, persistent leads for Hillary Clinton in North Carolina.

And again, she's doing very well in the early voting. So let's switch back. Those four state polls -- good news for Clinton, tight races.

In some states that Trump was leading in, now you look, maybe Iowa is really a toss-up state, not lean Republican. Maybe Georgia is really a toss-up state, not lean Republican.

Look how far Donald Trump would drop there. Clinton still across the finish line, Trump down at 157 -- one, two, three, four, five, six, seven -- eight toss-up states under this scenario, even if Donald Trump won them all, he'd still be short.

Is Donald Trump going to go eight for eight and then find a ninth? Not impossible but improbable, which is why you look at this map and you think overwhelmingly, heading into the final days, state-by-state, favors Clinton.

SESAY: John, do you agree with John King -- improbable now but not impossible?

THOMAS: But yes, he's right. I mean, the race is naturally tightening. It wanted to be a three-point race. If you see (ph) -- it swung out if there were major controversies about Donald Trump.

Right now, things are kind of settling out. So look, barring something incredible happening, it does look like Hillary Clinton will be the next president.

But look, we still got quite a bit of time. There are quite a few...

VAUSE: Twelve days, yes.

THOMAS: ...quite a few Wikileaks that have yet to come out. And we don't...


SESAY: Is that what you're pinning your hopes on?

THOMAS: That's -- well, that's all there can be.

BEARMAN: No way. No way -- there's no Wikileak that's going to come out that would change this race at this point in time. Again, the only thing that would happen is if Hillary Clinton did what Donald Trump said.

If she runs out on 5th Avenue and shoots somebody, that's the only way she'll lose at this point.

THOMAS: And -- And I think you're right. I mean, Democrats largely have thought that... VAUSE: Yes.

THOMAS: ...a corrupt president is fine -- is better than Donald Trump. So you're right, Wikileaks couldn't change your mind.

VAUSE: OK, well, Trump isn't buying the poll numbers. He says it's always rigged, that count (ph) -- he almost like kind of gave the game away. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Look, the only one I really like are the ones where I'm winning. But -- but these polls...

(O'REILLY): Oh (ph), you're honest, by that (ph). Yes, all right.

TRUMP: ...are definitely -- hey -- hey, Bill, something's going on.


VAUSE (?): Bill, something's going on. This is a moment of honesty from Trump really. Hey (ph), every candidate who's behind the polls, they say they're rigged or they're not accurate until they are, right, you know (ph), these kind (ph) of things?

TRUMP: Yes, yes, of course. I -- I think Trump wants to surround himself in an echo chamber of winning. And it's -- it's hard.

It's a hard place to be in Trump land right now.

CUOMO: I mean, it's like an umpire at a baseball game. If -- if my team's losing, the umpire is terrible.


BEARMAN: If my team is winning, the ump's doing a great job. Blaming the polls for not doing well with your candidate?

THOMAS: Here is what I would say. If Hillary does win, it's not because America is excited about Hillary. It's because they're not voting for Donald Trump.

Let's be clear about that.

SESAY: OK, OK, we are now very clear on that. Donald Trump appearing on "Good Morning America" with his wife by his side in an attempt to either, you know (ph), clean up his image, you could say. Take a listen.


TRUMP: We will see. My priorities, my son, Baron -- our son, Baron, and I support him hundred percent. And I'm there for him every time he needs me.

And I might join him, we will see. TRUMP: She's actually going to make two or three speeches. And I

will tell you...

(CROSSTALK) is. It's -- it's -- she's amazing.


SESAY: And we should have been talking about the display of unity. Instead, we're talking about that moment of shock.

BEARMAN (?): Yes, did you see that look?

VAUSE (?): I am?


TRUMP: Well, here is -- here is what Trump's doing. Most people agree that he's raised -- he and Melania have -- have incredible kids, good family.

And so he needs to show those people off because he's done a good job at that. What's interesting is Hillary Clinton's strategy has shifted form the media.

She's not doing television interviews. She's doing all local radio interviews that she can control because when you're ahead by a couple of points, you sit on the ball (ph), and you run out (ph) the clock.

SESAY: Will Melania make a difference if she goes out and gives these two or three important speeches...


BEARMAN: Far too late for that. I thought this was a perfect example of Donald Trump's misogyny, where he sees women in his world as something to use, and in this case, his wife was sitting there.

And he made her an object to be part of his campaign.

VAUSE: OK, finally here, because we're going to an end (ph), Donald Trump is never one to just let something go, including his feud with Vice President Joe Biden.


TRUMP: I got Biden. He said, I'd like to take him behind the gym. Oh, I dream of that.


Biden -- you know, what you do with Biden, you go like this -- and he'd fall over, just...

(APPLAUSE) ...tough guy -- mr. tough guy.



VAUSE: How much are we going to miss this?

THOMAS: Yes, we really are. We're going to miss the Rubio, water. You know, that is entertaining. We have to give it to him.

VAUSE: It has been entertaining (ph). But seriously, though...

SESAY: But they're in their 70s.

BEARMAN (?): Yes.

SESAY: OK, let me just say that.

VAUSE: What's to be gained by Trump going after Biden all the time like this?

BEARMAN: Nothing. I mean, there's...

VAUSE: He's playing to the crowd, right? He likes the cheer.

BEARMAN: That's all it is. He loves to be center of attention. It's a great way for him to be there.

Hey (ph), the good news, at least he wasn't making fun of a disabled reporter this time.

VAUSE: Same things (ph) to look about.

THOMAS: In fairness to Trump, Biden did say he'd like to take him out back and punch him in the face so...

BEARMAN (?): Yes, pretty decent (ph) -- he started it.

THOMAS (?): He started it.

SESAY: So (ph) this (ph) holding of a high road never quite really...


THOMAS: No such thing as high road in Trump land, there's no such thing.


SESAY: Yes, ending on a high note there.


VAUSE: Ethan, John, thanks so much.

SESAY: Appreciate it. Thanks.

VAUSE: Well, still to come here on CNN "Newsroom," Donald Trump likes to file lawsuits but maybe now, he might just be having second thoughts about suing every woman who has accused him of sexual misconduct.

SESAY: Plus Vladimir Putin is rejecting claims that he's meddling in the U.S. election. Stay with us.


I'm Kate Riley with your CNN world sport headlines. We've started in Singapore for the WTA finals, where a minor miracle was needed for Dominika Cibulkova to reach the semifinals after losing her first two matches.

The Slovakian needed a straight-sets win over Simona Halep and would then need the help of Angelique Kerber to beat Madison Keys in straight sets. Well, it was Cibulkova's day as she graced (ph) past Halep in the first set, 6-3 before winning the second set in a tie- breaker, 7-5, then Kerber would beat Keys in straight sets, sending Cibulkova through to the semis.

Rory McIlroy is once again targeting golf's big money Race to Dubai prize, which is down to the last four tournaments, including this week's WGC/HSBC champions in Shanghai. But he's won (ph) under 71, found himself a full seven shots back from the leader.

And that fifth (ph) man, Sweden's Rikard Karlberg, whose nine birdie helped him to an eight, under 64, helping a star-studded field that included all four of this year's major winners at bay heading into Friday and the (ph) United States. Anthony Davis said something Wednesday night, just three other players haven't (ph) done in NBA history.

Davis joined the elite group by scoring 50 points in the season opener, the problem was the New Orleans Pelicans was going to lose a hundred and seven to a hundred and two. And that's a look at all your sports headlines. I'm Kate Riley.

VAUSE: Donald Trump might now be backing away from his threat to take legal action against at least 11 women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault.


TRUMP: These stories were fabricated. They're total lies.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): So you're going to go through with the lawsuit?

TRUMP: We'll find out. Let's see what happens with the election.


VAUSE: Less than a week ago, Trump stood on the hallowed ground of Gettysburg and outlined his plans for his first 100 days as president. And that included litigation.


TRUMP: Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign -- total fabrication.


The events never happened -- never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.


VAUSE: So that raises the question, what happened between now and then? Well, there was a tweet from Ted Boutros (ph), a leading first- amendment lawyer in the United States who, the "Los Angeles Times" once called a hired gun.

He posted, "I will represent pro bono anyone Trump sues for exercising their free speech rights. Many other lawyers have offered to join me." And Ted Boutros joins us now.

Ted, thank you for being with us. Donald Trump makes no secret he likes to sue people. He's been involved in thousands of lawsuits.

So are you surprised that he might not follow through now on his threats this time?

BARTIROMO: Well, what he does is he threatens lawsuits. And here, he's doing it to chill free speech and to chill critics in the middle of a presidential election.

I can't imagine a more blatant violation of the spirit of the first amendment and the Constitution. His statement that we -- you just played, he said, well, we'll see.

So he's still keeping a lawsuit possibility hanging out there. And I don't -- I'm not sure what he means, let's see what happens in the election.

Is he saying if he wins, he'll sue, or if he loses, he'll sue? So he's really trying to use the threat of a lawsuit to deter and squelch (ph) speech.

And that violates the first amendment's most basic principles. And -- and I think he should stop threatening people and -- and stop intruding on first amendment rights.

VAUSE: His wife, Melania, she says that she wants her day in court. This is what she said to ABC News.


TRUMP: They were lies. And as I said before, all the accusations, they should be handled in a court of law.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): So you believe the lawsuits should go forward?

TRUMP: Yes, I believe that. And because to accuse somebody without evidence, it's very hurtful. And it's very damaging and unfair.

And but (ph) honestly, do we still need to talk about that?


VAUSE: So Ted, just from a legal point of view, would Trump have any chance of actually winning, not just one lawsuit, but what might be a dozen separate lawsuits?

BOUTROUS: I don't think he has any chance. He is a public figure. He is probably the most public figure, the most famous person in the world.

The libel defamation standards on the -- under the Supreme Court's cases like New York Times versus Sullivan create a tremendous burden in any case. He'd have to prove knowledge of falsity by this -- the individuals.

He'd have to prove either reckless disregard of the truth. The standards are insurmountable, I think, for him. And -- and Mrs. Trump said on that clip that there was no evidence.

There is evidence. These women have come forward in very difficult circumstances, and told their stories and their -- what -- what they said happened. That's evidence.

That's direct evidence. And he would have to counter that with his own clear and convincing evidence. I don't think he's -- he would ever be able to do that.

He would have to be -- go through depositions. He gave that speech about his first 100 days and I nearly (ph) thought he's going to have a hundred days of depositions.

That's -- that's going to be his first hundred days if he brings these suits.

VAUSE: Ted, you made this off (ph) on the basis of defending free speech. So explain how -- how is this different, these allegations against Donald Trump, why are they considered free speech, you know, free speech issue, rather, and not slander?

BOUTROUS: Well, here, you know, we have -- we're in the middle of political campaign -- a campaign for the presidency. That is where the first amendment protections of free speech are at their highest, strictest level because the bottom of the first amendment is protecting the people's rights to gather information so they can govern themselves.

And so here, where we have a campaign going, and these are individual citizens who are speaking out during an election. They have every fundamental right to do that. And it - it's -- just to call something slander, to deny it, does not

mean it's protected speech. The -- the Constitution creates what the Supreme Court has called breathing space.

And it tolerates caustic debate, criticism, particularly of government officials, particularly of wealthy, powerful individuals, who want to be president. So this is the essence of what the framers of our Constitution had in mind in terms of the kind of debate and -- and argument about who should be president.

And Mr. Trump's in a position to respond. He could lay out his own side of the facts instead of just branding people liars.

And he has the power and ability and the platform to respond with his own speech.

VAUSE: Very quickly, how many other lawyers have signed up for this and what message are you all sending to Mr. Trump?

BOUTROUS: It's really made me feel good about my profession. We probably had -- at least a hundred lawyers on Twitter, by e-mail, by phone, including Laurence Tribe (ph), professor at Harvard, Erwin Chamarinski (ph) here in California, scholars of the -- the -- the greatest minds we have in this country.

And it sends the message. There's going to be a level playing field here. If Mr. Trump wants to litigate, he's going to face an army of lawyers -- Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals who say you can't abuse the first amendment this way in an election.

VAUSE: OK, Ted, thank you so much for coming in. Good to speak with you. Ted Boutros, we appreciate it.

BOUTROUS: Thank you.

SESAY: Really interesting conversation there.

VAUSE: It's interesting how many people -- how many lawyers have jumped on this.


VAUSE: And it's not a political issue but they're saying it's a free speech issue.

SESAY: Yes, I had no idea so many people had -- had answered his rallying call. Next, on "Newsroom L.A.," Russia's president dismisses claims that he's trying to disrupt the U.S. election.


(PUTIN THROUGH Translator): Does anyone seriously think that Russia can, in some way, influence the choice of the American people? Is America some kind of a Banana Republic?

America is a great country, correct me if I am wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP)


[01:32:08] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: It's gone 10:32 on the West coast. I'm John Vause.

Donald Trump is keeping up a hectic campaign schedule with stops in New Hampshire, Maine and Iowa on Friday. But the clock is against him. Less than two weeks to turn his campaign around.

SESAY: CNN's Sara Murray is traveling with the Trump campaign.


DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In 12 days, we're going to win Ohio.


TRUMP: And we are going to win back the White House.


SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump is barnstorming the Buckeye State with one target in mind.

TRUMP: I mean, I've been doing six, seven, eight things a day, every single day. She's home sleeping half the time.


TRUMP: I say she's definitely a low-energy person.

MURRAY: Seizing on the revelations from hacked e-mails from WikiLeaks outlining how Bill Clinton generated personal income through Clinton Foundation contacts.

TRUMP: If the Clintons were willing to play this fast and loose with their enterprise when they weren't in the White House, just imagine what they'll do, given the chance, to once again control the Oval Office.

MURRAY: The GOP nominee hoping a last-ditch effort to stay on message and jam pack his campaign schedule might be enough to clinch a victory come November, but even as he accused Hillary Clinton of being dangerous on foreign policy.

TRUMP: Hillary wants to start a shooting war with Syria a conflict with a nuclear-powered Russia, which could very well lead to World War III.

MURRAY: He again appeared to come to Vladimir Putin's defense. TRUMP: She speaks badly of Putin. I don't think that's smart. You

can be tough but you shouldn't be doing what she's doing.

MURRAY: While he claims he no longer wants to focus on the lawsuits he threatened against women who accused him of unwanted sexual advances.

TRUMP: You know, I hate you waste time when we are talk about ISIS and jobs and you're still bringing that up. Everybody wants to bring it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was just Saturday.

MURRAY: Trump lobbing sharp attacks at a "People" magazine reporter.

TRUMP: She was afraid? Give me a break. She was afraid to write it. She would have got the Pulitzer Prize.

MURRAY: Melania says she is more focused on raising Baron than hitting the campaign trail.

MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: My priority is our son, Baron, our son, Baron. And I support him 100 percent and I'm there for him every time he needs me. And I might join him.

MURRAY: But her husband has other ideas.

TRUMP: She is amazing when she speaks. She's an amazing public speaker. She has agreed to two or three speeches. I think it's going to be big speeches, important speeches. It'll be great.

MURRAY: With less than two weeks before Election Day, Republicans are still grappling with how to deal with Trump.

After pulling his endorsement of trumps weeks ago --

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, (R), UTAH (voice-over): I have to answer to myself and my wife and have to feel good about what I do.

MURRAY: -- Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz has decided to vote for Trump after all, tweeting, "I will not defend or endorse Donald Trump, but I am voting for him. HRC is that bad. HRC is bad for the USA."

(on camera): As if the last two weeks of the presidential campaign are not stressful enough, Mike Pence with a harrowing incident on Thursday evening as his plane skidded off the runway at LaGuardia Airport. Now, everyone was fine. But Donald Trump brought it at a campaign event in Ohio up on thursday evening, saying that Pence was close to grave, grave danger but pointing out that everyone walked away just fine. Both Pence and Trump will be back on the campaign trail on Friday.

Sara Murray, CNN, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [01:35:56] VAUSE: Russian President Vladimir Putin is dismissing accusations his government is trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.

SESAY: He says Russia is being used by American politicians to distract voters from the real issues.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation: Does anyone seriously think that Russia can in some way influence the choice of the American people? Is America some kind of a banana republic? America is a great country. Correct me if I am wrong.


VAUSE: Robert English joins us now. He is an associate professor at the University of Southern California. Research specialties include Russia as well as international relations.

Robert, thank you for being with us.

Is the Russian president speaking a grain of truth here? Are U.S. officials giving the Kremlin too much credit, too much clout, essentially making them 10-feet tall?

ROBERT ENGLISH, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: There's a grain of truth in that, yes. But everyone recognizes this is a campaign year. And everything is hyper politicized. And because of Donald Trump's curious persistent praise of Putin, he has made it irresistible to attack him and to pound him on this issue. So the e-mail hacks, which are, by any objective standard, are relatively minor infraction, an irritant, have been blown up into this attempt to subvert our democracy. It's only a big deal because we've made it a big deal. People inside know there is hacking like this going on all over the place, all the time by states, by private actors, and to those of us who have been inside the system and close to policymaking and the defense establish, it is curious this is has become an attempt to undermine our country.

VAUSE: Yeah.

ENGLISH: It's not that big a deal, except you made it that.

VAUSE: You mention Donald Trump and his sort of odd admiration of Vladimir Putin. He again today seemed to be defending Russia. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Be nice if we got along. We don't, we don't. It would be nice. But how can he get along with her? How can he get along with her? He's got no respect for her, number one. And the way she talks -- this is ridiculous. I tell you what, honestly, if we could have a good relationship with Russia that would be a good thing, not a bad thing. I hate to say it. (CHEERING)

TRUMP: I don't know that will happen but it would be a good thing.


VAUSE: What he is saying wouldn't it be nice that is an aspiration, not a foreign policy. How do you explain Trump's attitude toward Russia?

ENGLISH: I don't know. I see the same thing as others, those that advise him, his own business contacts. I can't honestly tell you which individual or which experience has brought him to this position he's been holding. But you're right, nobody would dispute it would be nicer if we could get along better with Russia.

And at the same time, you know, Hillary, the likely winner, Hillary Clinton will have to deal with Putin the day after and the months after. And it's going to be difficult. But I don't think it's true by any stretch of the imagination that Putin and the Russians don't respect Hillary. She's tough as nails and she's as experienced as any foreign policy leader has ever been. Does like Putin like her? Does she like Putin? No. There is enormous personal animus there. But the Russians, too, understand this is a campaign and the rhetoric gets heated. It happens every four or eight years. Russia is used to being a political football. We'll get back to brass tacks, and the things that will decide our relations in the future will be straight forward and objective, not the hysterics, the histrionics we're seeing now.

VAUSE: Very quickly here, Putin said he did not prefer Trump or Clinton or Clinton over Trump, but then when on to say what seemed to be positive words for Donald Trump. Listen to this.


[01:39:55] PUTIN (through translation): Trump behaves extravagantly, of course. We see this. But I think there's a reason for this because, in my opinion, he represents the interests of that part of society, and it is quite big in that part of the United States, which is tired of the elite which have been in power for decades.



VAUSE: Is he needling? Yeah?

ENGLISH: Sure, he is needling but the needling hurts a little bit because there's a grain of truth to it. The same as when Trump says, wouldn't it be great if we could get along better with Russia and cooperate in the battle against ISIS? Yes, he's right. And Putin doesn't have to be an analyst of American politics. He sees our analysts exploring these problems in money and politics and voter exclusion, and so forth. But let's face it, what's going to matter are the concrete issues of the U.S./Russian relations, not meddling and commenting on each other's domestic political systems. And the only professional in the race --


ENGLISH: Right. I think they --


VAUSE: I didn't mean to interrupt.

ENGLISH: They understand that Donald Trump is a wild card. That a few warm words don't go any measure to counteract the instability, the unpredictability, and sensible Russian foreign policy elites are as afraid as we are what he might do with the nuclear button, what conflict he might inflame, how unpredictable he'd be.


VAUSE: We'll leave it there.


VAUSE: OK, we'll leave it there. So thank you so much. Sir, thank you so much. We're just out of time.

ENGLISH: Thank you.

We appreciate your thoughts. Robert English, we appreciate it.

SESAY: Next on NEWSROOM L.A., the fight against ISIS and why coalition troops are launching a second major offensive.


SESAY: U.S.-led coalition forces are moving forward in their fight against ISIS in Iraq. Right now, troops are circling Mosul and have killed up to 900 ISIS fighters. The militants have also started sending suicide squads to Mosul from Raqqa in Syria.

[01:45:06] VAUSE: And Raqqa is the next ISIS stronghold coalition forces will be targeting. The U.S. defense secretary says both operations will happen simultaneously.

SESAY: CNN military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, joins us live via Skype from Oregon.

Colonel Francona, thank you so much for joining us.

Why are ISIS fighters launching such fierce defense of areas to the south of Mosul as opposed to just retreating to take a stand there in the city? I mean, what's the group's strategy here?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, they're trying to slow down the Iraqi advance giving the ISIS fighters inside the city more time to make the fortifications stronger than they are. They are being effective at it. They have blunted the momentum of the Iraqi army. The Iraqis are still moving forward but it's going slowly to clear the obstacles, mine fields and suicide bombers. So you know, that's their strategy and it's being effective.

SESAY: To date it appears the Iraqi-led coalition is successfully coordinating the efforts among the different actors involved. And we know there are a lot of different parties involved. If they get to Mosul and breach the perimeter, that cohesion will be tested in a new way.

FRANCONA: I think it's going to be. We're seeing how fierce the defense of the city of Mosul is to be. We're not even to the city yet and the fighting is already intense and fierce. Once they get into the city itself, it will be that much more intense. And we've heard from the Iraqi generals that they plan to only use the Iraqi army and Iraqi police forces inside the city itself and have the Kurds remain out. I think once they get in there and find out how hard this is going to be, they will have other actors in there, probably the Kurds, maybe not the Shia militias, but they will be hard pressed to this by themselves.

SESAY: They are.

Colonel Francona, thanks for joining us.


VAUSE: Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, a moment of revelation, something that has not been seen for centuries, the stone slab believed to be the final resting place for Jesus.




[01:51:09] VAUSE: A remarkable discovery in Jerusalem with researchers uncovering a burial slab where the body of Jesus may have been laid after his crucifixion. Monks and priests alongside work crews for the moment of revelation.

SESAY: It was found during restoration work on what is known as the Tomb of Jesus inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

"National Geographic" was there covering the restoration process for a special to air next month.

VAUSE: Joining us now from Jerusalem is Kristin Romey, who covers archaeology for "National Geographic."-

This is the most sacred sight in all of Christianity. If this is the burial bed, what can it tell us about Jesus and Christianity as a whole?

KRISTIN ROMEY, FIELD OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: We are investigating how this site evolved over time, how it became the focal point for worship and veneration for more than two billion Christians today. And it has been a holy sight for 1700 years. We have not uncovered this tomb for more -- almost 500 years. So this is the first time in modern memory we have removed the marble from the tomb and are able to look down and investigate the original rock that, according to Christian tradition, the body of Jesus Christ was laid out on.

VAUSE: The site of the tomb was identified 300 years after he died. Can this confirm in fact that this is the right location?

ROMEY: The absolute location is a matter of faith. This was pointed out by eye witnesses in Jerusalem to the Helena, the mother of the roman emperor, Constantine. There was a communal memory of where Jesus Christ had been buried. She excavated the site and found a rock-cut tomb there that now, according to tradition, is the burial site of Jesus Christ.

VAUSE: When you're looking at examining the burial slab, how long will it take before we get some indications -- when will it give up some of its secrets, if you like?

ROMEY: It is happening as we speak. The tomb was opened on Wednesday night and a team of scientific researchers from the National Technical University of Athens are working around the clock. They have 60 hours to remove the marble and the fill that is found inside the tomb and to expose the rock.

VAUSE: So why was the rock covered up or the slab covered up by the marble in the first place?

ROMEY: Well, according to early historical accounts, what has been happening in the past is that you have had pilgrims that were eager to take a piece of the tomb away with them. So the custodians of the church eventually covered the rock with marble slabs to prevent souvenir gatherers, so to speak.

VAUSE: So the experts believe the marble was placed, what, in 1555?

ROMEY: Yes, that is one historical account we have. It may have been placed earlier, in the 1370s. And what we're finding and working together with the archaeologists and residents from "National Geographic," is we have multiple layers of marble going down, marble slabs, and we need to remove all of those in order to expose the rock and seal it, because what's happening is the shrine that encompasses the tomb is being restored, and that's going to involve a lot of injecting grout and a lot of construction work. They want to ensure that the integrity of the original Holy Rock is protected from all of this really advanced scientific work going around it.

[01:55:05] VAUSE: And finally here, six Christian sects control the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. They have strained relations at the best of times. How have they reacted to this news?

ROMEY: Well, I mean, I think this is a great example of those six Christian sects coming together and deciding that maintaining the structural integrity of the most holy sight in Christianity is more important than any differences that they have. And they are thrilled that this is happening. And it's a really great symbol of cooperation across the different sects and working together to actually make this happen. And they're all thrilled. They're so excited. And it's great to see the Christian communities, alongside these really professional scientists, all just working together to reveal and understand much better what has been going on at this most important site in the Christian world.

VAUSE: And we should say that you were there, "National Geographic" was there to cover it for a special which will air next month.

Kristin, thank you so much for coming in. We appreciate it.

ROMEY: Thank you very much.

SESAY: A fascinating special.

VAUSE: If you have been to the church --

SESAY: No, I haven't.

VAUSE: -- it's amazing. It really is. It's really special.

SESAY: We will be watching.

And you are watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

The news continues right after this.