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Trump Ramps Up Claims of "Rigged" Election; FBI Releases More Docs From Clinton Email Probe; Dark Election Tone Highlights Divide Within Country. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired October 17, 2016 - 10:00   ET




CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: -- restaurant when a group of men opened fire. Trinity, a sprinter herself, was a rising track star. An autopsy is expected to take place today in Kentucky. The next hour of "CNN Newsroom" starts now.


COSTELLO: And good morning I'm Carol Costello, thank you so much for joining me. Is this what scorched earth smells like, Donald Trump, ramping up his claims that the election is a scam and that the results cannot be trusted.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The election is being rigged. The process is rigged. This whole election is being rigged.

Remember this. It's a rigged election.


COSTELLO: And while Trump's surrogates are backing him up, many Republicans are backing away, including his own running mate, Mike Pence, who tried to soften his claims. Both Trump and Hillary Clinton relying heavily on their running mates and surrogates today as they get ready for their final presidential debate.

Clinton off the campaign trail and Trump has just one event in Green Bay. This, as his feud deepens with Wisconsin's Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders. Jason Carroll, live outside of Trump Tower where he just caught up with Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. What did she say, Jason?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a couple things. First, Donald Trump has been doing the debate prep here at Trump Tower today. He also did debate prep over the weekend in Bedminster, New Jersey and I spoke to Kellyanne Conway, who was there, among some of his other advisors, such as Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani about what she saw happening during debate prep this go-around.


CARROLL: Anything different that we saw this time in terms of debate prep that hasn't been done in the past?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We saw that Mr. Trump won the second debate and he felt really great. And Mrs. Clinton, I think, for all of her considerable gifts seemed a little bit off message, after while a bit rattled. And we may have seen the best, most prepared Hillary Clinton in the first debate. We'll see on Wednesday.

But he loves these forums. He loves the debates because you know, he is the one out there every single day, including later on today in Wisconsin, tomorrow in Colorado, talking to people at rallies, at forums. He's not taking five days off the trail like she is. And that's her personal choice. I know scarcity is her strategy. The less people see her the more they forget that they don't like her, don't trust her.

CARROLL: One final question because I know you've got to run. But he's been talking so much about the system being rigged. Mike Pence seemed to back down on some of that thought. I want to get your thoughts about this. Where exactly does he stand on this? What part of the system specifically does he think is rigged and in what way?

CONWAY: So anybody who reads the newspaper online or in print or has a remote control probably has recognized that in many ways, the fix is in for Mrs. Clinton when it comes to the mainstream media. That's not everyone but and I think that people are smart enough to figure out what they think is news.

I think these days, particularly with Mr. Trump involved, the news is just presuming what people want to talk about and I have noticed that she spent tens of millions of dollars just in negative advertisement. Her entire campaign is about Trump. It's not about Obamacare. It's not about ISIS and national security. It certainly isn't about economic growth and lower taxes. She is trying to avoid issues for the next 22 days in the hopes that this will just end up being about Mr. Trump.

And if it's a referendum on Mr. Trump, then this country has not been completely served and hearing exactly what her vision is for these burning issues. We have the more compelling, magnetic candidate and we have the issues set in our favor because 76 percent of Americans want to take the country in a new direction. --

CARROLL: But isn't he also suggesting that it's beyond the media. That it's also something about the process itself, specifically. Isn't he suggesting voter fraud or is he just suggesting that it's just the media that he has a problem with in terms of the system?

CONWAY: Well, there is any number of factors. And if there is compelling evidence of voter fraud, obviously as early voting goes on --

CARROL: But there hasn't been any evidence of that. CONWAY: No, I didn't say that. I said if there is, that certainly we would take action.


CARROLL: And Carol, certainly there has been much back and forth between Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. And as you know, Donald Trump will be in Wisconsin later today for a rally there in Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, and I asked Kellyanne Conway if there would be any meeting between the two men since both men have been so critical of each other. Paul Ryan been very critical of Donald Trump and those vulgar comments he made about women, Donald Trump very critical of Paul Ryan and his leadership abilities. And I asked her any chance of the two men might meet. She said at this point, nothing on Trump's schedule to do that. Carol?

COSTELLO: All right. So Jason, you were talking to Kellyanne Conway about what Mr. Trump means when he says the system is rigged. Well, we have a tweet that Donald Trump sent out and I just want to put it on screen for our viewers.

He said, "Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before Election Day. Why do Republican leaders deny what's going on? So naive!"

So, how can Kellyanne Conway say that he didn't mean the electoral process itself isn't rigged?

[10:05:16] CARROLL: Well, it's a good question. I mean, I think that points to what we have seen so many times in the past. The candidate, saying one thing and surrogates, saying something else or in some incidents - in some situations, trying to clean up what the candidate has said.

Clearly, Donald Trump speaks from his own mind. These are his thoughts. But you heard the thoughts from Kellyanne Conway saying in her estimation, when talking about a rigged system, it was specifically related to the media and she also -- was also pointing out that if there was evidence of voter fraud, she said there hasn't been any so far, that that was something they would have to take up with.

But clearly this is once again another example of the candidate voicing his thoughts and some of his surrogates voicing a different thought.

COSTELLO: All right, Jason Carroll, reporting live from Trump Tower this morning. So let's talk some more about this. With me now, Paul Singer, he is a Washington correspondent for "USA Today," and Patricia Murphy, she is a columnist for "The Daily Beast" and "Roll Call." Welcome to both of you.

So Patricia, what do you make of that? Kellyanne Conway, saying one thing. Donald Trump, saying another?

PATRICIA MURPHY, COLUMNIST "THE DAILY BEAST" AND "ROLL CALL": Well, it's certainly a pattern that we have seen between Donald Trump and his campaign, his campaign especially with Kellyanne, will try to take a more traditional approach to controversies and she's trying to -- sort of corner off everything that Donald Trump has said. Well, he's not saying the election is rigged. It's just that the media is rigged. The media being rigged has just been a tried and true meme among Republicans for decades. That's certainly nothing new.

But what Donald Trump is saying is something new. It's actually totally unprecedented for a major -- for the nominee of a major party to say in advance that this election is rigged. As we all know, it's very dangerous. It's also a way for him to just personally inoculate himself, I think, from the low poll numbers and going into it. If he thinks he's going to lose this election. If there's anything more telling to say that he does think he might lose this election. He's already saying it's already rigged.

I have to tell you his message is working among his supporters. I was at a Donald Trump rally in Charlotte over the weekend and multiple, many, actually almost everybody I talked to, offered unprompted, but we already know the election is rigged. So his supporters believe this. I think it's a very dangerous direction to be heading going into an election. I think it's something that should concern all of us. --

COSTELLO: I heard the same thing when I went to the state of Ohio over the weekend, Patricia. That a lot of people do think the system is rigged. But I think it's very important to point out that voter fraud is not a problem in this country. I talked to the Ohio Secretary of State. He is the man in charge of elections in the state of Ohio. State of Ohio has a Republican governor. I know he's not supporting Donald Trump but here's what -- but the Secretary of State is Jon Husted. He told me flat out he's going to vote for Donald Trump. He said that there is no voter fraud in Ohio. That you can go to the polls comfortably. Well, let's hear it from his own lips. Here it is.


JON HUSTED, (R) OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: I can reassure Donald Trump I'm in charge of elections in Ohio and they are not going to be rigged. That our institutions, like our elections systems are 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 just no justification for concern about widespread voter fraud.


COSTELLO: So Paul, do you think that will calm voters' fears, especially against such an important swing state? PAUL SINGER, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT "USA TODAY": No. But the facts should calm voters' fears. I mean, there is not one national presidential election, there are 51 elections. Every state and the District of Columbia, controls their own election process. And in fact, in some of the critical swing states for Donald Trump to win, like Florida, like Ohio, like Michigan, like Wisconsin, those are Republican governors who oversee the elections in those states.

So if Donald Trump is claiming that the system is rigged against him, he's essentially saying that the Republican governors and Republican establishment in those states is rigging the election against him for Hillary Clinton, for some reason. Again, the facts don't support this. There's almost no meaningful evidence of voter fraud anywhere over the past decade. -- There are a couple cases here and there. But it doesn't change it if the candidate's going out there and telling people there is fraud, there is fraud, it's all rigged against us.

COSTELLO: Yes and I want to point out something you said, Paul, that I think is important. There have been studies on voter fraud, right? There was a joint study by professors from Loyola Marymount University and the University of Florida. They found that between 2000 and 2014, there were 31 cases of fraud in one billion votes cast. One billion, there were 31 cases of fraud. So, Patricia, I can lay out studies, I can lay out facts, but

[10:10:16] I can't make people believe them and I wish that I could.

MURPHY: Well, nobody can make people believe something they don't want to believe. If you that believe Donald Trump should win, will win, makes the most sense and loses anyway, it's very easy especially if that candidate is telling you that the election was stolen from them. It is important, though, I think Democrats make a mistake if they dismiss out of hand, oh, the elections are fine, the systems are fine, nobody worry.

I think it's very important for Democrats, the president, the Department of Homeland Security, to telegraph what has been done to ensure that the election is fair, that the votes that are counted will be counted properly. What is being done to make sure that the election is not rigged? You certainly don't want to go too far in the other direction and plant any seeds of concern or suspicion. But I think it's very important for people to know as these doubts are being raised that there's no reason to be concerned about it, and that they can be confident that their votes are being counted properly. Democrats shouldn't be dismissing it out of hand just because it's coming from Donald Trump's mouth.

COSTELLO: All right. I have to leave it there. Paul Singer, Patricia Murphy, thanks to both of you.

Still to come in the "Newsroom," we are taking a step back in time. Way, way back to the day in 2000, the results of that election razor thin. What lessons can it teach us about this year's race?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:15:32] COSTELLO: Donald Trump insists the election is rigged before a single vote is counted. He is delegitimizing our Democratic process and agitating an already unsettled bloc of voters. It's unlike anything America has heard before. We are used to the peaceful transfer of power no matter what happens. Let me take you back 16 years to America's contested 2000 election, where the popular vote was so close, it went before the U.S. Supreme Court. Al Cardenas was the chair of the Florida Republican Party back then. Here he is, on November 7th just after the state of Florida was called for gore.


AL CARDENAS, CHAIRMAN REPUBLICAN PARTY OF FLORIDA IN 2000: We realized that it was really too early to call it. From the very outset we told the people at the headquarters of our party that we were not in agreement with the call. That we still thought we were challenging in Florida and would prevail. After almost ten hours of that process, it seems like that's what happened.


COSTELLO: All right. So, you know, it went to the U.S. Supreme Court and George W. Bush won the election, right? So today, Mr. Cardenas is urging all of us to remember Al Gore's graceful exit even though Al Gore still thinks to this day he was robbed of the presidency.


AL GORE, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IN 2000: Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt. While I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country.


COSTELLO: Al Cardenas joins us now. Welcome sir.

CARDENAS: Happy to be with you and well said. Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: You're welcome. We wanted you on because what you have to say is so very important. Tell us why you think what Al Gore did on that day was so important for our Democracy.

CARDENAS: Well look, -- Al Gore's words were just right. Both he and Joe Lieberman never once during that 37-day endless episode to ascertain who would become President of the United States, never once alleged fraud, never once challenged the integrity of the process in America, and then when they lost, your audience just heard his words. That's what we expect in America.

Look, I have been an observer on a number of elections abroad, Ukraine for example, because people feared that that process would not be transparent, would not be fair. When I got there, there was fear in the eyes of the voters that their will would not be heard. And so we do not want that in America. We do not want a crisis. We want America to believe in the integrity of what we are all about and words like this frankly inflame me, upset me. Upset the fact that, we, as Americans have to respect the electoral process. There's never been one iota of fact ever in the history of America in the election for president where fraud was a factor in the outcome.

And look, we have a history of hundreds -- 200 plus years of elections. No one has ever said before an election that there was fraud involved. You got to love your country before yourself and that's what I expect of anybody running for the office.

COSTELLO: Why do you think Donald Trump is saying that the election is rigged?

CARDENAS: Well, I don't know what's in his heart, Carol. That's for a higher authority to ascertain. But I will say this to you. It's damaging to America. It's damaging to how the world views us. It detracts from -- celebrating the fact that we elect our leaders. We have peaceful transfers of power. We do it with grace. The world admires how we do these things. You know, the president and the incoming president meet, you know, on the swearing-in day. It's usually a beautiful demonstration of love of country and the fact that we love our country above our party affiliation. We love our country above the candidates we prefer. We cannot tarnish that.

COSTELLO: So Al, put it in stark terms for us. Put it in stark terms. Why is it so important that we have a peaceful transfer of power in the United States of America?

CARDENAS: Bedrock of a Democracy is the will of the people, Carol. And if you ever undermine the will of the people, challenge it or put it into question, it's the very essence of our country that you are tarnishing. That cannot happen. We've never had an evidence of it. There's no evidence of it. The majority of governors in our country are Republican. States let the federal government

[10:20:16] run elections, local governments. We have supervisors of election. We have canvassing boards. We have checks and balances. They are mostly bipartisan. This is pure nonsense. And shame on any American who believes that this election is rigged.

COSTELLO: Al Cardenas, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I do appreciate it.

CARDENAS: Thank you.

COSTELLO: You're welcome. All right, this "Just In" to CNN. Just minutes ago, the FBI releasing more documents, from its investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails while she was Secretary of State. CNN is now going through those documents. When we find something, of course, we will pass it along to you. We are busily doing that right now.

Coming up in the "Newsroom," name calling and claim of a rigged election, how will this fiery rhetoric impact the Democratic process for years to come?


[10:25:25] COSTELLO: What is it like to be Muslim American in this year of Donald Trump? MJ lee went to three growing Muslim communities and asked.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never seen the level of fear among Muslim Americans now than even post-9/11.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It creates an unfortunate tension even if it's unspoken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the dynamics has changed and people are quite aware of what's at stake.


COSTELLO: OK. MJ lee joins me now. You went to three different states. Were you surprised at what you heard?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yes. I mean, what we wanted to do was find out how Muslim and Arab Americans across the country are responding to some of the rhetoric that they are hearing in the 2016 election. And we saw widespread concern and even fear among some of the people we spoke to about what they have heard so far this cycle.

But the thing that I found especially surprising is that many of the Muslim Americans we spoke to said, the climate now is worse than it ever was, even after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, 2001. We heard stories about women taking off their head scarves so they wouldn't be identified as being Muslim American. We heard stories about Muslims being attacked by strangers, essentially being told to go home, that they don't belong in this country. This of course is especially painful for some of the Muslim Americans who were born here and America is really the only home that they know.

Now, one of the cities that we traveled to was Minneapolis and we spoke to Congressman Keith Ellison. He is the first Muslim American elected to Congress. Here's what he said about the political environment after 9/11.


REP. KEITH ELLISON, (D) MINNESOTA: Right after 9/11, we had a President of the United States, George W. Bush, and I disagreed with him on almost everything. But he went to a mosque and stood with Muslims and said that Islam is not the problem. That is the kind of leadership that our country needed at the time. When I was a brand new elected member of Congress, he extended his hand to me and said Ellison, I'm glad there's a Muslim in the Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEE: Now, something else that we found so striking and powerful is how children in the Muslim American community are responding to some of the things that they are seeing on the news. You know, I think a lot of the times we sort of assume that children don't hear about what their parents might be talking about. You know, what's being said in their schools amongst some of the other students and we are hearing about just how parents who are Muslim American, how they are sort of struggling to talk to their children about some of the things that they are hearing on the news when they turn on the TV. Here's what two parents told us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some parents have raised concern about their children saying oh, well you know, do we have to leave this country or what's going to happen to us. And I tell them no, you're not going anywhere. You know, we're not living in that time.

HURUNNESSA FARIAD, VICE PRESIDENT ADAMS CENTER'S RADIANT HEARTS ACADEMY: My son came to me one day, he's 8 years old, he said to me that daddy, if Trump elected, is he going to kick us out. I said I need to talk to him now because you know, this rhetoric, it's affecting my family now.


LEE: Now Carol, of course, all of this could have political consequences. Many of the Muslim Americans we spoke to saying that they are motivated more than ever before to be politically engaged and their ultimate goal is that they will go to the ballot box in November and make sure that their voices are heard.

COSTELLO: So, there are what, 3.3 million Muslims living in America eligible to vote?

LEE: That's right.

COSTELLO: We will see what happens. MJ Lee, many thanks.

All right, the dark tone of this election is spotlighting a deep divide within our country. In North Carolina, a GOP office firebombed and spray painted with a swastika and the words Nazi Republicans get out of town or else.

In the meantime, a Wisconsin sheriff tweeting that the government and media are corrupt and it's "pitchforks and torches time."

So let's talk about this divide and the long-lasting effect of the tone of this election. I'm joined by CNN presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley. Welcome back.


COSTELLO: You know, I know what you are going to say. Americans, you know, there have been partisan divides in America since the beginning of time. Since America was born. Why does it seem so bad this time around?

BRINKLEY: Because we are alive for it. I mean, we can read about the Civil War but we weren't there. I mean, we can read about what happened in bleeding Kansas when people worried about, you know, pro- slavery and you know, free people coming there and trying to change an election in a state like Kansas. But that's long ago. This is happening in real time and modern media culture in the 21st century. It's frankly, disgusting that Donald Trump is already claiming that -- an election is rigged. The America stands for free and fair elections. We have a -