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EARLY START

Trump: Media Is "Rigging" Election; GOP Headquarters Firebombed In N. Carolina; Arizona Republic Facing Death Threats; SNL Has Field Day With Presidential Election; Offensive To Retake Mosul Begins; No More Bidders For Twitter. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 17, 2016 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:30:30] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump blasting the media for rigging this election. He even claims some polling places are rigged, too. Will team Trump ever accept the outcome on November 8th, win or lose?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. The offensive to retake Mosul has begun. Overnight, Iraqi forces move in on the second- largest city in Iraq under ISIS occupation for two years. We have a live report from the front lines, coming up.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans this Monday morning. It is 30 minutes past the hour. With three weeks now -- three weeks left before America votes -- Donald Trump keeps declaring the fix is in. With his hopes apparently fading and the list of his female accusers growing, Trump wages war on the media, insisting the press is rigging the race for Hillary Clinton, and this could be why.

A new NBC NEWS/Wall Street Journal poll shows Clinton has opened a commanding 11-point lead in a matchup of all four candidates. A Washington Post/ABC NEWS poll, also released this weekend, has Clinton leading by four points.

We get more from CNN's Chris Frates in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, John and Christine. Donald Trump continues to push this idea that the election is somehow rigged, despite not providing any evidence to support his charges. In fact, on Sunday, he tweeted, "The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media -- but also at many polling places."

But the facts just don't bear that out. For instance, a 2012 investigative reporting project by a group called News21 looked at over a decade of data and found just 10 cases -- 10 -- of voter impersonation at the polls on Election Day.

Now, meanwhile, politically, Democrats are really trying to use Trump's claim about a rigged election to paint him as a panicked candidate, a guy who's trying to delegitimize the results before he loses the election in November.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- especially in the last couple of days as Donald Trump has kind of started to go wilder and wilder. I think after, by all accounts, losing the first two debates he started to make wild claims -- kind of scorched earth claims about the election being rigged, et cetera.

So, we have to keep putting out a message and we need to call on everybody to speak out about the fact that we run elections and we run them well here. He shouldn't be engaging in those scare tactics and so we're needing to push that message and we ask the GOP leaders, also, to stand up for the integrity of the American electoral process.

FRATES: And, indeed, Republican leaders had spoken out on the subject including Trump's own running mate, Mike Pence.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We will absolutely accept the results of the election. Look, the American people will speak in an election that will culminate on November the 8th. One of the great, great traditions of America is the peaceful transfer of power.

FRATES: And Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan's office also weighed in on this, putting out a statement saying, "Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity."

So, in a bitterly divided election year many Democrats and Republicans -- they seem to be able to agree on at least one thing and that's, despite what Trump says, the polls are not rigged. John and Christine, back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right, Chris Frates, thanks so much.

Federal investigators are trying to determine who firebombed Republican headquarters in Hillsboro, North Carolina. No one was hurt but the building was badly burned. Police say someone tossed flammable liquid in a bottle through the front window and spray painted the words "Nazi Republicans leave town or else" along with a Swastika on an adjacent building.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have condemned the attacks. The Democrats have actually raised money to help rebuild the Republican headquarters.

ROMANS: A conservative Arizona newspaper that endorsed Hillary Clinton is now dealing with an ugly backlash. After "The Arizona Republic" backed a Democrat for the -- for president for the first time in its 126-year history last month, the newspaper's top executive says disturbing threats have been made against her employees -- specific threats. One of them warns the newspaper's reporters will be blown up. BERMAN: We want to bring in "Newsday" columnist, best-selling author, and nationally syndicated talk radio host Ellis Henican. Ellis, as we sit here three days -- three weeks and one day before the election, the talk from Donald Trump is the whole thing is rigged.

ELLIS HENICAN, COLUMNIST, "NEWSDAY": Everything.

BERMAN: It is all rigged. The election's rigged, the media's rigged, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" is rigged, polling places are rigged. And he had his surrogates out there over the weekend, some of them saying the same thing. Listen to your mayor, Rudy Giuliani talking yesterday.

[05:35:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NYC MAYOR: I've found very few situations where Republicans cheat. They don't control the inner cities the way Democrats do, I bet. Maybe if Republicans controlled the inner cities, they'd do as much cheating as Democrats. You want me to tell me that I think the election in Philadelphia and Chicago is going to be fair? I would have to be a moron to say that. I mean, I would have to dislearn everything I learned in 40 years of being a prosecutor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Your former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, right there.

HENICAN: What's happened to Rudy?

BERMAN: Well, he says that in Chicago and Philadelphia the election is going to be rigged. Donald Trump has been to, largely, white areas in Pennsylvania and told his crowds to go watch the polling places in Philadelphia. He says they're fraud there. He's talking about 2012 when there were some areas -- districts or these discreet areas where there was zero votes for Mitt Romney, but it's largely been debunked that there was fraud in that.

HENICAN: There's no evidence of any largescale fraud. Listen, listen, this is all about revving up an intense and narrowing base, right? We've all learned over the years that you win general elections by broadening the tent, inviting more people in. We're narrowing down deeper and deeper and, frankly, a little crazier and crazier now.

ROMANS: Well, let's get to something that Donald Trump said on the campaign trail this weekend. Hillary Clinton is doing, what, two days of debate prep at the moment. She is not on the campaign trail. But Donald Trump was out there -- and this was Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire -- and he brought up this new -- brand new kind of conspiracy. Let's listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate -- I do. I think we should -- why don't we do that? We should take a drug test prior because I don't know what's going on with her but at the beginning of her last debate she was all pumped up at the beginning and at the end it was like oh, take me down. She could barely reach her car. So I think we should take a drug test. Anyway, I'm willing to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The debate's on Wednesday. What do you make of that?

HENICAN: I mean, two things. Partly, we're just throwing spaghetti at the wall, right? I mean, who knows -- and who knows what it will be tomorrow? But there's also a piece, Christine, I think that is -- maybe the word psychological word is projection. When someone accuses me of something I say no, no, you did that, right? Remember after the first debate it was Donald who was thought to have flagged so badly at the end so I guess now we're accusing Hillary of that.

BERMAN: And look, when you're talking about drug testing you're not talking about WikiLeaks, you're not talking about trade, you're not talking about the issues that his own advisers think are winning issues.

ROMANS: You're not talking about groping.

HENICAN: Right.

BERMAN: There was apparently an event where a Teleprompter went out Friday night where there was someone shouting from the back stay on the issues. Then Kellyanne Conway tweeted it was me, it was me, I was saying that. She was kidding but I think there's probably some truth in it.

HENICAN: No.

BERMAN: OK, Donald Trump says "Saturday Night Live" is rigged against him, too --

HENICAN: Yes, that's true.

BERMAN: -- so it would be malpractice for us not to play a sound bite from "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" -- watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KYLE MOONEY, CAST MEMBER, NBC "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": What do you like about him?

KATE MCKINNON, CAST MEMBER, NBC "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Well, this one's actually easy. Donald Trump and I disagree on almost everything but I do like how generous he is. Just last Friday he handed me this election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, so "Saturday Night Live" has picked on both candidates but I have to say, I think objectively speaking, it's brutal right now on Donald Trump. HENICAN: Yes, but it's routine. I mean, this is a parody show. I mean, honest to God, I think the Hillary parodies are pretty sharp too, don't you?

BERMAN: I do. Look, I had a Democratic strategist tell me a few months ago that he thought they were devastating. That they were worth one or two points in the polls -- Kate McKinnon on Hillary Clinton.

HENICAN: Yes, but I guess once we shut the whole show down it won't be a problem.

BERMAN: It won't be --

ROMANS: But the idea that here we are questioning elections in a democracy that is built on trusting what happens at the polls and trusting Freedom of Information, the free -- you know -- I mean, it's just a remarkable --

BERMAN: It's not a joke.

ROMANS: No, it's not.

BERMAN: It's not a joke at all.

HENICAN: And what happens after the election? We still don't know the answer to that.

BERMAN: It's not a joke.

ROMANS: All right, thanks for that.

HENICAN: Great to see you guys.

ROMANS: Ellis Henican, nice to see you this morning. Thank you so much.

All right, fundraising efforts ramping up on both sides of the presidential election. Donald Trump's campaign says the Republican joint fundraising committee hauled in $100 million in September. That's its largest tally of the election. Clinton's camp says it raised $154 million, also a record high. Not all this money will go directly to the campaigns. Some will be used on key races for the House and Senate.

And it's unclear if Trump will increase his personal contributions in the next three weeks. He has said he'll give $100 million to his campaign but is well short of that goal. Clinton still has a wide lead with money in the bank. Her campaign and committee has reported $152 million in cash on hand at the end of September. The Trump campaign and committees, $75 million.

Trump is receiving a $1.25 million from this guy -- the Silicon Valley titan Peter Thiel. You may remember his speech from the Republican National Convention. Thiel is just about the only tech heavyweight publicly supporting Trump. Most of the Silicon Valley fundraisers have been for Hillary Clinton.

BERMAN: All right, breaking news. Iraqi forces -- they have begun their ground offensive to recapture Mosul from ISIS. Mosul, under ISIS occupation for two years. Nearly 5,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq. You can bet they are part of this operation. We'll take you live to Iraq when EARLY START continues -- that's next.

[05:40:15] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: The breaking news this morning, a ground assault against ISIS. Defense secretary Ash Carter calls it a decisive moment. The Iraqi government finally launching an operation to recapture Mosul -- this is the second-largest city in Iraq -- after more than two years of ISIS control. Carter says the hope is to deliver the terrorists a lasting defeat. U.S.-led coalition forces are providing cover from the air. Nearly 5,000 U.S. troops are actually on the ground assisting, as well.

Let's go live now to CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon. She is live near Mosul this morning. Arwa, what are you seeing?

[05:45:00] ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're about 15 to 20 miles to the southeast of the city overlooking the plains below where the bulk of the fighting has been taking place for the last 10 hours or so. Yes, it is a hazy morning but a lot of that is also being caused by the plumes of black and white smoke that have been rising from these villages that the Kurdish Peshmerga pushed into at about 2:00 in the morning, so around 11 hours ago.

A little bit of quiet on the ground right now, but not too long ago there was some pretty intense gunfire. And, of course, throughout the course of all of this we have been hearing a variety of explosions. Anything from car bombs -- suicide car bombs that we've been hearing have been going off, as well as airstrikes taking place from our location. We have had rockets being fired -- mortars being fired, as well.

This is a very key push towards the city where, of course, the real battle will be taking place with the Kurdish Peshmerga, the Iraqi security forces, and various different paramilitary forces, as well. This is a decisive and crucial battle not just for Iraq but, potentially, for the region. But it is promising to be a very long and difficult one.

ISIS has some very dirty tactics that it tends to employ and it does potentially have upwards of one million civilians that it can use as human shields, John.

BERMAN: All right, Arwa Damon for us on the ground near Mosul. Arwa, thanks for that update.

ROMANS: So, for more on the Iraqi offensive to capture Mosul, I want to go to Washington right now and bring in retired Air Force colonel and CNN military analyst Cedric Leighton. Colonel, thank you for joining us. You've heard our reports this morning from Ben Wedeman and from Arwa

Damon about what's happening there, nine, 10, 11 hours into this offensive. What is your assessment of how well they're doing and what must go right here?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Christine, it's very clear that for right now, at least on the eastern edge of the city and the southern edge of the city, the Iraqi forces and the Kurdish forces have made a lot of progress. But, it's very, very early and the key adage here is that first reports are almost always inaccurate in these kinds of situations.

But having said that, it does seem that there's been progress made. It does seem as if at least some of the villages on the outskirts of Mosul have actually become part of captured territory for the Kurdish forces. And the Iraqi forces, I think, will then come in next and then, in essence, leapfrog over the Kurdish forces, which will take their territory and then move in -- the Iraqis will then move into the city after this. So that's going to be, really, the decisive point. They have to be very careful with surprises.

One of the key things that Arwa Damon alluded to is the fact that they can actually have human shields there. They will have a wide variety to choose from. The buildings there are going to be booby-trapped in many cases so it's going to be very tough going. But so far, so good is my assessment right now.

BERMAN: So this assault -- this offensive has been months and months in the making, Colonel, and one of the things that Donald Trump has been critical of is that there's no element of surprise here. The Iraqi government has been dropping leaflets, telegraphing that this was imminent. From a military standpoint, is surprise important here or are they after something else?

LEIGHTON: Well, there are two things that go on here normally, John, and in this particular case it is probably more important for the Iraqi forces to telegraph at least some of what they are doing. Now, surprise it a key element in many military operations and it becomes very important to do certain things, especially surgical strikes. For example, if you're going after a high-value target such as al- Baghdadi, for example, that would be something that would require a great deal of surprise.

There are going to be some tactical surprises, I think, in this, that the Iraqis will probably employ but they have to telegraph some of what they're doing in order to protect the civilian population, at least in this particular situation.

ROMANS: Well, because you have 1.5 million people there who have been living under the thumb of ISIS for two years. I would suspect that they need to know, you know, who they can trust on the street and they need to know if someone's trying to hide in their midst.

LEIGHTON: Absolutely. And, you know, you go back to World War II, for example, and see how the French resistance really came up during the D-Day period -- the immediate post-D-Day period in 1944 when they liberated Paris. This is the same kind of thing. Different enemy, obviously. Different tactics being used, but this is the same kind of thing that you can use if you're the Iraqi forces. Youwant the civilians on your side and there is certainly a lot of intelligence that indicates that there is resistance in Mosul --

ROMANS: Sure.

LEIGHTON: -- and that resistance is ready to fight against ISIS right now.

ROMANS: Colonel Leighton, so nice to see you this morning with your expertise. Thank you so much. And, of course, there's retaking the city and then there's governing of the city and repairing. There's a lot of work to be done here. We're just in the very early stages.

[05:50:05] BERMAN: Just the beginning. All right, let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY". Chris Cuomo joins us now.

ROMANS: Hey, Chris.

BERMAN: Good morning, sir.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Good morning, my friends. Once again, the election has taken a turn in the final run-up to the final presidential debate in Las Vegas. A dicey allegation from the Republican nominee, Donald Trump. He is now saying the election is rigged, calling out the media and some polling stations. Surrogates backing him up. Is there any validity to these claims? We're going to take you through the history and a fact-check on this. And we'll be discussing the different guests with experience in the area all morning long.

Plus, as John and Christine were just talking to you, it is being called a decisive moment by the Iraqis and their U.S. partners -- this attack on Mosul planned for many months. We're going to take you to the front lines of the fight this morning on "NEW DAY", my friends.

ROMANS: A lot of work to be done there. OK, thanks Chris. Nice to see you this Monday morning.

CUOMO: Always.

ROMANS: Stocks looking weak despite some strong earnings from the nation's biggest banks, including Wells Fargo. Who knew? Details when we get a check on CNN Money Stream.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:55:20] BERMAN: A manhunt is on in Fairbanks, Alaska for a suspect who shot a police officer multiple times and then stole his patrol car. The alleged shooter is seen on dashcam video after abandoning the police cruiser a few blocks away. This happened early Sunday. The suspect said to be in his twenties. The officer, Allen Brandt, was flown to a hospital in Anchorage and is in stable condition. A lawsuit by a former Penn State coach whose testimony helped convict fellow coach Jerry Sandusky -- that trial -- is scheduled to go to trial today. Mike McQueary is seeking $4 million in damages from the university. He claims the school defamed him and wrongly refused to renew his contract even though he told head coach Joe Paterno he saw Sandusky molest a boy in the team shower. McQueary was suspended from the program in 2011 and terminated a year later when Sandusky was convicted.

ROMANS: All right, let's get an early on CNN Money Stream. Dow futures are pointing lower this morning, investors mulling over some comments by Janet Yellen. But, you know, the two big factors in stocks this week, Wednesday's debate and corporate earnings. Stock markets in Europe and Asia are mostly lower. Oil, you can see, is down.

Keep an eye on shares of Twitter. The stock's down in premarket trading after plunging five percent Friday. The CEO of Salesforce said his company will not be offering to buy Twitter. That was the last, best hope for a takeover after big names like Google and Disney declined to bid.

BERMAN: I'm just telling you, reporters should pool our money and buy Twitter because we're the ones who use it.

ROMANS: All right. Shares of U.S. banks could also be on the move today despite the troubles at Wells Fargo. Bank of America reports earnings this morning. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup beat profit estimates on Friday. So did Wells Fargo despite the first evidence that its fake account scandal is hurting its business. John, check this out. Openings of new checking accounts dropped a quarter in September --

BERMAN: And that's real accounts, right?

ROMANS: -- compared to -- real accounts. These are real -- actual real account openings declined. Mortgage referrals from bank branches slipped 24 percent. Credit card applications fell 20 percent.

The airline ban on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones is now around the world. Several airlines now prohibit the phone on flights, including AirAsia, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic. The FAA issued a ban last week. The airline authority in Canada did the same. The bans are on both phones carried on by passengers and those in checked baggage. Please do not check an exploding phone into the --

BERMAN: Apparently, Samsung Galaxy Note 7 not allowed near airports anymore. In the same municipality as an airport anymore.

ROMANS: They sent a box -- a special box and gloves to handle it to send it back to the company. Check out the new CNN Money Stream app. It's business news personalized. It's the stories, videos, tweets, and topics you want all in one feed. Downloaded it now on the App Store or Google Play.

BERMAN: All right. Donald Trump accuses the media of rigging the election so will he accept the outcome, win or lose? "NEW DAY" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And remember this, it's a rigged election.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The disturbing stories keep coming.

TRUMP: The media collaborates and conspires directly with the Clinton campaign.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Donald Trump's words don't make me sick anymore, they make me furious.

PENCE: They made it clear that it was just talk, not actions.

CLINTON: This is who Donald Trump really is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the final battle to drive ISIS out of Iraq.

BERMAN: Iraqi forces beginning the offensive to recapture Mosul.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well over one million civilians still remain. They are expecting the worst.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, October 17th, 6:00 in the East.

Up first, Donald Trump continuing to claim that the election is rigged. He doesn't offer any evidence other than that the media continues to report on sexual assault allegations against him. So what will this mean for the election process?

CUOMO: And, the questions about Trump's intentions. Once again, his running mate tries to make sense of the situation, saying he will absolutely accept the result. This morning we have a new CNN poll of polls showing Hillary Clinton widening her lead over Trump to eight points, 47-39. So much at stake just two days until the final debate. Twenty-two days until Election Day. We've got it all covered.

Let's begin with CNN's Phil Mattingly. Good morning, Phil.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Chris. Donald Trump pushing something as rigged? That's not exactly new. He's been doing it over the course of the last 16 months, whether it's the political system or Washington, D.C. But his new focus -- his new focus is unsettling politicians on both sides of the aisle. It is an increasingly dark turn to a campaign in its closing weeks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: And remember this, it's a rigged election.

MATTINGLY: For Donald Trump, there's only one reason he's trailing in the polls. A conspiracy to keep him out of the White House.