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EARLY START

FBI Investigates Emails on Anthony Weiner's Computer That May Implicate Hillary Clinton. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired October 31, 2016 - 04:00   ET

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


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[04:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, EARLY START SHOW CO-HOST: ...FBI director James Comey played in these investigation and the timing of the probe so close to Election Day. Let's get the very latest from CNN's Evan Perez.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. FBI investigators had obtained a search warrant to begin reviewing thousands of newly discovered e-mails belonging to Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Clinton's closest advisers. Investigators found the e-mails weeks ago, stumbling on them as they conducted an investigation of Abedin's husband former Congressman Anthony Weiner. He is under investigation for allegedly exchanging sexually explicit messages with an underage girl. That is leading to questions from the Clinton campaign about why all of this only became public on Friday, days before the presidential election.

A law enforcement official tells CNN what is going on behind the scenes in the past months is this. Technical experts spent some time in categorizing all the e-mails. FBI officials were briefed after the surprise discovery of the e-mails and there were also some legal questions, because the search warrants they had only covered the Weiner sexting allegations. FBI Director James Comey was aware of - a couple weeks ago, that his investigator had recovered e-mails that could relate to the Clinton investigation.

But Comey was fully brief on Thursday after investigators had determined there was enough cause to seek a new search warrant. Those investigators will now work to determine whether this classified information in the Huma Abedin e-mails as well as their relevance to the investigation into the Clinton private e-mail server. Comey sent a three paragraph letter to members of congress on Friday. Despite calls from the Clinton campaign and from Republicans to provide more information, Comey has no plans to say more while his investigators are still doing their work.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, EARLY START SHOW CO-HOST: Evan Perez, thank you. This morning nearly 100 former federal prosecutors, and high ranking justice department officials both Republicans and Democrats, they are raising concerns about the Comey letter to congress. They say it is "inconsistent with prevailing department policy." Among the signers of the open letter criticizing Comey, is former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Deputy AG Larry Thompson, who server in the George W. Bush administration. This letter says Comey's unprecedented decision to publicly comment on evidence in what may be an ongoing inquiry, just 11 days before presidential election leaves us both astonished and perplexed.

BERMAN: All right the former -- Eric Holder also wrote a scathing op- ed in the "Washington Post" this morning about James Comey, look at the title here it says James Comey is a good man, but he made a serious mistake. Holder said that Comey broke the fundamental principles and fears that the director may have negatively affected public trust to the FBI. Holder writes it is incumbent upon him or the leadership of the department to dispel the uncertainty he has created before Election Day. Not for the sake of the political candidate or campaign, but in order to protect our system of justice. That is the former attorney general Eric Holder.

Now, the senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, his throwing bombs on this, today. He is accusing the FBI director this morning of breaking the law. Senator Reid wrote to congressional committee chair saying that he believes that Comey's 11th hour revelations may violate the hatch act. Now the hatch act bars government officials from engaging in political activity, usually when you hear about this, it is like, you know, congressman can't raise money from their offices. They have to separate -- from separate places. He is saying that James Comey, the FBI director is engaging in political activity at the FBI. Reid also accused Comey of a double standard, claiming that he has refused to release some unspecified information about Donald Trump dealings with Russia, which is another bomb, like thrown in to the air.

ROMANS: Right, ok. Now Donald Trump of course is reveling in this whole controversy. Hoping this will help him close the gap with Clinton. Right now, she is ahead by five points in the latest CNN polls, 47 to 42. CNN Jim Acosta has with the Trump campaign, he had the very latest.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, Donald Trump is now fully embracing the FBI investigation into that new batch of e-mails possibly linked to Hillary Clinton. Trump and his advisors are praising the FBI for looking into those e-mails as part of the investigation of the sexting allegations against former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. That is a big shift after Donald Trump accused the FBI being part of a conspiracy to rig the election and gives it to Hillary Clinton. Now Trump said the FBI has all the information it needs to bring Clinton to justice. Here is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How do you have that many e- mails? What do you do? Do you sit down all day and just keep typing? Hey, no wonder nothing gets done in our country. This is the single biggest scandal since Watergate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Trump is pursuing something about a blue state strategy in this late stage of the campaign, making a stop in places like here in New Mexico and also Michigan. Those are some of the states that Trump will have to flip, if he has any hopes of winning on November 8th, John and Christine.

[04:00:10] BERMAN: All right. The question is now what does Hillary Clinton do about this in her campaign over the next several days? She did a news conference on the subject on Saturday. She answered questions about this. I should say Friday night. Then answered questions about it and talk about on the trail on Saturday. Not so much on Sunday. She goes to Ohio today. Right now, she is asking voters to remember the bigger picture.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There have been ups and downs and all that we have gone through over the years and even in this campaign, but I want you to know I'm focused on one thing, you. There is a lot of noise and distraction, but it really comes down to what kind of future we want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right. So what is the strategy inside the Clinton world for dealing with the new e-mail revelations? Let's get the latest from CNN's Phil Mattingly.

PHIL MATTINGLY, NEW YORK BASED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John and Christine, there was something noticeably absent from Hillary Clinton's remarks on Sunday. Any mention from the FBI Director James Comey or the letter that he sent to Capitol Hill in Friday. There is a reason for that. The Clinton campaign as they look at things now, there are top advisers, no questions. They are going to continue to attack James Comey and continue to try and undercut everything that he was trying to do by informing congress.

Hillary Clinton herself, she is reverting back to what they were trying to do, just 12 days ago before this all started. She has a campaign strategy and a campaign message that the campaign believes was winning before that this all happen, it is a message they believe she needs to get back to now. Here's why. Early voting, people are voting across the country, especially here in Florida. Something Hillary Clinton made very clear. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: This is amazing. More than 20 million people have already voted in this election.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

Most of those votes in the last few days, 3 million of those votes from right here in Florida. Now you only see numbers like that when people are standing up for what they really believe in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: The big question is will she lose support? Will the masses walk away from her? Her campaign adviser say now, they believe, essentially when it comes to the e-mail server, things were already baked in. They believe this may actually energize her supporters it might circle the wagons in some way she had perform as her the supporters come out and try to defend her over the course of this last 7,8,9 days. It is something we saw anecdotally at least here in Florida on Sunday. The big question is will that carry over and of course the bigger question is will there be any large impact on the numbers, that, we got to wait and see a couple of days for that, John and Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks for that. Now Melania Trump steps back in the spotlight this week. She will deliver her first speech since the Republican Convention on Thursday. She is going to Philadelphia. Donald Trump says it will be the first of two or three speeches by his wife before Election Day. He is promising they will be big and important speeches. Philadelphia suburbs are critical with both candidates, heavily courting middle class women who live there.

BERMAN: So with the FBI's new surprise getting into the race, let's check in with CNN politics reporter Eugene Scott.

ROMANS: Good morning.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS: Good morning.

BERMAN: Wow. We thought it might be a quiet Monday. Not so much.

Look, this is extraordinary. I don't even know where to begin here. But let's begin with what is actually happening and what we are seeing on the campaign trail. The Hillary Clinton team and Democrats are going hard after the FBI director. They are not saying let's wait and see. They want answers and they are very aggressive. Listen to the Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN PODESTA, CLINTON'S CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: I think this is something that has been tossed into the middle of the campaign. We would have preferred that not happen, but now it has happened, Mr. Comey really needs to come forward and explain why he took this unprecedented step, particularly, when he set himself on the letter to The Hill, that these may not be even significant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So what's the play here, Eugene? Because when you were going after the FBI Director, a man by the way whom you praised over the summer when he chose not to recommend and press charges against Hillary Clinton, that is a significant step.

SCOTT: I think what they want to make very clear is that the policies and guidelines that have been in place with the FBI and the justice department seem to be a different from what it is that Comey has done in the this last couple of days. They have to prove this is what is going to harm them. This was going to hurt them and violate the whole situation for the voters. ROMANS: So this is a week we will spend talking about Hillary Clinton

e-mails, James Comey, FBI investigation and what's on that laptop that they are searching. Donald Trump will seize on that. He talked about Obamacare, but for team Clinton, what do they do here? Could it be possible we learn something more this week or we learn something new, not again until after Election Day?

SCOTT: I think it depends on how fast they are able to move with looking at this e-mails. We really don't know yet what this e-mails say. And it is possible that they can move forward now that they have this warrant in getting some answers that voters need. But until then, we really don't know what to come out.

[04:10:12] ROMANS: They want to talk about Donald Trump.

BERMAN: Right. Their plan was always to talk about Donald Trump. But now people are talking about Hillary Clinton. And Donald Trump with a new spring on his step and interesting locations for rallies. Listen to what he said about the e-mails over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This could be the mother lode. You know? This could be the 33,000 that are missing.

I would think they have some real bad ones. But we are going to find out. Look, maybe not. Maybe not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: By the way, that is wild speculation right there that he is saying. He got no basis for any of those comments right there.

ROMANS: That is Trump to throw something out there and then say, but maybe not.

BERMAN: But let me say, focus on where he was that when he said that, he was in Colorado when he said that. Later yesterday, he went to New Mexico. So what is interesting about Colorado and New Mexico, well Colorado is a purple state of the Hillary Clinton team is spending many on right now. And New Mexico is just a blue state right now so Trump is sort of going on offense in these final days.

SCOTT: He certainly is, but the Clinton campaign is really focusing on early voters, believing that they can bring people out who already have made up their minds, where they stand on this race regardless of the e-mails. And she is hoping that this recent revelation doesn't throw things off too much to her supporters.

ROMANS: I know this is going sort of back in time. She was in Daytona on Saturday. I want to listen to what really is, I think the last maybe we will hear from her on this, right, do you think? Maybe she will be, I don't know, but let us listen to what she said on Saturday, this is her on the record here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: It is pretty strange. It's pretty strange to put something

like that out with such little information right before an election.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

In fact, it's not just strange. It's unprecedented and it is deeply troubling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So, I wonder what their strategy is going to be, because some of her supporters are still saying enough with the damn e-mails. Quoting, you know Bernie Sanders earlier on, and in the primary season. Does she address it? Do they ignore it? I mean it is really getting fascinating to see what they do with it.

SCOTT: I think her surrogates and allies are coming out and making it very clear that they think the move is wrong in a way that allows Clinton to focus on the issues, I think in the Washington Post, editorial where Eric Holder not only said it was a mistake, but he went as far to say even Comey's handling of the situation back in July was wrong. And so I think what they want Clinton to do is remind voters why they think she is the best candidate and let her team focus on handling comments.

BERMAN: And Harry Reid said that Comey broke the law. Violated the hatch act and it is also not releasing information about Trump and the Russians. That is not the soft touch from the Democrats right now on this situation, even if it is not directly from Hillary Clinton. You need to stick around. We will see you in a little bit.

ROMANS: Thank you for staying up early for us.

SCOTT: Yeah.

ROMANS: You know it is election uncertainty moving the stocks around the globe. Right now, Dow futures holding on to gains, but trading in Europe just opened a few minutes ago. Stocks there are down slightly, worries about the election. Spilling in to Asian Stock Market most of them finishing low at the time of the day when Europe is opening and Asia's is closing. Two of the most reliable Stock Market election predictors are pointing in different directions.

Since 1944, if the markets fall from August to October, the party that controls the White House has lost the election 86 percent at a time. That is according to S&P global market intelligence. With one trading day left in that span, the FB500 down 2.1 percent, translation now points to a Donald Trump victory. But another set of market metrics point to a Clinton win. This one comes from Moody, it has predicted every presidential winner since 1980, and it shows four economic factors that are in Hillary Clinton's favor. President Obama's approval rating is 54 percent.

Gas prices are low at $2.20 a gallon. Economic growth even strong last week at 2.9 percent and Dow rate at 5 percent and we are going to get a brand new reading on jobs this Friday. That will be, I think the last major economic indicator before the election. The fed also meets this week. But we are not really expecting anything from them.

BERMAN: The jobs report Friday will be a big deal.

ROMANS: It will be.

BERMAN: All right there is breaking news overnight on a manhunt for a suspected killer in Oklahoma. That manhunt is over and it ended in a dramatic fashion. We will tell you all about it next.

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[04:18:44] ROMANS: Breaking news this hour. The search for a suspected killer in Oklahoma is now over. After eight days on the run, fugitive Michael Vance killed overnight in a shootout with police. One officer was shot during the pursuit. He is identified as Duly County Sheriff Clay Sander. At last check, he was in surgery for gunshot wounds to the forearmed and shoulder. Authorities said Vance murdered two (inaudible) last week and wounded two police officers touching off the state by manhunt. He was even sort of live streaming when he was on the run.

BERMAN: All right this morning, authorities in Italy are assessing the damage from the powerful earthquake, the third in just two weeks. This was a magnitude 6.6. Officials call the strongest in more than three decades, 20 people suffered in injuries. CNN's Barbie Nadeau following the developments for us, live from Rome and just a string of these earthquakes. This is got to be so upsetting for the people on that part of the country.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right. And the real challenge this morning especially is trying to assess the damage and trying to get people to safety while they are experiencing aftershocks about an hour ago. There was an aftershock that registered for than 4.2 and we have seen the effects all the way here in Rome. Today, schools are closed here while authorities make sure they are safe. There are roads closed in Rome. The damage is spreads all the way up and down the country, but these little villages in the affected area are completely wiped off the map. People were saved only because of the fact that they had evacuated in last week's earthquake. Now the struggle is just to make sure everybody I safe while they really try to shore up the area and keep people out of harm's way. John.

[04:20:24] BERMAN: Again these pictures are so terrifying and again so upsetting for the people in the part of the country who have been suffering from one quake after another, after another, trying to clean up for the same time. Barbie Nadeau for us in Rome thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, 20 minutes past the hour this morning. Brand new developments in the battle for Mosul, Iraqi forces just opening up a brand new phase of these fight. We are going live to Iraq next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: New developments this hour in the bloody battle for Mosul.

Iraqi forces just launch a large new offensive as they advance toward the city. I want to bring back CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. She is live on the ground for us in Irbil, Iraq this morning. What's happening now?

[04:25:03] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, they announced this substantial offensive to the east. We don't know exactly where they are moving on all fronts. We do know that some reports suggest (inaudible) a key town, sort of next but one before you hit outskirts of the city limits itself, is where most of the advance is occurring. That is where we were just over the past few days, the scene which is intense from distance from ISIS. In fact one instance which left 14 Iraqi soldiers, we we're told on the ground dead. That is possibly one of the largest single casualty instances.

But we are aware of that sustains since its offensive began. Very heavy fighting but clearly vital, that taking unit we were with is jutting out, so to speak into ISIS territory coming on their own, now that it appeared they have reinforcement that we saw arrived around them. This may be part of the broader offensive at play now, but it is far from easy. To the west, Iranian backed Shia militia and Iraqi forces are moving in too. The eastern front, where they hope to see more progress and potentially when they get to the urban full of Mosul, that is where they find some of the 1.2 million civilians, who will be caught in the crossfire here or used as human shields by ISIS, that you may find some of the bloodiest episodes of this conflict so far, Christine.

ROMANS: You can just really feel for the civilians there, caught in the middle. Thank you so much for that. Keep us up to speed. Thanks Nick.

BERMAN: All right. FBI agents now racing to go through these e- mails, they just obtained a warrant to read them off the computer that Huma Abedin had used apparently. We'll have the very latest details next.

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