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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Presidential Candidate Evan McMullin; Pro-Trump White Nationalist Ad Stirs Outrage; Who Has Election Edge?; FBI Under Fire. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired November 1, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Real numbers from real voters coming in. Who has the edge at this second?
THE LEAD starts right now.
The polls getting tighter than a tick, Clinton's lead shrinking as a new ad targeting Trump tries to destroy his chances with women by quoting him.
Plus, it's one of the biggest bombshells ever drop this late in any presidential race. And we still don't know if it's a dud. Furious Democrats demanding answers in the wake of the new Clinton FBI e-mail probe, accusing the FBI of a blatant double standard. And now what exactly is the FBI archives tweeting?
Plus, a white supremacist supporting Donald Trump cuts a robo-call that may be a new low in this campaign. The target? Independent candidate Evan McMullin, who could make Utah from Trump. McMullin will be here to respond.
Welcome to THE LEAD, everyone. I'm Jake Tapper.
Seven days, that's all that's left in the presidential race. So I want to warn every person watching about the next week, until the very moment someone concedes, do not expect the election to offer any reprieve from the longest NC-17 movie ever to hit the small screen and swing states.
Hillary Clinton today putting out an ad reminding women of some of the horrible things Donald Trump has said about women, a low-light reel, if you will. With a little under 171 hours until the polls close in Florida, where does the race stand right now?
The ABC News/"Washington Post" tracking poll giving the Clinton campaign a jolt this morning. The poll now has Clinton trailing by one point. And the volatile tightening in that survey means that Clinton's lead is now shrinking in our CNN poll of polls, where she now leads by four percentage points.
Let's get right to David Chalian, who is at the magic wall for us.
David, Donald Trump again spending his day in these historically blue states such as Wisconsin. A lot of people asking, why?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It's a good question, Jake.
The campaign schedules really are starting to give us a sense of their closing-pitch strategy. You're right. Donald Trump started this morning in the Philly suburbs, an area you know quite well. Donald Trump and Mike Pence together there. And then this evening, he's in Wisconsin. This is because he's still looking for some way, Jake, some way to dig into blue Democratic territory.
We will show you why in a moment. Take a look at the Democratic campaign trail. In Ohio, Barack Obama. Down here in North Carolina today, Joe Biden. And in Florida, you have got both Bill and Hillary Clinton, three different stops, not together, six stops in total, crisscrossing the Sunshine State.
While Donald Trump is hunting in some blue territory, the Democrats and all their surrogate firepower today targeting those real tossup battleground states. A couple quick poll numbers to show you before we look at the path to 270.
Take a look in North Carolina today. We have got a new poll of polls. An average of five polls since the last debate, four-point lead for Hillary Clinton in the critical battleground state of North Carolina. We also have a new poll in Virginia, part of her sort of blue firewall, if you will. And it looks still to be holding.
This is a "Washington Post" poll, 48 percent Clinton, 42 percent Donald Trump, a six-point lead there in Virginia. Let's see how that all plays out on the electoral map in the road to 270. So that's not the right one. There you go.
Take a look here. You have got six remaining battleground states, true yellow tossup states there. Remember how this works, OK? If Donald Trump were to get all of these, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, he still doesn't get there. And I just showed you a North Carolina poll of polls that, by the way, has it leaning a little bit towards Hillary Clinton right now.
That would even put him lower. That would put him at 249. That's why we see him in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Colorado over the last couple of days. He is looking for somewhere to dig into turf that is leaning her way, because he just can't get there without doing so -- Jake.
TAPPER: Fascinating. David Chalian, thank you so much.
And just in to CNN this afternoon, we have actual votes, this information courtesy of Catalyst. Thus far, 24.4 million Americans have already voted.
Let's get right to CNN politics executive editor Mark Preston, who is at our decision desk.
Mark, while we don't have exact vote totals, what can we try to discern from these numbers about what's happening in these important battleground states such as Florida or Arizona or North Carolina, where there is early voting?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, Jake, in 38 states right now, as you said, about 24.4 million people have already voted, as you can see.
Let's look exactly at the state of Florida, which you brought up. More people have voted in Florida than any other state so far this year. and about 3.6 million people have voted.
Let's dig into the numbers. If you look right here, Republicans have a slight edge. Now, normally, this would not be good news for Republicans, who tend to have a higher edge when it comes to absentee voting. However, let's look at these numbers compared to 2008.
As you see right here, the edge right now is that Democrats had a higher propensity of people coming out. So, they're actually about three percentage points now behind where they were. They need to get that number up over the next few days.
Let's look at the state of Arizona, which was typically red. Well, one million people, they have crossed the threshold, have voted in Arizona, a state now that Democrats are contesting. Look, the Republicans have an edge here. It's about a 4 percentage point edge. However, dig a little bit deeper.
And look at what they had in 2012. They had about a 10-point edge. It's now been cut to 4 percentage points. These are big numbers, Jake. I would be remiss without pointing out right here, look at this number right here of undecided voters, independent voters and those from other political parties, 27 percent of the electorate in the state of Arizona.
It's worth noting as well, in the state of Arizona, Donald Trump has spent zero money on any television advertising. He has held some big rallies. Let's go into the state of North Carolina right now. North Carolina, about 1.6 million people, a little more than that, have voted so far.
Jake, diving deep into the numbers right here, look, Democrats have an edge, a very sizable edge right now, as you can see, about 13.4 percent lead right there over Republicans. However, if you compare it to 2012, they're lagging behind. They had a 17 percentage point lead. So Democrats need to get up their numbers as they're contesting that state in North Carolina, Jake.
We will have more numbers as they come in. But, clearly, lots of people are starting to get out there to vote.
TAPPER: All right, Mark Preston, thank you so much.
It might as well be October 1 over again for the Trump campaign. "The New York Times" publishing yet another story about Donald Trump's taxes exactly one month after the newspaper reported that Trump reported a near $1 billion loss in 1995. The new report alleges that Mr. Trump stretched the tax code beyond
all recognition so he could skate on paying income taxes.
Jim Acosta is with the Trump campaign today.
Jim, Trump has not yet been in front of reporters today, so he's so far avoided questions about tax avoidance. The Republican nominee left the issue unaddressed at a campaign stop in Philadelphia, instead going after Obamacare.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right.
TAPPER: Any expected announcement or declaration about this report?
ACOSTA: No, Jake, we're not expecting that at this point. The Trump campaign continues to say that Donald Trump took advantage of the tax code in ways that benefited his company and that he will release his tax returns once he is out from under that audit.
But, in the meantime, Jake, as Hillary Clinton is still answering questions about her e-mails, Donald Trump appears to be gaining momentum at just the right time. He is staying on message and reaching out to Republicans who have rejected his campaign to come home.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Pulling into a Pennsylvania gas station one week before Election Day, Donald Trump's campaign is hardly running on empty. With the race tightening, Trump is eager to flip this state that's become a Democratic firewall, appearing with his running mate, Mike Pence, for a tag-team assault on an issue that rallies Republicans, Obamacare.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we win on November 8...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: ... and elect a Republican Congress, we will able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. Have to do it.
ACOSTA: The GOP nominee is gaining steam at a critical time, cutting Hillary Clinton's lead in CNN's poll of polls in half in just one week, a momentum shift that started before the former secretary of state's new e-mail mess. And as she is questioning the FBI's handling of the matter, Trump is so far staying on message.
TRUMP: To accomplish our goals, we must cut our ties with the small, bitter, petty politics of the past.
ACOSTA: And he is expanding his ad campaign into states like Pennsylvania that seemed safely in Clinton's column.
NARRATOR: Donald Trump will bring the change we're waiting for. America, better, stronger, more prosperous. ACOSTA: But Trump is still struggling to close the deal even inside
his own party. Ohio Governor John Kasich, a former Trump foe, wrote in John McCain for president, even as he voted for the other GOP candidates on the ballot.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told FOX he voted for Trump while appearing to avoid uttering the GOP nominee's name.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I am supporting our entire Republican ticket. I have been all along. What my focus, which has not changed at all, my focus personally right now is saving our House majority.
ACOSTA: Pence said it's time for Republicans who bailed on Trump to get back on board.
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time to come home and elect Donald Trump as the next president of the United States. It's time to come home and reelect Republican majorities in the United States House of Representatives and the Senate.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ACOSTA: Now, the Trump campaign believes that the tightening of this race will translate into closer contests in traditionally blue states like Wisconsin.
While Trump is gaining in the polls, he is still lagging behind Clinton, Jake, when it comes to the ground game. He is still behind her when it comes to the number of staffers and campaign offices.
The hope inside the Trump campaign is that these big rallies that he is able to turn out in places like here in Wisconsin will somehow translate into big earnings at the polls. But, of course, Jake, that worked during the primaries. We have not seen that work out, of course, during the general election campaign -- Jake.
TAPPER: Speaker Ryan not saying Trump's name, almost if it were Voldemort. Jim Acosta in Wisconsin, thank you so much.
A new FBI document dump just one week before the election, but this document is from 2001 and it has to do with Bill Clinton. So why release it now? That's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Today, Hillary Clinton is trying to put the focus back on Donald Trump and away from her e-mail server. That's her moments ago with Alicia Machado, the (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[16:15:04] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Today, Hillary Clinton is trying to put the focus back on Donald Trump and away from her e-mail server. That's her moments ago with Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe, whose weight Donald Trump insulted years ago and who Trump attacked in those late-night tweets several weeks ago.
Let's bring in CNN's Phil Mattingly. He's in Dade City, Florida, with Clinton.
Phil, did Clinton even mention the new FBI mail probe as she did yesterday on the stump?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. Yesterday was kind of peak for the Clinton campaign and Hillary Clinton herself addressing the e-mail issue. Today is the day to move on.
And you mentioned, Alicia Machado opening up out here for Hillary Clinton, really while it seems like ten years ago now one of the most effective moments of the campaign for the Clinton campaign was after that first debate when they kind of set the trap and deployed the Alicia Machado message. Hillary Clinton hitting hard on that issue today, trying to reach out to women -- obviously, a constituency that is leaning heavily in her favor but that they hope to turn out in big ways to help in states like Florida.
Obviously, over the course of the last 72 hours, four days even, the FBI issue has been top of everybody's list. The Clinton campaign, at least right now, is looking like they're trying to move past it, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Phil, you describe crowds of boisterous Trump and Clinton supporters outside that rally. Tell us about that.
MATTINGLY: Yes, that's exactly right. It's an interesting thing, having covered both Trump and Clinton rallies. Outside of Trump rallies, you always see protesters. Sometimes inside Trump rallies, you see them as well.
But the Clinton rallies a little bit more contained. Not so much here in Dade City. Outside the rally a couple dozen Trump supporters actually blocked the press bus on the way in a little bit, have been trying to shout down Hillary Clinton throughout the course of this rally. Obviously, a lot of passion here on the ground here in Florida, something we expect to continue over the course of the next seven days.
TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly in battleground Florida, thank you very much.
Let's turning now to a really odd development on the campaign trail at a time when Democrats are accusing FBI Director James Comey of having a double standard when it comes to cases involving Hillary Clinton versus cases involving Donald Trump, and when Democrats are accusing the career lawman of poisoning the well. Today, an FBI Twitter account criticized for releasing documents of previous investigations involving the Clintons.
Hours ago, the Twitter handle FBI Records Vault posted a link to files from the bureau's investigation into Mark Rich, that Wall Street trader controversially pardoned by President Bill Clinton on his way out the door in 2001.
Let's get to CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown.
Pamela, has the FBI explained why this account is doing this now?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Not on the record yet, Jake, I can tell you right now. FBI officials are trying to come up with a statement to explain this given the context of everything. This tweet, from the FBI's records account, on Twitter today, from his 2001 investigation into President Clinton's pardons and his foundation really came out of nowhere and had a lot of people scratching their heads. The timing, just days after Director Comey notified Congress about the renewed Clinton investigation is only fanning the flames.
BROWN (voice-over): Amid calls for Director James Comey to provide more information on the investigation into Clinton aide Huma Abedin's e-mails, CNN has learned he will not speak about specifics on the investigation until it's complete. Right now, FBI agents are working to separate the emails relevant to the case and determine whether any of them contained classified information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to get through that process by next Tuesday. That's something that's going to take weeks, possibly months, depending if there is a large number of e-mails and various agencies that they're going to have to talk to.
BROWN: Meantime, CNN has learned the FBI has been conducting multiple investigations into allegations of connections between Russia and the Trump campaign, including his former campaign manager's ties to pro- Putin forces in Ukraine. And Trump supporter Roger Stone's possible role in Clinton campaign chairman's hacked e-mails released by WikiLeaks.
This is what Stone recently told NBC.
ROGER STONE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I have a back-channel communications with WikiLeaks, but they certainly don't clear or tell me in advance what they're going to do.
BROWN: Today, Clinton's campaign manager is crying foul, saying Comey, a Republican, is cherry-picking which investigations he makes public.
ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: James Comey opened this door. We're just asking for him to make this right and treat everybody the same. BROWN: The campaign is calling on Comey to release information on the
investigation into Donald Trump's campaign and alleged ties to Russia, amid reports Comey argued against publicly tying Russia to hacks to the Clinton so close to the election. CNN sources say Comey's decision not wanting to name Russia having nothing to do with the election.
MOOK: They don't say a thing when it comes to Donald Trump and investigations against him.
[16:20:03] Yet when it comes to Hillary Clinton, for some reason, they're more than happy to talk.
BROWN: Today, Republicans are hitting back against the Clinton campaign's claims of a double standard, saying it's a false equivalent.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He did tell Congress in July that the investigation had been completed and he determined that she didn't have specific intent to commit a crime. So, I think he felt the need to supplement the record.
BROWN: And the Clinton campaign today quickly pounced after those documents were released on the FBI's Twitter account from that 2001 investigation, with Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon tweeting, absent a FOIA litigation deadline, this is odd. Will FBI be posting docs on Trump's housing discrimination in the '70s?
And an FBI official I spoke to says today's release is not about politics, it's really about policy here, with one official saying topics of general interest and Freedom of Information Act requests automatically go the FBI's vault when they're ready for public consumption in the order when they were received, holding it for release later will require overt action. But I can tell you, Jake, the FBI trying to figure out how to respond to this.
TAPPER: And we should point out, Pam, it's not just Clinton-related documents this account is tweeting out. The FBI records vault Twitter handle also posted something about Donald Trump's father Fred.
BROWN: Right. So, this is odd. If you look at the Twitter account from the FBI vault account, it was dormant basically for a year and then the first tweet was right here over the weekend about Fred Trump, Donald Trump's father, an investigation into him several years ago, when the FBI looked into campaign donations and a hint of concern about organized crime. It didn't go anywhere.
But it's just odd, Jake, that after a year of not posting anything, this would come up and then today we have these documents from the 2001 investigation, again, waiting to hear from the FBI about an explanation as to why all of this is.
TAPPER: All right. Pamela Brown, thank you so much. He is cutting into Trump's lead in the state of Utah. And now,
independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin is being targeted by white supremacist robocalls, accusing him of being gay. He'll join me next with his reaction to those calls.
Then, it's a different kind of battleground. A look at the specialized military unit protecting our election from hackers.
Stay with us.
[16:26:43] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Sticking with politics. New nasty robocalls are being made in Utah by a white supremacist group targeting third-party candidate Evan McMullin. McMullin is cutting into Trump's lead in the normally red state. They go after McMullin in a very personal and ugly way. Take a listen to part of it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAM JOHNSON: Hello. My name is William Johnson. I'm a farmer and white nationalist. I make this call against Evan McMullin and in support of Donald Trump.
Evan is over 40 years old, and is not married and doesn't even have a girlfriend. I believe Evan is a closet homosexual.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joining me now is Evan McMullin.
Evan, thanks so much for being here. First of all, just to get this off the table, the robocall from this racist says that you support open borders, and it says that you are gay. I am -- I don't think either of those are true, are they?
EVAN MCMULLIN, THIRD PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, neither are true. I support securing the borders and enforcing our laws, and I am straight.
TAPPER: Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said, quote, "We strongly condemn these activities and rhetoric of which we have no knowledge."
What's your reaction to this? Do you think the Trump campaign had any idea that it would happen. Do you think it might hurt your chances in Utah?
MCMULLIN: Well, I don't know if they had any idea or not, but this is exactly the narrative and approach the Donald Trump campaign has had. So, it didn't surprise me when I heard news of the robocall. I just thought, of course this is more of the same.
I mean, Trump supporters have attacked me because of my faith. They've attacked my service. We've even received some death threats from these white supremacists recently overnight. They've attacked my family. You know, they've attacked many other Americans too.
Donald Trump himself has bragged about sexual assaulting women and attacked people for the color of their skin and their faith. I mean, this is the Republican nominee. None of this should surprise any of us.
No, I don't think it will help him here in Utah, and I don't think it will help him really across the country. I think a lot of people see this sort of thing and will reject it. I mean, this is not the kind of leader we should have in our country at all.
TAPPER: Over the weekend I played -- I don't know if you saw the video, but there was a idiot in Phoenix yelling at the press, Jew-S-A, Jew-S-A, and I played some of that for Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager. She called him deplorable but she denied any responsibility of the Trump campaign for any of these nationalists, any of these racists, anti-Semitics. They said, whenever people in the press ask about it we're besmirching the tens of millions of Americans who are supporting Donald Trump.
What do you make of it all?
MCMULLIN: Well, I don't think everybody who supports Donald Trump is a racist and a bigot in any way. But I do think that most bigots and most racists are supporting Donald Trump in this campaign, and he is doing everything he can, through policy and tone, to foment racial discord in this country, and really to divide us along racial and religious lines. I mean, this is his approach.
And, frankly, when I served as a CIA officer for 11 years, this is the kind of thing I saw overseas with dictators overseas and authoritarians overseas. They like to divide the people who they seek to rule or who they are ruling as a way to sort of empower themselves. It's a common tactic. We see this. We've seen this through time, the scapegoating of races and religions.