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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  October 17, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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breaking news. melania, one on one. melania trump sits down with cnn's anderson cooper for her first interview in months and talking about her husband's recording. she calls the remarks boy talk and says her husband was egged on by billy bush. blaming the system. donald trump lashes out amid falling poll numbers, alleging voter fraud. but with no evidence and research to the contrary, trump's charges are unnerving even some fellow republicans. is the gop nominee undermining confidence in america's democracy? quid pro quo? the fbi and justice department deny any attempt at deal making after documents raise new questions about hillary clinton's classified e-mails. tonight, there are contradictory accounts of conversations between officials. i'll talk to the head of the house oversight committee who calls it all extremely disturbing. and striking isis.
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an enormous military offensive is now under way to oust thousands of terrorists from iraq's second largest city. iraqi and kurdish forces backed by u.s. advisers and air power are bracing for what promises for a fierce and bloody battle. can isis hold on to its last remaining stronghold in iraq. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following breaking news. melania trump speaking out to cnn about the recording that rocked her husband's presidential campaign. she tells anderson cooper she was surprised by donald trump's lewd boasts of groping women, saying it's not the man she knows, but dismisses the remark as "boy talk" and says trump was egged on by billy bush. we'll hear melania trump in her
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own words. also breaking tonight. the long awaited battle to liberate iraq's second largest city from isis control has begun. iraqi and kurdish troops have launched an offensive to oust terrorist forces from mosul, the last isis stronghold in iraq. isis is said to have sustained heavy losses on this the first day of fighting. the iraqis and the kurds are being backed by u.s. air power and american advisers. tonight, the u.s. is denying it was behind a cyber attack that cut off internet access to wikileaks founder julian assange. the obama administration has warned a proportional response to russian cyber attacks on u.s. political attacks. experts believe russia has been feeding hacked e-mails and documents to wikileaks. we're covering all that and much more this hour with our guests, including congressman jason
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cha chafeetz. donald trump is still locked in a tight race with hillary clinton in some key states. cnn political reporter sara murray has the latest. trump just tweeted the charge he's increasingly making that the system is rigged against him. >> that's right, wolf. today, donald trump says the media are launching these personal attacks to rig the election for hillary clinton. but what donald trump is suggesting is something far more nefarious, that there is widespread systemic voter fraud at polling places. something he said without any evidence. >> the election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing completely false allegations, and outright lies in an effort to elect her president. >> reporter: donald trump trailing in the polls and plagued by allegations of sexual
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misconduct is falling back on his favorite safety net. >> the election is rigged. it's rigged like you've never seen before. the investigation of hillary clinton was rigged. it's all rigged. it's all rigged. >> reporter: the gop nominee now insisting there's a monumental conspiracy to rig the entire election against him. trump tweeting today, of course there is large-scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. why do republican leaders deny what is going on? so naive. but trump's claims aren't true. there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. and the candidate's claims are putting election officials even those in his own party, on edge. today, ohio secretary of state, a republican who plans to vote for trump, blasted the candidate's claims as reckless. >> it's irresponsible. he should focus on issues that matter to people. i can reassure donald trump i'm in charge of elections in ohio, and they're not going to be rigged.
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i'll make sure of that. >> reporter: while hillary clinton's running mate warns that trump's claims are the protests of a sore loser. >> it's an insult to american voters and insult to county registrars to say that america doesn't know how to run an election. we know how to run an election. this is clearly a guy that feels like he's losing. >> reporter: as trump's running mate, mike pence says he will accept the results on november 8. >> as donald trump said in that first debate, i'll say again today, we're going to accept the will of the american people. >> reporter: even he's warning about voter fraud today on the campaign trail. >> voter fraud cannot be tolerated by anyone in this nation, because it disenfranchises republicans, independents, democrats. >> reporter: in fact, a loyola law school professor found just 31 instances of voter impersonation of out of more
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than 1 billion ballots cast. meanwhile, trump continued to play it fast and loose with the facts this weekend, suggesting that clinton was on drugs during the last presidential debate. >> i think we should take a drug test prior to the debate. 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. >> reporter: today, the trump campaign is circulating some instances of potential voter fraud from previous elections in colorado and pennsylvania. in any election, there are instances of voter fraud. but people who study elections have not found the kind of widespread fraud that donald trump is alleging. >> thank you very much, sara murray for that report. let's get more now on our new
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battleground poll numbers. our senior white house reporter jim acosta is working that story for us. jim, tell us about the new polls and what are they showing? >> reporter: wolf, after two weeks of some damaging revelations from hot mike moments to allegations of sexual assault, the bottom line is these revelations have not been fatal to donald trump. he's still hanging in there. case in point, our latest cnn/orc poll showing you nevada right now, hillary clinton leads donald trump in that important battle ground state by two points. that is not a large lead for hillary clinton there. that's within the margin of error. and then north carolina, donald trump, if he's going to win the presidency, a lot of republicans say he has to win north carolina. he only trails hillary clinton by one percentage point. wolf, i think that lines up with what we're seeing on the cam plain trail. yes, these revelations have been damaging over the last couple of weeks but have not affected turnout at his rallies.
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there's still a lot of energy at these rallies. >> what are you seeing out of ohio, jim? >> reporter: wolf, as you like to say, no republican has won the presidency without winning ohio. ohio is critical. let's show the latest cnn poll finds. donald trump is out in front by four percentage points. 48% to 44% for hillary clinton. that is very key. one thing we do want to point out, wolf, there are other polls showing a tighter race. the latest quinnipiac poll has hillary clinton and donald trump tied, 45-45. who would have thought in a state where the governor, john kasich is not even supporting donald trump, he's still hanging on and doing quite well in the state of ohio. >> several national polls have come out this week. tell us what we're seeing nationally. >> reporter: right. and that is where we're seeing this movement away from donald trump. it's in the national polls based on what we've been hearing and seeing, these accusations and revelations, that's showing up
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in the national polls. monmouth has clinton up by 12 percentage points. nbc news/"wall street journal" has clinton up by 11 percentage points. but you'll recall heading into election day last time around in 2012, mitt romney and barack obama were essentially tied. if hillary clinton is up by this much in these national polls, keep in mind, there's an abc poll over the weekend that has her up only by four percentage points. but if she has this kind of lead heading into this homestretch, donald trump has a lot of work to do this these final three weeks, wolf. >> certainly does. thank you very much. jim acosta reporting. melania trump is speaking out for the first time in months and for the first time since a recording of her husband bragging about groping women up ended the presidential campaign. she just spoke to cnn's anderson cooper and told shim she believes that donald trump was "egged on to engage in what she describes as boy talk." >> it was ten days ago that access hollywood released that
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tape. i'm wondering when you first heard it, what did you think? i said to my husband that the language is inappropriate. it's not acceptable. i was surprised, because that is not the man that i know. and as you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on. it was only a mike. and i wonder if they even knew that the mike was on, because it was kind of boy talk, and he was led on like egged on from the host to say dirty and bad stuff. >> you feel the host, billy bush, was sort of egging him on? >> yes, yes. >> is that language you had heard him use before? >> no, no.
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that's why i was surprised, because i don't know that person that would talk that way. that he would say that kind of stuff in private. i heard many different stuff, boys talk. the boys, the way they talk when they grow up and they want to sometimes show each other oh this, and that and talking about the girls. but yeah, i was surprised, of course. >> and you can see the full interview with melania trump on "ac 360" later tonight, 8:00 p.m. eastern, only here on cnn. let's get some more on the breaking news we're following. jason chaffetz is joining us. he's withdrawn his endorsement of donald trump. congressman, thank you for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. >> i'm going to get to the clinton e-mails shortly. but i want to ask you about the
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news on your side of the aisle. you rescinded your support of donald trump over his comments back in that 2005 access hollywood video. do you believe these latest accusations, do you believe -- let me rephrase the question, from melania trump, that billy bush egged him on to say these things? >> i have every reason to believe her and her account of that and what she and donald trump talked about. i still find it inappropriate. i can't defend those comments, and couldn't look my wife and daughter in the eye and suggest that's in any way acceptable. >> are you surprised that at least nine women have come forward alleging trump acted in the way he described on that video? >> yeah, i don't know how many of them are valid or true. i think it's a bit of a distraction. i haven't paid a whole lot of attention to that. >> you said trump should step aside and you prefer mike pence at the top of the ticket.
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what does it say about governor pence's character from your perspective that he's not put off by trump's offensive language, possible, possible sexual predatory behavior? >> to clarify what i said, the person who i believe in, who has the moral fortitude and fiber, the one that i personally know and have interacted with and believe in is mike pence and i do wish he was at the top of the ticket, but he's not. he is the one person that's out there that i can believe in that is a good, decent human being and has the moral fortitude to be in the highest levels of government. >> some republicans who have pulled their support of trump after that video came out have changed their minds apparently because many voters weren't swayed by the video. could trump do anything to win back your support? >> look, i'm in the never hillary camp. her propensity and frequency which she lies, lies, lies, i
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think you're going to find the majority of people in utah, including our family, would just never, ever be supportive in voting for hillary clinton to be the president of the united states. so we'll let the rest of the campaign play itself out. but i'm out of the endorsement game. i've got more important things to do, and i don't think endorsements at this point really mean much any way. >> should paul ryan have gone further and pulled his actual endorsement of trump? >> look, every individual has got to call it as they see it. i liken it to an umpire behind the plate. i've got to call it the way i see it, whether it's a republican or democrat. i would like to think i call it as i see it. and i just had to pull my endorsement based on what i had seen. but at the same time, the worst person to be the president of the united states, in my opinion, is hillary clinton. i just don't think the country can handle her for four years, let alone eight. >> the independent candidate, evan mcmullen from utah, has been polling very well in your
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state. a poll showed him at 22%, just a few points behind clinton and trump. would you consider casting your vote for him? >> he's a good, decent person. what you find in large part is the people of utah seeking a solution. they would never vote for hillary clinton, the majority, so they're looking for solutions and sorting through the candidates and giving everybody an honest look. but the idea that he could go on to win and become the president, that's as far-fetched as it gets. >> do you think you might vote for him? >> i am out of that game, wolf. i'm not endorsing or getting behind anybody at this point. i've got to focus on the job that voters in utah have previously given me. >> both trump and pence have warned about the threat of voter fraud on november 8th. do you think they're laying out an excuse in case they lose? >> no, i think they are saying
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everybody should be vigilant. you have lieutenant governors, secretaries of state in other states that have to be vigilant. and every polling place, we should make sure the vote is accurate. i don't think that's anything but being wise and smart with so much on an election. >> the problem, though, is so many election experts and studies have found there's tiny examples of actual voter fraud. and the question is, if trump loses, will that raise a question to some of his supporters about the -- about american democracy in action? >> no. look, the first thing is, let's get through the election. just make sure that it's full of integrity. there's people watching on both sides of the aisle that there's good, honest counts. i don't think there's any harm of highlighting that ahead of time. i think that's reasonable. >> congressman, there's a lot more to discuss, including the latest on the hillary clinton e-mails. we'll continue our conversation right after a quick break.
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abdbloating?in? you may have ibs. ask your doctor if non-prescription ibgard is right for you. ibgard calms the angry gut. available at cvs, walgreens and rite aid. we're back with republican congressman jason chaffetz of utah. we want to talk to him about newly revealed conversations between the state department and the fbi about hillary clinton's classified e-mails. but first, let's get the latest from cnn correspondent brianna keilar. critics say state department official tried to make a deal with the fbi over a clinton e-mail. what's the latest? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. and the candidate herself not available today for comment on this as her campaign plans to go into trump territory, arizona. they have bernie sanders,
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chelsea clinton, and first lady michelle obama heading there this week, as the candidate lays low in this ensemble cast tries to deliver this election for her. hillary clinton off the campaign trail to prepare for her third and final debate, leaving the campaigning up to her big name surrogates. >> i'm so tired of hearing the other side telling me how america is going to hell in a hand basket. >> reporter: her husband in new hampshire and bernie sanders in colorado. where yesterday she was joined by elizabeth warren. >> i am proud that we are a party that doesn't debate who has the smallest hands. or who can build the longest, tallest, fake gold plated wall in the world. >> reporter: a "boston globe" analysis of clinton's campaign schedule find that she's done far fewer events than her gop
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rival and the nominees of both parties from the previous two elections. but clinton is leading trump nationally by eight points in cnn's most recent poll of polls. and she has a big money advantage, $152 million on hand compared to trump's $75 million going into october. the trump campaign and congressional republicans today are pouncing on newly released fbi interview notes from the clinton investigation. they show alleged pressure from the state department to change the classification of one e-mail from her private server. a person whose name is redacted indicated he had been contacted by patrick kennedy, the undersecretary of state, who asked his assistants in altering the classification in exchange for a quid pro quo. the person whose name is redacted advised in exchange for marking the e-mail unclassified, state would allow the fbi to place more agents in countries where they are presently forbidden. another fbi official says the state department asked for a
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review of that e-mail, but it was the fbi that brought up the personnel issue. the fbi says the information was never downgraded. the state department denies wrongdoing. >> the allegation of any kind of quid pro quo is inaccurate. and does not align with the facts. so there was no quid pro quo. >> reporter: tonight, the clinton campaign is not discussing the allegations. instead, clinton is laying low, hoping to keep the pressure on trump over the growing number of allegations that he groped or kissed women, releasing this ad comparing trump to famous hollywood bullies. >> what, are you going to cry now? >> you, sit down! >> sit down. >> reporter: as hillary clinton remains out of sight tonight, wolf, preparing for the debate, and the fact that she's remained out of sight recently, it's a tacit acknowledgement by her
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campaign that while they think they may have a chance with some voters turned off by donald trump, it's not necessarily because they're enamored with hillary clinton. so they her time is best spent preparing for the debate and letting donald trump's controversies take up a lot of the attention. >> brianna, thank you very much. brianna keilar reporting from chappaqua, new york. i want to bring back congressman jason chaffetz, who is not a trump supporter. you did accuse the undersecretary of state patrick kennedy of bartering with classified information. why are you laying the blame on kennedy when it's unclear, at least based on the information we have, who requested any favor, do you have any evidence that this exchange any happened? >> yes, i do. because it's in the fbi notes. it was an fbi document that said from the fbi's perspective that they were engaged with patrick
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kennedy, a direct report to hillary clinton, that they were engaged in quid pro quo. that is a quote right out of the report. remember, these -- >> it's sort of unclear -- >> they were under subpoena -- >> who raised the issue first, the fbi agent who was talking to kennedy or kennedy who came up with this quid pro quo idea, or the declassification of this hillary clinton e-mail on the private server, whose idea was it first? >> well, you have the undersecretary for management throw thing out there. remember, this is a document that's under subpoena. rather than complying with the subpoena and sending it to congress, they're over there having a negotiation and a discussion that the fbi terms, in their own documents, is a quid pro quo. i'm not definitive or sure whose idea it was first, but you have one party saying i've got slots overseas that i really need. you have another one saying i
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need to change the classification of an e-mail to protect hillary clinton, and they have this discussion, and it goes on for some time. it's not like hey, this was just quick. it went up the food chain. it was being negotiated. it was being discussed. and that, to us, for me as the chairman of the house intelligence committee, we believe that is a potential violation of law and that mr. kennedy engaged in those activities is wrong. and there are multiple parts in the 302s where mr. kennedy was repeatedly, not just in this one case, repeatedly pleasuring people to change the classification of documents that were under subpoena. nobody should be able to do that, nobody! >> undersecretary kennedy is a career diplomat, he's obviously not part of the clinton campaign right now. do you have any evidence that hillary clinton herself knew anything at all about this so-called quid pro quo? >> no, i don't. to say that hillary clinton
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directed this, i have no evidence of this. but you have a person who directly reports to hillary clinton. you also have, in these 302s, hillary clinton's own attorneys left their employment at williams and conley, went to work at the state department. you have a state department career employee said that upstairs on the 7th floor, they were operating and i quote "a shadow government." so instead of hillary clinton just opening up, saying i made a mistake, let's get these documents out there, that is not true. her actions were to bring in her own attorneys, push aside the career employees and make these own determinations with her own attorneys. that is so wrong. >> you know the fbi director james comey and other fbi officials, they knew all about this so-called quid pro quo, and they decided not to recommend any criminal charges against hillary clinton. do you have a problem with that? >> yeah, i do have a problem with it, because when you say that there was not necessarily any intent, and you bring in
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kate duvall, the person who was looking at lois lerner's e-mails, and you bring other people from williams and conley, displace the federal workers, the traditional people who are used to doing this, and these people, they're not partisans. they call it a shadow government. yeah, i got a problem with that. of course congress is going to do its constitutional duty and we're going to get to the truth of this. the fbi still has not provided all of the 302s. >> so you're going to hold hearings on this after the election? >> absolutely. as soon as we can. >> you're not going to do it before the election, right? >> i wish i could. but the election is getting in the way. >> so we'll stand by for that. congressman, as usual, thank force joining us. just ahead, melania trump tells cnn her husband's comments about groping women are "boy talk." voters have heard it from trump and his advisers.
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the breaking news this hour. donald trump's wife, melania, speaking out for the first time in months, speaking to our own anderson cooper about the infamous recording that's rocking her husband's presidential campaign. let's get to our political panel. gloria, let me play a clip. this is a clip from the melania trump interview with anderson. >> it was ten days ago that access hollywood released that tape. i'm wondering when you first heard it, what did you think? >> i -- i said to my husband that, you know, the language is inappropriate. it's not acceptable. and i was surprised, because that is not the man that i know. and as you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on. it was only a mike. and i wonder if they even knew
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that the mike was on, because they were kind of boy talk and he was led on like -- egged on from the host to say dirty and bad stuff. >> you feel the host, billy bush, was sort of egging him on? >> yes, yes. >> is that language you had heard him use before? >> no, no. that's why i was surprised. i don't know that person that would talk that way. and that's -- he would say that kind of stuff in private. i heard many different stuff, boy's talk. the boys, the way they talk when they grow up and they want to sometimes show each other oh, this and that and talking about the girls. but yeah, i was surprised, of course.
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>> you can see the full interview with melania trump later tonight on "ac 360." that's at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on cnn. let's bring in our panel to discuss. gloria, you watched the interview. are you surprised that she's sort of blaming billy bush for egging on the so-called boy talk, if you will? >> first of all, let's say this is an incredibly tough position for a political spouse to be in. we saw it with hillary clinton and bill clinton. and now we're seeing it with melania trump. what she's trying to do is explain the inexplicable, and what she did was try and place the became on somebody else other than her husband. whether that is something donald trump said to her or whether that is something she's thinking about in her own mind, i don't think we're ever going to know. we should not have expected melania to come out there and unendorse her husband. she was not going to do that. she was going to defend her husband, and we've seen women do
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this. we saw hillary clinton talk about the right wing conspiracy. today, we see melania trump talking about billy bush egging him on. and also later in the interview, and we'll see it at 8:00 tonight on anderson, her talking about the left wing media conspiracy that is against her husband. >> she's talking, saying boy talk, locker room talk is the way he described it earlier, but the fact that she's now coming out publicly on television with this anderson cooper interview to defend her husband, i assume it will have an impact. >> it certainly can't hurt. donald trump has not done it in as graceful as she has. he's questioned the appearance of the women that have made accusations against him. so to hear melania say i haven't heard him use that language before, i told him it was
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inappropriate. she's told us in the past when he does step out of line she's willing to tell him that privately. so i think this is the kind of thing that could potentially help him, or at a minimum not hurt him. i don't think him going out there talking about this stuff every day, though, is going to make the story go away any faster. >> should she have come out earlier with an interview with this nature, and wouldn't it have been even more powerful if he had been sitting next to her during the interview? >> i don't know. i think that's the first question everyone has when they see her alone is, i mean, frankly, there are so many male politicians that have behaved poorly. we're actually used to this phenomena now of usually a woman standing by a male politician's side and doing one of these kind of, you know, i support him. so it is unusual that he wasn't there, and maybe she has her on reason for it. i will say just to fact check what she said, i didn't really see billy bush egging donald trump on in that audio.
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i saw donald trump being the instigator, the center of attention and talking that way without any encouragement. >> what did you think, david? >> i think at best they egged each other on, but no, it wasn't as if donald trump was a hapless victim of boy talk, as she said. >> the new polls out today, the cnn/orc poll in battleground states show it's very close in north carolina, nevada. he's slightly ahead by four points in ohio. does he still have a credible path to 270 electoral college votes? >> i think it's credible, but incredibly narrow. i think donald trump is going to win ohio. one of the numb thaeers that ju out at me is trump is ahead by 14 points among married women, even after the access hollywood tape. i don't see that number reversing course in the next three weeks. but some of these other states, even if he wins nevada, which
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was an obama state two times, that's only six electoral votes. >> if donald trump can do in the rest of the country what he's doing in ohio, he would have a shot winning the election. he's almost even with all women. he's very close with college educated whites, up 26 points with non-college educated voters. of course, he's winning the blue collar, rust belt part of that state, and the union vote, which is going to be really important to him. i don't think that it's anything that he can replicate, but this is kind of the constituencies that donald trump needs to win this election. >> "saturday night live," we all saw it, once again continuing the debate parody. let's play this. >> secretary clinton, your question comes from patrice brock. >> hello, my question is, do you
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feel that you're modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today's youth? >> hi, patrice. let me start by walking over to you just as i practiced. [ laughter ] left right, left, right, left, right. now, patrice, you're a teacher? >> no. >> you have kids? >> no. >> you like kids? >> no. >> you've seen kids? >> yeah. >> okay, great. we're bonding already. oh, my friend, patrice. patrice, i strive to be a positive role model for all children, children like mill daughter, chelsea, and my granddaughter, chelsea, jr. >> mr. trump, same question, do you feel you're modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today's youth? >> no, next. >> so you don't care about the kids? >> anderson, i love the kids, okay? i love them so much, i marry them.
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i've been helping kids my whole life. in 1992, i helped a kid named kevin mccallister find a hotel lobby. >> very funny stuff. donald trump didn't like that opening skit. he tweeted this, watched "saturday night live" hit job on me. time to retire the boring and unfunny show. >> that is a tough statement, considering this is not the most flattering portrayal of hillary clinton, either. that's the other interesting thing, when we see trump aides out there insisting that donald trump is getting too much coverage and we're not talking enough about wikileaks or hillary clinton's e-mails. donald trump has a way of muddling his own message six times before breakfast. he could be driving a message that is entirely focused on hillary clinton. instead, he takes offense with
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paul ryan, with "snl," with anything. >> everybody, stay with us. more coming up. an important programming note. you can see the full interview with melania trump on "ac 360" later tonight, 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on cnn. we're also counting down to the final debate between donald trump and hillary clinton. they'll face off in las vegas in just two days. join us for complete coverage, starting wednesday, 4:00 p.m. eastern. more breaking news ahead. new details on the fight to kick isis out of iraq's second largest city. the long awaited battle for mosul is under way. cyber tension between the u.s. and russia heating up. has washington retaliated for russian attacks on the u.s. election? (vo) combine the right things.
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breaking news in the war against isis. the fight to retake iraq's second largest city from terrorist control is now under way. with u.s. forces playing a critical role. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is working story for us. barbara, iraq reporting heavy losses today. what's the latest information you're getting? >> wolf, this was a risky but long-planned operation by the iraqis helped by the united states forces who hope they can help the iraqis get mosul back, but stay out of danger. isis drives a car bomb straight into iraqi forces. this is the new deadly front line of the battle to defeat
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isis in mosul. the city where isis leader al baghdadi declared his caliphate. >> americans are in harm's way as part of this fight. >> reporter: a pentagon wants to emphasize iraqi forces are leading the charge. >> there are americans on the outskirts of city. >> reporter: the whole area is full of bombs, booby traps and tunnels. the pentagon refuses to say if u.s. troops will enter the city. >> i'm not ruling it in, i'm not ruling it out. >> reporter: it may be their most dangerous assignment yet. >> iraq is supported by a wide range of coalition cape nablabc, air support, artillery, advisers and air controllers. >> reporter: iraqi and kurdish troops backed up by some 200 u.s. special forces are working to approach mosul from all sides. the u.s. has also taken up artillery positions north and south of the city. u.s. foreign air controllers on the ground may be calling in
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locations of isis targets for strikes. near the front lines today, cnn's nick paton walsh and his team came under isis fire on the roads into mosul. >> a lot of coalition planning, american air power. >> reporter: the danger for u.s. troops will grow. >> the real challenge is going to be when they go inside the city of mosul. how far back are the u.s. troops going to be? are they going inside the city? will they be at risk from ieds and from land mines that they see along the ground? >> reporter: now, mosul could be the largest humanitarian operation so far this year. the united nations projecting that 1 million people could be trying to escape the city in the coming days as the fighting intensifies. wolf? >> what a nightmare. all right, barbara, thanks very much. barbara starr at the pentagon reporting. we're standing by to hear from donald trump. he's about to hold a rally in wisconsin. green bay, wisconsin. will he repeat his charge that the election is rigged against him? plus a cyber attack cuts off
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together, we're building a better california. . the founder of wikileaks alleging today he may be a victim, this as american intelligence officials suspect russia may be using wikileaks to disseminate stolen e-mails pertaining to the u.s. election. our chief national security correspondent, jim sciutto, is working the story for us.
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jim, the cyber tension between the u.s. and russia is clearly escalating tonight. >> no question. julian assange who's been a character in this whole drama throughout the last several weeks as wikileaks has released tranche after tranche of stolen e-mails from the democratic party saying today that he was the victim of a cyber attack, blaming a state actor, some suspected he might be blaming the u.s. turned out to be ecuador, but as you know, wolf, the u.s. says that wikileaks is playing a role in releasing those stolen documents. wikileaks founder julian assange, the man behind the release of thousands of hacked e-mails from inside the clinton campaign. >> wikileaks is going to publish -- >> reporter: claiming today he's now the victim of a cyber attack. wikileaks tweeting, "julian assange's internet link has been intentionally severed by a state party. we activated the appropriate contingency plans." wikileaks soon blamed ecuador for the internet cutoff. assange has been holed up in
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ecuador's embassy in london for four years avoiding extradition to sweden on charges of sexual assault. u.s. officials denied any responsibility. however, with russia's hacks of the u.s. election system expanding, this weekend, vice president biden made clear the u.s. is ready to strike back. u.s. officials say the options range from economic sanctions to diplomatic measures, to, yes, cyber responses. >> we're sending a message. we have the capacity to do it. >> reporter: and biden speaking on nbc's "meet the press" said when the u.s. does strike back, he's confident that russian president vladimir putin will know it. to which putin responded, the threat only proves the u.s., itself, is guilty of cyber warfare. >> translator: for the first time the united states has recognized at the highest level, first, that they, themselves, do cyber attacks and second, threaten russia to a certain extent which contradicts the norms of international communication.
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>> reporter: donald trump has repeatedly questioned russian involvement in the election hacks, pointing his finger at everyone from china to a 400-pound man in his basement. >> they always blame russia. reason they blame russia because they think they're tryinging to tarnish me with russia. >> reporter: however, mike pence joined the obama administration and u.s. intelligence officials this weekend in blaming moscow on nbc. >> well, i think there's more and more evidence that implicates russia and there should be serious consequences. >> there are republicans now who are praising wikileaks, though. look at this tweet from republican congressman from south carolina, jeff duncan "let me be clear, thank god for wikileaks doing the job the mainstream media won't. assange wikileaks." you're hearing that from some other as well. bizarre, you might say, in the midst of all this because as you know, wikileaks has seemed to be hacking and then disseminating stolen information. >> we'll see what the u.s. does potentially in retaliation. thanks very much, jim sciutto
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reporting. remember, important programming note. you can see the full interview with melania trump on "a.c. 360" later tonight 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on cnn. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, breaking news, melania trump speaks out in a conditiandid, rare intervih cnn. what does she think about her husband's allegationsually assa women? and newest conspiracy theory. what it is? and howard stern opening up about donald trump, is trump too crass even for howard stern? let's go "outfront." good evening, i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, breaking news, melania trump speaks out. donald trump's wife sitting down with cnn tonight. the first time she's speaking out since the explosive

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