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EARLY START

Donald Trump Tells Supporters Election is Rigged; Melania Trump Breaks Her Silence; Pentagon Says Fight for Mosul Ahead of Schedule. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 18, 2016 - 04:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:00:10] MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S WIFE: I believe my husband. I believe my husband. This was all organized from the opposition.

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CHRISTINE ROMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Melania Trump breaking her silence. Calling sexual misconduct allegations against him lies.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Accusations of a deal between the FBI and State Department to declassify an e-mail sent to Hillary Clinton. Newly released documents have Donald Trump calling for a top State Department official to be fired.

ROMANS: The battle to recapture Mosul from ISIS ahead of schedule, according to the Pentagon. But military officials cautioning against too much optimism. We'll tell you why in a live report from Iraq.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: Nice to see you this morning. I'm John Berman. It is Tuesday, October 18th. 4:00 a.m. in the East. Three weeks until election day.

This morning, Melania Trump with her first public statements as a list of women accuse her husband of misconduct ranging from kissing to groping to sexual assault. In an interview with Anderson Cooper, she rejected claims that her husband sexually abused women, insisting that the allegations are nothing more than an orchestrated conspiracy between the Clintons and the news media.

She was also asked about her husband's comments on the 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape where he bragged about being able to grab women's genitals and get away with it because he is famous. She dismissed that as boy talk and suggested that the then 59-year-old Trump was egged on by Billy Bush. This is some of Anderson's interview.

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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It was 10 days ago that "Access Hollywood" released that tape. I'm wondering when you first saw it, when you first heard it, what did you think it? M. TRUMP: 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 mic. And I wonder if they even knew that the mic was on because they were kind of a boy talk. And he was lead on like egged on from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.

COOPER: You feel the host Billy Bush was sort of egging him on?

M. TRUMP: Yes. Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: We'll bring you much more of Anderson's interview with Melania Trump later in the broadcast.

ROMANS: Donald Trump is calling for a top State Department official to be fired even though the FBI is denying a quid pro quo arrangement with that official over the declassification of an e-mail from Hillary Clinton's private server. Newly released FBI documents appear to show Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy trying to convince FBI officials to declassify that e-mail while offering to look into the agency's request for more personnel overseas. That has Trump calling for Kennedy's removal.

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DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Newly released FBI documents made public today reveal just how deep this corruption goes. So the Undersecretary of the State Patrick Kennedy illegally pressured the FBI to unclassify e-mails from Hillary's illegal server. That's a lot of illegality in that one statement, isn't it? That's just one after another. In other words, the State Department was trying to cover up Hillary's crimes.

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ROMANS: All right. So listen to the State Department's response to calls for Kennedy to be removed from his post.

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MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Well, that's their prerogative. But I can say that Pat Kennedy is going to remain at his job and he has the full confidence of the secretary of state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Trump claims the FBI documents reveal a criminal act worse than Watergate.

BERMAN: Donald Trump calling out his supporters to, quote, "go around and watch polling places" to make sure nobody cheats. This is part of his crusade arguing without evidence that there is large scale election fraud in the United States. Donald Trump claims the national polls are rigged, too. Hillary

Clinton leading by four points in an ABC News-"Washington Post" newer poll. Nine points from CBS. Double-digits from NBC-"Wall Street Journal" and Monmouth University.

Let's get the latest from CNN's Sara Murray.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Christine, Last night as Donald Trump was his campaigning in Wisconsin, he and his campaign were set on refocusing on Hillary Clinton, focusing on her e-mails, casting her as a corrupt politician. The only problem, Donald Trump can't seem to stay on that message. Instead he once again went after the American election calling it a rigged system.

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D. TRUMP: They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths. And believe me, there's a lot going on.

[04:05:03] You ever hear these people? They say there's nothing going on. People that have died 10 years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting. I mean, where are the street smarts of some of these politicians? They don't have -- that's right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: But it wasn't just Donald Trump's claims of a rigged election. He once again came out and claimed that all of these allegations of sexual misconduct are completely false, completely made-up. That comes after Melania Trump spoke to our own Anderson Cooper and said she believed her husband. But the fact that they keep talking about it day after day, that means this story is going to even tougher for Donald Trump and his family to move beyond.

Now he'll be back on the campaign trail today trying to do just that in Colorado just a day before the third and final presidential debate. Back to you, guys.

ROMANS: All right, Sara, thank you.

At his Wisconsin rally, Trump called for a series of ethics reforms to tackle corruption in Washington. They include a five-year ban on all executive branch officials from lobbying the government after they leave office. A five-year ban on members of Congress and their staffers from being lobbyists after serving. And a lifetime ban preventing senior executive branch officials from ever lobbying on behalf of foreign governments.

BERMAN: Hillary Clinton is off the trial for another day as she prepares for the final debate. But there is news of a surrogate surge in what could be a new battleground. Bernie Sanders, Chelsea Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama all heading to Arizona this week to campaign. Arizona has voted Republican in every presidential race since 1996 and actually except for 1996, pretty much Republican going back a long, long time. The "New York Times" reports the Clinton campaign is making a play there, including a $2 million investment.

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden they will campaign in different states later this week.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, they face off one last time. The final debate. You know, debate number three. This time it's personal. It will be in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

CNN's coverage begins all day long. Beginning right here. Forget that 4:00 p.m. It begins at 4:00 a.m. right here on EARLY START.

ROMANS: All right. I'm going to give you 20 bucks to put on the red pen, all right? You just spin the wheel for me when you get there, Berman?

All right. Donald Trump's tax plan would boost growth and create jobs in the short term, but then have a negative effect on the U.S. economy. That's according to brand new analysis by the Wharton School and the Tax Policy Center. By the year 2018 Trump's plan would add a little more than 1 percent to GDP. By 2027, his plan would shrink the economy. And by 2040, it would cut growth by, much hugher, almost 7 percent.

The Labor Department -- the labor market, rather, would see a similar effect. 1.7 million new jobs will be created by 2018 but nine years later, Trump's tax plan would end up costing the economy about 692,000 job. And by 2040, the labor market would suffer a hit of 11.2 million jobs.

These researchers, you know, sort of crunching these numbers. Their main issue with Trump's plan is that tax cuts cost money. And without anything to replace the lost revenue, the government would have to borrow more money. That in turn would stall the economy. The Trump campaign rejects these findings, by the way, because they don't factor in his other economic policies.

We'll tell you what the forecasting models predict for Hillary Clinton's plan later this hour.

BERMAN: Yes, Peter Navarro, you know, Donald Trump's big economic adviser, claims that whatever trade, you know, reforms they institute will somehow bring in trillions of dollars of revenue. Most analysts say that's unlikely but that is their claim.

Melania Trump insists her husband was engaging in boy talk on the "Access Hollywood" tape when he bragged about being able to grab a woman's genitals and get away with it because he's famous. Melania Trump says she has accepted his apology.

So what was the conversation like when Trump said he was sorry to his wife? More of Anderson's one-on-one with Melania Trump. That's next.

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[04:12:53] ROMANS: All right. Melania Trump breaking her silence. She says she has forgiven her husband, Donald Trump, for what he said on that leaked "Access Hollywood" tape. And she said voters should, too. She says Trump was egged on by the host Billy Bush.

Here's more of her one-on-one interview with Anderson Cooper.

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COOPER: Is that language you had heard him use before?

M. TRUMP: No. No, that's why I was surprised because I said, like, I don't know that person that would talk that way. And he would say that kind of stuff in private. I heard many different stuff. Boys talk. I -- the boys, the way they talk when they grow up and they want to sometimes show each other all this and that and talking about the girls, and -- but yes, I was surprised, of course. But I was not surprised about the tape came out. I was not surprised about that.

COOPER: Why?

M. TRUMP: Because, as I said, these many people from the opposite side that they want to damage the campaign. And why now? Why after so many years? Why three weeks before the election?

COOPER: Your husband said that -- he said he apologized to you after the tape and you accepted the apology. What was that conversation like? Can you talk about it?

M. TRUMP: Well, we talk in private and we keep it private. And he apologized. I accept his apology. I hope the American people will accept it as well. And it was many, many years ago. He's not the man that I know, and he said it many times as well. It's very hard, especially for him, when he decided to run for presidency because he did so many stuff in his life. He was on so many tapes, so many shows. And we knew that. That, you know, tapes will come out.

[04:15:05] People will want to go against him. But my husband is real. He's raw. He tells it as it is. He's kind. He's a gentleman. He supports everybody. He supports women. He encourages them to go to the highest level to achieve the dreams. He employs many, many women. And as you can see, also I see now, it's a lot of backlash of the media the way they treated him.

COOPER: He described it as locker room talk. To you -- I mean, you sort of alluded to that as well. Is that what it is to you, just locker room talk?

M. TRUMP: Yes, it's kind of two teenage boys -- actually, they should behave better, right? He was not --

COOPER: He was 59.

M. TRUMP: Correct. And sometimes I said, I have two boys at home, I have my young son and I have my husband.

(LAUGHTER)

M. TRUMP: So -- but I know how some men talk and that's how I saw it, yes. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: As for the women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct, Melania says she believes her husband. She insists the allegations were orchestrated by the Clinton campaign.

BERMAN: All right. Word this morning that Billy Bush is officially out at NBC. You just heard Melania Trump saying it was Billy Bush she believes who egged her husband on. This came after several days of difficult negotiations. The "Today" show host reached a settlement agreement with NBC. No terms were released. Bush never appeared on air again after the 2005 "Access Hollywood" video was released. He has apologized for his conduct on that tape and says he is looking forward to what lies ahead.

ROMANS: All right. The fight to retake Mosul from ISIS off to a promising start. The Pentagon says this mission is ahead of schedule but U.S. military officials are also sounding a cautionary note. We will go there next.

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[04:21:38] BERMAN: This morning, the Pentagon says the Iraqi forces are ahead of schedule in their mission to retake Mosul from ISIS. Fighting has been raging overnight with ISIS militant attacking Iraqi tanks. The U.S. military officials insist the mission to clear the city of militants could take some time despite what they call significant progress on day one.

I want to go to Irbil nearby to Mosul in Iraq and bring in CNN's Michael Holmes.

Michael, what's the latest over night in the fighting?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, I can tell you in the last couple of hours, the Iraqi military told us that a number of suicide car bombs, major weapon, if you like, of ISIS, were directed at their forces. They say they repelled the attack, but in the process of doing so they lost one soldier, two others were wounded. They say 10 ISIS members were killed in that exchange. But just showing again how often this tool is being used, the suicide car bomb, and likely it will continue to be used increasingly as these forces get ever closer to Mosul.

Now you mentioned there Iraqi forces feel they are doing well. The Kurdish forces say they are ahead of schedule, too. They're methodically making their way towards Mosul, taking towns and villages and roads. They took 200 square kilometers of land yesterday, they said, for example. Now that's obviously sparsely populated. Many or most of the villages they are taking are empty, but it is a process that they are going through. They say they know what they're doing. They're going to get to Mosul soon enough and then the real fighting will begin.

Now we're being told, too, that -- you know, that the river that runs through Mosul, the Tigres, the eastern side of that is a lot harder to defend and the feeling is that many ISIS fighters are not going to defend it. They're going to pull back to the western side of the river. That's where the old city is. Narrow streets, hard for armored vehicles to move around, easy to hide IEDs and have sniper positions. So the feeling is that that's where ISIS will make their stand in that western part of the city and that would be a ferocious battle -- John.

BERMAN: Early promise but possibly tough, tough days ahead. Michael Holmes for us in Irbil. Thanks so much, Michael.

The former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs retired. Four-star General James Cartwright pleaded guilty in federal court, admitting that he lied to the FBI about leaking classified information to reporters. Cartwright was under investigation or has been since 2013. The federal charge carries a five-year maximum prison sentence but under his plea deal Cartwright could get no more than six months behind bars.

ROMANS: President Obamas welcomes Italy's prime minister, Matteo Renzi, to the White House today. Tonight the Obamas host a state dinner honoring the prime minister and his wife with the menu crafted by Italian-American chef, Mario Batali. Gwen Stefani is the headline performer. Arriving guests will be greeted by singers from a kids' theater group supported by Donald Trump favorite Rosie O'Donnell.

BERMAN: You know, they're having Italian food for the Italian prime minister. Just saying. Just saying. Maybe he wants a change.

All right. The Cleveland Indians now one win away from going to the World Series. They bear the Blue Jays 4-2. They are up three games to none. The only team in baseball history to come back from 3-0 in the American League Championship Series. The Boston Red Sox in 2004. Just for reference. Mike Napoli, former member of the Boston Red Sox, and Jason Kipnis, they hit homeruns for the tribe.

[04:25:04] The real story here, though, was actually the Cleveland Indians' bullpen. They worked eight innings. Why? Because look at this, starter Trevor Bauer, he had a cut on his finger and he was bleeding so he had to leave the game in the first inning. So the Indians' bullpen, they had to pitch eight innings, which they did. That is really astounding.

Game four is -- when is it? Is it tonight? Game four is some time soon. And we'll see if the Indians win.

ROMANS: Stitch -- close it up?

BERMAN: Yes. Yes. No -- if you're gushing blood from your finger, you can't pitch.

ROMANS: Right. Right.

BERMAN: So they had to pitch eight innings. The bullpen did.

ROMANS: All right. The obligatory Boston Red Sox reference in every story. BERMAN: But they were important in this case. They were very

relevant.

ROMANS: OK. Yes, they were. 25 minutes after the hour. Melania Trump is back in the spotlight here, defending her husband against those sexual misconduct allegations and she is dismissing his language on that "Access Hollywood" videotape. Anderson Cooper's one-on-one interview next.

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