Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
FBI Reviews New E-Mails Tied to Clinton Case; Plane Catches on Fire, Shuts Down O'Hare Runway; FBI Reviews Newly Discovered Emails Tied to Clinton Case. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired October 28, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Another October surprise, one that could potentially change the election. We now know, according to law enforcement sources, that an FBI probe into whether former Congressman Anthony Weiner was allegedly sexing with an underage girl has now led investigators to e-mails they believe may be pertinent to the Hillary Clinton e-mail server investigation.
That's right. If you missed what I said, I said Anthony Weiner, AKA Carlos Danger. I'm reminded of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, who said, if you introduce a gun in the first act, it had better go off by the third act.
Well, we're in the third act, though, and it looks as though Carlos Danger is Chekhov's Gun. This whole bizarre storyline broke this afternoon, when we learned about a letter to Congress, FBI Director James Comey announcing a -- quote -- "unrelated case" turned up new e- mails -- quote -- "that appear to be pertinent to the investigation," assessing whether Clinton mishandled classified information while secretary of state because of her private e-mail server.
Comey's statement did not say when the FBI would announce the results of their review. Comey's statement did not say where these e-mails came from. But sources tell us the e-mails were found on a device being examined as part of that investigation into Anthony Weiner.
It's unclear if this device belong to Weiner or to his now estranged wife Clinton confidant Huma Abedin.
Campaigning in battleground state New Hampshire earlier today, Donald Trump was quick to share the news with his supporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And they are reopening the case into her criminal and illegal conduct that threatens the security of the United States of America.
I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown is in Washington and covering this story for us.
And, Pamela, the weirdness of this news being related to Anthony Weiner aside, FBI Director Comey is saying that e-mails were found on a device and they might contain information pertinent to the Hillary Clinton e-mail server investigation. That seems quite serious.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It does.
And right now, the FBI is reviewing those e-mails, trying to determine if they contain classified information, how relevant they are to the Hillary Clinton private server investigation, an investigation that had been deemed a done deal and it's now getting a renewed look less than two weeks until Election Day.
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, James Comey delivering the stunning news in this letter to Congress. The FBI has discovered new e-mails related to the Hillary Clinton private e-mail server investigation and is now taking a second look at that investigation.
In a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Comey writes -- quote -- "In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of e-mails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation." He went on to say: "The FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these e- mails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation."
A law enforcement official says the newly found e-mails were found on an electronic twice that the device that the FBI didn't previously have in its possession. The device was being examined as part of an unrelated investigation and the e-mails are not from Hillary Clinton, but from someone else, according to the officials.
This comes just three months after Comey told Congress the investigation was complete.
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Did Hillary Clinton break the law?
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: In connection with her use of the e-mail server, my judgment is that she did not.
BROWN: Law enforcement sources say the newly discovered e-mails did not service from the FBI investigation into hacked Clinton campaign e- mails released by WikiLeaks or the Clinton Foundation.
TRUMP: I need to open with a very critical breaking news announcement. BROWN: Republicans immediately pounced, Donald Trump celebrating the
news in front of a cheering crowd in New Hampshire, and Paul Ryan tweeting, "Yet again Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame. She was entrusted with some of our nation's most important secrets. And she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information. I renew my call for the director of national intelligence to suspend all classified briefings for Secretary Clinton until this matter is fully resolved."
Comey's announcement potentially reversing course from the FBI's previous decision.
COMEY: Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.
BROWN: Now the question is, could that change?
BROWN: And Director Comey says he doesn't know when the review of these new e-mails will wrap up, but it's likely, Jake, to be after election, after the election.
And we're told that Director Comey felt compelled to let Congress know about this recent development. Otherwise, he could be accused of withholding relevant information before an election.
Gives you a little insight into his thinking about why that letter was released today -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Pamela Brown, thank you.
Clinton and her press corps were flying from New York to Iowa and without functioning Wi-Fi, journalists traveling with her tell us, meaning, irony of ironies, Hillary Clinton was unable to get e-mail while this story was breaking.
CNN correspondent Phil Mattingly is live for us in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Phil, what have Clinton or any of her aides said responding to this surprising news?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Clinton herself hasn't said anything about it, as she deplaned in Cedar Rapids. As you noted, they found out very late about this. She didn't say anything at all when we asked questions.
But her campaign chairman, John Podesta, just released a very lengthy statement calling in to question the rationale for Jim Comey, the FBI director, to send this letter to Capitol Hill to let them know that they were doing this.
Included is this statement: "It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election. The director owes it to the American people to immediately provide full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July."
And, Jake, that statement from John Podesta also noting that in a separate e-mail to FBI staff, Jim Comey noted that it wasn't even close, the criminal prosecution of Hillary Clinton, that final decision that was made. So the campaign pushing back on this hard, but I think it's important to note, Jake, as you noted up top, we were flying from New York to Cedar Rapids.
The e-mail service, Wi-Fi service on the Clinton plane is notoriously spotty and unreliable. Nobody had any service throughout, until we started to descend. That's when everybody's BlackBerrys and iPhones mails started buzzing, including the Clinton campaign.
And this wasn't just any traveling party with Hillary Clinton. It included her campaign manager, Robby Mook. It included Huma Abedin, the estranged wife of Anthony Weiner. It included Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign communications director.
And just to give you some context here about how taken off guard they were, earlier in that flight, we actually had a gaggle with the campaign manager, Robby Mook, where all they were talking about was the fact that Hillary Clinton next week will be going to Arizona, the very Republican state.
Again, they have expanded the map. Things are going so well for the campaign. Obviously, when they landed, a very different opinion of how things are heading right now -- Jake.
TAPPER: Phil Mattingly traveling with the Clinton campaign in Iowa, thank you so much.
You might recall it wasn't that long ago, just a few hours, that Donald Trump and his campaign and his supporters thought FBI Director Comey and the entire Justice Department were corrupt and the whole system was rigged.
Democrats were the ones defending his integrity. Well, now Democrats are questioning Director Comey. And today Trump said -- quote -- "It might not be as rigged as I thought."
Sunlen Serfaty in Lisbon, Maine, where Trump is speaking to supporters right now.
And, Sunlen, just a few hours ago, Trump in New Hampshire said he expects the FBI to correct what he called a miscarriage of justice and ultimately indict Clinton.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.
And Trump really did seem to be a bit vindicated by the news today. He said it seems that the FBI potentially hopefully, he said that they're trying to right their ship and he said, yes, maybe the system isn't as rigged as I originally thought it was.
But Trump very eager before crowds to keep the focus and all this news right on Hillary Clinton.
TRUMP: I need to open with a very critical breaking news announcement.
SERFATY (voice-over): Donald Trump quickly seizing on the FBI's announcement that the bureau is investigating additional e-mails related to Hillary Clinton's personal e-mail server.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton's corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.
SERFATY: The FBI's move leading Trump change his view on whether the system is rigged.
TRUMP: It might not be as rigged as I thought, right, right? The FBI, I think they're going to right the ship, folks. I think they're going to right the ship.
SERFATY: As Trump goes on the attack against Clinton, he's looking to inject some fuel into his campaign coffers for the final stretch of the campaign, wiring $10 million of his own money today to his presidential effort.
TRUMP: I'm spending money like crazy. I will probably have over -- maybe close to or over $100 million of my money spent on the campaign.
But there is something nice about that, unless I lose, in which case I would say, what was all that about?
SERFATY: It comes after Trump faced pressure from the RNC and his donors to boost up his personal investment and the latest reports from the Federal Elections Commission revealing that Trump has been slowing his contributions, putting in less than $31,000 the first three weeks of this month after consistently investing $2 million in previous months.
The influx of cash would bring his total contribution to $66 million, but still leaves him far short of the $100 million he's promised to spend.
TRUMP: I will have over $100 million in the campaign, and I'm prepared to go much more than that.
SERFATY: Trump is now promising to triple-match his contributions from supporters, notably not including a $2 million cap on that match that he had in previous fund-raising drives.
TRUMP: We should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right?
SERFATY: But even as Trump makes moves to turn his campaign around, his schedule today speaking volumes about his very narrow path to the White House.
TRUMP: I don't have the courage to skip the speech in New Hampshire, believe me.
SERFATY: Trump hitting New Hampshire, Maine and Iowa, all key to the campaign's daunting task to piece together a path to 270 electoral votes.
SERFATY: And to underscore just how narrow the Trump campaign understands their path is to 270, Donald Trump traveling here to Lisbon, Maine. This is a Democrat-leaning state, Jake, only one of two states that divvies up their electoral votes by district.
So, Trump coming here, speaking here in just a few minutes here this afternoon in a Republican district on the hunt for just one electoral vote -- Jake.
TAPPER: And that one electoral vote could come in handy of the event a 269-269 tie. Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much.
Stay with us.
I'm going to talk to a former Justice Department official about the stunning turns of events right after this quick message.
[16:16:27] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We will return to our lead story in just a moment. But first, we have some other late breaking news just minutes ago. An American Airlines plane caught on fire and had to abort its takeoff at Chicago's O'Hare airport. The FAA tweeted that the runway there is now shut down. Emergency vehicles are surrounding the airplane.
Let' get right to Ryan Young.
Ryan, what else do we know right now?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Jake, this is breaking news. And we are following this right now. An FAA statement does confirm that American Air Flight 383 that was from ORD to Miami blew a tire on takeoff. They aborted that flight and we were told that they had to deploy the chute for the passengers to get off. We do have an image of some of the smoke that was in the area. We heard several calls of people trying to figure what happened on the airlines. And then we found out that people were able to get off the plane safely. But that is flight 383 from ORD to Miami. Of course, O'Hare is the
second busiest airport in the country. When we first found out about this, we were trying to confirm the report to make sure everyone was OK. We have learned that most of the passengers were able to deplane and right now trying to figure out exactly what happened on that runway. As you said, it's been shut down, so not sure if there was any objects that that plane may have hit as it was trying to take off and blew the tire -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Ryan Young in Chicago for us -- thank you so much.
We will bring you more information about that plane crash or aborted plane takeoff as we get it.
Meanwhile, a former Justice Department official says FBI Director Comey should have kept quiet, that Director Comey's disclosure of new evidence potentially pertinent into the investigation to the Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server was, quote, "inappropriate". I'll ask him to explain, next.
[16:22:39] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
The FBI revealing today that it found new e-mails, quote, "pertinent to the Clinton investigation". Sources are telling CNN that those emails were found during an FBI inquiry into former Congressman Anthony Wiener, investigating when he sexted an underage girl. Weiner is, of course, the estranged husband of Clinton confidant Huma Abedin.
Joining me now to talk about the case is Matt Miller. He's a former spokesman for the Department of Justice under former Attorney General Eric Holder. He supports Hillary Clinton.
And you think that this was inappropriate of Director Comey writing this letter to congressional leaders. Why?
MATTHEW MILLER, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SPOKESMAN: That's absolutely inappropriate. The department and FBI have very strict rules about when they can comment on ongoing cases and Director Comey has violated those rules going back to his original press conference when he closed the case. But this latest example violates a long standing practice which is that the department goes out of its way not do anything that can be seen as trying to influence an election when you're on the closing days of an election. And usually, they interpret the closing days to mean the last 60 days before the election, let alone the last 11 days.
TAPPER: But wouldn't withholding this information once it was ready to be given to congressional leaders also be possibly seen as trying to sway an election except in the other direction?
MILLER: Well, the problem is there is no information that he released. We don't know what it is that the FBI is looking at. We don't know what it is they've received. We've seen some leaks now that they might involve Anthony Weiner, but his letter announces that they're looking at this case again, but it doesn't give the public, it doesn't give voters, it doesn't even give Congress any information about what it's about.
And it leads to Secretary Clinton having to defend against a negative which is, of course, impossible and that's why the FBI in this case never before to by knowledge has done something like this.
TAPPER: So, the average viewer this morning gets up and Republicans are saying Jim Comey is a hack and he should be fired and Democrats are saying, oh, he's such a integrity, because ultimately he said that Hillary Clinton should be charged with the crime.
And then there is a new development and everybody changes opinions. And Donald Trump is now saying maybe it's not as rigged as I thought it was and Democrats such as you are saying it's outrageous what he's doing. Doesn't that breed cynicism, the idea that whatever is unfavorable to your side is suddenly outrageous?
MILLER: Well, I'll say that my opinion on this has been consistent from the beginning. Since he held his first press conference and talked about this, since he went to Congress and talked about it, I thought he shouldn't be doing that. It's violating the rules, and I've said that publicly a number of times.
[16:25:01] You're right that it does breed cynicism, but that is actually why the FBI is not supposed to be talking publicly about this. They're supposed to handle their cases quietly. They're supposed to follow the facts, follow the evidence wherever they go, and then make tough decisions and take the heat for those decisions.
They're not supposed to insert themselves in the middle of the campaign because you get exactly the result that you just mentioned where the FBI becomes a political football.
TAPPER: So, what we know now according to sources in law enforcement is that there were e-mails discovered on at least one device and this was -- had to do with either -- we don't know whose device it was, whether it was Huma Abedin, or her strange husband, Anthony Weiner. This has to do with the probe into Anthony Weiner, and whether or not he sexted an underage girl and there were emails that might be pertinent to the Hillary Clinton case.
Now that we know all that, isn't that information that the voters can take and assess? Whether or not they think it's relevant?
MILLER: Well, the problem is, they don't actually have any information. They know that the FBI officially what they know is that the FBI is looking at something again. They don't know whether it involves Secretary Clinton, it may not. It could involve Huma Abedin, it could involve other staffers. The FBI hasn't given us that any information.
They shouldn't have said anything. Now that they said something, they actually do owe it to voters, owe it to the public, to explain what it is that they're looking at and what they're not looking at. Because if they don't do that, they have unfairly tarnished Secretary Clinton and made it very difficult for the voters to actually know what's happening.
TAPPER: So you think he needs to provide, Director Comey needs to provide more information about this case?
MILLER: He does. We're in this worst of all worlds now where having sort of crossed the Rubicon here and opened the door, talking about something that the FBI never talks about, where in an exceptional circumstance, where he needs to come forward and say what this involves. Because it's unfair to have Donald Trump attacking her based on speculation, based on innuendo that the FBI director has caused this letter.
TAPPER: But we already know from FOIA and from WikiLeaks and from e- mails that have been released and also the FBI director that Hillary Clinton and her team were extremely careless with material that they should not have been careless with. I mean, what could be worse than knowing that already?
MILLER: So, I don't agree that we absolutely know that they have been careless. Director Comey said that at his press conference, but then we found out when there was testimony, we looked at other things that she never did receive classified information that was properly marked. There has been a lot of confusion about that.
But we're now back in the situation where we just don't really know the underlying facts. We continue to see e-mails from WikiLeaks, but that apparently is not what this review is about, what Director Comey has been out today. This goes back to, you know, if we believe what people have reported something related to Anthony Weiner. So we don't know all the facts, which is why having opened this door, I think it's incumbent upon him to explain what it is we're looking at.
TAPPER: Well, he's more than welcome to come down here and answer our questions.
Matthew Miller, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Law enforcement now telling CNN that FBI Director Comey felt he had to tell Congress now about the new information potentially pertinent to the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. But is there any chance that this new FBI probe is actually complete before the election? We'll dive into it with our experts, next.