Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings; Russia Trying to Disrupt U.S. Election?; State of the Race; Source: Three U.S. Service Members Killed in Jordan; Fighting Raging as Iraqi Troops Near ISIS Stronghold; Feds Monitoring Multiple Election Threats. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 4, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: the final countdown.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are on a grueling campaign push heading into the last weekend of the presidential race. They're canvassing all the battleground states and plastering the airwaves with increasingly blistering ads. With just four days to go, who will gain momentum?
Shoring up support. The candidates are deploring their biggest guns and famous friends as part of an urgent drive to get out the vote. With turnout crucial to both sides, the campaigns are fixated on the handful of states that could decide the race. What 11th-hour changes are we seeing tonight on the electoral map?
Sowing doubt. Growing concerns that Russia is trying to undermine Tuesday's vote. Tonight, the Homeland Security Department's Cyber Command Center is monitoring multiple threats. Is Vladimir Putin poised to disrupt the U.S. election?
And intense battle. The fight to take back the ISIS stronghold in Iraq is now at its most brutal. Terrorist forces are filling the streets with bombs and gunfire as Iraqi soldiers backed by U.S. troops advance on the city.
And, tonight, new information about three American service members shot and killed in neighboring Jordan.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton now in their fierce final push to Election Day.
With just four days to go, they and their top surrogates, they are blanketing the battleground states, any one of which could determine who will be the next president. We're standing by to hear from both candidates tonight. Clinton is fighting to hold on to her narrow national lead in the polls, as Trump gains ground after a week of more focused campaigning and capitalizing on new developments in Clinton's e-mail controversy, all of it contributing to a shift in our CNN electoral map, which shows Hillary Clinton losing ground tonight on the path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
We're also following breaking news in the battle against ISIS. Iraqi forces with U.S. troops close behind are encountering the fiercest fighting yet, as they close in on Mosul, the ISIS stronghold, in Northern Iraq.
Also tonight, new horror stories are emerging of civilians used as human shields and children as young as 9 being forced to fight alongside ISIS terrorists. We're covering that and much more this hour with our guests, including Congressman Elijah Cummings. He's the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee. He's just called for a Justice Department investigation into FBI leaks he says are designed to benefit the Trump campaign.
And our correspondents and expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's begin with the Trump campaign.
Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, has the very latest.
Jim, Donald Trump is staying on message and he's hammering away at Hillary Clinton.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He is, Wolf.
Donald Trump will be crisscrossing the country over the next 72 hours in the hopes of keeping his momentum going. But with Election Day fast approaching, Trump may have run into a traffic jam on the road to the White House.
AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up!
ACOSTA (voice-over): It's Donald Trump's final pitch, that a Hillary Clinton presidency will be a bad flashback to her husband's problems during the '90s.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Aren't we tired of this stuff? She's likely to be under investigation for a long time, concluding in a criminal trial, our president. America deserves a government that can go to work on day one and get it done.
ACOSTA: Trump insists Clinton's latest e-mail controversy makes her unfit to lead members of the military, like the Medal of Honor recipients he addressed in North Carolina.
TRUMP: To think of her being their boss, I don't think so. And, you know, they're incredible patriots. They would never say a thing. But I know what they're thinking. It's not for them, believe me.
ACOSTA: It's the GOP message voters will hear time and again over the next four days, as Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, barnstorm the country, hitting nearly every swing state while their families and top surrogates fan out to make sure no battleground is left uncovered.
NARRATOR: Hillary Clinton won't change Washington.
ACOSTA: Turn on the TV, the anti-Clinton message is hard to miss.
NARRATOR: After decades of lies and scandal, her corruption is closing in.
ACOSTA: But Trump's battle cry to drain the swamp in Washington...
TRUMP: Drain the swamp.
ACOSTA: ... just hit a major roadblock.
Two allies of one of Trump's top surrogates, Chris Christie, were convicted on all counts of conspiring to cause a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge as political payback for a mayor who refused to support the New Jersey governor.
Trump, who had Christie on his V.P. short list and now has the New Jersey governor in charge of his presidential transition team, once had this to say about the so-called Bridgegate scandal.
TRUMP: Here's the story.
TRUMP: The George Washington Bridge, he knew about it.
ACOSTA: During the primaries, Trump insisted Christie's aides must have told him about it
TRUMP: They didn't say, Chris, tonight, we're closing up the George Washington Bridge because the mayor of a certain area is against you? Oh, OK. They didn't mention it. Nobody believes that.
ACOSTA: It's a late-election distraction for Trump who is trying to stay on script. Even Trump's message discipline has its limits, such as when he praised those Medal of Honor winners for their bravery and then made the moment about himself.
TRUMP: They're so much more brave than me. I wouldn't have done what they did. I'm brave in other ways. I'm brave. I'm financially brave. Big deal, right?
ACOSTA: Now, twice today, Trump claimed that the FBI says that their investigation into Hillary Clinton, Wolf, will somehow lead to an indictment. That appears to be a reference to a FOX News report, Wolf, that said an indictment is looming. However, we should also report that FOX News has now withdrawn that
story. They now say that that story was a mistake. And we also should point out Governor Christie did put out a statement earlier this afternoon saying he maintains he did not know about that scheme to close those lanes on the George Washington Bridge -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jim, thank you, Jim Acosta reporting.
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is bringing in some star power for her campaign event tonight in Cleveland, the rapper Jay-Z.
Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is on the scene for us.
Brianna, Jay-Z is giving a free get-out-the-vote concert. Update us.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
Hillary Clinton is trying to attract young African-American voters, Wolf. They have been slow to support her, including here in Ohio, where she's the underdog in this race, unlike in Pennsylvania, where she began her day and she's enjoying a lead in the polls.
KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton campaigning with billionaire and Donald Trump critic Mark Cuban.
MARK CUBAN, CO-FOUNDER, HDNET: This is somebody who, without thinking twice, stole millions of dollars from 38,000 people. Who does that?
KEILAR: Trying to revive some of the momentum she gained after the debates, as polls tightened amid her e-mail controversy.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you debate in front of 60, 70, 80 million-plus people, you have got to have a sense of preparation. Readiness. Calmness. Composure.
And I will tell you, some of what I heard coming from my opponent, it was really hard not to go, what did you say?
KEILAR: Bill Clinton in Colorado, playing off of Melania Trump's speech Thursday, where she vouched for her husband and spoke out against online bullying.
MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never felt so bad for anybody in my life as I did for his wife going out and giving a speech saying, oh, cyber-bullying was a terrible thing.
(LAUGHTER) B. CLINTON: And I thought, yes, especially if it's done at 3:00 in the morning against a former Miss Universe by a guy running for president.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KEILAR: Hillary Clinton is blanketing battleground states with three stops today, getting assists from her running mate, Tim Kaine, as well as her husband, Bernie Sanders, President Obama, and Vice President Biden, all fanning out across the country.
Clinton will sprint through tossup states this weekend, her final rally Monday night in Philadelphia, her first campaign event with both the president and first lady Michelle Obama. Four days left in this race, Clinton is focusing specifically on women, tailoring her economic message.
H. CLINTON: Honestly, I don't know how he lives with himself. Doesn't he see? Doesn't he see what we see? The millions of moms and dads struggling to make ends meet, balance the demands of work and family? Or does he just not care?
KEILAR: Clinton's economic message buoyed by a good jobs report, with 161,000 jobs added in October.
H. CLINTON: That is 73 straight months of job growth.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
H. CLINTON: And I believe that our economy is poised to really take off and thrive. But we need to make sure the economy is working for everyone, not just those at the top.
KEILAR: President Obama, with a repeat stop in North Carolina, urging voters there to put Clinton over the top on Tuesday.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She's my friend. I trust her. She will be an outstanding president. And her name is Hillary Clinton. And I need you to vote for her.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KEILAR: After being interrupted by a protester clutching a Trump sign, the president pleading with the crowd to remain calm and focus on electing Clinton.
OBAMA: Listen up. Hey. I told you to be focused, and you're not focused right now. Listen to what I'm saying. Hold up. Everybody, sit down and be quiet for a second. Hold up. Hold up. Just relax.
KEILAR: Now, here in Ohio, the latest Quinnipiac University poll, that's the latest national poll that we have been looking at, Wolf, has Hillary Clinton down five points.
Campaign aides know this is going to be a very tough state to win. But, overall, they're more cautiously optimistic, and they say it's because they're looking at who is coming out and voting early, mainly Latino voters and Asian-American voters, who historically tend to vote Democratic -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brianna, thank you, Brianna Keilar in Cleveland for us. Thank you.
New remarks from President Obama tonight about the controversial FBI announcement of a new review of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. The president saying investigators and prosecutors should be independent of politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Historically, both under Democratic and Republican administrations, our goal has been and should be that our investigators are prosecutors are independent of politics, that they're not politicized, that they're not used as a weapon to advantage either side in partisan arguments.
And I want to make sure that we continue with that tradition and with that norm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Last hour, we spoke about all of this with Trump adviser former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Now let's get the other side with Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland. He's the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It's good being with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: So, you're the ranking Democrat, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee. You and your colleague John Conyers just sent a latter asking the Justice Department to investigate the leaks on the Clinton e-mail investigation.
I want to read a little bit of what you write in the letter.
You write this: "It's absolutely unacceptable for the FBI to leak unsubstantiated and in some cases false information about one presidential candidate to benefit the other candidate. Leaking this information to former FBI officials as a conduit to the Trump campaign is equally intolerable."
Here's the question, Congressman. What evidence do you have that makes you believe the FBI is leaking this kind of information with the intention of helping Donald Trump win the election?
CUMMINGS: Well, I'm not sure of why they're doing it.
But you just had Mr. Giuliani on your show a few minutes ago, and he made it clear, Wolf, that he was getting information from former FBI agents.
Now, Mr. Giuliani knows better. He's a former federal prosecutor. You don't use the former prosecutors to launder information coming from the FBI. That's basically what he said. And that's not right.
We don't have a system of justice here where you take, you know, innuendo and vague announcements and put people's careers and lives and livelihood in jeopardy. We just don't do that.
As you know, Wolf, as a reporter and one who has been in the business of communicating for a long time, normally, when you ask the FBI whether there is an investigation, 99.999 percent, they say, no comment. We're not going to tell you we are or we are not.
And here, almost on a daily basis, sometimes three and four times a day, we have been getting these leaks coming out of the FBI. And it should concern all of us.
And, Wolf, let me tell you something else. This election is bigger than Hillary Clinton. It is bigger than Donald Trump. This is about our democracy and our essential institutions like the FBI that people must have trust in. And that's very, very important.
We're going to have to maintain that. So we're going to see where it goes.
BLITZER: Are you suggesting -- and I know you and Congressman Conyers, you want the inspector general, the Department of Justice, to investigate these leaks. Are you suggesting that either current or former FBI agents who are leaking this kind of information, are they actually committing a crime?
CUMMINGS: I don't know what they're doing.
And I'm not going to, Wolf, do what others have done. I'm just asking the I.G. to look into this.
Keep in mind that I am the ranking member of Government Reform and Oversight. And I heard Mr. Chaffetz, on the chairman, talking to you yesterday about what we have done together with regard to the Secret Service, when we put our country above party. We were able to get some things done.
And I'm hoping that he is going to join me in this, because nobody, not anybody, particularly us members of Congress, should sit around and tolerate information just being put out there and very vaguely, and then to have leaks day after day after day, sometimes three or four times a day, and it puts people like Hillary Clinton in a horrible position, because you cannot defend it. And one of the things that happens is that -- and any lawyer will tell
you this -- just the investigation itself, just an investigation, just putting out this information itself, can be extremely damaging.
And, then after the election, people will say, well, it was not the case. Well, we want to make sure that these things don't happen.
BLITZER: But as you know, Congressman, the FBI director himself, James Comey, he's the one who said that they have reopened or that at least they're reviewing, they're taking another look at the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. He made a public statement on that. Do you have confidence in the director, the FBI director?
CUMMINGS: Yes, I do.
I think that Director Comey is an honorable man, and I have said that over and over again. But I think he made a mistake here. He made a mistake when he first came into our committee back in July and said that he was not bringing the charges, and that -- then he characterized how he viewed the evidence.
Let me tell you, Wolf, that never happens. Usually, the FBI does an investigation. Information is turned over to Justice. Justice makes a determination as to whether they go forward. At that time -- and you all don't play this clip -- but, at that time, I asked him, I said, Director, with all due respect, don't you think you're going to -- going down a slippery slope here, because now you have opened the doors?
And I told him, I said, I know the Republicans on this committee, and they are now going to investigate you and investigate the investigation.
And I think that what happened with Director Comey is that he had a lot of pressure. He knew that the committee, our committee had already subpoenaed, that is, Mr. Chaffetz, had already subpoenaed almost everything in his file, in his file with regard to Hillary Clinton.
And that's something else that's unheard of. And so now the Republicans got the entire investigative file, and they got it for one reason. And that was to continue to pound the FBI until they were able to get some type of charges in this case.
And it's so very, very unfair. And so I think that Comey knew that was happening. And so he said, well, let me just put that -- the information out there. And, again, what he is saying is, look, we came upon some new information. We don't know exactly whether they're duplicates. But one of the things is that we want to take a look at it, and we want to check it out for classification. It may not be anything there.
But the other thing, Wolf, is, let's keep in mind, when Comey did come before our committee back in July, he sent 20 all-star FBI agents. His senior people had looked at this, investigated it carefully, and came to a unanimous decision that there was no intent to obstruct, and there was no intent to perform a crime.
So, I mean, come on. I think -- but, again, I think -- Wolf, I think the public is missing something here. And that is that this is not -- this is bigger than Hillary. This is bigger than Trump. This is about preserving our democracy and preserving our institutions.
BLITZER: Congressman, there's much more to discuss. I need to take a quick break.
We will resume our conversation right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland. He's the ranking member of the House Oversight Government Reform Committee.
Congressman, yesterday, I spoke with your colleague the chairman of the committee, Jason Chaffetz. I want you to listen to what he said when I asked him, because he earlier said he has two years of material to investigate Hillary Clinton on all sorts of areas. He said he was going to do so, certainly if she's elected president of the United States, but listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: If she's not elected president, are you still going to plan on having two years of hearings on her?
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Yes, yes, absolutely.
Look, I'm guessing how long this is going to take. Look at what we did with the Secret Service. I think Elijah Cummings and I came together in a very bipartisan way. We saw a mess that was happening in the Secret Service. That investigation and that cleanup still continues to this day. I'm going to take that same philosophy and approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, so, Congressman, will you work with the chairman, Chairman Chaffetz, to investigate Hillary Clinton, whether she wins or loses, over the next two years?
CUMMINGS: I'm going to do my duty and work with the chairman, but I'm hoping that the chairman will do something that's very important here.
I'm hoping that he will put country over party. And I'm hoping he will also be joining with me as we look at these Russian hacks of the DNC and that we look at the FBI leaks. I hope that he will join me when we look at any relationship that Mr. Trump may have had with regard to the Russian government and possibly doing harm to our electoral process.
And so, yes, I will work with him. But I also want him, again, to put country over party.
BLITZER: As you also know, there's some other Republicans who are openly now talking about impeachment, impeachment if Hillary Clinton wins the election. You're a supporter of Hillary Clinton.
BLITZER: So tell us how you're going to react if they start impeachment procedures. Presumably, the Republicans will still be the majority in the House of Representatives.
CUMMINGS: Well, a lot of people don't understand, Wolf, that they who have power have all power.
They can -- they literally set the agenda. If the Republicans are in control -- and I'm hoping that they won't be. But the fact is, is that we have to make sure that whatever process comes forward is a fair process.
But more significant than that, how in the world, in our democracy, before somebody is even elected, they start talking about impeachment? They still -- I still don't know what they are trying to impeach her over, and it reminds me, Wolf, of Mr. McConnell eight years ago, when the first thing he said, I think it was on Inauguration Day of Barack Obama, he said that he will -- his number one priority was that he not have a second term.
Now it's gotten worse. And that really bothers me, that, here we are, we're supposed to have a system of government whereby the voters go, they vote, and they make a decision, and then everybody comes together after the decision and, again, putting country over party, and do things for the benefit of the American people.
Well, when you start off like that, talking about an impeachment before you even -- she even gets into office, I think that's a very, very sad day. And, again, I think we have got to be very careful with our democracy and guard it, because I'm telling you, this election has shown a lot.
It shows that we have got a presidential candidate that he himself has been talking about impeachment. He himself, a presidential candidate who is -- seems like he's in love with Mr. Putin, who is not a friend of the United States.
And then we see these hacks on our computer systems. And then we see the kinds of things that is going on with regard to the FBI. It's just a lot here. And so I'm appealing to the American people right now go out there and vote. This is not about Hillary Clinton. This is not about Donald Trump.
This is about our democracy and preserving it. We go around touting democracy, Wolf, all over the world, but if we do not have trust in our systems like the FBI, CIA, and others, then what good is it? The other -- the rest of the world will laugh at us and say, what, you mean that's a democracy?
We have got to guard it, and I'm going to guard it with everything I have got until the day I die.
BLITZER: Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland, as usual, thank you so much for joining us.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
BLITZER: I just want to remind our viewers, the last hour, we spoke with Rudy Giuliani, got a very different perspective from him.
There's more breaking news coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're learning new details of multiple election threats being monitored tonight by the Department of Homeland Security.
Plus, President Obama takes his supporters to task when a Trump protester tries to disrupt a Clinton rally. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Hey, everybody. Hey, hey, listen up. Hey, I told you to be focused, and you're not focused right now. Listen to what I'm saying. Hold up. Hold up. Hold up. Everybody, sit down and be quiet for a second.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're following a growing number of threats surrounding the U.S. election just four days from now, including possible cyber- attacks and terror plots.
[18:32:42] Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is working the story for us. Jim, federal officials apparently taking these threats very seriously.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question. U.S. authorities are following very closely at least one terror threat tied to the election. At the same time, an expansive cyber-attack by Russia on the election process is under way and has been for weeks. To be clear, this is important: U.S. officials do not believe cyber- attacks can alter the result of this election. However, they do see a concerted effort to undermine confidence in the vote.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Tonight, growing concerns that Russia is waging an information operation to sow doubts about the U.S. election, several U.S. officials tell CNN.
JEH JOHNSON, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: This is something that the Department of Homeland Security, along with state election officials, have been very, very focused on. I have a lot of confidence in the integrity of our ballot counting process. I have a lot of confidence in the security and cyber-security around the process run by state and local election officials.
SCIUTTO: Here at the Department of Homeland Security cyber command center, they're now monitoring multiple threats. There's growing concern that more hacked documents and e-mails targeting campaigns could be released in the coming days, including potentially, documents faked or altered by Russia.
The U.S. has also detected the probing of state voter registration systems, at least one of which has been linked to Russia, though they have yet to see those systems tampered with.
The Department of Homeland Security is now coordinating efforts with all 50 states to prevent hacks, scanning computer systems to identify vulnerabilities. However, U.S. officials and cyber experts made clear that the risk of actually changing the election result is minuscule.
DMITRI ALPEROVITCH, CO-FOUNDER, CROWDSTRIKE INC.: These machines are mostly offline. There's paper ballots that can be checked in most of these places and verified that the electronic result matches to what is printed on the ballot. So it's almost impossible to actually hack this election, but it's certainly possible for someone to claim it's hacked and to try to influence the public that way.
SCIUTTO: Still, sewing doubts and disrupting the voting process is easier. The department will monitor for so-called denial of service attacks, targeting voter information, mapping and news websites.
Today, the Russian-linked hacking group Gusifer tweeted what appeared to be a threat: "I'll be an independent observer at the U.S. election 2016. I call on other hackers to monitor the elections from inside the system." This minutes after another tweet accusing Democrats of rigging the vote.
[18:35:15] This as law enforcement officials, already on high alert, are monitoring intercepted conversations among al Qaeda adherents overseas about potential plots targeting New York, Texas, and Virginia. But officials stressed to CNN that the threat is nonspecific and could be idle chatter.
COMMISSIONER JAMES O'NEILL, NEW YORK POLICE: It's nonspecific, and right now, we're assessing the credibility of it. But we're geared up to go all the time.
SCIUTTO: Another election hacking concern, cyber-attacks that disrupt how the vote count is reported to news outlets, including our own. Of course, misreported results could cause confusion, even questions about the final result.
This is all straight out of the Russian playbook. It has being doing the same in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine. Wolf, it's really incredible to say this, but we should not be surprised if we see attacks in these many categories in the days leading up to the election and on election day. BLITZER: Is it the motivation to try to help Donald Trump be
president of the United States or simply to interfere in the U.S. election process?
SCIUTTO: U.S. intelligence agents who say that the goal is to interfere in the process, no doubt. There are others, Adam Schiff among them, who have been briefed on the intelligence. He says, in his words, you have to be willfully blind to not believe that Russia is trying to tilt this election one day. But that's just his analysis.
BLITZER: He's the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff.
Julia Ioffe, let's talk a little. You've been doing a lot of reporting on this. What are the Russians up to? What is all the information you're gleaning right now?
JULIA IOFFE, COLUMNIST, "FOREIGN POLICY": Well, on top of Jim's excellent report, I do want to ad, you remember a couple of weeks ago, there was a giant wave of DDOs attacks, first across -- early morning, 7 a.m. across the East Coast, a number of websites, Facebook, Twitter...
BLITZER: Denial of service.
IOFFE: Denial of service attacks, where a bunch of things like baby monitors, microwaves, were commandeered to overwhelm servers with fake requests, shutting these websites down.
Then you saw it spread to the West Coast, once the stuff on the East Coast was subdued.
So this is actually a classic -- we don't know that it came from Russia, but it's a classic thing that Russia does. They did this to the Estonian government in 2007. They have done this domestically every time there's an election or there's an important event coming up. Protests, for example, in 2011 and 2012, when there was a wave of anti-Putin protests. On the eve of those protests, inevitably, Twitter would be down, Facebook would be down, opposition news sites would be down.
So just kind of interfering with things and also showing people that we can do this. You think you're -- you think you're strong. You think you, America, are a superpower. We can come right into your backyard and flip some switches.
BLITZER: Well, the U.S. has capabilities, Jim Sciutto, as well. I understand that, through diplomatic channels, the U.S. has told the Russians, "Stop it," the implication being the U.S. could retaliate, do some stuff itself. What are you hearing?
SCIUTTO: That's right. But to this point, the president, to our knowledge, has not made the decision for retaliatory attacks. And the reason being, one, concern that this could lead to escalation. You attack more, they attack back more. The president, the White House apparently also concerned that this is
-- that retaliation would be something left to the next president, right, that you have another leader being chosen just in four days' time. So those are all concerns.
The thing is, those messages have been conveyed, but those messages have not changed Russian behavior.
BLITZER: What about these terror threats? All of a sudden, you mention three states that may be getting terror threats. How credible are they?
SCIUTTO: So we've spoken to multiple counterterror officials. Their word is that it's not specific. The credibility is still in question.
There are others who have been briefed on the intelligence, and Adam Schiff, to mention his name again, but as you said, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, who said from his perspective, this is a more serious concern than he's heard to date. And we should acknowledge that around election time is a natural time for terror groups to try to take advantage of when all eyes are on America to maximize the impact of any attack.
BLITZER: Pretty scary stuff all around. I want to get to politics, Dana. Let's talk about the states where the Democrats are really focusing their attention right now. Talk a little bit about that.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's just start with North Carolina. That is the state. First, let's go back in time. It was expected, given the fact that it flipped in -- from 2008 to 2012.
But look at where we are right now, just with early voting. I know Mark Preston has been looking at these numbers intensely, but look at that middle right there, the African-American vote, 28 percent in 2012. Twenty-three percent now so far in 2016. That is a significant drop. Expected to have some drop, given the fact that Barack Obama was on the ballot.
But that is significant enough to get Democrats extremely worried, particularly because that 28 percent was in North Carolina in 2012, and President Obama didn't even win then. I mean, Mitt Romney won narrowly.
[18:40:00] BLITZER: But he has gone up among white -- white voters...
BLITZER: ... 67 percent back in 2012. Seventy-three percent now.
BASH: Which -- which just by history tells us that that would benefit Donald Trump. That, just based on the general demographics of how Donald Trump's voters have looked, that that could benefit Donald Trump. You know, we won't know exactly who these people are voting for until we start to see the returns come in on election day.
But that is one of the main reasons you've seen President Obama go down to North Carolina and really try to get out the vote.
BLITZER: This early voting, Mark Preston, in North Carolina, which by the way, ends, I take it, tomorrow before the election day on Tuesday.
Let's take a look at Florida right now. We've got results from early voting in Florida, as well. We'll put it up on the screen. You can see in Florida, white, Hillary Clinton 71 percent now. Back in President Obama got 72 percent. African-American, he got 16 percent, down to -- it's 12 percent now. Hispanic, 10 percent in 2008; turnout early voting, 14 percent right now.
SCIUTTO: So what that shows us is that Florida has become a more diverse electorate than we've seen in the past. And, you know, those numbers from 2008, so we're going back eight years now and comparing to where we are now in 2016.
Democrats are very happy, of course, by the Hispanic vote, because we've seen an increase of 336,000 more Hispanics that have participated in the early vote process, as we stand today, than they did eight years ago.
But to Dana's point, the African-American vote is dipping down. Now, we would expect it to dip down. Barack Obama, first African-American president. Of course, he runs for re-election. But the fact is, that's why we're going to see Barack Obama head back into Florida on Sunday. We're going to see Hillary Clinton back in on Sunday, as well.
This is one of those states where Democrats feel that they need to defeat Donald Trump, whether it's going to be Florida or North Carolina, two states that we've been spending a lot of time on, specifically because we've seen Donald Trump erode away at her lead in some of these blue wall states that we're talking about: Michigan, Colorado, and now, of course, New Hampshire.
BLITZER: Large Latino population in Arizona, not just in Florida, Nevada. Right now the Clinton campaign is really hoping they turn out and help her.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. The interesting thing about Florida, in particular, is that usually Republicans can count on the Cuban-American vote.
This time, there's a new Univision poll, and it says 49 to 42 percent -- 49 percent are for Donald Trump; 42 percent aren't. That's not normal.
The other thing that Democrats really can look forward to in Florida, 71 percent of the Puerto Rican community are -- like Hillary Clinton. And that's a million people in the -- that critical I-4 corridor. So they really do have reasons, there are these bright spots in some states that they're kind of nervous about.
Nevada, as well. Nevada -- sorry, pulling a double Trump there. Is somewhere where -- we've also seem then be under-polled. So it will be interesting to see the number that actually come out on election day.
BLITZER: These are just -- 30 million people have already voted, Dana. Maybe another 80 or 90 million people are still going to vote, either in early voting or on Tuesday.
BASH: Exactly. And, you know, part of the push from Republicans in particular was to get their early vote out, because their voters are more traditional election-day voters. And they have been working very hard with some success in some states, less success in others.
As for Democrats, they've been pushing extremely hard. There's more opportunity for early vote this time around. And remember, back in 2012, President Obama didn't win on election day. He won with the early vote. So that's why this is so critical.
And one other point I want to make about President Obama going to these places and other surrogates and even the candidate -- candidates themselves. These are not just about getting people fired up. It's actually getting people to the polls. When they gather thousands of people, they use that as a get-out-the-vote opportunity to get those people not just to come and hear a speech but they actually then go vote.
BLITZER: They've got buses waiting to take them to the polling places.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Right. And just to add onto that, That's why we see Jon Bon Jovi doing a concert in North Carolina this weekend. He's doing a concert in Florida. As we speak right now, Stevie Wonder is up in Pennsylvania. We saw Jay-Z in Ohio today.
So they're trying to use the Democratic star power that's often ridiculed by Republicans to try to draw people out to these areas, these masses of people, and then get them to vote.
BLITZER: Any indication -- yesterday, Melania Trump, she spoke outside of Philadelphia, a critically important area, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Any indication that it's having an impact?
PRESTON: Well, we wouldn't know this early. I mean, look, she gave a very short speech. I don't know how much impact it will have actually have. I'm not sure how much she actually has in common with suburban white voters in Philadelphia.
But she did provide a little bit of a softer side, if she can, for Donald Trump. I'm not sure that that's actually the easiest thing to do. You know, and she was ridiculed for talking about what her goal was, to try to stop cyber bullying, given the fact that her husband is arguably the biggest cyber bully. But having said that, you know, we talked about this last night: pretty admirable cause.
[18:45:05] I just -- I don't think Melania Trump is going to be the one who's going the turn it for Donald Trump.
BASH: But, Pennsylvania -- BLITZER: Yes. I was going to -- finish your thought.
BASH: I was going to say, Pennsylvania is tightening, so anything that they can get to help, particularly in those critical Philadelphia suburbs, they'll take.
BLITZER: It could be critical. You wrote an important article in "GQ" about Melania Trump, her roots back in Slovenia. She didn't like the article, she wrote. She was threatening to sue "GQ." That's where you publish the article. Has that lawsuit come forward?
JULIA IOFFE, COLUMNIST, FOREIGN POLICY: No, because there were no grounds to sue us on. First, she said it was inaccurate wasn't. So she didn't contest any facts in it. And she also said it was invading her family's privacy, but, you know, if you're the wife of -- you're a public figure if you're the wife of the Republican nominee at that point, he was the Republican front-runner -- too bad, no more privacy. Should have had that argument with Donald before he ran.
BLITZER: I'm curious. Since you've studied her, you've learned a lot about her, you went to her home country. What did you speak of her speech yesterday?
IOFFE: I'm a Melaniaologist.
IOFFE: You know, I thought her speech was like every other speech she gives. It's full of these banalities that are completely vanilla, and, you know, about how great Donald Trump is, what a great heart he has and what a great leader he's going to be, and what a lovely childhood she had in Slovenia and how much she loves America, it's -- you know, she's trotting out there in this very kind of controlled way.
Most of the time she comes out, it's an unmitigated disaster. Either she's plagiarizing the first lady of the United States or says something like, you know, accusing the recipient of anti-Semitic attacks of provoking it. She tends to do something to mess it up. This time, you know, it kind of went off without a hitch. It was bland, it was good. Didn't cause any kerfuffle.
Except for the -- you know, the ridiculous thing of her --
BLITZER: You received a lot of that anti-Semitic reaction based on that one article.
IOFEE: Yes, I did.
BLITZER: Hopefully, that's gone away.
BLITZER: It hasn't?
IOFFE: No. BLITZER: Still getting that?
BLITZER: All right. It's really an awful situation.
Let's talk about the jobs numbers that came out today, Jackie -- 4.9 percent unemployment. Jobs numbers were 161,000 jobs created last month. This is the 73rd month in a row there's been an increase in the number of jobs. At this late stage, is that a major benefit to Hillary Clinton's campaign? She's running on a legacy of President Obama.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, it doesn't hurt, and it's good that they have President Obama out there, because he's a very good messenger when it comes to the economy. However, it's been very slow. This has been a very slow recovery and there are people out there who haven't felt it.
And there's also -- another thing that was in this jobs number, there aren't as many people look for work anymore. So, it's -- Donald Trump has really used that effectively as part of his message, that they've forgotten about you. They're touting these jobs numbers don't have anything to do with you. They don't care.
So I think that is something that he's been able to exploit and he will continue doing so, even though this was a good jobs report.
BLITZER: Dana, let me play a little clip at a moment when the president was at a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and a Donald Trump supporter got up and interrupted. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hey! Listen up! Hey! I told you to be focused and you're not focused right now. Listen to what I'm saying. Hold up!
Hold up! Hold up! Hold up! Everybody, sit down and be quiet for a second. Everybody, sit down and be quiet for a second.
Now listen up! I'm serious, listen up!
You've got an older gentleman who is supporting his candidate. He's not doing nothing. You don't have to worry about him.
This is what I mean about folks not being focused. First of all, first of all -- hold up! Hold up! First of all, we live in a country that respects free speech. So, second of all, it looks like maybe he might have served in our military, and we' got to respect that. Third of all, he was elderly, and we've got to respect our elders. And fourth of all, don't boo. Vote!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(LAUGHTER) BLITZER: A lot of us remember, Dana, I'm sure you do, too, how many times was a protester at a Donald Trump rally when Donald Trump was simply saying, get him out of here and throw him out of here and all of that.
[18:50:02] BASH: Exactly.
BLITZER: When the president was saying hold up, he was telling his supporters, don't overact.
BASH: Exactly. Two things came to mine as I was watching that. One is, you know, you could kind of take him and put him in front of a high school class as like the principal coming in to tell everybody to stop the food fight. Or the other thing was that it was very, very clear that he was trying to say, hey, Mr. Trump, this is how it's done. This is how it's done. Somebody that protests, you applaud free speech, you thank him for his activity and democracy, it doesn't matter who we vote for and you move on.
BLITZER: It was a nice moment indeed.
All right, guys. Stay with us. And stay with CNN for this complete weekend for a complete coverage of the presidential race. All-day coverage on election day, of course, only four days from now.
We have more breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. ISIS now said to be forcing children as young as nine to fight alongside terrorist forces as Iraqi troops close in.
BLITZER: Breaking news tonight. Fierce fighting as Iraqi troops back by U.S. forces are closing in on the ISIS stronghold in the city of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.
[18:55:06] Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is working the story for us.
The fighting, Barbara, is clearly intensifying.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf, this very ugly fight now going street by street and this is just the beginning.
STARR (voice-over): Tonight, the battle for Mosul at its most brutal point yet, as Iraqi army tanks continue to advance. ISIS fighters unleashing bombs and gunfire on the streets.
Some Iraqi units arranging to pull back at least for now.
CNN's Arwa Damon is on the front lines.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They have been coming across quite a bit of sniper fire, gunfire, mortar rounds, rocket propelled grenades, and of course car bombs, suicide car bombs. For civilians, the horror is unending as ISIS takes human shields.
RAVINA SHAMDASANI, UNHCR SPOKESWOMAN: Since the 17th of October, ISIL has also reported they have been forcibly recruiting children from the age of nine or ten as fighters in Mosul.
STARR: Some civilians are escaping. This woman says ISIS forced people to stay on their houses without food or water. She and her family ran for their lives.
But ISIS ranks may be fracturing.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: There have been multiple reports about dissension in the ranks, disgruntlement. They're coming from the fighters up towards the senior leadership.
STARR: ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi urging his followers in an audiotape to keep fighting in Mosul. A sign U.S. officials believe that the terrorist leader is worried he's losing ground in support of his troops.
STARR: And more difficult news for three U.S. military families today, Wolf. Three service members killed in a shooting incident at the Jordan military base. The service members were there as military trainers. That entire incident now under investigation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Barbara, thanks very much. Barbara Starr reporting from the Pentagon.
We have some more breaking news right now. Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is joining us.
So, what's the next step, Elise, for the Obama administration once Iraqi forces take Mosul and liberate that city?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as we've been discussing the campaign to reclaim Mosul from ISIS is ahead of schedule. But that just puts the planning for the day after farther behind. It is intensifying concerns that the U.S. and its partners have not adequately prepared for the biggest challenge, which is finding a way to keep the peace and the U.S. is going to be faced with power struggles among Mosul's diverse ethnic, tribal and religious groups.
You remember the Bush administration criticism after the Iraq war for not preparing to secure and hold the country. The U.S. facing similar concerns from allies, diplomats say they are concerned the U.S. hasn't learned those lessons of Iraq and there hasn't been enough planning. There's no agreement yet who should control Mosul, once ISIS is kicked out.
Now, U.S. officials acknowledged today after the plan is a very much a work in progress, but they say the task is so complicated, it would have indefinitely delayed the campaign to kick ISIS out if they waited until all those questions were answered and they say what they have done in terms of getting the Kurds and the Iraqi government in Baghdad to work together to fight ISIS which really, Wolf, has been one of the to remarkable things of this campaign will pay off the day after.
BLITZER: Elise, ISIS is definitely weakened, but even when Mosul is back in the hands of the Iraqi government, the job clearly as you point out, won't be over. President Clinton or President Trump, whoever is elected, will have to figure how to keep ISIS on the run. What are you hearing about that?
LABOTT: Well, that's right. That's certainly going to be one of the first concerns of the next president. The Pentagon is also eyeing the offensive on Raqqah and hopes it will fall soon. But there will be a huge stabilization and reconstruction effort from both of those operations.
Large parts of Iraq have been destroyed. You have the political reconciliation that must take place. I think the U.S. is going to be very involved in pushing Prime Minister Abadi to work with the Kurds on near and long-term planning for post-ISIS.
You also have to worry about a possible ISIS insurgence that could live in the remote areas of the Iraq like al Qaeda did, which is why the U.S. has to think, Wolf, about what type of long time presence. There's been some talk about some residual force. Iraq was relatively calm if you remember when U.S. forces left the last time in 2011.
But you saw how quickly ISIS was able to spread. So, there are going a lot of challenges and hard choices if are the next president, Wolf.
BLITZER: Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, reporting for us. Elise, thanks very much for that report.
That's it for me. Thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.