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Feds Reveal Russia And Iran have Interfered With Presidential Election; "Washington Post:" Trump Weighs Firing FBI Director After Election As Frustration With Wray, Barr Grows; Obama Delivers Blistering Rebuke Of Trump On Eve Of Debate As He Returns To Campaign Trail For Biden-Harris; Obama: Trump's Actions Embolden Others To Be Cruel, Racist; Biden Has Substantial Cash Advantage Over Trump In Final Weeks, New Filings Show. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 21, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Erin, thanks and because we continue to learn more about this breaking story by the minute, I want to go back to bring back a CNN's Evan Perez for just to kind of go deeper into this.

Evan, if you can just talk about what this press -- what came out of this? Evan, hey, can you hear me? It's Anderson.


COOPER: Okay, we are on the air right now. Can you just go into some detail about what we heard now from the D.N.I. and from Chris Wray of the F.B.I.?

PEREZ: Well, we heard -- Anderson, we heard from John Ratcliffe, the head of -- the Director of National Intelligence that both Iran and Russia have gained access to a voter registration system, and appeared to at least have access to that data.

Now, the question is, what can they do with that? With the Iranians, according to Ratcliffe, they were behind a series of e-mails that have been received around the country, Democratic voters were getting these e-mails --

COOPER: Right. Florida, Alaska, and I think at least one other state in particular.

PEREZ: Right. And they were being threatened to say you have to change your registration. We're going to be watching you. And if you don't, we're going to come after you.

And so the implication was that these people, whoever these hackers were, could perhaps see how you voted, and so that was a concern that I think the Intelligence Community, the F.B.I. had about these e-mails and these threats that voters were getting around the country. And so that's the reason why you saw this rushed press conference.

I've never had -- I've never seen the F.B.I. do a hurried press conference like this. You know, it's a very unusual situation, but it gives you an indication -- it is an indication of how worried they are about the next couple of weeks, about the potential for foreign countries to try to do influence operations that could cause chaos in this country.

COOPER: So Evan, I want to read something that John Ratcliffe said at this press conference, because I find it a little confusing. He said, "To that end, we have already seen Iran sending spoofed e-mails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump.

You may have seen some reporting on this in the last 24 hours, or you may have even been one of the recipients of those e-mails. Additionally, Iran is distributing other content to include a video that implies that individuals could cast fraudulent ballots even from overseas. This video claims about such allegedly fraudulent ballots are not true." This is a transcript, I'm sorry, it's got little inaccuracies. "These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries."

He is saying those e-mails that people receive, the Democratic voters received, saying, we know you're a Democrat. You need to vote for Trump. We're going to be watching you, threatening Democrats to vote for Trump. He is saying somehow that is designed to damage President Trump. Isn't it designed to damage also Joe Biden?

PEREZ: Yes, I mean, look, it's a little bit confusing to see that. But I think what he is going after, and again, I'm trying to figure out exactly how he is sort of rationalizing this. But I think because these threats were being purported to come from the Proud Boys who are of course, associated supporters of President Trump that it would be seen as Trump supporters threatening Democratic voters, and in that way, trying to essentially undermine President Trump.

I think the larger point that perhaps Ratcliffe is not capturing is that this is about sowing chaos in this country. The Iranians don't really care. They want -- this is what the Intelligence Community believes. The Iranians simply want to divide Americans, want to exploit the divisions that already exist, and use some of these messages that people are getting because they know that this is a very divided country. People are going to amplify some of these things, and perhaps set people up against each other.

COOPER: And Evan, did Ratcliffe or Christopher Wray, and we should point out Chris Wray is, you know, a straight shooter. He's not a politician. He comes from a legal background. His entire career has been as an attorney. And he has obviously been criticized heavily by the by the President.

Ratcliffe comes from the world of politics. He is clearly an ideologue, which is I guess why I'm asking this question about why he is sort of shaping this as this is to damage Trump. Has he said anything or did Chris Wray say anything about what actually Russia has been doing?

PEREZ: They said very little about it. They said that they know that Russians have gotten into the system. They haven't seen any activity from the Russians about, you know, to see what they're doing with that information that they've obtained.

Now, this is the same activity that the Russians had back in 2016. We know that there were into some systems. They ended up not actually doing anything at least that's the assessment of the Intelligence Community. So it's possible that it's a repeat of that. They were simply getting in to see how the systems work.


PEREZ: And of course, we can't rest easy. They we understand that today, some of the states were told to try to patch up some of their systems, to make sure that these countries can't get in there. But I think you're right. I mean, one of the things that people like Ratcliffe have tried to emphasize is, you know, the activity by countries that are trained and meant to damage President Trump, not so much the activity that the Russians are doing, and we know that they are doing it to try to support and prop up President Trump's campaign.

They want President Trump to win. That's the assessment of the Intelligence Community. We didn't hear so much of that from this press conference today.

And I think you heard from Chris Wray, his point is simply that you know, President -- the American voters need to be careful about what information they're getting online and what they're spreading.

COOPER: All right, Evan Perez, Appreciate it. Evan, stick around and I'm sure you'll be getting more information as we talk.

Joining us now former F.B.I. Director -- Deputy Director and CNN contributor, Andrew McCabe; CNN election law analyst Rick Hasen; CNN political director, David Chalian, and CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem.

Andrew, what do you make of this announcement? How it was done? What you heard from them? Again, because I'm -- it sounds like I did not see this press conference. So but it sounds like they didn't really go into detail on Russia. But the D.N.I. is saying that this Iran activity of threatening Democratic voters was designed to hurt Trump. I don't know if he spoke about the attempted effect on Biden's campaign?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, that's a great question. I think there's a number of things that kind of reached out to us here. I think just provisionally the fact that they held this press conference about election meddling by foreign powers so close to the election itself shows you how far we've come from 2016.

This is exactly the sort of thing that was considered in 2016, and of course, the administration opted not to go very forcefully proactively with the statement about Russian meddling and there has been a lot of criticism of that decision in the aftermath.

So I think what you're seeing now is an Intelligence community, certainly an F.B.I. and joined by the D.N.I. tonight, trying to lean a little further forward to have that sort of inoculation effect on the electorate to let people know that they should be skeptical consumers of information that they see online.

Whether or not the D.N.I.'s comments about Iran and the purpose of the Iranian meddling and whether or not they were trying to help or hurt President Trump, quite frankly, I'd like to see more about that. There should be really solid analysis underpinning that judgment and I just don't think we've gotten enough of that detail from the information that was shared with the press this evening.

COOPER: Juliette, I mean, the Trump administration, particularly D.N.I. Ratcliffe, who, you know, has been downplaying potential Russian efforts, and I don't want to make this political, but it just jumps out at me at this stage right away, they are not really talking about Russian efforts and they are talking about the Iranian efforts as being somehow against President Trump, when those e-mails that were sent out to Democratic voters threatening them, telling them to vote for Trump.

I get sort of the three-dimensional chess of it, it sort of, in a roundabout way hurts President Trump because people think it's the Proud Boys and therefore link it to Trump. But it is also just trying to scare Democrats about voting for Joe Biden.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's -- that would be what a rational person would believe, so I don't think we need to apologize for being politically skeptical about Ratcliffe at this stage. You know, he doesn't deserve the luxury of apolitical-ness at the stage, given what he has done over the last couple of weeks to make it clear that they view for example, some of the Russian disinformation about Biden as accurate.

So I'm not going to you know -- so I sort of view Ratcliffe as different. I think the fact is, as Andrew McCabe said, you know, the fact that the Deputy Director was there -- I mean the director of the F.B.I. and others were there.

My takeaway is this: other countries are messing with us. They are getting caught easily let's remember this now. They knew that they were going to get caught. This is a public disinformation campaign to mess with us.

The purpose of doing it clearly was to go after Democrats. I don't quite get how this hurts Donald Trump and fourth, and here is the good news. It was -- it was acknowledged. There was a press conference. We're preparing the American public. We're preparing the state and locals and there is no evidence that votes were changed.


KAYYEM: So I look at the good news come for the next two weeks, and I do think that this was an important statement. And I think what we have to remember is the Iranians and possibly the Russians know they are getting caught at this stage. So this is just a little bit of mind games going on right now that we just have to fight back with equal mind games, so to speak.

COOPER: Before we go to everyone else, I just want to bring back in Evan Perez. Evan, I understand you've got something.

PEREZ: No, Anderson. I mean, I think what Juliet Kayyem is underscoring is very important here, because I think you're right. There's a lot of information that we don't have about what exactly the F.B.I. and what the Intelligence Community has that sort of explains more about this activity, and certainly what the Russians are doing.

I think, one of the things that I think the guests were pointing out was the fact the importance of having the F.B.I. Director there, and some of the other officials simply because Ratcliffe has been seen as such a politically partisan person.

And I think this was to give confidence to the voters, especially Democrats that what's being heard here is the real deal.

COOPER: Rick, I want to play some of what we heard from director of National Intelligence, Ratcliffe. Let's listen.


JOHN RATCLIFFE, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We have confirmed that some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran and separately by Russia. This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos, and undermine your confidence in American democracy.

To that end, we have already seen Iran sending spoofed e-mails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump.


COOPER: What we've heard tonight from the F.B.I. from the D.N.I.

RICHARD L. HASEN, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: So this is, you know, if you listen to that word "obtain," almost anyone can obtain voter registration information. It's not clear to me from this statement that what we have here is the same as what we had in 2016, which was the Russians using phishing activities to be able to break into state voter registration databases and sniff around and I think, undermine voter confidence that our election systems are secure.

This may have simply been buying or downloading from the internet, which you can do voter information, including party registration information, then perhaps the Iranians took that party registration information, looked for Democrats and sent out these Proud Boys e- mails.

So it's really cryptic. We don't know exactly what's going on. But you know, it's being portrayed potentially as hacking. It's not necessarily hacking at this point. It is an attempt to try to sow discord and disinformation. I do think, to that extent, it is a good thing that the F.B.I. is getting out in front. I'm not sure why they needed to call a press conference so quickly, and didn't want to just hit it in the next morning.

COOPER: David Chalian, politically, any kind of impact, you think?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think you're right to be skeptical around the politics around this. I'm not sure why it matters right now, in terms of these officials trying to communicate to voters and make them aware that these foreign entities are trying to interfere with the election. Why it matters who they are trying to help politically right now.

What matters is getting that information out so that voters are aware to be suspect when they see some phishing e-mail, you know, that is trying to influence their vote or create division. That's what's important, far more so than this notion that Ratcliffe is putting out there about Iran trying to hurt Trump.

I just don't think we have enough information about that to understand whether they're doing that in some way that actually has electoral impact.

COOPER: Yes, I just found it interesting that that's the kind of the spin, Juliette that he is putting on at this stage. But I think the point is absolutely right. What's important is not so much the spin anybody is putting on it, it's just the facts of what actually happened and we don't really know, a lot of details, certainly on the Russian's side at this point, Juliette.

KAYYEM: Yes, that's exactly right. But I want to just remind people, why are the Proud Boys known and why are the -- why is a foreign agency or foreign intelligence agency or presumably whoever it may be in the interim, utilizing them as a proxy for Donald Trump?

So foreign intelligence agencies watch our debates as well. They learn, they know about conspiracy theories about groups that the President supports about white supremacy groups that the President aligns himself with, and takes days to sort of try to separate himself.

So there's a bigger story here, which we've all been sending over the course of years. We're not the only ones, you know, freaking out or disturbed by President Trump's behavior, National Security behavior.

There are foreign intelligence agencies to know exactly, right, here is this group that no one has ever heard of, a white supremacy group presumably aligned with Trump. We're going to use their e-mails to go after, to scare Democrats. That to me is -- you know, that begins with Donald Trump at a debate not condemning a white supremacy group that some Democrats may be afraid of.

[20:15:44] KAYYEM: We don't know who these Democrats. Are they African-Americans

who are worried about a white supremacy group? Old women who are worried about being alone? So you know, so this is -- they are playing -- you know, if Donald Trump lives by disinformation, he will also be harmed by disinformation. And that's what we're seeing, so I'm really glad that legitimate people in the Intelligence Community came out.

I don't know if it had to be tonight. I'm really glad that they came out and said, stop messing around, and alerted us that we're just a little bit smarter. We were the audience.

COOPER: Andrew, just in terms of what the U.S. has been doing the last several years in the wake of 2016 to prepare for and try to stop Russian interference in other countries interference. Obviously, there has been a lot of reporting over the last three years of President Trump not wanting to hear his people bring up Russia, briefers being told don't bring up Russia, because Russia immediately to him equates to that, you know, as an attempt to de legitimize him as a President.

There was reporting, you know, I think it was Kirstjen Nielsen who was told not to bring up Russia stuff. So what has been done? Because the complaint has been that if the President of the United States is not the one sending out the message that countering disinformation -- you know, if it's not coming from the top, it's not as you know, as what Vice President Pence would call, it is not a whole of government effort to stop this stuff.

MCCABE: Well, that's absolutely right, Anderson, and this is a threat that is so significant that it should be led by the President of the United States. It should be championed by, you know, our leaders on Capitol Hill. It should have been supported with legislation and proactive measures, which it certainly was not.

Nevertheless, I'm quite sure that the F.B.I. and the rest of the Intelligence Community has been assiduously working it. You need to know that in 2016, we were literally learning these things as we went. This is the first time we'd ever seen interference on this level.

We stood by and watched while the Russians probed the voter registration systems in every single state, and that is not an insignificant thing. It's not just about changing the vote tallies on Election Night, but if a foreign actor can get into the registration system and actually eliminate records, they can shift the balance of who is able to cast a vote.

So it is still an insidious threat, and I'm quite sure that the F.B.I., D.H.S. and the rest of their partners have spent a lot of time learning about how these systems work, finding vulnerabilities in different states systems, coaching states and companies that produce electoral infrastructure on how to kind of bolster their ability to defend from a cyberattack.

But we all know that cyberattacks change every single day. The threat vector is constantly shifting, and if you're not on top of it today and tomorrow, you're behind the game and you're going to get burned. COOPER: I want to play a bit of what F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray

had to say. He did not echo that these efforts were meant to damage President Trump, I understand and if anything, almost seem to counter the President's claims that there will be issues with absentee or mail-in voting. Let's listen.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, F.B.I. DIRECTOR: We've been working for years as a community to build resilience in our election infrastructure, and today, that infrastructure remains resilient. You should be confident that your vote counts. Early unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.


COOPER: Andrew, I mean, he struck a very different tone than D.N.I. Ratcliffe. What's also interesting is that if the disinformation campaign -- if part of the message is foreign actors can send in ballots and mail-in ballots, the irony is that's nothing that the President of the United States hasn't been claiming and what the F.B.I. Director just there is saying is, you know, don't listen to the disinformation coming from Russia or Iran that mail-in ballots are, you know, are vulnerable to foreign interference. But he is also essentially saying the President, you know, has been spreading this stuff and don't listen to that this information either.


MCCABE: You know, you have to give him credit. I think that it could be a very -- the next Homeland's session with the President could be like a really awkward Thanksgiving dinner where half the family hates the other half. There is no question that you could easily interpret the Director's comments there as a refutation of the consistent attacks that this President has levied in the last few weeks on our voting system.

You know, do not mistake that Christopher Wray is a very careful, a very smart lawyer. He is not someone who is prone to hyperbole or overstate things. That is a very strong statement from him. It is in direct contradiction to the things that we've heard the President say, and that could create some really awkward and pressure filled moments as we go forward.

COOPER: Yes, it's fascinating to watch this in real time. I want to thank you all. I want to bring in someone who felt the brunt of foreign election interference four years ago, John Podesta, obviously ran Hillary Clinton's campaign joins us now.

Mr. Podesta, obviously Hillary Clinton campaign was the focus of Russian interference in 2016. I wonder what your reaction is to what we were hearing tonight from the F.B.I. and from the D.N.I.?

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Well, Anderson, first of all, I'm glad that you're out there and you're saying something about it. Obviously, they put quite different spins on the information they put before the American public. And, as has been noted, by Juliette, I think that John Ratcliffe doesn't have a whole lot of credibility. He has acted in a political way as D.N.I. And I think that's actually damaging, too.

COOPER: I mean, he is a politician. He's not a person from the Intelligence Community who has spent a lifetime, you know, focusing on Intelligence and being non-partisan.

PODESTA: But nevertheless, I think it's good to have the fact that there is foreign interference going on. You know, we have the story earlier that the President was informed that a Russian agent, Andriy Derkach was feeding Russian disinformation to Rudy Giuliani. His reaction was, "Bring it on."

You know, so we've had a President who has really done everything he can to actually solicit information, and now if it's coming from the Iranians, maybe he has second thoughts about that, but, you know, he has not done what he needed to do to try to protect American democracy and Americans from foreign interference in the election.

COOPER: It does really strike me and I mean, I just said this to Andrew, but that what Chris Wray was trying to counter was not only the disinformation coming from whether it's Iran or Russia, about mail-in balloting and voting, it's also disinformation coming from our own President.

PODESTA: Well, you know, he has been peddling this for months. I think he is trying to set up a context in which he can somehow after the fact, if he loses claim that the election was unfair, there's no evidence of that. Chris Wray has testified to that on Capitol Hill, and had been scolded by the President for stating what his professional opinion was.

So, you know, again, none of this should be particularly surprising when it comes to the President's behavior. But I think what we need to do is rely on the factual information from the non-political elements of our Intelligence Community to help warn both our election officials and also reassure voters, their votes. They can vote, they have a plan to vote, cast your vote, your vote will be counted, and the systems will be protected.

And guess what? There are a lot of good professionals overlooking that system and trying to make sure that that's exactly what the result is.

COOPER: Do you see this as a big change in terms of how certainly the F.B.I., and, you know, with the decisions that were made back in 2016 about being so close to the election, and you know, whether to go public with what the Intelligence Community knew or not?

PODESTA: Yes, well, look, I think it's a sea change from what we saw in 2016. And you know, the great irony there was, Jim Comey didn't want to -- said he didn't want to interfere with the election, so he wouldn't sign on to the statement that was released by the rest of the Intelligence Community on that Russians were interfering in the election and then turned around 10 days before the election and reopened the e-mail case and I think did a lot of damage to Secretary Clinton.


PODESTA: So Comey was sort of schizophrenic about it. I'm glad that Chris Wray is taking the position that he is going to let the American people know what's going on.

COOPER: We actually have some breaking news on this. John Podesta, thank you very much.

We've got a new reporting in "The Washington Post" concerning F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray in what is reportedly the President's growing frustration that Ray is not delivering the kind of election boost with investigations that he has been openly calling for.

Josh Dawsey shares the byline, joining us by phone. What on Earth now is going on? What have you learned?

JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST" (via phone): Well, President Trump is frustrated that Christopher Wray has not backed him on his claims of voter fraud, on Antifa, and now, on Hunter Biden and you know, you saw the letter last night from Christopher Wray, where he said that the F.B.I. had nothing more to add and was following the precedent of the I.G., from, you know, the Comey investigation in 2016.

And, you know, they've been reticent to do what the President has wanted them to do publicly. He has called repeatedly for investigations into, you know, Hunter Biden. He has Joe Biden a criminal without offering any substantial evidence to that claim. And his law enforcement bodies are now coming under pure scrutiny from the President.

I mean, the President has been disenchanted, disillusioned, dispirited, whatever you would say about Chris Wray for many months, but the F.B.I.'s handling of -- or lack of a public statement or lack of any sort of indication that they are investigating, you know, Hunter Biden and these different revelations has really frustrated the President.

And a number of aides in the White House and across the government today told us that after the election, you know, Christopher Wray is likely to be removed as F.B.I. Director no matter how it ends.

COOPER: So if this is something the President wants to do after the election, is that regardless of whether he wins or loses? I mean, obviously, if the President loses, he will be a lame duck, but I guess he can still fire the F.B.I. Director.

DAWSEY: We were told that it's a high possibility either way. You know, he will have the time from November until January if he loses. Obviously, if he wins, he will have, you know, four more years. And the F.B.I. Director, you know, serve extended terms that are past one presidency.

The President obviously fired Jim Comey and Christopher Wray, he has embarked to a number of other advisers, one outdates the others that it was a poor personnel decision and he wants a new F.B.I. Director.

And, you know, our indications from across the government, as I said, Anderson are that, he is looking for a new F.B.I. Director one way or the other after the election.

COOPER: Josh Dawsey, fascinating reporting. Appreciate it as always. Thank you.

I want to go back to former F.B.I. Director Andrew McCabe who has been listening in. Andrew, I mean, the irony of this is kind of extraordinary. We were just discussing Christopher Wray as being a straight shooter and, you know, very clear tonight in his comments, basically not sort of following the line of the very political Director of National Intelligence in the way he was characterizing the interference that they say is going on from Iran and Russia.

You know, all about President Trump's habits of firing people. The F.B.I. -- I am told that Andrew's shot went down, so we'll try to get back with the former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Tonight's other big story is former President Obama going after President Trump in a way we've never heard from an ex-President before and how it and everything else factors into tomorrow's night's presidential debate. We will have that when we come back.



COOPER: Before the break, you hear Josh Dawsey in The Washington Post reporting that the President is again weighing firing FBI Director Christopher Ray.

More perspective now, joining us again is that is former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe.

So, we all know, obviously about President Trump's habit of firing people, the FBI. Do you think it? I mean, does it make sense to you that he would fire somebody? I mean, if he loses the election, that he would still go ahead and fire the FBI director?

MCCABE: Well, you know, I think with President Trump, you always have to be very careful about using the words does it make sense? I mean, I think that we've seen him do things like this many times in the past, when it's actually makes no sense and probably creates more problems for him, then it resolves, in case in point the firing of Director Comey.

The end of the day, this president does not like to hear anyone tell him something he doesn't want to hear. I know that all too personally. He wants -- he doesn't want independent, you know, leaders who follow the rule of law and obey their oath. He wants supplicants who will do his will and particularly his political will. And, you know, my hat's off to Chris Wray, that he seems to be charting a course into rough waters based on the fact that he's standing up for what he believes in. COOPER: The FBI directors term is normally it's 10 years, correct me if I'm wrong about that, is that right?

MCCABE: That's right. That's right.

COOPER: So, if -- even if he was fired by this president, if Joe Biden was elected and wanted to he could rehire him, I assume.

MCCABE: He certainly could. That would be in kind of an unprecedented step, we've never had someone serve two terms, two separate terms as director. But Anderson, it's important to remember that the 10-year term, although it does provide a certain amount of insulation from, you know, politics and the terms of who happens to be in the White House any given time, the real purpose behind a 10-year term, was to prevent a second instance of a J. Edgar Hoover type director, so to limit the time that a director can serve so that they don't, you know, accrue too much power and become kind of out of control.

COOPER: If you're Christopher Wray, your head of the FBI, what can you do to protect the integrity of investigations, you know, from the President, if, you know, he does indeed seek to fire him?

MCCABE: Well, you know, I can only reach back to my own experience as Acting Director and I knew and the small team that we were working with at the time, we knew that in order to protect the integrity of the Russia investigation, that crossfire hurricane investigation, we had to make sure that everything we knew is committed to documentary evidence that was uploaded into FBI systems that could not easily be removed or discarded.


I felt very strongly that if someone were to come in as next director for the purpose of eliminating the Russia investigation, shutting it down in a way that the President clearly wanted us to at that time, but they wouldn't be able to do so without creating a record that would stand the test of time and history as to exactly what happened so. I would expect that Director Wray's thinking along those same lines, now he's preserving his own thoughts, his own observations in some sort of way that will be memorialized in a record that will live on after his term has finished whenever that might be.

COOPER: Assuming the President wins the election, and has another term fires Christopher Wray, what sort of a message does that send to the FBI? He's already talked about, you know, not guaranteeing his attorney general will stick around. We all saw what he did to his last attorney general who frankly did nothing but, you know, push through a lot of conservatives on federal to become federal judges doing exactly the President's bidding. Except not recusing, or except he recused himself from the Russian investigation. What kind of an effect would it have enough in a second Trump term to have this FBI Director also fired?

MCCABE: Well, I think the biggest concern among that we all should have and certainly FBI people have is if there is a second Trump term, and if he decides to fire Director Wray. The question is, who does he bring in behind Chris Wray? We have seen a steady decline in talent and ethics, quite frankly, of the people who that President Trump has put into positions. I mean, like, case in point is the current DNI, who's an obviously political figures really undermine the effectiveness of that role. So, I am sure that FBI people are very worried right now as to if they lose the director they have. What does the next one look like?

And if President Trump follows his typical course, he's going to look for someone who will do his will not someone will live up to the requirements of the job and protecting the American people and upholding the constitution as the FBI mission requires.

COOPER: Yes. Andrew McCabe, appreciate it. Thanks.

It's been a busy night until the election interference story broke. This was the lead and deservedly so. Former president of United States giving perhaps the clearest demonstration yet there were simply not living for a normal presidency or for that matter, normal times.

The fact is, former presidents simply do not criticize sitting presidents the way that former President Obama did this evening. For Democrats what he said this evening and Philadelphia must have seemed like a tall glass of water after years in the desert for everyone of any political stripe, it was also a simple reminder of how far from normal this moment is, namely, one former president just going off on the current line.


BARACK OBAMA, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I never thought Donald Trump would embrace my vision, or continue my policies. But I did hope for the sake of the country, that he might show some interest in taking the job seriously. But it hasn't happened. He hasn't shown any interest in doing the work, or helping anybody but himself and his friends, or treating the presidency, like a reality show that he can use to get attention. And by the way, even then his TV ratings are down. So, you know, that upsets me.

But, the thing is, this is not a reality show. This is reality. And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him, proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously. At least 220,000 Americans have died.


COOPER: That point the former president is zeroed in on the current president's complacency and at times is boasting about the job he's done.


OBAMA: Korea identified it first case at the same time that the United States did. At the same time, their per capita death toll is just 1.3% of what ours is. In Canada is just 39% of what ours is. Other countries are still struggling with a pandemic, but they're not doing as bad as we are because they've got a government that's actually been paying attention. And that means lives loss, and that means an economy that doesn't work. And just yesterday, when asked if he'd do anything differently, Trump said, not much. Really? Not much. Nothing you can think of that could have helped some people keep their loved ones alive.



COOPER: Beyond that President Obama went straight to the one thing that's remained constant throughout the Trump presidency, which is nothing or should have nothing to do with partisanship.


OBAMA: Our democracy is not going to work if the people who are supposed to be our leaders, lie everyday, and just make things up. I mean, and we've just become numb to it, we just become immune to it every single day. Fact checkers can't keep up. And look, this, this notion of truthfulness and democracy and citizenship and being responsible. These aren't Republican or Democratic principles, they're American principles.

They're what -- they're what we -- most of us grew up learning from our parents and our grandparents. They're not white or black or Latino or Asian values. They're American values, human values, and we need to reclaim them. We have to get those values back at the center of our public life. And we can, but to do it, we've got a turnout like never before.


COOPER: Well this comes of course, on the eve of the final presidential debate in Nashville, it will no doubt be the backdrop to whatever plays out on stage tomorrow night. Also factoring in breaking news in the President's mindset going into it plus new CNN polling in two battleground states, Pennsylvania, which was so close in 2016, with Joe Biden, now, part of polls holds a 10 point lead and Florida where he's nominally had by four points, which also happens to be the margin of error. So statistically, it's a dead heat in Florida.

Vice President Biden spend the day preparing for tomorrow did not do any campaigning. Our M.J. Lee joins us now from Wilmington, Delaware, where the president -- vice president is tonight.

So M.J., President Obama, obviously, among the most, if not the most effective surrogates, Joe Biden could ask for what's going on with the Biden campaign tonight?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, you're right. That there is not a better or more compelling surrogate for Joe Biden, than Barack Obama, who can uniquely sort of make a convincing case to voters on why they should vote for Biden. We saw him do that earlier this year, earlier this summer at the Democratic National Convention. And we certainly saw him do that earlier today in Philadelphia. You think about the case that Biden is making for himself and his

candidacy in this campaign, right? First of all, he has fashioned himself this candidate of decency. And then second, secondly, he has run on sort of the accomplishments and the experience that he gained in the Obama White House.

And obviously, there's no better person who can attest to that. And we saw Obama do that earlier today, talking about the fact that he has worked with Biden for eight years in the White House, talking about the fact that he knows him personally. He knows his family's story.

And I thought Anderson, one thing that was so interesting was that Obama really leaned into this idea, almost warning voters don't even believe in the polls right now that show Biden leading, don't take all of that for granted. Because you all remember what happened in 2016. Everybody expected that Donald Trump would lose, but in the end, he won.

And that has been a message that has been echoed by the Biden campaign as well. His campaign manager has been saying in recent days, I want to run as though we are trailing in the polls. And I think Obama actually demonstrated that by choosing Pennsylvania as the first state that he wanted to do his solo campaign stop for Biden, and this is a state as you just said, Trump won narrowly back in 2016.

But this time around, according to this CNN poll that just came out and other recent polls out of Pennsylvania, Biden currently has a 10- point lead in the state. But again, Obama choosing to campaign there today just demonstrates that, you know, this is not a moment in the campaign where the Biden campaign wants to be taking anything for granted.

COOPER: Yes. M.J. Lee, appreciate it. Thanks a lot to look forward tomorrow.

Perspective now, from Reggie Love, a former Special Assistant and personal aide to President Obama.

Reggie, I mean, it's obviously not normal for a former president to take to the trail and talk about their predecessor like President Obama did tonight. Obviously, norms, you know, are out the window in the Trump era. Why do you think the President did it?

REGGIE LOVE, FMR SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRES. OBAMA: Look, Anderson, thank you for having me on tonight. And thank you for doing such a great job of trying to keep the American voters and the American public informed. And I think, you know, when you look at the remarks that President Obama made today in Philadelphia, I think it was really based around this idea that, you know, wanting to remind people that their voice matters.

And that everyone's voice matters, the President's voice, voters in Pennsylvania, voters in Michigan, voters in North Carolina what we do matter, and it has an impact on the country, and it has an impact on our decency as a country.


And if you go back and look at 2016, you look at Pennsylvania, look at Michigan and look at North Carolina, you know, the margins were so slim, and with a few additional voices, that may be stood in a longer line that maybe had a better plan around, making sure they had all the things taken care of that they needed to in order to be able to vote and participate. I think those are the things that Barack Obama was trying to highlight by articulating what happens when you don't vote. You know, you end up with Donald Trump.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, the President, though spent, you know, more time represent President Trump than he actually, you know, referencing him, then he previously has maybe the exception of the DNC speech even went, as far as, you know, getting a job in about the President's TV ratings, which clearly is something that will upset Donald Trump.

And, you know, he talked for the New York Times report about a secret Chinese bank account. It's just -- it is startling, you know, is it do -- I mean do you think it's personal for President Obama? Is it concern about, you know, the country and all the things that, you know, Obamacare has his signature, you know, signature accomplishment, you know, now being challenged in the courts.

LOVE: Look, look, I think we you talk about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, I think that is about the American people. But I think it's also personal, right? I think if you really look at some of the motivating factors that inspired him to fight for it, the way that he did, was really, around this idea that his mother passed from a terminal illness. And when she was in her final days, she spent more time worrying about how to pay her bills than then how to live her final days and decency.

So, I do think that is, you know, I think that's really a personal thing. Because he understands that there are so many other Americans that have gone through it, and that are, and have gone through it, and that will go through it in the future. And having healthcare as a basic human right is probably one of the most important things that's happened to this country since the New Deal.

COOPER: Do you think we'll hear more from President Obama in the next, you know, two weeks before the election?

LOVE: Look, I, you know, for me, and I can't speak for him specifically. But when I look at where this country was, in 2015, and where I look at -- where we've gone today, like I think there's nothing more important, and I can't, I couldn't imagine that there are many people, including the President, that would say that there's something more important than making sure that people are well informed about the difference in choices, that people are inspired and galvanize around making sure and believing that their voice matters.

And I think, you know, I think when President Obama was in Philadelphia today, he said to a group of young African-American folks from the Philadelphia community that, you know, a lot of people are saying that nothing has changed. But in actuality, for people were saying that nothing has changed. They didn't live through the '40s and the '50s and the '60s. And so, people have to believe that, you know, this process works when we participate, and we make our voice heard. And when we don't, we end up in places --


LOVE: -- like we are today.

COOPER: Reggie Love, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

We're now on the state of play. So, the Florida and Pennsylvania polling a moment ago. CNN's chief -- national correspondent John King joins us now with a look at the entire map. John, 13 days out, what's the state of the race right now?

JOHN KING, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thirteen days out Anderson. Joe Biden has a lopsided advantage. We've talked about this before, 290 electoral votes 263 for the president right now. The big final debate tomorrow night. Think of that as the final crossroads of the campaign and Joe Biden goes into it.

Not only with this advantage, let me show you another advantage. Joe Biden has a big lopsided advantage when it comes to money. Campaign cash on hand $177 million to just $63 million to the Trump campaign. Plus Biden has wealthy friends as well, if you will. Biden campaign plus group supporting him has our spending right now $645 million, compared to 388 million for the Trump campaign.


In the battleground states, Biden and groups that support Biden 513 million to 326 million. So, lopsided spending advantage right now and money in the bank heading into the final 10 days of the campaign. So here's the scenario. You have a debate tomorrow night. Let's say Joe Biden has a shaky debate, or Donald Trump has a particularly strong debate. The Biden campaign should come out of that thinking all right, we need to protect. If Biden has a shaky debate or Trump is strong.

One scenario you think of is the President takes away the toss up states, Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida. President could even flip Arizona back to him. He won all those states in 2016, perfectly within the realm of he comes out of a debate with momentum. What's the Biden's strategy then? Then it becomes protect, then it becomes protect, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the three most spoken words in presidential politics of the last four years, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Biden then would protect them.

But, Anderson imagine this. What if Biden thinks he has a strong debate? They come out of the debate thinking not only do we have all that money, we had a strong debate. Well then, you start thinking about this. Number one, you think not only do you have money, Michael Bloomberg is spending money in Florida for you, Priorities USA Super PAC money, Future Ford Super PAC money, all these Democratic Senate candidates are blowing the Republicans away in fundraising. So there's a lot of money to spend.

And again, then you're thinking if you have a strong debate, then this is still going to hold true. You're going to be leading in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin, and guess what you're in play in Arizona, you're even leading a little bit. You're in play in Iowa, you're in play in Georgia, you're in play maybe a little behind but competitive in Ohio, in play in North Carolina, even close in Texas, right, and Florida.

So, then if you're Biden, a lot of Democrats are going to be saying you come out of that debate tomorrow night strong. Think big, think bold. Think about making a statement. You take Florida, if you're Joe Biden, game over, the President can't win without Florida and it's 29 votes. If you get North Carolina back to the Democrats again, there is just no way the President can win.

Plus, guess what, is a very important Senate race there. Then you're the Biden campaign, you start looking, to Senate races in Georgia, a Senate race in Iowa, a Senate race in Texas and wow, if the Democrats won Texas, what a statement that would be plus a lot of legislative races there. So, if Biden comes out of the debate, feeling strong Anderson, not only is he leading on the map, not only does he have a ton of money, then Democrats start thinking, why don't we start thinking about a blowout?

COOPER: John, stay with us. Want to bring back CNN Political Director, David Chalian. Joining us as well, CNN Political Correspondent, Abby Phillip.

David, your take on the state of this race right now? Obviously after 2016 there's skepticism about polling. What do you, you know, the new polls of Florida, Pennsylvania, what did they tell you, David?

CHALIAN: There is skepticism. But I just want to show you some findings inside that Florida poll, for example, to show you where Joe Biden's strength is coming from. It's actually coming from Donald Trump's coalition in many places. Take a look, if you look at the white vote in our poll in Florida, you see that while Donald Trump is still winning whites, obviously 54% to 42%.

That's a 12-point margin there. That is nothing compared to the fact that he won whites by 32 points in 2016. You see the same thing with independence, a group he won by four points in 2016 in Florida, he's losing them by 10 points here 51 to 41 to Joe Biden in Florida and seniors a critical constituency 65 and older, he won them in 2016 by 17 points. He's losing them by eight in this poll.

So, Joe Biden isn't just sort of galvanizing the folks that were there with Hillary Clinton and boost them a little bit more, he's actually carving into some of Donald Trump's 2016 coalition.

COOPER: Abby, in fact, the Trump campaign is strapped for cash right now. I guess it puts more pressure on him to deliver his closing message. I mean, it's worth noting Hillary Clinton did outrage and outspend then candidate Trump 2016 as well and still lost the presidency.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's true. She did outspend and outraise and was sort of actually more of an establishment candidate. But this is a president who started with a billion-dollar war chest. He's been raising money for this reelection effort since he was inaugurated back in 2017. So, it is surprising that he's coming into this final stretch, really struggling with the financial part of this.

And what it means for him is that he's spending so much time having to shore up these parts of the country that he absolutely must win in order to get to 270. Spending time and money in Georgia, spending time and money even in North Carolina is time and money that can't be spent chipping away at the blue wall. Chipping away at Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

So, that's why it's significant. The President has a lot more holes to plug than Joe Biden does. And so, you know, he's got to win Florida. There's no path without Florida, but instead of focusing all of his money and effort there, he's got to spread it pretty thin across the map.

COOPER: John, you know, obviously President Obama spoke in Philadelphia, you know, is for Hillary Clinton in the final days of the campaign. It wasn't enough, he made a very personal appeal back then. He said, you know, do it for me, essentially that, you know, this is really important. This time you're saying do it for you that that it's, you know, it's important for the country. Do you think it matters this time and/or I guess I should say where does the Biden campaign think that Obama's voices is going to help them?


KING: Let me switch maps to go through that question from a number of different perspectives Anderson, but you make the key point number one, it didn't work last time. So everybody should have a little bit of skepticism as you do it. But remember, we're in a very different climate now. Donald Trump has been president for four years.

So, where was he tonight? President Obama was here in the Philadelphia -- in Philadelphia right here. If he can turn out African-American votes, helped motivate them in Philadelphia, and just as importantly, in the suburbs around it. Joe Biden can when Pennsylvania. If Joe Biden wins Pennsylvania, he's on his way.

Another place you can look at that. We can move over to Michigan, right? How many times have we said, you know, Hillary Clinton lost Michigan? Well, one reason she lost it is because turnout was down in Wayne County among African-American voters, down from when Obama won in 2012, down from when Obama won in 2008. So his direct appeal, his popularity with African-Americans is critical.

But it's more than that. He's also very popular in the suburbs. Listen to what he said tonight, hustle, don't take anything for granted. That's a turnout message to everybody. But it's aimed mostly at young voters and African-Americans who sometimes say I would vote for this guy if I voted, but then don't show up. What else did he say? He said, this guy doesn't take the job seriously.

That's what you hear from suburban women in focus groups, while the tweets while the coarseness while the attacks on people. Why doesn't the President just do his job? That was President Obama talking to the suburbs? Yes, African-Americans in Charlotte, but the suburbs will decide North Carolina, the suburbs around Raleigh, Durham will decide North Carolina.

One other thing, we talked a moment ago about how the Biden has a chance if he comes out of this debate tomorrow night, he has a chance for a big race. Well, Barack Obama knows something about it. I'm going back to George W. Bush's win in 2004. I'll show you in a minute why I'm circling these states right here. As you go through them.

You come over here, you come over here, you come over here, and you come over here, Barack Obama knows what it's like to be involved in a wave election, because that's what we had in 2008. When you have a wave election, you change the map, that's 2004. You see that red? That's 2008. You change your map. Barack Obama knows what it's like to have the opportunity in a wave election, he will help Joe Biden any way he can.

Not all these changes are permanent when they happen. He lost Indiana, North Carolina went back but Democrats do see the potential the combination of Trump's on popularity, the Democrats demographics of the nation, they see a chance to change the map and they think Barack Obama can help.

COOPER: David, you know, we saw this very unusual press conference with the DNI and the, the FBI Director, it was very hastily called. Is there -- I mean, is there a possibility that this was hastily called because they were -- the administration, you know, didn't want President Obama's speech directly attacking President Trump to be front and center on the, you know, on the news all night?

CHALIAN: I mean, am I being too naive? If I say let's hope not let's, let's hope that's not why this called, let's hope that this press conference was called to inform the American people about foreign activity happening in the election. But does this administration in the way that it's conducted itself, get the benefit of the doubt? Really?

No, I don't think they do. I mean, we have no evidence, no reporting to suggest that they were trying to knock Barack Obama off the headlines, Anderson and the message that the that the DNI and the FBI director was putting out is important for voters to hear and be aware of when they're getting this incoming, potentially very fishy information.

So, I don't want to undermine that because I think it's important that voters hear that and stay vigilant about it. But it's hard not to ascribe political motives to most everything that is coming out of the administration, especially when you were talking about the Washington Post piece. I mean, this is a president who seems prepared to get rid of his FBI director and his attorney general, because they're not following his orders to investigate his opponents.

COOPER: Abby, tomorrow night's debate, how important do you think it is for President Trump and for Joe Biden? I mean, it would have stumbled by Joe Biden have a big impact you think on the race?

PHILLIP: I think it is far more important for President Trump than it is for Joe Biden at this point. Remember, the last impression that President Trump left the American people with was that first debate performance in which some people came away from that, basically saying that they believe he acted childishly, that he was unable to control his anger.

Those are some of the comments that undecided voters gave us in a focus group directly after that debate. The President needs to change that perception, but specifically in the minds of some of these really squishy Biden, potential Biden voters. People who really don't know that they want to vote for Biden, but they're not sure they can stomach another four years for Trump. He's got to change that perception tomorrow night.

COOPER: Yes. Abby Phillip, David Chalian, John King thanks so much.

Quick reminder, don't miss the final debate tomorrow night right here on CNN. Special programming begins 7:00 p.m. Eastern time. The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME".


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you, Anderson.