Show: MTP DAILY Date: October 31, 2016 Guest: Patrick Leahy, A.J. Delgado, Anna Palmer, Ruth Marcus, Kate Rogers; Jonathan Tamari
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Kellyanne Conway, the Trump campaign manager, joins Chris Matthews on "HARDBALL" at 7:00 Eastern time. But first, "MTP DAILY" starts now.
PETER ALEXANDER, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Monday. New information from the Justice Department just now on the renewed Clinton e-mail investigation.
(voice-over): Tonight, Democrats demand answers on the timing of the new FBI review.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: Why in the world the FBI would decide to jump into an election with no evidence of any wrong-doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ALEXANDER: We`ll talk to the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Plus, why the ripple effect could washout the Democrats` hope for the wave election. And while the most expensive Senate race in the country is still a dead heat. This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
(on camera): Good evening, I`m Peter Alexander at NBC`s election headquarters here in New York for my friend, Chuck Todd. Welcome to MTP DAILY.
With election night fast approaching, everyone`s still trying to figure out what the final eight-day sprint is really going to look like after the FBI shocking announcement that it had discovered new e-mails potentially related to its investigation into Hillary Clinton`s private server.
How bad could the fallout be? The reaction of the polls tells one story. The reaction from Democrats tells a very different one. According to our brand new NBC News survey monkey online tracking poll released just within the last hour, Hillary Clinton`s six-point lead over Donald Trump remains virtually unchanged since last week even after the FBI director`s announcement.
Views of the issue break heavily along partisan lines, as you can surely imagine. Just 17 percent of Democrats view the FBI`s announcement as an important issue to discuss, compared to 93 percent of Republicans. 83 percent of Democrats see it the news as a distraction to the campaign, compared to just 6 percent of Republicans. Those numbers seem to confirm what other polls have shown so far.
A new "Washington Post"-ABC News tracking poll found little immediate impact in presidential support after FBI director, James Comey`s, Friday announcement.
Another poll from Politico and Morning Consult found, quote, "There is not yet evidence that the revelations have drastically altered the contours of the election." But you wouldn`t guess that the polls are stable, based on the reaction from Democrats. They seem to be signaling a brewing panic over Clinton`s candidacy.
The Clinton campaign is attacking integrity arguing he bowed to partisan pressure. Here is Clinton with a little bit of a lighter touch this afternoon.
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CLINTON: I`m sure a lot of you may be asking what this new e-mail story is about and why in the world the FBI would decide to jump into an election with no evidence of any wrong-doing with just days to go? There is no case here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign is aggressively looking to turn the page by going nuclear on Trump, quite literally. Today, they unveiled an updated version of that famous 1964 Daisy ad, warning of a nuclear catastrophe if the Republican wins.
Clinton`s allies are going nuclear in their own way on the FBI director, James Comey. Harry Reid, the Senate`s top Democrat sent a scathing letter to Comey alleging that, quote, "Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law." Obviously, that`s an explosive charge, but according to our Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber, there is zero public evidence to support the Reid`s arguments.
There is no evidence that Comey took any direct campaign relation -- related actions or demonstrated personal intent to impact the election in his official capacity. It`s also jarring, in terms of it being a reversal for Reid who sang Comey`s praises this summer.
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SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: The Republicans are in such desperate shape because of Trump that they`d seize upon anything. The FBI, under the leadership of Comey, carried out a thorough investigation of this case. No one can question the integrity the competency of directory Comey.
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ALEXANDER: You saw it, no one can question the integrity, the competency of director Comey. Those were Harry Reid`s words. We want to dive right in. I`m joined now by Clinton supporter, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. He is, of course, the top Democrat on the judiciary committee.
He`s also one of three senators who just received this brief letter. We`ve obtained a copy of it from the Justice Department on the renewed Clinton investigation that says, in part, we assure you that the department will continue to work closely with the FBI and, together, dedicate all necessary resources and take appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible.
Senator Leahy, nice to be with you. I want to start there with that letter that you just received. It was in response to a letter that you and some other senators had sent this weekend to the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, and the FBI director asking for more details. Are you satisfied with this response?
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: No, of course not. That`s a form letter five. That`s like when you place a telephone call to a company where you want a question and say, your call is important to us. Please stay on the line. Listen to this wonderful music and the next available operator will be with you.
ALEXANDER: Well, wouldn`t be premature for them to say anything else? There in the amidst of a review.
LEAHY: Well, you see, there is the point. And it`s not just Democrats who are concerned. It`s Democrats and Republicans. Look at the key Republican and Democratic members of past administrations in the Justice Department who all raise questions, why was the long-standing practice of the Justice Department not to release anything like this within 60 days of an election? Why was that violated?
The former attorney general Mukasey, a conservative Republican said that. Attorney General Holder, former attorney general Holder did. The deputy attorneys general in both Republican and Democratic.
Yes. But we should listen to the deputies attorneys general.
ALEXANDER: Understood. So, Senator, --
LEAHY: And Democratic administrations said, this is not the policy --
ALEXANDER: -- understanding that`s where --
LEAHY: -- of the different justices.
ALEXANDER: -- we are right now, I want to turn to another letter. That`s the one from Harry Reid. The question to you, do you, as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, which has oversight jurisdiction over the FBI want an investigation into whether or not the FBI director broke the law, as Harry Reid suggests he may very well have?
LEAHY: I have not seen that letter. What I -- I know two things.
ALEXANDER: He said he may have violated the Hatch Act which bars you from sort of tipping the scales in a partisan way as a government official.
LEAHY: I will have to ask somebody who is an expert on the Hatch Act. I am not. But I know two things. One, Hillary Clinton will be elected. But secondly, this is a mess caused by Mr. Comey whether intentionally or not. By not following the normal practice of the Department of Justice.
ALEXANDER: Do you think he broke the law?
LEAHY: I think it`s -- I think it`s incumbent on him to clear up the mess. I have no idea if he broke the law or not. I`m not accusing him of that. I`m just saying, let us know why you did not follow the procedure that both Republican and Democratic administrations have always followed on the so- called 60-day rule when you announced that we are looking at something. We don`t know if anything is there. But, gee whiz, we want you to know about it. And then, you send that to all the Republican chairmen in the Congress with copies to Democrats.
That is so strange that both Republicans and Democrats --
ALEXANDER: So, what do you propose is a resolution, Senator?
LEAHY: -- who have served in an administration. Well, the resolution is to clear it up as quickly as you can. They say, we`re looking at something. We don`t know if anything is there or not. Now, they`ve already gone through and spent thousands of hours and said there is absolutely no criminal conduct by Mrs. Clinton.
And now, he comes up with this. Oh, we`re looking at somebody else`s e- mails. And an investigation of Mr. Wiener. And there may be something there that involves Hillary Clinton. We don`t know if it`s serious or not. But we want to you know, we`re looking at it. That is why Republicans and Democrats have been so critical of this response. They say, just clear it up. Clear it up. That`s all we are asking.
ALEXANDER: One Democrat who hasn`t been so critical appears to be the president. His press secretary, Josh Earnest, today describing Comey as a, quote, "man of integrity" saying the president does not believe he`s secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party. Do you think that he`s intentionally -- James Comey is intentionally trying to rig the system, as a matter of fact (ph), right now?
LEAHY: I have known Jim Comey for a long time. I`ve always considered him a professional and a man of integrity. But even a professional and a person of integrity can make a really bad mistake. He`s made a bad mistake by not following the normal procedures of the Department of Justice, procedures followed by both Republican and Democratic administrations on something like this not to be releasing -- especially if it`s -- if you haven`t finished any kind of investigation, to be releasing it just before an election.
ALEXANDER: Do you think Republicans have --
LEAHY: Republicans and Democrats --
ALEXANDER: -- do you think this threatens Hillary Clinton`s chances to win the election?
LEAHY: No. Hillary Clinton will win the election and she should because you look at who she`s running against, a man who is not suitable to be president.
ALEXANDER: So, what is its -- what is its tangible impact? Will it affect your colleagues in the Senate or the Democrats who are trying to take over Republican seats? Is that where the biggest risk is for Democrats?
LEAHY: I have no idea. I`m up for reelection next week. I assume it`s not going to affect my election --
ALEXANDER: You`re less vulnerable than others.
LEAHY: -- one way or the other. What?
ALEXANDER: That you`re less vulnerable than others. There are other races though where the risk, obviously --
LEAHY: This is a -- the four -- the four people running against me all say I`m terribly vulnerable and that`s why they`re running against me.
ALEXANDER: Fair enough. Has the Clinton campaign, in some way, poisoned its relationship with the FBI director? If she is to win this election, she`s going to have to work directly with the FBI director, James Comey. You`ve heard the criticism, calling it unprecedented and suggesting his letter was overblown. What do you say?
LEAHY: Well, Mrs. Clinton is a very professional person. I have seen her work very well with both Republicans and Democrats, including people who have been very critical of her in the past. And I think, as president. she will try to do the same.
She knows that the country has been divided during this campaign. I suspect what she`s going to want to do is to bring the country back together. That`s what I`d urge her to do. Not to look for, who do we get because of something they did to me, but rather how do we work for the sake of the country.
ALEXANDER: Senator, let you -- let me ask you one final question before I go, and I`m switching gears here, I admit right now. Republicans appear to be gearing up to block a Clinton Supreme Court nomination if she does win. Ted Cruz says there`s precedent for a four to four court. Would you be satisfied with that? Your reaction to that proposal.
LEAHY: Oh, heavens no. They also said -- they announced earlier this year when justice Scalia died that we`d never have a nomination hearing and a vote in a presidential election year. Well, we`ve done that 12 times before and the most recent one when the Democrats were in control of the Senate. There was a Republican president. We gave an almost unanimous vote to the Republican president`s nominee in the final year of his presidency.
No, we should -- it is politicizing the federal bench. The federal bench should be outside of politics. It is wrong. I think people agree it is wrong not to have a hearing on Maricolin (ph) and, of course, have a hearing if there are any other vacancies, no matter who is president.
ALEXANDER: Senator Leahy, we appreciate your time very much. Thank you.
LEAHY: Thank you.
ALEXANDER: We want to turn to the other side right now. I am joined here in New York by A.J. Delgado who is a senior adviser with the Trump campaign. A.J., nice to see you.
A.J. DELGADO, SENIOR ADVISOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Nice to see you, too.
ALEXANDER: Was it a mistake for Donald Trump and his allies, even others, to go after the FBI director so aggressively in the past? Trump said Comey was part of a conspiracy covering up Clinton`s crimes.
The chair of your New York operation called Comey on this show, a parasite on the American people. So, how can you ask voters to trust your judgment or to trust, in effect, the judgment of a man who you were going after for a lack of judgment only a matter of days ago.
DELGADO: He did err in what he did in July. And a statement he put out July fifth which, as one article described it, it was a litany of things Hillary Clinton did wrong, including several statutes and laws that she broke. And then, only at the end, for Comey to say, but I`m not going to recommend prosecution. That wasn`t correct but we do applaud that he`s now seemingly doing the right thing by the American public. Those two aren`t really inconsistent.
ALEXANDER: Donald Trump today said, the information in these e-mails will be devastating. Do you have evidence that would demonstrate that that information would be devastating? At this point, even the FBI hasn`t made that statement.
DELGADO: No, we`re not claiming we do have evidence. But I think common sense --
ALEXANDER: Well, he was claiming that it will be devastating. But there`s no --
DELGADO: -- that it will be common sense will you it will be because I don`t director Comey would have acted in this way if there weren`t something in there that would be --
ALEXANDER: But even director Comey and the FBI information that we`re getting from law enforcement forces telling us right now that they are just beginning the review. They hadn`t even started until last night. At this point, they`ve made no public statements about what, if anything, they`ve found. And acknowledge they could all be duplicates or duds.
DELGADO: There are reports that there`s classified information in there, we`re hearing. So, wouldn`t that be a huge concern for the American public? If it turns out there was classified information on a Weiner laptop here (ph)?
ALEXANDER: Who`s saying there are reports of classified information?
DELGADO: That`s what we are hearing. There are --
ALEXANDER: That`s based on whom? Who`s saying that?
DELGADO: That Fox News was reporting that today. You`d have to ask them what (INAUDIBLE.)
ALEXANDER: They say there`s likely. The fact that there`s likely doesn`t mean that there is. That`s just --
DELGADO: I don`t believe -- I don`t believe that there would be such an investigation going on. This reopening of this investigation if they didn`t have reason to believe there was classified e-mails on those 650,000 that were on the laptop. And, as an American voter, not as an adviser, I want to know if that`s how badly Hillary Clinton handled classified information that it somehow ended up no Anthony Wiener`s laptop. Is that the person going to elect to handle classified information at the highest levels, Peter?
ALEXANDER: Well, let`s wait and --
DELGADO: We have a right to know.
ALEXANDER: I think we have a right, also, to see what`s in that information before we determine whether it`s --
DELGADO: In due course. We can -- as Hillary Clinton is demands that in the middle of this investigation, Comey has no absolutely no obligation to release (INAUDIBLE.)
ALEXANDER: So, talk to me about that. Initially, you guys wanted quick resolution to this. The Hillary Clinton campaign folks were saying they wanted quick resolution to this.
Kellyanne Conway and others today are saying, you know what? We`re not going force their hand. They should take their time. Is this -- what is the strategy behind this? Is the thought that the vacuum of information benefits Donald Trump better than the actual information?
DELGADO: There is no strategy other than respecting the process and the way it plays out. We don`t have -- none of us has a right to say, in the middle of an investigation, hey, you need to let me know right now what it is you have on me. That doesn`t exist in the American political or judicial or investigative process of any kind.
So, Mr. Comey will take his time to review these e-mails and his staff will in due course and we`ll find out in due course what`s in them.
ALEXANDER: So, what --
DELGADO: We`re in this mess, by the way, all due respect to Senator Leahy, not as Senator Leahy said because of director Comey. We`re in this mess because of Hillary Clinton lying, breaking the law, concealing the information, not being transparent. All to be so ironic and calling for transparency. This is someone who bleached e-mails, who destroyed her staff, destroyed e-mails with sledge hammers. And now she wants transparency? The irony is not lost on the American public, Peter.
ALEXANDER: All the points that Donald Trump makes on the campaign trail repeatedly here. What would restore your confidence in FBI director Jim Comey?
DELGADO: I think it`s being restored. I think we`re seeing him do the right thing now.
ALEXANDER: So, if he determines that there was no --
DELGADO: Just because of the time line.
ALEXANDER: -- if he determines and if nothing changes, there was no recommendation to pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton in the past. If he is to come out and determine they didn`t find any new information, would your confidence be restored and you would agree with that conclusion?
DELGADO: Absolutely, no. To be honest with you, as a lawyer, I don`t think --
ALEXANDER: So, if it`s restored right now that that wouldn`t be --
DELGADO: -- in what he`s doing now, I absolutely respect him. But I do think that he should have recommended prosecution. As a lawyer, she did break several laws, including U.S. code 1924 and how she handled the classified information and the storage of it.
ALEXANDER: Which is (INAUDIBLE) system, although the attorney general --
DELGADO: And many others do agree. Loretta Lynch, I know she meets with Bill Clinton in the back of a plane, might not agree with me. But many other lawyers, independents and Democrats do agree that Hillary Clinton did break the law.
ALEXANDER: How does the campaign combat charges? I want to pull this up from "News Week" right now. Combat charges of hypocrisy after Hillary Clinton`s alleged conduct given the fact that "News Week" says the following. Trump`s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of e-mails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. A lot of people may hear that and say, well, that seems like (INAUDIBLE) similar circumstance.
DELGADO: Yes, that reporter (INAUDIBLE) about Mr. Trump, I noticed who that was written by. This is just silly, Peter. Those are e-mails from a private company that weren`t stored long enough. We`re talking about Hillary Clinton`s e-mails concerning classified information that affect the safety of and I, of our viewers. How you can possibly compare this, I don`t mean you personally but anyone, is just downright ridiculous and insulting to our intelligence. We can`t even discuss that (INAUDIBLE.)
ALEXANDER: The bottom line, is -- are you satisfied? Is the FBI still rigged?
DELGADO: I think the system (INAUDIBLE.) So, I`ll tell you what happened with Donna Brazile and CNN. I think Mr. Trump, every day, is being vindicated of the system overall, whether you`re a Bernie Sanders` supporter or an American voter who values national security. We are seeing that the system is still, in many ways, rigged against us.
ALEXANDER: You`re referring to some information that suggests from WikiLeaks that Donna Brazile may have handed questions to the Clinton campaign. Donna Brazile tells NBC and others that that`s not the case. But we`ll have to leave it here for now.
A.J. Delgado, nice to see you.
DELGADO: Nice to see you, Peter. Thank you.
ALEXANDER: Appreciate your time.
A programming note, Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, will join Chris Matthews. That`s on "HARDBALL" tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.
And coming up right here next. How the e-mail review is working its way down ballot and which Democrats are feeling the heat?
Plus, the road to victory. Why the candidates travel current plans show how each campaign is mapping the path to 270. Those current travel plans hitting some significant states.
ALEXANDER: We are taking a quick look here. The candidates literal path to 270, where they`re spending time in the final days of this race. Donald Trump campaigning today in the solidly blue state of Michigan. The last time a Republican won Michigan was Ronald Reagan, 1988 the year.
Here is where Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, have traveled since Wednesday. Look at the yellow on the map. And this is where they`ll be holding events tomorrow as well. They are literally all over the country and traditionally Republican strongholds like in Arizona and Utah and Colorado that they`re trying to put back on the map. And even Washington D.C. where Trump spent part of Wednesday at that ribbon cutting at his newest hotel.
Tomorrow, Trump will be in Wisconsin, another blue state where the real clear politics average right now has Hillary Clinton up nearly six points. Clinton, on the other hand, spending her day campaigning in Ohio while running mate, Tim Kaine, is in the battleground of North Carolina.
Now, here is the team Clinton map. It`s a lot more targeted to just a handful of battleground states plus Arizona, the state the Clinton campaign is trying to flip Democratic for the first time in 20 years. In fact, both campaigns have been to Arizona within the last week. Tim Kaine will be back there this Thursday.
And we`ll be back right here in 60 seconds with a look at how Jim Comey`s October surprise has given new hope to down-ballot Republicans running for the House and Senate. You`re watching MTP DAILY.
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REP. PAUL RYAN, HOUSE SPEAKER: Look at all the young people here. Where are you, from Creighton (ph) or?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From all over.
RYAN: Something that you don`t see or don`t know because you didn`t live in the 1990s like the rest of us did. This Clinton story doesn`t change. It is -- it is scandal after scandal after scandal. You just don`t know which one`s coming next.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right.
RYAN: And it is not what we want this country to become.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: That was House speaker Paul Ryan on Sunday at a campaign event for a House candidate in Nebraska. Down-ballot Republicans immediately seized on FBI director Comey`s letter on Friday, happy to shift the conversation away from defending Donald Trump and back onto Hillary Clinton.
The conservative Senate leadership fund, the pack, is out with new ads in some significant battleground states, putting Democrats on the defensive after a week of negative headlines like this one in Nevada.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t be silent this election. With premiums rising, Obamacare failing, Clinton under investigation again. Catherine Cortez Masto will change at nothing. Failures, scandals, enough is enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: But early voting has been going on for weeks in some states. And more than 23 million votes have already been cast nationwide. That includes some states with some tight U.S. Senate races.
Take, for example, North Carolina. According to data collected by NBC News and the firm Target Smart, more Democrats have voted there early, 45 percent to 31 percent.
Our NBC-"Wall Street Journal" Marist poll out yesterday shows a tie between the incumbent Republican Senator Richard Burr and Democrat Debra Ross. Both, as you see, at 48 percent among likely voters.
At the start of last week, we were talking about the possibility of a Democratic wave. But now, not only is the Democratic control of the House seeming more and more like a fantasy, the Senate is looking a lot more like a jump ball.
We want to get, tonight, to our panel. Ruth Marcus is the deputy editorial page editor for "The Washington Post," Robert Traynum is an MSNBC contributor and former senior adviser to George W. Bush. And Anna Palmer, senior Washington correspondent for Politico and, for all of those waking up early, the co-author of "Playbook."
Anna, to you quickly. I want to start with my conversation with Senator Leahy here. He said he`s not worried that the -- this new review by the FBI will hurt Hillary Clinton`s chances of being right now.
But he also said that this was a bad mistake by Comey. I was just curious to get your take on what Senator Leahy`s been saying and what a lot of Democrats have been saying right now, by redirecting the focus and effectively trying to change the conversation to make it about James Comey and not Hillary Clinton.
ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: I think what they`re really trying to do with the pivot, I mean, obviously, Senator Leahy had a little bit softer language than Senator minority leader, Harry Reid, who went very political, very early with a letter kind of sharply worded.
And so, I think what you`re going to see is Senate Democrats really trying to kind of push back. They want to go back and hit -- they want to hit Donald Trump. They want to be talking about him. They don`t want to be talking about how Comey is politicizing this, not about the fact that there is another e-mail scandal with the Clinton campaign.
ALEXANDER: Robert, let`s talk about how this Comey FBI letter is helping down-ballot Republicans, really this whole situation right now. They have been looking for a lifeline forever and now they seem to have a pretty decent one.
Here is a look at the states where Senate races are most likely to flip parties, at least they were coming into the weekend. How likely is it that the Democrats can take control of the Senate, given what we`ve witnessed over the course of the last 72 or so hours?
ROBERT TRAYNUM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, before the e-mail scandal broke on Friday, I would say probably more than a 50 percent chance that Democrats would yield about four seats which give -- which would give them the majority.
Now, today, Peter, I would say probably less than 50 percent. I think that Pat Toomey, Republican in Pennsylvania, may eek by. I also think that Kelly Ayotte may eek by, too.
ALEXANDER: So, explain that. Does this just energize down-ballot -- excuse me. Does it just energize the Republicans who may have been considering staying home because they weren`t satisfied by their nominee? Is that enough to sway this by a matter of points?
TRAYNUM: Yes. At the end of the day, this is a turnout election. This is a base election. There are a lot of Republicans out there not submitted (ph), are not enthusiastic about the top of the ticket, especially if you`re an evangelical, especially if you`re a social conservative because you believe that Donald Trump is probably not your candidate.
So, let`s take, for example, Pennsylvania. In the middle part of the state, Harrisburg, the T as they call it. Those are evangelical supporters out there. And if, in fact, they now feel energized and think that Pat Toomey can get to the finish line because there`s just so upset with the new, quote, unquote, "scandal" out there, it could, perhaps, help Senator Toomey.
Same exact thing in North Carolina. Same exact thing with Kelly Ayotte. So, look, I`m not sure this is going to be a landslide sweep for Republicans come nine days from now. But I do think this might be --
ALEXANDER: But I do think this is going offense.
TRAYNUM: Well, right. I do think this could be a little bit of a push to get Republicans to the finish line. Not at the top of the ticket, but definitely on the down-ballot candidates.
ALEXANDER: Ruth, Hillary Clinton addressed this situation again today in Cleveland. I want to play part of what she said.
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CLINTON: I think most people have decided a long time ago what they think about all of this. Now what people are focused on is choosing the next president and commander in chief of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: So, Ruth, is she right about that? Have a lot of -- have the majority of Americans sort of made up their mind about this issue in the presidential race, as she suggests?
RUTH MARCUS, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, yes, but that doesn`t really answer the question or explain why the campaign is so upset about this episode which they obviously are.
Look, a lot of people have already decided that they can`t support Hillary Clinton because of the e-mails. A lot of people decided that whether or not they think it`s serious, they`re going to support Hillary Clinton, none the less.
But for that group of undecided voters and for that group of voters that might just be so decide -- they`re disgusted with the two candidates that they`re staying home rather than hauling themselves to the polls to vote for a candidate they don`t like, this could be problematic. It`s probably not going to determine the outcome, but it does have a bad effect.
ALEXANDER: So rate this. Barbara boxer said it was an October betrayal. Others just simply say it`s an October surprise. Do you think this is a -- this may be in a -- in what`s been an insane campaign season, a real watershed moment?
MARCUS: I think it was an October mistake by director Comey. And I have to say I`m waiting for the November surprise because God knows we`ve seen everything else in this election.
I actually really also want to talk about the January fallout in the event that Hillary Clinton is elected president.
MARCUS: Because she`s going to have to deal with James Comey as FBI director. He`s got years to go in his term.
And presidents work with FBI directors now differently than they used to work with them. FBI -- the FBI, before 911, was mostly a law enforcement agency. Now, it is very much a counterterrorism agency. It is involved in war on terror. This is not -- it`s not good for a relationship to start this way between a president and her FBI director if she is elected.
PETER ALEXANDER, EMMY AWARD WINNING JOURNALIST, NBC NEWS: Last thoughts quickly on the idea of down-ballot republicans we were talking about. Among those who have been impacted and damaged is Darrell Issa in California.
Politico has a headline today that Issa says he would advise Clinton if she only asked and pitching himself as a bipartisan figure. I think a lot of Americans will hear that as a pretty shocking statement from one of the loudest voices in the house against President Obama for the last eight years.
ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT FOR POLITICO: It`s pretty laughable I think when you actually look at what he was saying. I think he`s definitely on defense, very nervous about his re-electability chances. But I actually think that this is coming pretty late. There is eight days left. We had a poll with Morning Consult this morning that basically said that Hillary Clinton`s numbers were the same.
There hasn`t been a big impact yet. It would be interesting to see in the coming days if there is a drag on that and if republicans can kind of figure out what that turnout machine in terms of trying their base energized.
ALEXANDER: Ruth, Robert, Anna. Stay with us. We will check in with you in a bit. Quick correction from just a few moments ago. We were talking about the last time Michigan went republican. It was as we know in 1988. Of course, that was not Ronald Reagan. It was George H.W. Bush who won the White House that year. Still ahead, The Keystone showdown with Pat Toomey`s middle of the road strategy. Will it be enough to help him hang on to his senate seat? We`ll be right back on "MTP Daily."
ALEXANDER: More "MTP Daily" is just ahead. But, first, Kate Rogers with CNBC Market Wrap.
KATE ROGERS, CNBC REPORTER: Thanks, Peter. Stocks closed lower today. The Dow fell 18 points, the S&P lost a fraction of a point, the Nasdaq ended just below a point. Consumer spending rose in September at 0.5 percent. The Commerce Department says a spike in incomes, households spend more on motor vehicles and other durable goods.
U.S. crude fell nearly 4 percent to the lowest level in a month. The drop comes as non-OPEC countries failed to come with an agreement to cut production at a weekend meeting. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
ALEXANDER: Back now on "MTP Daily." Eight days out from presidential election and there are still some undecided voters out there remarkably. For all we know, Pennsylvania republican senator Pat Toomey could be among them.
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PAT TOOMEY, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM PENNSYLVANIA: Unlike Katie McGinty, I am not a hyper-partisan reflexive ideologue who thinks he has to give blind obedience to his party`s nominee. Katie McGinty does that, I don`t.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t you think your constituents, the people of Pennsylvania deserve to know if you`re gonna support the nominee of your party?
TOOMEY: I don`t think my constituents care that much how one person is gonna vote. They`re gonna make their own decision.
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ALEXANDER: If you thought that, that was Senator Pat Toomey saying he will not endorse Donald Trump, but refusing to say if he will vote for him. The campaign for re-election is the race of the day. Pat Toomey is trying to straddle defense with his noncommittal position on Trump, hoping moderate voters appreciate his independence and republican diehards see his no comment as an implicit party line endorsement. The appeal is also visible on the airwaves.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ed Rendell called Pat Toomey a man of uncommon decency.
TOOMEY: It`s about a better future for our children.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tim Kaine praised Pat Tommey`s seriousness, intellect, and civility. With McGinty, it`s a blank check for everything Hillary wants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pat Toomey will fight Clinton`s liberal agenda.
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ALEXANDER: Joining me right now is Jonathan Tamari. He is the Washington correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Jonathan, nice to have you here. Thanks for being here.
JONATHAN TAMARI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT FOR THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.
ALEXANDER: Hillary Clinton last we check up seven points, McGinty up three, and a poll from the "New York Times" in Siena. Give me a sense of your current read right now. Is McGinty up at this moment? Do you think she can hang on given what we are witnessing on the ground in Pennsylvania?
TAMARI: Most people we talked there are really close to say that this is a race that can go either way. You said that at Times poll that was a three- point gap, others have it smaller, some people might have Toomey up a little. The bottom line occurring to everybody watching race is that it is close enough that either candidate can still pull it out.
And I tell you that on Friday when this news broke about the emails, I heard from one republican and one democrat, each with a lot of experience in Pennsylvania who said, this is the kind of thing that shrinking the margin could actually make the difference given how close the senate race is.
ALEXANDER: And in terms of shrinking the margin, the presumption being there that will energize the republicans that may have otherwise stayed home. What`s the stake?
TAMARI: It could energize republicans or if it discourages democrats who may normally turn out as being concerned on the democratic side throughout this race about trying to match the turn out in Philadelphia and areas like that that came out for President Obama.
You know, neither of these two senate candidates have a huge profile in the state. I think a lot of outcome is gonna be tied to that presidential margin. A little bit that helps Senator Toomey.
ALEXANDER: Let me play a moment from the debate last week. This was Pat Toomey speaking about Donald Trump acknowledging some of the flaws but laying out some actions that Trump would take as president that he seemed to like a week ago. Take a listen.
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TOOMEY: The dilemma is this, Jim. Donald Trump is a badly flawed candidate as I`ve said, but if he were president, he would probably sign a bill repealing Obamacare which we badly need. He will probably sign a bill that would restore sanctions on Iran which we badly need. So, there is this dilemma.
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ALEXANDER: Does that count as an endorsement, sort of noncommittal position play with voters? How are they viewing it?
TAMARI: It doesn`t count as an endorsement because if you ever ask the senator point blank is he endorsing Donald Trump, he will tell you that he has not endorsed Donald Trump. But he also will not rule it out. The only person he has ruled out endorsing is Hillary Clinton.
He does seem to be trying to walk his very fine line and it`s a challenge for a republican in Pennsylvania of trying to appeal to the moderate voters without offending the people on the right who are in the rest of the state. When I hear from people about this issue, I hear from often from the people who are Trump voters who are angry at him than I hear from the moderate voters.
ALEXANDER: What`s striking is that Toomey has not campaigned with Trump but he has campaigned with four republican senators in just the last week. Cory Gardner, Dan Sullivan, Thom Tillis, Senator Cassidy as well. Is it a big deal that he is coming out and saying he would be a check? Is that a winning strategy right now? Down-ballot?
TAMARI: He thinks it is. Part of that is that we see that Hillary Clinton also has her own popularity problems. He is trying to tell all those voters who may not like Hillary Clinton very much, if you vote for her, you could still cross over and vote for me, and we will some balance next year.
That`s really his hope and his path to victory, depend on getting some of those crossover voters. Even with the e-mail issue, most people think Hillary Clinton is gonna win the state and he will need some of her voters to crossover and support him as well.
ALEXANDER: Part of the reason why he is quoting Ed Rendell in one of his latest ads. Jonathan Tamari, nice to see you, appreciate your time.
TAMARI: Thanks for having me.
ALEXANDER: Still ahead, coming up in "The Lid." Recapping the headlines that have been overshadowed by the FBI`s new e-mail investigation. Stay here.
ALEXANDER: Welcome back. New poll numbers from Indiana to share with you. Donald Trump is up 11 points on Hillary Clinton. That`s according to a Monmouth poll. Just four points earlier in the month. Gary Johnson`s numbers taking a major hit and split more than half. The republican and the senate race got a boost too.
Congressman Todd Young polled to a dead heat with former democratic Senator Evan Bayh. That is a six-point jump in three weeks. Bayh had the name recognition but endured tough stories this fall from Indiana residency questions to accusations of using a senate office to set up a private sector job and a negative ad campaign waged by his former employer, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
There is also a competitive gubernatorial race in Indiana. Don`t be surprised if both the democrats and republicans put more resources in Indiana during this last week of campaigning. Coming up after the break, the latest response from Trump campaign on Donald Trump`s tax returns that have still not been released.
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TODD: On October 17, Donald Trump had a turn in his tax return issues. Are you gonna release them to the public before the election?
MIKE PENCE, REPUBLICAN PARTY NOMINEE FOR VICE PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: I think as soon as the audit is completed.
TODD: There is no audit on this. There is no audit on this return. They don`t make those decisions that fast.
PENCE: He will release all these tax returns when the final audit is completed.
TODD: All right. So not before the election.
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ALEXANDER: There he was. Mike Pence confirming to Chuck Todd that we will not see Donald Trump`s tax returns. It`s one of the huge headline sideline after the Comey bombshell and that brings us back to "The Lid." The panel is back here with us now. Ruth Marcus, Robert Traynham, and Anna Palmer.
Let me start with this tax issue if I can. The Trump campaign is slamming the Clintons for transparency but we`re not gonna see tax returns. Ruth, to you, could this set a sort of new precedent for future campaigns?
MARCUS: I hope not, but I think it already has. This is a terrible development and it`s a really good question, when the final tax returns are due. We always knew that every time he is asked for his tax returns, he professes to want to give them and throws up a different excuse.
As far as I am concerned, that`s the story that has been under covered pretty much every week. It`s essential that voters and reporters who have the capacity to plow through them get to see candidates` tax returns. I wonder if we don`t need a law so we don`t have this in the future presidential campaigns.
ALEXANDER: Robert, curious, your take on this. It`s Donald Trump who`s been doing the plowing through, basically plowing through the questions from reporters suggesting, suggesting that past presidents suggest that he should be providing this information and transparency, ultimately would answer a lot of questions.
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR BPC: Peter, I think everything about this presidential campaign is going to get tossed out the window in terms of precedent. I do not think that future presidential candidates will abide by Donald Trump`s wishes, if you will.
I think that future presidential candidates will continue the 40-year-old tradition of releasing their tax returns, even if they are under audit including Richard Nixon, who was under audit 40 years ago.
Look, everything about Donald Trump is so unorthodox. I think come the 20 presidential cycle, when we get there, I think there`s going to be a reset button on so many different levels in terms of transparency.
And lastly, I don`t think there should be a law about this, but with all due respect to everyone out in the media, including myself, we didn`t fact check enough about Donald Trump even during the primary process with respect to his charitable giving. So again, I do think we`re going to have a reset button here.
ALEXANDER: The fact checking on charitable giving, there has been a lot of yeoman`s work done about that. David Fahrenthold. Anna is at "The Washington Post." Anna, I want to go to you on this topic. Had led the way on this issue. But it`s challenging, we all concede, without tax returns, that would resolve all of this stuff right now.
Nonetheless, the sort of magnum opus by "The Washington Post" over the course of the weekend, another story that has been in some ways overshadowed here, demonstrated that Donald Trump repeatedly sort of boasted about and hyped up his charitable giving, but there`s no proof that much of it ever occurred.
PALMER: Absolutely. I think this is one of the most undercovered stories of last week, and certainly, David Fahrenthold of "The Post" has kind of been doing the work day in and day out and kind of digging, that takes a lot of time and effort, even if you did have the tax returns, but since he doesn`t, you have to really be an investigative journalist.
And I think it`s one of those things where he says he`s doing all these good works in terms of Donald Trump saying, I`m giving to these different charities, and Donald doing all these good things. But when it comes down to it, he`s done none of it. And I think that is something that we all would be talking about a lot more if this FBI revelation and the Comey investigation wasn`t released.
ALEXANDER: Ruth, on that topic, according to the Washington Post reporting that Trump`s largest ever gift was roughly 264,000 dollars used to renovate a fountain outside the windows of Trump`s Plaza Hotel. What do you make of this story and what it says about the republican nominee?
MARCUS: Convenient, isn`t it? If you were asking me, look, I think David Fahrenthold`s reporting has been phenomenal. All along about the absence of charitable contributions by Trump himself, the use of other people`s money to donate in the name of his charity, and the apparent misuse of charitable donations including for political contributions and to pay legal settlements to settle cases against Trump or his properties.
So this was just the culmination of that. And it was overshadowed, unfortunately, so, by the Comey news, though, for obvious reasons.
ALEXANDER: And Robert, your thoughts on this as well? I want to get your take on this. Obviously, transparency, we traditionally say, can only help somebody. In this case, the opposite may be his best asset.
TRAYNHAM: Yeah, there`s no doubt about it, there`s a lot of head scratching when it comes to Donald Trump`s foundation. A lot of head scratching when it comes to, how come we weren`t talking about this during the primary? I assume that the 16 other people that were running for president on the republican side were doing some opposite research on their opponents on the republican side were doing some research on their opponents. And how come this stuff wasn`t leaked out back then?
I guess my question simply is, I think Mr. Fahrenthold has done a phenomenal job of covering this stuff now, but how come we weren`t talking about this and uncovering this stuff a year ago, when, in fact, there were a lot of people out there that were saying, this man is not qualified to be president. How can this be, that he continues to make these insinuations out there and there`s no fact checking? That`s my question.
ALEXANDER: One other insinuation Donald Trump has made is that the system is rigged. He points to what happened most recently at CNN, courtesy of WikiLeaks. Today, we`re learning that there`s a new e-mail that suggests that the interim DNC chair, Donna Brazile, may have been providing on a second occasion a question to the Clinton campaign to take place at one of their forums that happened in Flint, Michigan.
It`s worth noting, Donna Brazile tells NBC news. She denies this ever took place. That she ever provided any questions to the Clinton campaign. CNN says it was uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor.
They accepted her resignation as a contributor on October 14th, just about two weeks ago. Ruth, your take on this whole WikiLeaks, one of the latest messes, and how it interacts with the DNC chair and the handing over, allegedly, of questions?
MARCUS: Look, I think there are journalists and kind of straight-up news reporters like David Fahrenthold. There are opinion journalist such as myself, who go on T.V. and give our views. And then there are hybrids, who wear two hats. And I think this is an example, potentially, of the discomfort inherit in wearing those two hats.
ALEXANDER: Ruth Marcus, Robert Traynham, Anna Palmer, all of you, thank you very much.
TRAYNHAM: Thank you.
ALEXANDER: After the break, the latest tricks and treats from the White House Halloween celebration. Stay tuned.
ALEXANDER: Sorry to tell you that. Tonight, of course, is Halloween. And one place we`re guessing presidential candidates were probably not the costumes of choice, the White House. There was, though, a kid who looked like he was dressed up as a mini President Obama, complete with the graying hair on the sides, as the president and the first lady today welcomed local children and children of military families to trick or treat at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue. Hope they`re giving out something pretty good this year.
Forget the candy. The real real treat of the White House today was the president trying to dance to Michael Jackson`s "Thriller." We should just let this video play. Doesn`t look like he spent a lot of time practicing for that. But he`s feeling the beat. You decide for yourself whether that beats up from this president.
This moment from last year, the Halloween celebration at the White House, when this amazing costume of a baby dressed as Pope Francis stole the day. A lot of people praying for this election to end sometime soon. You can put your prayers in that little guy. That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." "With All Due Respect" begins right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END