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EARLY START

FBI Director: New Clinton E-mail Review Amounts to Nothing; Trump Campaign Slams FBI Decision; CNN Crew on the Front Lines of Mosul Battle. Aired 3:30-4a ET

Aired November 7, 2016 - 03:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:30:43] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my, another zig, another zag, another twist, another turn. Election 2016 down to the final hours. Now we got another surprise going in to the end here.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, yes, we sure in.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour. We welcome all of our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world.

This morning with just hours to go in the presidential race both campaigns are dealing with what might be the biggest never mind in campaign history.

Nine days after he turned the 2016 race upside down with that surprising announcement that FBI agents were reviewing newly discovered e-mails from Hillary Clinton server the FBI Director James Comey alerted Congress that review is now over and after all that, nothing.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Comey said, quote, "Based on our review we have not changed our conclusion that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton."

Law enforcement sources tells CNN that investigators worked around the clock to sift through the thousands of e-mails and that the investigation wrapped up quicker than expected because most of the e- mails were personal or duplicates of the e-mails that were already reviewed, already looked up by the FBI.

And while the Clinton campaign no doubt welcomes what amounts the vindication big question still remain about whether the FBI director should have set off this nine-day whirlwind to begin with.

BERMAN: We're all over this today from every conceivable angle. I want to start with the coverage of the Clinton campaign, CNN's Phil Mattingly with us on set, live and in the flesh for the latest update.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDNET: For real...

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: They're really here off the campaign trail.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Here he is.

MATTINGLY: Look, here's what we know for sure. There was tightening in this race before this FBI letter was sent, right? Here's what we also know. There is an absolute acceleration in that tightening since the FBI letter was sent, as well. Here's a third fact for you, the Clinton campaign doesn't want to talk about any of this.

They want to talk about Donald Trump. Because that is how they think they win this race. Take a listen to Hillary Clinton last night in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We will have some work to do to bring about healing and reconciliation after this election. This election is a moment of reckoning. It is a choice between division or unity, between strong, steadily leadership or a loose cannon who could put everything at risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: So, as we know for weeks and weeks and weeks you have been breaking down the electoral map. Now every conceivable combination for Donald Trump to win or Hillary Clinton to win.

But look at Hillary Clinton's travel today. That shows you have a pretty good idea of where the Clinton campaign thinks they can close this thing out. Two visits to Pennsylvania, obviously a very crucial state they feel very good about, but they want to close the door on, including that huge rally with President Obama and the first lady, and Bruce Springsteen, just a natural combination of people you hang out with on a Monday night.

And then also Michigan, a race that has tightened extremely so much surprisingly, I think for democrats over the last couple of weeks, they think that can close that out with a visit there. President Obama also there in Ann Arbor trying to rally at the college kids at the University of Michigan.

I mean, a final midnight rally in Raleigh in North Carolina. That race is too close by pretty much everybody's way of looking at it. If they get North Carolina that's just the cherry on top of all the different combinations they have to win. Guys?

ROMANS: Well, every second counts and that map shows you where they are really focusing...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTINGLY: Yes. BERMAN: The flavor of Michigan though, North Carolina is more than cherry.

MATTINGLY: Absolutely.

BERMAN: If they gave you like vanilla and the cup.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTINGLY: Yes, and will screw and then a couple of other things.

BERMAN: Yes, exactly.

ROMANS: You make me hungry. OK. Thanks, Phil. Phil Mattingly, we'll take to you again in just a second. The Trump campaign slammed Director Comey's decision to clear Clinton again. Donald Trump essentially says Hillary Clinton is guilty no matter what the FBI says.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is here with the very latest on that. Good morning, Sunlen.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Yes, it's very clear that Donald Trump is not giving up on this message and his rallies last night he continued to bring up the fact that Hillary Clinton has been the subject of FBI investigation, but notably leaving out this new detail that she's in essence, been cleared of any wrongdoing.

[03:35:03] He never once directly referenced FBI Director James Comey's name, but he broadly cast out on the conclusion they reached. Among point he says, "Sorry you can't review 65,000 e-mails -- 650,000 e-mails in the span of eight days. Here is Trump last night in Leesburg, Virginia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is a rigged system. Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it. The FBI knows it. The people, the FBI, they know it. It's -- I think it's very embarrassing to them. And now, it's up to the American people to deliver the justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: And you can bet Donald Trump is going to keep up that line of attack today. Now that rally only ended about two and half hours ago to give me an indication of how long these campaign days are in and mad dash continues today.

Here is a snap shot of Donald Trump's day, he's going to the must-win state of Florida, North Carolina, then he's on to Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Michigan. This is curious late in the game ad by the Trump campaign to go to Michigan. The state has not voted republican since 1988. Those certainly, John and Christine, Trump campaign presenting some opportunity here.

BERMAN: That he needed to win somewhere and that's an obvious place to go.

SERFATY: Yes.

BERMAN: Sunlen Serfaty, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Sunlen. Up next, CNN's Arwa Damon reporting from the front lines from the battle of Mosul. When she and her photographer are suddenly surrounded by ISIS fighters. Their convoy coming into heavy fighter. A heroin look at the bloody struggle to free Mosul. We'll only see it at CNN, that's next.

[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: I've got a remarkable report for you this morning at CNN exclusive. Our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon and photojournalist Brice Laine, they are on the front lines of the battle for Mosul, both are embedded with the Iraqi Special Forces unit, they have been during the push to try to get the city back from ISIS control.

A couple of days ago, their convoy was leading the operation when it came under heavy fire. This was incredibly dangerous in a time that they didn't think they were going to make it through.

Here is Arwa's accounted the fire fight as it unfolded. This is a story you will only see on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After three weeks of this offensive the Iraqi is at last about to enter Mosul. The man of the elite counterterrorism forces Salahuddin regiment are in high spirits. But after the open plains of northern Iraq, they were about to meet a terrible new reality. This is not a place the soldiers know but their enemy does.

The towns they are facing right now, that there are snipers on roof tops and they're receiving incoming mortar fire that ISIS is shooting from areas that has civilians in them which makes it almost impossible for the counterterrorism unit to be able to fire back.

Three cars have disappeared down the side street. There's one more to the right. Already there is a sense that this will be a different battle. Civilians are still waving white flags, but the roads are getting narrower.

We're in ISIS territory, a clear marked. The convoy slows down and on the soldiers' faces, nerves begin to show. And then the roads give way to muddy allies. There's nowhere to turn. It's so claustrophobic.

And every car here, every garbage can could be a bomb. It's heartbreaking that some families are still here. So is his 19-year-old daughter.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Nour (Ph) was accepted into the university but she never went. Her younger brother Saif as paralyzed with fear cowering with his mother in the back. Then a car of protest, frantic shouted warning. Clearly, he's not a bomber. But she is critically injured.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

Minutes later, he is dead. An innocent taxi driver it was seen in the wrong place at the wrong moment. Now, there's more incoming fire.

Here they've been coming across quite a bit of sniper fire, gunfire, mortar rounds, a rocket propelled grenade and of course, car bombs.

Even in the midst of battle moments of humanity but they're also fleeing. ISIS fighters are on the rooftop, three grenade land in the street.

[03:45:02] (FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just I look this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did you -- how did you get this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grenade.

DAMON: Bullets ricochet off our vehicle intensifying as we go forward. Then a suicide car bomb right behind us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. (muted).

DAMON: There was a flash of orange, ear is ringing. Then another. That was the second massive explosion like that but it was a third. The first one they said it was a suicide car bomb and then exploded on the vehicle that are just behind us, there are a number of soldiers running in the streets, one we're carrying his body who think that he's wounded.

They spot enemy movement.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

The incoming fire is now intense. The bulldozer is hit. Our vehicle takes more fire. Soldiers shoot at a motor bike racing towards us. It's hit. We heard a head of a tire losing air. We realized we're trapped, vehicles wreckage everywhere. Our MRAP takes a direct hit. (muted).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are they doing?

DAMON: I don't know. I honestly I don't know. We need to go in the crowd.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

DAMON: Go, go, go - in there. We take cover, injured soldiers and a terrified family. Brice view has a head wound. More wounded arrive. (FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

Injured himself, Staff Sergeant Ahmed treat Brice's head wound.

ISIS has systematically targeted and disabled almost every vehicle in our convoy. There are only three working Humvees.

It's been hours sense they called for backup and none has arrived. They need to evacuate their own wounded, they don't even have enough vehicles to get everyone out. And that's assuming that they would even be able to do so because they say there are still ISIS fighters have been strong that are on al| sides.

Later, ISIS released its own video of the battle. They had filmed the very house where we were taking shelter from just across the street. It's almost dark, the front line has moved right next to the house where we have shelter.

We need to move, but every time you try, gunfire flies us back.

It's complete chaos and absolutely terrifying. We need to get to a Humvee five steps away. Finally, we make a run for it. Scrambling as quickly as we can.

But there are so many damaged vehicles in our way. Our Humvee gets entangled in another. We break three but go just 10 yards.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

A long and frightening night in hiding follows. We had no idea that ISIS fighters were filming the war booty they've recovered from the regiment's wrecked vehicles just down the street.

It's gone and we're still alive. We're with more than a dozen wounded soldiers only six who are not. Ammunition is running low.

It's been almost 20 hours since we first called for backup. Then I doubt the alarm that it was surrounded and we're still waiting.

[03:50:09] The soldiers with us are exhausted but determined. They know they're in this fight alone. On the roof top, they scanned for ISIS fighters. The soldiers get ready for the attack they know is coming.

Someone has been shot, the grief of the woman yards away is almost hideous. "Where is she?" She yells. And then it erupts again. ISIS has the house surrounded; our only defenders are mostly the walking wounded.

A grenade launched in the courtyard. More wounded are brought in. They tell us it was tossed by an ISIS fighter in the house behind us. An air strike hits the house and brings down the outer wall of the home we're in.

The family we're with under the staircase. One of the boys cried, "I don't want to die." Hours later, a moment of utter relief. A regiment has arrived as back up along with the Humvee to evacuate us. It's less than a mile to safety. We're lucky; we can leave the combat zone. These men will have to return. The battle for Mosul has only just begun.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Mosul, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: I got to say the work that Arwa and her team do every day is remarkable to be able to see what they -- what they saw there in Mosul and know that they did get to leave and all those civilians are still there.

BERMAN: Yes.

ROMANS: It's just really frightening.

BERMAN: It's incredibly brave, but it's also important. It's important to see what's going on there right now because this battle, you know, that is being waged not just in that country but in so many countries right now.

ROMANS: All right, to politics in this country. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have one last chance today to tell voters why they should be in the White House. We'll break it down, next.

[03:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: It is election eve. The morning of election eve. Basically is, right?

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: Joining us to talk about what will happen over the next 24 hours, CNN political commentator, John Phillips, a talk radio host, columnist for the Orange County Register, a Trump supporter, CNN commentator, Symone Sanders, former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders and now a Clinton supporter, Ellis Henican, a political analyst and bestselling author; and senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES", and CNN politics reporter, Eugene Scott.

Eugene, you're new to this circus. So, I'm going to play you a little bit of President Obama yesterday who's been campaigning almost every day for Hillary Clinton. Targeting Donald Trump almost every day.

And picking up the president he is on this New York Times article which says that "Donald Trump has essentially had his Twitter responsibilities removed by the Trump campaign." This is what the president said, he was in Kissimmee, Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: His campaign has taken away his Twitter. And in the last two days, they had so little confidence in his self-control, they said we're just going to take away your Twitter.

Now, if somebody can't handle a Twitter account, they can't handle the nuclear codes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now you see him taking a Twitter parlance that's trolling or is it sub tweeting, you know, Donald Trump right there? Whatever it is, it's the president sort of mocking him and trying to draw him into a debate there, isn't it?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I read that myself. Previously we had Kellyanne Conway on air saying that she could not take Twitter from a grown man. But clearly they did. And he's been able to stay on message. The question becomes if he wins, can he stay off Twitter. This temperament thing has to be to be sustained through presidency, not just one week.

ROMANS: Guys, I want to play a little bit of the sort of final argument from Donald Trump. This is a television ad that is rolling out today. I think it sort of paints this dark picture of who controls the economy and how -- the system is rigged. Watch a little bit of this and I want to read what the anti-defamation league thinks about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don't have your good in mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: I think it is Goldman Sachs CEO is in there, you've seen a group of 20, you see George Soros, you see Janet Yellen who runs the Fed, this is what the ad says whether intentional or not the images in rhetoric in this ad touch on subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages.

Brian Stelter, what do you think about this ad and the reaction to it? You also heard from Senator Al Franken and others who just did not like the tone of this.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, some have said there's dog whistle messaging in this ad. You see George Soros, for example, a couple of other Jews who are pictured in this ad, and this came from one of Trump's most conspiratorial speeches of the election.

About three weeks ago, he talked about the banks, the media institutions, and the politicians all working against you. And at that time, the ADL also said it sensed possible anti-Semitic messaging.

Not the Trump campaign has rejected that. And they're very proud of this ad. I think what really revealing, Christine, is the Trump campaign said this is their positive closing message, even though it's a rather dark ad about the political establishment being out to get you.

[04:00:08] They say it's their positive argument for the finale of this election.

BERMAN: Now what people noted is the language used there is...