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Face The Nation Transcript October 30, 2016: Biden, Pence, Benenson

JOHN DICKERSON, HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: A late October surprise rocks the presidential campaign. What do we know and what impact will it have on the race?

FBI Director James Comey`s announcement Friday that he was reviewing new evidence tied to Hillary Clinton`s e-mail server sent shockwaves across the country. Democrats, led by the Clinton campaign, immediately questioned the move and demanded more information.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is not just strange. It`s unprecedented, and it is deeply troubling, because voters deserve to get full and complete facts.


DICKERSON: Republicans rejoiced.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the biggest political scandal since Watergate.


DICKERSON: We will get the latest on Comey`s decision, what we know and what we don`t know. And we will hear from Donald Trump`s running mate, Mike Pence.

Plus, Vice President Joe Biden weighs in on Clinton`s e-mail troubles and the conflicts posed by the Clinton Foundation.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The good news, thank God, is there is no evidence of anything that`s been illegal.


DICKERSON: New CBS Battleground Tracker numbers give us the first look into the political impact of the FBI director`s move in the states that matter the most. It`s all coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning. And welcome to FACE THE NATION. I`m John Dickerson.

With a little over a week to go before Election Day, the backlash from FBI Director Comey`s decision to make public the discovery of possible evidence tied to the Clinton e-mail server investigation has been intense.

And there`s been a lot of confusion. What we know is that thousands of e-mails were found on a laptop belonging to former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, that could have some bearing on the investigation into whether or not Hillary Clinton`s use of a private e-mail server violated the law.

Weiner is under investigation for charges of sending sexually explicit texts to a 15-year-old girl. Abedin is a top aide to Hillary Clinton. The couple is separated, but she reportedly transferred State Department e-mails to her personal Yahoo account in order to print them for Secretary Clinton.

We begin our coverage with CBS News justice correspondent Jeff Pegues, who is outside the FBI this morning.

Good morning, Jeff.

There`s been a lot of speculation that Director Comey wouldn`t have taken this turn if he didn`t have something big in these e-mails that he has read, but they haven`t even gotten a warrant mail to actually read the e-mails yet, have they?


As of late Saturday night, as we reported, they have not secured this warrant. And that`s important to this process. They cannot legally look at these e-mails until they secure that warrant. The warrant that seized the laptop, that pertained to the Anthony Weiner investigation, so they knew they require a new search warrant to look at these new e-mails -- John.

DICKERSON: And so, Jeff, there is a chance they could be duplicates or not relevant to the case. Is that why there has been some news that the Justice Department was against the idea of Director Comey sending a letter announcing this latest turn?

PEGUES: Well, listen, one of the cardinal rules here is that you don`t disclose information about an investigation, and certainly close to an election, so that is something that is at play here.

DICKERSON: Any chance Director Comey would turn over any of this early?

PEGUES: Well, as you know, the pressure on him to do that is increasing.

FBI Director Comey over the years has been someone who likes to do things by the book. And so any new revelations could jeopardize what investigators are trying to do. So, it is unlikely that he will release any new information, but the pressure is growing on him to do that.

DICKERSON: All right, Jeff Pegues outside the FBI for us, thanks so much, Jeff.

Joining us now is Republican vice-presidential hopeful, Indiana governor Mike Pence. Welcome. It’s nice to have you here, Governor.

MIKE PENCE: Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: Before we talk about this latest revelation in the FBI server case, let’s step back for a minute. Both you and Donald Trump think that this was wrongly decided in July when Director Comey found no --

PENCE: We do.

DICKERSON: -- evidence of an exchange of classified information. Whose fault is it that it was wrongly decided?

PENCE: Well, I – I -- I think – I think that’s really an open question, but ultimately the director of the FBI’s decision --

DICKERSON: So is it his fault?

PENCE: -- This last July to, to not go forward with recommending charges was deeply troubling to millions of Americans and us included. I mean, it followed on the heels of when former President Clinton met on a – on a private aircraft with the Attorney General. And days later, you had the director of the FBI literally lay out a case of the mishandling of classified information on a private server that Hillary Clinton operated while she was secretary of state and had a private family foundation taking money from foreign corporations and foreign countries. And then two days later, the director of the FBI went to Capitol Hill and literally undercut his own decision by confirming to the Congress that what Hillary Clinton had said about classified information was not true, that she had emailed classified information, that in fact there had been emails marked “classified.” So I think it was deeply troubling to millions of Americans. But we commend the FBI and the director on their decision to keep their word--


PENCE:--to the Congress and move forward--

DICKERSON: Here’s what’s confusing though. ‘Troubling’ kind of allows you to be in both places without saying it’s exactly somebody’s fault. Because you’re alleging also the Attorney General put pressure on the FBI director, which is a pretty strong claim.

PENCE: Well --

DICKERSON: And that that changed his mind. I mean, do you think it changed his mind? He was going to go and bring charges, but he changed his mind because the Attorney General put pressure on him?

PENCE: Well, John, I’m not alleging that. You -- you just suggested it. I really --


PENCE: --don’t know--

DICKERSON: But why bring up the meaning with Clinton, then?

PENCE: Well, I think because the meeting itself was very troubling--

DICKERSON: But what does ‘troubling’ mean?

PENCE: Because of an industrious local TV reporter, you found out that former President Clinton got on a private aircraft, had a private, clandestine meeting with the Attorney General just days before the FBI decided not to recommend charges in a case where-- I mean, we have a four-star general today who’s facing very serious legal consequences for mishandling classified information. And yet here again we see a double standard where the American people believe that there’s a -- there’s a different standard for Hillary Clinton and for the Clintons than there is for the rest of us. But what the decision this week showed is even 11 days before an election, no one is above the law. The FBI director has stepped forward, kept his word to the Congress and the American people, and told us, “There’s more information. And an investigation is now reopened.”

DICKERSON: You say it’s troubling. Mr. Trump has said he will investigate Hillary Clinton if he is made president -- have his Justice Department investigate her. Would a part of that investigation be this meeting between the Attorney General and Bill Clinton as part of the investigation of Hillary Clinton?

PENCE: Well, I think, I think that--

DICKERSON: If it’s troubling, it seems like it’s worthy of investigation.

PENCE: Well, I think -- I think at the end of the day, the American people have a right to know why when she was Secretary of State, in charge of all of our foreign policy, and operating a private foundation, taking money from foreign governments why she had a private server--

DICKERSON: But I’m talking about the, the meeting between the Attorney General and Bill Clinton that you’ve mentioned twice, is that worthy of investigation just quickly?

PENCE: Well, I think that the mishandling of classified information in this case, which is a violation of the law for any other American, is worthy of investigation.

DICKERSON:  Let me ask you this –

PENCE: But let -- you know, let’s be clear about this issue. Remember, Hillary Clinton refused to turn over 33,000 emails--

DICKERSON: Absolutely.

PENCE:   And I truly do believe that as we approach this election, Hillary Clinton ought to turn over those 33,000 emails to the public, to the press and let the American people fully examine the correspondence of her record and her communications about that foundation and all the other --

DICKERSON: Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said, quote, “Suggesting Comey is a partisan interfering with the electorate is dangerous and unfair.” She’s talking about the Clinton campaign, which is going after Comey. But Donald Trump has been going after Comey and the Justice Department on this issue for the last four months. So was that also, as Kellyanne Conway said, dangerous and unfair?

PENCE:   I think that questioning the decision by the Federal Bureau of Investigation this summer is something that millions of Americans have done. And Donald Trump has expressed that frustration of millions of Americans, John.

DICKERSON:   Be he said it’s politically motivated, which she says is dangerous and unfair. So it sounds like she’s calling out the Clintons for doing exactly what Donald Trump--

PENCE:  Well, no. No, John -- John, you know, I mean, what we’re seeing now is the old playbook of the politics of personal destruction that the Clintons have rolled out throughout their career. And they’re targeting the director of the FBI and questioning the -- his personal integrity.

DICKERSON:   But these are Donald Trump’s--

PENCE:  What Donald –

DICKERSON: -- words.

PENCE: What Donald Trump and I have talked about --

DICKERSON:  Governor, these are Donald Trump’s words. “This is a disgusting example of just how badly career politicians have rigged the system.” That’s a – that’s a shot. That’s not – that’s – that’s taking a shot at the – at the FBI and Director Comey for that original decision.

PENCE: Well, that original decision was really incomprehensible to millions of -- I mean, to arrive at a place where even in his testimony before the Congress -- and in that long press conference that he gave, John, that literally Hillary Clinton had classified information on a private server that she said she didn’t have, that she emailed classified information that she said she didn’t do. All of these things misrepresented mishandling classified information. And then to conclude that she was simply extremely careless and there would be no recommend (sic) charges, that to me is the kind of double standard that the American people are weary of. But -- but I think people are very encouraged by the decision this week--

DICKERSON:  Let me ask you--

PENCE:   -- by the FBI to say, “We have a large volume,” that -- as is being reported in the press. “A large volume of new information. And we’re going to investigate it in a thorough and timely way.”

DICKERSON:  Let me ask you another question. 21 million people have voted.  Has -- is there any real evidence that this election is being stolen, based on what you all and the Trump team has been watching as this voting’s gone underway?

PENCE: Well, I don’t – I don’t think – I – I don’t think there’s been a suggestion about it being stolen as much as frankly--

DICKERSON:  Well that’s –

PENCE: -- frankly --

DICKERSON:  Mr. Trump said if he lost Pennsylvania it would only be if it was ‘stolen.’  He used that word.

PENCE:  Well, let me – let me say that when Donald Trump and I have talked about a rigged system -- the, I mean, the documented overwhelming bias among many in the national media -- got a lot of respect for you, John -- lot of people in the national media with overwhelming negative coverage of Donald Trump gives the American people the feeling that the national media gets up every day and -- and does half of Hillary Clinton’s work for her. But we also know that voter fraud has happened in polling places and precincts around the country. And we’re just calling on every American to find a way to respectfully participate in their local election process to ensure that when we – when we achieve that victory on November the 8th, it’s also a victory for American democracy.

DICKERSON:  You’ve said Republicans should come home. Why aren’t they coming home yet? It’s close to the end.

PENCE:  Well, Donald Trump has a message to make America great again that’s reached out to millions of independents in this country who are tired of gridlock in Washington, DC. Frankly, he’s appealed to millions of Democrats around this country who are tired of trade deals shipping jobs overseas and liberal policies. And, look, after a 17-way Republican primary, you know, there are some – some -- some differences and some tensions within our party. But, you know, my message as I traveled around the country this week is that it’s time for Republicans to come home, to elect the Trump-Pence team.  Time for Republicans to come home and reelect Republican majorities in the Congress. And time to come home to make sure that not only for this week’s news but for a stronger military, a stronger economy, a Supreme Court that upholds our Constitution, that – that we ensure that Hillary Clinton is never elected president of the United States.

DICKERSON:  All right. Governor Mike Pence, thanks so much for being with us. Good luck out there.

PENCE:  Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: We interviewed Vice President Biden on Thursday, the day before the FBI director`s announcement.

But Hillary Clinton`s e-mail server, as well as hacked e-mails showing more coziness between the Clinton Foundation and corporations and foreign government, were on our minds when we sat down in the vice president`s ceremonial office.

I asked him if it was inevitable there would be a conflict between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton`s role as secretary of state.


BIDEN: I think they have acknowledged that, that they`re -- where they could have done it better.

The good news, thank God, is there`s no evidence of anything that`s been illegal. But it`s -- you know, like, for example, they now said that when she wins, she`s getting off -- I hope when she wins -- if she wins, he will go off the board of the foundation. I think, if they would go back and do it again, they would probably make some changes. But...

DICKERSON: Should they just shut it down if she wins and becomes president?

BIDEN: Well, it does too much good to shut it down.

Really, I have not been, you know, the number one defender of the Clinton Foundation, but it`s done too much good. So, shifting it to the control of others beyond the Clintons, I think, would be -- you know, I think it`s going to be necessary if she becomes president.

DICKERSON: Trust and honesty has been a big part of this campaign. Voters don`t trust either of the two candidates.

And I went back and looked at “Promises to Keep,” and you talk about your grandfather Finnegan and his lesson, which was: “Public servants are obliged to level with everybody, whether or not they will like what he, the public servant, has to say.”

Do you think that applies to Hillary Clinton`s dealing with this private server that she set up?

BIDEN: Well, I think it`s a combination of a couple things.

One, I don`t think she`s understood the gravity of setting it up. She thought it was -- this was OK to do. And then when this woman has been so battered over the last 30 years, I think then, when faced with this is a problem, I think, instead of just cutting it and dealing with it immediately, there`s always an inclination to overthink it.

But what I really do believe what my grandfather said. I think people reward you being straightforward. And my state of Delaware was not a -- it was a red state, not a blue state, when I got up there. And I would say things, and people would come up and say, OK, well, at least I know where the kid stands.

I still think it`s the best policy. But when you have been on the other end of a concerted effort, justified or not justified, to undermine your credibility, I think you probably are in a different place in terms of how you -- your instinct how to respond.

DICKERSON: If she`s in that other place with those instincts, does she need somebody, if she were to be president, to push against those instincts to keep what your grandfather...

BIDEN: No, I actually do think she does, and I think she knows she does.

And I think she also knows that, when she`s elected, she`s going to have to be prepared to be more open as president as to what her feelings are about things.

But, you know, there`s kind of a double standard, John. I get all this credit for being authentic and, you know, now even Biden gaffes are now Biden tells the truth kind of thing.

So, but I`m a guy. I go out and if I start talking about my Beau and I get filled up, my son who died, they say, well, he`s a -- really, he`s just a good, decent father, honorable man.

If she were to do that, you would have a chorus of, she`s playing the woman card here, she`s crying, a little bit like -- like Michelle. Any time Michelle Obama said something strong, well, she`s an angry black woman.

There`s a sector of the electorate that -- and I think that has a tendency, at least over 30-some years of Hillary, to cause her to close, rather than open.

DICKERSON: When people talk about your candor, what they say is you -- you know, you say something true maybe ahead of time, before it`s all been worked out, and that`s worked well for you politically.

What I hear from voters about her is they say, even when she`s saying something that may be right, what they hear from her sounds like she`s not being straight with them. That doesn`t seem like a gender thing.

BIDEN: no, but Hillary says herself, she says: Look, I`m not that good a candidate. I believe she said: I`m not Bill or Barack. I`m -- and a lot of it has to do with personal style.

I do think she is more measured and she makes fewer mistakes than I make or most people I know. But I just think it`s more -- it doesn`t go to her integrity or honesty. It goes to her style. DICKERSON: Do you send e-mails?

BIDEN: I don`t. I -- let me back up. Occasionally, I will get an e-mail from a family member, but I don`t have my staff send e- mails. If they do, they text me something, and -- but I am sure I have some e-mails, but the answer is no.

DICKERSON: Are you happy these days that you don`t?

BIDEN: I`m very happy that I don`t have an awful lot of e-mails.

But who knows. The ways the Russian hack, they may have hacked into anything I have. I don`t know.

DICKERSON: Donald Trump says, how do you know it`s the Russians who hacked into the DNC or into WikiLeaks? How do you know?

BIDEN: Think about what that says to the rest of the world. Here, the intelligence community of the United States government, the most potent military in the world, with the most significant intelligence capability in the world, says, flatly, we know it was Russia, and we know it was Putin, or we know it was the Russians.

And a candidate for president who already is fawning over Putin says, well, how do they know?

What does that do to the confidence of all our allies that here you got a guy heading the Grand Old Party -- and it is a grand old party -- saying, well, you know, 17 American intelligence agencies confirm this was done, but I don`t think they know. I don`t think they know.

What does that say? It`s a little bit like the president going out and saying, you know, I -- they tell me we got a good military, but I don`t think we have much capacity.

It`s bizarre.

DICKERSON: Is it just politics, or do you think there`s something more?

BIDEN: I don`t know whether he just doesn`t know.

I know I get criticized for saying this. He just may not be informed enough to know what he`s saying. It`s just -- some of it is so out of the box, John, so far out of the box. It`s hard to believe that he could be so devoid of the facts.

So it`s either deliberate attempt to undermine or it is totally uninformed.

DICKERSON: If we hear 17 intelligence agencies, if we read that in the press, how do we know? How does he know as a candidate? Or is he being briefed?

BIDEN: He`s being briefed. He`s being briefed. (LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: Intelligence guys are coming in.

DICKERSON: Yes. So, this is -- he`s just not reading this on the Internet.

BIDEN: This is not on the Internet.

And you had the head of the intelligence community, the director of -- Mr. Clapper, came out and say, confirm in front of all of you, this is what we have determined.

DICKERSON: Question about Obamacare.


DICKERSON: Twenty percent premium increases on those who buy insurance through the federal exchanges.


DICKERSON: Ameliorated by subsides.

But some insurers are leaving the program. Is it in peril if the next president doesn`t get some legislation to fix it?

BIDEN: No, but I appreciate, as usual, the way you ask the question.

Of all the people who have insurance, 85 percent don`t get their insurance through the insurance plan, this exchange. That 25 percent doesn`t apply to 85 percent of the population. Of those that it does apply to, as you said, the vast majority will get an increased subsidy for the increase in the premium.

But there are things we have to do. We should be in a position where we are providing a greater subsidy for young people to get into the marketplace that can`t afford to get in because, when they`re in, what that does is bring a whole group of healthy people into the system, instead of what`s caused this increase in premiums, which is very sick people signed up and got in.

There`s other things we have to do as well.

DICKERSON: If those fixes aren`t made, though, the trend line is not -- if things stay as they are, no legislation to fix those -- the problems you have identified, then it seems in peril.

BIDEN: Well, no, I don`t think it`s in peril.

It`s not working as well as it should, because here`s what happens. You still have -- no one can be denied health care for a preexisting condition in or out of the system. You still have children being able to stay on their parents` health care until they`re age 26. You still have women not having to be -- not being able to be charged more than men. There`s a whole range of things that still justify it, but it`s not as good as it should be. It would not imperil it, causing it to be not able to function.

DICKERSON: Where is this on the priority list for the new president? It seems like...

BIDEN: I think it`s going to be very high on Hillary`s -- on -- well, assuming it`s Hillary, on her priority list.

DICKERSON: It has to be?

BIDEN: I think it has to be. I think it`s important.


DICKERSON: We will have more of our interview with the vice president in our next half-hour.

Coming up next: new Battleground Tracker polls taken after the FBI made the announcement on Friday. We will tell you whether it looks like this October surprise will have any effect on the election.


DICKERSON: And we`re back with CBS News elections director Anthony Salvanto.

Anthony, you went into the field after this news came out. What did you find?

ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: Well, everybody had heard about it almost immediately by Saturday.

And partisans went right away into their respective camps. So, Republicans said this is bad. They expect the e-mails eventually read to be damaging, further damaging to Hillary Clinton. Democrats said, well, it`s probably more of what we already know, and it`s not so bad, they`re not changing their vote.

There are some of the folks who were unsure on the fence who said it might make them a little less likely to back Hillary Clinton. And what that tells you is, as with many controversies that come up in the campaign, it`s not as much about eroding support for a candidate, and it`s not for her, but it is limiting, in the sense that she may have trouble now reaching out beyond the voters that she already has, those who are on the fence, and maybe a little bit limiting there.

DICKERSON: Just quickly, how many are on the fence?

SALVANTO: Very few. Very, very few.

You`re talking about 10 percent in most of these states, sometimes as low as 2 percent to 5 percent. DICKERSON: So, one of the things Democrats have been saying, hoping, praying, is that what they say is that these views are baked in about what they think about Hillary Clinton`s server. In fact, she even said that. Did you find any of that evidence in the polling?


Some of the argument here is that this goes to those honest and trustworthy numbers that we have talked about all year, which are very low for her, Hillary Clinton, and have been low. Well, that`s part of what they mean by baked in.

In fact, a third of her supporters in many of the states we survey, they also say that she`s not honest and trustworthy, and they are voting for her anyway. They`re making their decisions on other criteria of how she compares to Donald Trump on a number of other metrics.

And I think, John, more broadly, what this shows you is that the October surprise isn`t what it used to be, in the sense that, today, we are so divided and partisans are so hard and fast in their views that when they get new information, they don`t necessarily process it in a decision-making way. They filter it through what they already think.

DICKERSON: All right. So they have already made their decision about Hillary Clinton and new information isn`t going to change their mind.

Anthony, we will look forward to talking to you in -- later in the show.

And we will have more to come. Back in a moment.


DICKERSON: If you miss any part of FACE THE NATION, we`re now available on video on demand through your cable provider, and also, of course, on our Web site,

Stay with us. We will be right back.


DICKERSON: Some of our stations are leaving us now.

But, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including senior strategist from the Clinton campaign Joel Benenson and our panel.

Stay with us.


JOHN DICKERSON, CBS ANCHOR: Welcome back the FACE THE NATION. I`m John Dickerson. We have more battleground tracker numbers from those key states that will decide the election. In Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton holds an eight-point lead over Donald Trump, 48 percent to 40 percent. North Carolina shows a tight race, Clinton leads Trump there 48 percent to 45 percent. It`s also a three-point margin in Colorado, where Hillary Clinton is at 42 percent and Trump is at 39 percent. And in Arizona, a Republican-leaning state where Clinton is doing well, Trump leads by just 2 points, 44 percent to 42 percent.

We continue with the mastermind behind the battleground tracker, along with our friends at U-Gov (ph), that`s CBS News director of election Anthony Salvanto.

All right, Anthony, inside those states, what are you seeing in terms of turnout for both sides?

ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS DIRECTOR OF ELECTIONS: OK, the first thing you want to look at is the party split, how many Democrats there are for Hillary Clinton, how many Republicans there are for Donald Trump, because on the latter, Donald Trump has lagged among Republicans relative to how Hillary Clinton is doing with Democrats throughout this campaign, and that`s still the case. So he`s still not getting that full support from Republicans, and she is getting close to nine in 10 Democrats. And that`s adding up to effectively the difference in a lot of these states.

And that`s sort of mixed in there with a little bit of a growing gender gap. And I keep my eye on that. The difference between how men vote - men vote and how women vote, more women leaning towards Hillary Clinton, more men going towards Donald Trump.

DICKERSON: So, in Pennsylvania, our finding is that 78 percent of the Republicans are behind Donald Trump. Would that explain why he`s down eight points in Pennsylvania?

SALVANTO: It does. And that sounds like a lot and it feels like a lot, but it`s not enough. And so what that tells you is -

DICKERSON: Seventy-eight percent is not enough?

SALVANTO: That 78 percent is not enough.


SALVANTO: I mean a typical Republican is going to get closer to 90 percent. And so even when, you know, you heard Governor Pence talk about Republicans needing to come home, that`s what he`s talking about, they`re probably seeing the same things in their data, that there are a lot of Republicans for Donald Trump, but not enough to make up the difference numerically.

DICKERSON: Right, so he`s having huge rallies, but he needs more than the big rally groups.

Let me ask you now about, in terms of changing the dynamic of the race, there`s a lot of voting that`s already taken place, as we talked about with Governor Pence, 21 million people. Does that make it harder to shift things now?

SALVANTO: It does. So there`s - there`s 20 million people - 21 million people have already voted, already cast ballots, and that`s incorporated into the polling somewhat. But, of course, those votes are in the bank. I mean you look at places like North Carolina, and at least on party registration, which is not a perfect measure and doesn`t mean we know how you voted, but party registration, Democrats are outpacing Republicans. So what that tells you is now Hillary Clinton doesn`t have as far to go from here to Election Day and Donald Trump needs to not only change minds, but get consistent turnout from here to Election Day or even on Election Day. That makes it a little bit harder.

DICKERSON: All right, Anthony, thank you so much.


DICKERSON: Joining us now is Clinton campaign senior strategist Joel Benenson.

Joel, for the last four months Clinton allies, people in the Clinton campaign have told us that the FBI director made his determination about the Clinton server, and they`ve been using him to prove that that story is over and done. Now it seems like the Clinton campaign is really going after the FBI director. Are people going to believe it, that switch in position?

JOEL BENENSON, CLINTON STRATEGIST: Well, I think you had an intervening event here, John. The FBI director took an unprecedented action that we`ve seen in the last 24 to 48 hours. Former law enforcement officials, both Democratic and Republican, having served in the administrations of presidents from either party, have said this is contrary to policy, the Department of Justice, the statement he put out on Friday, it is unprecedented that you don`t take actions within 60 days of an election. He did that. And now we need to get to the facts.

And I think in fairness you can`t compare what happened in June after a long and thorough investigation, versus a statement that he put out, unprecedented, told his own employees in a letter, I didn`t want to create any misleading impression here, but then that`s exactly what he did.

So the bottom line is, we need to know the facts. We`ve called on him to release any information he has right away. But now it turns out, I think there`s another news report, that says he actually has no information, which makes this all very curious and very questionable and I think that`s why you see law enforcement and hear law enforcement professionals questioning what he did.

DICKERSON: You know, it seems that the strategy here from the Clinton campaign is to basically keep raising questions about him, keep pointing out that there`s been criticism of him. That`s something Donald Trump has been doing for the last four months. Is that really the conversation you want to have going into the closing end of this election?

BENENSON: Well, no. And, in fact, we`re going to have a closing election about what kind of country we`re going to be. We`re going to answer questions when they come up, as you just poised them to me. But I think what voters are talking about and thinking about now, and I think Anthony just mentioned this, is, which of these two candidates is going to make this the kind of country we want to be, one where the economy works for people like them, not just those at the top, a person who really has the steadiness and what it takes to be commander-in-chief in a challenging world, someone who knows how to work with our allies, as opposed to Donald Trump, who has threatened to abandon our NATO allies and called for more countries to have nuclear weapons. I think at the end of the day that`s what you`re going to see.

And the other thing that`s important, and I think Anthony touched on this a moment ago, John, is we are seeing record turnout in the early vote. He mentioned North Carolina. Mecklenburg County yesterday alone, compared to four years ago the same day, the Saturday nine days out from the election, the number of voters was up 16 percent over what President Obama turned out in 2012, and he carried that county by 34 points.

DICKERSON: Joel, let me ask you one more question.


DICKERSON: You - you mentioned that this is unprecedented, what the FBI director did, but isn`t that essentially a result of the unprecedented act that Hillary Clinton took by having an off-the-book server, by not being forthcoming, by deleting e-mails based on just whatever e-mails she decided would be delete, isn`t she and isn`t this an unprecedented moment because we`re in an unprecedented case where a secretary of state had her home - had her own home server?

BENENSON: Look, she`s addressed. Director Comey addressed it after a thorough investigation in June. What happened on Friday, we don`t even know if it has any relevance. That`s why we`re saying, let`s see the facts here. The action he took was unprecedented. He put out a statement to Congress, which he has no obligation whatsoever to do. So - and probably no requirement under any circumstances. But then he said in a letter to his own employees, we have to avoid creating a misleading impression.

He now, we know, has no facts, and he made a public statement about a potential inquiry. He has no information. He should put out all the facts he has, clarify this and I think that`s totally reasonable under the circumstances and the - and the critique he`s getting from other law enforcement professionals.

DICKERSON: All right, Joel Benenson, we`re out of time. Thanks so much for being with us.

BENENSON: Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: And we`ll be right back with our panel.


DICKERSON And we`re back now with our politics panel. Susan Page is “USA Today`s” Washington bureau chief, Ben Domenech is the publisher of “The Federalist,” Amy Walter is the editor of “The Cook Political Report,” and Patrick Healy covers politics for “The New York Times.”

All right, Susan Page, what`s the real fallout of this disclosure from Friday, or do we know?

SUSAN PAGE, “USA TODAY”: We don`t know for sure. We`ll know as more polling goes on, although only nine days till the election. I think it does do a couple of things. I think it helps Donald Trump consolidate support among Republicans who have been reluctant to support him. I think it makes it hard for Hillary Clinton to deliver some of the voters who were probably going to vote for her but weren`t that enthusiastic. And it is a lifeline to Senate candidates like Pat Toomey and Kelly Ayotte and Marco Rubio, who have been in danger but now are in a stronger position to make an argument that voters ought to reelect them.

DICKERSON: Pat, what do you make of the Clinton response to this? It was not a pivot. It was to go right at Comey and they`re keeping it up, right?

PATRICK HEALY, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Right. They are on a war footing, and that`s what the last nine days could be like. Look, they were really hoping that it was going to be Trump and fitness that they would be talking about the most. Now they have to deal with headlines and Clinton and FBI. That is not what they want. They have few targets, John. They can`t go after really Huma Abedin and - and Anthony Weiner. They`ve decided they can`t throw her under the bus. Comey is really sort of who they - who they have. But it creates such awkwardness. This is President Obama`s FBI director. It gets back into Loretta Lynch and - and the Bill Clinton meeting, like you brought up. So whether they can move undecided voters in places like North Carolina and Florida, when the last week is all that people are talking about. If - if - if Trump is able to sort of make that case, it`s going to be a really big challenge for them.

DICKERSON: And, Ben, we see what the - Governor Pence was doing, what Donald trump is doing, which is using this as a magnet to attach all kinds of other things, the revelations this week about Bill Clinton and his foundation and using that to enrich himself. The general, as Donald Trump said, the general drama that surrounds the Clintons. And if - if there is this fight between the Clinton campaign and the director of the FBI, isn`t that playing out the drama now right in front of voters as they`re heading towards Election Day.

BEN DOMENECH, “THE FEDERALIST”: It - it - it is. And, you know, certainly talking to a lot of Republicans, particularly in the Senate, to Susan Page`s point, this week. I was hearing that line from “Die Hard” over and over again. You ask for the miracle, I give you the FBI. But I think in in case, what it really does is, is to Susan`s point, it - it forces - it forces a situation where - where the Clinton campaign had wanted to focus in these final days on trying to expand the map, in trying to increase a potential likelihood of winning the Senate. I think it really prevents them from doing that. It gives a lot of momentum I think for Republicans and for people like Mike Pence to make the case, come back home. You know, you have to stop the Clinton machine. You don`t want to relive the `90s scandals all over again. And I think that puts the Clinton campaign in a very difficult position. They`re still the odds-on-favorite to win, but they may be stumbling towards the end here.

DICKERSON: The alternative argument, Amy, is that any Republican, if Donald Trump`s having trouble with Republicans, any Republican who thinks they can`t - and the number of times this week, in talking to Republican strategists, the number of times they`ve brought up that overheard video of Donald Trump talking about sexual abuse, that`s the thing that`s hurting Republicans getting to yes about Donald Trump. Is this really going to interrupted that is the question? Is Hillary Clinton`s problem going to help them get over their problems and worries about Donald Trump?

AMY WALTER, “COOK POLITICAL REPORT”: Right. So there`s been a remarkable consistency in the pattern of this race from the very beginning, which is, when the spotlight is on one candidate, it benefits the other candidate. So when we`re talking about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton`s poll numbers come up. When we talk about Hillary Clinton, his numbers get better.

Hillary Clinton, of course, was doing great when we were focusing, not just on the tape, but I would argue the real slide for Donald Trump began after the first debate and then when he got into the fight with the Miss Universe. And I think that really cemented where the focus was, which was about temperament. And I hear this over and over again from voters who are conflicted between - they have a choice between someone they don`t trust and someone whose temperament they don`t like, and that the temperament piece was becoming a bigger determine.

I don`t know that this suddenly changes and they go, oh, you`re right, it`s trust. I`m going to go back to trust. I don`t trust her and I`m going to vote for him. The temperament piece still seems a bigger challenge for Trump than the trust does for Hillary Clinton.

The other question in my mind is whether or not that this focus on Comey is not just to try to - because they don`t have anything else to do - but to try to help shore up their own flagging base, right? Have a bad guy, which is James Comey and the FBI, to get their base all fired up. See, they`re trying to steal it from Hillary Clinton. The FBI`s coming at the last minute. You`ve got to get out and vote right now.

DICKERSON: Yes, it`s a -

WALTER: But they -

DICKERSON: They`re not -


DICKERSON: They`re all but saying the word “rigged.”

DOMENECH: But the great irony of that situation, of course, is that in July there were all these headlines, all these editorial boards saying to Republicans that criticizing James Comey is undermining the rule of law -

WALTER: Right.

DOMENECH: Et cetera, et cetera. This time around, you know, the Clinton campaign has turned it around totally on him. I understand to - to the point that Patrick made about the inability of them to find somebody else to point to. The real problem that they have here is that Ms. Abedin testified in June that she had turned over all of the devices relevant to this. Initial reporting from - from “The Washington Post” this morning says that she was not aware that these e-mails were on this device. And it`s one of these situations where if they can`t find someone else, they have to have Comey as the fall guy.

WALTER: Right.

HEALY: And they - and there`s such awkwardness within the campaign. This is Hillary Clinton`s closest aide. And it`s not as if, you know, they can put her on the hot seat and sort of grill her. But their - their bigger, right now, sort of advantage is that Hillary Clinton`s operation has built a real ground game, states like Florida and North Carolina, which they feel like they have to win, and now they need to - to sort of clarify the message to energize those people and get them out. And, frankly, if they can`t do it with Trump and fitness, Comey may be, you know, in defending our girl, as Michelle Obama said, you know, maybe really the hope they have.

PAGE: Well, and, of course, they have a - a reasonably good case against the FBI director. They have - we have - people who served in Republican Justice Departments saying this is inappropriate what he`s done. It`s a violation of guidelines. But the Clinton campaign`s problem is that the reason they`re in this fix is because Hillary Clinton -


WALTER: Right.

PAGE: Inexplicably -


PAGE: Chose to have a private e-mail server as secretary of state and that Bill Clinton went to Loretta Lynch, when their planes were intersecting -


PAGE: On a tarmac and made it impossible for her to stop him, which she might otherwise have been able to - if that meeting hadn`t taken place, she would not have recused herself in such a thorough way from this investigation. And we know from news reports that she was opposed to -

DICKERSON: Hillary just sent (ph) -

WALTER: And to that point, the - the race was already - you were already seeing signs of tightening in some of these battleground states and nationally before we had this FBI investigation, in part, because, as I said, the spotlight was no longer on Donald Trump. The debates were in the rear-view mirror. He hadn`t gone on to Twitter to attack anybody in recent days and the focus was on the Clinton Foundation and the Obamacare issue.

DICKERSON: What did you make of the race tightening, Ben? Did - did you feel like that was -

DOMENECH: I felt like that was real, but I felt like it was driven mostly by, to your last point, the - the news about Obamacare premium, which affect so many people across the country. I think that that`s the sort of thing that matters even more to voters than some of these e-mail issues.

But we have to keep in mind, so many millions of people have already voted at this stage. Early voting starts so early this year that a lot of people have already cast their ballots and it`s - it really remains to be seen whether that can make any difference on the presidential level. That being said, I do think it could be a situation where the final storylines of this campaign today is could leave the Republicans to do better when it comes to the Senate, as opposed to what a lot of expectations were.

DICKERSON: Amy, in talking to some people in Trump land, you know, he`s going to be in Michigan next week.


DICKERSON: In New Mexico -

WALTER: Right.

DICKERSON: Wisconsin. He`s got other states to worry about. How do you read those trips and what do they -

WALTER: Well, what`s really interesting about where we`re seeing this map shake out in a police like North Carolina, which was a real push for - for the Democrats in 2012. Obviously, Obama didn`t carry it after he carried it in 2008. She seems to be doing really well.

Where she`s struggling are in those rust belt states. Or not struggling, but she`s ahead but not by the margins that Obama was. And so the challenge for Donald Trump has always been, if he`s going to win this thing, he has to get into those so-called blue-wall states where a Democrat hasn`t lost in years and years and years because he`s going to lose a place like North Carolina, because he`s not going to win - he could lose in a state like Florida, because Arizona is in play. You`ve got to go to where the most opportune environment is. And that`s with white, working-class voters. It may not work, but at this point, it`s likely his only shot. HEALY: And it is - it is a danger, though, because, you know, Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump`s campaign manager, she`s a pollster. And I was talking to her last night and she made the case that Michigan and New Mexico, that they`d seen some change in their numbers, some reason to give them hope. And I said, you know, Kellyanne, don`t you need to be on the air in states like Florida and Pennsylvania and North Carolina in a bigger way where you really need to win. And she was like, well, Mr. Trump wants to go to these places. Mr. Trump instincts, you know, are still to try to win with the voters that Amy was just talking about.

And it goes back to the danger that was at the beginning of this campaign, which is that you have an outsider who so believes in his own ability to win over the people and he goes to these rallies and he sees the way that the adulation - he thinks that he can win anywhere and he needs to be focused just on these states he`s got to win.

DICKERSON: All right, just a week left. Thanks to all of you.

We`ll be back in a moment with more of our interview with Vice President Joe Biden.


DICKERSON: Word leaked late last week that Vice President Joe Biden is a top contender for the job of secretary of state if Hillary Clinton wins. Biden, however, signaled that he`s not interested.

We want to conclude today with the vice president`s reflections on his 47 years in public service and what he plans to do next.


DICKERSON: What does it mean to be an Obama whisperer?

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you know, I had the advantage, I think it`s fair to say, of knowing an awful lot of the people we brought into the cabinet longer and better than - than - than Barack. Excuse me, than the president. And although they had enormous respect for the president, they weren`t as used to dealing with him as I was. So I`d have - and he doesn`t wear his - his feelings on his sleeve all the time. And so people would say -

DICKERSON: And you wear them on both sleeves?

BIDEN: I`m - unfortunately. It`s a draw - the - the - the president kids. He says, you know, Joe and I, we make up for each other`s shortcomings. He makes up for mine. I have - he is very few. So what it means is, I have his confidence. I am a close friend of his. He knows he can trust me 1,000 percent.

DICKERSON: The number of lunches you will have - weekly lunches with the president is dwindling.



BIDEN: But we`re still going to hang out a little bit.

DICKERSON: You`re going to hang out after - after it`s over?

BIDEN: Yes, for real (ph).

DICKERSON: You might just have longer lunches. You`ll have less -

BIDEN: Yes, we can have longer lunches, yes.

DICKERSON: Do you talk about the fact that you`re, you know, the exits (INAUDIBLE)?

BIDEN: Yes, we do. We - we - we talk a lot about what each of us are going to do and what we might be able to do together. The bottom line is, both of us feel that there are the things that motivated us to get into politics and still the things that shape our lives and our interest and make us happy. And so you`re going to see the president deeply involved in a lot of the things he`s continued to be involved in and I`m - I`m not going away. I - you know, everything from this issue of violence against women, to income inequality, to the Cancer Moonshot, I`m going to devote the rest of my life to this.

DICKERSON: What`s it going to feel - I mean since you were 29 -

BIDEN: Well, I don`t know. I don`t know. I must tell you, I - I know there`s an awful lot that I will have access to do, but I have never - from the time I`ve actually been 26, every morning I`ve gotten up, I`ve, you know, somebody hands me a card that has my schedule on it, and, you know, and I know what I`m about to do. I know what I want to work on. And so it`s going to be an adjustment. I - I honestly don`t - I`ve enjoyed - I have been so proud of being involved in public service that I`m not sure exactly how I`m going to do it other than the structure of, you know, American political system.

DICKERSON: You`ve been asked a thousand times if you regret deciding not to run. Was there every a moment in the last year where you said, boy, I`m glad I didn`t run?

BIDEN: Well, I guess yes in that some of the - the vitriol that exists today in - and - and it`s not - some of the stuff that the other team`s doing, I - I just am glad my grandkids, you know, I sit there and say, God, I - I mean how do you respond to a guy on stage when he - I mean, I`m - I`m just happy - let me put it another way.

A woman who runs my office has a daughter that`s in, I think, sixth grade. I called her on Columbus Day, which was a holiday, to check my schedule the next day. And I said, did you watch the debate? And her comment was, my daughter had a girlfriend over from class. They were supposed to watch the debate. The first few minutes, I had to turn it off. I didn`t want my daughter seeing this debate. The stuff of, you know - anyway. So, yes, there`s sometimes I`m - but, look, I - I think - I think I made the right decision for my family and for me and I think Hillary`s going to be a hell of a good president.

DICKERSON: In 1972, when you announced you were running for the Senate, this is what you said. You said -

BIDEN: God almighty, you really - you did your homework.

DICKERSON: “We`re a divided people. We have too often allowed our differences to prevail among us. We have too often allowed ambitious men to play off those differences for political gain. We have too often retreated behind our differences when no one really tried to lead us beyond them.” It feels like you could give that speech today.

BIDEN: I could, but I tried my best to lead us beyond them. And I think for a significant period of our time, we did. You know, history runs in cycles. You know, I say to young people out there, they said, well, why would I get involved now with the dysfunction in government. We`re more divided substantively when I ran and made that speech than today. The Vietnam War, the women`s movement, the civil rights movement was still not finished. The whole environmental movement. I mean it divided families. I mean it divided friends, those things. People didn`t speak to one another over them. And yet my generation did, we did get involved. We did make a difference. We did change things in the `70s, in the `80s. But it is - it moves. And the abuse of power is always, always just right there and reached for by - by people who - who shouldn`t be in power. And we need people to speak up to it. Speak out against it. And that`s what I have tried to do my whole career. I don`t think - I don`t make myself out to be a hero, but I don`t think you`ll find anybody in public life I dealt with that I`ve ever not tried to bridge the differences with, not be honest with.

DICKERSON: On your last day of office, what are you going to do?

BIDEN: What I`m going to do is go home and begin to figure out what I do for the rest of my life. And I think it`s going to - I hope to be able to do the same things that I`m doing now out of office.

DICKERSON: Mr. Vice President -

BIDEN: Hopefully.

DICKERSON: Thanks very much.

BIDEN: Thank you, John. Appreciate it.


DICKERSON: That`s it for us today. Thanks for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I`m John Dickerson.

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