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Sunday Morning Futures

Rep. McCaul: America faces different types of threats now; former NYSE chairman honors 9/11 first responders

This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," September 11, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Good afternoon. Welcome to a special edition of "Sunday Morning Futures" this morning, as we continue our coverage of 9/11, 15 years later. I'm Maria Bartiromo.

Our country pausing once again today to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost -- mothers, fathers, daughters and sons. We also honor the heroes who sacrificed their lives to save others.

Right now, the ceremony is underway where relatives are reading all of the names of those lost in the deadliest terrorist attack ever on American soil.

Earlier this morning, the president attended a wreath-laying ceremony marking the moment a plane crashed into the Pentagon 15 years ago while others gathered in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to honor the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We know that our diversity, our patchwork heritage is not a weakness, it is still and always will be one of our greatest strengths. This is the America that was attacked that September morning. This is the America that we must remain true to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARTIROMO: And as we mark this somber occasion today, we also take stock and give thanks for an America stronger and more resilient than even before.

Where are we though in terms of security today?

Joining me to talk more, Congressman Michael McCaul is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Mr. Chairman, good to see you. Thanks very much for joining us.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, R-TEXAS, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE:  Thanks for having me, Maria.

BARTIROMO: Well, we have been talking all morning about the deadly attacks now 15 years ago, and I guess my first question for you today as we look forward is, where are we today in terms of preparedness, in terms of security for the country?

MCCAUL: Well, if I can just first say I participated in the 9/11 memorial service at Ground Zero. We can never forget, always remember. Looking forward, to answer your question, I think the threat level has changed.

I think we are probably at the highest threat environment since 9/11, but it's a different type of threat. Prior to 9/11 bin Laden, al Qaeda operated in a very primitive style with communications. Today, we have a new generation of terrorists that are very savvy on the Internet and they know how to exploit it, both to recruit and train and radicalize from within, such that we've seen 40,000 foreign fighters converge in Iraq and Syria from 120 different countries to form the Islamic State that we are now at war with.

This is 15 years later after 9/11. They are still conducting external operations with foreign fighters, primarily in Europe as we saw in Paris and Brussels, but also in the United States as we've seen too close and personal at San Bernardino, and Orlando, and Chattanooga, Boston, and Fort Hood.

This is a continuing threat. An evolving but different threat that is very difficult to stop because they are using the Internet to radicalize people in the United States as I speak.

BARTIROMO: Right. So we've got smaller attacks, different attacks and then, of course, that cyber threat. Have we kept up with it as a country?  Are we doing everything we could? Do we need new tools to deal with these new ways of terrorizing?

MCCAUL: Well, I will say since 9/11 we've put many security apparatus in place, whether protecting on aircraft travel, you know, to the keeping radioactive material out of the country. The intelligence sharing has enhanced greatly between law enforcement and intelligence and our allies.  All these things together have, I think, created a more protected environment and safer environment.

But the thing that's very hard to stop are these communications that we see coming out of Raqqah, Syria, into the United States and over the Internet.  In many cases, Maria, they use encryption so we can't see what they're saying. If you can't see what they're saying, very hard to stop.

These attacks we see today would not be as spectacular as 9/11 hijacked event that brings down the World Trade Center but rather a smaller scale active shooter, suicide bomber, IED type of event.

BARTIROMO: There are, what, thousands of investigations going on right now of people in America who are either would be terrorists or copycat terrorists or those people who are in cells in America right now waiting for direction, isn't that right?

MCCAUL: Well, that's correct. Every day when I talk to the FBI and Homeland Security and what we worry about are the communications we miss, the communications we can't see coming into the United States that could happen on a daily basis. And that's -- I think that's how the threat has changed greatly. It's more difficult to pick up these communications.

As you've mentioned, we've had over 1,000 investigations in all 50 states but we've stopped a lot of bad things as well. I want to commend our federal law enforcement intelligence community for stopping so many bad things. We've arrested over 100 ISIS followers in the United States since the caliphate took form, and I think that's a testament to the FBI and Homeland Security. I think we're doing the best job we can but the threat is very much real and very much still alive.

BARTIROMO: Does it get even more real and tougher with a stronger Iran? I mean, you know, we have to talk about what we learned last week and that was, of course, that the U.S. has spent $1.7 billion in cold, hard cash to Iran in all of these currencies, Swiss currency and euros. Where will that money go? We know that Iran is the biggest supporter of terrorism.

MCCAUL: They're the largest state sponsor of terrorism. $1.7 billion that we've given them at taxpayer expense. We lifted the sanctions, which is a $100 billion stimulus to Iran. All of this money can go into their Quds force, into their terrorism operations globally. I worry about what happens in the western hemisphere with Iran and the idea that they can get into the United States.

So, we have a threat both from what's called Sunni extremism, which is al Qaeda and ISIS, but also Shia extremism which is Iran. They are both just as deadly, just as toxic.

BARTIROMO: Yes. And what about this idea that we had, in fact, a lot of openings? Now, we have not seen the kind of attack that we saw 15 years ago. Is that, do you think, because of our effectiveness or are there still areas that we need more funding and we need more attention toward?

MCCAUL: Well, I think we've stopped the bigger plots because we shut down core al Qaeda through interrogations through good intelligence. There are many plots that were to follow 9/11 that we stopped from happening in this country that I can't even get into. So, that's the positive story.

The bad news story, if you will, is that they have found a new way to infiltrate the United States. They are here. There are communications happening between Raqqah, Syria, and Americans in the United States. Many of those communications we cannot see.

So, where do we want more of the resources? I would argue that particularly with the FBI who has a tremendous burden on them to monitor individuals in the United States, when the numbers, Maria, are not going down, the numbers are going up. The numbers of investigations are going up, the cases are going up and the plots against both Europe and the United States are going up as well.

BARTIROMO: Right, at the same time, President Obama last week announced that one of the prisons had been shut down at Guantanamo Bay. The president has made an announcement and a promise to the American people that he's going to shut down Guantanamo Bay. What are the implications of shutting down that prison?

MCCAUL: Well, that was a political promise but I believe it's a dangerous one in terms of sending hardened terrorists back to the battlefield, giving them a one-way ticket back home. We know that many of these terrorists have been released and have gone back to the battlefield to kill Americans.  That's a very dangerous proposition.

I've been down there, Maria. I saw Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was responsible for 9/11 who killed 3,000 Americans. Probably one of the spookiest sites I've witnessed in my lifetime.

The idea that we're going to allow people like him out of Guantanamo and let them loose, we passed a law in the Congress to prohibit any of these guys from coming into the United States, and the president knows he can't do that, so he's doing it in and around the Congress and sending them to other countries that will take them. I think it's a very dangerous proposition.

BARTIROMO: It's dangerous. A lot of people are saying it's dangerous but he's moving forward with it. Is there an alternative? Where should those people go?

MCCAUL: I think what's left, there aren't very many left down there, I don't think they deserve liberty at this point in time. They deserve prosecution. We need to move forward with the prosecutions down there.

We should be interrogating more of these guys we capture on the battlefield and bring them to Guantanamo to get more (AUDIO GAP) attacks after 9/11 was good intelligence we got through interrogations, and this administration does not seem very interested in doing that.

BARTIROMO: Right. Congressman, good to have you on the program this morning. Thanks so much.

MCCAUL: Thanks, Maria. Appreciate it.

BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon.

And up next, Dick Grasso will join me, the former chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange. We'll look back, remember Wall Street that fateful day and the reopening of the market on the 17th.

If you have a question about what happened, send me a tweet. We will be right back.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

We are watching live coverage this morning of the ceremony, "9/11: Fifteen Years Later". We remember one of the darkest days of our country's history. Fifteen years ago today, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on 9/11.

I was working at the New York Stock Exchange on that day just two blocks away from where the Twin Towers came under attack.

My next guest was the chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange at that time and exhibited great leadership. Joining me right now is Dick Grasso.

Dick, thank you very much for joining us.

DICK GRASSO, FORMER NYSE CHAIRMAN: Maria, I'm delighted to be with you.

BARTIROMO: On such a tough day.

GRASSO: It is a very difficult day for all-Americans, and particularly for people who were in the zone when the attacks occurred. I just hope, you know, as we look back 15 years, I just hope many if not all of the 25,000 who walked out of those towers are today pausing to remember those who were running up the stairs. Three hundred forty-three firefighters whom we lost, 23 police officers, 37 port authority police officers who gave their lives so that 25,000 people could live.

It was the worst of times for the country since Pearl Harbor and yet as Americans always do, they rose to the occasion. Those firefighters and police officers, they had one thing in mind, saving lives, and boy did they do a good job.

BARTIROMO: And I remember sitting in your office at the end of the day digesting it, watching you lead what was then 5,000 people at the New York Stock Exchange. We didn't want to say too much on television. I remember you telling me, "Maria, remember, the world is watching right now." You didn't want to say 5,000 people are still at the New York Stock Exchange.  You tried to make sure people left and walked off the East Side River.

GRASSO: We were very fortunate actually before the South Tower came down, which was first to come down, I had talked with Rudy Giuliani who was just an incredible, incredible human being. I mean, on that day, he rose, he was not the mayor of New York, some would say the mayor of the world and some would say the president of the United States.

Rudy said, keep them in the building, don't let them out because we don't know if there's another plane in bound. In fact, if you watch there's a film done and you see Richie Sheirer, may he rest in peace, is the head of OEM at the time, in the World Trade Center, in the command center, saying we've got a third plane coming into New York. No one knew whether that was accurate. No one knew whether it was headed for us.

So, the mayor said, keep them where they are and we didn't let them go until about 3:30 when Rudy said, all is clear, send them to the East River and have them walk north.

And, you know, I just look back and I say, those cops, those firefighters, the Con Ed workers, the Verizon workers, it was an outpouring of community effort to make certain people were safe and that we would restore and rebuild.

BARTIROMO: And the firemen, they were walking in, running in while people were coming out, 343 firefighters lost and as you said, the number of police officers at 23 and 37 port authority. My heart also goes out to those 1,402 people in the North Tower.

When that plane went in, 1,402 people died in tower one, another 1,600 people died in tower two. When that plane went into the building, those people in the North Tower, the people had nowhere to go. They died of smoke inhalation.

GRASSO: Everyone above point of impact in the North Tower had to have perished because there was no way out. The stairwells were gone. There was an intensifier.

I mean, when I got to Ground Zero at midnight that day it was still a 2,000 degree fire --

BARTIROMO: Oh my God!

GRASSO: -- where the first tower came down.

Again, it was the worst of times but the best of times. There was the mayor of the city of New York in the middle of the street directing emergency efforts, I mean, covered in soot but right there like a George Patton making certain -- at that point, we all thought there were hundreds if not thousands buried beneath the rubble.

Of course, we later found there was no one. There were about half a dozen firefighters and several civilians that ultimately came out but, you know, we all had hopes, Maria. That's why the market never opened and didn't open until the following Monday, because we did not want to interrupt a life saving mission. We thought there were many, hundreds of thousands.

BARTIROMO: I want to talk to you about that Monday, because that was Monday, September 17th. The markets never opened on September 11th, that's Tuesday. They stayed closed the whole week. You had a herculean effort to get those markets opened again on Monday.

But what I remember is being on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, with you, as you had all the first responders ring that opening bell. And you with the governor, and the mayor, and the fire department, the police department, port authority. And what I remember is interviewing all of them on the floor and yourself thinking, OK, we are down but we are not out. We will rise again because we are resilient.

GRASSO: Well, you know, the great message that morning and you're right, we had the treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, we had George Pataki, the governor of New York, we had Rudy Giuliani, we had New York's two senators, the police commissioner, the fire commissioner, the OEM commissioner.

But when it came time to ring the bell, we wanted to send the message and so it was rung by the first responders. And if you watch film footage of that opening bell, Billy Fisher who was an ESU cop, the Hercules cops, rings the bell and he raises his arms and he has massive arms and pumps his arm as if to say, you've killed thousands of people, you've destroyed billions in property, but you can never defeat the American way of life, which is what they were trying to do.

And opening the market was so important, a message that life would go on, we would rebuild. You want to give credit beyond first responders who deserve all of the credit, people from Verizon, people from Con Edison, who put their lives at risk on a night of 9/11. I watched them go into 140 West Street, a dark building that was flooded, and stand in three and four feet of water. It was incredible.

BARTIROMO: Dick, it was incredible. You exhibited such leadership.

Thank you from all of us for your leadership on that date. Thank you.

GRASSO: Thank you for your calm message to your viewing audience, that helped enormously, Maria.

BARTIROMO: Appreciate that. Dick Grasso, thanks for joining us today.

GRASSO: Delighted to be with you.

BARTIROMO: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: As we mark 15 years since the deadliest terror attack in our nation's history, questions remain about America's relationship with one of its biggest adversaries out there. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting that the Obama administration paid $1.7 billion in cold cash to Iran, likely for the release of four American hostages.

Now, the White House is insisting that that was money that was owed to Iran as payment for a 1970s military equipment sale.

Joining me right now is the U.S. attorney general under President George W. Bush when our nation was attacked, John Ashcroft.

Mr. Attorney General, good to see you. Thanks very much for joining us.

JOHN ASHCROFT, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm delighted to be with you.

BARTIROMO: On this, such an important day 15 years later, what are your thoughts this morning?

ASHCROFT: Well, I'm grateful we haven't had the kind of massive attack that was directed by al Qaeda, but the evolution of the terrorist movement has left us with some serious injuries whether you're talking about Orlando, Boston, San Bernardino, or a variety of other settings around the world, ISIS has a different method of operations. I don't think we could ignore the old style attack. I think if we did, we would subject ourselves to jeopardy.

But there is a new style of an attack that's not specifically directed by the organization itself, it's inspired saying wherever you are, do what you can to disrupt and impose injury and damage and it's designed to build the caliphate, send people to be inspired to be a part of the caliphate, which has been developed in the land in the Middle East now based on the occupancy by ISIS of land that we at one time were in a position to help control.

BARTIROMO: I want to take you to this day, today, and ask you about that $1.7 billion in cash that was sent to Iran. What's your take on this? Why was all of that cash sent? And what does that tell us about Iran standing in the world right now and what are the implications?

ASHCROFT: Well, you know, I think of my history lessons in high school where they -- I remember them saying millions for defense but not one cent for tribute, not one penny for tribute. You have to wonder about the way this were done, if it weren't designed to cover up something and if it weren't a cover up, why was the money delivered in unmarked bills and not in American currency but in converted currency.

BARTIROMO: It's extraordinary.

ASHCROFT: If a private corporation is seeking to negotiate with Iran some type of deal, were to deliver unmarked bills in foreign currencies, the money laundering sort of implications, this sort of has a gangster-esque character about it.

BARTIROMO: Yes.

ASHCROFT: I think it bears very serious inspection. A private company doing this would probably be involved in felonious activity.

BARTIROMO: Yes.

ASHCROFT: When we've been told and we haven't been able to trust the authorities to tell us what's happening.

BARTIROMO: Well, this is a really important point that you're saying, trusting the authorities, because it feels like, and I think a lot of our viewers feel that things have become so politicized, whether it is what you just referred to in terms of the lack of support for our first responders, our police forces out there across the country or even, you know, the attorney general's office.

We saw Loretta Lynch meeting with Bill Clinton on the plane just right before, you know, Hillary Clinton spoke to the FBI. We see the FBI not recording the interview. I guess her lawyers told the FBI, look, she's not going to speak to you if you record it. The FBI said, okay, they went against protocol and did not record the interview.

What's your take on trust in our agencies right now given what we've just discussed?

ASHCROFT: Well, I think it points out the need for what you do in the news industry, to bring us the truth. Unfortunately, in terms of Benghazi, we know that there was one story that was attempted to be marketed to the American people that had had to do with the production of a film, which was absolutely wrong. It was a terrorism attack.

We know now the administration knew it was a terrorism attack but for political reasons didn't want to identify it as such. The same is true on the delivering of cash to Iran. This story dribbles out only upon necessity and there's a requirement to make, insistent in constant corrections in what had previously been told the public.

And when that's the case it becomes clear that the politics is shaping the, quote, "truth" in ways that are designed to be beneficial politically but are not designed to inform the American people so that they can make good intelligence choices about the information of their government. And at the base of a democracy is the ability of people to make good choices based on good information.

You know, the computer industry tells us, garbage in, garbage out. If you don't have good information, you can't make good decisions. The democracy requires the American people to make good decisions. We deserve the truth, not some politically managed, politically correct or politically advantageous set of remarks that would somehow shape how we would otherwise or distort how we would otherwise make decisions.

BARTIROMO: Mr. Attorney General, I want to get your thoughts here 15 years after 9/11 as we are cherishing those lost and highlighting our fallen heroes this morning. What's your takeaway?

ASHCROFT: The threat is evolving, as has been mentioned by the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. The threat has been evolving. It includes now cyber threat and the use of cyber world to inspire.

We're not dealing as much with directed threats by an organization like al Qaeda as we are inspired threats with a generalized authority or inspiration from the ISIS community to do what you can, where you can. If you can't make it back to the caliphate, be disruptive, destroying, be a terrorist where you are.

That's why we're more at risk of soft target problems now than we had been previously and we have to be diligent in our effort to make sure cooperating with law enforcement from the very street level law enforcement to Washington.

I used to tell the FBI when I had the privilege of speaking into the FBI, you know, the people with their feet on the street in America may be even more important than a bureaucrat with his feet on the desk in Washington.  Let's listen carefully to what they have to say.

BARTIROMO: Yes, which is why you hope the agencies are not politicized.  Unfortunately, these are the realities we face.

John Ashcroft, thanks very much for weighing in today. We appreciate your time.

ASHCROFT: Well, it's my honor to be with you and we should be ever vigilant to make sure that the liberty America enjoys is one that we can pass to the next generation.

BARTIROMO: Absolutely. Attorney General John Ashcroft there.

Up next, a House committee asks three people to testify regarding the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation.

We're looking ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" right now. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: A news alert now. Hillary Clinton leaving this morning's 9/11 ceremony in Lower Manhattan. Her campaign says she felt, quote, "overheated".

Senior correspondent Rick Leventhal is live at the World Trade Center Memorial right now with the very latest on Hillary Clinton.

Rick, over to you.

RICK LEVENTHAL, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Maria, we were first to report this after law enforcement told me he was within 15 feet of Hillary Clinton as she was leaving unexpectedly well before the ceremony was expected to end. They had to quickly call her motorcade to come up and pick up Hillary Clinton because they weren't expecting her to leave at that hour. She was apparently having some medical problems, medical episodes.

As you said, her campaign said she was overheated. Some have told me it appeared she had fainted. She was standing on the curb waiting for her van to roll up. And when it did roll up, the scene unfolded exactly as my source described it. The video was on Twitter. We've now seen it, we're hoping to be able to show it to our viewers.

But on the video, you can see Hillary stepping off the curb and her knees appearing to buckle. The people around her grab her and help her. She stumbles again. Her protective detail surrounds the van as she is then helped into the van.

My source told me that one of her shoes actually came off during that episode as she stumbled off the curve and fell -- almost fell to the ground and they lifted her and helped her into the van. And someone picked up her shoe and handed it to someone else in one of the other vehicles that was following the former first lady as they left this area near the Memorial Plaza at Ground Zero.

She went to her daughter's apartment and a couple of hours later, she emerged from the apartment, I believe within the last hour. She waived to reporters, smiled and said it was a beautiful day and she was feeling just fine, thank you.

So, the former senator is doing OK at this hour, but certainly this morning, Maria, here at Ground Zero, it didn't appear that way. She did have to leave well before she was scheduled to depart because of what was apparently some sort of medical episode at the scene.

BARTIROMO: All right. Rick, thank you for that breaking news. We'll keep following that. Rick Leventhal there.

Meanwhile, the House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed three workers who helped maintain the former secretary of state's private e-mail servers.  They want to know why an e-mail archive was deleted. Among those subpoenaed, Bryan Pagliano, ordered to appear at a congressional hearing, tentatively set for this Tuesday.

Joining me right now with more on this is Robert Ray. He is the former Whitewater independent counsel and former federal prosecutor.

Thanks very much for joining us, sir.

ROBERT RAY, FORMER WHITEWATER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Good afternoon, Maria.

BARTIROMO: To what do you attribute this new information that Pagliano is, in fact, going to testify and he's got immunity?

RAY: Well, Congress's concern about the very obvious thing, that is while there is a demand for records going on, the Clinton folks and these -- including Mr. Pagliano, those responsible for the servers were apparently wiping the servers and deleting things and that raises a legitimate question about whether or not obstruction of justice is something that should deserve and will deserve a second look.

BARTIROMO: So, where do you think we are at this point in this investigation? I mean, things keep dribbling out. Her team used a hammer to destroy one of her devices, literally, a hammer. She had 13 devices.  Obviously, she said she was using one.

In terms of the obstruction of justice charge, do you think that's what Congress is pursuing now?

RAY: I think that's part of it. I think where we are is that we're in a politically charged environment which is always difficult. But the public has come, I think, to a point where it's not prepared -- prepared to accept as credible the determination to end the investigation and I have my own legitimate concerns about whether or not this was an investigation designed more not to offend, not to offend Bill Clinton, not to offend Hillary Clinton, apparently not to offend the higher authorities in the Justice Department.

And when I saw that, for example, Cheryl Mills, the legal advisor to the State Department, was allowed to have access to Hillary Clinton and sit in the interview when she was interviewed by the FBI, that didn't sound to me at all like an aggressive investigation. Frankly, in my view, based upon what I know and particularly her efforts to use the attorney-client privilege to shield information, my sense of it was that doesn't appear to be an aggressive investigation.

I would have thought the approach would have been, hey, listen, you're a subject of our investigation, you need separate counsel, and there's no way in the world that you're sitting in the interview when the FBI interviews Hillary Clinton.

BARTIROMO: So, what was your takeaway by that interview with the FBI? We know that it wasn't recorded. We know that it wasn't under oath. It sounds strange, frankly, given this investigation right before a presidential election.

RAY: Well, look, the FBI conducts interviews typically not recorded and with the presence of sufficient staff to take notes that ultimately are recorded in the sense not, you know, by a tape recording by obviously recorded in the form of a written summary of what occurred.

You know, that's not so unusual. Remember, the FBI conducts thousands of interviews. What is unusual about it though was the procedure that was engaged in. And, again, it looked an awful lot like let's not offend anybody. That's not an aggressive prosecutor or an aggressive investigation seriously interested in finding out what the truth is.

And while, you know, it's easy for Jim Comey who's a friend of mine to say, you know, you're not on the inside here, you don't know what I know about what's going on with this investigation, I think the public right now has trouble accepting that this has been a searching and thorough investigation. Which is why some have called and frankly I have reached the point where I think a special counsel is what is required in order to get to the bottom of this if Congress can't do itself.

BARTIROMO: How -- do you think that would materialize? Why wasn't a special independent outsider brought in anyway at this -- the election is in 60 days?

RAY: Right. Sufficient political pressure needs to be brought to bear in order for the attorney general to see the political necessity of having to do that so that the public can fairly evaluate this and come to accept the findings of a special counsel in sufficient time for the electorate to make an appropriate judgment at the election in November.

BARTIROMO: Right. Right.

RAY: Otherwise, the public remains cynical in saying, here we go again.  It's a politically charged environment and nothing gets accomplished.

BARTIROMO: Yes, that's exactly right.

Robert, thanks very much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

RAY: Thank you, Maria.

BARTIROMO: Robert Ray there.

We'll take a short break and we have brand-new poll numbers for you.  They're showing that the race for president is in a tight place in several battleground states. We will break down all the numbers with our panel.  That's up next.

We're looking ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

Hillary Clinton maintaining some breathing room over Donald Trump in a new Washington Post/ABC poll. Take a look at these numbers.

Clinton is leading Trump by 5 points nationally, but that same poll giving cause for concern on the Hillary side as well with signs of waning enthusiasm among Democratic voters.

I want to bring in our panel right here. Ed Rollins is a former campaign manager for the Reagan/Bush ticket in 1984. He's the chief strategist for a Trump super PAC. Judith Miller back with us, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute for policy research, and a Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist. Alfonse D'Amato, former New York senator and a Fox News contributor.

Good to see you, everybody. Thank you so much for joining us.

ED ROLLINS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.

BARTIROMO: Walk through this poll from Washington Post/ABC, Ed. What's the most important here?

ROLLINS: Sure. Well, first of all, there's always a 4.5 percent gap, I mean, on the sense, plus or minus. It could be dead even, which is what a lot of polls are showing. I assume she has a couple point edge.

The critical thing is the Trump supporters have so much more enthusiasm, 93 percent say they have made up their mind, where 81 percent of hers say they're still -- you know, they're for her, but there is a period --

BARTIROMO: Yes, there it is, 46 percent Trump and 33 percent --

ROLLINS: Sixty-one percent of his people are following the election very closely, 48 percent of hers and 48 percent -- 46 percent of the Trump supporters. I mean, they're there and they're not going away.

So, my sense is he is gaining immeasurably. I think he's had a good couple of weeks here. Normally by Labor Day, it's pretty much over. This is not over by any means and I think this is just one more indication that it's going to be a very close race.

BARTIROMO: Judy, what do you think?

JUDITH MILLER, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR: I'm struck by the fact that six out of ten voters say they dislike both candidates and neither is perceived by six out of ten voters as either honest or trustworthy. I think at the very beginning, we all agreed this was going to be a negative campaign, one dedicated to knocking down the other guy and portraying them -- or girl and portraying them as unfit for office.

We've seen that in spades and I think that contributes to what Ed points out as a lack of enthusiasm, especially among people who may be wavering.

BARTIROMO: Well, this lack of enthusiasm on the Democratic side, but there's also something that has happened in the last couple of weeks that seems to have helped, Donald Trump, Senator.

ALFONSE D'AMATO, FORMER NEW YORK SENATOR: Trump helped himself tremendously when he went in front of the black church and he gave a talk with respect to we have to help the inner core cities. We have to help the minorities who have been taken advantage of for years. We owe them more.

And I have to tell you -- it's not that his vote within the African- American community is going to go slowering (ph). But with others, with independents, with people who question whether or not he has the finesse, et cetera. Does he recognize the social ills and problems or is he just concerned about the wealthy? It was excellent. It gave people food for thought.

BARTIROMO: Yes.

D'AMATO: And Hillary has been bleeding a thousand cuts. E-mails continues to bleeds, kept it close. And take a look. This race is a Pitkin race.  You've got to look at the battleground states. You've got to look at Ohio.

BARTIROMO: Yes, let's look at those poll numbers, go ahead.

D'AMATO: And you've got to look at Florida.

BARTIROMO: Yes, Florida, it's very close. In fact, there was one poll showed him up in Florida.

ROLLINS: Well, the critical thing is she has a stronger organization, she's had more money. She's got all the political organization that was built by Obama's two campaigns, but she just doesn't have the intensity the voters have for Obama.

He's had a good campaign the last couple of weeks, with new campaign management. I think it's structured better.

BARTIROMO: It's working.

ROLLINS: He is a candidate.

Well, he has been out all summer meeting voters. She's been running around with all the fat cats. I think her comment the other night here in New York with a Barbra Streisand event where she called half of his supporters "deplorable", the term "deplorable", I think she's going to be haunted by that word the rest of the campaign.

BARTIROMO: We're going to talk about that comment because that really resonated with a lot of people.

By the way, there's also a health issue. We know Hillary Clinton is fine.  Her campaign came out today, said she's fine.

But there was a moment at the 9/11 ceremony today that people said she fainted. She had to leave early, Judy.

MILLER: Yes.

BARTIROMO: I know they're saying she's fine. Are these health issues real?

MILLER: Look, I think Hillary is going to have to tell us a lot more about the state of her health given the problems she's had earlier and I think Donald Trump has to tell us a lot more about his taxes, about that foundation he has that supposedly uses other people's money to claim deductions that he supposedly makes.

BARTIROMO: And then there's the Clinton Foundation. It's not going away, obviously.

MILLER: There's the Clinton Foundation.

Look, he has stopped shooting himself in the foot, which is amazing.

BARTIROMO: Short break. We've got more on the panel. We're going to get into that deplorable comment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: To be grossly generalistic, you could put half the Trump supporters in to what I call the basket of deplorables.

(LAUGHTER)

Right? The racists, sexists, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARTIROMO: Hillary Clinton apologizing partly for those comments that she made about Donald Trump supporters, admitting that she was, quote, "grossly generalistic Friday when she said half of Trump's backers are, quote, "basket of deplorables". But insisting that Trump has, quote, "built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia".

We're back with the panel right now.

Your reaction?

D'AMATO: Let me tell you -- outrageous. I want to say outrageous, for somebody who really has the basket of the deplorables. And you want to know who the basket of deplorables are? The dictators, the countries like Saudi Arabia that discriminates against everything that moves and some things that don't, the whole group of them who have given hundreds of millions of dollars to her foundation so that they could get and work their way. And they did.

The Russian group that bought the uranium plant and gave $135 million to the Clinton Foundation, those are the deplorables. Those are the despicables.

And let me tell you, patronage they brought to a new thing. They make Boss Tweed look like a choir boy.

BARTIROMO: Oh, incredible --

ROLLINS: Bottom line is he's going to get at least 50 million votes, probably more by the polls today. To call 25 million people racists, deplorables, what-have-you, these are blue collar, hard working people across this country. And you combine that with her husband commenting about the Southern states the other day, which is a derogatory, very element of the country, I think this is something that she's going to have to live with, just like Romney had to live with the 47 percent.

I think that there will be ads about it. I think that it's going to be a serious charge and she quickly tried to respond to it.

BARTIROMO: Yes.

ROLLINS: This is for a fashion week. Her millionaire friends. Barbra Streisand and all of the rest of it. And I think to a certain extent, she's going to live, live to regret this.

BARTIROMO: She's regretting it right now, I guess.

MILLER: Well, she is, she isn't. I mean, she didn't really apologize for the statement that people who are racists, xenophobic or sexist are deplorable.

BARTIROMO: Her aides said her mistake was that it was half.

MILLER: That's exactly what she said.

BARTIROMO: Not all of them. What?

MILLER: And in fact, if you build your campaign on racism, sexism, if you promote people, you don't disavow David Duke, I think you absolutely have to, I think she's on strong ground that people who believe that are deplorable. And she will not hurt her with her base at all.

ROLLINS: I couldn't disagree with you more, Judy, on this.

BARTIROMO: And people are angry, Trump supporters are very insulted by it.  And --

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: They're not going to vote for her anyway.

D'AMATO: Let me say, she can say that half of them are racists, xenophobic, homophobic, et cetera, and that wasn't a slip of the lip. That wasn't something she said -- this was she planned it out, it was written out. And she made it.

And I have to tell you because she thought she would score with it. When it came back to bite her -- well, I overstated it.

BARTIROMO: Well, we didn't get to what's ahead, but apparently, according to the military, the Iranian behavior getting worse in the Persian Gulf after we did the deal.

Thank you to our fantastic panel. We'll see you soon.

I'll see you tomorrow on Fox Business Network, 6:00 to 9:00 Eastern. Have a good Sunday, everybody.

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