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MSNBC host cuts off interview with Trump campaign spokesman after clash on alleged voter fraud

MSNBC host Hallie Jackson on Thursday cut off an interview with Trump campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley after arguing about President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE's allegations of widespread voter fraud.

The contentious interview came one day after Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeProfiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers Biden considering King for director of national intelligence: report Haspel not in attendance at latest Trump intelligence briefing: reports MORE and FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that Russia and Iran are behind efforts to sway public opinions related to the 2020 presidential election. 

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“Director Wray talked specifically about the idea that — essentially I'm paraphrasing here —  there is no widespread evidence of voter fraud, that the American people should feel confident in the way that voting procedures are being conducted,” Jackson began.

She questioned whether Trump has himself spread misinformation and disinformation on voting security.

“Given this new information from Director Wray and the comments he's now reiterating, will the president back off on making those claims?” Jackson asked. “Is that a conversation that you and the campaign are having with him?”

Gidley responded by saying “you can’t deny what you’ve seen on television and all these local markets,” referring to local news stories about ballots being found in trash cans.

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There have been news stories regarding undelivered mail, including some mail-in ballots, being discovered in trash bags or left in a dumpster. In Pennsylvania earlier this month, the trash bags were discovered at the curb outside the home of a postal employee, who is under investigation and suspended from duty. 

Scott Balfour, the special agent with the U.S. Postal Service's Office of Inspector General, said that “incidents of this nature are exceedingly rare when put into that context.”

Jackson noted that experts have insisted that there is no meaningful evidence suggesting mail-in voting contributes to voter fraud.

“Hogan, you know that,” she said. "I don’t want to have to rehash this conversation. I'm asking if the president is going to back off those claims. If you can't answer that, that's fine — we can move on. But just answer the question.”

“I'm answering the question because the fact is it does occur,” Gidley responded. “Listen, I received a ballot just the other day in my apartment —"

“You're spreading more information that is inaccurate because there is not widespread evidence of voter fraud,” Jackson fired back.

The host attempted to push forward to another question but Gidley repeatedly said “no.”

“Hallie, no, no, no, no, Hallie, Hallie, Hallie, don't pretend like — your local markets, NBC affiliates are reporting on this in all types of areas across this country,” he said.

Jackson noted that the FBI director said just 12 hours before that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

“Somebody who's a part of the Trump administration's own intelligence expert field, Hogan, that's not coming from me. That's coming from Wray,” she said. “Does the president have confidence in his FBI director, yes or no?”

“The president has confidence that the American people want a free and fair election. That's what he's been pushing for this entire time,” the spokesman responded.

He then began saying that former President Obama and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE, the Democratic presidential nominee, “knew Russia was going to interfere.”

“OK. I guess we're not going to get an answer to that question then. Hogan Gidley, we're going to leave it there,” Jackson said shortly before cutting off the interview. “We appreciate you coming on, on a day when we're obviously looking ahead to an important evening here in this presidential race.”

The Postal Service has received a flood of additional mail in recent weeks as thousands of Americans cast their ballots through the post amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump has for weeks claimed that mail-in voting leads to widespread voter fraud. He has also maintained that the election will be "rigged" and "fraudulent” if Americans vote through the mail.

Wray has previously said that instances of voter fraud happen at the local level "from time to time" but that there has been no concerted national effort to effect elections in the past.  

“We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election whether it’s by mail or otherwise,” Wray testified to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in September. “We have seen voter fraud at the local level from time to time, so my comments should in no way be construed as minimizing how seriously we take our responsibility to investigate such incidents.” 

Both Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpPresident says Trump Jr. doing 'very well' after COVID-19 diagnosis Trumps to spend Thanksgiving at White House instead of traveling to Florida Chelsea Clinton blames Trump for Secret Service officers in quarantine MORE cast absentee ballots in the Florida primary elections in August.  

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The heated MSNBC interview took place hours before Trump is set to face off against Biden on the debate stage for the last time before the Nov. 3 election.

Gidley also repeatedly refused to confirm reports that the president held preparatory debate sessions on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Trump’s trip to Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. 

“I'm not going to get into whether or not the president has had those debate prep sessions,” Gidley said. “He said many times that obviously his tit-for-tat with the press is a lot of the debate prep he likes to have and with the questions you throw at him every single day he's well prepared. But of course, he prepares for these debates as well.”