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Ruined Career at Young Age; Trump Not to Stop Comey. Aired 10- 11p ET
Aired June 5, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: Breaking news. The federal contractor charged with leaking top secret information.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Twenty-five-year-old Reality Lee Winner accuse of leaking a classified NSA memo on Russian hacking one at the moment.
Plus, is President Trump his own worst enemy? The Twitter tirade is blasting the mayor of London not once but twice in the wake of Saturday's terror attack shooting himself on the foot in his travel ban, contradicting his own team and insisting it's exactly what they say it isn't. A travel ban.
Let's get right to more breaking news tonight. CNN's Dana bash is here, Jim Sciutto as well, and David Gergen. All of them join me. Good evening to you.
Jim, you first, there's new video tonight on one of the London attackers being searched by police back in 2015. Tell us what we're seeing and what happened at the time.
JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, CNN: So this is another example of where you have attacks like this play out where the attackers were known to authorities before the event as was this attacker.
He's actually appeared in a number of videos including in a documentary on Jihadist living in the city of London and here he is at another event where police had to respond to it a public event where he was espousing extremist views.
This happens. We saw it with the attackers at the Charlie Hebdo shooters, for instance. Some of the Paris attackers have been known to authorities. The trouble is they have so many people on their radar screen; it is difficult to impossible to have the resources to follow all of them.
The other point I would make is that you had another case here where the attackers had been reported to authorities by people within the Muslim community. Him for instance, twice before which gets at the this issue where you do have people in the community who are doing what authorities ask them. The trouble is the authorities are often overwhelmed and they can't keep track of all these folks before they -- before they lash out and carry out deadly attacks like this.
LEMON: I want you to update us on our other bit of breaking news. The Justice Department also announcing charges against a federal contractor for leaking classified information. What can you tell us?
SCIUTTO: First let's talk about this report. This was a top secret NSA report compiled just last month so reflecting some of the latest intelligence on Russian interference on the U.S. election specific to a particularly alarming question and that is, what was Russia doing not just with information from stolen e-mails, et cetera, but with voting systems.
We knew some information about this before Election Day that they had probed voter registration rolls in Arizona, Illinois. They have probing attacks on a contractor involved with voting systems in Florida.
No evidence then, no evidence as of the most recent intelligence assessment that Russia affected any votes or interfered with any vote tallies but this shows that there's more information about probing attacks, that they were looking at these systems at least, doesn't mean the assessment changes that voting tallies were not messed with by Russian hackers but it does show they were at least looking at these systems.
And perhaps most alarming going forward because when I speak to U.S. intelligence officials they constantly say 2016 was not the last election that Russia will interfere with, they are going to do the same in 2018 and 2020 and what does this say about future attacks going forward.
LEMON: So David, Jim just told us what was in the document. What's your reaction to this breaking story?
DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, I think it really does present questions about whether the Russians can get into our election system and change local and state elections as early as next year.
And we've had trouble with voting booth in the past and voting processes. They've not been -- just think of Florida in 2000. So I think it's important to press down and have a national effort. There ought to be some sort of commission at least, you know, like on 9/11 that's looking at these things and that's what Congress should do ultimately doing these investigation. Just figure out how do we protect ourselves against this rampant, this rampant hacking.
LEMON: Dana, let's talk about 25-year-old contractor, her name is Reality Winner. She admitted to intentionally leaking this classified material. I mean, she's just 25 years old, she's so young and in a heap of trouble. What do you think this could mean for leaks in the future? DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, look, I mean, I
obviously -- we don't know all the details of how this happened yet, but it seems as though just e-mailing it kind of shows the naivete of her age. And you know, maybe -- look, I mean, we all...
LEMON: We should say alleged, right, because...
BASH: Alleged, alleged, alleged, exactly. Thank you -- thank you for saying that. Maybe she needs to, you know, sort of watch more spy movies about how these things are done, you know, and the journalists as well, that probably to receive something this classified via e-mail is not the greatest thing in the world to do.
[22:05:03] Having said that, look, I mean I think -- and it would be hypocritical to say that those of us who are covering all things Russia would not be interested in seeing what real intelligence, the most recent report -- a recent report of what they're looking into to be able to get that as a journalist is pretty remarkable understanding that there really are parameters when it comes to protecting sources and methods that we all try to do and Jim knows this better than I.
LEMON: Jim, you're raising your hand, what did you want to say?
SCIUTTO: No. Just one of the details, it's breaking fast. Our understanding that she actually snail mailed it, she didn't e-mail it.
BASH: She snail mailed it, OK.
SCIUTTO: She snail mailed it.
BASH: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: But still -- but still.
BASH: Then that's smarter.
SCIUTTO: To your point though, there is still an electronic trail in that she printed it out from her office.
LEMON: She was the only person that had contact, I think via e-mail or at least some sort of that with the organization.
SCIUTTO: Well, that's right. So it was a couple of clues. A couple of clues. One, she printed it out from her computer and investigators were able to determine only six people printed it out and of those six people, one of them had e-mailed with this news outlet before.
So there was a communication tie there the actual document she snail mailed it. But regardless, to your point, Dana, there was an electronic trail which as we all know in this day and age, those things don't disappear.
LEMON: So I'm not sure I got an answer. The full answer from you, but I'm wondering what does this mean in the future you think for leaks.
BASH: Look, it shows that there is -- that there really is a crackdown.
BASH: And it's not something that we didn't know. I mean, look, the president talks about it all the time. I will also say that not unique.
LEMON: And other members of his administration.
BASH: And it's not unique to this administration.
BASH: President Obama and his administration...
LEMON: Really cried to.
BASH: ... they were really, really tough on leakers of national security information and also -- I mean, I remember covering the Bush administration post-9/11 reporting on something that was an NSA intercept and Dick Cheney started an investigation on Capitol Hill about whether it came from there, so it certainly is not new.
LEMON: Let's talk about the former director of the FBI James Comey testifying before Congress and President Trump is not going to invoke executive privilege to try to stop it. How big of a test will this be for President Trump and his administration, David Gergen?
GERGEN: Well, first of all, let's give credit to the White House and President Trump for not invoking executive privilege. They could've done that. I think they did the right thing. When you do the right thing we ought to say so.
You know, goodness gracious. We take them on all the time on other things. But I think that, you know, James Comey's testimony is a I think is extraordinary significant in terms of this particular episode and it may have historic effects. We'll have to wait and see.
You know, if he -- if he lays out a pattern of conduct which shows that the president and his team were trying very hard to shut down the Flynn investigation, that is going to prove great weight to the whole question of obstruction.
You know, we're now hearing the democrats like Mark Warner saying we don't see evidence of collusion, we don't see any smoking gun yet on the collusion question but the obstruction of justice may turn out to be a more serious problem for the administration than the collusion issue.
LEMON: Yes. Jim, as has been said by a number of people especially those who, you know, were around when Watergate was going on and experienced that, you know, it started as something else.
LEMON: And everything always starts as something else and it's usually what they uncover in the course of an investigation. What's your reaction to Comey testifying on Thursday?
SCIUTTO: You know, Whitewater led to Monica Lewinsky, right? You have that example as well. I think this is going to be a really remarkable moment because you're going to have the former head of the FBI effectively contradicting the president here on this and that -- that's a remarkable moment and we don't know how far he's going to go in public.
But the fact is, Dana and others, my colleagues have spoken to people close to him. He's already leaked out his impression of those conversations, the message that the president was attempting to deliver to him. It becomes then a question for the lawyers and really for the public as to whether that is undue influence.
You know, it's partly a legal question, right, is this obstruction of justice but it's also -- it's a public opinion question, what is an intolerable abuse of power? Or a step beyond the bounds, whatever you want to call it, and is it when a president goes to his FBI director in effect the highest or perhaps the second highest after the attorney general law enforcement official in the country leading an investigation regarding a foreign adversary into a presidential election with at least questions about the involvement of a minimum senior advisors to President Trump.
Is that proper in the view of the American people beyond what the lawyers say, it's going to be remarkable to hear that testimony and to hear where it goes, to hear what -- what the price is for that in effect?
[22:10:08] LEMON: And just in case you missed there was a big thing over David Gergen, there it is right there, three days left, David, you know, we can't see you but it's there, three days left until Comey testified.
Thank you all. I appreciate it. I like the conversation.
LEMON: We come right back, Congressman Jason Chaffetz is here. I want to know what he thinks about this leaked memo and what he thinks James Comey will say in his testimony on Thursday.
LEMON: Here's breaking news tonight. A federal contractor with top secret security clearance charged with leaking classified information about Russia's hacking of the election.
I want to talk to about all of this now with Congressman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah republican who's the chairman of the House oversight and government reform committee, soon to be former congressman.
JASON CHAFFETZ, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, yes. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
LEMON: We're going to talk about that.
CHAFFETZ: All right.
LEMON: Hopefully we'll have time to talk about that. But I want to get your reaction to this breaking news now. This is a 25-year-old woman, a federal contractor charged for leaking classified material to online media outlet. Should she go to jail do you think?
CHAFFETZ: There's a right way and wrong way to do this. If you feel compelled to share information that's classified because you're concerned about the implications or how it's being used. There are legal ways in which you can have whistle-blower protection and go to members of Congress or go to the committee, for instance, on oversight and protect your legal rights and not get yourself into trouble.
[22:14:58] But just because you see something that is classified, you can't just hand that out like it's candy and whether or not you mailed it or printed it, you're not allowed to do that and yes, I do believe, regardless of the administration, they should put handcuffs on a person like that and they should go to jail.
Now I don't know if this allegation is true, OK. I'm just reading a media report. But a contractor, a federal employee cannot just take it upon themselves to bypass the classification system.
LEMON: Congressman, do you think that in this environment where everything seems to be so partisan and so political that someone would look even feel comfortable doing it the right way as you say with whistle-blower protection status?
CHAFFETZ: We have hundreds of thousands of people with security clearances, again there's a right way to do it, there's a way to go to Congress and have that conversation, protect all your legal rights and not have looming over this young woman what appears to be at least on the initial, you know, read she could go to jail for a significant amount of time.
LEMON: In terms of this top secret NSA report that it supposedly deals with 2016 Russian military intelligence cyber-attack on voting software, no evidence that any votes were effected but the fact that they were targeting that and that there was a possibility that they could have been, is that hugely concerning?
CHAFFETZ: Yes. Does it concern everybody? Look, most of the elections are controlled by your local county clerk, so it's not really a federal role in administering an election. It does go down to the states of lieutenant governors or the secretary of state and then it goes down into your county.
But let it be no mystery that the Russians have been doing -- this is not the first election they probably looked at, it's probably not the last one they're going to look at and it isn't just the Russians.
So the fact that our government through working with contractors is paying attention to this and does have some evidence. Of course Congress wants to know about that but it also means they were probably doing their job in watching it.
LEMON: When you look at this, if there's been no evidence so far of collusion.
LEMON: And that's what the investigation is about. But do you think it makes it more important that we find out all things Russia and how much of an effect they have on the election?
CHAFFETZ: Yes. I mean, look, my friend and colleague Devin Nunes is the chairman of the House intelligence committee. He's taken some heat on some things, but it was more than a year ago when he was out there beating the drums saying let's worry about Russia.
I'm critical of my democratic colleagues when Barack Obama was running for president and Mitt -- for reelection and Mitt Romney said the biggest geopolitical threat to the United States of America is Russia, he was laughed at.
I mean, the president kind of mocked him saying the 1980s want their, you know, foreign policy back. Mitt Romney was actually right. We should have been paying more attention to that. And I don't think the eight days during the Obama administration. Remember, all this happened under his watch that we were paying enough attention.
LEMON: You don't think he did enough to stop it.
CHAFFETZ: No. No.
LEMON: Because during the election he said that, you know, I told them to cut it out and I think what -- I think his supporters will say is that he was concerned about it effecting or appearing to put his thumb on the scale, do you think that was...
CHAFFETZ: The president has to protect us against all enemies foreign and domestic. He consistently downplayed the threat of Russia and yet Russia was on the march. Expanding their borders globally I don't think he did enough then, but the counter intelligence activities those types were all minimized.
LEMON: Would you say that this president should maybe not speak so glowingly sometimes about Russia, that he should speak more forcefully against Russia than he does?
CHAFFETZ: I mean, look, if you look at individual comments, maybe you and I would say things differently, but yes. Again, let's not lose focus. It's not just Russia, folks. It's a lot of other countries too. And when you try to go and do everything digitally there's a consequence.
LEMON: But Russia appears to have more influence than...
CHAFFETZ: Russia's one of the most savvy.
CHAFFETZ: Corporate espionage, government espionage trying to get involved in elections, these people have been doing this for decades.
LEMON: Before too much time passes, and we're running out of time, let's talk about the former FBI testifying on Thursday.
LEMON: You've spoken to him recently, right?
CHAFFETZ: I did. I did. I had good...
LEMON: What do you want to hear from him?
CHAFFETZ: I think the first question is...
LEMON: Well, first of all, can you share anything that you talked about?
CHAFFETZ: It was a very short conversation. I always found him to be very collegial but I did want him to come to the oversight committee. He's chosen first to go to the Senate committee.
LEMON: Is there anything concerning that he said to you that...
CHAFFETZ: Here's the one concerning thing. When the New York Times broke this story they had not actually seen the documents. I haven't seen the documents. I'm not aware of anybody in Congress that have seen...
LEMON: Did you ask him about that?
CHAFFETZ: And I did ask the director specifically. These documents that were in the New York Times article, do they have them or does the Department of Justice have them and he would not answer that question which I found kind of eyebrow raising.
What is the answer? Where are these? Now the oversight committee has asked for not just these documents related to a January 27th dinner with Donald Trump, but what about the Attorney General Loretta Lynch, what about Barack Obama, what about all these other memos? LEMON: But they're not, that's not being investigated.
CHAFFETZ: It has been investigated. But yes, they are investigating that.
LEMON: Did he tell you why he didn't want to answer your question about it?
CHAFFETZ: No and I respected his answer. I peppered that question to the Department of Justice. Their response is, well now there's a special council involved and that does complicate things because we don't to impeded that investigation.
[22:20:02] But at the same time we believe Congress should be able to see these documents.
LEMON: What do you hear from him then?
CHAFFETZ: Well, if you don't have the documents it's going to be very hard and difficult for him to question. I think one of the most difficult questions he has to answer is, why is it when he testified I believe it was the first week of May and before the Senate judiciary committee, he said that there had been no political interference.
You have the current acting FBI director saying he's seen no evidence of any sort of political influence. So there's going to be a contradiction if he tries to go the other direction, but...
LEMON: So who do you believe more then? Because it appears from now, we don't know what he's going to say that his testimony may be at odds with what the president says happened?
Who do you believe? The president or do you believe the former director?
CHAFFETZ: Well, again, you want to hear from both sides but if there's a document sort of memorializing this I want to see what that document says and then how is it interpreted because it's a pretty high bar to suggest that there was an obstruction of justice or there was some sort of collusion or something like that. A very high...
LEMON: Are you counting the days when you don't really have to deal with this as personal level because you're a month along, when are you going to do that?
CHAFFETZ: I love the engagement.
LEMON: When's your end date?
CHAFFETZ: June 30th is my last day. After nine years or so in Congress eight and a half years it's time to hang up the cleats.
LEMON: Does your future involve any three letters or four letters CNN, FNC, MSNBC, ABC, NBC... (CROSSTALK)
CHAFFETZ: Definitely. Maybe.
CHAFFETZ: Look at the time here, Don. There's a commercial I'm sure that you have to go to at this point.
LEMON: It's a definite maybe.
LEMON: Any more than that? You can break -- people break a lot of news on this show.
CHAFFETZ: And I have with you. I love being on here, but more on that later.
LEMON: Ok. All right. Thank you, Congressman.
CHAFFETZ: Thank you.
LEMON: Soon to be former congressman of Utah.
CHAFFETZ: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you, Jason Chaffetz. I appreciate it. When we come right, a former CIA director and former White House counsel join me and what they think about this leak NSA document, they'll tell us. And how the White House will handle what could be explosive testimony from James Comey?
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Former FBI director James Comey set to testify before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday.
I want to bring Ambassador James Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and CNN contributor John Dean the former White House counsel for President Nixon whose the author of "Conservatives Without Conscience."
Good to have both of you on. Good evening to you. Ambassador Woolsey, I'm going to start with you. I'm going to get to Comey in just a minute. But first, I want to get your take on our breaking news tonight.
This federal contractor under arrest for allegedly leaking classified information to an online media outlet. The report supposedly details a 2016 Russian military intelligence cyber-attack on a U.S. voting software supplier. What's your reaction to this story?
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: This is just the first big public round of this we're seeing. We're going to see a lot of it. We made a bunch of changes in our voting system after the mess in 2000 in Florida and one thing that we now have is about a quarter of our voting machines are touch screen only and don't have paper backup of any kind.
That means about a quarter of our votes cannot be recounted because you can't -- you cannot recount what is in thin air and on electronics that the Russians and maybe others have tampered with.
So unless we make whatever decisions and recommendations we want to make relatively soon with respect to this current mess with Russia and voting, and move on to fixing our systems so that they can deal fairly and honestly with the next election, we're going to be in real trouble here in our democracy.
We've got to have elections work right and having the Russians sitting there on the other side of the table and gleefully picking things apart and shutting down areas that are going to have crisis and going to crash and adjusting totals and others, we're sitting ducks unless we get busy and pay attention to the right election which is the next one, not the last one.
LEMON: All right. I want to get through this, gentlemen. So brevity is a key here because I have limited time with you, and I really appreciate your expertise. John, quickly, what is your reaction to this breaking news story?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL & CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I was surprised how quickly they brought together the elements Espionage Act and this young lady is in trouble. They've got it looks like very solid evidence, computer tracking went right to her, so I think they're sending a clear message to leakers here.
LEMON: Yes, 25 years old, my goodness, very young. John, let's move on. Now I want to talk about Comey's big testimony on Thursday. The White House now saying the president won't stop the former FBI director from testifying. Won't you know, invoke executive privilege. Is that the right move?
DEAN: It is a charade, Don, is what it is. There is no executive privilege here. In fact, I've written a piece for CNN for tomorrow, it'll be up tomorrow where I go little deeper than we can tonight explaining exactly the history of this and why this is really -- there's no basis whatsoever in history or in any of the concepts of executive privilege for invoking it in this situation.
So they're really just saying well, we're not going to invoke it, although they didn't have the privilege to invoke as if they're granting him the right to testify and not blocking him when that really isn't possible.
LEMON: I want to get both of your takes on what he is -- what you think he will say. But first I want to play something for you. This is what Senator Burr says how he's going to testify coming Thursday, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD BURR, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: They've talked but I
understand that the special counsel has not fenced him off in any way, shape or form from the items he intends to talk about.
MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: And those items he tends to talk about are what, his conversation to President Trump?
BURR: It's about Russia's involvement in our 2016 election which is the investigation and that does lead in to the possibility of collusion by either campaign but it also gets into questions that have been raised publicly about conversations that may or may not have taken place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[22:30:12] LEMON: So Comey has talked to Robert Mueller and it means nothing is off the table, that's what we've heard. How damaging could this be for the White House potentially, ambassador?
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I don't know. I sometimes can do a fairly good job of getting inside the heads of terrorists and dictators, but I can never figure out what American politicians are going to do or why they're going to do it. I'll punt this one to John, John dean who knows this area core.
LEMON: Yes. In that -- in that, in your answer, what do you expect Comey to say and what damage could be done, John?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL & CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think -- first of all going to be a great witness. He's skilled. He's well trained. He's got a lot of experience on the Hill. He knows where he can and cannot safely walk as far as the special investigation, special counsel's investigation and he probably won't go there if he thinks he could damage the prosecution.
So I think what he'll do is lay out exactly what he did with the president, what will be most interesting, Don and most telling quickly does he have a prepared statement. If he does then he'll have careful thought out what he's going to say and how he's going to say it and that's not the usual Comey format. So that'll be the first sign, is there a prepared statement.
LEMON: It's interesting, it's the first I've ever heard of that whether he's speaking. Because at the other hearing he took part and he was sort of, giving his own recollection and recalling what he what happened and what he saw this investigation or influence or what have you. But if he is reading from a prepared text, that means you think, that means he's been overly careful.
DEAN: I think it means he's thought out what he wants to present and how he wants to present it and we'll get some signs of what kind of case he might think there is or not there and he certainly didn't try to entrap the president.
I think he's going to explain that he tried to deal with a rookie president and not let him make a mistake but then he'll put it back in a larger context where Trump kept doing this. And I think he will get...
LEMON: If he said the president pressured him, even if he said the president pressured him or he confirms that the president, he did have those conversations according to the memos with the president, does that amount to obstruction?
DEAN: It could. Not necessarily isolated but he has a bigger picture now that he's been fired and that was part of a final act of as far as James Comey goes, so I think he'll look at it differently than when those conversations first happened.
LEMON: Unfortunately, we're out of time. Thank you all. We'll see you back on this program soon.
When we come back, the vice president's message to NATO to stand united and stand strong. Not exactly what the president has been saying.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump is not done tweeting about his travel ban. Tonight he says, "That's right. We need a travel ban for certain dangerous countries. Not some politically correct term that won't help us protect our people."
Let's discuss now Dan Rather the host of AXS TV's The Big Interview, and Jamie Rubin, the former assistant secretary of state under President Bill Clinton and a former advisor to Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.
So much to discuss, there may be new tweet by the time we're done with this. But before we talk about that, Dan Rather, I want to get your take on this contractor, federal contractor being charged with leaking NSA material on Russian hacking?
DAN RATHER, HOST, AXS TV: Well, first of all, this young woman's in a lot of trouble.
RATHER: Because they're invoking the Espionage Act of 1917. It goes all the way back to the period of World War I and leaking this kind of material for whatever purpose, whatever motive can be a serious criminal offense. So she's in some trouble.
Now what was revealed it moves the story a little further in the direction of what we talked about so many times before and that is what is it that President Trump and those around him are hiding about the Russian involvement?
Now, this business of hacking in to the actual voting system as someone said on this program earlier, we have real problems with voting machines that I and some others did an investigation several years ago and it's increased since then. And so we do have to look into this and find out what the facts are,
or what -- I can't say whatever happens to this young woman who leaked the material but take that material and what the other things we know about the Russians hacking and hacking into the voting system, find out what happened because we need to get this squared away before the next presidential election.
LEMON: And right now she's just accused of leaking, so we'll see.
RATHER: That's right.
LEMON: But as John Dean said it seems that they have pretty strong evidence in this case.
Jamie, let's talk about President Trump. Do you want to weigh in on the leaking part?
JAMIE RUBIN, FORMER UNITED STATES ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: No.
LEMON: Or do you want to -- you're good. OK. President Trump Twitter -- he's taken to Twitter, he's defending his travel ban. He's undermining his own Justice Department. I want to read a part of what he said. You saw the tweet I read earlier on the air. This is one, this is about the mayor of London.
He says, "Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his no reason to be alarmed statement, M.S." meaning mainstream media, "is working hard to sell it." But here's the mayor. Listen to this carefully.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: Londoners will an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed.
One of the things the police and all of us need to do is make sure we're safe as we possibly can be. I'm reassured that we're one of the safest global cities in the world if not the safest global city in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It is glaringly obvious that he mischaracterized what the mayor was saying there and then doubling, tripling down on and also even members of his own administration doing the same thing. What impact do you think this has on the U.S. in the world on the world stage?
RUBIN: Well, there's history between these two people. I haven't seen this mentioned as much as it should have been tonight.
[22:40:00] When the first time the president talked about a Muslim ban, the mayor of London announced that he wasn't going to come to the United States. The president said there would be exceptions for important people or
something and he said, if there's a ban on Muslims coming, I won't come. And so he escalated a discussion that was occurring about this very subject.
So in other words, the president regards the London mayor as his political enemy and the really sad part about this is that the London mayor is a terrific mayor. He's the most prominent Muslim elected official potentially in the world depending on how do you define London.
And since everybody knows, everyone whose doing serious work about this is that if we're ever going to put a stop to these kind of terrorist attacks it's going to require the moderate Muslim leaders to have a greater impact on the extremists within society. This mayor in London is the kind of person we should be helping, not attacking.
LEMON: So this is personal for him for the president.
RUBIN: Yes, I think it is.
LEMON: He's going after you believe he's gone after Sadiq Khan.
RUBIN: Personally. Yes, I think he wanted to find a mistake in Sadiq Khan's comments. He watched him. There's the guy who messed with my Muslim ban and then he found something and he was dead wrong. And he never admits he's wrong. That's the basis of his campaign and his presidency, never admit you're wrong, deny, deny and just move on to the next charge.
LEMON: Did he backfire on him?
RATHER: I think it has backfire on him. Look, it may be personal but it's outrageous and this is not in keeping with the tone, spirit and substance that the overwhelming majority of the American people expect of their president, any president.
I have a reason to believe that many, many people who voted for Donald Trump and are still support him would shake their heads at this and say, you know, I wish he wouldn't do this because this is not a reflection.
The British are a great people. They've been our allies for a long time. They're under pressure at the moment, under extreme pressure and fooling around with these tweets and taking out personal vengeance on people this is unworthy of a President of the United States.
RUBIN: Exactly, Dan. Because I live in London. I'm visiting here in New York and the people of London really are extraordinary in their ability to back in the 7/7 attacks in 2005 if I got my dates right and they showed then and they're showing now that they have this resiliency built into their system going back to the IRA days.
And if we can't work constructively with our closest allies in the world and there's a desire to, you know, insult and harm a friend, the kind of friend we need if we're going to succeed, what it boils down to is this concept in my mind, all of the things that the president has said in NATO and the trips, I know we're going to talk about that in a minute.
What if today another terrible attack happened in the United States.
LEMON: God forbid no.
RUBIN: What would the rest of the world say? I remember we are all Americans, the phrase by the French, very powerful statement. I remember being moved by that idea that we really were all in this together in the west, because of Donald Trump's failure to take up the leadership of the west, whatever you want to call that, I'm worried that if something happened, if we're in a crisis and we need our allies and want our allies that we've harmed the ability of our government to work constructively in a crisis.
This is all just small beer essentially for us. It's obviously awful for the British tonight. But what about a real crisis, what about a potential conflict.
LEMON: What happens? And will our allies come to our aid.
RUBIN: What will they do and how will they feel and will they want to work with the president?
LEMON: You hinted at this early, but this is the reporting of Politico. They're reporting that President Trump blindsided his own national security team when he didn't reaffirm America's commitment in the usual defense article 5 in his speech to NATO.
The National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all thought that he would. What do you think about that, Jamie?
RUBIN: This is a real major issue and it's just going to take a minute to explain, so please bear with me.
Defense in the current era with countries like Russia is based on do they believe, in their head, do they believe that the west will act together? Will the United States come to the defense of a small European country, Lithuania and Latvia. It's about what does Mr. Putin think. That's deterrence. That has been severely undermined because they're talking about the very concept we want the Russians to believe, that we will all work together.
RATHER: Well, and the key thing here is the president leaving out, refusing to say that the very core of NATO and what it is all about, an attack on one NATO member will be considered an attack on all, that's the red beating heart of the whole NATO appliance, which, by the way, has helped keep the peace in so far it has been kept for well over a half a century.
[22:45:07] You know, I'm reminded when President Trump does these things it's inexplicable to me, as you know, Don, I frequently said, he's not -- he's not dumb as dirt, despite some of the things he does. He has some intelligence.
But you know, NATO took a long time to build and to paraphrase Sam Rayburn, anybody cannot down a barn, it takes a real carpenter to build one. Here we had something built and President Trump is tearing it down and smiling is, are the Russians and Putin and Chinese. They love this.
LEMON: The vice president is reaffirming America's commitment or this administration's commitment to NATO tonight. Is he trying to clean up for...
RUBIN: Well, this has been happening all along. I was at a famous defense conference where the vice president when this all began in the early days of the administration where he said the right things about NATO and the secretary of defense says the right thing.
But because so much attention is now presented on -- they don't care about that and the rest of the European and Putin doesn't care about that. What they care about is what does the new commander in chief think?
RATHER: That's the fundamental -- the vice president is not the commander in chief of anything. Only the president is commander in chief and only what the president says really matters.
LEMON: And that's why -- in the commercial break in full transparency I said when do we pay attention to the president what he says and his tweets and you said, always, right?
RATHER: Always. He's president. And what he says matters.
RUBIN: And this matters because this is about what happens in a crisis.
RUBIN: This is all prepping up, we hope never comes but if it happened would we have allies, would we have the British, what would the president do? What would Vladimir Putin think the president would do?
RUBIN: That's the problem.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it.
RATHER: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: We will be right back.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump loves Twitter. His staff? Maybe not so much. Let's discuss, CNN political commentator Dan Pfeiffer and...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Everything he says on Twitter and very little of what he does as president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's his preferred method of communication with the American people.
CONWAY: That's not true.
CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: Tweets are the policy. They're a statements from the President of the United States about what he wants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not policy. It's social media, Chris. It's social media. The other gentleman is right.
CUOMO: It's not social media. It's his words, his thoughts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not policy. It's not an executive order. It's social media. Please understand the difference.
CUOMO: I think that you need to have a little bit of an understanding here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm with the president in the White House. I know what policy...
CUOMO: The president says this is what I want. What are you saying we shouldn't listen to what the president says?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You shouldn't obsess about it for not 12 minutes, Chris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, a little too cute by half there. Let's discuss with CNN political commentators Dan Pfeiffer, and Alice Stewart, also Scott Jennings, the former special assistant to President George W. Bush.
The reason I said that is because we could find a number of sound bites of them saying how important social media and especially Twitter is to the president in this administration and how it bypasses the so- called fake media. So, Dan, what do you make of President Trump's top aide slamming the media with so-called obsession with his tweets.
DAN PFEIFFER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: It's pretty ridiculous. Look, when you get to the White House one thing you learn right away is the president's words matter. Whether they're on a press conference, whether they're on a statement or a speech or whether they're on Twitter. And so the press is right and the public is right to treat these
things as the presidential statements. He could be stay -- he might as well be standing in the east room delivering a speech. They cannot be discounted because he's making policy pronunciations on Twitter. And so that's the mode of communications he has chosen so that's what he has to live with that.
LEMON: Hey, so Alice, listen. Here's what Chris Cillizza writes. He says "Trump's tweets are actually more important than the more formal statements coming out of the White House because they represent something closer to what he believes on nearly every issue." Do you agree with that especially in the absence of regular press briefings and statements?
ALICE STEWART, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I do. And I think Dan stole my notes because I virtually agree with everything he said. I think a presidential statement is a presidential statement regardless of whether or not it comes from the Oval Office, the Rose Garden or on a Twitter feed.
And look, they used that successfully throughout the campaign and since he's been elected president to convey his message and as Sarah Sanders today, bypassing the media and getting the message directly to the people.
The problem is they run into difficulties when they have others saying that the media is obsessing on the tweets. Look, you can't have it both ways. You have to either be able to use that as an effective means of communication or you have to say let's just ignore everything that he says on Twitter.
But you can't do that. These are statements. And I agree with what Cillizza said. This is an actual more to accounting of exactly what the president is thinking and feeling. The problem they also run into when his message on Twitter is not the same they're trying to drive from the White House administration...
STEWART: ... pushing their legislative agenda. It would be helpful that they get on the same page.
LEMON: On the same page. So Mr. Jennings, it looks like you want to jump in there, what did you want to say?
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, you know, a lot of people today are talking about, you know, all the president's words matter. And yes, I agree the president's words do matter. I've not heard Donald Trump argue that his words on Twitter are any different than his words at the podium are written down.
And so I think the president would say, yes, my words do matter and you should read what I'm saying on social media because it's how I feel. And in the case of today, you know, we talk about the travel ban today a lot with those tweets. I think the president is expressing what is on his heart. Now there are some lawyers who say it's going to hurt him and there's
some lawyers who say it's not going to matter. But there's not a businessman large or small in America who hasn't expressed some frustration with lawyers and the way we have to describe things in the legal process, you know, as Alice said.
LEMON: So, Scott.
JENNINGS: That served him well on the campaign. That served him well in the campaign and I think his instinct is to keep doing it.
LEMON: OK. Then, all right, so do you feel the way you feel. So then how does one differentiate between -- differentiate between the president's statement or a tweet? Especially when members of his own inner circle -- I mean, and these are people who are close to him.
They speak to him every day. They're saying don't pay so much attention, it doesn't really mean anything. But the president says this, you know, unless you hear it from me. So then, what's the American public supposed to do, what should they believe, Scott?
[22:54:55] JENNINGS: Well, I think at the end of the day the buck stops with the President of the United States. His words are the ones that matter. I think advisors can have opinions and I'm sure they do, but I don't think the president would be saying the things he says on social media, a, if he didn't mean it, and b, if he didn't want people to read about it and talk about it.
LEMON: So why are then Conway and Gorka out saying that on television when, I think most people can see that what they're saying has no basis in reality?
JENNINGS: I don't know. And look, I don't work for the White House and I don't pretend to know what they're doing on a daily basis. But I know this. As has been stated, it's the president's words that matter in any White House.
Advisors and staffs can have all the commentary they want but at the end of the day the president's words are the ones that matter and I think this president, since he's been running and serving as president thinks that his ability to get past the media filter and to talk directly to the American people has served him well. That's his instinct.
I think he's going to keep doing it. So we can sit here and parse about it all night long, but the reality is we're in for four years of the president who wants to communicate directly and doesn't want people to try to explain it after the fact.
LEMON: Yes, I think -- I think -- listen, I think you're exactly right. And the only question I have is, then why, or his representatives saying something that's contradictory to what the president has said and what they have said for themselves in the past. And Sarah Huckabee-Sanders is saying the exact opposite of what they
said today in the press briefing. But so, listen, you know, Scott said, Dan and Alice, he said he's not sure whether calling it a travel ban is going to help or hurt him. We can debate that.
But what I want to now is if, you know, Kellyanne Conway's husband in the dog house? Because he said this today, George Conway, he said, "These tweets may make some people feel better but they certainly won't help OSG get five votes in SCOTUS which is what actually matters. Sad." What do you think of that, Dan?
PFEIFFER: Well, I wonder if Kellyanne Conway thins what she thinks George Conway's tweet seriously. Good for him. I mean, he's been sitting there silently. His opinion is one shared by a lot of attorneys in both parties who work in government and kudos to him for grabbing his Twitter account and saying what he believes.
STEWART: Don, I would guess that he probably didn't ask Kellyanne if this was OK. He probably ask for forgiveness and permission on this case. But I think he's got a good point and that, I think while President Trump has used Twitter very effectively to communicate his message, oftentimes it's caused a great deal of self-inflicted wounds in many of these situations.
And I think the more that he talks about the travel ban or the Muslim ban or not a ban or is a ban on Twitter, I think it sets up problems for this case as it goes higher up in the court system. So I think less is more in this case and I think he and the staff would be best served driving their message, driving what they talked about today with regard to infrastructure.
LEMON: And getting on one message. Yes, because this was supposed to be infrastructure. Quickly because I'm up against the break here, Scott. But do you think maybe Mr. Conway is, you know, maybe upset about his wife being contradicted by the person she's working for? She's seen as a loyal servant but then every time she says something the president contradicts it. I don't know, maybe so.
JENNINGS: You know, I think -- I think Mr. Conway like all Americans has a First Amendment right to express his views. He's not a member of the administration. His wife is, but he's a very respected lawyer in the private sector and he's got a Twitter account just like the rest of us. And he's love to express his opinion and say whatever he wants and then he came back later and made some other statements today that softened it a little bit.
But look, at the end of the day...
LEMON: The damage has done, though. JENNINGS: ... I think the president -- yes, but well, I hear you. I hear you, but I still think that what we're talking about is what the president say is going to hurt or help. It's not a forgone conclusion it's necessarily going to hurt. I'm not arguing it's going to make it easier at the Supreme Court but you know, I still think he's got a reasonable chance to win.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
STEWART: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: We'll be right back.