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CNN TONIGHT

President Turned 180 One Day after a Raucous Rally; Clapper Questions Trump's Fitness. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 23, 2017 - 22:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: Thanks for watching. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts right now.

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: One day after his divisive defensive Phoenix rant, Donald Trump sticks to the script.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

What a difference a day makes. Listen to the president today in Reno.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have no division too deep for us to heal. And there is no enemy too strong for us to overcome. Because in America, we never lose faith. We never forget who we are, and we never stop striving for a better future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But the teleprompter president speaking words others have written for him is not the real President Trump. The real President Trump speaking from his heart uses his bully pulpit to rail against anybody he thinks of as an enemy, even the leaders of his own party.

He threatens to shut down the government if he doesn't get the money to build a wall on the border with Mexico. And even though we all heard him with our own ears he pretends he never said many sides were to blame for the neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville. None of this is worthy of the office.

Just listen to what James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence said on this program last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER UNITED STATES NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: And I don't know when I've listened and watched something like this from a president that I found more disturbing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: We also have exclusive CNN reporting tonight on the Russia investigation and a newly uncovered e-mail which sources say is about efforts to arrange a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Vladimir Putin himself.

So let's get right to it. I want to get right to CNN's global affairs analyst David Rohde, CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, and Garrett Graff, he's the author of "Raven Rock: The U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself While the Rest of Us Die." Certainly an interesting title. Welcome to the show, program. All of you.

Nia, I'm going to start with you. The president went off script last night in an unhinged rant targeting democrats, needling republicans, attacking the press all while misrepresenting his response to Charlottesville. It's a different speech than what we heard on Monday and what we heard today. Take a look. Here's all three of them, by the way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry, and no tolerance for hate.

I hit him the with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacist, the neo-Nazi, I got them all in there. Let's see. KKK. We have KKK. I got them all. They're trying to take away our culture. They're trying to take away our history.

If you want to discover the source of the division in our country, look no further than the fake news and the crooked media. One vote away, I will not mention any names. Very presidential. Isn't it? Very presidential.

And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator, who's weak on borders, weak on crime. So I won't talk about him.

It is time to heal the wound that divide us and to seek a new unity based on the common values that unite us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So Nia, he says there is no place for bigotry or hate on Monday, then he uses dog whistles and goes on attack by Tuesday, and today he is back on teleprompter calling for unity. He is all over the place.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, CNN: He is all over the place. And it's partly because the Republican Party is all over the place. If you look at the Monday version of Trump, that was essentially him giving in to the hawkish wing of the Republican Party. He essentially listened to the generals in his cabinet in his administration and went with what they said in terms of troops increase in Afghanistan.

I talked to a conservative radio host after that, he said the calls were 70/30 against the president. He really kicked sand in the eye of his with that announcement. On Tuesday we essentially saw Donald Trump doing a makeup call to his base. They loved it. You could see them in that crowd cheering for him. Even as he went off script especially as he went off script tearing into Senator Flake, tearing into John McCain, and tearing into the media.

I talked to that same conservative radio host today and he said the callers were pumped up. They loved it. They couldn't get enough of that. So I think that's what he is doing.

You've got a president who is really dealing with a Republican Party that is ideologically pretty diverse in terms of what they want to see from this president. In terms of any number of issues and so I think that's why you see this president on Monday very different, on Tuesday very different again.

[22:05:01] And then on Wednesday, pretty much like he was on Monday but I think that was the presidential Trump. He is speaking of course the...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It was almost a -- it was almost the reverse of what happened last week. You know, he was -- you know, he went off script and then he got back on script and then he went off script again.

HENDERSON: Right. Right. But you know...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You know, the same but different.

HENDERSON: I think we'll see this. Yes.

LEMON: Different but the same.

HENDERSON: I mean, we're going to see the two faces of Donald Trump.

LEMON: I'm curious what the fallout -- what the fallout is, because you have republican sources, how are they reacting?

HENDERSON: Well, I think it depends. I think base republicans loved the version of Trump that they saw on Tuesday and then establishment republicans are tired of dealing with this president and him going off script. I think they have tossed out a lot of their hopes that he would stay on script and be presidential.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Does it change anything for them?

HENDERSON: You know, I think that's the question. I do think we saw something of a tipping point this week. Mitch McConnell clearly thinking it was OK to go public with a lot of the grumblings that people have had privately about this president. So I do think that's different.

But you're right to raise that issue what that actually means when they get back to Washington in terms of what they do to support this president's agenda and to support their own agenda in terms of trying to maintain those majorities in the House and Senate. I think we have seen something totally different in terms of what that means for legislation. Unclear.

LEMON: We don't know. We have to watch and see when he comes back.

David Rohde, you know, I spoke with the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last night on the show and he sort of went everywhere. He surprised a lot of people when he questioned the president's fitness for office. Take a look and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLAPPER: I really question his ability to -- his fitness to be in this office.

LEMON: Is he a threat to national security, the president?

CLAPPER: Well, he certainly could be. Again, having some understanding of the levers that a president can exercise, I worry about, frankly, you know, the access to nuclear codes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What did you think of the former director of national intelligence coming out and saying that, David?

DAVID ROHDE, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: Well, startling and frightening and everything else. There was another phrase that he used though, that I don't -- I don't like the whole that he's crazy argument. I think he knows exactly what he is doing. He is being incredibly divisive for political reasons but something that Clapper said was that...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But he said, listen, before you go there.

ROHDE: Sure.

LEMON: He did clarify and said he didn't mean that he was crazy, meaning mentally. He is just saying fit for office in his actions and whether he was prepared to do the job. But go on, take your point.

ROHDE: There was a great phrase he used which he talked about the complete intellectual and moral and ethical void that the president was exhibiting and that leads to this erratic behavior that's politically motivated, that's calculated, it's divisive, but there is real consequences to this.

This threat of shutting down the government to build his wall drove down stocks today.

LEMON: Yes.

ROHDE: He inherited a very strong economy and if this economy, you know, tanks, it would be a huge repercussions if they shut down the government. You know, it would be a disaster for the Republican Party. LEMON: Because if Mexico is paying for the wall then you wouldn't

have to shut down the government. It wouldn't be part of our budget.

(CROSSTALK)

ROHDE: Yes. I mean, we don't need the wall. The numbers don't show it. It's a fantasy. He has created this whole false narrative. And it's about jobs in the end for the people who voted for him, who believe and they want him to produce jobs. If he destroys this economy it's one thing to say crazy things to score political points. You know, he's in -- he's in terrible shape.

LEMON: Yes, Garrett, I'm not sure, have you been on the program before? I'm not sure if you had been on.

GARRETT GRAFF, AUTHOR, RAVEN ROCK: Yes. Yes.

LEMON: OK. Well, welcome back. We have a -- welcome back. You sat down with Clapper before. What did you think?

GRAFF: Well, so I was really stunned watching those comments last night. I mean, I can't imagine what was going through your head in real-time listening to him say this. But I spent a lot of time covering Jim Clapper. This is someone who has dedicated 53 years of his life to the U.S. military and the U.S. Intelligence.

And to see him -- he's normally a very sober, very quiet person, someone who is not prone to giving much more than a monosyllabic answer and to see him speak so passionately and so worriedly about the president's fitness for office is something that should be terrifying to Americans, particularly when in the last 24, 48 hours we have seen that same comment echoed by former CIA Director John Brennan and former deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin.

I mean, this is I think almost an unprecedented public revolt by former intelligence leaders.

LEMON: Yes.

GRAFF: I mean, I think you have to go back to the admiral's revolt in the Truman administration which was a policy fight, not a personal fight to find a time when government leaders, even former government leaders were so forcefully speaking out against an administration like this.

[22:10:09] LEMON: And he was on with my colleague Jim Sciutto earlier and he said he wanted to make sure that people knew. He said that this was picked up by the people who reported on it, that he was making this now as a private citizen, not as any sort of intelligence agent. But just that the president's behavior especially over the last couple of days he found it to be erratic.

GRAFF: And you know, I think I don't really buy this all this talk of the on-script Trump and the off-script Trump. I think there is really only the off-script Trump and that's the thing that these last couple of months have underscored. And I think that that's what James Clapper is worried about.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So then what of the on script Trump then? What are the...

GRAFF: Well, that there are certainly moments when he is on script but the true Donald Trump is the off-script Trump.

LEMON: OK.

GRAFF: It is the person who speaks on Tuesday night. Not the person who is speaking Monday night and Wednesday night.

LEMON: Yes, let's talk about this new Quinnipiac University poll, Nia. Sixty-eight percent of voters say the president is not level headed. Does that number surprise you? What do you think that -- what does that mean?

HENDERSON: You know, I mean, what surprised me about that number is if you look at the partisan breakdown, 32 percent of republicans think this president isn't level headed. That is a surprising number.

You talk to pollsters about what they look for in terms of softening support and a president who is in danger in terms of how their own party feels about them and you look at this poll overall you are seeing softening of his support.

Typically pollsters want to see a president doing about 85, 90, 95 percent in terms of approval rating with their own party. In this poll, 77 percent of republicans approve of the job that this president is doing. This is below where pollsters would like to see a president in terms of how they're doing with their own party.

So a lot of danger signs here I think for this president in terms of how he's doing. The trend lines aren't good in terms of his own party and that's reflected I think in the overall numbers. You talk about the 68 percent number that don't see him as level headed. That's up from about I think 57 percent in November of 2016.

And any number of positive metrics that's the kind of deterioration of support you see for this president in terms of thinking positively about him.

LEMON: Well, David, I want to add the same thing, 68 percent of voters say the president is not level headed and people are now saying it on camera. Not as many people as who say it off camera, and especially republicans who say they worry about the president's fitness.

When you heard there was a recording between, you know, two lawmakers, I think with Susan Collins and I forget who the second lawmaker was, saying that they were, you know, they said things I would not repeat. What do you think of that poll?

ROHDE: It shows that this is all taking a toll. You know, it's not working. He's not getting anything done. He's showing over and over again that he'll throw anyone under the bus, he'll insult any group to sort of score a political point.

The only group he seems to listens to are the generals who now surround him in the White House and the more sober speeches that have been about foreign policy sort of scripted by those generals, McMaster, Mattis and others. But it's not working. He's not getting anything done.

Why would you take a risk for this president if you are a republican in Washington. And September is going to be a critical month and I think a very ugly one for this administration.

LEMON: Interesting. Why is that?

ROHDE: Just good. The debt ceiling is approaching, they have to have enact a budget, there's talk of tax reform. He may insist again this Obamacare repeal. You know, he will push and he'll mock McConnell and, you know, how are Senate republicans going to respond, and again, if this default happens, you know, it's a disaster.

LEMON: And he and McConnell reportedly not getting along right now.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAFF: Don, I think...

LEMON: Go ahead, Garrett.

GRAFF: I think David raises a point that's worth elaborating on there, which is, remember, this is a situation right now that where we're seeing this type of concern about the president and we're seeing these types of numbers in a situation where the president really hasn't yet faced a crisis not of his own making, and where the economy is still strong.

And if we see ourselves in a situation at some point in the fall where a foreign power or an outside actor is driving a crisis that the president has to be responding to, or we see the economy begin to weaken, possibly in response to a government shut down or the fears of a government shut down, I mean, this could get to be a very dire situation very quickly.

LEMON: Yes.

HENDERSON: And it's already early in his presidency.

LEMON: Yes.

HENDERSON: I mean, he's seven, eight months in.

LEMON: Seven, seven months.

[22:14:56] HENDERSON: Typically you see I think this kind -- these kinds of numbers in a second term, right? I mean, these are the kind of numbers you saw in Bush's second term post-Katrina when people really started to lose faith in him as a leader, lose faith in terms of what was going on in terms of foreign policy. LEMON: Yes.

HENDERSON: The Iraq war and Afghanistan war. So, and I think that's why Mitch McConnell is looking at this and wondering and worrying about whether this president can actually get this back together.

LEMON: Garrett, I want to ask you about this. Because this was startling for a lot of folks last night when you hear the former top Intel official like James Clapper voicing concerns about the president's fitness and access codes to nuclear -- to nuclear codes and his access -- access, I should say, to nuclear codes, none of this is theoretical, especially when you consider North Korea if he wanted to launch a strike, how would this work? Can he unilaterally do this? Can he act unilaterally when launching a nuclear strike?

GRAFF: Not only can he, it's the way that the system is supposed to work. This is a Cold War system that was designed to respond to having tens of thousands of nuclear weapons between the Soviet Union and the United States on a hair trigger alert.

So speed was of the essence and we have spent literally billions of dollars over decades stripping away anything that could possibly slow down a presidential launch order. So from the moment that he gives that order, there is no second voice in the system.

There is no one who has to double check that that is a valid reason for starting a war. The only check in the system is whether the President of the United States is the President of the United States. And once that confirmation comes through, the first American ICBMs leave their silos four minutes later.

LEMON: Boy, OK. Thank you, Garrett. Thank you, David. Thank you, Nia. I appreciate it.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

LEMON: I want to turn now to Ambassador James Wolsey, the former director of the CIA. Ambassador, welcome. Thank you so much. We have been talking about the president's fiery rally. And I want to play more. This is the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper and what he had to say about it. Here's what he told me.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLAPPER: Having some understanding of the levers of power that are available to a president, if he chooses to exercise them, I found this downright scary and disturbing.

This behavior and this divisiveness and the complete intellectual, moral and ethical void that the President of the United States exhibits, and how much longer does the country have to borrow a phrase endure this nightmare?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: So, what's your assessment and what concerns you the most about what you heard from him and from the president over the last seven months?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think Jim Clapper has taken this concern rather substantially beyond what has occurred. And could give concerns to people of course. But, if you look at the John Kennedy administration and Kennedy's weakness in the 1961 summit with Khrushchev, basically got the United States pushed around including a Cuban missile crisis and so forth. Because Khrushchev thought that Kennedy was so weak. And he didn't proved to be weak later he handle the Cuban missile very well.

LEMON: But no one -- no one ever questioned his stability.

WOOLSEY: No, but there was more reason to question Kennedy's ability to be a good president in foreign policy in 1961, I think, than there is to question Trump's ability to function in the national security side of things.

Now you can have a lot of disagreements with him about things that he's said politically and the crazy business of what happened in -- at the University of Virginia with his comments and so forth.

But in terms of national security, I think that, you know, tomorrow, I believe our Secretary of Defense, James -- General Mattis is giving the Independence Day speech at -- in Ukraine. He was invited by the Ukrainian government to speak -- to be the principle speaker about their independence.

The world still looks to the United States and we have a responsibility, I think, to be people who help reform and help change and help modernize our strategic forces and those capabilities as much as needed. But I think the sort of thing that Jim just said pushes the envelope beyond where it ought to be.

(CROSSTALK)

[22:20:04] LEMON: Do you think that he had a responsibility; the President of the United States has a responsibility to act accordingly to be fitting of the office and not to waffle. Because there's one thing to say that, well, you know, I think that someone is weak or maybe not as versed in it or there is a policy difference, I should say, or someone is weak than saying someone is not stable and you cannot trust their decision-making abilities and they have access to the nuclear codes. And as Garrett said four minutes later unilaterally, it's over.

WOOLSEY: I don't think that Trump has said anything as foolish as George W. Bush's looking into Putin's eyes and seeing his soul. I mean, what he should have seen was the initials KGB on each eyebrow.

LEMON: Yes.

WOOLSEY: I just...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He hasn't said -- he hasn't spoken -- he has only spoken pretty glowing things about Putin, this president, as well.

WOOLSEY: Well.

LEMON: And then we also, remember George W. Bush we also got into...

(CROSSTALK)

WOOLSEY: They're been in war, cordial. But nobody caused as much increase in the power of Putin as President Obama. When he drew the red line and said, Putin, you -- or he said to Assad, you will not use chemical weapons against your own people, Assad did and President Obama's solution was to turn the problem over to Russia.

LEMON: But no one questioned...

(CROSSTALK)

WOOLSEY: Trump has not done anything like that.

LEMON: No one has questioned the stability of any president in modern history as they have questioned this president's ability, members of his own party.

WOOLSEY: Well, they ought to have a reason to question his ability.

LEMON: You don't think there is a reason. Did you watch the speech last night?

WOOLSEY: I did.

LEMON: You don't think there is a reason to question his stability.

WOOLSEY: I don't think there is a reason to question his stability. No, people can disagree with parts of it. But I think that we need to realize that in terms of the world as a whole, the United States' stability is a center piece.

We are a big family that has an obligation beyond ourselves, which is to help the world be a stable place politically.

LEMON: And do you think that's happening now?

WOOLSEY: I think we have at least a reasonable chance in terms of the conduct of our foreign policy to, yes, to...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And that's in...

WOOLSEY: To retain that sense of stability.

LEMON: And that's because of, is that because of the people who are around this president or is that because of the president?

WOOLSEY: Well, it's some of both. I think that he's made generally good selections or some people think there too many State Department holdovers and so forth. But I think generally he made good selections on a lot of the national security appointments that have occurred so far and those were his choices to make. He's the one who decided to put General Mattis in at defense, for example. So, I think that...

LEMON: Does it concern you that he often contradicts these folks when it comes to policy, when it comes to North Korea, when it comes to he'll say one thing and they'll say another?

WOOLSEY: Well, that's called being in a free country. People do have...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But my point is -- you're making the point about stability. That doesn't appear to be very stable if he is -- the people who he supposedly trusts and who knows about these issues more than he does even though he said he knows more than the generals, that he often contradicts them on policy.

WOOLSEY: I think the opposite. I think Mattis set up a system for us with the American Constitution, which promotes disagreement. That's kind of what we are about. The checks and balances are about our being candid with one another and if someone says something or does something that is truly out of line and crazy or something, that's different but I haven't seen anything that would have qualify for the sort of thing that Clapper and others have said.

LEMON: So, I just to get -- so just to be clear. So you're happy with how this has gone? Because you went support to him at a very critical time?

WOOLSEY: Happy, no. I would like to see us move beyond this issue to look at ways we can help the president and the executive branch improve our standing in national security areas and dealing with tough problems such as especially Iran and especially North Korea. Those are situations we're going to have to deal with. They're tough. We have some really angry and ideological enemies there.

LEMON: So how do we move there? How do we move beyond this if the president doesn't move beyond it?

WOOLSEY: Well, I don't see any indication the president is not going to figure out how to deal with this. If you look at China, for example, we have -- he has first moved against China because of...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So let me get back to my initial question, one of my initial questions. Did you watch last night?

WOOLSEY: All right.

LEMON: Because This wasn't -- this was a small part of what he talked about. He opened up talking about Charlottesville and race and re- litigating what happened and rewriting history.

[22:25:02] If he wants to move beyond this, why does he continue to have a bug -- a bee in his bonnet about it?

WOOLSEY: You need somebody else to be the P.R. expert here. I'm demonstrably bad.

LEMON: The only reason I'm asking you is because you are saying stability and you would like to see him move beyond this and he does not...

(CROSSTALK)

WOOLSEY: I was about to explain how I think he is handling things with China and North Korea which is positive. He is, I think, moving in a way to first of all try to get China to cut back on some of the trade practices that have been a real problem for us over the years.

But as he has seen China move in a small way but nonetheless clearly, in such a way as to cut back to some extent on North Korea's independence, to add to sanctions and so forth, he has indicated to China that if China works with us on North Korea, he'll be more flexible with respect to some of these trade issues. That's the warp and woof of diplomacy. That's the way it's done and that's what he's doing.

LEMON: I've got to run. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

WOOLSEY: My pleasure.

LEMON: I appreciate your time.

President Trump stuck to the script on the speech today in Reno but his rant last night in Phoenix was like nothing we have heard before from a president. I want you to listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Now, I was a good student. I always hear about the elite. You know, the elite. They are elite. I went to better schools than they did. I was a better student than they were.

I live in a bigger and more beautiful apartment and I live in the White House too, which is really great.

(CROWD CHEERING)

I think, you know what, I think we're the elites. They're not the elites.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Here to discuss all of this, republican strategist, Mike Murphy and James Fallows, the national correspondent for the Atlantic. Gentlemen, I appreciate you joining us.

James, you witnessed many presidential speeches from, we're just talking from JFK, from JFK onward. Why was last night's speech or rant by President Trump so different? JAMES FALLOWS, CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTIC NATIONAL: I think one

thing was the contrast between that and the previous night's speech when he was clearly on script under control when talking about Afghanistan and he had a homily about national unity before that, and constancy and purpose and all the rest.

And then last night's speech was essentially the Trump we'd seen on the campaign trail when he could speak just from his real opinions and it was partly as you were just saying to James Woolsey was partly re- litigating how popular he was, you know, how unfairly the press treated him, et cetera.

The other thing that was so striking to me and different from what in the long chronicles of presidential rhetoric I'm aware of, is the way he attacked the press not for bad stories or not for misrepresenting this or that, which every president feels, but instead for their fundamental legitimacy saying that people in the press, you, me, and others were dishonest, bad people, sick, didn't like the country and wanted the country to fail.

And this is a step that many presidents have taken in their private conversations but in public the only person who came -- has come close to this is Richard Nixon and even he didn't come that close to this attack on the basic legitimacy of the press.

LEMON: Mike, to you now, you are a long time republican consultant, what's the president's strategy to give a performance like that right now. What's the strategy here?

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think there is no strategy. I think it's just self-indulgence. What he is doing is a therapy session with an adoring throng. So, you know, we see what happens when the staff is in control and other people writes speeches for him. And he reads them on the prompter and they move an inch forward.

Then he is allowed to indulge himself and go back to campaign mode and speak off the top of his head and we get this unfiltered Donald Trump which is what's terrifying and causing now a crisis in the Republican Party of how do we deal with him.

LEMON: Yes. Did you see...

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY: I don't think there is a strategy at all.

LEMON: Did you see a comparison between -- because, you know, the ambassador just made a comparison between Kennedy and Trump saying, you know, one is weakness and one he hasn't seen anything that shows that this president is not stable?

MURPHY: Well, I got the historical analogy he was trying to make about JFK. I'm not sure I agree with it. I don't believe the crazy Trump theory. I believe he is a narcissist. I believe he has an impulse control problem, and I believe he is the most insecure person I've ever seen in public life, which sis something that attracts a lot of insecure people. So he is a record setter.

LEMON: Yes. But you know, when...

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY: But when crazy rhetoric has been worse than his actions which have been more rational.

LEMON: But that's what -- you are smart. You know that when someone says -- when people say unfit they don't necessarily mean crazy. They just mean...

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY: Right. Exactly. Yes. Look, I've said unqualified by temperament, knowledge, or character to be President of the United States. I've said it publicly for a long time. I believe that.

[22:30:04] But that you know, it's -- it's easy to get down the slippery slide into the nuclear madman stuff and everything, and I'm not sure that's accurate but he is -- he is unfit because he does not understand the role of the president is not only to be the head of government in our system but head of state which means you have a responsibility to be kind of a reference clock for proper behavior in defending American values.

And he doesn't understand that or doesn't care. So that's why we have this method of presidential insult comic communication added with total disregard for the truth that has become such a toxic stain on this presidency.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Well, go ahead.

JAMES FALLOWS, CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTIC NATIONAL: Just to take that point one step further. Here is a specific example of what fitness for office means. There is a skill that you have as a live performer which Donald Trump really has, which is knowing the pulse of a crowd, the mood of the crowd and he plays to it really well.

When I saw that last night he was working the crowd for cheers.

Fitness for being president involves being aware that every single second of your life, every single utterance you put out, every word you say or don't say, every phrase has consequences around the world and in this country.

And do, his entire inability to even imagine that, I think that is a kind of fitness that he is not getting better at.

LEMON: Yes. And I think that, you know, when people criticize and say they are questioning the president's sanity and all that, they know better. They're doing it just, you know, just because to make a political point of some sort.

Mike, I have to ask you. You spoke with my colleague Chris Cillizza and you told him that President Trump may not be president by 2019? Why not?

MURPHY: I prefaced it with a lot of talk about how my crystal ball is completely shattered. I think predicted that he'd lose by millions of votes and not be elected president, so I made a few wild guesses. But here to the extent I have to guess I will guess this, one, he won't get better. He will pry himself away from someone else's words on the prompter and we will get more of this.

And so the intensity against him will grow. He will have no fun and the Republican Party which I observe for 30 years and love dearly is looking at a big political price in the mid-term elections. So the guy who promised us we're going to be tired of winning is heading toward the biggest disaster for us in modern history since Watergate.

So, of all those things happened, plus the unknown outcomes of the Mueller investigation, which maybe noting, maybe a lot, we don't know yet, but there is a massive machine investigating everything including most likely those tax returns that for some reason he is terrified to make public.

I believe the spring of '19, 2019 will be an extremely difficult time for the president and what he might do then is what he has done in business when he gets cornered which is cut his losses. Settle and run.

So, I am just not confident and I was interested to read now that the astute political observer Mitch McConnell, I have a lot of respect for, at least privately and as reported in the newspaper has speculated about the same thing that he is just not built for this and may not last and could actually resign.

He would do it with typical Trump theater. I put Pence in charge, I'm going to call him every day and give orders, meanwhile, I'm going to lead the third party crusade to wrest back from the swamp.

LEMON: I see a book. I'm feeling a book here. James Fallows, is that how you see it?

FALLOWS: So, again, I've sworn off making predictions ever since two and a half years ago, I said he couldn't win. But I think if we do look back and say that he doesn't finish this term the news story yesterday in the New York Times saying Senator McConnell, quote, "in private," unquote as calling wondering whether Trump can pull this out for his presidency that will be an important turning point.

Because what has kept him going so far is the complacency, the complicity of whatever you want to call of the republicans in the Senate and the House in sticking with him even though they all know what kind of person he is and the risk this country -- the country is encountering by having him in office.

So, the fact that Mitch McConnell, the least emotional, least undisciplined, least leak prone member of the republican majority is sending out this kind of signal, I think if things go in that direction this will be a -- we'll look back on this as a turning point. LEMON: James Fallows and Mike Murphy...

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY: The president would remember that one big success he's had, Gorsuch, Mitch McConnell was the architect of that success.

FALLOWS: Yes.

LEMON: I've been saying that screaming at the television all day. Mike, you are half right. You were -- you're just right about the president part. You were right about the losing by millions of votes, but you were wrong about the president part. You don't get them all right.

MURPHY: You can't have it all.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you all. Thank you both. I appreciate it. When we come back, the CNN exclusive new relations on -- new revelations, I should say, on the Russia investigation and new e-mail sources saying -- say about setting up a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Vladimir Putin.

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We have a CNN exclusive tonight to tell you about, new developments in the Russia investigation.

CNN's Manu Raju here with the story to explain it to us. Manu, you've got some breaking news on the Russia investigation involving a top Trump campaign aide. What can you tell us about that?

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes. That's right, Don. And Rick Dearborn who is the deputy chief White House chief of staff and was a top Trump policy adviser sent an e-mail last year to other Trump campaign officials saying that someone from, quote, "W.V." was trying to set up a meeting with campaign officials and Russians.

Now this is referring to individuals from West Virginia. Now this was one of thousands of e-mails that congressional investigators are now pouring through as it relates to the Russia probe. And we don't know who this individual from West Virginia is and exactly what he or she may have been seeking or whether the campaign even took any steps to have this Russia meeting.

But we do know from intelligence experts that Russians were looking for cooperative partners as entry points into the campaign. But we don't know exactly what happened here because the White House declined to comment and answer a series of questions that we had. So we're trying to figure that out as the investigators are pushing forward to hope to see if Mr. Dearborn will answer their questions.

LEMON: Manu, give us a sense of context here. Give us some context. When was all this happening and was it related to the meeting that we now know took place with Donald Trump, Jr. with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner and all Russians of June in 2016?

[22:39:55] RAJU: Well, Don, the e-mail came out i June of 2016 that was around the same time as that Donald Trump, Jr. meeting did occur. Now that meeting of course happened with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner and those Russian operatives.

Now the question is whether or not there was any connection there. Now we have no knowledge that it may have any sort of ties or relationship with that Donald Trump, Jr. meeting. But around the same time last year also another Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos tried to set up a meeting with Russian officials and that request was denied by the campaign, we have been told.

Now we don't know about this Dearborn e-mail if it had connections to any of this. But again, the questions, well, now this is a pattern of Russian officials trying to figure out new ways, new partners, unwitting partners, maybe cooperative partners to figure out if they could work with people within the Trump campaign as we now know Russia is of course trying to discredit Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump according to intelligence, the intelligence community, Don.

LEMON: How long has Congress had this e-mail and what's likely to happen now, Manu?

RAJU: Well, they have had these e-mails since earlier this summer. We have, you know, we have not seen this -- we were just learning about these e-mails now because they are trying to pour through these thousands and thousands of e-mails.

The question right now is whether Mr. Dearborn will come forward to any of these committees. They've actually there are three committees looking through these e-mails. Each doing their own investigations. House intelligence, Senate intelligence, and Senate judiciary. Almost certainly I'm told that Mr. Dearborn will be asked to come forward and answer questions about this.

So this is -- this is bound to put some new pressure on the White House to reveal some information here. Also, it's important to realize here that Mr. Dearborn was Jeff Sessions' chief of staff when he was a senator, and Dearborn has drawn some scrutiny -- or Sessions has drawn some scrutiny because he had those multiple meetings with the Russian ambassador, Don, Sergey Kislyak, and the question is whether or not Dearborn had a role in setting up those meetings and what he mean know about those interactions, Don.

LEMON: Manu, thank you. I appreciate that. I want to bring in now CNN contributor John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel and the author of "Conservatives Without Conscience," and national security analyst, Steve Hall, retired chief of CIA Russian operations.

Gentlemen, good evening to both of you. John Dean, you're first. Let me get your reaction to the breaking news, it's clear that the Russians were looking for connections inside the Trump campaign, right?

JOHN DEAN, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Well, it is clear and that is certainly is part of their M.O. as we understand it. I'm not surprised that e- mails are turning up. E-mails have been the discovery find of the current generation of investigators. And they are a rich source.

So I'm -- I suspect there will be more of this sort of thing. And it's often a little bit of a needle in a haystack. That may be what this is, but it will also will give investigators some place to go and focus. So, this is an interesting news.

LEMON: Steve, we know from the Don Junior e-mail that Russia wanted Trump to win over Hillary Clinton. So what's the take away from this?

DEAN: Well, we certainly know...

(CROSSTALK)

STEVE HALL, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: I think the take away...

LEMON: This is for Steve.

HALL: Go ahead.

DEAN: Go ahead.

LEMON: Steve, go ahead.

HALL: I think the take away, Don, is this is simply another data point that we have on the counterintelligence spectrum of sort the continuing drip that we have of yet more people of who the Russians were apparently taking a look at to see whether they can penetrate the Trump organization during the campaign.

And you know, sometimes it can be surprising, I mean, you know, it can be a janitor, it can be an office administrator, a secretary. They will look at everybody across the boards. Because you never know who is going to have access to some really interesting things, and more importantly, you really don't know what the motivations and the vulnerabilities are of any individual person who may be willing to cooperate with the Russians.

So, you know, whether or not it's, you know, Mr. Dearborn who is the latest name or whether or not this is something that goes back, you know, Manu was mentioning W.V. Is that West Virginia? Is there some connection there? These are all the things that need to be tracked down. We won't know if any of these rises beyond just to a counterintelligence concern to legal concern of course until Mr. Mueller and his team finish their work. But it continues to be concerning as this keeps coming out.

LEMON: I want to put up. This is, John, this is what you tweeted last night during the speech. You said, "Trump's unhinged Phoenix event strikes me as pure diversion. He is worried about Mueller and feels he must get busy discrediting the news media." You said you think the investigation could be closing in on higher ups, even the Trump family. Why do you say that?

DEAN: Just being an investigation watcher, particularly at the presidential level for a lot of years. I notice a quiet often surrounds the higher they get. And we've had a quiet. We don't know anything about what the Mueller investigation is really doing. They're sealed tight. They're a black box and they're professionals.

[22:45:09] So, but we do know there is very little static out there. This comes from Congress' Dearborn information. It's not from anything other than normal discovery that has popped up.

But we don't -- what I sense is the White House is getting feedback from higher ups, maybe some people in the family are being called, their lawyers are being called and I think that's what struck me is that Trump realized it had been a while since he'd gone at the press and he needs to keep discrediting anything that's going to come out. So there he was last night discrediting the press.

LEMON: John, CNN is reporting that the screaming phone call the president had with republican leader Mitch McConnell focused on why McConnell wasn't protecting Trump from the congressional Russia investigation. Is the president putting himself in danger of more obstruction charges?

DEAN: He certainly is. There is a separate obstruction statute, Don, that deals directly with that kind of interference with a congressional investigation. While we have a lot of leeway in legislative areas between Congress and the executive or anybody, or lobbyists, when you get in the investigative area there are some strictures and some controls. And if you start messing with their investigative powers you can find yourself in an obstruction situation.

LEMON: Steve, after the profanity-laced phone call, the reported profanity-laced phone call with Mitch McConnell, which was first reported in the New York Times, a lot of people were speculating that perhaps something big was about to be released on the Russia investigation that the president may have known more was about to come out. What do you think?

HALL: Well, you know, I think...

LEMON: Steve, Steve, Steve.

DEAN: Steve, go. Sorry.

HALL: Yes. I think that's absolutely right. Mueller is running a very professional, very compartmented, you know, in intelligence terms, investigation. And that's as it should be. You know, we can all sort of hope and anticipate that something will come out of that or perhaps we'll learn something ahead of time.

But you know, that team that he has arranged and pulled together is a really, really tight and professional group. I don't think we're going to hear anything about it until it's close to the end or until legal action starts.

And I've said this before on a counter intelligence or stuff that involves with counterintelligence like this investigation does, it just takes so much more time. And you have to deal with classified. And you have to deal with -- I mean, it's just so much more complicated. So people who are saying, we're never going to hear any -- you know, where are the facts. You just got it give it time when your marry up the discipline that's involve, plus all the complexity of the counterintelligence and legal investigation it's just going to take some time.

LEMON: Steve Hall and John Dean, and also our thanks to Manu Raju, as well. I appreciate it.

Coming up, in her new book, Hillary Clinton reveals what she was really thinking during this memorable debate moment with Donald Trump.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In her new book, Hillary Clinton explains what she thinks went wrong in her campaign and wishes she could have a do over this one. Watch.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In this book I write about moments from the campaign that I wish I could go back and do over. If the Russians could hack my subconscious, they'd find a long list.

I also capture moments I want to remember forever like when my tiny granddaughter raced into the room while I was practicing my convention speech, and what it was like hours later to step on stage to deliver that speech as the first woman ever nominated by a major political party for president of the United States.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: Let's discuss now with CNN political commentator Robby Mook is here, Clinton's former campaign manager, Karen Finney, her former senior advisor and senior spokesperson. And CNN political commentators, Kevin Madden and Jason Miller.

A lot of folks there have some interest in this book. Karen, I'm sure you do as well you'll be reading it from cover to cover.

KAREN FINNEY, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Yes.

LEMON: You've worked on the Clinton campaign. What's your reaction to her memoir, why do you think she is releasing these particular excerpts now?

FINNEY: Look, I think people are very interested to hear what Hillary has to say and I think a couple of things about the excerpts. I mean, the first of what you just played is from the author's note. So I think it gives a bit of a framing of what you're going to hear in this book.

And I think, you know, we need to remember that in addition to the fact this is Hillary's story, this is an American story about -- and it's a historical moment where we had the first woman ever running for president. There are a lot of people interested you hear that.

And the second set of excerpts that were released are actually from a longer chapter about what it's like to be a female candidate.

And you know, Emily's list has something like 20,000 women running for office in the next election, which is fantastic. And so, I think that having a conversation about some of the differences between what it's like as a woman versus a man, I think that's going to be a great conversation and I think it's going to -- not just look back but look forward a bit.

And I think you'll hear and read and see some inspirational moments and some moments talking about resilience.

LEMON: Yes. Well, let's -- I want to look at some moments here because and we can listen and then there's also video. This is a particular moment. Donald Trump was standing behind her during a debate at Washington University. Here's the excerpt from the book.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

CLINTON: He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled. It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, well, what would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren't repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, back up, you creep. Get away from me.

I know you love to intimidate women but you can't intimidate me, so back up. I chose option a. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off. I did however, grip the microphone extra hard. I wonder though, whether I should have chosen option b.

(END VOICE CLIP)

[22:55:03] LEMON: A lot of people are going option b, option b. If only for the drama, right? Option b. I think, Robby, that this is going to be option b will be a Saturday Night Live skit. But you -- I mean, mark my words. You lived it. What did you think?

ROBBY MOOK, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Look, I think she was hitting here on a question that we faced every single day on this campaign. You know, do you just go say what you really believe or does she need to be that composed presidential leader that people were looking for?

I think women candidates face this all the time. They're supposed to be tough and in command, they're also supposed to be nurturing and relatable. And she, you know, Hillary is not saying it exactly there, but I tell you, we face this all the time and women candidates face this all the time.

LEMON: You think he was trying to intimidate her?

MOOK: I don't know what he was doing. It was so weird and so awkward. Probably. You know, he has that kind of look on his face. LEMON: Yes.

MOOK: I can't tell you.

LEMON: I've got to ask you. Let me let Jason in here. Because, Jason, it has been said that she walked over to his side. This is his defense. She walked over to his side and therefore he's taller than her and so it just looked odd. I don't know. He was pretty close to her. I mean, you could probably -- she probably did feel him breathing. What do you say to that, Jason?

JASON MILLER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, and let's not forget that President Trump won this debate big league. I mean, this is one of the key moments in the campaign, you know, I mean, this was arguably his best debate performance.

But I'd say to the democrats who are watching this evening, congratulations that Secretary Clinton is back and reminding everybody that she is the face of the Democratic Party. And so, just as democrats are looking to pivot and move ahead to the next set of elections and to come up with their next set of their ideals and their goals.

Secretary Clinton is taking us back to the 2016 campaign. And so for all the criticism that the president receives for bringing up the 2016 -- 2016 campaign, here's Secretary Clinton doing it again. But I would be remiss if while I have Robby on here...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Jason, Jason -- Jason, she's writing a book. He's the president of the United States. She's not going out giving press conferences.

FINNEY: Don, what a draw.

LEMON: Come on. The woman can write a book. How many books has Donald Trump written, written?

MILLER: Why do -- why do politicians do this? When politicians run for office and they lose and they come out with a book. I don't know if it's a, you know, a therapeutic thing, or if it helps them get over the loss. Why do they do this? Nobody wants to hear this. But no, that being said, I'd be remiss if while I'm here with Robby.

(CROSSTALK)

FINNEY: Jason, I just remind you the book is actually already a best seller.

MILLER: Robby, I'm a huge fan -- hold on. Hold on. I'm a huge fan -- I'm a huge fan of political memorabilia and so I would say Robby, can you hook up a brother with a signed copy of the book? That's all I'm asking.

FINNEY: My God. MILLER: Like a signed copy of the book.

(CROSSTALK)

MOOK: Here's what I'm saying.

MILLER: I'm really look -- I'm really look -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.

MOOK: Look, here's what I was going to say. Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million votes. So, majority of the voters I think have a right to hear from Hillary about her feelings about this election and I want to touch on something that Karen...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But by the way, you asked for that popular vote thing because you knew that was going to...

(CROSSTALK)

But quickly, go ahead because...

MILLER: We'll go visit her at the White House.

MOOK: We should -- we should hear from Kevin. But I want to underscore something that Karen said. This book is also about the future. It's Hillary reflecting on lessons we need to take from this election moving forward. That is really important. And so, this isn't necessarily about re-litigating the past, it's what we need pay attention to moving forward.

FINNEY: You know...

LEMON: Karen, I got to get Kevin. Kevin, go ahead.

KEVIN MADDEN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, look, I think let's remember that during that debate while it was probably one of Donald Trump's better debates, he was judged very harshly for that. And actually I think option a was the right option that Hillary Clinton took and I don't think it had nothing to do with gender. I think we've seen these instances before where there's invasions of space and you have to guard against them. And she handled it with poise.

You know, actually in the 2012 campaign we actually built a replica set for Governor Romney to practice some of those invasions of space because we remembered some of those moments from like the 2000 debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore and how problematic it was.

LEMON: Yes.

MADDEN: But I, you know, I do have to -- look, I expect that there will be portions of this book that are forward looking. But right now, I think that, you know, any re-litigation of 2016 really doesn't serve a Democratic Party that has to really transition away from past leaders and find new ones. So, I do think, I sort of agree with Jason that it is problematic that

we are even having this debate. I don't question the right of Hillary Clinton. I just question the wisdom for the party's overall prospect.

LEMON: Karen, I know you want to respond to that. Go ahead.

FINNEY: You know, I just think that's very short sighted. Because, I mean, this is a woman who has been in politics, been an activist inside and outside for a very long time and has a lot to tell us and a lot that we can learn from her.

And I also think there's a lot that happened in 2016 that our country still needs to take a look at. Think about Charlottesville. Think about the fact that a year ago, pretty much this week Hillary gave a speech talking about the rise of the alt-right and people were shocked at what they saw frankly in Charlottesville.

[23:00:08] When actually, the SCOC and the FBI had been reporting on the rise of these hate groups since President Obama's election.