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Perplexed Mindset of a Killer; Chaos in Trump's Cabinet; Donald Trump Jr. Reviving Charlottesville Controversy; President Trump in Puerto Rico. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 6, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.
Sources say killer Stephen Paddock took 20 cruises with stops at ports in Spain, Italy, Greece, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, just one piece of the puzzle as police rundown more than a thousand leaders.
We're learning tonight that investigators believe before Paddock began his deadly assault on 22,000 concertgoers he fired on jet fuel tanks at the airport. Police are also trying to decipher a cryptic note found in his Mandalay Bay hotel suite. No words, just numbers.
But five days after the attack that shocked the nation and the world, we still don't have any answer to the most important question, and that is why? Police say they believe someone must know something and they're asking anyone with information to call this number. You see it on your screen there, 1-800 call FBI. 1-800 call FBI.
Let's get the very latest now on the investigation from Las Vegas. Live with us now, Kyung Lah. Kyung, good evening to you. What's the latest? What do you know?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well, you just sort of mentioned it there, Don. There is that frustration that they still don't have an answer to why, so in the absence of that, investigators are trying to build a profile on this gunman.
We are learning that they are looking at his foreign travel. His travel specifically on cruise lines. From what law enforcement sources telling CNN he took 20 cruises to Europe, to the Middle East. Nine of them with his girlfriend. The rest appears to be by himself. We should -- remember, he does like to gamble. He was an avid gambler so many of these cruises do have casinos aboard them.
So they're not really sure exactly what that means. We are also learning that the gunman tried to purchase tracers at a gun show. He was unsuccessful because the vendor had sold out. A tracer allows you to track your accuracy when you fire a round.
And Don, you mentioned that note. Finally that note, and this is very curious. What investigators are looking at are some striplings on a notepad left in the hotel. Just numbers and they say according to a law enforcement source, that these numbers carried some sort of significance to the gunman, but they're still trying to figure out exactly what all of this means. Don.
LEMON: Kyung Lah, live in Las Vegas with the very latest on the investigation. Thank you, Kyung.
Stephen Paddock described as a loner obsessed with his privacy. But one person who spoke to him just weeks ago is the woman who actually cuts his hair, she is Kallie Beig and she joins me now on face time. Kallie, thank you so much. You knew Stephen Paddock for three years. Why do you describe him as a memorable person?
KALLIE BEIG, HAIRSTYLIST FOR STEPHEN PADDOCK: I probably describe him as a memorable person because every time that he came in, he never really wanted to give us any of his information. At the great clips we create a profile for people so then when they come back in it's really to look them and their family up and so then they can get coupons in the mail and whatnot for haircuts.
He never ever wanted to even have his name put down half the time, which is fine. You can bypass that stuff. And that's respectable if people don't want to give you that information. And he was also very memorable because him and his girlfriend's relationship was just very distant and very cold seemingly and to me with a significant other, you normally -- most of the time I have my couples come in and when, you know, if the gentleman sits in the chair, before they get out of the chair they tell me, well, you'd better ask the boss over there, you know, they make jokes like that and whatnot. And with them, they didn't even make eye contact with each other.
BEIG: And that really sticks out to me.
LEMON: You're talking about Marilou Danley, and she was with him I think the last time you saw him two months ago. Talk to me about their interaction. What did you glean from their interaction?
BEIG: When I was cutting his hair, she was sitting in the lobby and she was just on her phone. She kind of had her coat over her arms and was just sitting playing on her phone and was just kind of in her own world.
And he was just sitting in my chair just conversing just like you and I are, just like normal. But there was no talking. Like, they didn't interact. They didn't have any kind of eye contact. When he went to go and pay, you know, she was already walking out the door. They didn't have no emotional connection to each it seemed like whatsoever. It almost seemed like she was, you know, forced to be there almost or she just kind of went because she had to.
LEMON: It was a subservient role, do you think?
BEIG: Right. Correct.
LEMON: Did they talk about her trip to the Philippines, Kallie?
BEIG: She didn't. I didn't speak with her at all. But when I was talking to him, he did mention that he was going to be sending her to the Philippines and that he was going to be home alone for a while. And I asked him why he hadn't --why he wasn't going to go, and he said it wasn't that he didn't want to go, but he was going to send her to be with family this time.
[22:05:01] LEMON: So was it clear to you at all that she knew about this trip?
BEIG: It seemed like she had an idea. I'm not sure because their relationship, again, was so -- and he didn't bring her into our conversation whatsoever. But the way he made it seem was that he sent her regularly to visit her family.
LEMON: Now, I also understand that when he came in for haircuts that he had been drinking and usually was early in the morning or at least the last time you could smell alcohol on his breath. Tell me about that.
BEIG: Most of the time when we have clients that come in and, you now, they've obviously either been drinking or in the casino gambling and you can smell the cigarette smoke or, you know, if they're a heavy drinker, I mean, as a hairdresser, you're in their bubble and I'm in theirs, you know, and so I put the cape around him and when I put the cape around him, I mean, you instantly just got this intense smell of alcohol.
And I had asked him what his hobbies were and he said one of them was gambling, and he had mentioned that he -- you know, that's where he had just come from. And most of the time that early in the morning if a person smells that much of alcohol, it's not because, you know, they just decided to be like, hey, let's start taking shots at 8 o'clock in the morning and then go get our haircut.
LEMON: Yes. It's usually a bender all night or something like that. Kallie Beig, thank you so much. We appreciate your time.
BEIG: Thank you, guys.
LEMON: Thank you. Now I want to bring in CNN law enforcement analyst, James Gagliano and criminologist Casey Jordan. So, Casey, as a criminologist, what do you make of that interview?
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: I find it fascinating that he was drunk or smelled of alcohol in the early mornings when he got his haircut. And, again, the biggest things that he made this fortune allegedly in the real estate market with his brother.
But people who think in a millennial way like accountants who make good honest money to real estate investments usually don't plan on gambling it away. And casinos are designed to take your money.
JORDAN: It is a sustainable I am a professional gambler unless you're a poker player.
LEMON: That's why the casinos are so beautiful and the hotels are so big.
JORDAN: Yes. They wouldn't look like that if everyone won all the time.
LEMON: Won all the time.
JORDAN: So it indicates he probably had an addictive personality or issues with addiction. Addicted to gambling, maybe addicted to alcohol. It's just not normal to be drinking early in the morning when you get your haircut.
LEMON: What about their relationship?
JORDAN: I --
LEMON: She said she seems absorbent to her.
JORDAN: Everybody says that and we know that, you know, Marilou was the high limits hostess who quit working in 2013 and really as far as we know never had a job since then because he supported her. And if you are to believe the people who served their coffee, he kept her. He was in charge of her.
I think she was definitely emotionally, psychologically abused. And if it was -- if he was a person who was addicted, she would be the role of the codependent enabler. She would be in denial about everything that was going on.
LEMON: You were listening as well. What did you think, Jim?
JAMES GAGLIANO, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, CNN: It's like every day, Don, the case becomes more confounding and perplexing. I've spoken to a couple of folks that are connected to the investigation. And it's like, it seems like the more that we learn, the less that we know.
GAGLIANO: I mean, this is, this guy was an enigma. I mean, you could sense that from the way he was just described. The relationship he had with his girlfriend, I mean, obviously they had an intimate relationship. They would know things about each other.
I go to your point, though, about the cultural piece of this and whether or not she knew what was going on, like whether or not her wherewithal was his assembled, you know, arsenal was to go to other means, to bad means.
But what's confounding to me is that as more of these leads come out, as the days go by, we should be getting closer to motive or closer to putting the puzzle together and we're not.
LEMON: This is, the undersheriff is frustrated.
LEMON: And he talked about that today. Let's watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN MCMAHILL, UNDERSHERIFF, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE: To date, we have rundown well more than a thousand leads in this investigation. While some of it has helped create a better profile into the madness of the suspect, we do not still have a clear motive or reason why.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So the undersheriff noted that in past cases investigators usually find out more by notes or through social media. James, what does it say that Paddock didn't leave behind a reason for his actions at all or at least not -- investigators haven't found it yet.
GAGLIANO: Very odd that there wasn't a manifesto. Generally in these mass casualty cases, you know, where you have a deprave individual that goes off, there's usually some type of grievance, it could be toward a particular person or something that happened to them or to a particular group and then there's a trigger.
It looks like this cycle happened about a year ago last October. Now, we know that there was one note recovered from the hotel room, Don.
GAGLIANO: They say there were some numbers on it. That note is in the hands of FBI cryptologist right now. What I would like to see as they're working through this, I think there's some thousand leads that they're chasing down.
GAGLIANO: I'd like to see a little more tightening and discipline in what they're putting out. The leaked hotel room photos don't help. And amusing to speculating in press conferences I don't think they help either. I think they're going to tighten that up and continue to get it more right.
[22:10:05] LEMON: A lot of people who go on cruises, you know, they have a history of gambling or whatever. I mean, you know, everybody goes on cruises or you can drink or whatever. It doesn't make you a bad that you have an addiction. But what they don't do is become the worst mass murderer in modern American history.
JORDAN: Right. This is going to be one for the textbooks and one thing that we all seem to agree on, yes, it's natural for us as people who cannot possibly relate to what he has done say yes, we need to find an answer. But I don't think there will ever be one. And this is how we build profiles.
LEMON: That's what I'm asking, and how do you say, do you think that -- do we always find the answers to these things?
JORDAN: No. LEMON: And why did these people do this?
JORDAN: I mean, this psychology is pseudo commando, but why at the age of 64 he decompensated and planned this for a year and decided to do this, I don't think we'll ever know. And I think the note is probably just chase in the mouse trap just to confuse us more. He wanted us to know how smart he was and we don't know exactly why he decompensated the way he did.
But from this he will become a new baseline from which we will build new profiles because I'm afraid we might see this again.
LEMON: All right. Thank you both. I appreciate it. When we come back, another member of the Trump administration may be on thin ice tonight. Sources tell CNN the chief of staff John Kelly struggling to manage the chaos. Are his days at the White House numbers?
Plus, whether not knowing the president doubles down on his claim -- his calm before the storm comments. Is he really hinting at military action or is it just the latest cliffhanger in his own personal reality show?
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: New questions tonight about chief of staff John Kelly's standing in the White House. Kelly was brought in to control the chaos at the White House, but less than three months into the job, he is running into the same reality that his predecessor Reince Priebus faced. There's no controlling Donald Trump.
As one source tell CNN, quote, "Kelly is like the janitor. He's just the latest guy brought in to cleanup."
Global affairs correspondent Elise Labott has been working her sources on this story, and she joins us now. Elise, hello to you. What are you learning about what happened Wednesday morning between Trump and Kelly?
ELISE LABOTT, GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Don, you know, obviously the president was furious Wednesday morning at that situation with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after that NBC news report and to his chief of staff John Kelly was, you know, forced to navigate between these two men who, you know, we've seen over the last few months have really been fed up with each other.
In fact, sources familiar with the discussions between Kelly and the president tell CNN's Dana Bash, Gloria Borger and myself, that Kelly suggested to the president, you know, because he was so furious, he said in a very nuanced way, look, if Tillerson leaves, my ability to do my own job properly could be at risk.
Now, Don, of course, this is, you know, now generating more than a few whispers here in Washington, more than we've already been talking about how long Kelly is going to last. Now, the White House initially declined to comment about our story but then called our story false after it was released. It did not say specifically what they took issue with, Don.
LEMON: So more specifically, then, what do you think this episode says about Kelly's standing in the West Wing?
LABOTT: Well, you've got to remember when Kelly was brought into the White House to take over for former chief of staff Reince Priebus, you know, headlights blare that Kelly was going to impose this kind of military style order on this chaotic Trump administration.
Now, he did close the president's, you know, open door Oval Office policy. He limited calls from lodge-time outside friends. You know, it's not lost on sources we've talked to that Kelly is running into the same reality now that Priebus faced because, you know, there's no controlling or managing Donald Trump, even though Kelly has imposed some order.
Now, if you think of all the things that have happened, though, since Kelly took over, you have that fire and fury comment about North Korea. He said both sides are to blame in that Charlottesville violence and then he was stoking the NFL controversy.
So, you know, Kelly is a man that has tremendous integrity and is known for that. But one source told us that right now for John Kelly, every day for him ends in why? You know, why am I here? And as someone else said to us, look, this is a tough job. You're not going to manage this president.
LEMON: Yes. There's so much more. The calm before the storm comment, the Puerto Rico as he pronounced it and throwing of the paper towels and on and on and on. And he still has this, Elise. His phone. He can still tweet. Thank you so much.
LEMON: I appreciate that. And I want to bring in Fareed Zakaria, host of Fareed Zakaria GPS. Good evening. What is going on inside the White House?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: You know, I think people thought that Trump was a businessman so he would know how to run things. I think it's a wonderful example of how the world of business and the world of government are actually two different things.
First of all, Trump is a peculiar kind of businessman. He's run a mom and pop plags that, you know, may have had 50 or 60 people, all of whom reported to him in a sense. It was an open office policy. And that kind of works fine if you're running that kind of operation.
The United States government is a considerably larger enterprise than that, and I think that it involves a lot of persuasion, not a lot of ordering people. I think one of the things that Trump, for example, was shocked by was that his attorney general was not sort of like his personal lawyer, and so when -- you know, when his attorney general says I've got to appoint, you know, a special counsel for this because that's sort of my role constitutionally, Trump is appalled.
Wait, you're my guy. I can fire you. Because he's thinking to himself, if my general counsel were to do this, I would fire him tomorrow.
ZAKARIA: So I think part of what's going on here is that Trump really is in a completely different world than he's ever operated in. But still operates by the same rules. You know, loyalty, everything comes back to him. And you can't operate the government like this.
Another example of a CEO who is flailing by the way is for different reasons is Rex Tillerson. And I hope that one of the things we get out of this is the myth that all these businessmen are just geniuses, that whatever you pluck for them anywhere in the Sahara Desert and they will suddenly make oasis out of it. Actually, no.
ZAKARIA: You know, there are certain realms they do very well in and we should honor them and they get paid very well. There are some realms in which they actually don't know what they're doing.
[22:19:56] LEMON: I grew up, both parents worked for Exxon. And one whom worked for Rex Tillerson and my mother called me and that headquarters was in Houston. And she said, Houston we have a problem.
LEMON: Because she heard about the Rex Tillerson thing because she worked for him.
ZAKARIA: It's a very hierarchical.
ZAKARIA: It's a different thing. It's not that it's better or worse, but it's very different.
LEMON: Let's take a look at some of the highest profile aides who have left or then fired. If Kelly leaves, who do you think would want that job? Look it. There they are all on the screen.
ZAKARIA: Look, the sad thing about this is that Trump right now has around him people who are actually doing this job out of a sense of national service. Kelly, Tillerson, Mattis, McMaster. I think the great danger is that many of these people are getting frustrated. They feel as though why, the question they keep asking is why.
If they leave the next -- the next round of people who are going to come in I think are going to be people who are going to be asking a different question. How long can I stay here before I leave and start a consulting business and make a lot of money off of it? In other words, you're going to get rank opportunists, of the kind that already exist. And that's a very different kind of person.
LEMON: But Kelly has already made his way. Tillerson has millions, if not more.
ZAKARIA: Right. So that's why I said these guys are. You want them to stay in a sense.
ZAKARIA: But if they leave, and to your point, who is going to come? It's going to be people who feel like I do this for one year, 18 months, and then I go out and I'm a case street bandit.
LEMON: Stay with me. I want to talk more about Tillerson and other things that concern the White House and what's going there. We'll be right back.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: We're back now. We're talking about chief of staff John Kelly, not the only one whose days in this administration may be numbered. The secretary of state has a pretty rocky relationship with the president too.
Fareed Zakaria and I were discussing that before the break. So let's talk a little bit more. What do you make of this moron comment from Rex Tillerson? Reportedly? Is he out, do you think? Are his days numbered?
ZAKARIA: I think Rex Tillerson is a dead man walking. I think that -- first of all, the ability to be a successful secretary of state without the full confidence of the president is zero.
James Baker, who was George Bush Sr.'s secretary of state, Ronald Reagan's chief of staff once said to me, the single most important quality you look for in a successful secretary of state is actually not intellect, is not foreign policy experience it's the trust of the president.
Because when you go out into the world, when you are representing the United States there's only one question every foreign government has, are you really speaking for the president? When you tell us something, are you making an assurance that the president will uphold it? They understand the structure of the government.
But the president is kind of bizarre and so that's what they want to know. Well, Rex Tillerson has no credibility on that score. Not only is it absolutely clear that Trump doesn't think very highly of him, it's very clear that he doesn't think very highly of Trump. It's clear that he's not a confidante. It's clear that Trump is actively auditioning.
He's allowing Nikki Haley to publicly audition virtually every other day for the same job. This is a disaster. And it's going to end badly.
LEMON: Well, he, the president embarrasses or undercuts Tillerson on the world stage repeatedly. He started this week by tweeting this. He said, "I told Rex Tillerson our wonderful secretary of state that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with little rocket man. Save your energy, Rex," he added. "We'll do what has to be done."
Wouldn't you be grumbling? Couldn't he just have called him into the office or called him on the phone and--
ZAKARIA: This is where Trump takes on a rather bizarre characteristic, which is he talks about it as though he's in the bleachers watching the Trump administration and commenting on the secretary of state's antics.
The secretary of state works for him. If he's there -- if he's there doing all this stuff and he shouldn't be doing it, Donald Trump should be calling him back in. You know, there's something weird where Trump wants to both be president and the president's chief critic at the same time.
And so you have this bizarre situation where he puts these people out there and then he undercuts them while they're doing what they're doing. As I say, it's untenable. I don't think it can last and I think Tillerson, frankly, at some point, has to look himself in the mirror and say I'm a, you know, I'm a multi, multimillionaire. I ran one of the largest companies in the world. I'm a man of integrity. What am I doing here?
LEMON: Why did he do it? Didn't his wife ask him to do it or something?
ZAKARIA: No. Look, being secretary of state of the United States is a great honor. It's a great privilege, enormous power and influence. You get to do things -- it's a great, great job. I don't have to make this --
LEMON: OK, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: -- but for Donald Trump it's a different deal.
LEMON: Yes. So, Rex Tillerson is relatively young enough. There will be other presidents. I mean, why would you work for someone who constantly -- that's what I wonder about a lot of people, very respectful people who work for this administration, not that they're working for the administration, but that they work for someone who constantly undermines them or contradicts them publicly. Wouldn't that be embarrassing, wouldn't you say --
ZAKARIA: You know, Henry Kissinger said when somebody asked him why when he was secretary of state it seemed like he was able to date all these beautiful women and he apparently said well, power is the greatest aphrodisiac. And I think this, you know, there's a lot of people who like the idea of being at the center of the world and the center of attention.
And, look, some of them are doing it for public service reasons, but I think those who are not and are thinking to themselves that this is cool and they're at the center of the world, while they quietly, you know, selling their souls, it's a bad trade off. LEMON: One has to be able to sleep with themselves at night. Don't
know how it happens for some of them. Thank you, Fareed Zakaria. I appreciate it. Don't miss CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
And when we come back, more taxpayer paid trips for the high flying Trump administration. So much for draining that swamp. I'm going to break it down with Bob Schieffer, next.
[22:30:00] LEMON: Sources telling CNN that chief of staff John Kelly struggling to manage chaos in the White House.
Joining me now, a man who has seen it all in Washington. A veteran journalist, Bob Schieffer who is the author of "Overload, Finding the Truth in Today's Deluge of News." I think he's probably seen it all, but maybe not quite what we're looking at now. I think the title is appropriate. Thank you, by the way for coming on.
BOB SCHIEFFER, AUTHOR, OVERLOAD: I thought I'd seen it all, Don.
LEMON: Yes, exactly. So, listen, let's talk about the book, then, "Overload, Finding the Truth in Today's Deluge of News." You address a problem of fake news, writing in part, "It is easier and faster to make up stories than it is to correct them and as we learned during the campaign, once a story, true or false, becomes public, it is all but impossible to remove it from the national dialogue."
It's exhausting arguing facts lately.
SCHIEFFER: It is, because what's happened now, we all seem to bring our own individual facts to the argument. It used to be in quieter days when there were three television stations in every town and one fairly good newspaper, people formed their opinions on what they read and heard from those basically four sources of news.
[22:35:03] Well, now it's much different. With the coming of social media, we are bombarded with all this information, 24/7, and it's very difficult to separate what's true from what's not true. And, you know, we have access to more information than any people who have lived on earth at any time in history. But are we wiser or are we simply overwhelmed by so much we can't process? And I think right now--
LEMON: It's the latter.
SCHIEFFER: We're just, we're overwhelmed by it.
LEMON: I think, absolutely. Listen, I find myself, it's amazing, arguing facts with people, very smart people, not just here on the air but also among friends, among associates, colleagues, people on the street, and I'm wondering how much the president is playing into that? Probably a lot because it calls the mainstream media fake news. He says we should be investigated. What do you think he's doing with the free press, to the free press in this country? SCHIEFFER: You know, on the one hand I tend not to pay much attention
to it. This is not the first time this has happened. I was here for the Nixon administration and we went through all of that. They were calling us nattering nabobs of negativity and all that kind of stuff.
LEMON: I remember that.
SCHIEFFER: So that's not new. But what is different, Don, and you touched on it, you know, now that information travels with the speed of light, it goes around the world and back. And with all this fake news, some of it deliberately fake, and as we now know some of it is being put into our system by Russian sources disguised, it's coming from everywhere, so it's hard to separate what's true from what's not true. And this has become -- I think it has become a national security problem.
LEMON: Yes. I liked your take on the whole fake news thing that you don't worry about it, because I tend to feel the same way. The president he comes with term limits. Journalism does not.
LEMON: And so, right. Even when this president leaves office the journalist will still be here, and news organizations will still be here.
SCHIEFFER: You know, Don, let me just add one other thing. You know, our role, and what separates democracy from a totalitarian society is in a democracy our citizens have access to independently gathered news, which they can compare to the government's version of events and then decide what to do about it. And we're not always going to be the most popular guy in the room, but that's our assignment.
SCHIEFFER: Our assignment, and we got it from the founders, it's right there in the First Amendment, our assignment is to provide that independently collected news. And when people say, you know, that we're undermining the foundations of democracy, quite to the contrary. Those who accuse us of that are undermining the foundations. This is a vital part of democracy, just like the right to vote.
LEMON: You hit on something that I think maybe the president or those in the administration may not understand. And the president wants to be liked. Journalists aren't concerned about being liked. We know that people are not going to like us because we're digging for the truth and it's not always on their side. Can I ask you, though, about some news?
LEMON: I want to talk about republican Senator Bob Corker, OK? He said this week that President Trump's chief of staff and secretary of state and defense help separate our country from chaos. Here is what press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said about that and then we'll talk. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that the president is the one that's keeping the world from chaos. He has an incredible team around him that's helping him lead that effort and he's had tremendous accomplishments on the international stage by working with allies and confronting enemies. We're going to continue doing that. We're going to continue doing that as a team with the president leading that effort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, I want you to weigh in on these comments because you have covered politics for decades and now tonight CNN has this new reporting about John Kelly. Have you ever seen an administration with this much chaos and drama?
SCHIEFFER: No, no, I haven't. You know, I said throughout the campaign last year, I said so many times I've never seen anything like this that it became a drinking game among the younger colleagues at CBS News. Every time old Bob would say I've never seen anything like this, they'd have another shot. Luckily there were designated drivers provided, I suppose.
But, no, and I don't know anybody who has seen anything like this. You know, Don, people -- I've covered all the beats in Washington over the years. And people always said what's your favorite beat, I guess it's the White House? And I always said no, it's not, because everybody there works for the same person.
What I loved was covering Capitol Hill where they were all independent contractors. That's where you really get the news. Well, you know, that's no longer apt because in this White House, you have as many factions, it seems like, as you do up on Capitol Hill and they're all going at each other. They all have their own agendas.
[22:39:59] This is totally different than anything we've seen here in any administration since I came here in 1969. People say it was a great story, well, yes, but so was 9/11, and I don't think -- I don't think any of us want another 9/11.
SCHIEFFER: But it's fascinating in its own way as a journalist to watch this. And frankly, I don't know how this comes out.
LEMON: How do you -- can you govern like that?
SCHIEFFER: Well, I don't know if you can or not. I guess -- I guess we're going to find out because what are we, we're some months into this administration now, and we've already had this revolving door of people that are leaving. Everybody's job is somehow always in danger. This business with Rex Tillerson.
And I want to say one thing. I think Fareed Zakaria hit the nail right on the head when he said that a secretary of state cannot be effective when word gets around that he no longer enjoys the confidence of the president. I think that's right.
But I also think that he probably was a good man who took this job for patriotic reasons to help his country. But frankly, I don't see how he stays now because I don't think he can any longer be effective.
LEMON: You think he's gone?
SCHIEFFER: I think my Christmas, yes.
LEMON: It is such an honor to have you on. Yes, I'm not -- I'm not star struck and I don't gush over many people, but you and Dan Rather and others are mentors and icons and thank you so much for what you do. We loved having you on. Please come back.
SCHIEFFER: Well, thank you. And keep up the good work, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. The new book is "Overload, Finding the Truth in Today's Deluge of News." If I can get my mouth to work. Bob Schieffer, thank you so much.
When we come back, chaos in the White House. Could the president's chief of staff be out the door soon? We'll discuss.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Donald Trump Jr. gave a paid a speech last night at a Christian University in Alabama.
Here to discuss what he said, CNN political commentators Matt Lewis, Marc Lamont Hill, and Ben Ferguson, as well as political contributor Maria Cardona. Good evening, every one. Good to see all of you.
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good evening, Don.
BEN FERGUSON, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Good evening.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good evening.
LEMON: So, Ben, Donald Trump Jr. is defending his father's Charlottesville remarks at a speech last night at Faulkner University in Alabama. According to the A.P. and another source in the room, Trump Junior said that his father, quote, "condemned the white nationalists and the left wingers and that, quote, that should not have been controversial, but it was. He's defending the both sides comment there?
FERGUSON: I think he's defending his dad, and I think most people can respect the fact that anyone would defend their father. I think that the both sides comment is what you want to focus on. I think he's talking about the broader issue of afterwards he did come back out and very much clarify those remarks. There are certain people that are never going to be happy with that. I accept that.
The both sides remarks rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. I think that's the reason why you saw the White House pivot afterwards and for the president to come out and to clarify those remarks. I don't think this is controversial. You have someone who is talking
their father. They're going to defend their father. That's what normal people do with their family. And for people to somehow act like this is a big controversy for me is just kind of funny.
LEMON: You're going to defend your family if they're not telling the truth, if they're doing something wrong.
FERGUSON: I'm going to defend my family if I think my father has been taken out of context and I think if people don't understand exactly what my father was saying at the time, yes.
LEMON: He said the left wingers and the white nationalists --
LEMON: -- left wingers are the same as white nationalist?
FERGUSON: Again, look, I understand that you're never going to let this go with the president. He came out and directly said the words that you wanted him to say --
LEMON: Ben, I didn't by bring it up. It was Donald Trump Jr. I'm just reporting the news.
FERGUSON: -- talking about the white nationalist, the KKK and the NRA. No, but what I'm saying is he's talking about his father in this situation and I think there's some people that there's nothing that Donald Trump is ever going to be able to say or do that's going to be good enough for them.
FERGUSON: And for Donald Trump Jr. to come out there and defend his father in this way and to talk about how his dad came out and clarified it, that's not controversy. That's what I would expect in a speech from Donald Trump Jr.
LEMON: Marc, why even bring it up and I'll ask the same thing, left wingers and white nationalists is that the same thing?
HILL: Well, certainly left wingers and white nationalists aren't the same thing. And I think the reason that many peoples feathers were ruffled initially was because he was establishing a level of equivalency between the left and the right between people supporting white supremacy and those who are fighting against the white supremacy.
That's why people were outraged and the fact that this was Donald Trump's one of his first remarks in the midst of this crisis in Charlottesville. And then the thing is dead and we're not talking about anymore. And Donald Trump Jr. had no need to come out yesterday and bring it up
again, but he's in Alabama. He's at a right wing university, he's at a Christian university as well, whether Evangelical university and suddenly he speaks back to these same issues when he could have just let it die and talked about other things.
So I understand the need to defend someone if you work for them or even if it's your father but there was no need because to defend him or bring this up because no one was discussing it. It's actually shameful. But it's a reminder that even when Donald Trump quote, unquote, "clarifies" remarks that seem insensitive or even racist it often means that he's doing damage control and deep down these issues keep resurfacing through proxies like his son.
CARDONA: I actually think that I think Marc is right. And it's bizarre that Don Junior brought it up because we had sort of stopped talking about it and it was a complete debacle for this president at a national and frankly, a global scale.
I actually think that he, Don Junior brought it up because he is feeling the chaos around him. He is feeling the walls starting to crumble and everything tumbling down around him and this White House. So what do they do when that happens? They go to the trenches. They retreat to what they know best. They go to make sure that the voters that will never leave him, the ones that will support him even if he shoots somebody on Fifth Avenue, that they're going to continue to support him. And how do they do that? By serving them the political crack of white supremacist and white nationalism --
FERGUSON: Maria, you're stretching tonight.
CARDONA: -- and that's exactly what Don Junior did because he knew he was going to get support --
HILL: I agree.
CARDONA: -- from all of his people who will remain true to Donald Trump agenda of white nationalism.
[22:49:58] FERGUSON: Maria, he said -- if you look at the transcript of what he said in Alabama, I have to correct the record here. If you look at the transcript of what he said in Alabama at this university, he also condemned the KKK, the white nationalists and these extremist groups. So you can't say that he went down there to not condemn them because he's talking to his base.
CARDONA: I didn't say that.
FERGUSON: You implied very clearly.
CARDONA: I said that -- no. Well, I -- what I said --
FERGUSON: You did. People who are watching are intelligent right now.
CARDONA: What I said -- what I said was --
LEMON: Ben, let her talk, you've talked a lot. Go ahead.
CARDONA: What I said was that he went down there to defend his father. And to defend him strongly. And what did his father do? Hang on, what did his father do in Charlottesville? He equated white supremacists, white nationalists, KKK and neo-Nazis to those fighting against that kind of injustice.
MATT LEWIS, COMMENTATOR, CNN: So Don Jr. should, it's stupid for him to say those, for him to bring it up, it doesn't score any points for him. It doesn't help his cause, I don't know why he did it.
Just for the sake of argument, I will say this. Like, whether or not we're equating these two groups or, you know, drawing a moral equivalency, I do think it is fair to say that there's a problem among some of these left-wing activists and this so-called antifa. And they are not just great, they're not just all. Some of them maybe but they're not just like really great Americans who wanted to stand up against white supremacy.
A lot of them are actually very bad people who are actually violent in their own right. And they are shutting down free speech and some occasions when non-violent conservative speakers say, come to a college campus, they show up and shut down free speech. So I don't want to make an equivalent. I don't think we should be talking about it in the context of Charlottesville, but these are not necessarily good people either.
CARDONA: They didn't kill anybody that might.
LEWIS: Which is why he probably shouldn't have brought it up in this context.
LEMON: So stay with me, everyone. So when we come back, I want to know if any of you can explain the accent President Trump used at the Hispanic heritage event today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are also praying for the people of Puerto Rico. We love Puerto Rico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[22:55:02] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The president trying out a pretty awkward accent today in a speech to Hispanic leaders. Back now with my panel. So, welcome back, panel. President Trump got flak for throwing paper towels at people while he was visiting Puerto Rico. And now there's this, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are also praying for the people of Puerto Rico. We love Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico. And we also love Puerto Rico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So what's with the accent, Ben?
FERGUSON: I think he's having fun with an audience that obviously didn't mind it, didn't find it offensive. And some people need to relax on a Friday night and realize that not everything, as much as you want to be about Donald Trump, is a controversy.
I've seen Bill Clinton talking in a different voice when he was in different parts of the country. I've seen Barack Obama talk in a different voice in different parts of the country. No one did a big news cycle on it on a Friday. This is the president having a little bit of fun. Relax. And realize he's a human being. It's not actually a controversy.
LEMON: Well, how many -- how many people die in Puerto Rico over the last two weeks?
FERGUSON: You're saying you can't have --
CARDONA: What do you think so far?
FERGUSON: -- when you're talking about, hold on, let's be clear here. he wasn't talking about, he was (Inaudible) at the moment. No, let's be honest, what was the context of what he was talking about at the White House in the moment he was having that conversation?
LEMON: Well, I think it was Puerto Rico.
CARDONA: The hurricane.
LEMON: It was Puerto Rico and the hurricane and 34 people have died.
LEMON: Much of the island doesn't have electricity or infrastructure. People are suffering. They were flooded. They are struggling. They don't even know if they can make it back.
FERGUSON: So when he's talking about people there--
LEMON: I just don't know if it's funny.
FERGUSON: When he's honoring people at the White House that are from all over parts of the world, including some that were there from Puerto Rico, and talking about the great people of Puerto Rico. You're saying that he can't say something like that when he's literally talking about the context of the great people of Puerto Rico.
LEMON: Well, you said context. Isn't that appropriate?
v Right. And there's nothing, not everything is going to be somber 24/7. And if you have people at the White House from Puerto Rico and you're honoring them and talking about the great people of Puerto Rico --
LEMON: So you make fun of them, of their accent.
FERGUSON: -- and you say something like this, why is that --
HILL: I don't think this is--
FERGUSON: Don, you're from Louisiana, right? Don, hold on. You talk with a Louisiana accent.
FERGUSON: Hold on, my question is for Don. When you talk with a Louisiana accent, people do talk with a Louisiana accent, are you making fun of them or talking about your hometown?
LEMON: Well, I actually --
CARDONA: He's from there.
LEMON: Yes, so I'm from there.
CARDONA: He's from there.
LEMON: One thing, and number two. Hold on. Hold on, Mark, I will let you -- you're going to be next. I'm from there. And number two, when people died in Katrina, then I went down and cover it, I didn't go down there and start saying, look, you all, in New Orleans. And the reason I lost that Louisiana accent is maybe it's not
appropriate at times on television and for what I'm doing, just like when you're the president of the United States. You have to realize what is appropriate. And then you rise to the occasion and to the level, especially when you have people who are dead from a storm. Maybe you should not be joking about a silly accent. Go ahead, Mark.
CARDONA: And who are continuing to suffer.
HILL: Yes, you know, when Hillary Clinton goes down to Salma and starts switching, you know, accents --
LEMON: Code switching.
HILL: -- and try to (Inaudible) and be in church, yes, code switching. The right-wing media did make fun of it. Rush Limbaugh made fun of it. And right wing radio made fun of it.
LEMON: The left-wing media made fun of it. I play and made fun of it.
[23:00:00] HILL: Exactly. Absolutely. So it's not fair to say this only happens to Donald Trump, it happens to everybody. I don't think this is the biggest deal in the world.