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President Trump Challenged Cabinet Members with an I.Q. Test; Harvey Weinstein's Sexual Allegations Shocked Democrats; Former Presidents to Rescue U.S. from Trump's Hand; Trump's Sense of Humor Amid Left and Right Global Crisis Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 10, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump lashing out in a not at all presidential way after a top republican says he is setting us on a path to World War III.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
And these are some of the things the President of the United States has talked or tweeted about today, suggesting he'd like to compare his I.Q. test to Rex Tillerson's. Don't worry, he was joking -- or not. Also giving the chairman of the foreign relations committee the nickname, Little Bob Corker. That's little with two d's, now is that for I.Q. Kind of like when he calls Senator Marco Rubio Little Marco during the campaign which the president seems to think is hilarious.
And he can't quite let go of his feud with the NFL. Taking pot shots again today at the league. Not to mention ESPN host Jemele Hill.
All of this as the president is briefed today on his options to respond to the nuclear threat from North Korea. Hash tag, priorities.
Let's get right to CNN's senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, senior political analyst, April Ryan, Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio, author of the truth of "The Truth About Trump." Wow.
So, Nia, you first. Good evening, everyone.
APRIL RYAN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Good evening, Don.
LEMON: The feud continues. President Trump responded to Senator Corker's interview with the New York Times with this tweet. "The failing the New York Times set little," with two d's, "Bob Corker up by recording his conversation. Was made to sound a fool, and that's what I'm dealing with."
Anyway, first of all, Corker told the Times that he hoped they were recording. Aside from that this feud is completely on trend from the president he's feeling the pressure and now he is punching back, Nia.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, CNN: That's right, he's punching back in familiar ways with the same sort of nicknames. I think in some ways he needs to come up with sort of new nicknames and step up his game because he's basically recycling as you alluded to the Marco Rubio nickname as well.
Over the course of the Trump's presidency he has feuded with something like 20 percent of republicans in the Senate. So, Corker is just the latest at this point. And I think the question is what sort of material effect does this actually have on what republicans want to get done in Congress?
If you look at Corker's record, for instance, he's voted with the president 87 percent of the time, so he's not exactly someone who's been going against the president legislatively over these last many months.
So when you look at tax reform, you look at the Iran deal, in some ways Corker very important, a point person on that because he's the head of the foreign relations committee. So you imagine that, you know, there are overtures being made to Bob Corker certainly not from the White House necessarily and Donald Trump but other people, legislative aides and certainly people like Mitch McConnell.
What was deafening from I think from republicans after this happened, was that no one really came to the defense of Donald Trump, right? I mean, they basically sort of praised Bob Corker. Some people said, well, he said it. I did. I think that was Marco Rubio's response when he was asked about some of his--
LEMON: I'm sorry he's not returning, right?
HENDERSON: Yes, yes.
LEMON: Hey, I want to read some of these tweets and get you to respond, Nia.
LEMON: OK. So, he, the president just put out a couple of tweets tonight. And he says, "The fake news is at it again, this time trying to hurt one of the finest people I know, General John Kelly by saying he will soon be fired. This story is totally made up by the dishonest media. The chief is doing a fantastic job for me and more importantly, for the USA." OK, so.
HENDERSON: Yes. Not here, I mean, I don't know if it's clear exactly--
LEMON: What is he responding to here?
HENDERSON: Right. I mean, is the story in Vanity Fair about some tensions between Donald Trump. Donald Trump and John Kelly, his chief of staff, essentially saying that they're fighting all the time.
We've had some reporting as well about tensions between Donald Trump as well as his chief of staff. So I think it's that. I mean, this has been kind of in the Easter, you know, essentially
since John Kelly has joined the White House. How long could he stay, how long would he stay?
At some point, would Donald Trump himself start to chafe at all of these stories that say that, you know, John Kelly is sort of in charge and making him, sort of abide by certain rules in the White House, making Ivanka Trump abide by certain rules. So I think that's what it is. He is probably getting some of that stuff, and hearing some of that chatter.
[22:04:59] LEMON: OK. And speaking of tension, April, President Trump had a lunch at the White House today with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis. They had some weighty issues to discuss like Iran, North Korea.
LEMON: But this also comes after the president told Forbes he has a higher I.Q. than Tillerson to be a fly on the wall in that room. I mean, I don't know what they're measuring, but go on.
RYAN: Well, Don, you know size always matters with this president in this White House. But, so I.Q.'s I guess part of the size.
But you know, I talked to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson in Texas today, and she said it's not about I.Q. It's about the issues that are on the table for the American people.
And you know, from my sources who were close to this White House, they were telling me that that meeting was contentions. And Rex Tillerson is definitely not happy with what the president is doing when it comes to Iran and other issues. But there is tension. There's tension with Tillerson, Mattis and with Kelly.
And this president -- you know, last week I said, you know, it's Fridays, should we expect a resignation. It's unfortunate that it's a joke, but we have been seeing this interesting pattern arise. And we know that their -- the people who are considered some of the stalwarts for this administration as the president is being a modern -- a modern day president -- modern-day presidential, they're holding him up and trying to keep the ship right.
But I hear that that meeting was contentions. And it's just still tension there. And to talk about I.Q.'s, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders says it was a joke, but that was a tough joke.
LEMON: Well, the first rule of comedy is that to be funny, right? So Michael Isikoff, here is the background here. The president was -- we have learned at CNN the president was furious after reports surface that Tillerson described President Trump as a moron.
Here is how Trump responded to Forbes. He says, "I think it is fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare I.Q. tests, and I can tell you who is going to win."
And here's how they characterize that statement from President Trump. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Again, he wasn't questioning the secretary of state's intelligence. He made -- he made a joke. Maybe you guys should get a sense of humor and try it sometime.
But he simply made a joke. He's been extremely clear time and time again despite the fact that you guys want to continue to bring this up and create a story. He's got 100 percent confidence in the secretary of state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Sarah Sanders says it was a joke, but sources tell my colleague Jim Acosta that Trump was not joking. No surprise there, Mr. Isikoff?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Well, you have to wonder how funny Secretary Tillerson thought this was. But, look, I think the most significant development is what April just referred to, which is that this meeting, luncheon that they had -- the president had with Mattis and Tillerson was contentions.
Because, you know, people have wondered for speculated for some time now what would be a tipping point that would cause, you know, mass desertions of support among republicans on the Hill and within his own government from President Trump.
And a resignation at this point of either Tillerson or Mattis or Kelly would be that tipping point. Those are the three people perceived as sort of holding up the ship of state, the adults in the room. And if there were to be a defection among one or more of those three, that would be the jolting event that could be the tipping point.
LEMON: Yes. Absolutely. Michael D'Antonio, I want you to take a look at the president's obsession with I.Q. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I tweeted that Rick Perry should have to have an I.Q. test before getting on the debate stage. They sit back and I'll match my I.Q. I want to match my I.Q. with some of those guys, with all of them.
Those so-called egg heads. And by the way, I guarantee you my I.Q. is much higher than there's.
I guarantee you I have a vocabulary better than all of them, certainly most of them. I know I have an I.Q. better than all of them. I know that.
Governor Perry, a very nice guy. He made nasty statements about me. And then I challenged his I.Q. which was a nice, and I challenged his glasses. What the hell are you wearing glasses for? I said the glasses aren't working.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Michael, why is he obsessed with this?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: I need my glasses, I'm sorry. He's only got a few jokes.
RYAN: I've got a pair on right now. It's smart.
LEMON: I lost mine, so go on.
[22:09:57] D'ANTONIO: You know, he's only got a few moves. So this is guy who likes to talk about how big someone is or how little they are. You know, he calls Rosie O'Donnell big, fat Rosie. And then he calls Little Marco Little.
You know, he's got a very limited range, Corker as well. He's a fellow who doesn't know who his friends are because Corker should be his friend. And he goes after everybody.
He challenged John Stuart on his I.Q. Perry is now on his cabinet and he said of his cabinet this is a group that's had the highest I.Q. of every cabinet we've ever had. So, you know, what are we supposed to believe? I think the only person who believes this is the president and the moment that he says these things. He does believe what's coming out of his mouth in the way that an evangelist.
LEMON: I also want to ask you this, does he really believe this thing when he's saying them, does he really believe when he talks about everything that he's accomplished. He has no legislative accomplishments, but does he believe this stuff?
D'ANTONIO: He's convinced of it as he says it because he wouldn't sell as well as he does.
LEMON: He thinks his family is particularly intellectual--
D'ANTONIO: They're brilliant. It's going to elevate all our I.Q.'s by 10 or 15 points. This is something that is disturbing I think for the likes of Tillerson and Mattis.
They're now trying to figure out how to keep Pakistan from joining China in this one road, one belt project that's going to exclude the west from 77 percent of world trade. How are they supposed to go there and say this is what our administration proposes, which he may come out and say, whoa, little Mattis and Tillerson didn't get my permission to say this.
LEMON: Well, I'll talk about the NFL or talk about I.Q. and all that much more so than focusing on that. It's very serious things. I really do think -- all of you, I really do think the Corker thing got to him. I think that is really stuck in his car right now. But stick around we're going to discuss much more of this. When we come back, new sexual harassment allegations against
Hollywood's Harvey Weinstein. Now the Obama's, Hillary Clinton finally speaking out against the big democratic donor. We'll talk about that.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: We have some breaking news tonight. Explosive new allegations against movie mogul and top democratic donor Harvey Weinstein. And how the Obamas and Hillary Clinton are responding now.
CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter is here. He joins me now.
Brian, minutes ago we are hearing, finally hearing from some democrats. And there's new information on this Weinstein story. What do you know?
BRIAN STELTER, SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's right, the Weinstein board company weighing in denying, suggesting that they knew all about Harvey Weinstein's conduct.
But first, Don, the statements from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, five days after the initial New York Times investigation into Weinstein's harassment, his pattern of harassment over the years. We heard today from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. First of the former president who said he and his wife Michelle are disgusted by these allegations.
Obama talked about the importance of creating an environment where women were able to come forward. He said it's important to respect the woman we have.
And he said, "Any man who demeans and degrades women in such a fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status."
Here is Hillary Clinton as well issuing a statement through her spokeswoman -- spokesman saying, "I was shocked and appalled by the revelations by Harvey Weinstein. The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated."
Now she was criticized, so as Obama for not saying anything sooner. But these statements are notable they are coming on the same day the New Yorker published horrifying rape allegations against Weinstein. Three women who have accused him of rape including two on the record. He denied those allegations.
But here's the big headline on the past few minutes, Don. The board of directors of the company which fired Weinstein on Sunday is now speaking out, and this includes his own brother, Bob.
And here's a statement just in here to us at CNN saying, "The board of representatives are shocked and dismayed by the recently alleged allegations of extreme sexual misconduct and sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein. These allege actions are antithetical to human decency. These allegations come as an utter surprise to the board. Any suggestion that the board have knowledge of this conduct is false." The statement added, "We are committed to assisting with our full energies in any criminal or other investigation of these alleged acts while pursuing justice for the victims and a full and independent investigation of our own."
So, the news here, Don, is the board is saying we didn't know about this. There's been a lot of questions about how they could possibly been in the dark about how one of their co-founders was behaving this way with actresses, and models, and assistants over the course of decades, but here we are, this all-male board saying tonight they somehow didn't know.
LEMON: Wow. And apparently he is saying now, I think he's blaming his brother saying his brother was somehow--
STELTER: That's right. He thinks this is all about his brother Bod, trying to get control of the company. And by the way, Don, Harvey Weinstein now on his way to rehab.
LEMON: Yes. Brian, I want you to stick around because I want to bring the panel back in. I want to get their reaction as well. Brian is going to join us.
So, April, I want to ask you about, let's talk about the political part of this. Hillary Clinton, former President Obama's, you know, condemnation of Harvey Weinstein, both of them releasing a statement out.
It took five days for them to speak out. I think for Hillary Clinton that was a little long, for the Obama's, you know, I don't know if people if it really matters that much they're no longer in office. But Hillary Clinton dealing with women issues, the leading democratic woman in the country. What took so long?
RYAN: Well, I am still on the stage, you know, particularly with this book. What I believe is happening we are in an age, Don, where it's about a media scene. And I remember, you know, the past administration they would wait a bit, even the administrations prior to that they would wait a bit to get the details.
But people want everything fast and right away. And Hillary Clinton was friends with Harvey Weinstein. And she also -- the Democratic Party also benefitted from his financial support. And they are really trying to play catch up, trying to figure out, you know, where the money is, what's going on and try to make peace with what's going on so they could go out.
And I believe Hillary Clinton just got caught up in the immediacy of it. You know, she, yes, she stood by her husband, you know, in his issues. But she is also someone who is a political figure and is stepping out saying that she even five days later, that she appalls -- this is appalling to her and she does not condone this.
[22:19:55] But when it comes to Barack Obama I want to take you down the road of history. Twenty fifteen, I asked Barack Obama, then President Barack Obama about Bill Cosby. And remember it was weeks. We were hearing about, you know, congressional leaders talking about taking away that Medal of Freedom from Bill Cosby that a president gave him in 2002.
So, Barack Obama has talked about this kind of thing before. And it was repeated and just jump out talking about it as that controversy was swirling. So it's just interesting the dynamic of how this was playing out, the timing issue now versus when, you know, a couple years ago how things--
LEMON: But you know, he's still the former president, and you know, his daughter interned for Harvey Weinstein.
LEMON: I believe it was last semester.
LEMON: I saw them both at some NYU event not long ago. So, I think people are looking for the former president to speak out about this. Bill Cosby, that's a whole other thing.
RYAN: Then for up the (Inaudible).
LEMON: I don't think -- I don't think that--
RYAN: But I'm saying that he--
LEMON: I don't think that he had to deal with it as fast as Hillary Clinton had to deal with it, but still he should be speaking out about this. Go ahead, Nia.
HENDERSON: But I also think--
HENDERSON: But I also think the timing that's most important here, is really what women and men who are on the other side of these allegations and actions oftentimes, what they feel like they can do in real-time, right? Do they feel comfortable enough to go to H.R. to blow the whistle on some of these folks--
HENDERSON: -- who are doing this? I mean, we can talk all about we won after the fact and powerful men and women coming out after the fact and condemning those acts. But what about these women who are in the situations, you know, presently.
RYAN: Yes. HENDERSON: And I don't know if you saw the tweet about Terry Crews, he talked about being sexually assaulted too.
LEMON: At a Hollywood party.
HENDERSON: At a Hollywood event.
LEMON: But Nia, you took the words out of my mouth because I'm going to talk about a little bit later on in the next couple of hours, is that, you know, we can talk about the whole political part of this and the ideology, some people will come on and they'll condemn the current president but then they'll make excuses for Harvey Weinstein or vice versa. And this is not about politics.
LEMON: This is about we should remember that these are women whose lives have been impacted behind these allegations.
And listen, Michael Isikoff, I have to ask you, though. Neither of these statements from Hillary Clinton, though, or the Obamas, they don't mention Harvey Weinstein's sizable donations. How big of an issue is this for democrats, do you think?
ISIKOFF: It is a big issue. He was a major party donor. And it's hard to imagine that the fact of the volume of his money that went into party coughers and campaigns where Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and other democrats wasn't a factor in how people have responded to these allegations.
LEMON: I've got to ask you, Michael D'Antonio about your documentary. Michael Isikoff -- I'm sorry, Michael Isikoff.
LEMON: I said Michael, I saw at this Michael and I looked at the other. I have to ask you about that, it's about the Access Hollywood tapes. I think it was one year ago when these allegations.
ISIKOFF: Yes, one year ago. Actually, there's so much that happened in the weekend a year ago. We call it the 64 hours, the weekend that blew up the rules of American politics.
LEMON: Weren't you here with me discussing this as well?
ISIKOFF: I'm sure I was. But in rapid succession you had the Obama administration publicly accusing the Russian government of interfering in our election, of hacking our election. And then within an hour on a Friday of October 7th, you had the Access Hollywood tape with those, which blew people away, which many people thought at the time was going to knock Donald Trump's candidacy out of the water.
In fact, he, Reince Priebus -- and we have people talking about this in the documentary -- were telling him if you don't get out of the race, you're going to lose in the biggest landslide of American political history.
And then within a half-hour after that the Podesta e-mails are dumped by WikiLeaks. All of that happening in rapid sucession, it's really amazing when you put it all together and you see how two campaigns dealt with this -- with this confluence of events leading to the debate on Sunday where the -- where the Trump people came back by bringing the Clinton women accusers to the debate and having them talk about Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct.
You know, it is -- we have people saying in this including Roger Stone, who actually gets the last word, that the rules of American politics changed that weekend. And what we don't know is it, is it because is it only for Donald Trump or will this be forever in elections? But I hope people can watch it. It's 64 hours, the rules that -- the weekend that blew up the rules of American politics.
[22:25:04] LEMON: I can't wait to watch it. I want Michael D'Antonio to get the last word. I know we should report -- it has been reported now that his wife is leaving him. Harvey Weinstein's wife is now leaving him. What happens next?
D'ANTONIO: I think what we're seeing is that wherever people are most vulnerable to an imbalance of power the Catholic Church, Hollywood, media with Roger Ailes and politics, we're seeing that men who have abused that power are being called to account.
This is great development socially. It's a great development politically, but we do have to see in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape and all that we're talking about tonight, whether everyone's going to be held accountable. Because there are some in the precincts of power who are yet having their secrets kept by everyone around them.
LEMON: Fascinating and much more to discuss with all of this. Thank you, panel. I appreciate it. Have a good evening.
When we come back, what is the probability of the U.S. actually going to war with North Korea. Nicholas Kristof who just came back from that rouge nation joins me next along with our expert military analysts.
[22:30:00] LEMON: Top Pentagon officials briefing President Trump today on his options with North Korea.
I want to talk about this with the New York Times communist Nicholas Kristof who just came back from there, and CNN military analyst lieutenant general Mark Hertling. Good evening to both of you.
The president was briefed on the range of options to deal with North Korea. For weeks the president has been hinting that he wants to go to war with Kim Jong-un's regime. Do you think, Nicholas Kristof, that's where we could be heading?
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: I sure hope not, but and I think it's avoidable, is it possible, yes. And you know, this would be -- this would not be like other wars. This would escalate very quickly.
Back, one study just completed suggested that on the first day of a nuclear war there would be one million deaths. Another study said that just in Seoul and Tokyo there would be two million deaths. I mean, this would be the worst war since World War II. This would be a cataclysm. And I think we're all two inert to the possibility that this really might happen in the next few years. I don't think it's likely, but I think it is a real possibility.
LEMON: What do you think of that, General Hertling?
MARK HERTLING, MILITARY ANALYST, CNN: I agree with Nick, Don. I think it's something we must avoid. I think the president is probably looking at options in case he had to revert to the military scenario but that's something I would tell you all the military guys hope doesn't happen.
Here's the thing. War on the Korean Peninsula would be like any other conflict that we've seen just because of those deaths that Nick just talked about. It will be extremely complex and devastating for more than just those along the border with the amount of potential kinetic action that could take place, as well as the effects of others on the region. And it would do for not only our friendly alliances but towards our enemies. It would prove to be something that we haven't seen in a very long time.
LEMON: Well, I want to ask you about the options presented to president, General Hertling.
LEMON: Because Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut says that we need to take the president's hints on North Korea seriously. And he also tweeted, he sais, "The risk of surrounding himself with only military men has always been that they will only give him military solutions."
So, is this senator right? Do you think that, do you believe that Mattis, Kelly and McMaster are advocating for war, are only giving him a military option?
HERTLING: No, I think that's actually the opposite of what's going on. I think the military people around the president are actually going to try and force the other options on him first, because all of those people around him, Kelly, Mattis, McMaster and others will say, hey, this is the worst-case scenario, and we've got to find the political diplomatic solution first.
Remember, Don, (Inaudible) was the guy that said combat is politics by other means, by the extreme means. So they want to avoid that because they've seen it. I think most people that think the military guys in the room are going to push for the military solution are absolutely wrong in their conclusion that that's what military folks did.
LEMON: Well, do you think that, Nick, it might be the president? Because you know, you've seen Mattis looking, searching for diplomacy and the president sort of, you know, criticizing him on Twitter and saying maybe we should little -- whatever he's calling the guy, rocket man.
KRISTOF: You know, it's sort of striking that both Secretary Mattis and H.R. McMaster, both of whom are very smart people who entirely understand the risks have been saying that, yes, there are actually are military options.
And I think what is happening, and this is conjecture, is that Trump is going to them and saying, give me military options. And so, they feel obliged to present him with what they call military options but they include things that like left of launch imprudence interference with missile launches or cyber intrusions or shooting missiles down after they've left Korea, things that are indeed kinetic or at least have a military element but they don't involve what we would traditionally think of as, you know, some kind of attack on Korean soil that could trigger a new war.
So I think that this is indeed originating with President Trump himself.
LEMON: You just got back from North Korea. And you says that Trump and -- you believe that Trump and Kim Jong-un are similar you said because they intuitively escalate. How dangerous could that be, explain that.
KRISTOF: So I think that, you know, President Trump and Kim Jong-un have a certain similarity that by their nature they tend to hit back very hard. They believe that they can intimidate the other. And, you know, this is what, I think, President Trump is trying to do when he talks about war. I don't think he actually wants to have war anytime soon, but I think he thinks he can force Kim Jong-un to back down.
[22:34:58] In fact, what you see is that Kim Jong-un is using this rhetoric, he is exploiting it for his purposes. And so every North Korean we talked to knew exactly what Trump had said and they knew it because North Korean broadcasters are making a big thing out of it.
LEMON: Does Trump know that, though?
KRISTOF: Well, I would think that if he knew it, he would stop doing it because he is playing into the hands of the North Korean propaganda apparatus.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Nick. Thank you, General. I appreciate it.
KRISTOF: Good to be here.
LEMON: When we come back, he wrote an open letter to five former presidents asking them to help rescue America. He's going to join me live next.
LEMON: President Trump escalating his feud with Senator Bob Corker who has questioned the president's fitness to serve in office and wonders if Trump is setting the U.S. on a path to World War III. I want to bring in now Newton Minow, he's a former adviser to six
presidents who wrote an open letter to five of them about the state of our union under President Trump. Also with us, CNN presidential historian, Timothy Naftali.
Gentlemen, good evening. Mr. Minow, thank you so much for joining us. You wrote a letter in the Washington Post to Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama asking them to rescue us. And you say.
[22:40:07] Here's what you say in part. You say, "I am privileged to have known and worked with each of you and your administrations. I know how deeply you all love our country. Our nation is blessed to have the five of you in and your invaluable experience in the Oval Office, a total of 32 years with your steady hands on the nuclear codes. The time has come to use this unique asset to help the nation deal with our present situation. Most of us now have very short attention spans. The news come to us at 24/7. Once crises immediately follows another. And we forget what has happened even one month go. We need to keep reminding ourselves what has happened since President Trump took office."
What worries you the most Mr. Minow and what do you want to see happen?
NEWTON MINOW, FORMER CHAIRMAN, U.S. FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: When the former head of our national intelligence service, Mr. Clapper and when people with the quality of Senator Corker say that they're very apprehensive about the president having his hands on the nuclear codes, it makes, should make all of us, all of us very nervous and very concerned about what's happening to our country.
And I call upon the five former presidents who are beyond the ambition and care only about their love for our country to speak up and to get the country as alarmed as they should be about the current situation.
LEMON: Yes. Tim, I want to bring you in here because some of the red flags that Newton Minow points out, he says that "President Trump revealing high and classified information to foreign leaders ignoring ethical, principles by not investing from his business after he was elected, not condemning white supremacist protesters, pardoning -- excuse me -- Joe -- Sheriff Joe Arpaio and insulting our allies."
You've been in the White House before. Have you ever seen anything like this? Well, this is -- that's for Tim, but go on.
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, CNN: Mr. Minow has actually been in the White House.
NAFTALI: What Senator Corker, that is list of horribles, there's no doubt about it. But what Senator Corker said about this president's unstable nature is unprecedented. For someone in his position from the same party as the president to say that is something we have never heard before. And that raises the whole debate about the president's fitness in a way it hasn't been done before.
Mr. Minow has laid out the reasons why people should question this president. But Senator Corker has worked with him. And someone who has worked with him and it's from the same party to say this man cannot t be trusted with the nuclear button. That's a big deal.
LEMON: You want to respond, Mr. Minow?
MINOW: Well, I don't think the president really knows the difference between the --some people say the president lies. I don't think the president knows the difference of what is the truth. He's attacked judges, he's attacked the media for doing its job. He's attacked his own party. It's totally unprecedented, and it's very scary.
And I call upon the five presidents because they're at a stage in life where they want our country to live by its principles. Democracy is a very fragile thing. When the Constitution was first created Benjamin Franklin was asked would we have a republic or a monarchy, and Benjamin Franklin said we can have a republic if you can keep it, if you can keep it. And that's the risk that our current situation means we will not keep it.
LEMON: If all of this is destabilizing, what options are there to fix it, Mr. Minow?
MINOW: Well, the first thing is to get more people like Senator Corker to speak up. Senator Corker has said that many of his own colleagues in the Senate or of his own party feel the same way he does, but nobody speaks up. Either they lack the courage or they're putting their party before their country. But we've got to get people to speak up and to announce that our precious form of government, our democratic system has got to be strengthened and not denied.
LEMON: What do you -- how do you think, Tim, that people will look back after this, and people who reflexively defend the president or criticize those who give him constructive criticism, how will they look back and how will they look at themselves?
NAFTALI: Well, it's going to depend on how things play out in the next few months.
LEMON: Excuse me.
[22:44:57] NAFTALI: The key question here is Mr. Minnow brings up a very interesting challenge to the former presidents. When Richard Nixon was running into big trouble in 1973 and '74, there weren't any living former presidents. We actually have no historical president for this.
And Donald Trump has rejected all presidential norms. His predecessors are following presidential norms but not attacking them directly. The question is, are they prepared to do something no former presidents have ever done before, which is to come out and attack the incumbent president and to say to the American people that he is moving us in the wrong way, I don't know. But that's the issue for them. Because they know that they're not
supposed to. That's our tradition. But we've been, we are now in uncharted waters, so they could do something different.
LEMON: yes. Thank you, Timothy Naftali. Thank you, Newton Minow. I appreciate it. And say hello to everyone in Chicago for me, my former city. I appreciate it.
MINOW: We missed you here, Don.
LEMON: Thank you, sir. I missed it, too.
When we come back, the president challenging his secretary of state to an I.Q. test in the wake of reports that Rex Tillerson called him a moron. The White House says it was all just a joke. Or was it?
[22:49:59] LEMON: The president telling reporters he has confidence in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, yet, in a magazine interview he boasted that he has a higher I.Q. than Tillerson. He was asked about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you undercut the secretary of state today with the I.Q. comment.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I didn't undercut anybody. I don't believe in undercutting people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Joining me now is former republican Congresswoman Nan Hayworth, a member of the Independent Women's board of directors, CNN political commentators Robby Mook, and Kevin Madden. Hello, everyone. Welcome to the show.
KEVIN MADDEN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Good evening.
LEMON: Nan, you heard President Trump affirm his confidence in the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, but in an interview with Forbes magazine, the president responded to reports that he called him by a moron by saying, "I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare I.Q. test -- I.Q. tests. And I can tell you who is going to win."
Does challenging -- how does challenging his secretary -- how does that help?
NAN HAYWORTH, BOARD MEMBER, INDEPENDENT WOMEN'S FORUM: You know, I really -- Don, I just think the president was joking. And the problem is that, you know, so many times now people, you know, media, entertainment try to turn the president's every action into a caricature, but they have become a caricature of kind of dour, brittle, humorlessness. And I know that we can expect that, but I think the president was just being a little light hearted.
LEMON: So we should never -- we shouldn't take the President of the United States of his word?
HAYWORTH: We should always take the president seriously, but in this case I don't think we need to take him literally.
ROBBY MOOK, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I -- you know, I don't know what to say.
LEMON: You're at a loss for words, Robby.
MOOK: I'm just here every week that -- what's that?
LEMON: You're at a loss for words?
MOOK: No, I was just going to say, I mean, the president is so over his head he can't even trust his own staff. He makes these jokes that aren't funny in the slightest. Where, you know, California's burning, we're in an international situation in the Korean Peninsula and he's cracking jokes about his secretary of state's I.Q.
It's totally irresponsible. I mean, Nan has some great talking points there, those are very clever. This is just ridiculous and that's why he's gotten nothing done.
LEMON: The president seems to care a lot about this issue, so watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I know I have an I.Q. better than all of them. I guarantee you, my I.Q. is much higher than any of these people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Kevin, I mean, he does talk about it a lot.
MADDEN: Yes, well, look, self-aggrandizement has been a feature of Donald Trump's personality when he was a reality TV star and when he was a real estate developer, so I'm always surprised that people are surprised that he would take this and apply it to his presidency.
You know, I think that's one of the things that your earlier guests, Timothy Naftali he made a smart observation which is that this is a president who doesn't really adhere to a lot of the presidential norms. And that is why, I think, that it becomes -- it generates the type of controversy that it does and it's something that we talk about endlessly.
But we also have to remember that because this is a president who doesn't really adhere to presidential norms, that's why a lot of people supported him. The idea that he would be this incredible disrupter and he would shake up the status quo is the reason that he has that real strong base of support. But I'm always endlessly surprised that we're surprised.
LEMON: I'm picking up what you're putting down. But also I think the American people want someone who is credible, someone that they can trust, and I want to ask Robby, and then Nan, I want you to respond this, Robby. Because the Washington Post has been analyzing and categorizing and tracking every false and misleading claim that President Trump since he took office.
And this as of today, his 264th day in office. The president has made 1,318 claims, over 263 days, he has averaged five claims a day, even picking up pace since the six-month mark. What does that say about his credibility?
MOOK: I think at the end of the day, he's just not a good president. He doesn't tell the truth. He can't focus. He's not interested in the substance of policy. It's why he's been unable to get anything passed through Congress.
You know, at the one minute he's making pretty grandiose threats to the leader of North Korea, on the other hand than he's saying things here in the United States and we're supposed to consider those a joke. And it's no coincidence then that foreign leaders aren't taking him very seriously.
So, I just find the whole thing depressing. Because he's a mediocre president, I don't think his party has been vocal enough for calling him out. I know Senator Corker has, I don't think it's going to make a difference. Because I don't think many people are going to join in.
And I just wonder at what point the American people will abandon him and his base will abandon him. Because he's not doing anything for anybody. Except keeping us focused on anything but substance or the fact that he hasn't accomplished anything.
LEMON: Nan, I want to give you the last word. But Nan, I want you -- I want to put this up, because this is a CNN/SSRS poll, and it shows that 36 percent of people say that President Trump is honest and trustworthy.
[22:55:04] Sixty percent say he's not. That's a credibility problem. Do you think that's fixable and does, you know, joking as you say, we should get a sense of humor, does that help or hurt?
HAYWORTH: Well, Don, number one, I do think it's hurtful. Number two, under the president's first 10 months in office, we've put at least a million Americans back to work, the stock market has continued to do exceedingly well, American's confidence in the economy and in their prosperity and their prospects have all improved.
And I would point out that in terms of presidential falsehoods that should really worry us an awful lot, there were many glaring ones, unfortunately during the antecedent administration, starting with if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. And this healthcare plan with not add, Don, to our deficit or Benghazi was caused by a video. So there's plenty of lack of credibility--
MOOK: But they didn't create any jobs--
HAYWORTH: -- to go around, Robby. And a million jobs. And million jobs get back to work.
LEMON: I have to say but, Nan, to be honest--
MOOK: The economy is doing better because of Barack was our president, not because of Donald Trump.
LEMON: To be honest -- to be honest that all started under the last president and has continued under this president. And if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, everyone always says that, but there have not been 1,318 false claims over 200 some days with the Obama administration. That's apples and oranges.
HAYWORTH: Don, those claims were reiterated day after day, I don't know what their -- I don't know what their metric is and I don't quite honestly, it has not been beyond outlets like the Washington Post.
LEMON: But, Nan, the metric is the truth. Nan, let's be honest, the metric is the truth. Either some -- hold on, hold on. Either something is true or it's false. Either you give a false claim or you get a claim that's a lie or a truth.
HAYWORTH: Fair enough, Don. Fair enough, Don. But you can fact-check the fact-checkers and a lot of those who purport to have all the facts about x, y, or z, phenomenon or event actually don't. So, again, I go back--
LEMON: Nan, you sit here -- Nan, you and others sit here and reflectively defend the president.
HAYWORTH: But I don't know what their--
LEMON: But if the president of the United States is lying. Like you're saying, so someone could come on, like Robby or someone and say, well, actually what President Obama said about if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, it's not actually false, if you measure it under this metric, so let's just say that it wasn't true.
HAYWORTH: Pretty much always false.
LEMON: OK. So, then--
HAYWORTH: And it was said over and over again, Don.
LEMON: Then why can't you say that about this president? Fact is a fact--
HAYWORTH: Because this--
LEMON: A lie is a lie.
HAYWORTH: This president has told us that he will put Americans back to work. He has done that.
LEMON: That started under the last president.
HAYWORTH: He has told us that he would--
LEMON: It's not just because of this president.
HAYWORTH: Don, millions of Americans--
LEMON: All you have to do is go back and look at the facts, Nan, it started under the last president.
HAYWORTH: He would lift regulatory burdens and he has done so. They are eliminating two regulations for everyone. He has done that with this--
LEMON: Nan, but what does that have to do with the -- what does that have to do with whether he is misleading people by telling lies?
HAYWORTH: But he is not -- I am not aware of his having misled the American public about any of the substantive issues -- I am not. I am not.
HAYWORTH: They probably say well, we doubt his I.Q. is as high as he claims.
LEMON: All right.
HAYWORTH: And they're probably counting something like that which is here we going back to what he--
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: That has nothing to do -- but you're giving me a shiny object.
That has nothing to do with--
HAYWORTH: This, that so-called--
LEMON: -- him telling the truth or misleading statements.
HAYWORTH: -- is a shiny object, Don.
LEMON: OK. So then we could say the Obama metric about if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. That depends on how you judge that metric on truth or false. Falsity.
HAYWORTH: President Trump was elected because people were betrayed by the promises of the previous administration that turned out not to be true.
LEMON: The administration, the administration that started the positive job outlook, that was a betrayal?
HAYWORTH: We had -- we've never had as low -- and you know this, Don, as low a period of average economic growth over eight years as we did in the previous administration.
LEMON: OK. All right.
HAYWORTH: And we have gone far beyond that growth rate now.
LEMON: That's actually not true as well.
HAYWORTH: It is. It is.
LEMON: But thank you. We'll be right back.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)