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A Condolence Call Exaggerated into a Whole Political Ping Pong; Trump Not Letting Go of His Controversial Comment. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 23, 2017 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: I really don't blame Tea Leoni nor do I be grudge Bebe Neuwirth for her decision. We're going to miss her on Sunday night, but we wish her all the best, all the brightest and all that jazz on the Ridiculist.

Thanks for watching 360. Time to turn things over to Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

Today when I woke up and saw the emotional interview with the grieving gold star widow Myeshia Johnson, my heart was broken like most of you.

And then moments later the president tweeted and I was shocked. I felt compelled to write an open letter to President Trump. And I want to share that letter with you right now.

"Dear Mr. President, I've interviewed you multiple times. You've introduced me to your family. You've also criticized me publicly, both in front of cameras and on Twitter, calling me hateful, dumb, a light weight.

Some of your friends had suggested you expected better of me and I'm not sure why you'd expect anything other than fairness and facts first. We know you get a lot of your news from TV. Several of your friends and supporters have told me you watch this show. So since I have this platform, I'd like to speak to you personally right now.

I feel compelled to do that after this latest controversy with the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson. Your tweet this morning essentially called her a liar.

Mr. Trump, please stop it. Please, stop. Think of what Sergeant Johnson would want. You are putting his widow in the terrible position of having to fight for her dignity when she should be concentrating on taking care of herself, her health, her two children and the one on the way."

I want you to listen to what Myeshia said this morning.

MYESHIA JOHNSON, GOLD STAR MOTHER: The president said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts any ways. And I was -- it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn't remember my husband name. The only way he remember my husband name because he told me he had my husband report in front of him, and that's when he actually said La David.


LEMON: I know you have children. You have two daughters. Can you imagine Ivanka or Tiffany in Myeshia's shoes having a fight with the commander in chief while they are pregnant and grieving?

If Myeshia Johnson is mad at you, take it. Just as President Bush and others did. Take it. It's part of what you signed up for when you decided to descend that escalator and throw your hat in the ring for president.

You are the commander in chief, the president of the United States of America. The greatest country on earth. Act like it. Act like you know that you're big enough not to have to win every fight or respond to every criticism. Act like you know where the high road is. Competent and secure people ask for help all the time and they ask for forgiveness. Insecure people think they know everything and need no help.

And I want you to think about this. The only gold star families you have attacked are people of color. How does that look? Apologize. And I'm going to end with some words to help you to that. You're welcome to use them. And so now I'm going to speak directly to Myeshia Johnson, as you should.

Mrs. Johnson, since the president seems incapable of finding the right words, let me speak for the entire country. We are all sorry for what you are going through. All grief is different, and we cannot imagine how deep and profound yours is.

We agree with you that La David, your hero husband, was an awesome soldier, a great man, a great American. We know from what has been written about him that he wanted to be someone great, do great things with his life and he was great, and he did great things.

He is a role model to me. When his photos come on the TV screen or I see them in the newspaper, I am so incredibly proud of him and what he accomplished. And to be extremely candid with you and with the world, as a black man I'm always looking for role models who look like me and the latest one I found was your husband, La David.

May he rest in peace. And may you find peace when you can finally get a good night's sleep knowing that this is America. We got your back. Believe that. Signed me, Don Lemon.

[22:05:07] Now I want to turn now to CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston, political analyst April Ryan, and military analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton. Sorry. I'm sorry. Welcome, everyone.

Mark, thank you all for joining us. Mark, as you just heard, Myeisha Johnson, the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson spoke out today saying President Trump made her cry. She said he couldn't remember her husband's name. And then less than an hour later he tweeted this, he said, "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson and spoke his name from the beginning without hesitation."

A widow of a fallen soldier says the President of the United States widow made her cry and the president responds with a tweet denying it. Why does this president always need to have the last word? Why does he act this way?

MARK PRESTON, POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR, CNN: Well, Don, before we get to the core of Donald Trump, if you can put that tweet back up, what I think is very important about that tweet that Donald Trump said this morning is at the very end he write and spoke his name from beginning without hesitation, exclamation point, as to not or as to note how much he meant when he sent that tweet about the widow Myeshia Johnson.

Why does Donald Trump do this? None of us will ever truly know but we have seen throughout the campaign and we have seen now throughout his first eight or nine months in office right now, Don, that Donald Trump doesn't know how to express empathy in a way that normal people do. Donald Trump doesn't realize that his job as leader of the free world, President of the United States, commander in chief of Armed Forces requires that you have to be the bigger man not some of the time all of the time.

That sometimes you have to take a punch in the nose and bleed a little bit and walk away from the fight, quote unquote, "as the loser." And what we saw from Donald Trump is in the past 12 hours or so is that he is incapable of doing it, Don.

LEMON: Colonel Leighton, you made similar calls notifying families of casualties. What was that like for you? Is there any good way to make a call like that?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, MILITARY ANALYST, CNN: It's very tough, Don, because what you're trying to do is you're trying to put yourself in that family's shoes. You want to be able to not only tell them that you feel for them, but also explain to them what is next, you know, you have certain procedures that the military follows and you want to explain those procedures. And sometimes it isn't the right time to do that.

But what you do is you try to empathize with them. You tell them that you're going to be there for them and you're going to help them through this process and that they can call you anytime. That's the kind of thing that you have to do as a commander.

It's hard for the president to be available, I think, to all of the fallen soldiers and all the gold star families, but nonetheless, the Department of Defense, the military, the respective services all need to do their part in order to make this happen so that the families know that they are part of a larger family and that is the American family.

LEMON: The president, April, loves to talk about the military. He started the whole controversy with the NFL by saying that kneeling at a football game was a protest against our troops instead of police brutality.

First it was the Khans -- and I mentioned this. It's only been two gold star families that he's attacked that I know of and they're families of color of Khans and now Myeshia Johnson. How can he claim to support and appreciate our military while disrespecting military families and disrespecting the legacy of their loved ones?

APRIL RYAN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: There's a huge contradiction, Don, and you cannot ignore the history of it, you know, when he was running for president, when he was talking about John McCain, Senator John McCain, who is a POW, who still carries the battle scars, carries his prisoner of war scars and I was talking about him being captured, you know, when he was running for president.

And then when he was president-elect this fight -- well, not even president-elect. He was the nominee. This fight with the Khan family and now, you know, it does not bode well for a president of the United States who is the moral leader of this nation.

He's supposed to bring comfort and his heart to the situation. And it doesn't -- it doesn't play well at a time when, you know -- and I talked to someone very close to the family just moments before I came on the air with you tonight. The family is going to find out officially tomorrow if there indeed remains in the casket that Mrs. Johnson met at the airport.

They are concerned because all she received is dog tags and she has not been able to see anything and she wants to find out and was supposed to find out tomorrow from according to people close or a person close to the family that they're going to find out tomorrow if there's any remains in the casket.

[22:09:59] LEMON: And he's calling her liar on Twitter. Mark, Myeshia Johnson said that she still has questions about how her husband was killed, as you said, she's, as we have heard, she said she didn't even know if there was a body in the casket.

We know that his body was recovered 48 hours after the attack. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford spoke to reporters today. Did we get any answer from him?

PRESTON: Well, let's go through what do we know. First of all, this happened on October 4th, so it's been 19 days before we heard from the joint chiefs. As you said, General Dunford coming out today. I personally cannot fault him for not having any answers because clearly the fog of war right now is so dense and they're trying to figure out what has happened.

But what we did learn from General Dunford today is, one, he showed empathy and he realized that the American people deserve to know what happened, that the family of the four fallen American soldiers deserve to know what happened.

But as the facts as we know them right now, they're on their way back from a reconnaissance mission. There were 12 people in their unit. They were ambushed by 50 ISIS fighters. The fire fight went on for an hour before they asked for help. A drone was then sent in and started showing aerial photographs.

From that point on French fighters came in about n afterwards. So they are two hours into the fight at that point. In the end, though, Don, four people, four U.S. soldiers dead. Five Nigerian soldiers dead. And we talk a lot about La David Johnson as we should, but the other three names of these fallen heroes, Dustin Wright, Bryan Black and Jeremiah Johnson all perished on October 4th.

And right now the U.S. military still has no answers about why they were attacked, how they were attacked and why it took 48 hours to get La David Johnson's body back into U.S. hands.

LEMON: I want you all to stick around. We have much more to talk about. When we come back, proving that a war hero never gives up the fight. Senator John McCain blast an unnamed American at the highest income levels who he says found a doctor that would say that he had a bone spur to avoid serving in Vietnam. Take a wild guess who he was talking about.


LEMON: The outrage over President Trump's call to a gold star widow all starred last week when the president claimed that he had written letters to the families of fallen troops, a claim that he had the White House frantic behind the scenes.

Well, my panel is back now to talk about why that is. So, Mark, let's discuss this. A White House official has confirmed to CNN that they tried to expedite condolence letters to families of fallen servicemembers after the president said this just a week ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've written them personal letters. They've been sent or they were going out tonight, but they were during the weekend.


LEMON: So then the next day the president said he called virtually every family that had a lost military servicemember this year. But then roll call is reporting that after those comments the White House was scrambling to get the identities and contact information for those families. Not only did the president say something that was not true, Mark. He didn't even have enough to date list of who was killed. What does that say to you about the state of this White House?

PRESTON: Well, I mean, look, we could have this conversation three months ago. We could have had it six months ago. I mean, the fact of the matter is that this is a White House has very much inexperienced at how to govern. The idea that they were going to come in and drain the swamp and take over Washington, well, guess what? You need the players here in Washington to understand how to run government in order for government to run.

And also, this is an example, Don, of President Trump getting out in front of himself. He just says things and he expects people to believe it. If I say it, believe it. It doesn't necessarily mean it's true. And we've seen time and time again that his White House aides from the very, very top all the way down, as you go through the West Wing into the East Wing and elsewhere, the fact of the matter is they're always trying to clean up after something that he has either said or he has said on Twitter.

LEMON: It's always a problem of his own making. Colonel Leighton, a White House official said that there were bureaucratic reasons why some of the letters had not gone out. In most of the cases the official said that they were delayed because the servicemember killed in action had been involved in multiple casualties incident. Is that a valid excuse? Does that complicate things?

LEIGHTON: It makes it a volume issue, perhaps, Don, I mean, to put is in a very crass way. But I would say, no. I mean, you have a situation where you know that something has happened. You should have procedures in place to handle it. The Department of Defense has procedures. Each of the services have procedures to deal with this. Even down at the unit level they have procedures.

So everything should really be running like a smoothly oiled machine at this point because there is precedent. There are ways to do these kinds of things. And the fact that the White House is scrambling after the president made the statements that you played, that is a real problem, because it shows that there are issues that are perhaps deeper than what we're seeing right now, and it is indicative that the staff work that needs to go into this kind of operation really isn't happening and the staff work is necessary.

LEMON: Yes. April, also tonight, the president's military service or lack thereof is in the spotlight now. Again, all of these things he's bringing up on his own, making his own problems.

But it's in the spotlight again after Senator John McCain criticized people who found a doctor that would say they had a bone spur to avoid military service. He was asked if that was a swipe at Trump on The View. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People thought you were talking about.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump because he had a doctor's note that said he had bone spurs.

MCCAIN: I think more than once, yes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chronic, chronic bone spurs. (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you consider him a draft dodger?

MCCAIN: I don't consider him so much a draft dodger as I feel the system was so wrong that certain Americans could evade their responsibilities to serve the country.


LEMON: What I picked up on there was I didn't consider him a draft dodger so much, right. So he didn't completely say no. Are you surprised we haven't heard a response from the president on this?

RYAN: I think the president and his inner circle understand that some things in these last couple of days he may just have to take for a moment.

[22:20:00] He's gone out vigorously against Senator McCain. He's also said that, you know, on other issues, if Senator McCain wants to keep on he's going to show him a fight. But I think in light of Niger, everything happening there, with the loss of the U.S. and Nigerian soldiers that this president has to step back.

John McCain is a POW. He was a prisoner of war. He has given service to this country, and he continues to serve. And he is a republican. It does not bode well for this president to fight back against John McCain at this point in time when republicans and democrats are very hurt in their heart about what's happening over these last -- over this last week with the war of words, with various people. John McCain has a right to speak like anyone else, but right now, I guess like you said early on, the president has to take it.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you all. I appreciate the conversation. Thank you very much.

When we come back, President Trump essentially calling gold star widow Myeshia Johnson a liar today. I'm going to ask one of his close friends why the president can't just apologize and let the whole thing go.


LEMON: Today President Trump disputed a gold star widow's account of his condolence call after her husband's death in Niger. It's been almost a week since that call, but what keeps the story in the headlines? His tweets. Why won't he let this go?

I want to bring in now Christopher Ruddy, he is a CEO NewsMax and NewsMax TV and a close friend of the president. So why can't he just let this go?



LEMON: By the way, first of all, thank you for coming on the show. Why can't he just let it go?

RUDDY: Well, he can't let it go. I mean, I just want to point out that...


LEMON: I'm not the president of the United States. I'm not fighting with the widow.

RUDDY: And the media is not stopping. You know, everybody like the Washington Post headline, he's sparring with -- he's not saying anything negative about this widow. First of all, I have total sympathy for her. I am not going to criticize her. I have not seen the president criticize her one iota.

She has said things now, just come out. She's probably under a lot of pressure. This president, I can never imagine him saying to the wife of a slain soldier something that would be inconsiderate. The Washington Post to their credit, Don, two days ago put out a video of a widow...


LEMON: We played it here. I know what you're talking.

RUDDY: ... all start -- yes.

LEMON: Yes. A gold star widow.

RUDDY: But that's a powerful. You should be playing that every night because how much did you play of that video. A little clip?

LEMON: We played it once or twice on this show.

RUDDY: A full clip?

LEMON: I don't know how much -- yes, we played it.

RUDDY: Somebody -- you must watch that full clip.

LEMON: I don't want to get -- I don't want to get to that clip. We watched it, Chris. I'm here to talk about the one that...


RUDDY: Because that is the real Donald Trump.

LEMON: So basically -- she did an interview. She said that no one had -- she said that the congresswoman couldn't lie -- didn't lie, that her assessment of the call was accurate and that he couldn't remember the name and she thought he was disrespectful. She says -- he said I was disrespectful and none of that happened. That's calling her a liar.

RUDDY: I think we now have the Frederica rule in American politics which is never argue... (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I'm talking about the widow.

RUDDY: Well, Frederica is...

LEMON: I'm talking about the widow's interview.

RUDDY: He accused the congresswoman of lying.

LEMON: No, no, no. Of the widow. Well, the widow was on Good Morning America and said exactly what the...


RUDDY: And he said he did not say anything inappropriate.

LEMON: So now he's calling the widow a liar.

RUDDY: Look, this is a very sensitive issue, right? I think Donald Trump has a long history much backing veterans, he's probably done for more veterans in six months than any president has done in six years.

LEMON: What's your evidence of that?

RUDDY: Well, we just did a cover story in NewsMax magazine about how his Secretary Shulkin is completely reforming the whole Veterans Administration, getting huge reviews from people in the agency, outside the agency, gets no credit for you...


LEMON: So why would attack a gold star, why would he fight with a gold star widow?

RUDDY: First of all, he's never attacked her. She said something that he said was not true. So if he says, hey, it's not true. Frederica went around saying that there were white supremacists in the White House. She said there was white...


LEMON: Frederica Wilson will have to answer to what she's done. She didn't handle it perfectly.


RUDDY: But you're making a lot of noise about what she says.

LEMON: Because he's the president of the United States.

RUDDY: Right.

LEMON: Have you read Dana Perino's book? The Dana Perino, right, she has an account of when the former President George W. Bush was beat up by a gold star widow and he got into the car and he said, man, that mom is really mad at me and she has every right to be.


RUDDY: I don't think...

LEMON: That's the high road.

RUDDY: I think it's really sad that this congresswoman used this as a political football against the president.


LEMON: Again, we're talking about the widow.

RUDDY: Anybody should watch that Washington Post video of the president...


LEMON: I've seen the Washington Post video, again, you're going back to a shiny object, Christopher. We played it on the show. We gave him too for that.

RUDDY: I doubt you played the whole thing.

LEMON: We played it on the show last Friday, guys? Did we play it on the show?

RUDDY: Maybe we should show it again.

LEMON: Yes, we did.


LEMON: No, well, you're not producing this. Well, you can produce NewsMax TV.

RUDDY: Look...

LEMON: But we played it on the show. We gave him his due. We have analysts, we asked analysts about that.

RUDDY: The truth is this is a side show because you don't want to talk about any of his achievements.


LEMON: A side show because you're talking about a shiny object.

RUDDY: You don't want to talk about any of his achievements as president.

LEMON: That's not why we're here to talk about.

RUDDY: He's very close to getting tax reform...

LEMON: I'm talking to you about the controversy that he's in now...


RUDDY: He's probably...

LEMON: ... and you're throwing out shiny objects because you don't want to talk about the responsibility the president has in this matter. Let's stick to the topic at hand.

RUDDY: I hate to say it but you're almost as hysterical as Congresswoman Wilson.

LEMON: I should be hysterical. America should be hysterical.

RUDDY: She has claimed...


LEMON: The way this president has treated a gold star widow, someone who lost their lives in war fighting for this country. I think you're not hysterical about it. He should be hysterical about it as well. He should be hysterically fighting for fairness and to get answers for that woman instead of pointing to shiny objects, calling a congresswoman wacky, trying to discredit her reputation and calling the widow a liar. And you're calling, you're saying that I'm hysterical? Man, come on.

[22:30:02] RUDDY: Look, I think that the president probably shouldn't have responded nor should have General Kelly to a congresswoman from Miami who runs around wearing a cowboy hat.

LEMON: What's wrong with wearing a cowboy's hat?

RUDDY: Well, it's unusual.

LEMON: What's unusual?

RUDDY: I think -- I think she's showing herself to be a little different.

LEMON: What about the guy running for a Senate down with the gun?

RUDDY: Basically...

LEMON: What about Roy Moore with the cowboy hat and the gun? What about the sheriff that runs around with the cowboy hat on? What about the way that Donald Trump combs his hair? What about his long neck ties, what does that have to do with what she wears?

RUDDY: Look, if any other president had done something like where there was a question, the media would have -- it would have been be a blip on the radar screen.

LEMON: Because any other president who have said...

(CROSSTALK) RUDDY: This is a half hour on the CNN he has a history of being very empathetic.

LEMON: ... I am sorry if I did something wrong, if you took what I said and it hurt you, I apologize for that. I can't imagine the grief that you're going through.

RUDDY: You've met Donald Trump. Do you think in your heart of hearts, Don, that he would ever -- of all the things Frederica says there are white supremacists in the White House. Can you name me one person you think in the White House is a white supremacists because I know a whole bunch of people there.

LEMON: When you speak to Frederica Wilson, why don't you ask her that?

RUDDY: Well, you've had her on the show. You should just look...


LEMON: I've had her on a phone call on the show and if she comes on the show I may ask her...

RUDDY: Well, that's good. Name names, I mean, that's pretty.

LEMON: OK, go on.

RUDDY: Donald Trump is the type of guy you start saying there's white supremacists in the White House, he's going to respond back to her. I personally wouldn't respond. I would completely ignore.


LEMON: He didn't respond to white supremacist. He didn't say I am not a white supremacist. There are no white supremacists in this White House. I will not put up with that. Instead, he called her wacky and then tried to get votes off of it saying you should vote republican. This is the best thing for the Democratic Party. And then say he's not politicizing it? Do you think politicizing it to ask people to vote for republican because of Frederica Wilson? Is that politicizing this issue?

RUDDY: Well, she's not representing well...


LEMON: Answer my question please.

RUDDY: You know, she gave a speech about two years ago...

LEMON: Is that politicizing it by asking people to vote republican because of Frederica Wilson?

RUDDY: Well, I think it's inappropriate for what she said and it's not a good reflection on the Democratic Party.

LEMON: Do you think it's good for the president to try to get votes off the back of the back of...


RUDDY: I'm not going to -- your hypothetical questions on this.

LEMON: No. He said that. He tweeted it twice that this was the best thing for the Republican Party, the wacky congresswoman.

RUDDY: Being that she accused him of racism which had nothing to do -- even if he did say something inappropriate, the phone call.


RUDDY: The fact that she then said he's a white supremacist clearly indicates what her motive was. She has a political cause here.

LEMON: Maybe she thinks...


RUDDY: The public is seeing through this, Don.

LEMON: Maybe she thinks and I can't speak for her.

RUDDY: She gave a speech...

LEMON: Maybe the speech that by not denouncing...

RUDDY: Did you see the speech she gave?

LEMON: ... that by not denouncing white supremacists and new Nazis maybe by surrounding him...


RUDDY: Did you see the speech he gave?

LEMON: Maybe by surrounding himself with questionable people when it comes to race maybe she thinks there's some there-there. I don't know. You'll have to ask her.

RUDDY: I've known the man for a long time I never heard him even utter a racist word let alone infer a racist idea or concept.

LEMON: But does he prioritize racism?


RUDDY: Well, what's the racism he's guilty of? There's nothing he's done that's racist.

LEMON: Really?


LEMON: The president is not born in this country, the first black president was born in Kenya. He had evidence which he never produced. The Central Park guy that they should be locked up that they got away calling them disparaging names when they were exonerated.

RUDDY: I don't think questioning -- I believe that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. I don't think that there was any problem there.


RUDDY: But he did not release his birth certificate. That took a long time. That was something very basic. A lot of press didn't get...


LEMON: Because Donald Trump and some people who were...

RUDDY: It took a couple of years.

LEMON: Some conspiracy theories...

RUDDY: It had Barack Obama just released that, it would have been fine.

LEMON: He also wanted the president to release it. He didn't believe that this black president got the grades and was able to get into Harvard University and then said he should release his college records. Why?

RUDDY: The bottom line is we have a president here that has tremendous achievements in eight months in office. He's probably bought in about 300 billion...


RUDDY: He brought in 100 billion alone.


LEMON: I've got to go to the break.

RUDDY: First you got to go to the break. I'm starting to talk about Donald Trump is talking a lot.

LEMON: You're going to come back and we're going to do another segment.

RUDDY: OK. Good.

LEMON: Yes. We'll be right back.

RUDDY: I'm looking forward to it.


LEMON: We're back now with Christopher Ruddy, the chairman of NewsMax and a close friend of the president. So you want to talk about accomplishments. So he calls himself a dealmaker. In the last nine months he hasn't signed any major legislation. Why not?

RUDDY: Well, there's been over 50 bills passed. He comes in as the first nonpolitician in the history of the United States and he diverse to the House on healthcare bill that they had been supposedly working on for years. He's been blamed for the problem that they can't get this together. They haven't -- the Senate didn't want to pass the House bill. So it's on the face of it it's not his responsibility.

But one of the things I've noticed about Donald Trump is he's a very...


LEMON: Can I ask you something on that. I'll let you finish. Listen, I want to...

RUDDY: He's on the verge of the tax bill.

LEMON: I'm trying to give you some due here.

RUDDY: And the tax bill will be huge.

LEMON: I'm trying to give you some due here so I'll let you finish.

RUDDY: But you let me finish by interrupting. Yes.

LEMON: No, no. Because I want to make a point here. I think you're right in that they have been trying...


RUDDY: Of course you want to make a point.

LEMON: They have been trying it for seven years, right, to repeal and replace and now that they have a republican White House, a republican Congress, a republican Senate and they still couldn't do it. So your point is taken. But doesn't the buck stop at the head? Like when you're the boss, if something happens at NewsMax, you're going to get blamed for it, right.

RUDDY: Yes, to a certain truth over time. But I think the American people are given him a lot more slack than you are. This is the first year. He's going in there, he's just learning, he's fighting a lot of people in the establishment. And the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party a lot of people don't like him.

I think he's on the verge of the tax bill. It's going to be very significant. Big win. And I think they're going to come back on healthcare. They're going to go back on other stuff. And I think you'll see -- I also think he'll become more bipartisan after this tax bill. I think he's trying on DACA. He did reach out to the democrats. I know they've...

[22:39:59] There's still no -- there's still not agreement. Because he's heading to the Hill tomorrow to try to get people on board with his tax plan. There's still a lot of disagreement with that. Do you think that he can accomplish that?

RUDDY: I think he can. I think the negotiating position he wants more funding on the border wall but he's basically accepted the concept of the DREAMers staying. That's a huge change. But it's also a sign that he's willing to adjust, he's willing to reach out.

LEMON: Why do you think he's going to be more bipartisan or do that?

RUDDY: We're already seeing this...


LEMON: Or maybe pivot. Because remember during the election, he's going to pivot. He's going to become more presidential. Why do you think he's going to be bipartisan?

RUDDY: It doesn't happen instantly. I think it's also a learning process for him coming in. Every president is on-the-job training. He particularly didn't have any political background. He likes to do things in a business like way. That obviously doesn't fit in Washington.


RUDDY: But I think you're going to see cuts going down on corporate taxes, personal taxes, and they are going to have it -- well, it's already impacting the market with the highest stock market in history.

LEMON: So with that, it has been said, analysts said that these tax cuts benefit the super-rich, the wealthy. Is he abandoning this plan?

RUDDY: Well, I think when the economy is growing, it benefits everybody.

LEMON: Meaning that every state.

RUDDY: It benefits everybody. We basically lived through a period under Barack Obama where there were tax cuts. In fact, he raised taxes on everyone, including people in the middle class with Obamacare taxes and...

LEMON: You realize like we were in the worst recession since the Great Depression.

RUDDY: He kept interest rates at zero.

LEMON: But do you understand that...


RUDDY: Which essentially benefited the big corporations and the wealthiest Americans benefited from that not the little guy.

LEMON: You do understand that we are in the worst recession and had to dig ourselves out of a hole. RUDDY: Well, I think, I give Barack Obama some credit for giving us

some stability during that period but I also think you got give Donald Trump a chance. I think we've got to pass this cut tax bill.

I think when he does that -- we've estimated at News Max he's brought in about 300 billion, he'd brought in 100 million just from the Saudis of new jobs investment in the country. He's going over to China. He's going to be bringing in billions and billions on this Asian trip.

This is a president that actually goes on trips. And he's not looking for ceremonial dinners. He's looking for contracts and deals where they come and invest and create jobs in America. I mean, this is huge. The stimulus package, $300 billion was half of, almost half of what Obamacare's stimulus was and he's done that without legislation. Gets no credit for it whatsoever.

LEMON: You're giving him credit now. He will get credit for it when the American people actually start to feel some of these things that you're saying he's going to do he might be doing.

RUDDY: Well, he's done a lot.

LEMON: No one has -- we haven't felt any of that yet.

RUDDY: Well, to answer your question is seeing it in the stock market which is a huge effect on the economy.

LEMON: Well, that's also...


RUDDY: We have the lowest record on...

LEMON: The stock market is on speculation.

RUDDY: The Gallup poll of small business and they have record breaking confidence with small business. People ask me who Donald Trump's base is. It's not Breitbart. It's people, independent people, small business people. People of every political stripe. And they're seeing the impact. You meet small business people. They love the guy because they feel he's actually fighting for them. Less government regulation. Less taxes for business. Good?

LEMON: I've got to go, but I meet business people.

RUDDY: I think I've glimpsed you. You actually started becoming more reasonable as...


LEMON: No, no, no. Because I want to give him credit for that. If you're talking about confidence in the market, yes, that is true. The market has been building overtime.

Now, it started with Obama administration, but the market has reached record levels now and that has a lot to do with confidence in the market and you have to give Donald Trump credit for that. But when you asked me about small business -- I meet a lot of small business owners and you know what they say I'm waiting on this guy to give me the things that he promised and so far it has not come through yet.

RUDDY: Well, it takes two to tangle. It's him and the Congress, right, so he needs them to pass legislation. So we need to encourage people to get their congressmen to support the tax bill, which he's arguing for. He's not against. He's been pushing it.

LEMON: I appreciate you coming. I know people think we spar, but I actually know this guy and he's all right sometimes.

RUDDY: I don't say the same thing about you behind your back, so.

LEMON: Thank you, Chris.

RUDDY: Good to see you, Don. Thank you again.

LEMON: Always a pleasure. When we come back, there's a pattern behind how the president speaks to and about black women. Why a lot of people say race is something to do with the response to Myeshia Johnson and Representative Frederica Wilson.


LEMON: President Trump essentially calling gold star widow Myeshia Johnson a liar, taunting Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, calling her wacky. Is race behind all this?

Let's discuss now with CNN political commentators Ana Navarro and Angela Rye are here, and political contributor Ed Martin. Good evening to all of you. Thank you forth coming on.

Ana, after Myeshia Johnson spoke publicly this morning, President Trump almost immediately disputed her characterization of their phone call on Twitter. I know you feel strongly about this. Why does his response -- what should his response have been, I should say?

ANA NAVARRO, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Silence, respect, honoring the service of the fallen soldier, calling the widow and telling her I'm sorry if I made you cry. That was not my intent. I want you to know how much I respect and I honor your service of your fallen husband and that this country, and I will embrace you for the rest of your life and for your children's' life.

Instead he just can't help himself. He has no impulse control. I mean, there are children that have more discipline and more impulse control and more common sense than this man does who for some reason is the commander of chief, the lame excuse for commander in chief.

Just when I think he can't offend me anymore, just when I think he can't make me any more mad, he does. And for him to pick a fight with a gold star family for eight days now, that's not silly. That's not stupid. It's disgusting. It is grotesque and it is outrageous.

LEMON: Ed, people from political analysts to gold star families say this whole altercation may have something to do with race. Congresswoman Wilson also hinted that this was racially charged on the New York Times. The White House itself is full of white supremacists. Do you agree?

ED MARTIN, POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Well, look, I think the -- you know, Ana's responses sort of captures what a whole bunch of people are feeling, and I think we have to be respectful of what.

[22:49:54] But I think a whole lot of Americans are looking up and they're saying when politics is played with a sacred moment, whether it's the Khan family in the summer at the convention or the congresswoman in this case, we're proud and we're happy that we finally have a president who is on the side of fighting back.

And I think the president, all the president is saying is that General Kelly and others have counseled him and witnessed what he said, his attempt to be respectful. After that it's not -- it's not only unfair. I wish Ana would turn her rage at the congresswoman for politicizing a sacred moment. There's lots of ways...


NAVARRO: You think -- let me tell you this. Here's the problem with your theory.

MARTIN: ... to ask the question. Instead of holding forth on national television like the Congresswoman Wilson. So, I think that we're proud of the president. And look, at the end of the day, Ana, your side loss, your side the left wing of America loss this election. We're proud...


LEMON: Ana is a republican. Hold on, hold on.

MARTIN: It has nothing to do with race...

NAVARRO: Can I just tell you how sick I am -- no, wait. Let me just tell you this. Let me respond to you, Ed. I am sick of you guys saying the same thing over and over again about how my side lost. Yes, you're right. I supported Jeb Bush and he lost, I supported John McCain and he lost. I supported John and he lost.

MARTIN: Hillary Clinton. You supported Hillary Clinton.

NAVARRO: But right now I supported Hillary Clinton, and she lost.

MARTIN: Right.

NAVARRO: But right now I am no longer one person or another. I am an American citizen and Donald Trump whether I like it or not, whether it accept it or not is the President of the United States. That means my president, that means Frederica Wilson's president, that means Don Lemon's president, and that means Myeshia Johnson's president.

And he has got to behave with the respect that the presidency requires.

MARTIN: He did.

NAVARRO: And the reason why I will not turn on Congresswoman Frederica is because I know her. You see she's a congresswoman from my community. She's a congresswoman from Florida where I am from. And I've spoken to Frederica Wilson.

And what that widow said today is practically verbatim what Frederica Wilson said. So when you're picking a fight with a Frederica Wilson and her account of the events right now, you're not picking a fight with a congresswoman. You're picking a fight with a mother. And you're picking a fight with a widow who are all saying that that is exactly what they heard.

And also respect the fact that for 25 years Frederica Wilson has had a program to mentor at risk kids from that community and has graduated thousands of kids...


MARTIN: Right. But she was wrong -- she was wrong in this case, Ana. She was wrong.

NAVARRO: ... from that program including the fallen soldier. So she's not a politician exploiting something.

LEMON: Angela, let Angela get in, please.


MARTIN: She took advantage.

NAVARRO: She is a family friend.

MARTIN: She took advantage of the situation.

RYE: No, she didn't take advantage of it. So first let me start here. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, because that's how we pronounce her name, is a former principal, she's a former school educator. And Ana just made mention of the program that she runs in her district, 5,000 mentors.

And that program is something La David Johnson went through. She is not a politician politicizing this whatsoever. She was in the car because she's a dear friend and a central part of his upbringing, sir. So I want to correct the record there.

The biggest issue that we have here is if it's not Congresswoman Frederica Wilson then it's Congresswoman Maxine Waters. If it's not Congresswoman Maxine Waters, then it's Susan Rice. If it's not Susan Rice then it's Jemele Hill from ESPN. He has an issue with strong, black women. He has an issue...


MARTIN: No, no.

RYE: Yes, he does. Absolutely.

MARTIZN: No. You're cherry picking.

RYE: He has a major -- no, I don't have to cherry pick. I just gave you several examples. If it's not a strong...


RYE: Wait, I'm not finished. If it's not a strong black woman then he has an issue with a strong black man. I give you Don Lemon. And if you need one more example of a strong black woman, I will give you April Ryan who is a fellow commentator of yours. So, I'm saying there is a clear pattern in practice of his bullying behavior and it starts with black women.


LEMON: Go ahead.

MARTIN: Don, can I just for, you know, there are 16 republicans, one -- a couple are Hispanic, one was a woman, one was a black guy. There's lots of members of Congress, some are white guys, some are black guys, some were women. Donald Trump, if you are this indigenous like Frederica Wilson was...

RYE: Frederica.

MARTIN: If you politicize like she did -- wait a second, I let you talk.


LEMON: She's trying to tell you her name is Frederica.

MARTIN: She doesn't care what your race is, he doesn't care what your height, your color, you can belittle little, you know, rocket man, whatever, he's going to come back at you. And look, America out here we're happy with this. We have a guy on a side for a change...


RYE: Who is we?

MARTIN: ... instead of rolling over for political correctness.

NAVARRO: Well, listen, if you are happy...


LEMON: Hang on, hang on, Ana, hold on.

NAVARRO: ... of the commander in chief going after a gold star family then I think you are in a very small company.

LEMON: We're going to spend a little bit time with you guys. Stick around. We'll do another segment.

When we come back the first lady kicking off her anti-bullying efforts today. Has she read her husband's Twitter account?


LEMON: Back now with my panel. The first lady's talking about her new anti-bullying campaign, yet her husband's Twitter feed is like the biggest -- if you want to find what a bully is, go to the president's Twitter feed. And like what some people said he did with the -- with this Congresswoman Frederica Whitfield and with the gold star widow this morning, what do you think of that, Angela?

RYE: Don, Frederica Wilson. She's getting -- her name butchered...


LEMON: What did I say?

RYE: Whitfield.

LEMON: My God. That's my -- that's my co-worker. I'm sorry. Frederica Wilson. Sorry about that.

NAVARRO: The senior moment, Angela.

LEMON: No, I just know Frederica for 10 years and I'm sorry about that. Whitfield, Go on.

RYE: Fair enough. So it is very interesting that they would have a bullying campaign coming from her office. And she announced it of course on Twitter, which is even more interesting because you know Donald Trump often uses this platform to not just to bully black women as he talked about in the last segment but also to attack NFL players which she also did today, instead of dealing with real issues.

You would think there were 41 million people following him on this platform, he would use it for far more constructive behavior like, I don't know, generating support for the piece of legislation that he wants to sign into law to add to his not so hefty heck of accomplishments so far.

LEMON: This month alone the president has continued to tweet his derogatory nickname for the congresswoman calling her whacky. He also mocked Senator Bob Corker's height, dubbing him Little Bob Corker. The New York Times even have a running list of 382 people, places and things Donald Trump has insulted on Twitter.

Ana, does Melania need to square her bullying campaign with her husband's behavior?

NAVARRO: Look, first of all, I commend her for having this anti- bullying effort. But there is an inconsistency when the guy next to her in the bed is one of the biggest bullies around.

Like what President George Bush said last week, the bullying that's going on in politics affects the national tone. And here's the thing. I think that there is a lot of people around Donald Trump in the White House who work for him who are enabling him. Because they are afraid that if they take him on and if they criticize him and they are truthful, they will get fired and they like their jobs and they want to continue in their jobs.

Melania can't get fired. Ivanka Trump can't get fired. Isn't that what Ivanka Trump was there for, to soften his image, to make him be the softer better of human being, the, you know, softer brand of the detergent? Well, then let them, you know, let them try to do that because the other people obviously can't.

They are the family. And I mean I have got to think that Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump have got to think that their husband and father tweeting against a gold star family for eight days is insane and insensitive. So for the love of God, do the country a favor and do something about it.

LEMON: Do you really think that that will -- listen, if I had a parent -- if my parent was behaving this way, I would say, mom, you need to stop it. What is going on?


NAVARRO: I would say that maybe for a psychiatric evaluation.

LEMON: Yes. Something is up. So maybe in some way -- not in some way -- they're complicit.

Ed, I'll give you the last word.

[22:59:57] MARTIN: Well, you know, I think one of the great things about this president right now is around him are some really powerful, successful people. General Kelly. Melania is really a strong, I think she's a strong smart lady, Ivanka, you listed, Nikki Haley is really risen up.