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Unanswered Questions About Niger Ambush; Clinton Campaign, DNC Helped Fund Dossier Research; Corker, The president Has Great Difficulty With The Truth; Leading Republicans Blasting President; Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired October 24, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The American people deserve to know where we're sending our troops and the dangers that they face. That requires a full debate in congress, congress is missing in action and we must do our job.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Congresswoman, thank you so much and I appreciate your kind words, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, good to be with you.

LEMON: This is CNN tonight, thank you for joining us. I'm Don Lemon, I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast and we're live with new developments. Two Republican Senators launched a blistering attack on President Trump blasting the president's flagrant disregard for the truth or decency that is a quote. What does all of this say about is the state of the GOP and Donald Trump America? Plus a source telling CNN that Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign and the DNC helped to fund the research that led to the infamous dossier of allegations about President Trump and Russia. We're going to talk to a member of the Clinton campaign about that.

But I want to bring in now CNN's senior political analyst David Gergen, political commentators Kevin Madden and Scott Jennings and Tara Setmayer the forming communications Director for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Good evening to all of you. Welcome to the program. Dave, I'm going to start with you. A source told us that the White House team that the President is in high spirits tonight despite the fact that two sitting GOP Senators blasted him, put today in into some perspective for us.

DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYT: Well, Don, it's a day like no other. And that we've never had, at least in American history, two major Senators break so sharply with a President, a sitting President of their own Party. It comes at a time when the Republicans have a very modest margin over Democrats in the senate. They need it revoked and they've now got at least two more, Flake and Corker joining John McCain and Susan Collins and Ben Sass, people who can't be counted on for their vote. That makes the politics of this make it harder to get their agenda through. I can understand why the President is happy. He now is able to put a

real Trump supporter probably into Arizona, but I think the stakes are higher than simply the politics. They have a lot to do with the direction of the country, what the legacy of the Trump year is going to be and implicitly, if not explicitly, both Corker and Flake have sent a message to other Republicans. Time to take a stand. Either take a stand against this President or accept responsibility for whatever happens in the rest of his administration.

LEMON: Kevin, I want to bring you in, but let's listen to Senator Corker and then I'll get your response.


SEN BOB CORKER, (R) TENNESSEE: The President has great difficulty with the truth. I don't know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard in the basement of our nation will be what he'll be remembered most for. He is obviously not going to rise to the occasion as President. I would hope that staff over there would figure out ways of controlling him. World leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue. He purposefully is breaking down relationships we have around the world that have been useful to our nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he a role model to children of United States?



COWAN: No. Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret supporting him in the election?

COWAN: Let's just put it this way, I would not do that again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wouldn't support him again?

COWAN: No way.


LEMON: Why don't you say how you really feel? Kevin, it's interesting you say this won't cause a break inside the Party.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well look, I think to play off of a point that David Gergen made, I think this is certainly a notable news day and maybe it's a reflection of how we've all become inert to the current news cycle, but this feels like a lot of days in this presidency and where we've seen President and members of congress or Senators or other prominent political figures come out and directly confront the President, because a lot of their frustrations with his approach have boiled over.

So, I think, you know, while you see Senator Flake and Senator Corker and other instances Senator McCain again directly confront this White House and put their concerns out publicly. There are a lot of that is because they are now unencumbered through the pressures of re- election. But I think a lot of this senators up on Capitol Hill. And other members of congress and one of their biggest fears is, is that they face a primary fight inside their own Party. What they're focused on right now is not criticizing the White House, but instead, looking at ways to bring the Party together around the common goals of the agenda that they can then take back to their constituents.

[23:05:03] And I think that is where I don't expect the dam to break in a lot of other Senators to levy the similar criticism, but instead I think many of them are going to try and focus on what is it that I can work with on the White House and the other colleagues in congress.

LEMON: Kevin, I mean everyone, that moment when they play out on TV today, I don't know if you were watching on the device. I sat up on my couch and turned the volume up, I was like, whoa. No?


TARA SETMAYER FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER: I was driving. I was giving them a hand clap, people thought I was crazy. 95 south, man.

LEMON: And then they look and say oh, that is just Tara.

SETMAYER: My jersey girl bumper on the back.

LEMON: Here is Senator Jeff Flake today on the senate floor.


SEN JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret because of the state of our disunion. Regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics. Regret because of the indecency of our discourse. Regret because of the coarseness of our leadership. Regret for the compromise of our moral authority. And by our, I mean all of our complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.


LEMON: So strong words, Sarah, including regret, disunion, and complicity. Is the Senator wrong?

SETMAYER: No. He is 100 percent right. And those of us who try to warn America about this and try to warn the Party that this is what you were going to get if you enable Donald Trump. You know, it's a big fat I told you so, and I never wanted to be more wrong in my life and many of us who were so adamant about warning the American people about what the consequences would be if Donald Trump was not only the nominee, but if he won that governing would be very difficult.

And a lot of my Republican colleagues and friends thought, well it's better than Hillary, and at least we can, you know, we'll have an agenda, we have all three branches of government and we can get things passed through like tax reform and repeal of health care and get something in there. It's like the conservative's dream, and I said, but you have to understand that Donald Trump has no conviction, no conservative conviction, first of all, he has no loyalty to the Republican Party. He is there for himself only, and he probably didn't actually want to win.

And now, he is in a situation where we see he has not risen to the occasion. And then you have a lot of these Republicans who swallow hard and in my opinion, compromise their integrity in order to try to get some things passed. And one of the first things that I said the day after Donald Trump got elected, I wrote for, I said yes, I should be jumping for joy as a Republican now, we have all three branches, but at what cost? And Jeff Flake really articulated that in a way that was eloquent and spot on.

LEMON: And Bob Corker as well.

SETMAYER: Bob Corker as well.

LEMON: I've got to get Scott in before we have to get to a break. Listen, to Tara's point, Scott, Republicans control the White House, they've got the senate. They've got the congress. Other than Neil Gorsuch, there's no legislative accomplishment, it's been nine months. Did you ever think you'd be sitting here saying what went so wrong?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, and I don't think Republican voters would have said that either. I want to go back to something that Mr. Gergen said, it goes to the practical question about governing here. What are the effects of what Flake and Corker did today? If they were to say wake up tomorrow and decide, we're going to block vote against everything, the three of us, for the rest of the time we're here, well that would have a practice effect of stopping Donald Trump, but here to for, they've all, other than McCain on health care have basically gone along with the Republican and or Trump agenda. So if Flake and Corker and McCain vote for tax reform and tax cuts. The effects of their speeches today will be more limited, because the policy agenda marches forward. So ultimately, what do I think average Republican voters want? They want promises kept and they want action. The November election results were a rejection of incrementalism. They feel the last nine months had been incremental, they want sweeping change.

LEMON: So it's interesting because many people are looking at this saying, Scott, that this is, this is, these two gentlemen are putting country over Party. But really maybe they're putting Party over President, because they're choosing not to run again. They feel free to criticize this President, but they may vote for the Republican agenda.

JENNINGS: Well, and that is what we have to unpack here. Is that the Trump agenda and Republican agenda are greatly overlapped. Sure, there are things that Donald Trump is for that aren't normal Republican orthodoxy, but by and large, he wants the same things that most Republicans who ran for election in 2016. They want to cut taxes, they want a simpler tax code. They wanted to repeal and replace Obamacare. They want to do most of the same things, and so I expect that is how they're going to vote.

[23:10:10] LEMON: As a Republican, don't you think he'd have a lot more support and probably maybe even a guarantee of getting everything done, if he didn't do all the things that they criticize for him today?

JENNINGS: It's a fair question about the demeanor of the President and would that affect the outcome of things.

LEMON: Does it make friends? Govern.

JENNINGS: Here's the question, support from who? He might have more support in Washington, but right now, if you look at the polling, he has most all the Republicans in the country, 90 percent, 80 percent, between 80 and 90 saying...

LEMON: I understand, I get you been but he is not getting anything done.

JENNINGS: Yes. And that is why the tax reform fight, look, if they fail on this, everything changes.

LEMON: All right. Hold your thoughts. When we come back, stick around everyone, Senators Flake and Corker are the latest leading Republicans to blast President Trump, but they're certainly not the only ones. So why now?


[23:15:08] LEMON: Every President faces criticism, but not like this. More and more leading members of the President's own Party and his predecessors in the oval office criticize again. Back now with the panel. David, can I bring you in here? As I'm sitting here thinking about this, we're saying that he is not getting anything done. There's no legislative accomplishments. It's been a major legislative accomplishments, it's been nine months now. And I ask Scott if he thought this would be hard, I wonder if the base or the supporters even realize, because he touts that he is getting things done, but it is really not true. They actually do believe that.

GERGEN: Well, I'm not sure the base counts accomplishments in the same way that we in the press do. We talk about how many legislative goals he meets. A lot of people in the country have been looking at the stock market and it's up over 25 percent since he was elected. They look at the unemployment numbers and other numbers that he is been citing regarding the economy. And they see progress. And furthermore, he is clearly challenging the, and pleases the base by challenging the cultural morals of the elites. And he is made headway in that.

You can see, Don, if you look at this it through a different prism why many of the base members say that he is doing what we sent him there to do. At least in good, strong part. At the same time there are a lot of American happen to be in pretty strong majority right now who dislike what he is doing. And find it dangerous. And two major Republican breaks. It's significant, because to go back to the point Scott made. There are now at least five, maybe six Republican in the senate who are unreliable partners going forward on tax reform and other major issues in the president's agenda. They have, may have more leverage than anybody thinks and now they had become more unreliable.

LEMON: Funny that you should say that. Because Scott and I were talking about this, so he is making it harder for the people to support him and he only needs three people, right?

JENNINGS: There are 52 senators, if three vote no, you are down to 49 and you can't get Mike Pence to break the ties, so speeches are interesting, what I would be worried about if I were the White House is that three or more of this people decided to lock arms and essentially take Republican agenda to a hostage worker, McCain and Flake. Those are the three most obvious. But as Mr. Gergen pointed out, there've been other unreliable votes. Susan Collins is one as well, so Rand Paul is unreliable on some issues. Those three are the three most obvious.

LEMON: If that happens, what happens to the president?

JENNINGS: Well I mean it depends on how they play it. If they were to say we are voting no in everything until you meet our demands, member in a whole another crazy world of politics. That would be a way to take a hostage. And then it would be in the President's core to meet whatever demands they make.

MADDEN: One thing I would like to look at, let us look at how the president gets measured on his success and the congress gets measure on it success. I think David Gergen is absolutely right. The most supporters for Donald Trump don't measure his success in how many bill are sign he has, what they believe is the success is that this president has shifted priorities towards so many grassroots, Republican or conservatives or working class families that are in the country that feel like they've been voiceless for so long. And he is elevated some of their concerns and is taking on what he believes, what they believe is this Washington establishment that hasn't registered enough of the concern about the issues they care about. But for congress, this is where it becomes a long-term problem for the President. Congress determines whether or not they get things done. A lot of people are angry because this White House haven't repealed and replaced Obamacare and they want to see other big legislative agenda items related to the economy pass. And right now they haven't done that, so that is where the congress's role in really important and having congress be successful towards this president, is what he doesn't want are Democratic majorities in 2018, because then you have the prospect of impeachments. So that is one of the things that I think the White House and congress have to realize is that they are very important to each other and I think that is when you see conversation today, potentially set up long term challenges.

LEMON: What happens if he has more detractors with more people as Scott said, Tara, these three Senators get together and say, you know what, it is a no, what happens to the Trump agenda?

SETMAYER: Well, we're not sure what the Trump agenda is outside of what Donald Trump wants for himself. He is governing by the politics of perception, because he, that is why he tweets things out that aren't true and repeats them over and over again. Perception is reality, and you keep repeating things, people eventually believe them and he knows that the base Judges him specifically not necessarily what else is going on.

[23:20:08] All he cares about is how he looks. Just look at the tweets that he sent out today. Minus the ones going, the petulant tweets going after this Senators. He tweeted how wonderful the senate lunch was today, because he received many standing ovations. You cannot govern with success for the entire American -- for the United States of America when you're just worried about yourself.

LEMON: But he didn't tweet about Flake, he tweeted about Corker. Are you surprised that he (inaudible).

SETMAYER: No, I think we'll see that eventually.

LEMON: All right. You said that was number one, what was number two?

SETMAYER: Number two is you have to remember that for, for members of congress, they are single seekers of reelection. That is what politics 101. That is what you learn. So they are looking at trying to get things passed, but with the President behaving the way he is, they don't have a singular message to get behind and be able to work together. Like in the '90s when we have the contract with America, Republicans may have had differences in the Party, but you had certain legislative priorities and you knew who was on your team and they stayed with that messaging. That doesn't exist now because they never know. If the members in congress, they have their message together, then the President comes out and undermines them, happens all the time, and it's very similar to what's going on. What happened in the 1950s with the Republican Party? There was a vacuum in leadership at that time. When you have McCarthyism and things like that. And a lot of Republicans stood back and didn't say anything.

LEMON: Jeff Flake talked about that. Senator McCarthy, you've done enough, have you no decency, this is what he says tonight, Senator Flake equates a moment in our history to today, he says, he writes, this is in the Washington Post, nine months of this administration is enough for us to stop pretending that this is somehow normal and that we are on the verge of some sort of pivot to governing to stability. Nine months is more than enough for us to say loudly and clearly, enough.

SETMAYER: That is right and you know who else said that? Bill Buckley, who was a hero of the modern conservative movement that many people who are now excoriating people like myself and Jeff Blake who are critical of calling out Donald Trump for what it is, Bill Buckley said, if conservatives roll with this yell stop, standing a fort history yelling stop when no one else would. That is what Jeff Flake did today on the senate floor, because he recognizes that the future of this country, it's bigger than Party, it's bigger than a couple of legislative wins. The future of this country and the fabric of our society, Democratic norms and ideals, institutions, are being threatened by people who are enabling Donald Trump's behavior. So it's a long-term thing. And I praise Jeff Flake and others who are yelling stop.

LEMON: And we'll see where today takes us. What happens beyond this? Thank you all. I appreciate it. When we come back, a source telling CNN that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic national committee helped fund the now infamous Russia-Trump dossier. Hillary Clinton's former press secretary joins me next to discuss.


[23:26:50] LEMON: Breaking news to report to you. Source telling CNN tonight that Hillary Clinton's campaign and the DNC helped to fund resources behind the infamous Russian dossier about the allegations about President Trump. CNN political commentator Brian Fallon was press secretary to the Clinton campaign and he joins me now by phone, Brian, thank you so much. You tweeted that you had no idea about it, but you don't think it's a problem.

BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, Don. I mean, campaigns engage in opposition research all the time. And my understanding of what took place is that in the spring of 2016, in April of 2016, the firm Fusion GPS having been under contract with a Republican aligned client during the GOP primary made an overture to the law firm that was connected to the campaign, or our campaign, and said, look, we're knee deep in a lot of this very interesting research related to connections between Trump's businesses and Russia, and our existing client has dropped us because the Republican primary's over, Trump is emerging as a Republican nominee. But now going into the general, you might find this interesting.

It would be malpractice in my view for the campaign to not to want turn over every lock and learn everything it could about Donald Trump. So while I didn't know that that meeting took place at the time, I'm glad that Marco and whoever else was aware of it at the time authorized it and went forward with it. And you know, people shouldn't lose sight of the fact that as far back as February of this year, Don, CNN reported and others have subsequently reported that the FBI and Bob Mueller's team have corroborated many key aspects of dossier. That will all rise or fall base on what Bob Mueller finds? And in my view, if any of this is corroborated Bob Mueller's investigation turns out to be able to verify some of these details and it leads to shoes dropping in this investigation, then I think that is important for the public to know. And to me, there's no shame the campaign sponsored this.

LEMON: Do you think this is a shiny object that they're trying to divert attention away from the Russia investigation into possible collusion or interfering in the election?

FALLON: Totally, Don. I think it's of a piece with other moves that you saw congressional Republicans undertake today. Reopening an investigation into a seven-year-old deal that sold uranium in the Russian government in 2010.

LEMON: You think it's all coordinated?

FALLON: At least, I mean it's quite transparent, because you've had Donald Trump himself in recent weeks urging congressional Republican to pay attention to the uranium one deal conspiracy theory that is sort of risen up from the swamp of Fox News and other corners of the far right, and now all of the sudden, Devin Nunez is getting a legitimacy by devoting committee resources to investigating it. Donald Trump is literally calling the plays and you have people on Capitol Hill carrying out his orders and I suspect now they'll try to make hay over this revelation in the Washington Post.

LEMON: Brian, why not come clean over it that the involvement of the campaign in this? It would have, don't you think it would have been over with? Wouldn't be a story.

FALLON: That is a fair question. I think probably to the extent that people think there's some "gotcha" here is because so long has gone by without the campaign acknowledging this. I think it's the result two of things. Number one how few of the people on the campaign knew about it, because it was pretty well sequestered to the law firm which in turn was contracting with an outside firm which was subcontracting with the contractor. I suspect most of the people in the campaign, like myself learned about it.

LEMON: When did Hillary Clinton learn about it?

FALLON: That I don't know. I learned about it the last couple days as this has story, I was given a heads up because this story was coming. That is how I learned about the details of this arrangement. I suspect so few people are aware of it. That is one of the reasons why it hasn't been acknowledged until now. It wasn't surprising that the law firm wouldn't be you know volunteering information about, client information. That is the nature of law firm.

LEMON: Do you wish that the campaign had been more transparent about the involvement?

FALLON: I'm sure there were reasons for why the information hasn't been surfaced until now. But I certainly don't think that the campaign has anything to hide. We will learned sooner or later, Don, who funded this during the Republican primary. And so, if I were a Republican tonight, I'd be careful about making a big deal of this because it may turn out that a donor of yours or an organization of yours was one of the entities backing this research during the GOP primary.

LEMON: Well the research was first funded by unknown Republicans in the primary.

FALLON: And there's no shame in that either, Don. This is what campaigns do. And what matters is not who funded it, what matters is if it's true or not and Bob Mueller will have the ultimate say on that.

LEMON: Brian, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

I want to talk more about this dossier story now and the strong words today from two Republican Senators blasting President Trump joining me now, CNN political commentator Jennifer Granholm, the Democratic former governor of Michigan. She is still a Democrat, but the governor. CNN senior economics analyst Stephen Moore who was an advisor to the Trump campaign. Good evening to both of you. Listening to that interview with Brian, what do you think?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He is totally right. Every single campaign does opposition research. Just because you do opposition research doesn't mean that you are unearthly falsities. You were just honoring research on your opponent. It is malpractice not to do it in this environment, and you know, as he said, Mueller will be the ultimate arbiter of whether or not it's accurate or not.

LEMON: What's your response Stephen Moore?

STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, CNN: I don't have a lot to say about that, Don. I did want to talk about the speeches by the...

LEMON: We'll get to that. Trust me, we'll get to it. Now have response to the opposition research, none?


LEMON: Interesting. Wait, wait, and wait, why not?

MOORE: I haven't been following it. Look, I haven't been following that story. You know, that closely.

LEMON: All right. Ok. So there's no intent behind that. Great, you don't think that you know enough to talk about it or whatever, and that is very fair. So, so listen, the President has tweeted about this today. This is the last question, I'm going to give this to the governor, treated about this recently, officials behind the no discredited dossier plead the fifth, Justice Department and the FBI should immediately release who paid for it. Does it sound like the President was eager to have this, you think it is coordinated like Brian said?

GRANHOLM: Oh my god, of course. Of course. I mean, actually Brian Fallon earlier today tweeted out something saying sounds like Mueller is getting close, because the President continues to do what he always does which is to throw out the shiny object, have us go chase the ball somewhere. I mean, he continues, I swear to god, he won the election, it's been over now for ten months that he is been President, let it go, man.

LEMON: You wish that the Clinton campaign had been more transparent, the same question I asked Brian?

GRANHOLM: I don't know anything about that either. I mean, I was working on the campaign as well on the outside and, you know, I just don't, I don't know. But I think, I think his explanation about why law firms don't reveal that kind of stuff is understandable. And it was started by Republicans.

LEMON: There is a quote in the Washington Post that says one person close to the matter said the campaign and the DNC were not informed by the law firm or fusion GPS. Of fusion GPS's role. Let's move on, Steve, let's talk about your agenda and what you want to talk about. Senators Flake and Corker, two leading Republicans, harshly condemning President Trump today. You personally know Senator Flake after helping fund his run for congress and for senate. What do you make of these comments?

MOORE: Well I'm also friends with Senator Corker as well. Known him a long time as well. And look, I thought their comments were unfortunate. I've got to tell you this, I've looked at both of their poll numbers, what hasn't been said is that Jeff Flake isn't, you know, residing from the Senator you're not running for reelection out of protest, and his numbers are horrible in Arizona. I've seen those numbers and there's a good chance that he very good chance that he was not going to get reelected, and by the way, the same thing with Bob Corker. If you look at a lot of the senate elections in 2016 that the candidates who ran with Donald Trump won, you know, that was Marco Rubio.

[23:35:16] LEMON: I understand, I understand what you're saying. Can I get to the point, can I get specific to what?

MOORE: All I'm saying, there is one important point. There is now three Senators who don't like Donald Trump very much. Right, three sitting Senators. John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Bob Corker. They've all said pretty incendiary things about him. Now the big, when I work out 24/7.

LEMON: I understand that. It's obvious that they don't like it. I want to get to what the sentiment behind what they said is.

MOORE: I just want to say this, he needs their votes to pass this tax cut, right? That is the problem for him because they've got three who don't like him very much. And we need at least one of those three to vote for the tax cut or it's going to go down like Obamacare.

LEMON: Senator Flake said he didn't think he could run a campaign that he could be proud of. Yes, his numbers were way down. I take your point. You're absolutely right about that. But the sentiment behind what they said, Steven, what do you think of that?

MOORE: You mean what they said?


MOORE: Look, there was something to what they say, look, I admire Donald Trump, but sometimes he says things and I just kind of grab my hair and say Donald, don't put it that way. But I've got to say...

LEMON: Thank you for your candor, you may not have hair any longer.

MOORE: But I was in, for example, I was at the California Republican convention this week, and I talked to activists a lot of times. Business leaders, the anger that a lot of people on the right have is directed at congress for not passing Trump's agenda, not at Donald Trump himself.


GRANHOLM: I mean, I just think and Steven, I appreciate you coming back around on this, but what you said at the outset was to suggest that these two men are saying what they're saying because their poll numbers are low as opposed to them having an honest belief that this President is a danger to democracy. And is a danger to truth. And that I think discredits them. I mean, they're your friends, I am sure you didn't mean to do that.

MOORE: One quick thing, I wasn't saying that they're saying it, what I'm saying is they're not running for re-election because their numbers are bad. I didn't say this is some kind of personal...

LEMON: Corker has a chance of winning.

MOORE: He did.

LEMON: Or probably not?

MOORE: But his numbers were not great. That Jeff was way under water. He was going to have a very brutal primary and then a brutal general election. A lot of, you know, people who would run the Senatorial committee are kind of happy. Might be able to put somebody in that has a better chance of holding that seat.

GRANHOLM: I was just going say real courage would be 14 months of they've got 14 months left and let's see what they do in the next 14 months. It's not just running away. It's actually acting upon your belief.

LEMON: People always think I'm trying to cut you off, I'm trying to move you along. Get Steven to get to the point and I have to get to the break and all of that. I appreciate you guys coming on. Thank you so much. Good to see you.

When we come back, Senator Flake and Corker coming out with scathing criticisms to the president. But will the words translate into action?


[23:42:15] LEMON: Two Republican Senators Bob Corker, Jeff Flake unleashed blistering attacks on President Donald Trump today. Let us discuss now, journalist Matt Taibbi the author of I can't breathe, a killing on Bay Street, he is here, Republican strategist Joe Pinion and CNN political commentator Andre Bauer and Symone Sanders. Good to have all of you on. Listen, Andre, Senators Corker and Flake are just the latest to criticize President Trump so vocally. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At times it could seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity, disagreement escalates into dehumanization. SEN JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: My friends, we should not be fighting

about a brave American who lost his life serving his country. That should not be the topic of discussion in America today.



SEN BOB CORKER, (R) TENNESSEE: We have young people who are watching a President stating, you know, absolute non-truths, nonstop personalizing things in a way he does. And it's very sad for our nation.

SEN JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: When such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength, because our strength comes from our values. It instead projects a corruption of a spirit and weakness.


LEMON: Andre, why do you think prominent Republicans have decided that now is the time to speak up?

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you don't see it from folks that plan on staying and I don't see it from folks that plan on staying on office. You're seeing it from people aren't on office, aren't going to be in office much longer. I don't know that that is really telling it like it is or really standing throughout and really establishing anything. The core folks that are running for reflection know that better get close to Donald Trump. At least on the Republican side because he is hit a nerve with so many things, like making America first and foremost, reducing the debt...


LEMON: Right now, Andre, for the sake of time. Why now, why now, why now, why now?

BAUER: Why now are they doing it? Well, all of these individuals aren't going to be up for election next year. And so, what you see happening is actually a trickle down. We talk about trickle down, you've got trickle down and Trump's economics are actually affecting so many core Republicans that realize they can't get reelected with the things they're doing and saying. It's draining the swamp. The swamp is biting back, but with less and less teeth because they're not going to be in the swamp much longer. He is going to replace them.

LEMON: All right, I got more people on the panel, Joseph, what is you're...

[23:45:00] JOSEPH PINION, CHAIR, CONSERVATIVE COLOR COALITION: I mean, I think it's always a good thing when you have more leadership, when you have Senators that are willing to condemn it. You see what happened with the gold star widow. I think that it's important for us to be able to do those things, but Senator Flake's a good man. I don't think that speeches alone can break that. You have to be willing to act. I think we have always been able to move forward where individuals have broken their silence and taken action. I think it would have been more compelling if he said he was going to run in spite of the fact that he thought his path to the victory was narrative.

BAUER: Absolutely.

LEMON: I think Jeff Flake, he is more composed, and there longer. I thought Corker was just more, you know, straight to the point because Corker has supported this President, Jeff Flake has never supported the President. Corker was just like no, won't go up there again. I think he is irresponsible. I think he is a liar. I don't say the l word, but he has a problem with the truth. I mean, he was blistering.

MATT TAIBBI, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: He definitely was. And you're right, he is been a recent supporter of Donald Trump. He was golfing with him and Peyton Manning as recently as July. So...

LEMON: Why do you think now?

TAIBBI: Well, I think it's pretty clear that the situation is that they're both in hopeless primary struggles and there's no way forward for them. I'm a little bit less impressed by their moral leadership than maybe some other people are, because it's not like it's not, it wasn't obvious last year that Trump had the same problems. But politically, you know, he is put them in a box now. And yes, they're responding correctly, but I would have liked to have seen it earlier.

LEMON: To Matt's point, Symone, what did people think, I mean and you would think that these are two pretty intelligent guys, did people actually think that the Donald Trump that they saw on the campaign trail was all of the sudden going to change? And met mother or father size in front of their eyes?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well look, I had a lot of my Republican friends tell me that they thought that yes, Donald Trump was problematic, but they would still be able to get things done. I don't think that folks really understood the extent to which Donald Trump would go to just be absolutely unfit for the office. The Republicans who are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think now we are seeing that it is beyond reproach. And that there are folks willing to speak up and say so, folks also need to put action behind these words.

And if you continuously vote with the President's agenda, are you really standing up to him? Just to the point that Andre made about the fact that oh, they're in tough primaries, absolutely. I think Jeff Flake saw the numbers on the internal polls and said I can't win, I'm not going to run a break baby campaign like Ed Gillespie in Virginia, I'm not going to do this.

I also think this is a misconception to assume the Republicans are just going to run the table in 2018. Republicans across the country and the house and the senate have a real fight on their hands. They have no legislative accomplishments under the President. It has not manifested if he is going to back people. Republicans are in really just crappy water for lack of a better term all across the board.

LEMON: That is a political term. Crappy water.

BAUER: The Democrats can't raise money anymore.

SANDERS: I'm sorry, the DNC is definitely having some issues, but the Democratic congressional campaign committee, the Democratic campaign committee, the DLCC, and they are all raising funds.

LEMON: OK. Stay with me. I have to get to a break. Stay with me everyone. When we come back, Senator Flakes says we expect different behavior from our commander and chief. The does the GOP have a moral obligation to stand up against President Trump?


[23:52:29] LEMON: More on the harsh words from President Trump's own Party today. Senator Bob Corker calling him utterly untruthful and Senator Jeff Flake saying he is dangerous to democracy. Back with me now, Matt Taibbi, Joseph Pinion, Andre Bauer and Symone Sanders, Symone, Senator Flake also took on the President for his response to Charlottesville, the way he said both sides were at fault. Flake said the white supremacy in of Charlottesville does not reflect the values of the America I know, hated bigotry, had no place in the country and the senator said this today.


FLAKE: Enough people saying this is enough, we expect different behavior from our commander in chief and the President of the United States, then it will change. But it hasn't yet.


LEMON: Do you think, you know, we're going to see enough people challenging the words or actions of the President or do you think Trump's behavior will get worse?

SANDERS: I think it'll get worse because Donald Trump also have a lunch with the senate GOP today and they gave him a standing ovation when he talked about tax reform. I like what Jeff Blake is saying, but I need him to say it to the president and the other folks need to step up and be frank when they have the opportunity.

LEMON: Yes. He said he got and a standing ovation, and he did. Matt, you just came out with a book about the death of Eric Garner, and it's called I can't breathe. What lessons can you learn from his death and how police do their jobs? What went wrong there?

TAIBBI: For one thing, he went selling cigarettes that day. I talked to about 25 people who were there that day, and I could do a minute by minute break down of what he was doing that morning. And he wasn't selling cigarettes. So that narrative is actually incorrect.

LEMON: What was he doing? TAIBBI: He wasn't doing anything. He broke up a fight and police

approached him, because a cop had seen him on the way to work that day. But this is a classic example of why statistic-based policing doesn't work. It vastly increases the likelihood these incidences are going to happen. And New York is a City that has one of those policing regimes.

LEMON: And what's the break down? This shows a break down.

TAIBBI: You know, in terms of stop and frisk in the city, every year of the program it was between 80 percent or 90 percent of all the people that were stopped were black or Hispanic and it was a city that was half white. That should tell you a lot. And less than 1 percent of all police who are involve in, you know homicide are indicted and that was also true in this case. So it is a very typical case in a lot of ways and it is tragic in a lot of ways.

[23:55:15] LEMON: What do you think this will help police departments? You see the whole controversy with the NFL and people taking a knee, wanting to draw attention to exactly what you're saying. And there are people who are denying those statistics are even, that they are correct. But these are not just statistics. They are people.

TAIBBI: Right, absolutely. And I think the main lesson that people need to understand is that this is not necessarily all about bad cops, it's also about bad policy and bad politics. And they have these stats based policing regimes. And they were stopping at one point 680,000 people a year during the stop and frisk program. And a certain percentage of those incidents are going to go wrong if you do that. And most major cities in this country have some version of that kind of policing.

LEMON: Why is it so hard for people to believe that, to come to terms that that is even real? Which is why many African-Americans are so upset about what's happening with the Trump base that they don't believe this actually happened, that this exists, prioritize racism or police brutality or criminal justice.

TAIBBI: Because it's not part of their experience. They've never had to experience that. If you go to (inaudible) island or others and ask them how many times they've been stopped by the police, any black male will have ten, 15, 20, 30 stories. White Americans don't have that experience, they deny that it exists, they don't believe it. And I think that is a huge part of the factor. There's a total difference in perception of what policing is between one set of people and another.

LEMON: Matt Taibbi, thank you so much. The book is called "I can't breathe, a killing on Bay Street." Thanks to my panel as well, thanks everyone, I will see you next time. That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.