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Anti-Trump Wave Sweeps Democrats To Victory In Virginia; Trump Warns North Korea; Democrats Win Governor's Races in Virginia And New Jersey. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired November 7, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:13] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: 11:00 p.m. on the nose here on the east coast. This CNN tonight, I am Don Lemon. Thank you for joining us. We have some breaking news for you tonight. An anti-Trump wave sweeps Democrats to victory in Virginia. Ralph Northam claiming a huge win in the governor's race. At least 13 seats in the statehouse flipped from red to blue. Many other local races going to Democrats tonight as well. The big question, will that wave hit President Trump and the GOP in 2018? My political dream team is here. But I want to start with CNN national correspondent Mr. John King. John, good evening to you. You're at the magic wall for us. What happened tonight?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, we haven't even talked about New Jersey. We don't have to talk about New Jersey at all. A huge win there for the Democrats. Virginia, we thought this would be a close race. This is almost a 9 point race, if you look at the results right there. It's not just the size of the Democratic win, it's where it happened, how it happened. We're here in the northern D.C. Suburbs. Used to be Republican county. It's now Democratic county. Look at the margin here for Ed Gillespie, he lost by 20 points in a swing county. You need to win that county. Move over here, the more populous Democratic area of fair fax county, a she will lacking. Come down here, anyone who knows Virginia say you want to win statewide if you're a Republican, you better at least break even in Prince William County, 61 percent to 38 percent. Interesting when you look at this, Don, because I want to take you back, Ed Gillespie ran a very close race for senate, just a few years ago. Here is Prince William County tonight, almost 61 percent to 38 percent, Ed Gillespie in the same county a couple years ago he was competitive. Let's move here to (inaudible) county a couple years ago. Ed Gillespie was tied in this county just a couple of years ago. He got whipped tonight. This is a message to Republicans. This is a message because if you look at Ed Gillespie's numbers tonight in the Washington, D.C. Suburbs they look nothing like his numbers just a few years ago. But they look a lot like Donald Trump's numbers in the 2016 presidential race. The Republicans under Donald Trump had a problem in the suburbs. It hurt them tonight big time Don.

LEMON: John King, thank you very much. Now I want to bring in our CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who is in South Korea traveling with the President. Jim, good morning to you there, good evening to you there. First, what's the reaction to the President to the election results here at home?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, as you might expect the President did put out a tweet. He almost threw Ed Gillespie under the bus no more than 140 characters. In a lengthy tweet he went after Ed Gillespie saying he basically did not embrace him during this campaign but with the economy doing well he feels like the Republican Party will continue to win. Don, we should point out I talked to a Republican source who advises the White House just a short while ago and in the words of this Republican source, the GOP got owned tonight by the Democrats. This source went on to say that Ed Gillespie made a critical strategic mistake by embracing Trumpism, but not embracing the President himself. And we saw that during that race in Virginia.

The source also said, Don, that it's likely the President will want to take a look at his political team not only inside the White House but over at the RNC because obviously this is going to create some nervousness inside the Republican Party, because they're going to wonder whether or not what happened in Virginia is some kind of bellwether for the 2018 midterms. And so this source told me earlier, don, that the President was looking for leadership from the RNC, from his White House political team and did not get it. So the sense, Don, is talking to people tonight, who are close to the White House, there are some real concerns about how this Republican Party is going to go forward after what happened tonight in Virginia.

LEMON: Yes. We're going to discuss that in a little bit with all the folks here, my political dream team. I want to ask you, the President gave a big speech over there. And try for a big photo-op as well, how did that go?

ACOSTA: This was, you know, truth is stranger than fiction sometimes covering this President, Don. Yes, earlier this morning the President tried. He made an attempt to go to the DMZ, the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea. He tried to bring the press along with him, but because of fog he did not make it, so he was looking for a big symbolic, dramatic move before this speech he delivered earlier this evening to the South Korean national assembly. Don, it was interesting in that speech the President did bring some heat, you can say, but not fire and fury. He did not refer to Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator as little rocket man. He did not threaten to totally destroy North Korea, but he did say at one point in the speech do not try us.

[23:05:04] And so the President was trying to make the case to the South Koreans here that he does have their back if the North Koreans were to do something drastic here in the coming months. But this was no question about it, we were hearing this from sources before the speech, this was not the kind of rhetoric that you've heard from the President in the past about North Korea, although there was some tough talking in the speech. It just didn't escalate to that kind of brinkmanship that we've seen in the past, Don.

LEMON: All right. Jim Acosta traveling with the President in South Korea, Jim, thank you very much. And we're going to have more on the President's warning to North Korea in just a little bit. But I want to begin with a big story here at home, big wins for Democrats on election night. Let's discuss now. CNN political analyst Joshua Green, and national correspondent for Bloomberg Business week, he joins us Chris Cillizza, CNN political reporter and editor at large. Political analyst Kirsten Powers, CNN political commentator David Axelrod, a former senior adviser for President Obama and political commentator Paul Begala, Symone Sanders and Jason Miller, former senior communications adviser for Trump campaign and political commentator Amanda Carpenter. I guess you can say -- is the show over now with all these introductions?


LEMON: What a night for the Democrats. Welcome by the way, good evening everyone. What's your take away, David?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, there's meaning in this. This was not an isolated event. The fact that Ralph Northam, who many people thought was going to be in a very close race tonight wins a blowout. The fact that the Virginia house of delegates is very much in question tonight going into today there was a 66, 34 Republican edge. The fact that in Georgia where there were special legislative elections, in New Hampshire where Democrats took Republicans, in Maine the Medicaid referendum, expanding Medicaid overriding a Republican governor, past rather handily. All of these are bad auguring's, I think, for the GOP. Ed Gillespie didn't embrace Donald Trump, but he embraced Trump at the end of that campaign. Ralph Northam was counting on Donald Trump to bring out voters on the Democratic side. Northam won that bet. Voters came out in large numbers in northern Virginia and made a huge difference.

LEMON: Jason, I want to bring you in because you saw the President's tweet. Ouch. So you think if -- does the President have a point, if Ed Gillespie's had embraced him sooner it would have been different here, maybe not Trump himself but Trumpism.

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Ed Gillespie needed to get people something to be excited about. That was probably the biggest short coming of his campaign. For all the talk about Trump voters I think what's really missed is the fact that Trump voters are pretty sophisticated. And if the candidates can't connect with them not just on the issues but on an emotional level these voters aren't going to go out and vote for them, we saw it at Alabama.

LEMON: Explain that. What do you mean?

MILLER: Because, the comment was made a moment ago that toward the end of this campaign that Ed Gillespie tried to adopt a couple of Trumpian positions and so to speak, but he clearly wasn't someone who fully bought into the Trump agenda. Who wasn't someone who really embraced it, it wasn't someone who the Trump voters really got behind? And I think the voters really saw through it so they didn't get excited. At a minimum he was running ten points behind where Trump was with many of these same voters. I think there's also a campaign 101 aspect to this, when you get down to the home stretch of the campaign in your closing message, you have to give people to be for. Gillespie had a great negative message attacking Northam to close out, but he wasn't getting people something before which is a mistake that Hillary Clinton made.

The final thing that is really important to make for all the talk the Republican trying to figure out, what is next? If you look ahead to 2018, just going and simply passing tax reform is not going to go and get Trump voters excited. What gets Trump voters excited, is the emotion. When you talk about tearing up bad trade deals, the Iran deal, the wall. When you talk about taking action to DACA, these are the type of things that are actually Trump voters.

LEMON: Sanctuary cities and immigration, that appeals to Trump voters. You heard what he said. But is this about Trump?

AMANDA CARPENTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Here is the thing that Republicans need to look at. Ed Gillespie tried to have it both ways with Trump. The Trump train has gone barreling through the Republican Party. He tried to keep one foot on, one foot off. And he found out that didn't work. What's the reason? Because he didn't run Trumpy enough? I don't think so. The Trump playbook only works against someone, against Hillary Clinton. He was running against a moderate Dem who didn't activate an angry vote among Republican voters in Virginia. So that playbook is not going to work. So Republicans when they look ahead towards 2018 and 2020 they have to decide whether they choose the Trump playbook. Will that work for Roadway Moore in Alabama? Maybe. In Virginia, not so much.

LEMON: Josh, he is an establishment Republican and he embraced some of the things, the culture war, sanctuary cities, and immigration and on and on and on. Was that a mistake for him?

[23:10:06] JOSHUA GREEN, AUTHOR DEVIL'S BARGAIN: Well, it didn't help. He didn't win. But I think the criticism that Trump made that he didn't embrace Trump fully enough is completely wrong. If you look at where Gillespie performed well, he did very well in the most conservative red areas of the state. I think he out performed Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) too, the past nominee as well.

GREEN: And he got slaughtered in the more moderate suburbs outside of the Washington, D.C. So the idea that more Trump would have served him well I think doesn't make any sense.

LEMON: Where is (inaudible) who was predicting that --

GREEN: He was here earlier.

LEMON: I'm just messing. He is not here to defend himself. I'm just having a little fun with you, Ken. Go on. You say this has implications even in Alabama with Roy Moore, right?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here is what I would say. I would say if you are now national Democrats, you're going to come under a lot of pressure to fund the Democratic candidate in Alabama against Roy Moore, because the argument will be what Virginia proved is the anti-Trump vote is very strong. I'm sort of with Amanda there. Virginia is not Alabama. I mean, I think we have to be very careful about -- the anti-Trump vote can be very strong and it could still only be 33 percent of the electorate in that December 12 special election. The big take away I think for 2018 is Loudoun County. David mentioned this. This is a county that ten years ago was a Republican stronghold. If you told Mark Warner in 2001, hey, Loudoun County is going to be where the race gets, you would never ever think that. But I think that is where you see the Trump backlash.

LEMON: Is that a humble brag?

CILLIZZA: These are not liberal Democrats. This is not Arlington Virginia where Democrats are 80 percent of the vote. In Loudoun County, for people who are not from around here, this is not a liberal area. The idea that Ralph Northam, who is from the eastern shore of Virginia, has a southern -- the idea that he would win that at 20 points.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wish he put a fight.

CILLIZZA: That is stunning.

AXELROD: Just to extenuate your point, Ed Gillespie carried Loudoun County against Mark Warner.

LEMON: You guys are just showing off going back to 2001.

CILLIZZA: Look at that number. None of us would have said, no one, I don't think, would have said, yeah, Northam will probably win. If you told any Democrat Northam would win you give them 500 to one.

LEMON: What has been predictable lately, though? Politics is not usual. This is sort of going back to traditional politics, traditional polling and what people sort of expected to happen rather than what happened in 2016. No?


LEMON: Go ahead.

POWERS: Well, look, I mean, I think it was actually expected that he would win. And maybe it wasn't expected he would win by this margin, but the expectation he would win, it's a Democratic state. And what happened in the end is a little bit what happened with Alabama where because it's starting to tighten up, people started having these expectations that the race was going to go in a different way and then it was like oh, maybe the Republican was going to win. And then when he didn't, oh my gosh, this is amazing and in fact, it's a Democratic state and he actually should win. You know, that said, it does look like there are voters that are being mobilized by Trump. If you look at the number one issue there, it was health care, and, you know, people are clearly upset. And there was a historic turn out. So I think you could take that away from it, but it's always dangerous to over read these --

LEMON: I know everyone wants to get in. We'll get to this side of the story. Don't worry. A little more on this side of the table. But I got to get to break so stay with me everyone, when we come back a lot to cover tonight. Ahead what the GOP candidates do as we head into next year's midterm races. Will they embrace President Trump or keep him at a distance, we'll be right back.


[23:17:25] LEMON: Back now with our election night coverage. Breaking news here, an anti-Trump wave giving Democrats a big victory in Virginia and winning the governor's race in New Jersey as well. Back with my political dream team. It's a big dream. Pretty soon.


Depending on how late we have to go. I want to ask you, Symone, are Democrats over playing their hands, but celebrating a little too much? They had a lot of losses since President Trump was elected?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, but these were the elections today that actually mattered. These were the real bellwether if you will.

LEMON: The others didn't matter?

SANDERS: I'm not saying they didn't necessarily matter, but what I am saying is this was the real litmus test for Democrats, where we are, where is the pulse in the country? You saw groups like run for something, the collective pac, lots of folks who were participating in the women's march jump up and put their names on the ballot and support candidates and that is important going into 2018. Folks are wondering will this grassroots energy materialize into votes. And today in places not just in Virginia, but in New Jersey and all across this country we saw that they did.

LEMON: The transgender candidate winning --

SANDERS: Yes. District 13 in northern Virginia.

LEMON: Yeah.

SANDERS: Virginia is woke (inaudible).


POWERS: After hours.

SANDERS: Danica wrote was running against Bob martial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who described himself as a proud homophobe. He bragged about his prejudice.

GREEN: Refused to call her she. Not only would he not debate her, but he wouldn't call her she. He sent out a flier reminding voters that she was born male. That is an actual quote from his voters.

LEMON: How much did that work for him?

SANDERS: She is the first transgender legislator in this country. Today was a win for the Democrats. I'm here for the celebration, but tomorrow back to work. LEMON: Put a big bow on it. Is tonight about Trump? Is this a

rejection of Trump or Trumpism?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is in part but it's also a way forward for the Democrats. It's a team sport. All across the country in Manchester, New Hampshire, in Maine, in (inaudible) North Carolina. I will say Ralph Northam had a terrific team. Rising political star, tall, handsome, gifted, brilliant, my son, John Begala.


LEMON: I was going to say.

BEGALA: So proud of you, baby.

LEMON: That is your son. You say it again, I stepped on you.

[23:20:01] BEGALA: That is my son, John Begala. It's interesting. He won the primary against a more progressive candidate. Bernie Sanders loss but one endorse came in his faith. Big fight. He won. And then he reunited the Party. Tom busted his tail every day for Ralph Northam while Elizabeth Warren was sitting in Washington saying the DNC was rigged, while Bernie Sanders was refusing to come into Virginia. Tom (inaudible) is the model. This is a guy who you progressive who lost but got back to work and he is really central to this victory for Democrats.

LEMON: Late in the race some liberal groups did reject him, because of sanctuary city thing and other things. Did he make a mistake late in the race, do you think?

BEGALA: I think he did.

LEMON: Or did they make a mistake.

BEGALA: They made a bigger mistake. This is about winning or losing, this is about whether you have a progressive change or a Trumpist victory. And the progressives led by Tom Perriello. This wasn't their preferred candidate, but they acted like grownups. This is a big deal for them.

LEMON: Is this an example, though, for Democrats around the country not to get someone who or nominate or get a moderate candidate in there instead of someone who is too far to the extreme?

AXELROD: You know, this is a big diverse country, and every state is different, every district is different. It may be an indication that you should candidates who best reflect their communities. And he reflected his community. But there are -- by the way, while we were sitting here someone e-mailed me to say that the Democrat won the state senate race in the state of Washington, flipping the state senate in Washington. So that is just the last piece of a good night for Democrats, bad night for Republicans.

What's interesting about this was the dominance of Democratic candidates, not just at the top of the ticket but the house of delegate candidates in these suburban areas, because these are going to be largely the battle grounds on which the house is going to be decided in 2018. And if I were a Republican strategist today, I would be concerned about whether the President is a heavy weight to carry into these district.

LEMON: Hold that thought because I want to ask that to Jason, considering the poll numbers of the President now, lowest in any modern history at this point, what do Republicans do now? Do they embrace the President in their elections or what do they do?

MILLER: I think they need to embrace the issues that he ran on and won on. Right now they haven't gotten anything done. Probably look at Washington much in the way that there's a lot of dysfunction. But as we talk about candidates going into 2018, I mean, Democrats are in a real pickle when it comes to the U.S. Senate when you talk about the ten Democrats that are up in states where Trump won, five of them by double digits or almost 20 points. Democrats have some candidates that are way out of step with their states, you look at Indiana, Missouri, there are a couple that come to mind immediately. These are real concerns for the Democrats and so a year is a long time, but also candidates matter and Democrats shouldn't get too cocky just from tonight.

LEMON: Chris.

CILLIZZA: I was just, a name that we're not talking about and is not related to tonight but I think is important going forward, Frank (inaudible) though. If you're not from New Jersey you don't know who he is. He announced he is retiring today. He represents a district that is very swing, he is a Republican. His statement which I have not committed to memory, but is a statement that we heard from Charlie Dent, in Pennsylvania. Dave (inaudible) in Washington State, Rosslyn in Florida, Dave Trot in Michigan. These are all people who represent district that are some more between swing district like the Republican meaning, essentially saying I came here to try to get things done. We're not getting anything done. Small groups of ideologues control both parties. This isn't what we signed up for.

So if you are one of those people and there are more of those people in Washington than people who write me on twitter or all of us on twitter would like you to believe, there are a lot of those people in that middle, you see tonight, and I think what is difficult if you are a Republican is this. Let's not forget Ed Gillespie almost lost the Republican primary to a guy named Corey Stewart who was a former Donald Trump guy. No one thought that Corey Stewart had any chance including all the people that worked for Gillespie. And then he loses badly tonight. What does that tell you? It tells you that Donald Trump remains extremely popular in the Republican Party but at least in a swing state like Virginia, Donald Trump isn't selling all that well. That is a very hard circle to square if you're a Republican.

GREEN: But it's also a state where they've elected Democratic governors. Democrats turn out their vote tonight everywhere in Virginia. It's not just a hatred for Trump, if you look at the competitive delegate's races, Democratic Trump, anywhere from 30 to 80 percent that is going to be a key for 2018.

LEMON: Hate is such a strong word.

CILLIZZA: Well, but as it relates to Trump, in the Democratic base I don't think --

LEMON: Stand by, everyone. Stay with me. When we come back, President Trump warning North Korea that their nuclear program will put their country in grave danger. CNN's Will Ripley, the only American reporter inside North Korea right now. He is going to join us live with the rogue nation's response.

[23:25:10] Plus former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden will join me. I'm going to ask him what he thinks about the potential war in that region.


LEMON: President Trump took a hard line against North Korea tonight, speaking in front of the South Korean national assembly in Seoul.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The regime has interpreted America's past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation. This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past. Today I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations when I say to the north do not underestimate us and do not try us.


LEMON: So how did the speech play in Pyongyang? I want to bring in now CNN's international correspondent Will Ripley. He is the only American network correspondent in North Korea capital. Hello to you Will, what is the reaction in North Korea to the President's speech?

WILL RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Hi, Don. Well, we spoke with North Korean officials as the President was speaking and immediately after. We passed along what was said, and they reiterated some of the things they told me, just about an hour before he spoke. They said we don't care what that mad dog may utter, we've heard enough. So the North Koreans essentially before the President even spoke were trying to downplay the significant of his words. The North Koreans talked about the military buildup in the pacific, those three aircraft carriers, the ballistic missiles submarines and all the fighter jets, and President Trump use that as an example of peace through strength the North Koreans say that the United States by assembling those military assets is pushing the situation in this part of the world closer to the brink of war. Which is an argument that we've heard them make before, and there are going to be joint military exercises kicking off in the coming days.

We haven't gotten a response yet to the larger argument that President Trump made about the economic disparities between the north and the south and the human rights, alleged human rights abuses here in this country. But we will certainly pass along any official remarks to that regard as soon as they come in. Obviously that is a very touchy, sensitive subject here in North Korea. They blame the United States for a lot of their economic hardship even though many in the outside world believe this country and their system leading to difficult living conditions, certainly in the rural outside of this show piece Capitol City of Pyongyang.

LEMON: Well that said, is there any indication the Kim regime is preparing for a launch while President Trump is in the region?

RIPLEY: You know, it's really anyone's guess. North Korea prides itself, Don, on being unpredictable. They don't like to do things when everyone is expecting them to do it but we do know and the North Koreans have even said just today that even more launches and nuclear tests are coming. They say they need to round off their nuclear force. They're doubling down on that promise, but the big question are they going to do it while President Trump is here in the region.

LEMON: Will Riley thank you very much. Let's bring in now CNN National Security Analyst Michael Hayden, former head of both CIA and the National Security Agency. It's good to have you on.


LEMON: So here is what the President said he warned tonight that provocative action by North Korea would amount to a fatal miscalculation under his administration. Is that the message you wanted to hear today?

HAYDEN: Yes. That was ok. It was a tough speech and I don't mind tough. It wasn't over the top, it wasn't beyond the edge. No rocket man, no fire and fury. No over posturing about imminent action on the part of the United States. Now, that said, he didn't point out an obvious off ramp as to how we get out of the circumstances that we're in. But he didn't go to the extreme rhetoric that we've seen him use before, and so in that sense I was a bit heart end and maybe even a little bit calmed by the speech.

LEMON: You heard will talking about, you know, what they said before the speech and before the President's speech North Korean officials told Will Ripley, this is a quote, we don't care about that mad dog, what that mad dog may utter, because we already heard enough and they went on to say in the speech that it won't impact North Korea's military testing plans that are already in place in the region. What do you say about how things stand in the region right now?

HAYDEN: So I actually think there's some truth to what the North Koreans are saying. Don, I think they're on a pretty firm trajectory. They know where they want to go. We may affect the timing a little bit. They may not want to upset the Chinese at this or that particular moment, but I think the North Koreans are not going to consider themselves done until they've done two things. Number one, a significant nuclear test. And number two, a test of an ICBM in a normal trajectory that it goes out to something akin to full range. And at which point they will say we've got this stuff. Do you want to talk? And now you've got the President who is going to have to make some really, really tough choices here, because there's an inevitability about what the north is doing. I think they're quite rational. I don't think they give up this program. Limit, cap, and roll back a little bit, more transparent, a little more international presence. I think that is possible at the end of negotiations, but I don't think we can make them go away.

LEMON: I was going to say, do you see a North Korea without nuclear weapons and you say no.

HAYDEN: No. If they're just coldly rational, they have seen what happened to countries that have given up their nuclear weapons or have not developed them. The Saddam Hussein, Iraq, Gaddafi's Libya, they gone to school on that.

LEMON: Is this a red line without actually saying the words red line? Because what if they do test?

HAYDEN: Look, I think they will test. All right. And the President made noises tonight that we might respond to that, but he didn't quite say that explicitly, which he has done and what I think was un-careful language in previous tweets and comments.

[23:35:10] LEMON: Yes. CNN is learning tonight, general -- that the CIA Director Pompeo met with William Binnie, a man who argues that the DNC hack was an inside job, contradicting the conclusion of the intelligence committee that Russia was behind the meddling. That meeting came at the request of President Trump himself. So as a member of the intelligence community, what kind of red flags does this raise for you?

HAYDEN: What I know about this is what I've read in the intercept article and the source for that is Binnie himself, who was a former NSA employee when I was there. I can't imagine that Director Pompeo was happy to go do this. This was the most imperatorial conspiracy theories that he appears to have been directed by the President to go investigate as a serious thought as to what had happened with regard to the DNC hack.

And I think Director Pompeo, you respond to the President, of course, but he knew there was a high tariff to pay within the intelligence community, because I have a pretty good idea of what the professionals know is truth. A good thing the agency did after this was all done, without confirming the meeting even took place, simply say we stand by our original assessment.

LEMON: Yes. William Binnie says Pompeo concluded their meeting by telling him he would like Binnie to meet with the FBI and the NSA as well. Is that appropriate?

HAYDEN: I think that was akin to let's do lunch. Let's do lunch, or the, we'll do lunch. I think that was a way for the Director to get off stage.

LEMON: To get off stage. So you don't think it was serious.

HAYDEN: I would be very surprised if there were serious follow-up to what was a very unserious theory on the part of Bill.

LEMON: Always a pleasure.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. When we come back, much more on the Russia investigation. Are more Trump campaign officials in hot water than we previously thought?


[23:40:55] LEMON: A major diplomatic moment for President Trump tonight in South Korea. Back with my political dream team now. Kirsten Powers, you're up. So the President took a more diplomatic approach tonight. He didn't say rocket man, avoiding that.

Oh, sorry. I'm sorry.




LEMON: I'm sorry.


LEMON: And we're friends.

CARPENTER: We're friends.

LEMON: So Kirsten, as I said, I was looking at you.


LEMON: We'll fix it on the tape, right.


LEMON: This is what people are grappling with. North Korea, they're dealing with that. They're dealing with what obviously was happening at the polls. A President who is over there, they're worried about war. He didn't say rocket man. Do you think this was the right approach for him in this speech tonight?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I mean, I think, again, it's sort of a lower bar that we often set for him that he didn't call him rocket man. You know, that is a pretty low bar. It was, I guess, a sober speech. There was nothing that was incendiary in it. And so that tends to be what he does, though, in these situations. I think when there's a teleprompter and when he is on the world stage, this tends to be who you see. He did, of course, take the time out to send a tweet, you know, that could have been sent by a 14-year-old. So, you know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And put in a plug for his golf club.

LEMON: And everyone thought there wouldn't be as much tweeting when he left the country. But Chris, I've got to ask you, the attempted trip to the DMZ, was that embarrassing? What were your thoughts on that?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, though, it's surprising on one level and on another not at all surprising in that Donald Trump is a show man. Whatever you think of him politically, Jason I think would agree, he is someone who likes pomp and circumstance. He is someone who has a sense for the theatrics of this, which frankly a lot of politics is theatrics. I think he also likes the reality TV star unexpected twist that they said he wasn't going to the DMZ and then he went. I stared across and North Korea knew my resolve. Whatever. So I think that it's not terribly surprising that he wanted to do it. My bet is he is not at all happy that the weather kept him from doing so. We shouldn't be surprised at this. Politics is more and more theater driven, more and more sort of showmanship driven and symbolism driven. He would be far from the first President to engage in symbolism that may not have had a broader, deep diplomatic point.

CARPENTER: But that would have been an amazing shot. I want to see that picture. Now that you told me he thought about it and didn't do it, why not just drive a car over there and make it happen. Now I need to see this picture. But in terms of the speech, the thing that I am looking for that I do think people should pay attention to that is significant is that he called on Russia and China to cut ties to trade and technology. That is a big deal. And if it doesn't happen, what happens then? How does Nikki Haley navigate this? That opens up all kinds of questions.

LEMON: That is what I asked Amanda, not Kirsten. By the way, remember your question when does it become a nightmare? About two minutes ago. So is this a red line without saying it's a red line, because what does he do if none of this happens?

CARPENTER: He says he is taking a hard line. The Arab strategic patience and all this was over. That speech was kind of a hot mess.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was a real hot mess. It was a whole mess.

CARPENTER: There's some really great pieces where he talked about South Korean resilience and the tale of two Koreas but it all kind of gets loss in this mess.

[23:45:02] LEMON: You know I asked Hayden about that and he said they love their golfers over there, especially their women golfers and it was a light moment.

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He was praising them. This is a very strong speech. Yes, I think a lot of the attention will be on the President saying that China and Russia need to step up. Obviously we've already seen China with the action they're telling with their banks putting additional pressure on North Korea. Really Russia is the important part here. We need them to take additional action on North Korea if we're really going to go and enact some real pressure here. But there was another line that was a Steven Miller special in the speech talking about the thin line of civilization. I imagine we're going to see this theme pop up a number of times. Think about that line between civilization and chaos and good and evil. Talk about the thin line between a north and South Korea. This is very much an existential moment for the Korean people and it was good to see the President --

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The hard line of reality, though, and I think he is dealing with the same reality that other Presidents have, which is that there aren't all that many options, and he is on the Korean peninsula there, the people he is talking to are the ones who are most exposed. If there's a military action, they're the ones who are most in danger and it's hard to do without catastrophic results. The tough talk may be useful, but the options are not all that on time.

MILLER: We've run out of time.

LEMON: I want to get to Russia real quick before we get to the break. It shows 44 percent of Americans are very concerned about Russia and former national security aide Carter Page's testimony provided some new details to worry about. We learned that Page met with lots of Russian officials, including Russia's deputy Prime Minister, top Trump campaign staffers knew about those contacts. What does that tell you?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It tells you that these people lie like you and I breathe. They said from the beginning we had no contacts with the Russians. Mr. Trump himself as a candidate said that. No contact -- oh, wait, some contact. And I think it's eight or nine campaign officials, including the candidacy son and son- in-law and campaign chairman were meeting with Russians. I've run Presidential campaigns. Axe has. You don't have time to call your mom much less call Moscow. This is unprecedented. And this is why you could see with him every time you raise Russia he flips out, because he is acting like he is guilty. I don't know if he is. We'll wait and see Mr. Mueller's report, but this whole thing, every new fact we learn is more incriminating, not exculpatory. We haven't -- nobody had any contacts with (inaudible). I don't know why all roads lead to Russia with this guy.

LEMON: Jason has the most pained look on his face.

MILLER: Some C. List want to be adviser (inaudible).


SANDERS: All right. Hold on. When we found out they met with the Russians or before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was Donald Trump...


SANDERS: I've also worked on a Presidential campaign --

MILLER: You're the captain of the Carter Page fan club?

SANDERS: With your candidate and you've got Papadopoulos and all kinds of folks who --

MILLER: We've got --

LEMON: They're going to keep arguing during the break and we're going to go to the break. Everyone stay with me. When we come back, Republicans promising tax cuts for the middle class as a part of their new tax plan, but with middle class families actually pay more if the plan goes through? We'll talk about that and everything else when we come back.


[23:52:20] LEMON: Back now with my political dream team. And we were discussing Carter Page before the break. And you said basically he was an intern or a volunteer. He keeps basically saying he was freelancing with all of this.

MILLER: I mean everyone wants to try to make it sound like carter page or George Papadopoulos had some senior role in the campaign, and these folks were trying to demonstrate value they had no real role with the campaign. I didn't even know who these people were until fall of last year. It's a total distraction from what the President's trying to do. Look, I've got to give the Democrats credit, though, it's probably the best orchestrated best focus (inaudible).


LEMON: Do you know when the President introduced him as his senior adviser, do we have a picture?

MILLER: Totally agreed with you at that, they shouldn't have announced them as advisers especially people who weren't qualified like Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. I don't know even know these people were even announced as advisers, he never even met the President.


MILLER: He never even met the president.

SANDERS: Who did? Let's talk about George Papadopoulos who is in the photo with the President at this meeting. And he was described -- what I'm saying here is it sounds really great in retrospect that all of this folks really did matter. But the fact that the matter is they were part of the campaign apparatus had repeated contact with a foreign entity that they lied about, they are liars.

MILLER: Like a Fusion GPS?

SANDERS: OK. I'm not going to even go there with you on that. I want you to stay on this.

CARPENTER: You can't get around the fact that the Trump tower meeting happened. You can't get around the fact that Jared Kushner did seem to setup a secret back channel which he entertained conducting communications at a Russian facility. You can't get around the fact that Mike Flynn had a secret meeting with the ambassador and lied about it to the Vice President and got fired for it. So you throw that around and it makes a bigger story.

LEMON: It's almost a dozen Trump staffers. And it's beginning to sound like -- does it sound like a "law and order" episode like I have no idea who that person is, never met them.

CILLIZZA: I mean look, Donald Trump is going to say what he wants to say about Russia. And Carter Page, and Paul Manafort work for my campaign for a very short period of time and the people who support him are going to believe him. And the people who followed the campaign are going to say Paul Manafort was effective as a campaign manager.

[23:55:05] I'm not sure it matters until Bob Mueller does what he does. Look, that won't preclude me from writing and talking about it. But what comes out of the Mueller investigation probe is going to be not for the entire country because Donald Trump in my opinion unfortunately already laid the groundwork to disqualify. But for the majority of the country I think will be a trusted final word. And then we will go from there as it relates to Russia.

LEMON: It was important today because I'm sure people thought about that as they were going to the polls. It is weighing on this administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump's campaign manager just got indicted. We already have something that Mueller has come out on done.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a very low campaign chairman.


CILLIZZA: I do not think that the average person in let's say Loudoun county Virginia was like this whole Russia this, I'm going to send Trump, I think it is Trump (inaudible) they don't like him totally, yes, does Russia, what they know of it, maybe play a role in it, sure. But I don't think that Russia it's top of mind. I think the way in which he approaches the presidency is for at least in Virginia and these swing counties is something that was determined for them.


LEMON: Chris has to go, everyone else stick around. Stay with me everyone else. When we come back, Democrats winning some big elections tonight. What the results say about the President.