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Alabama Roy Moore Refuses To Drop Out Of Senate Race; Senate GOP Throws Partial Obamacare Repeal Into Tax Plan. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired November 14, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: It is 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast. We're live with new developments. Roy Moore refusing tonight to drop out of the senate race, his own Party doesn't want him, but do they have any good options if he wins. And that is not the only battle facing the GOP. They are staking everything on the Hail Mary on tax cuts and throwing a repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate into the bill tonight. All this what the base really wants, we'll discuss. Let us go to CNN political reporter Rebecca Burk, political commentators Keith Boykin, political commentator Ed Martin the author of the conservative case for Trump and Max Boot author of savage wars of peace. Good evening to all of you. So good to have you on. Rebecca I will start with you, welcome officially to CNN.
REBECCA BERG, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Thank you Don, so glad to be here.
LEMON: Let me ask you this Alabama Judge Roy Moore spoke tonight, let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE, (R) ALABAMA: After 40-something years of fighting this battle, I'm now facing allegations and that is all the press want to talk about. But I went to talk about the issues and where this country going and we don't come back to god we're not going anywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So most Republicans in Washington are saying he is got to go. Even the RNC is pulling funding. How do you see this playing out?
BERG: Unfortunately for Republicans it's not their call at this point. The primary is over, Roy Moore won in spite of heavy opposition and lots of money spent against him by Mitch McConnell and his allies in the Republican Party and he is running as anti- establishment candidate and by definition he is making the pitch that Washington Republicans don't matter what they want doesn't matter and he wants to upset the power dynamic here in Washington with the Republican Party, so everything that Republican are trying to do in this race in many ways it is working against them, so you're seeing last-ditch efforts by the Republican Party to cut funding to the race, to try maybe get a write in candidate who could win or expel Roy Moore from the Senate, should Alabama voters elect him. But all these things are really causing a backlash among Alabama Republicans who see Roy Moore a hero even despite the troubling allegations.
LEMON: This is a rare bird, a Republican in Washington who is not saying Moore shouldn't quit, take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, that was hard to hear sounded like tap dancing, but basically he was saying, that was Moe Brooks, saying that he believes that a Democrat would do more damage than Roy Moore to the country, do you agree Ed that Moore is better than a Democrat?
ED MARTIN, AUTHOR, THE CONSERVATIVE CASE FOR TRUMP: You bet. Look politics is about choices. Same thing we had with Trump and Hillary. We have Supreme Court Judges come up and other vacancies. You know I've been thinking about this since I was on your show couple days ago whether when they rolled out Hillary e-mails or the Billy Bush tape or even George W. Bush, the October surprise then was drunk driving. But this is a Clarence Thomas hearing, this is smearing someone with an allegation. We don't know the truth of the women true or false, but neither do we know his denials but it is a smear to make this man toxic not just in this job, but as a Senator. It's the worst kind of stuff in politics. I can't believe we're not having a conversation about how unethical this whole thing has been. It's not going to matter Alabama going to pick, I think will pick a conservative who will vote for people on office as Judges and other things, I think will be Roy Moore. Will be another challenge for Mitch McConnell in a few months when this guy wins the race and is seated.
LEMON: Do you really believe that, Ed.
MARTIN: Yeah 100 percent. It's going to happen. It's happening right now, Don. Nobody cares.
LEMON: Look back few days or months and turns out Roy Moore has done all this, according to the women, who are very credible here even staunch Republican voices saying this guy has to go are you going to be ok with what you just said.
MARTIN: Well I'm going to be ok with is everybody deserves to have their day in the court of public opinion. But what I know about politics Don is that four weeks before election when somebody does a smear like this, whether it is Hillary Clintons gets smeared, or Billy Bush comes out or this, it's not the kind of thing that is fair to say. By the way if that all happens then we'll have a conversation about it, but it's not happening 40 years into this.
[23:05:00] LEMON: I just was asking --
MARTIN: If it all turns out it's not true will you go to Roy Moore and say I'm sorry.
LEMON: I'm not accusing Roy Moore of anything. MARTIN: You're not?
LEMON: No I didn't go to Washington Post, I wasn't abused by Roy Moore I'm not one of the woman accused him or any of the people that said he wasn't allowed in a mall, I'm not the Roy Moore who is going on television that can't even deny himself so I was asking if you would be able to live with yourself. I got to get the other members of the panel in. Go ahead Max, what did you want to say?
MARTIN: I'll be able to live with myself fine.
MAX BOOT, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think the comments you are hearing from Ed Martin right now, Don, demonstrate why I'm very glad after 30 years as a Republican I no longer am, because this is a Party that has lost its moral, ethical and intellectual bearings. Here you have your other guest who is basically saying the Republican Party needs to rally about somebody who is accused credibly of being a child molester in order to keep a moderate Democrat out of senate that to me is crazy, but this craziness has infected a large part of the Republican Party and it is even worse than Donald Trump.
MARTIN: May I respond to that.
BOOT: But this is the progression or regression of the Republican Party because having voted for Donald Trump and he was not smeared by the way by the Billy Bush tape that was Donald Trump on that tape speaking about his abuses of woman, not even Donald Trump could deny he was on that tape this was a Republican Party to its ever-lasting shame rallied around Donald Trump after it was revealed. Having a serial sexual assault. Republican Party rallying around Roy Moore.
MARTIN: OK. Max we got it.
BOOT: He has no credible defense to his charges.
LEMON: Keith go ahead.
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the Republican has sold its soul with Donald Trump along the lines what Max Boot said. I don't think you can make a credible argument that you can defend an accused child molester for the interest of protecting the Republican majority, and I think that is the problem with the Republican Party they sold their soul not only on the issue of morality, but on the issue of trade, on issue of Russia, so many issues Republicans have been willing to compensate what they said they believe in order to gain power and that is not a recipe for a viable political Party in the future and I hope you will see that.
LEMON: I would let you get to respond, but let me ask you this, Ed.
MARTIN: It's like a self-help. Like a help Ed Martin session.
LEMON: If it turns out it is indeed these women did happen would you rather see him as a Senator than a Democrat?
MARTIN: Look I reject the premise. How I come back at you, and say it turns out that they are lying.
LEMON: It's a yes or no answer. It's easy.
MARTIN: The answer is this wasn't this kind of scrutiny over Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy and anybody else.
LEMON: Can you stop. Hold on. I'm going to give you a chance to respond, if people keep bringing up Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton in this environment I don't think Bill Clinton would have survived he would have been driven from office in this day and age so it's not a credible analogy, because it wouldn't happen. This is a different time. So again if this is indeed true would you rather see him in office or a Democrat?
MARTIN: If it turned out to be true that someone abused women even above the age of consent I would think that person is not something I wouldn't want in any office, but don I want to respond because Max got a good run there --
-- but listen, what max is saying, his Party that he dominated for years was a party that put us into wars and destroyed our working class. And he now left. That is fine. But here is the thing Don I want to say, just like Clarence Thomas where would he go to recovers his reputation. I want you guys to hold the standard for both parties that has the kinds of things you're alleging we'll see how you do go down the line and end of the day, Max, the Party that you want to run is not the party that is good for America. And you lost. See Americans chose against you and against Keith by the way.
LEMON: Don't know what this has to do with Roy Moore.
MARTIN: No because Roy Moore ran against -- wait a second Max I let you talk for ten minutes.
LEMON: It's not Max, it's Keith. Actually Ed, you spoke longer than anyone else on the panel.
MARTIN: I am making the most sense Don.
LEMON: You are just talking a lot. Quickly please.
MARTIN: I will be quiet, at the end of the day people didn't want Luther Strange a guy Max would want.
[23:10:00] LEMON: We got your point, go ahead Keith.
BOYKIN: I want to point out the hypocrisy here. The issue here in terms of anybody else endorses Roy Moore, the Republican party and Roy Moore in particular, the 10 commandments guy, has decades talking about how they values families, how they value morality and then attacked for lack of morality and have Republicans continue to rally around this person in spite of that is troubling. It suggests that everything Republicans have said about morality and family values was just a fars. BOOT: I think that is absolutely right, basically all Republicans
believe is attacking the other side, you just heard it from the other guest who basically attacks Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy that there is nothing that they believe in.
BOOT: And they can't withstand with their own candidate, because Roy Moore is indefensible.
MARTIN: It's about policy you guys aren't paying attention.
BOOT: You don't believe in any policy. You back somebody like Donald Trump who is not remotely conservative --
MARTIN: You're hysterical.
MARTIN: I am against the war party.
BOOT: This is about personality and about defeating Democrats is what you care about.
LEMON: We're getting far field. Because this is about Roy Moore.
MARTIN: That is right.
LEMON: We're going off about Republican Party. Rebecca I want to bring this in. Today the White House advisor Gary Cohn said we got to get taxes done this year by now the GOP senators are throwing in the repeal of Obamacare in the individual mandate how do you think it will impact the bill's chances of passing.
BERG: On the senate side it could actually help, Don. They are trying to save some money on the mandate side so they are thinking as people decide not to have insurance, not to sign up for Medicaid, not to receive this CSR's from the government, that they can save money and send that money over to child deduction, to some of these individual tax savings for example the state and local tax deduction. Trying to compromise with Senators who are concerned on these very specific issues right now like Marco Rubio with the child tax deduction. Rand Paul. And Mike Lee. They have very specific concerns saying this is an opportunity for us. You have Senators who clearly oppose the repeal and replace that we saw earlier in the senate but they're thinking they can do this, because the Medicaid expansion not part of this. That was huge controversial part of the originally repeal and replace. You might see a deal in CSR coming out of the senate health committee.
LEMON: I want to ask, what is in this for the working class for Trump's base. Because how do you sell a corporate tax cut, by the way 13 million people who are going to lose health insurance, how do you sell that to your base?
BERG: This is the toughest part for a Republican. Those are politically very difficult. Looking at the polling on corporate tax reform majority of Americans don't want to see rates lower for corporations. They only want to focus on their own taxes. The president only focuses on the cuts, totally political. People only care about their own taxes.
LEMON: I want to look at the CNN poll. The public doesn't like tax cuts for the rich. If this bill does pass what will it do to suburban voters in New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California.
BOYKIN: Well one of the problems is that people who live in place that is have high taxes, high state and local taxes are going to lose their deduction.
LEMON: The rich I meant. I just want to make sure I got for its rich in there. Go on.
BOYKIN: You're right people like their own taxes cut but don't necessarily care about anybody else's taxes. Problem is we have a huge deficit Republican have spent 20 or 30 years complaining about, especially when a Democrat in the White House and now suddenly Republicans are less going to be concerned about the deficit and more interested in tax cuts. There's no evidence this will be stimulus to the economy or that corporate tax will trickle down to the middle class or that the middle class will benefit from this they will lose deduction and people will lose their health care and will have cuts to Medicare. It's a, lose-lose situation for the middle class and I don't know how Republicans sell this to their base.
LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it. Thanks for the conversation. That is all we have time for. When we come back Senators who say that they are worried about the possibility President Trump having his finger onto the nuclear button, are there safe guards in place to keep him from making a rash decision?
[23:19:07] LEMON: Tough times for the GOP, the Party desperately trying to stop a Republican candidate from winning a senate seat that would be Roy Moore. That as they are desperately trying to pass a tax cut. Joining us New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, good to see you.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Good to be you.
LEMON: Here is my question. They're under a lot of pressure to get this legislation pass and when they have the possibility of someone accused of doing odd things with children sexual abuse of a minor, in their ranks, which would be worst for the Party you think not passing tax reform or Roy Moore becoming a Senator?
KRISTOF: Oh, boy. Um -- I think that allowing Roy Moore to be Senator would be worse, because the tax bill is a mixed problem for them on one hand they're desperate to pass it on the other hand it has a lot of really problematic elements it to it, if it leads to more problems in health care, that will haunt the Republican Party for long time to come. You look at the damage with Todd Aiken, remember the senate candidate who talked about legitimate rape and the difficulty that he caused to the Republican Party all over the country and he lost and to are a Senator who is elected with a pattern of abuse with teenage girls.
[23:20:35] LEMON: Hanging over him, right.
KRISTOF: Yes that has to be horrifying for every Republican.
LEMON: I think the worst case scenario would be if he is elected and they don't pass taxes. That will be the worst case scenario. Which is possible.
KRISTOF: Which indeed might happen.
LEMON: Here's what Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, because he has spoken to the president about Roy Moore, here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCH MCCONNEL, SENATOR FROM KENTUCKY: Roy Moore should step aside. The women who came forward are entirely credible, he is not fit to be in the United States senate and we've looked at all of the options to try to prevent that from happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So the RNC also cut off funding and most Republicans on Capitol Hill are saying that he should quit, but Judge Roy Moore is fighting back and he tweeted this, he said the good people of Alabama not the Washington elite who wallow in the swamp will decide this election #ditchmitch, talking about Mitch McConnell. And Alabama Republicans are sticking by him. It's a nightmare scenario for the GOP is there any chance that Democrat could win this seat?
KRISTOF: Yes I think there really is at this point. And indeed could be more examples coming forward. I think also at the end of the day this line about how this is unproven really doesn't wash. I think everybody would think that the mole was correct in barring somebody who they suspected of preying on teenage girls from that mall. And how could we say a mall should have higher standards for admission in the U.S. Senate.
LEMON: Yes. Very well put. Let's talk more about taxes this last minute sort of push to put in this it bill the repeal of the Obamacare mandate and what do you think of that?
KRISTOF: I think it is probably bad on the political front, certainly on a basic economic policy front. At the end of the day in would make $300 million more available for Republicans, which they would like, but what that amounts to is taking $300 million away from providing health care for Americans, taking it into the process 13 million fewer Americans would be on health insurance to provide tax cuts for overwhelmingly very, very wealthy people. And I don't understand the politics of it and I certainly don't understand the ethics of taking health care insurance away from 13 million people to provide tax breaks for very wealthy Americans. LEMON: How do you defend that anything other than what you said, a
corporate tax rate for wealthy Americans and taking away healthcare from 13 million people, how do you...
KRISTOF: You want me.
LEMON: Go on. How does the GOP defend that anything than other -- that is what it is?
KRISTOF: That is what it is, so I mean they have attempted to argue that reducing the corporate tax rate will create lots of jobs, will trickle down, you know there's an element of truth to that over time. It's also true that we should have lower marginal corporate tax rates they are too high, but you don't fund that by taking away health care from 13 billion Americans at the time child mortality rates are among the highest in industrialized world a woman is three times as likely to die from child birth than a woman in Europe. We have problems in healthcare in this country. And the solution to that is not get 13 million fewer people on healthcare insurance.
LEMON: Nicholas Kristof thank you sir.
KRISTOF: Good to meet with you Don.
LEMON: I appreciate it. When we comeback we are going to break down how much money officials are spending at properties owned by the president. David Fahrenthold on the Washington Post has been running the numbers. He is going to join me next.
[23:28:52] LEMON: Since Donald Trump's election one year ago a steady stream of Republicans including the President himself had political fundraisers and receptions at Trump-owned properties. Washington Post reporting, that they spent more than $1.24 million in those events. I want to talk about this now with CNN contributor David Fahrenthold a post reporter who co-wrote the article. David good evening to you, once again you've done meticulous reporting this time it is about GOP Officials and the money they've spent at Trump properties. Tell us what you've uncovered.
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: One of the things we're trying to do is map out who the President's customers are, now there is a way to pay off the president, put money straight into the president's pocket who is taking advantage of it. We looked at other Republican legislators, they have a ton of campaign money they can spend on fundraisers, receptions, that sort of things. Where do they spend their money, with the President at his hotel, in D.C. or other places? We found about 40 Republican legislators have taken advantages of opportunity to go to a Trump hotel or restaurant, one that stood out Trump himself, he spent on himself much, much more than anybody else in the legislators, we also found a few others, members of congress who were customers of the President as well as to trying to make deals with the President. LEMON: You write Donald Trump's best customer this year has been
Donald Trump. We can put it up there. Trump campaign spending on Trump Properties. The rent $482,000 plus. D.C. Hotel $22,000 plus. Trump ice $2,000 plus, do you use expenses raise any ethical issues and may I ask you, what is Trump ice?
FAHRENTHOLD: Trump ice is a water company. The bill say those are payments for office supplies, I don't know if it is just water or what. The question here is about Donald Trump is taking money other people are giving his campaign. People have given him this money because they are political supporters of his, they want to advance his political objectives he is using his business to turn that money to turn into personal profit in his own account. Now if that matters to you if you're a Trump donor it is good to know maybe Trump donors don't care. It's unusual we haven't had a President converting campaign money to personal money on this kind of scale before.
LEMON: When you were on Trump properties, did you see any trends?
FAHRENTHOLD: Couple trends among the big spenders, one you might expect number of big spenders Congressman are big supporters of Trump, Dana Rohrabacher, the congressman from California is a big supporter of the Russian government and Trump. He spent $11,000 in Trump hotel. Mike Kelly congressman from Pennsylvania also a big supporter and even Bob Corker, the senator who has turn on Trump, when he liked Trump spent a lot of money in the D.C. Hotel and you see other members of congress inline for needing something from Trump administration who spent money at the Trump hotel, best example, Mike McCall congressman from Texas last December when he was under consideration by Trump to Homeland Security secretary he spent good bit of money on a Christmas reception at the Trump hotel. If he was spending it to advance his cause with Trump it didn't work. It went to somebody else.
LEMON: So what about the pace of bookings. Has there been a study? Since the president took office in January?
FAHRENTHOLD: Depending on campaign findings following so maybe there is trend there that the filings hadn't caught up to, but what struck me was the peak of this was at the very, very beginning of Trump's term, the biggest event that a non-Trump Republican had at Trump hotel was Jodie Arrington west Texas, spent $16,000 at a big reception at the Trump hotel on January 2nd, right in the beginning of his term. You might have thought it was just the beginning of a long string of really big expensive events by other Republicans at the Trump hotel but wasn't none of them came close to the amount of money Arrington spent on the first day. So didn't happen.
LEMON: You also noted Trump's D.C. location is not the biggest game in town for fundraising events why is that.
FAHRENTHOLD: It's really interesting you would again expect him to -- there's a Republican President who owns a stake house and hotel in D.C. that you would be dominating the field of Republican fundraisers, but he is not. There is steak house in Capitol Hill, Charlie Palmers that has done much more business from Republican legislators that Trump has. That the whole Trump empire has been outperformed by singe steak house in Capitol Hill, what that shows you that members are stuck in their ways. They like a place that they can walk though. Trump hotels are within walking distance. And also they don't see it a benefit to make the extra effort to spend the extra money to go to Trump's hotel. Whatever benefit they thought they might be getting it's not there.
LEMON: What about Democrats do they hold events in Trump properties?
FAHRENTHOLD: Interesting when you look back before 2015 President Trump got in the election there were actually a few Democrats who had fundraisers at Trump properties around the country, however since he got in the presidential race in 2015, zero.
LEMON: None. David Fahrenthold, thank you.
FAHRENTHOLD: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back two congress women testifying that two sitting members of congress had sexually harassed female staffers, their testimony is very graphic, we're going to tell you what they're accusing their fellow Congressman of doing, and the question really is will D.C. start taking this behavior seriously?
[23:39:04] LEMON: A stunning hearing on Capitol Hill today with acquisition that two sitting Congressman have sexually harassed staffers. Joining me now to discuss this, Mr. Bill Press, host of the Bill Press Show, Carrie Sheffield Conservative activist and founder of the news website called bold, and Tara Setmayer former communications Director for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. So good to have you all on. So representative spear on the show last night said she is aware of two lawmakers currently in office who sexually harassed staffers, a Democrat and a Republican, she did not named them, but said she also heard of allegations of victims having their private parts grabbed on the house floor. Bill Press you first, shocking to you?
BILL PRESS, BILL PRESS SHOW: No. I worked in the state legislature in California this was rampant maybe 30 years ago, disgusting but rampant and people look the other way and I know it's taking place. I don't know any personal stories. My friend is a hero on this issue particularly when it comes to sexual abuse in the military, unreported, and unpunished. It is happening anywhere where men are in power whether it is Hollywood, on Wall Street or Capitol Hill.
[23:40:22] LEMON: This is a very powerful exchange that I want to share and Carrie I am going to ask you about this, this is (inaudible) telling a story about a male lawmakers who ask a staffer to bring something over to his residents. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN BARBARA COMSTOCK, (R) VIRGINIA: I wanted to close with something that I just had somebody tell me recently. This is about a member who is here now. I don't know who it is. But somebody who I trust told me this situation. This member asked a staffer to bring them over some materials to their residents and the young staffer is a young woman went there and was greeted with a member in a towel, it was a male, who then invited her in. At that point he decided to expose himself. She left and then she quit her job. She found another job. But that kind of situation, what are we doing here for women right now who are dealing with somebody like that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Why are their identities being withheld shouldn't this lawmakers be named and face repercussion.
CARRIE SHEFFIELD, OPPORTUNITY LIVES: Well I think, because you want to protect the identity of victims so in this hearing needs to go through a report, to go through this process can be traumatizing. I was so glad to see that Democrats women, this is bipartisan thing. There is no red or blue libido, this sis bipartisan problem, so we can stream line this and I'm very proud to Speaker Ryan for identifying this as major problem and saying that there will be mandatory training on this issue. I think this really speaks to the heart and character of our country. The bed rock of a free and open society is respect and integrity and trust so glad we are having this conversation sad it's happening now.
LEMON: You worked in D.C. Tara, how many lawmakers you think there are shaking in their boots.
TARA SETMAYER FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER: I think some are unnoticed I spent seven years on Capitol Hill and I spent plenty of late nights at different events and different things and I work for a male member of congress who was great. I never had to worry anything about that. I was the only woman in my office, but I'm a tough jersey girl they knew better than to mess with me, but I have to say that there were certain times you are conscientious of situations you're in with other members of congress, late night, a lot of members sleep in their offices, they don't pay for other residents in Washington they don't make a lot of money and choose to live out of their offices and believe me there's all kind of shenanigans that go on late night unfortunately in the summers, when interns would come in and they call it skin-tern season and I know for a fact that cup eyed witnessed couple Congressman who are younger than some others that would have good old time on Capitol Hill with women who were not their wives.
LEMON: Do you think lawmakers are held to a different standard Tara, than anyone else accused of behavior like this.
SETMAYER: I think because it's such a good old boy's network is that that is standard has been prevalent for so long, but has not been tolerated as much anymore. I do applaud Paul Ryan as well for doing this for this women members of congress. It's why it is so important have women lawmakers coming in.
LEMON: Going to be mandatory anti-harassment and discrimination training for all house members and staff.
SETMAYER: I think at this point, yes. We have mandatory ethics training why not that.
SHEFFIELD: Sure. And struck on a very important economic argument. That young woman quit her job. The fact she felt like she couldn't advance any more. How could they advance in the workplace if they are facing this glass ceiling? To know she is going to be able to on her merits get promoted, on her merits be protected. We got to protect the women. This is basic fundamental human right to be safe in your workplace.
PRESS: These behavior classes, if you will, have been taking place in the workplace for a long time. I'm surprised and disappointed, it's taking congress so long to see the need for it there. The members that sleep in their office is a disgusting habit that Paul Ryan ought to just ban it.
[23:45:05] It is very intrusive for the people that work there, the work staff, the member staff, you know when they walk in here's a guy in under wear or pajamas, it's disgusting, they all make enough money to have money to have an apartment in Washington and that is where they ought to live.
LEMON: All right. Stick around everybody. We come back Republicans calling for a special counsel investigation of the Clintons and is President Trump trying to use the DOJ to settle political scores.
[23:50:06] LEMON: The Attorney General Jeff Sessions questioned today about possibly investigating Hillary Clinton. Back with me now Bill Press, Carrie Sheffield and Tara Setmayer. So, Bill, the Attorney General said today he has ordered prosecutors to look at accusations against Hillary Clinton raised by the house. Raised by house Republicans and report to him whether they think a special counsel should be appointed. What's at work here?
PRESS: I'll tell yowl what's at work here. Cover your ass. This Jeff Sessions trying to save his job, OK. Look at the timeline. I think it was November 1st, Donald Trump tweets out, why aren't they investigating Hillary Clinton? The next morning there were five different tweets, all of them, Donald Trump saying everybody says the Justice Department ought to be doing this. Then he goes off to Asia and he comes back 12 days and the day before he heads back, Jeff Sessions just coincidentally says I'm going to start looking into maybe a special prosecutor for Hillary Clinton just like my boss told me to. It is nothing but Jeff Sessions trying to save his job.
LEMON: And this is about uranium one?
PRESS: He says it's about James Comey and the e-mails and that investigation as if we haven't had enough hearings on that and this uranium one thing that also Republicans held a house hearing on and found nothing there.
LEMON: I have gone over this, but I am just -- I encourage everyone to read the fact checks and the facts on uranium one and then come to your own conclusions. Sessions says that his department is honest and free of political influence, but the President is constantly tweeting, Carrie, about what Sessions and the DOJ should be doing. So how can we be sure of that?
SHEFFIELD: Well, this is the United States of America. I think that the President has understood and is forced to be understanding of the limits of his power in many respects, which is beautiful thing in terms of the executive understanding the limits of his power. And I also would argue his predecessor was expanding his power and going outside his authority of the executive branch. And that was very troubling, too. So I think it is a bipartisan problem when you have someone in the executive trying to use certain power from whoever, whether it's the judiciary or the legislator. So I think this is problem that happens often, and it's up to us. It's really up to us, the people, to make sure we call it out.
LEMON: Did President Obama ever encourage the DOJ to go after --
PRESS: It is a bigger issue here, which is the independence of the Department of Justice. Which I think Republicans and Democrats ought to be concerned about. This is nixonian. Nobody has used, neither Republicans nor Democrats have used the Department of Justice as a political tool to go after their enemies since Richard Nixon.
SETMAYER: Well -- maybe not to the degree that Trump is doing it and so overtly, but there were considerable instances of overreach in the Obama administration like --
PRESS: Name one.
SETMAYER: Like going after the AP and James Rosen at Fox for leaks. That was clearly an overreach investigating journalists. That was a problem. What happened with the IRS with conservative nonprofits and their 501c 3 status, those were serious overreach examples in the Obama administration that Republicans had a right to be concerned about. But what Trump is doing right now and actually more what Jeff Sessions is doing, this call for a special counsel is definitely politically motivated. You don't need one. The uranium one issue is a very serious issue. And I do encourage people to read about it. There are concerns about why certain things weren't investigated, why parts of the investigation were stopped, what was going on with the Clintons, what happened on the tarmac with Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton. It wasn't necessarily about the e-mails but it is more about the Clinton foundation. There are some questions to be answered here.
PRESS: What that has to do with uranium one? You're saying there's no criminal conflict of interest.
SETMAYER: I'm saying there's no criminal conflict of interest in the Justice Department to warrant a special counsel that people are throwing special counsel around, not really understanding why a special counsel is needed. In my opinion and in others, you don't need a special counsel for this. The independent investigative units of the department of justice should be able to do this without a special counsel.
LEMON: Do you think that Hillary Clinton could have gotten nine different departments of the government to sign-off on the uranium deal, uranium that has nothing to do with it country, only has to do with nuclear power and you still think she has that much power? And according to all the facts she wasn't even involve in the deal.
[23:55:06] SETMAYER: I think that the fact that there are other agencies were unaware of the ongoing investigation into one of the informants in that uranium one deal, that the group did not know that this was happening, if they have known that then they probably would not signed off with it.
LEMON: I've got just ten seconds and I want to get Bill.
SETMAYER: And members of congress are concerned about this.
LEMON: Go ahead, Bill.
PRESS: There were nine agencies plus two other agencies that had to approve that bill. This is not worth a special counsel. That is for damn sure.
I'll tell you what. What Donald Trump is trying to do is change the subject and get away from the Robert Mueller investigation.
LEMON: I am overtime. I've got to go. I am sorry Carrie, thanks for watching us. I'll see you right back here tomorrow. More of this conversation another time.