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Donald Trump's Approval Rating Drops; Don Junior Grilled by Congress. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired December 7, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: ... starts right now. See you tomorrow.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Thank you very much, Anderson. Look at that. We've got a lot more to come on those wildfires raging all across Southern California. Look at that Ventura County, California. We'll get to that in just a moment. A lot to cover here.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
I want to begin with two body blows to the Trump White House tonight.
Breaking news on the Russia investigation, and a new poll that's full of disastrous news for the president. First, that dark cloud hanging over the White House getting darker tonight with new evidence that there was more to that infamous Trump Tower meeting that anybody first admitted.
Sources telling CNN the British publicist who arranged the meeting with Russian and Donald Trump, Jr. sent multiple e-mails afterwards to a Russian who was there and to a member of Donald Trump's inner circle.
Much, much on that in a moment as well.
Then there's the new Pew poll that's out today. And for a man who loves ratings as much as President Trump. This is terrible news. His overall approval rating a dismal 32 percent. Not even one in three. Matching the lowest we have seen since he took office.
And there is more bad news for the president. Troubling numbers on Russia, 59 percent say senior members of team Trump likely had improper campaign contacts with Russia. And troubling numbers on sexual assault. Nearly three quarters calling the issue of sexual assault and harassment very important.
Why those numbers so bad? Well, let's review. Donald Trump Junior refused yesterday to tell Congress that he and his father discussed -- what they discussed about the Trump Tower meeting with Russians. And as I just mentioned we have learned there was follow up after that meeting despite denials from Trump Junior.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: There wasn't really follow up because there was nothing there to follow up. You know, as we were walking out he said, listen, I'm sorry for that. In the end there was probably some bait and switch about what it was really supposed to be about. And so, you know there is nothing there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And it was less than a week ago that Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia's then- ambassador to the United States, the president later tweeting this. "I had to fire General Flynn because he had lied to the vice president and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide."
Raising questions about whether the president was trying to obstruct justice. All of that just in the past week. And what about the 74 percent who call sexual assault and harassment very important? Were they're unlikely to approve the president's -- of the president's support of Roy Moore who is accused of child molestation.
Not to mention at least 13 accusations of sexual misconduct against the president himself. And his attempts to cast doubt on the Access Hollywood tape with him bragging about being able to commit sexual assault because he is quote, "a star."
As I said there's a lot to get to and let's start covering it now. I want to bring in now CNN's Chris Cillizza, he is our politics editor at large, Jessica Schneider, CNN justice correspondent. Good evening to both ofyou.
Chris, to you first. We see this overall job approval for President Trump 32 percent. But when you look deeper into these numbers there is a lot of places where the president has lost ground. He is down among men and women.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE, CNN: Yes.
LEMON: Men at 40 percent. Women at now 25 percent, Chris.
CILLIZZA: Yes. And this is not a fly by night poll. There's a lot of polling out there that's now terribly good. The Pew Research Center is a poll that has been around for a very long time. And really no one who knows anything about polling takes issue with them.
Thirty two percent is a place, Don where lots of presidents never get to, candidly. George W. Bush got there. Barack Obama I don't believe ever got that low. This is amazing in how quickly it has happened. I mean, we are not a year into the Trump presidency yet.
LEMON: We're not that low at this point in the presidency.
CILLIZZA: Yes. And many never got that low period, Don, through eight years. Ronald Reagan never ran at 32 percent approval in eight years. So I think that's remarkable. And then the 25 percent among women. I mean, that is -- it's really stunning. I don't know that it's terribly surprising in that Donald Trump has done very little outreach by any standard to groups who didn't vote for him.
He has really double, triple down, quadrupled down candidly on those groups who were for him. But that group is not that big. And it has shrunk without question between November 8th, 2016 and December 7th, 2017.
LEMON: So let's look at this. There is also some serious danger signs among President Trump's staunchest supporters, Chris. Tell us about that.
CILLIZZA: Yes, look you see fade -- men as example. Evangelicals, white working class folks. These were bases of the Trump coalition. And that's a huge. Right. I mean, down 17 among white Evangelicals Protestants.
[22:05:01] Down eight among loosely affiliated and people who identify as republicans. That's the effect of a strategy that has been erratic, candidly. But if there is a through line -- I'm not sure there is but let's say that there is a guiding principle.
The guiding principle has been when in doubt, reassure the base.
CILLIZZA: So moving the capital -- moving the embassy to Jerusalem is the latest example. But there are lots and lots of examples where the administration may be at a crossroads not sure where to go. The decision is to play Kate the base.
I'd say that about the Roy Moore, the decision to endorse Roy Moore. This is done because Donald Trump's core is the core supporters are people who believe the news media is lying and all these women are coordinated lying somehow about Roy Moore and therefore he does it.
LEMON: Well, I think that's a...
CILLIZZA: But that's not enough -- I mean, sorry -- that's just not enough people to make up anything close to a majority. This president has not sniffed 50 percent job approval almost since the day he has been in office.
LEMON: I don't think that, I think that there is a distinction in what you said. And you said people who want to believe.
CILLIZZA: That's right.
LEMON: That the women are lying.
LEMON: Or that the news media. I bet they don't actually believe it. They want to believe it. And there is a big difference. (CROSSTALK)
CILLIZZA: I don't know how you could.
CILLIZZA: But, yes.
LEMON: I got to bring Jessica in. Jessica, CNN has new e-mails tonight that shed some light on what may happened at that infamous Trump Tower meeting between Don Junior and at least two Russian with ties to the Kremlin. What specifically do those e-mails say?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes. So what's surfacing are these follow up e-mails after the June 2016 meeting, of course between members of Trump's inner circle and Russians who Donald Trump Junior believe was offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.
So one of the e-mails it was a senior Trump aide Dan Scavino, that's currently the president's social media director. So, in this e-mail British publicist Rob Goldstone who set up the Trump Tower meeting he encouraged Scavino to then get then-candidate Donald Trump to create a page on the Russian social networking site called V.K.
So in the e-mail Goldstone said that, quote, "Don and Paul were onboard with the idea." That was a reference to then-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, also Donald Trump, Jr. And a source tells us that Goldstone also mentioned the idea of the social media post at the end of the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, as everyone was leaving. Goldstone continued to push that proposal in the some of the e-mails in the weeks following.
Now CNN has done a search of the V.K. pages but we could not find any indication that the campaign ever set up a page. So then there was a second e-mail. So this one was dated June 14th, 2016, that was five days after the Trump Tower meeting.
Goldstone in this email forwarded a CNN story. It was Russia's hacking of DNC e-mails to his client. He forwarded the e-mail to his client, a Russia pop star Emin Agalarov, also to Ike Kaveladze. Kaveladze actually attended the meeting. And he described the news of the hacks as quote, "eerily weird," given what they discussed at Trump Tower just five days earlier.
So that seems a bit odd. But one of the sources familiar with the e- mail he really downplayed the interaction saying the news of the DNC hack was surprising to this group because in the run up to the Trump Tower meeting the Russian participants had promised information on illicit Russian funding of the DNC but that dirt was never provided to Trump Junior or Kushner or Manafort.
So, Don, we reached out to Scott Balber, he was the attorney for Ike Kaveladze who was at that meeting. He does confirm that his client received the e-mail but he said it was odd because he claims hacking was never discussed at the meeting. But of course, Don, you know, with the revelation of these new e-mails
it really is once again raising new questions for investigators about what exactly was discussed inside the Trump Tower meeting and how much these follow ups really came into play. So, still, you know, a lot of questions out there.
LEMON: And there are a lot of things, as I said that weren't discussed that we're founding out now were discussed as well, so who do you believe.
LEMON: Thank you, Jessica. Thank you, Chris. See you soon. I want to bring in now CNN national security analyst Steve Hall, retired chief of CIA Russian operations, and Susan Hennessey, CNN national and legal analyst.
Good to you. Welcome both to the program.
Susan, you first. I want to get your take on this new information on the Trump Tower meeting between -- because it certainly raises a lot of questions about what topics beyond adoption as we were discussing somewhat came up at that meeting. Doesn't it?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Yes, so notwithstanding sort of all the reporting that's come out about that meeting. You know, the Trump team really is still asking us to believe two things. One that the primary subject of that meeting was about adoption.
And so sort of -- most people know that that's code for Magnitsky Act sanctions but still that it was primarily about adoptions and that there was no follow up whatsoever. So this is sort of another piece of evidence that that just isn't the case.
[22:09:56] And I think what we've seen from, you know, the get go from that early statement that was crafted aboard Air Force 1 in which they essentially misrepresented the contents of this meeting, you know, from every piece of reporting since then has really chipped away at that narrative and demonstrated that clearly the substantive content of this meeting touched on a lot more than adoption. And clearly there was some forms of follow up.
LEMON: What were Russians doing here? What were they doing here, Steve?
STEVE HALL, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: That's a great question. I think it's worth stepping back for one second and remembering how important this meeting is only if only because it was a meeting where Donald Trump, Jr. expressed an interest in Kompromat, you know, drogue to information on his father's opponent.
So, if that's not collusion that's pretty darn close. But there is basically two possible variations as to what these Russians were up to. The first is the light side. So you have, you know, lawyer Veselnitskaya, Kaveladze and guys like that who says, hey, here's an opportunity to get into the high level and talk about sanctions associated with Magnitsky which is shorthand for the adoption issue.
That's the light side. The darker side is that the Russian government knew that these people were going to get into a very high level meeting with a lot of senior Trump people were present and they were using these people as cut outs to see whether or not the Trump campaign in the person of Donald Trump, Jr. and everybody else in the room as part of the team were interested in playing ball.
Would you take some information if we were to provide it to you? Would you be willing to cooperate with us and we can help you win this election?
Personally from a counterintelligence perspective -- and I can't speak from a legal perspective whether laws were broken or not. But I'm leaning towards the dark side on this. Because it's very difficult for me to imagine that Vladimir Putin and the Russian government were entirely unaware that this group of Russians had scored this meeting inside of Trump Tower and didn't try to get in on it somehow.
LEMON: Interesting. So, Susan, Jessica reported on this specific e- mail that was sent just five days after the Trump Tower meeting where Rob Goldstone forwarded a CNN story on Russian hacking of DNC e-mails to a Russian attendee. They have the meeting describing news as, and the words were eerily weird. Given what was discussed in that meeting, what do you think of that?
HENNESSEY: Right. So apparently other source haves tried to sort of characterize this as it was weird because hacking wasn't discussed. You know, I think that's sort of once again we're being asked to ignore kind of the simplest most obvious explanation which the only reason you would say isn't this eerie with regard to what we talked about before. It was if you talked about something that was related to the DNC and hacked e-mails.
So once again kind of the narrative here and what we're being asked to believe it just doesn't hold up.
LEMON: Yes, Steve, you find the e-mail to Trump's aide, Dan Scavino interesting, I mean, the one where Rob Goldstone encourages Scavino to get candidate Trump to open a page on the Russian social network, V.K.?
HALL: That's fascinating. And I think the -- I just hope Mueller is, you know, ahead of the game on this and running with that. So V.K., VKontakte in Russia in contact, is essentially the Russian version of Facebook with one important difference.
And that is that it's because the servers are located in Russia and because it's a Russian entity, Vladimir Putin essentially controls it. He can get into it anytime he wants. The security services can get into and take a look around.
So you have to ask yourself, you know, it's very interesting, why would it be that somebody from Russia is suggesting that the Trump team, the Trump candidacy opened up an account in the Russian version of Facebook? I mean, you know, I can't imagine that the reason given, which is yes, we need to reach out to those Russian, you know, Russian-speaking Americans because we want them to vote for Trump too -- that's not compelling.
I think there is another reason behind it. I don't know exactly what it is. It is a form of communication. You know, it's just like Facebook. You can send messages in V.K. just like you can anywhere else. So it's very difficult to tell right now. But it's a fascinating tidbit that I think is worth scratching at a little bit.
LEMON: Steve, Susan, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
I need to update you, guys, on the breaking news that we told you about right at the beginning of the show. It's from Southern California where more than 100,000 residents are now under mandatory evacuation orders as half a dozen wildfires blaze over more than 100,000 acres.
Look at these pictures unbelievable. The number of buildings destroyed is nearly 500 now as thousands of firefighters from surrounding towns and cities are coming to assist. An emergency alert. Listen to this. Warning there os an extreme fire danger going out to residents of Los Angeles county late last night. Unbelievable. All of these fires.
Wind gusts up to 80 miles an hour and dry weather both making things worse for firefighters. Containment for some of these blazes are at zero percent right now. The air quality is so bad hundreds of area schools closed today and tomorrow. No signs of it getting better any time soon. And we'll keep an eye on that for you.
[22:14:59] When we come back, at first Donald Trump Junior said the meeting was about adoption. Later he admitted it was about trying to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. And now new e-mail shedding light, a further light on just what happened at Trump Tower in that meeting and what the potential legal fallout is. We'll discuss that.
LEMON: Here is breaking news tonight. Sources telling CNN the that British publicist who arrange that infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians and Donald Trump, Jr. sent multiple e-mails afterwards to a Russian who was there and to a member of the Donald Trump's inner circle.
That news coming one day after Trump Junior refused to tell congressional investigators what he and his father discussed after news of that meeting became public.
Well, let's discuss that now with CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin, a Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the DOJ, he was, and legal commentator Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund. They both join me. Good evening.
KEN CUCCINELLI, LEGAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Hi, Don.
LEMON: Michael, you are going to start this off.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Yes.
LEMON: Which of the follow up e-mails stand out to you as legal red flags? Do they?
ZELDIN: All of them. Can I answer all of the above? Because I think that the problem here is that Don Junior is not telling us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And so as a consequence, because he was under oath today, and because I think there will be a drip, drip, drip of additional revelations I think most of what he said today was going to be legally problematic for him.
[22:20:02] He said I don't remember when he probably should remember or did remember. He said that he didn't talk to people that he did talk to. He did get e-mails about the follow-up I believe, even though we don't have them yet. And he said there was no follow-up.
So I think all of this fits into a mosaic of either false statements potentially down the road when Mueller gets his hands on him and or some level of obstruction of the investigation when Mueller gets his hands on him. So I think it was an all in all bad day for Junior.
LEMON: So, when Don Junior posted the online exchange with the British publicist admitting that he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians. One of the attendees got an e-mail from his son asking why Don Junior had admitted to quote, "collusion." I mean, it's unclear if he was joking. But it's -- don't you find that a bit strange?
ZELDIN: Yes. And it's a strange thing, you know, sort of in the abstract. But in the continuum of was there an agreement? Was that agreement memorialized in these e-mails? Was it sanctioned after the election when we saw the lying from Flynn about the sanctions and other post-election matters which seem quid pro quo-ish around the removal of sanctions?
It does, it can construct a narrative that shows pre-election, sort of collusion or agreement. And post-election actioning of that agreement. So it's not clear yet that there is a crime there. But it sure looks more suspicious to me in light of these e-mails than it did before these e-mails.
LEMON: All right. So I want to just take you, Ken, if you will, down just memory lane a little bit. And show what you Don Junior told Sean Hannity after the details of that meeting came out and he had to do some cleanup. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP JR.: There wasn't really follow because there was nothing there to follow up. You know, as we were walking out he said, listen, I'm sorry for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: We know there was follow-up between the campaign and the publicist who set up that meeting. CUCCINELLI: Well, I think, you know, Michael said he was speculating
about whether any of that got to Trump Junior. We haven't seen that yet. And that's going to be what would contradict the clip you just showed presuming it's reasonable for him to remember that.
But so far we haven't seen any follow-up that involved that touched Trump Junior. Don Junior. I think more problematic today is that he thinks that attorney-client privilege will protect him from having to fully testify. I think he'll be called back before the committee.
I don't think that his attorney-client privilege assertion today will hold up. Now, I don't expect non-lawyers to know what those options are. But if he -- if the lawyer in the room -- when he was speaking to his father was his lawyer, he still waived privilege by talking to his father about the same material in the lawyer's presence doesn't protect him if he was his father's lawyer. His father hearing the words in front of his lawyer doesn't provide the attorney-client privilege.
LEMON: Michael, are you -- that's a -- I mean, that's -- you know.
CUCCINELLI: There is no -- there is no privilege is the bottom line.
LEMON: You're going round and round I'm not an attorney, but, Michael are you buying that?
ZELDIN: Well, I buy that there was no attorney-client privilege.
ZELDIN: And that the assertion of it in the hearing was spurious and intended to delay. And you ask why was it intended to delay? This guy, Don Junior testified in September before the Senate. And there he didn't remember this meeting and the details of it.
Now he is testifying before the House and he sort of remembers it a bit more but he remembers talking to the communications director Hope Hicks and not directly to his president...
LEMON: OK. Well, so let me...
ZELDIN: ... to the president so it's a false assertion of privilege. I think intended to delay.
LEMON: All right. I just have a short time left, Ken because I cut you off. I just want to add. So let's talk about yesterday. Don Junior was asked about all the follow-up e-mails during his hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday. And he said he wasn't aware of them and could not recall. And then one lawmaker said he suffered from amnesia. So what is the recourse if they determine that he is lying?
CUCCINELLI: Well, I mean he wasn't talking to the FBI. He was talking to the House. But you saw that Flynn, part of Flynn's admission of guilt with the FBI was his assertion that he did not remember. He admitted that that was a false statement. That was part of what the one charge that he pled to was -- was based upon.
So, you know, an assertion of non-memory that can be demonstrated to be false is a basis for a perjury violation, for instance. But it has to be shown to be false. In Flynn's case it was admitted by Michael Flynn.
[22:24:59] CUCCINELLI: So I think you're going to see him come back to that committee. I think that that very subject is going to be asked about. And it's going to be answered.
LEMON: And this time he probably is going to have to take the fifth rather than say that he doesn't recall.
ZELDIN: That's right.
LEMON: I got to run though, guys. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
When we come back President Trump claimed the FBI's reputation was in tatters. The director he pointed took exception to that testifying on Capitol Hill today. He also said no one was above the law. Not even his boss. We're talking to Congressman Ted Lieu who was in the room for the testimony. And I'm going to ask the representative why he voted to impeach the president.
LEMON: Here our CNN exclusive tonight. Previously undisclosed e-mails show follow-up communications to the June 2016 meeting that was held between Russians and Donald Trump Junior and other members of the Trump campaign.
[22:29:58] I want to talk about this now with Congressman Ted Lieu, he's a California democrat who is a member of the House judiciary committee. Good evening, congressman. Welcome to the program.
CNN has learned that Donald Trump Junior was questioned yesterday by the House Intel committee about the existence of follow-up e-mails from that meeting at Trump Tower.
This news seems to contradict what he had previously said publicly about the meeting. Are you concerned about this discrepancy?
TED LIEU, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, well first, Don, let me thank you for highlighting on your show the fires in California. I want to pray for those affected by the fires and thank the first responders.
LIEU: Now on your question, my view is the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. It's pretty clear now that Trump Junior lies about as much as his father. We know now that Trump Junior has lied multiple times about what happened in this meeting. And keep in mind that this summer he issued a statement that was
approved by Donald Trump that basically said the meeting was just about Russian adoptions. We know now they were intentionally lying to the American people when they did that.
LEMON: So, at yesterday's House Intel hearing, Donald Trump Junior said he never told his father about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Does that sound plausible to you?
LIEU: Not at all. And the reporting by the media states that the president of the United States was very engaged in writing that statement denying anything improper happened at the meeting.
But let's just take a step back. Either you got to believe that multiple Trump officials just happened to all be lying about one topic, Russia, and it's all coincidence or something very bad happened last year.
LEMON: I want to talk about today's House judiciary committee hearing with the FBI Director Christopher Wray. President Trump attacked the FBI over the weekend saying its reputation is in tatters and the worst in history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: The FBI that I see is tens of thousands of brave men and women who are working as hard as they can to keep people that they will never know safe from harm. Do we make mistakes? You bet we make mistakes, just like everybody who is human makes mistakes. And when we mistakes we will hold our folks accountable if that's appropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, congressman, today was Wray's chance to defend his agency. Were you satisfied by what you heard from him?
LIEU: Director Wray was very professional and he did a great job defending the 37,000 professionals at the FBI. The two takeaways I have from this hearing were, one, he stated that no one is above the law. And second, he says that he still continues to stand by the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia hacked America last year to undermine faith in our democracy, help Donald Trump and hurt Secretary Clinton.
LEMON: Your republican colleagues on the committee they seem to be on the attack throughout the hearing. Here's a portion of their remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB GOODLATTE, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: It is absolutely unacceptable for FBI employees to permit their own political pre- elections to contaminate any investigation.
TED POE, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: I think your predecessor did a lot to damage the reputation of the FBI. STEVE CHABOT, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: The depth of this
anti-Trump bias on the Mueller team it just goes on and on it's absolutely shocking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What do you think is behind these attacks? Are republicans trying to undermine the Russia investigation?
LIEU: Absolutely they are. But on the facts they found one FBI agent that had some text messages that were anti-Trump. And they removed him from the investigation. It was absolutely the right thing to do.
And if you were watching this hearing you really came away thinking that the republicans believe that Hillary Clinton is president and they want to impeach her. But that's not the case. And they're really desperate right now because everything that's happening they try to reframe on Hillary Clinton but the president is Donald Trump and we're looking at collusion with Russia.
LEMON: OK. So you mentioned impeachment, you were one of 58 House democrats who voted on to move forward with a resolution to impeach of President Trump. That move was table and it's not moving forward at point. What were you trying to achieve?
LIEU: I stood the House judiciary committee. I believe there should be hearings on the articles of impeachment that have been introduced. We need to at least start an investigation because the president of the United States is committing obstruction of justice in plain view.
But this was a vote on tabling the motion. And this was basically going to shut down debate altogether. I think we at least need to have a debate on this.
LEMON: All right, congressman. We'll see where that goes. Thank you very much.
When we come back, Senator Al Franken resigning today after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. We're going to tell you who he called out during his speech for their own behavior. Guess who.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Senator Al Franken making it official today, announcing that he is resigning from the Senate amid allegations of sexual harassment, and taking a swipe at both President Trump and Roy Moore. Roy Moore, by the way, the republican Senate candidate in Alabama. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL FRANKEN, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: There is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office. And a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Here to discuss is CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, political commentator Scott Jennings, and Bari Weiss, an op-ed writer and editor for the New York Times. Good evening to all of you. Scott, you first. What's your reaction to Al Franken calling out President Trump and Roy Moore for their allege indiscretions.
SCOTT JENNINGS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, clearly he feels like he is being punished beyond what other people have been punished. And look, as you know I agree with him about Roy Moore. I think Roy Moore should have stepped aside, I think the Republican Party should have disowned him. They haven't that.
And I think when Roy Moore if he gets to Washington which is not a foregone conclusion he's going to face a Senate ethics inquiry just like Al Franken was.
[22:39:57] The difference of course is Franken succumbed to political pressure. I don't think Roy Moore if a thousand people in Washington asked him to resign would ever do that. And so the only way to get Moore out of the Senate, frankly, is to go through the ethics committee process and move to expulsion.
LEMON: But there is truth so what he is saying, don't you think? I mean, most people will agree to that whether they think the president should resign or own up to it or Roy Moore should continue to run. Most people so think that there is some credence to what he is saying.
JENNINGS: Yes. No question. Look. I think one of the things that's going on with this issue no matter the industry is that people are starting to question why are there certain sets of rules for one person and not the other. And are people getting uneven punishments? And you know, how do you compare what Franken is accused of versus Roy Moore.
I have to think what Roy Moore has been accused of is far worse.
JENNINGS: And so I think as we go down the road on this issue people are going to start to ask questions and wonder about how do you even out sort of the consequences? And in politics there haven't been as many consequences as Al Franken pointed out, Donald Trump and Roy Moore still hanging around politics. He is not. In the private sector the consequences have come...
LEMON: They're pretty harsh and swift.
JENNINGS: ... a lot more quickly.
LEMON: Yes. So, I've got -- Kirsten, let me ask you this, then. Because listen, there should be a universal standard. Are they all the same? Is it all? KIRSTEN POWERS, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: They're not all the same but
they don't need to be the same. So the idea...
LEMON: So they suffer the same consequences.
POWERS: ... the idea -- well, look, the question is whether or not what -- two things, do you believe the women who accused Al Franken, and if you do believe them which I do, then you know, is what he did wrong? He had at a minimum is guilty of sexual harassment, at a maximum of sexual assault. We have two women saying that he grabbed them and forcibly kissed them.
Now if people want to argue that that's OK and that that's not bad enough to lose your job I'm just not in that camp. The fact that he is not a rapist, an accused rapist, the fact that he is not Harvey Weinstein doesn't mean what he did isn't bad.
LEMON: OK. That's what I needed to hear. Because I'm hearing people say well, you know, why are you comparing Al Franken.
LEMON: I'm just playing devil's advocate. I don't -- listen, I'm trying to figure out all of it.
LEMON: Why are you comparing to Al Franken to a Harvey Weinstein or to a Roy Moore.
POWERS: I don't think people are comparing.
LEMON: What they're accused of doing is pretty different. I mean, listen, there is...
POWERS: But there is a moral flattening happening.
LEMON: But let me read this, and I want to get your response because this is Ari Fleisher, the former press secretary of George W. Bush today said. "Franken should not have resigned. His fate should have been left to the people of Minnesota. Moore who had sexual contact with a 14-year-old should drop out. Conyers who hit on employees should have resigned. Franken is a creep who acted improperly but his facts are different." Go. Do you agree with that?
BARI WEISS, OP-ED WRITER & EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES: I basically agree with that. But I think what the democrats did today was a brilliant move of political Jiu-jitsu. They have become the party of family values which is quite an amazing feat.
LEMON: I'm so glad you say that because on the way last night I was actually listening to the competition.
LEMON: And they were talking about democrats now sort of.
LEMON: It's flipped. The democrats are now...
WEISS: It's unbelievable.
LEMON: Right, that the...
WEISS: The democrats are cleaning House and the republicans are becoming the party of it's acceptable to molest and hit on 14 and 16- year-old girls. Now, obviously one of those is a winning political strategy. And the democrats have it. But that is...
LEMON: Do you think that is, do you think the democrats have the winning strategy?
WEISS: In terms of long-term 100 percent. But the problem is that the punishment -- the question of is what he did worthy of him having to step down from the Senate, that is a different question from was it politically astute and smart.
On the political question I think absolutely he should have stood down. On the ethics question I'm not so sure. Why are we -- I feel that there is a really -- the things that happening so quickly right now and why couldn't we let the judgment of the ethics committee come to light before he had to make that call.
POWERS: He could have done that. I mean, he is resigning. So people all they're doing is they're saying like, I believe the women and I think what he did was bad enough to lose his job. And I think he should resign. He succumbed to that pressure. He didn't have to.
LEMON: Everybody hold...
POWERS: By the way, the process usually is rigged against.
LEMON: Everybody hold your thoughts. This is a fascinating conversation.
LEMON: We'll continue, so stay with me. When we come back we're going to talk about that. And what President Trump had to say about Franken's accusations. Don't go anywhere.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: All right. Al Franken resigning not a real surprise since more than 30 of his democratic Senate colleagues called on him to step down.
I'm back now with Kirsten Powers, Scott Jennings, and Bari Weiss. So let's pick up where we left of. Because you said it was a -- you thought, Bari...
WEISS: It's a moral flattening.
LEMON: OK. So you thought it was political Jiu-jitsu. You thought it was amazing.
LEMON: But here is what I found in my short time on earth in my 25 years.
WEISS: Looking very good.
LEMON: Yes. That is a joke as you can tell. But I think that, you know, democrats are maybe playing for the moral value and for the moral high ground. And they're playing sort of you know, well, this is wrong. Republicans are just playing sheer straight politics. They just want to win. They want Roy Moore because they want to get their agenda...
WEISS: Yes, but they're thinking one step ahead. The democrats are thinking long-term strategically and there is a huge difference.
POWERS: The democrats...
LEMON: So you think they're playing long-term chance.
WEISS: I think the republicans have to own a pedophile. Not only is a pedophile and has molested girls if were to believe the accusations which I do. But also a theocrat, someone who believes Muslims shouldn't serve in Congress. They own this persona.
LEMON: Yes. But it didn't -- a lot of this, Scott -- I mean, you were here -- a lot of this didn't matter during the election. And a lot of it doesn't seem to matter to voters in Alabama which is what I'm saying. I'm not saying it's right or wrong. But who is going to remember any of this in two weeks or three weeks after the election? You know what I'm saying?
JENNINGS: Well, I think what we're seeing here is a cultural phenomenon. It's not just happening inside of politics. It's happening in every industry. So I do think people are going to continue to talk about it.
But let's talk about the democrats for a minute. They got this Franken thing right. Nancy Pelosi got it very wrong on Conyers on Meet the Press the other day. They've got it very wrong for years trying to wrestle with Bill Clinton's legacy. So let's not pretend like the democrats have, you know, they got it right on one day and all of a sudden they own the moral high ground here. They still have their own issues to recognize.
WEISS: Yes, they're learning their lesson from Clinton and they don't want to make the same mistake.
POWERS: Yes, but Scott, I want to address that. I want to address that issue.
JENNINGS: Sure. So they got -- they got it right on one senator but they've gotten it wrong on Bill Clinton forever.
[22:50:00] POWERS: But you know what, Bill Clinton what is Bill Clinton doing right now? Why are we even talking about Bill Clinton? I mean, it's really -- it's getting so old.
LEMON: It's a boogey man.
POWERS: I'm so tired of it. It has nothing to do with anything. And they actually -- and they actually...
JENNINGS: You're tired of it because it makes my point. I understand why you're tired.
POWERS: No, it doesn't make the point. The point is like what -- Donald Trump is president right now. Roy Moore is running right now. Al Franken is right now. And Conyers is right now. And yes, Nancy Pelosi screwed up, but Conyers is leaving and Franken is leaving.
So the democrats actually do get credit for doing this and it was a difficult decision.
JENNINGS: Sure. They did...
POWERS: Scott, let me finish. It was a difficult decision for them. This was not easy. This is somebody who is beloved by democrats, he's an icon, he's a friend of these senators. They decided they believe the women and they can't say he needed to resign. They could pay a price for it. They still do the right thing and I think that they should get credit for it.
I don't think we should keep saying like, this was just some political move. I think that Kirsten Gillibrand really believes these women.
LEMON: Yes, go ahead, Scott.
JENNINGS: Look, I think they did get it right. I'm not disagreeing with you on that, but it took the republicans screwing up really badly by going back in to Roy Moore to cause them to do it. I don't think they...
POWERS: That's not true. There's no evidence for that.
JENNINGS: I don't think they...
POWERS: You keep saying that.
JENNINGS: I don't think they woke up saying, well, we're going to be moral today. I think they saw the political advantage, which you and I agree.
POWERS: But what's your evidence of that?
JENNINGS: It is a distinct political advantage and they took advantage of it.
POWERS: But what's your evidence of that?
JENNINGS: And so I think they did the right thing and it's good politics for them. And I wish the republicans do the same thing on Roy Moore.
POWERS: You won't answer me. People keep saying this over and over that this was the motivation. But I have spoken to people who are very involved in the process and this is not what they said happen. And the Politico reported this as well. The women senators were very upset about this and that they told Franken that he needed to resign and that they gave him time to do it.
And they basically said if one more person comes out, we're going to say something. That's been reported. I've had that conversation. Politico has reported it. People have to stop saying different things unless they have some inside information...
POWERS: ... on what happened.
LEMON: We'll let Bari and Scott respond right after this. Don't go anywhere.
[22:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump's supporting Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, but one prominent GOP senator is speaking out tonight against Moore.
Back once again with Kirsten Powers, Scott Jennings, and also Bari Weiss. Before I get to that, did you -- did anybody want to respond with what Kirsten said. She doesn't think it's purely political what's happening when it comes to Al Franken.
WEISS: No, I think it's a genuine reflection of the values and morals of these senators on the democratic ticket, on the democratic side who have called for his resignation. What I am worried about is that right now, the punishment, punishments are supposed to fit the crime.
Right now, we're seeing the same punishment for sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, and my fear is that in punishing all of these things the same way, we're actually devaluing the things that are much, much graver.
WEISS: That's my fear. Because this is just -- this is way beyond just Al Franken and Roy Moore. You know, you see someone like Leonard Lopate, a 77-year-old guy who's been a veteran WNYC host for years. Many of your viewers might not know who he is. He's physically escorted out of the building because one anonymous complains of inappropriate conduct. He has no idea what he's even done.
WEISS: That's where we are though. And that is why...
LEMON: Right. And which one's -- and people are going to start turning a blind eye, or at least, you know...
WEISS: That's my fear.
LEMON: Closing their ears to this. Let me ask you this, because I wonder if this, does Franken's resignation put more pressure on the GOP to abandon the accuse child molester Roy Moore?
And Scott, I'm going to ask you that with this caveat. Because this is national republican senatorial committee, the chairman of that committee, Cory Gardner released a statement, saying "I believe the individuals speaking out against Roy Moore spoke with courage and truth proving he is unfit to serve in the United States Senate and he should not run for office. If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate."
What do you think? More pressure on the GOP to abandon? JENNINGS: It does put more -- it does put more pressure on the GOP,
unfortunately, Roy Moore is a party of one. And I don't think he really gives a rip of what anyone in the Republican Party thinks about him. That's the thing about Franken, he succumbed to Democratic Party pressure. Here the democrats got right.
If every republican senator called on Roy Moore to resign, I seriously doubt he would do it. That's why I ultimately think this ethics committee thing is the way they had to go because that gives them the process to get to expulsion, and I also think this about the ethics committee.
I think these women in Alabama are telling the truth, but people in Alabama, some of them don't believe them because it was reported by the Washington Post or media outlets they don't trust. I want to see these women get the only day in court if that's what you want to call it they're ever going to get. And that's a chance to tell their story, under oath in front of the ethics committee and let Roy Moore confront that and not hide behind these scurrilous attacks on national press.
LEMON: Roy Moore could take a polygraph test. And so could Al Franken and all the other men.
JENNINGS: He'll have to testify under oath as well. He'll have to put his hand up and talk about it as well.
WEISS: All right. I believe them though. I believe them. I just think that there's a moral difference between squeezing the side of someone's body and molesting...
POWERS: And forcing kissing them...
POWERS: Forcing and grabbing a woman who's with her boss. The boss leaves the room and grabs her. I mean, come on. Like, are we really saying this isn't a big deal? Does he have to be a rapist? Does he have to be an accused of...
WEISS: Of course not.
POWERS: Does he have to be -- I mean, I don't understand. Does he have to be masturbating in front of people? Is this normal standard? I just -- I think that -- I really think that the democratic senators and I think I urge people to go read what Kirsten Gillibrand said about this, watch the press conference. I think that they got right. You don't have these gradations of, he only grabbed a woman and groped
her, then you know, we'll give a pass. It's like -- I don't -- I think that -- remember the Democratic Party is the party of women.
And so, even to have Al Franken kind of pointed to republicans like why won't just hold me to the low, low standard that Donald Trump gets held to. Well guess what, the republicans have a really low standard and the democrats are ahead of the republicans on this and they need to be pulling them with them. Not going down to their level.
LEMON: Well, let's look at the big picture here. The Senate minority leader, to your point about the moral high ground of this and Scott says there's only one. He's not sure they captured it.
[22:59:57] The Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling on Franken to resign, the leader of the Republican Party which is the president, endorsing an accused child molester in the RNC followed too by transferring...
WEISS: Of course.
LEMON: ... a total of $170,000 to Roy Moore. That is the big picture here.
Thank you all.
WEISS: Thank you.
POWERS: Thank you.
LEMON: Great conversation.
JENNINGS: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: I'll see you soon.