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CNN TONIGHT

GOP Tax Cuts Passed the House; Senate Votes Expected Tonight. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 19, 2017 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

[22:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... it rapidly accelerated to the south and disappeared in less than two seconds. It had no wings, so you think OK, it's a helicopter.

When helicopters move to that side to side they kind of slow and then they pick speed going the other way. This was extremely abrupt like a Ping-Pong ball bouncing off-the-wall and hit going the other way and change directions it will.

And then the ability to hover over the water and then start a vertical climb from basically zero up towards 12,000 feet and then accelerate in less than two seconds and disappear is something I've never seen in my life.

RANDI KAYE, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, CNN: The commander now says that it's easy to doubt when you can't explain. But he is sure that he saw something strange, but it's all so fascinating to think about, isn't it, John?

JOHN BERMAN, HOST, CNN: I'm not allowed to say. Randi Kaye, thanks very much.

Thank you all for watching 360. Time now to hand it over to Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts right now.

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

A classic case of good news, bad news for the White House tonight. A huge accomplishment topped off with a lie. The good news for the president he's on the verge of signing a signature accomplishment of his first year in office, the republican tax bill.

The Senate voting on the bill tonight. And a couple of technical bumps in the road forcing the House to revote. But the bill is still expected to reach the president's desk by tomorrow. And it is a big deal.

A lot of people have thought it might not happen, but the president and the republicans, well, they got it done. The bad news it looks like Americans aren't that happy about the tax bill.

Our brand new CNN poll shows more than half are against it. Excuse me. Maybe one reason they aren't convinced this bill is in their best interest and not in the interest of the president personally and corporations and the super-rich, it's because President Trump and his administration have sold it with a lie.

That lie being that he'll take a big financial hit himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing. Believe me. Believe me, it's not good for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, it's a lie that the press secretary Sarah Sanders doubled down on today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The president did say this tax cut bill would cost him a fortune. That was false, right?

SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, because on the personal side this actually could impact the president in a large way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: By all accounts, that is just not true. This bill exempts almost everybody from the real estate tax, a great thing for wealthy families like the Trumps who can pass on millions more of their wealth tax-free.

It lowers the taxes on pass through businesses. The president's real estate businesses will benefit directly from this. And a last minute provision was added that specifically benefits those with real estate income.

Now, we could settle all this if we could just take a look at the president's tax returns which he still refuses to release claiming he can't because he's being audited. Even though the IRS says that doesn't prevent him from releasing them. That is lie, too.

Now at the end of his first year in office the president has some work to do with the voters. And our latest CNN poll his approval rating is at just 35 percent. So there's no denying that this tax bill is an accomplishment for the president, it is. The biggest of his term so far.

But with the midterms less than a year away, the voters are watching, and if they don't like what they see, the result could be a disaster for the Republican Party and its leader.

Let's get right to the details of this bill and all of this. Now I want to bring in Mark Preston, CNN senior political analyst, April Ryan, CNN's political analyst as well, and William Cohan, special correspondent for Vanity Fair and the author of "Why Wall Street Matters," and CNN senior economics analyst Stephen Moore, a former senior economic advisor for the Trump campaign.

Hello to all of you. Good evening. Thank you so much for joining us. Steve, to you first, this is the first big piece of legislation the Trump administration will get passed, it's a huge win for the Trump administration, for this president. But how do you square that accomplishment with its lack of popularity among Americans?

STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, CNN: Well, with all due respect, I think you buried the lead here. I mean, the lead is that we just passed something, we'll pass something in the morning that is going to be really good for the economy.

You're right, it's going to be very good for small business. It will be good for American corporations. It's really -- you know, when I started on this two years ago with Donald Trump, it's meant to create jobs to grow the economy...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Stephen, I understand that...

MOORE: ... the middle class is going to get a tax cu.

LEMON: I understand that, but before you pivot could you just...

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: But that's what it's all about, though. I mean, whether Donald Trump gets the tax cut...

LEMON: ... answer my question first? But my question -- my question was -- that wasn't -- that wasn't my question. That wasn't my question to you, and I know you're here. You're part of the administration. You advise them to spend, but my question was how do you square this with his lack of popularity with the American people? If you could answer that directly by all means and you can pivot and explain after that.

MOORE: OK. So, OK. OK, let me do that. So first of all, I spent some time today looking at these polls and none of the polls actually tell the American people it's a tax cut. In fact, a lot of people, a lot of Americans actually think they're going to get their taxes increased under this bill.

And of course they'll find out in February that their taxes are going to get -- for 90 percent of Americans their taxes are going to go down.

[22:04:58] But let's face it, Donald Trump is not popular with a lot of Americans. So anything associated with Donald Trump is something that Americans don't like. But I think when they see the jobs and the growth and tax cut they get themselves, I think it will turn very popular next year.

LEMON: Thank you for answering that. What do you say to that, William? WILLIAM COHAN, AUTHOR, WHY WALL STREET MATTERS: You know, Stephen

Moore shouldn't be allowed to do this anymore. He's been trying to do this for 35 years, talking about trickledown economics for 25 years. He shouldn't be allowed to do this anymore.

This is a tax cut for 90 percent of the Americans. This is a tax increase from anybody who makes money paying ordinary income taxes. Maybe if you pay capital gains taxes, maybe like Donald Trump if you have a lot of partnership income, this could be a tax cut. But from both people who get a paycheck who have a W-2, this would be a tax increase.

LEMON: Yes.

MOORE: How is that? How does it raise their taxes?

COHAN: How does it raise their taxes? We're, I mean, cutting the -- you're a private equity guy you get a tax decrease.

MOORE: No, no. I'm talking about the middle class.

COHAN: If you -- for normal Americans the top -- the top rate goes from 39.6 to 37 percent. You got capped on state and local tax deductions.

MOORE: I get that but how does it raise taxes for the middle class. You said it raises tax for the middle class. How are you going to do that?

(CROSSTALK)

COHAN: Anybody on W-2 -- everybody getting W-2 income their state and local taxes get capped, their single based asset which is their home is less valuable. They're going to feel poor. This could be the first tax cuts...

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Wait, how is this raise is less valuable?

COHAN: and it generates this that creates a recession and not this boom in economic growth that you're talking about. To say nothing of adding to the huge national debt, a trillion and a half dollars, increasing deficits, probably destroying our credit rating as a nation. Thank you, Stephen.

MOORE: Well, look, there's nothing in this bill that raises taxes on the middle class. In fact, the middle class get a new increase in their child credit by a $1,000, it reduces their tax rate and it double -- but doubles the standard deduction for -- now you're talking about mortgages, we capped the mortgage interest deduction at $750,000.

Tell me how many middle class have a mortgage of $750,000?

(CROSSTALK) COHAN: I'm sorry. You capped state and local tax deductions at $10,000.

MOORE: Yes. But we capped at a tax -- that's only wealthy people.

COHAN: That affects the most people in the country.

MOORE: No, no, no. Only the very wealthiest people are going to lose their state and local taxes. That's where half of the revenue loss comes from is very, very rich people in very rich states.

COHAN: Very, very rich. There are a lot more people than very, very rich people who pay more than $10,000 in state and local taxes on an annual basis.

LEMON: Let me play this and then I want you guys to respond to this. This is part of what Sarah Sanders said earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: Look, I said that in some ways particularly on the personal side the president will likely take a big hit. But on the business side he could benefit. But the biggest focus for this White House has been to make sure all Americans are better off today after this tax package passes than they were beforehand.

We really focused on invigorating the middle class and making sure they got more of their hard earned money, and we think that will happen in this package.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So the question was, you heard there, William, at the press conference. How doesn't this benefit the president, she's saying it doesn't, he could suffer from it greatly. How does this benefit the president personally if that's the claim?

COHAN: He gets both of his income from partnerships. If you look at his disclosure form the only thing that we have of his, because we don't have his income taxes as you said, he's got 400, 500 LLC's partnership, so he's a real estate mogul supposedly.

So a lot of his income comes from partnership income. A lot of his income comes from capital gains. And if you're getting your income from capital gains and partnership income, you benefit tremendously from this at 20 percent rates.

If he has income from ordinary income, yes, he will be paying more taxes, but I don't think the President of the United States, Donald Trump, has any ordinary income.

LEMON: I know you wanted to weigh in Stephen, the property gapers do well under this plan, don't they. I mean, is the White House underplaying just how well?

MOORE: Well, they do. You know, that's something I'm not favor of in this bill. But I will say this, one of the reasons, look, I've never seen Donald Trump's tax return, but I will say this.

He resides in the state of New York which has the highest taxes virtually in the country. So when we're just talking about loss of state and local tax deduction really, really rich people like Donald Trump in really, really wealthy states like New York are going to pay more taxes. So it's quite possible his tax rate might go up by as many of 4 or 5 percentage points.

But I don't understand why liberals are opposed to that. I thought they wanted the rich to pay more taxes.

LEMON: There are republicans who are opposed to it as well; it's not just liberals who are opposed to it.

MOORE: I know. There are a lot of rich republicans who are going to pay more taxes under this bill.

COHAN: That is true. A lot of super-rich people like Donald Trump and his friends are going to pay more taxes to some extent.

LEMON: Yes.

CHAN: I mean, I mean, no one is going to be -- this is strange thing to say, but the worst people who gets hurt the worse from this are Wall Street investment banker types. People who have maybe that a great cause for celebration.

[22:09:58] So, that's people who have a lot of ordinary income, their salary is ordinary income, their bonus is ordinary income and they live in New York which is the high taxed -- highest taxed state in the country.

So, a lot of people, you know, Wall Street is a very big engine of growth in this country, and a lot of the people who do that are not going to pay hard taxes.

MOORE: That's true.

LEMON: But don't -- I mean, traditionally...

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Are we really going to...

LEMON: Go ahead.

COHAN: No, nobody is going to cry.

MOORE: Are we going to feel sorry for these people?

(CROSSTALK)

COHAN: No. No, but let's assume -- but it's Donald Trump...

LEMON: One at a time, please. One at a time. Stephen, and then William. MOORE: OK. I mean, do we really want to steal salary from Wall Street

investment bankers? Have you seen what's happened to the stock market over the last year? It's up 25 percent. Those people have made millions and millions and dollars off of the Trump rally on the stock market. So, it's not as if -- and by the way, so do more ordinary American who have 401ks plans.

COHAN: Right. Exactly. Half of the country is an investor in the stock market and has benefitted from this. A rally that by the way, started in March of 2009 under the Obama administration. In fact, the stock market has gone up under -- more under the Obama administration than the Trump administration. But the point is that because of...

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Well, he's only been in office for one year.

COHAN: Well, the people who benefit the most from this tax law as it will soon be are people like Donald Trump and his friends who make most of their money from partnership income and most of their money from capital gains. Those taxes are going down.

LEMON: So let's talk about the actual people, the people who go to the polls and vote, who will decide who is in office next time, the American people.

And this is what our poll shows. It shows 84 percent of democrats believe the tax plan will benefit the president and his family, as do 63 percent of independents and 32 percent of republicans agree with that.

The House Speaker Paul Ryan says when people like they have more cash, they'll be happy. So what are the odds that Americans come around to this plan once it takes effects, William? That's a good question for you.

COHAN: I don't think they're going to be very happy at all, because I think going to realize that the value of their largest asset, which is their home is going to be worth less because it's going to cost more for them to operate their home because they can have less fewer deductions, their capped at $10,000 on their deductions for state and local taxes.

The biggest component of state and local taxes are property taxes. People are going to feel poorer as a result of having to pay more in taxes as a result of their property.

LEMON: Stephen, I'll give you the last word.

MOORE: I think when Americans see how this economy continues to expand, I'm expecting 4 percent growth next year, which would be unbelievably strong given what we've had for the last 10 years.

And when people actually see their paychecks in another 50 or $100, you know, for a middle class people every paycheck, I think they're going to be very happy. And I think republicans did a good thing for the country but also a politically smart thing for the party today and tomorrow.

LEMON: Yes. Middle class folks I speak to are not happy about.

COHAN: Fifty dollars more in their paycheck, please.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you. I appreciate it.

When we come back the Senate voting in any minute on the GOP tax bill, a bill that president, the president is expected to sign tomorrow even though it is as we've been saying, wildly unpopular with voters.

So will those voters be feeling the pain in less than a year when the mid-terms roll around, and what will that mean for the GOP? We're going to discuss that coming up.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Here's our breaking news. The Senate voting any minute now on the GOP tax bill. There's the Senate floor right there. The House will have to revote tomorrow over some technical issues, but the bill is still expected to land on the president's desk tomorrow.

And of course he's going to sign it, a major accomplishment, but a bill that is widely unpopular with the American people. And with it the mid-terms less than a year away that could be big problem for the president, President Trump and his party.

Let's discuss now, Mark Preston, CNN senior political analyst, April Ryan, CNN political analyst as well.

So, I invited two guests on for conversation and a fight broke out in the last block, so let's see if we can work this all out.

Good evening, to both of you. This revote in the House, it may not impact the outcome of the bill, but does it speak to how hastily it was put together, Mark Preston?

MARK PRESTON, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Yes, no question. Look, we haven't had meaningful tax reform in 30 years in the Congress, and the reason it's incredibly complicated, it's not something that can be done overnight.

But basically what we saw with the republican led Congress and President Trump is that from start to finish it was within several weeks.

Now people wondered why did this get done so quickly. For a couple of reasons. But the most important reason is that the Republican Party needed a major legislative win.

President Trump needed a major legislative win in the calendar year of 2017 so that it didn't go down in the history books of him making a lot of promises at the outset of his administration and not being able to fulfill them. In this case he has fulfilled one.

LEMON: That is what this is all about. Let's just all be honest about it. There's no two ways about it. The president needed a win in 2017. This is the only time they could get it done. They pushed it through even though the American people don't like it. That's the bottom line.

April, as we have mentioned here, and let's show. The polls show 55 percent of the people oppose this plan. It also shows 66 percent say the bill benefits the wealthy more than the middle class.

That view is supported by two nonpartisan government analyst or analysis, I should say. How is passing something that is overwhelmingly unpopular with the American people good politics for this White House?

APRIL RYAN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: You know, the optics are not pretty. It's a win at what cost? Like Mark said, you know, within seven weeks. And we saw what happened prior to with other bills. You know, trying to repeal and replace ACA, it just didn't cut the mustard because it was costly. At what cost, that's the issue.

And when you look at this, you know, the individual tax breaks are only going to be in effect until 2025. Those are the issues that people are not talking about. And there is also a fear factor.

You know, the corporations have permanent tax cuts but individuals don't. And the fear factor is there. This is one of the reasons why it's so unpopular because of the past history within this last year, with this administration of the Republican Party ramming through things that leave regular people out, that hurt the least of these.

[22:19:57] And the fear is that at what cost? You know, what's the pay for? You know, you hear Elizabeth Warren screaming this is government for sale at the cost of $1.5 trillion many corporations.

But the least of this, the people, the American people, trickledown economics has shown it has not worked in the past where companies are given these tax breaks and it goes to luxury items versus going to that worker in that company.

So the devil is in the details. Don, I just remember listening to history and remember at the time when George H.W. Bush said read my lips and only taxes. We have to see what happens here.

LEMON: Mark, listen, it's not just about democrats. I mean, she had mentioned Elizabeth Warren. And Stephen Moore was on last segment saying he doesn't understand why the liberals don't like it. It's not just liberals. There are republicans who are not happy with this as well.

And of course, they had to wrangle back and forth and many of them to get what they wanted into this bill and it was at the minimum of what they wanted. There were I think there were 12 republicans who voted no on this bill in the House. Eleven of them are from California, New York, and New Jersey. They represent mostly suburban districts that democrats are targeting in 2018. How big of a factor could this be do you think for the mid- terms?

PRESTON: Well, a couple of terms. One is of the 12 people, you're right, 11 have come from states that Hillary Clinton won in the last election. And the reason why they voted against it, these 11 members is because it's going to hurt their constituents.

And we can go back and forth about the definition of middle class. But the definition of middle class is different depending on the geographic region that you live in. You live in New York City you cost of living is going to be much higher, your pay is going to be higher.

So, that's why we so those 11 vote against it. And the 12, Walter Jones of North Carolina didn't agree with the ballooning deficit.

But directly to your question, will this have an impact on elections? Absolutely. There's no question about it. If you talk to republicans today, they would privately say, listen, we know the polls aren't good today, but we're hoping that this will help boost the economy as we go into 2018.

But right now the win is at the democratic back right now, specifically in the House of Representatives. They only have 25 seats now to take over that chamber, Don, and this will become an issue amongst probably many other issues in 2018.

LEMON: Yes. And as you can see we're looking at live pictures now from the Senate floor. They're expected to vote on this tax bill any moment now. The House voted on it today. They got to redo it because of some technical issues, but it is expected to go through. It should be at the president's desk by the end of the week. Of course he is expected to sign it.

April, despite the tax bill when, here's what our new poll shows. It find that the president's approval rating sinking to a new low at 35 percent. Here's how press secretary Sarah Sanders explain those numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: While the president and this administration has been very focused on how we can better help the American people, I think oftentimes the media is focused on other things, certainly not talking about the growing economy, certainly not talking about the crushing of ISIS, not talking about the creation of jobs.

And if people were focused a lot more on those things in the media I think that his numbers would be a lot higher.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: As someone who covers the White House every day, how do you respond to the charge that this is the media's fault? It's always the media's fault.

RYAN: It is. We are the bad guys in this. But you have to remember, polls are taken by the American public who feels or sees the tweets, who watches the press briefings, who listens to the president.

You know, and you have to remember a poll is a straw hold view of that moment in time. And really for the last couple of weeks it's been a straw hold view between 32 and 35 percent depending upon the polling group.

But at the same time, I mean, if we look at the poll numbers at this time for other presidents, this president is at the lowest mark of any other president. And it's not the media.

We are reporting on what he is doing. You have to remember, fact versus opinion. You have a lot of people who are speaking opinion, but when there is fact there is fact that this president is in the midst of possibly going to war with North Korea.

You have to think about the fact that, yes, the economy is going well, but is that about the residue that's left from the Obama administration? There's so many different factors. You know, they can paint a picture or spin it one way but the facts are facts no matter how you -- how they bear out or how you say it looks. Facts are facts.

LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it. And I'll see you next time.

When we come back, the political world has been turned upside down this year. In our new bizarre world -- bizarre world, Russia is a friend, republicans don't care about deficits and democrats are the party of family values. What is going on here? Frank Bruni, help.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump turning politics upside down and helping to reverse the traditional roles of the two major parties. The GOP long viewed as fiscally conservative passing a massive tax cut. And democrats now the party of family values after republicans supported Roy Moore, an accused child molester.

Here to discuss, CNN contributor Frank Bruni, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times whose new column is entitled or is titled I should say, "Democrats are the new Republicans." I have said the same thing. What happened? Everything is flipped upside down now.

FRANK BRUNI, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think it's been flipping for a while, but Donald Trump has just accelerated it. But when you go through all of the things that republicans used to view as central to their brand or the very elements of their brand.

LEMON: Right.

BRUNI: Family values, fiscal discipline, national security, patriotism, you can make a very persuasive argument that on all of those scores democrats make a more credible argument than republicans do because of the influence and example of Donald Trump. LEMON: Yes. Let's go one by one.

BRUNI: Yes.

LEMON: Let's go to what's happening now because the Senate is about to vote on this new tax bill now.

[22:29:58] In your new article -- there's live pictures of the floor now. These are republicans are smashing the pillars of brand -- of their brand. The pillar is fiscal responsibility and now republicans on the brink of passing this new tax bill.

It's going to run up the enormous debts here, deficit. And increases the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

So, for years republicans were dead set against deficits. Now they're for them?

FRANK BRUNI, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, no, I mean there's a lot going on here. But you're right they're the party that used to fantasize the budget, right? One of their central arguments against democrats where democrats were this puffed big interest. They are now saddling future generations with an even more enormous debt than was already there and the exact kind of debt they've been railing against for decades.

But, of course, they're setting the stage to say, wow, now we have to cut spending. So this is more complicated than just this piece of legislation right now.

This is prelude to a discussion about, wait now because of the rising debts, because you know, we can no longer afford to spend at the Medicare rates and on social security the way we have been spending, that's what coming next, This is a multi-step process.

LEMON: Yes, but under this plan, middle class they get a temporary tax.

BRUNI: Yes.

LEMON: Permanent tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy.

BRUNI: Right.

LEMON: What does it say about...

(CROSSTALK)

BRUNI: This says they're thinking about 2018 and not 2028. I mean, if you think about we're all saying and we're being a little bit dumb here about what the Republican Party has done. We're all saying this is a massive disaster, how could they be doing this.

If you just look at the politics of next year, a lot of Americans are going to see more money, they are going to see a tax cut. The majority of Americans do get a tax cut. And yes, democrats will be talking rightly about where those tax cuts are going proportionately, about the fact that the rich are getting much bigger tax cuts than the middle class.

But the people in the middle class by and large are going to see a tax cut before they go to the polls in November. They're not going to see -- I mean, there sort of affects 2018...

LEMON: And then after.

BRUNI: But they're calculating taxes if they're doing estimated taxes, they're going to have a sense that their taxes have gone down. And they may decide they like that. That's what republicans are betting on. And it's not the most foolish bet in the world.

LEMON: Yes. So, listen, another area that where, I guess this president has turned upside down under President Trump. Republicans used to be known as a law and order party. Republicans in Congress now are discrediting the integrity of the Mueller investigation and the FBI.

This is what President Trump tweeted earlier this month. He said "After years of Comey with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation and more running the FBI, its reputation is in tatters, worst in history. But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness."

Why are republicans in Congress -- in Congress and in the media, why are they turning -- seem to be turning on law enforcement and really the institutions, many institutions in our government, institutions that have made America, for lack of a better term, so great?

BRUNI: They're turning on law enforcement and those other institutions as a way to inoculate Donald Trump. A lot of those institutions have, are doing things and reaching conclusions that do not flatter this president, that put this president in jeopardy, that put people around this president in jeopardy.

And the way you prepare for that, the way you inoculate and the way you sort of do advance damage control is to delegitimize those institutions.

So, another way in which the party have been reversed, republicans used to be the caretakers of traditions. These institutions are traditions. A free press is a tradition, and the Republican Party is now opposed to all and better attacking all that leaving democrats to the opening I think to be the caretakers of tradition, which interpreted correctly is a good thing.

LEMON: Let's talk about Russia because this president has been very complimentary of Russia, he's been very complimentary of Vladimir Putin.

A Pew poll earlier this year shows this year of republicans expressing confidence and Putin has doubled. What do you think of that? I mean, Russia?

BRUNI: Well, Russia, I mean, this is another way in which the world is upside down. I mean, yes, you say Russia like that because we all grew up with this history, I mean, they weren't just a rival. They were the great global nemesis. I mean, they were the great threat when they were the Soviet Union.

And here again, I don't know how the Republican Party when Donald Trump is playing kissy face with Putin and Russia, I don't know how they say it's a party of patriotism.

Russia tried to meddle in the outcome in one of our elections, they tried to take our control of our own destiny from us. What is more patriotic than saying we must control our own destiny?

American voters their will should never be subverted. You cannot be patriotic and be as cavalier about Russian election interference and be as resistant to an investigation to get into the bottom of it as Donald Trump and many have been.

LEMON: My first and my initial thought is clearly you can't be that naive, Mr. President. I mean, you can see Vladimir Putin and Russia coming from -- you can see it from your home. You can see Russia from the house.

BRUNI: Apologies to Sarah Palin.

LEMON: Right.

BRUNI: yes.

LEMON: You know what I mean, come on.

BRUNI: Well, you can be that convenient and selective in your reading of the truth. And also, one thing we've learned about Donald Trump above all others, he is susceptible to flattery. Vladimir Putin has noticed that and he has worked on that. And he's resistant to any kind of criticism. So I think psychology the Russian leader has his number and he is playing that number beautifully.

[22:35:03] LEMON: He likes flattery.

BRUNI: Yes, why are we reading about this Gorsuch story -- why are we reading about this Gorsuch story which I know you'll be talking about next? Because Donald Trump hate, that Neil Gorsuch, his prides enjoy was saying something to a senator that seem to demean him.

LEMON: He likes flattery. Come on this show. You're doing such a great job, Mr. President, come on this show and answer the tough questions.

BRUNI: You have to put him over there. He's awesome, right.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: great job.

BRUNI: He loves us.

LEMON: My, gosh, he's such a great interviewer.

BRUNI: We give him a big hug.

LEMON: Great interview. Yes. Thank you. I appreciate it.

When we come back, if there's one thing this president demands it is loyalty. But it seems he is not as quick to give it as he is to demand it. Is loyalty a one-way street with President Trump?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The president pushing back on a report that he considered scrapping Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court after Gorsuch's criticize his attacks on judges.

[22:39:57] With the Washington Post standing by its story, that Trump thought Gorsuch wasn't being loyal enough.

Let's talk about this now with CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio, he's the author of "The Truth About Trump," and CNN political commentator Andre Bauer.

Good evening to both of you. So the president has said he called the fake news, and whatever, he doesn't believe it. Saying he never wavered on Gorsuch. But the Post is citing 11 sources here even the president's legislature director, Marc Short acknowledges in the article that the president had been frustrated, and CNN has now match this reporting as well.

Michael, you say President Trump can't tolerate any sign of independence among people who support him...

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Look, this is actually a bigger problem I think for people who back the president and who are his allies than people who oppose him. You know, if you oppose him he knows where you stand. He's treated Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi roughly at times but well at other times.

I think if you back the president and you show any sense of independence, he'll interpret that as disloyalty, and you wind up on sideways with him when you're really trying to support his agenda.

Now in the case of Justice Gorsuch, it's not his job to support the president's agenda. It wasn't his job to support the president's agenda when he was confirmed. So this is a classic example of why this president is so hard to work for.

LEMON: You stole my question for Andre. Because, Andre, I'm going to ask you, is it, is a Supreme Court justice supposed to be loyal and grateful to the president who appointed him or to the Constitution?

ANDRE BAUER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: He's supposed to be thankful for the job, but as for that, absolutely not. He's supposed to answer to the Constitution, and of course this is absolutely speculation because nobody is putting out their name and saying that.

But I will say this, Don, you know, he has hired people that weren't always loyal to him. Mike Pence endorsed ted Cruz, Nikki Haley was a never Trumper, so he's brought people into the fold that actually weren't loyal to him at all.

LEMON: Yes.

D'ANTONIO: I think what Andre said about Nikki Haley especially is very interesting. So here's a woman who I think has likely dissented from the president's policies at times. I know she's aligned with Secretary of State Tillerson. But she's done it in a way that's somehow allowed her to escape criticism. And there must be be a model that she's setting that everyone else should adopt in order to express dissent to this president.

LEMON: Well, She's Nikki Haley and she's very bright and very smart woman.

D'ANTONIO: Well, she's very impressive and she also powerful on her own.

LEMON: Yes.

D'ANTONIO: Prior to...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: She realizes he is better helpful with her...

D'ANTONIO: Right.

LEMON: ... than without her. But we do know the president loyalty is huge factor for this president. He told us so plenty of times.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We could use some more loyalty. I love loyalty. Loyalty can be a wonderful thing.

Loyalty is very important. I'm loyal. To a fault I'm loyal. I'm a loyal person. Loyalty.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, some of these people have like a 10 percent loyalty, meaning if they sneeze in the wrong direction they're gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes. You say the president imagines himself a captain of his team. But is loyalty a one-way street with him? Because some people who are loyal to him he's, you know, good-bye.

D'ANTONIO: Right. It's a very difficult thing. You have to anticipate what loyalty means today but also what it might mean tomorrow. And you have to sort of be inside his head.

This is big problem for people who have their own strengths, who have their own intelligence. You know, we discussed Nikki Haley. I think somehow she's done something right. This idea that people sometimes cater to him and baby him and don't tell him the truth is one thing that I worry about.

LEMON: I think a part of that, Nikki Haley, is that Nikki Haley is often away from the president and doing things on her own.

D'ANTONIO: Yes.

LEMON: She doesn't have to be enclose proximity to him. And I think that is very helpful to her in the position that she holds.

Here's part of the FBI, the former FBI Director James Comey's testimony to the Senate intelligence committee where he talks of the president approaching him to take a loyalty pledge. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER UNITED STATES FBI DIRECTOR: The dinner was an effort to build a relationship, in fact he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. As I said what was odd about that is we'd already talked twice about that by that point, and he'd said I very much hope you'll stay, I hope you'll stay.

I got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt -- excuse me, how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So Andre, as I said, some people who are loyal to him, he gets rid of them. Among those who lack the loyalty are reportedly frustrated Trump, James Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. All three worked for federal law enforcement. Their loyalty is to the law. Does this show President Trump misunderstand his role here?

[22:44:56] BAUER: Well, no. Under Comey, when Comey had a problem with this, he should -- he was the most powerful arguably law enforcement officer in the world. He should have looked right back at the president and said let me get this clear what you're asking, Mr. President, if in fact he had this concern.

But this concern only came about after he was no longer was employed. He didn't express that until after the president got rid of him. So, I mean, arguably, I don't think Comey is the best one to use in that.

But look, all great leaders need loyal people around them. When you're leader of the free world you need to have people you can trust, you need to have people that can carry your message, not some message they have.

When you get elected as president you reign with your message not with somebody else. It could be a government bureaucrat or somebody you chose to try to help you, if they start coming in and putting in what they think is important over what you think is important and that circumvents the whole electoral process and going through picking a candidate that you want them to carry forward their agenda not their underlings.

LEMON: Listen, it sounds like you're confusing...

2(CROSSTALK)

D'ANTONIO: Yes, I think that...

LEMON: .. the process and you know, how things are done, right?

D'ANTONIO: Well, and loyalty...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: The chain of command with loyalty.

D'ANTONIO: Loyalty is a cheap value. Loyalty is below fealty to our Constitution. It's below support for what makes our country great and what makes it work.

LEMON: Andre, what did you want to say?

BAUER: If you're violating the Constitution that would be vastly different, but if you're surrounding yourself with people to try to pass your agenda and they are undermining that, they creates a real problem in leadership.

LEMON: I don't know if that's what loyalty means.

D'ANTONIO: You know what, your own guy is tackling you if you're the quarterback, I go for that. But you know, for the most part we need people who are loyal, but mainly loyal to the United States of America and not to any one person. That's why we have a republican and not a monarch.

LEMON: I've got to run. To be continued. Thank you, Andre. Thank you, Michael. I appreciate it.

When we come back, the truth is out there. This video from the Department of Defense has a lot of people rethinking UFOs and asking what if we're not alone.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This is a sign of the times we live in, with all of the news about the Russian investigation, the GOP tax cut this incredible story nearly got overlooked.

We're learning about a Pentagon program to research UFOs. the official who led the effort telling CNN there's very compelling evidence that we may not be alone.

Let's discuss now. Investigative journalist, Leslie Kean, author of "UFO's, Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record." Great to see you again.

LESLIE KEAN, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Great to be with you, Don.

LEMON: You did the show five years ago you reminded me on UFOs, right...

KEAN: I know.

LEMON: So there they are.

KEAN: I'm so happy to be coming back on with you.

LEMON: Yes, absolutely. So, listen, and let me ask you about this. Because you help write the story for the New York Times. It's about advanced aerospace direct identification program. And let's put the video up. This video is of a U.S. military jets encountering an unknown object, it was released by this program. What do you make of this video, what's happening here?

KEAN: Well, what's really fascinating about the video is that the object that's caught in the scope in the center has been hovering for quite a few minutes and then all of a sudden at the end which what we're seeing on the screen now it zoomed off to the left very fast.

This is a fair distance away. So it's going very fast. And, you know, we don't have technology that can hover in one spot and suddenly go off to a right angle especially with no wings or propellers or anything like that.

LEMON: Al right. So this is not, you know, we don't want to do twilight zone.

KEAN: No.

LEMON: But that's what -- that's what people think about. What is that? What could that object be? Where could it be from?

(CROSSTALK)

KEAN: Well, that's what they're trying to figure out. Actually on this official Pentagon program, I mean, it's not so much that they can figure out where they're from but they're trying to figure out how they behave what are consistent characteristics that repeat themselves, and how can we explain what they're doing do and what they do. The questions about, you know, the bigger questions we don't have the data to answer those questions.

LEMON: So, are we talking, you know, let's be honest.

KEAN: Yes.

LEMON: I know you hate going there little green men?

KEAN: We're not talking little green men. We're talking about just physical objects in the sky that have this, have certain capabilities that we can't explain various events, they called it beyond next generation technology.

LEMON: All right.

KEAN: That's the way the program describes it.

LEMON: So Jim Sciutto he's my colleague just spoke to retired U.S. navy pilot. He witnessed this and he asked him what made him think this object was from another world. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID FRAVOR, RETIRED U.S. NAVY PILOT: Well, the first thing is it had no wings so you think, OK, it's a helicopter, well, there's no rotor water wash in the water there's no rotors.

And when helicopters move to that side to side they kind of slow and then they pick speed going the other way. This was extremely abrupt, like a Ping-Pong ball bouncing off-the-wall and were hitting going the other way and change directions it will.

And then the ability to hover over the water and then start a vertical climb from basically zero up towards about 12,000 feet and then accelerate in less than two seconds and disappear is something I had never seen in my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: An experienced pilot who said he had never seen anything that in his life before that can move like that. I think that's pretty significant. So.

KEAN: Yes, I sat down with him and interview him at length.

LEMON: OK. So then you say let's not talk little green men. Are we talking other world here or maybe is it a spy craft or something from another country that maybe they have something that's more advanced than we are.

KEAN: I mean, the officials who have studied this believed that it is not technology possessed by any country. I mean, they have made that statement on the record that they've observed enough of it and they have colleagues in other countries that they have drawn that conclusion because it is so advance what they observed, what they have observed.

And also the things have been around for a long time, Don. So go back to the 50s and 60s when they were doing the same thing they were doing now. What kind of technology did we have then?

LEMON: Wow.

KEAN: Nothing close to what we have now. So it's a mystery that needs further funding, further investigation and governments need to take it seriously, and by the way, governments in other countries do take it a lot more seriously than we do, so we kind of need to catch up. LEMON: I need to tell our viewers that this program officially ended

in 2012, but Luis Elizondo, he's a former Pentagon military intelligence officer he was part of the program.

[22:54:56] And the government funding ended in 2012. You reported that the same -- the same backer's claim that the program is still operating. So what can you tell us about the status of this program?

KEAN: Yes. I mean, what happened was, before 2012, they had enough of a budget. There's $22 million allocated so they could hire these contractors to work for them and they could -- were able to accomplished a lot because they had a budget to hire contractors.

But when the funding dried up the officials inside the program continued to do what they were doing which was to continue investigate cases that were brought to them.

So, as far as they're concerned the program continued, and there are many people that have reported back to us, you know, people that are on the record. We've seen documents also that show that that's the case. That it's continued.

LEMON: You're an investigative journalist you investigate the stuff, do you think there's life out there and that has come to this planet.

KEAN: Well, I think that a lot of people would believe that there's life out there. Whether it's come to this planet that's another question and I don't know for sure. I think it's a valid hypothesis for what we're observing. But as a journalist, you know, I can't, I'm not going to speculate about things that I can't prove, so I don't know. That's my...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It would be my (Inaudible) think that we're the only ones...

KEAN: Well, I don't think anybody believes that. But the question is, if we're not, they're so far away that how could they ever get here, that's the big mystery.

LEMON: Well, we got, you know, to Mars.

KEAN: We have -- we have maybe civilizations that are way ahead of us in terms of years and years, millions of years or whatever, so. But you know, what we need to do right now is examine what we have in front of us...

LEMON: OK.

KEAN: ... and stop running away from it.

LEMON: Fascinating. Thank you. I appreciate it. When we come back, the Senate about to vote at any moment on the GOP tax bill. We're going to go live to the Capitol for the latest.

[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)