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Donald Trump Finally Breaking His Silence; The Passing of Senator John McCain; Senate Honoring John McCain; Renaming a Senate Office Building after John McCain; Paul Manafort Seeking a Plea Deal. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 27, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:01] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And I do pray that that day comes sooner than later. Thank you for watching tonight. "CNN TONIGHT" is going to take up our coverage with Don Lemon right now.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Listen. You know -- I know you know it is not about me. It's not about you. And I dealt with death too much this year. And I lost my father. I lost my step father. And I can only imagine what Meghan McCain is going through right now. And I hope -- and her mother, and I just hope that one day their sadness is transcended and they can smile with memories of what a great man their father and their husband was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope they do take that solace.
LEMON: I do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain was a great man, and the country is remembering that right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is important, too. And they have got a big family. And I hope they are there for each other because they need it right now.
LEMON: You never get over it. But then you learn to live with it. But you know this whole coverage I have been watching this weekend. And this is what we do. But I hate to mention President petty in the same sentence, you know, with John McCain. I don't think that this President even deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence with him, especially given the way that he has acted over the last couple of years when it comes to John McCain, but especially over the last couple of days.
This is an American hero who deserves all of our respect, and who would debate you on the issues, and then leave with a smile or tell you that you were -- you know -- I can't believe such small thoughts come out of such a big head.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can such a big head hold so few thoughts of any value?
LEMON: You've got to respect that. And that's how we do it. (CROSSTALK)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remembered it. That's for sure.
LEMON: Yes. So listen. I'm going to have to do it, but just know viewers and Chris, I really hate mentioning this President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a reason that you do it. John McCain would have done it. And you are pointing out proof of contrast in a moment where the country is remembering what matters.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you, my friend. It was beautiful what you said in the end there. I appreciate it. I will see you tomorrow night, OK? This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. You know these strange and challenging times that we live in it feels like one word has been lost and forgotten. And that word is statesman. And tonight, we have lost a true statesman in every sense of the word with the death of John McCain.
He is the embodiment of a true leader. And he is being mourned as a hero and a patriot by his Senate and House colleagues on both sides of the aisle and by his fellow Americans, of course. After learning last summer that he had cancer, McCain stood on that Senate floor, a man who was a proud servant of his country. And I just want to play some of his words, which are more important now than ever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: My service here is the most important job I have had in my life. And I am so grateful, so grateful to the people of Arizona for the privilege, for the honor of serving here, and the opportunities. It gives me to play a small role in the history of the country that I love. Our system doesn't depend on our nobility. It accounts for our imperfections and gives us in order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours the most powerful and prosperous society on Earth.
It is our responsibility to preserve that, and even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than winning. What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We are not getting done much apart. I don't think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. The success of the Senate is important to the continued success of America.
This country, this big, boisterous, (Inaudible), contemporate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, good, and magnificent country needs us to help it thrive. America has made a greater contribution than any other nation to an international order that has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have been the greatest example, the greatest supporter, and the greatest defender of that order.
We aren't afraid. We don't covet other people's land and wealth. We don't hide behind walls. We breach them. We are a blessing to humanity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: John McCain earned the right to say that, having fought communism and authoritarianism his entire life. As we all know, he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years, the scars of torture remaining with him for his whole life. It says so much about his character that Vietnam's foreign minister offered his condolences to the McCain family, while praising him for building and developing U.S. relations with Vietnam.
[22:05:09] John McCain, the longest serving Senator and statesman, a true leader, composed a final message to his fellow Americans delivered today by his longtime aide, Rick Davis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for President. I want to end my farewell to you with heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening. I feel it powerfully still. Do not despair of our present difficulties. We believe always in the promise and greatness of America because nothing is inevitable here.
Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history. Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you and God bless America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Very well said. John McCain, a statesman and an American hero. President Trump finally speaking out tonight, saying our hearts and prayers are with John McCain's family and that we appreciate everything Senator McCain has done for the country. And let's talk about that. Now I want to bring in Abby Phillip. She is a CNN White House Correspondent, Chris Cillizza, CNN politics reporter and editor- at-large, and CNN Global Affairs Analyst, Max Boot.
Good evening. What's wrong with him? What is wrong with this man?
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: That's a great question, Don. I mean to paraphrase Winston Churchill, Donald Trump occasionally, sometimes does the right thing, but only after he has exhausted every other alternative. And it was just sickening to see how hard it was today to get him to do the normal decent human thing and to pay homage in any way whatsoever...
LEMON: How small can you be?
BOOT: That's a great question. And he redefines smallness all the time. And it is such a contrast with John McCain who was larger than life. His heroics were almost beyond belief. The kind of life he lived inspires nothing but admiration. And we are hearing that kind of admiration expressed. And you can just see how it is eating away at Donald Trump, you know, and his small soul.
He can't stand to see somebody else getting all this praise. And he is lashing out. It's just a horrible thing to see from somebody who is supposed to lead the nation, who is supposed to express our highest ideals. And Donald Trump talks a lot about American greatness, but he does not exemplify American greatness. John McCain exemplified American greatness.
LEMON: Chris, you know, I said in the open, the word statesman. I keep using the word statesman. It's a huge loss not only for the Senate but for the country.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes. I mean look, if you had to ask someone to name a U.S. Senator, chances are with Hillary Clinton out of the Senate and Ted Kennedy having passed, you would probably get John McCain as the name that would be on most people's lips. There is a reason for that. Part of it is because he ran for President twice.
Part of it is because of the compelling nature of his life, someone born into a military family who by his own admission screwed up. I was watching our documentary last night. John McCain says I didn't know. I don't how I graduated from Annapolis. You know his life story I think is something that draws a lot of people in and his willingness to admit that yeah, I screw up.
I got knocked down. I got back up. And that is all you can do. I think and that is why -- I'm with you, by the way, Don -- if we can spend 90 percent of the time talking about John McCain...
CILLIZZA: What Donald Trump did today, the statement he released on Saturday, the statement he released under pressure today lacks a lot of things. But I think the most important thing it lacks is grace and class. And that's what we expect out of a President, Republican, Democrat, Independent, whatever.
LEMON: There is another G word that goes with that, and the word is gauche. And if you don't know that word, it's gauche, just look it up, gauche. And it exemplifies exactly what is happening in the moment right now with this person. And yes, you know, I agree with you on that. Abby, I have got to bring Abby in because I need some analysis from the White House.
So the President finally -- Abby, good evening to you, issued a proclamation, right, to lower the flags at the White House (Inaudible). And he finally issued a brief statement of praise after ignoring numerous questions at five different photo ops about McCain. And I want you to watch this and I'll get your response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:09:57] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, any thoughts on John McCain?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why won't you say anything about John McCain?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, any comment on John McCain, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Abby, we are hearing more tonight about what his White House staff was hoping would happen. What are you hearing?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it seems very much that the pressure just built and built and built, not just outside of the White House but also inside the White House. We are learning tonight that some White House staffers here were really hoping the President would correct this. Many of them were exerting pressure internally, trying to get the President to understand the need to change course here at the White House.
But one of the interesting things that happened later this afternoon was that we got a really strongly worded statement from the American Legion. This is a veteran's organization that put out a statement, pointing out in pretty clear and not in any flowery terms, but pretty straightforwardly that the President had made proclamations, lowering the flags for people like Barbara Bush, for Billy Graham earlier in this year.
And then they said we strongly urge you to make an appropriate Presidential proclamation, noting Senator McCain's death and legacy of service to this nation. And after that statement, the spokesperson for the American Legion actually said that they heard from White House staffers thanking them for putting out such a strongly worded statement on this issue.
Ultimately, that pressure caused President Trump to cave. And listen to what he eventually said at the very end of the night at an event local dinner at the White House here tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Also, our hearts and prayers are going to the family of Senator John McCain. There will be a lot of activity over the next number of days. And we very much appreciate everything that Senator McCain has done for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: The question remains why. Why did this have to happen? And we are also hearing from some of the President's allies, people who are close to this White House on Capitol Hill, who call this a really unforced error. It could have been something very simple, following the basic protocols that have been well established by Presidents before him.
But this President chose not to do that. And here we are, finally many, many hours later with the President really taking a sharp turn in the other direction from where he started, Don.
LEMON: Max, I just want to read this from (Inaudible) op-ed, OK? It says McCain's passing tragic at any time is the sadder now. His dedication to America's global leadership, advocacy for human rights, steadfast opposition to despots, devotion to bipartisanism, willingness to break with his own party, insistent on putting the nation's interest above self interest, and above all, his unwavering sense of right and wrong all are desperately needed at a time when his party has embraced an immoral, narcissistic demagogue who fronds over tyrant and flirts with isolationism and protectionism and white nationalism.
As I read that, I thought about this whole debate about what is patriotic and what is not and who actually owns the flag. Is it our military people? Is it all Americans? He doesn't even know how to be a patriot, if he doesn't understand that true patriotism is honoring an American war hero.
BOOT: That's exactly right, Don. I mean you hear Donald Trump try to wrap himself in the flag and try to make use of patriotism for political gain, which is something he does all the time by, you know, abusing NFL players or making himself out to be a super patriot, calling Democrats, saying that they are treasonous. But he has no idea, as you say, of what true patriotism is all about.
LEMON: What does it say about the character of people in Washington now?
BOOT: Well, I think it says something very alarming about the nature of our politics, which is something that John McCain talked about in his farewell statement, where he talked about how we weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have shown resentment and hatred and violence in all corners of the globe.
I think that is exactly on point. That is exactly what has happened. And, you know, Donald Trump has (Inaudible) environment, he's kind of the culmination it, but he exacerbates it. He makes it worse. And he does so for cynical political gain, because this is how he solidifies his base. And John McCain stood for a very different kind of politics where it wasn't all about himself.
It was really about putting the country first and being willing to suffer physically, being willing to suffer politically if it was to help this great country of ours. And Donald Trump clearly does not share that same view. And it's truly tragic and infuriating the way that he misuses patriotism while ignoring what this country is really all about.
[22:14:54] LEMON: Yes. (Inaudible) people should be vehemently speaking out against this. And I don't mean, you know, some (Inaudible) you know, Twitter.
LEMON: But people in Washington aren't doing that right now.
BOOT: Democrats are. Republicans aren't. I mean they have given up everything they claim to believe in to become part of this cult of personality around Donald Trump. And now you are seeing that. And every day, Trump does something that hits a new low. And you realize there is no bottom. I mean he can keep going forever.
LEMON: It's just sad. It's gross.
BOOT: It really is.
LEMON: It really is. Stay with me, everyone, much more about the amazing life of John McCain. Two men who beat him at the ballot box and went on to occupy the Oval Office will offer eulogies later this week.
LEMON: Breaking news, President Trump finally breaking his silence on the passing of John McCain, saying he appreciates everything the longtime Arizona Senator has done for the country. Finally, he's saying that. I'm back now with Abby Phillip, Chris Cillizza, and Max Boot.
Abby, I'm going to go -- Abby Phillip, excuse me. I'm going to go to you first. Abby, listen, everyone remembers this moment. It's from a McCain town hall rally. It was back in 2008 where he comes to the defense of his opponent, Barack Obama. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have read about him. And he is not -- he's not -- no.
[22:19:57] MCCAIN: No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He is a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that's what this campaign is all about. He's not -- thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: We know, Abby, nothing wrong with being Muslim or Arab, but it was simply just something that was fake and false, and the way that they were using it was detrimental, trying to place the former President as other. But it's just one of powerful moments. It really speaks to McCain's character and decency. And you can't help but compare it to the rhetoric now. You can't help but do it.
PHILLIP: You also can't help but compare it to the President who actually trafficked in those conspiracy theories that were fuelling what this woman was saying. You know John McCain was saying he is a decent man. But he knew where it was coming from. It was this conspiracy theory, misinformation campaign that said that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, that he was a Muslim, that he was other, that he was someone else. And John McCain was saying that is not true, that we actually just
have political disagreements. And that you can disagree with someone about politics without trying to denigrate their character or make up things about them. You know President Trump spent a lot of time talking about how President Obama. He didn't believe was an American citizen. And those were lies that were borne out of the same thing.
So Don, yeah, the contrast is really sharp. But I think that it also is one of the reasons why these two men really never got along. It is part of a long standing difference of opinion on politics, but also on temperament, and a lot of other issues that have led us to where we are today. And I think that is why we are seeing this kind of spectacle that we knew President Trump would have a hard time dealing with this moment when it finally came.
LEMON: Abby Phillip, you have been working really hard, and we know you have more work to do. We appreciate you joining us. So we're going to let Abby go and then we'll continue the conversation with Max and Chris, again, our thanks to Abby Phillips standing at the White House lawn doing such great reporting. Now Chris, even, you know, in McCain's concession speech to Obama, he was gracious. But it was more than that. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: This is a historic election. And I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans, and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight. I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next President our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Think about that, Chris. He very much understood the historic nature of the country electing the first African-American President. He urged his supporters to get behind President Obama. He didn't say I want to see his birth certificate. And you know what else does he have to lose? Look. Get behind my African-American. He said I want you to understand the historic nature of this. He is all of our President. Wow, imagine that.
CILLIZZA: Yes. I'm glad you played that, because as Abby was talking, I was thinking that one of the big differences between Donald Trump and John McCain is John McCain understood there is a difference between doing, not always, but often between doing the right thing and doing the thing that will make you win. Donald Trump -- for Donald Trump, his moral compass is entirely focused on is this is good for me, will it help me win whether it's...
LEMON: There is no moral compass.
LEMON: His compass.
CILLIZZA: John McCain, in both the incident you played where he corrects the woman and says, you know, Barack Obama, say what you want about policies, but don't say that about that. It's not true. And then in his concession speech, and then by the way in the remarks that Rick Davis, his former campaign manager, read today that he wrote to have read posthumously, he talks about what an honor it was to be able to concede, to acknowledge that there are things that are not worth doing even if that might give you a leg up, whether it is in a day, in a week, in a campaign, in a lifetime of politics.
He spoke eloquently about his unwillingness to speak out in taking the Confederate Flag down in South Carolina. He spoke eloquently about the fact that he wrote a letter when he was in the North Vietnamese prison that he -- sort of a confession that he wished he had done -- he spoke eloquently about the times in which he didn't do the right thing.
And again, I do still think there is a difference between winning and losing and right and wrong. Those are not synonymous. Our current President views them as such. We should not fall to that trap.
BOOT: I think part of the reason why Donald Trump hated John McCain so much is because at some level John McCain made him feel inadequate. At some level, I think Donald Trump realizes that John McCain was simply a superior human being. That he exemplified virtues that Donald Trump does not possess.
[22:25:03] LEMON: Let me ask you. Let me jump in right there, because I want to get this before we have to go to the break. Talk to me about what it means. What does it say about John McCain, that John McCain wants two men who beat him, President George W. Bush and Barack Obama to eulogize him? That is to me I was like, wow, that is huge.
BOOT: I mean I think that exemplifies the kind of bipartisanship that John McCain dedicated his life to. I mean let's remember how bitter the 2000 election was, in which he lost the Republican nomination to George W. Bush. I mean in South Carolina, it got really ugly. It got really dirty, where the Bush campaign was spreading rumors that John McCain had an illegitimate African-American child.
There is all sorts ugliness going on, and that I know riled up Senator McCain. He was furious about what happened. But he got over it, and he understood that for the good of the country. He had to get behind President Bush. And of course, the 2008 campaign was also a bitter one in many ways. And it was hugely disappointing to McCain that he was ahead in early September and he wound up losing.
But he got over it for it, again for the good of the country, which is what his whole life was about. And I think the way he was able to reconcile with Bush and Obama is really a great example that I wish that Donald Trump and others would pay attention to.
LEMON: Couldn't -- listen. He took the high road. This one couldn't find the high road with a GPS, a driver.
CILLIZZA: Low road every time.
LEMON: Thank you very much. When we come back, remembering John McCain with one of the men who knew him best, his former adviser, Mark McKinnon. He joins me next.
[22:30:06] LEMON: Well, the Senate honoring John McCain today for his decades of service to this country. Senator John McCain could not raise his arms because of wounds he suffered as a POW. But throughout his career, he excelled at reaching across the aisle to get things done. And joining me now is McCain's former adviser, Mark McKinnon.
He is the executive producer of "The Circus" on Showtime. Listen, I'm really -- I have always loved having you on. But I am honored to have you here tonight. And I loved your tribute. It was a fantastic letter. And we are going to get to that. But the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell paid tribute to Senator McCain on the Senate floor just a short time ago. I want you to watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When John saw an issue the same way you did, you knew you just had found your most stalwart ally. You would thank your lucky stars. Because when you found yourself on the other side of that table as I think all of us learned, you were in for a different kind of unforgettable experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What were some times that you saw McCain abandon his party for the sake of his personal principles?
MARK MCKINNON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, SHOWTIME'S "THE CIRCUS": I love that, and hats off tonight for Senator McCain. I hadn't heard that clip from Senator McConnell, particularly moving to me because they had some real tangles, you know, especially over money and politics, campaign finance, which was you know, something that initially attracted me to John McCain.
But Mitch McConnell fought him tooth and nail on a lot of those issues. So I mean that was an example of somebody rising up, somebody who had a lot of fights with John McCain. And, you know, the great thing about John McCain we are celebrating this week is that he represented all of the great ideals in politics, sort of things like why we got involved in politics and journalism in the first place.
It was honor, integrity, cross party lines to do the right thing, patriotism, courage, honor. And he represented such a towering figure. And so when the news came, you know, it hit me hard that we are going to miss the guy. But man, are we going to miss his voice. And -- but what I do love about all we are celebrating, too, and all the remembrances is that I hope that that's going to inspire more John McCain's to come forward in the future. LEMON: But Senator McCain's last vote on the Senate floor was his
famous thumb's down on his party's top legislative priority, which was trying to kill or repeal and replace Obamacare. It was not because he supported Obamacare, but because he said this is not how legislation was supposed to work. Do you ever see Congress governing the way John McCain hoped or which was a way should've been or have those days passed (Inaudible)?
MCKINNON: Well, again, I just hope that the events of this week will kind of just slap everybody in the face and say there was a time we did things differently and we rose up, and there was a process in the Senate and in our Congress where it was much more Democratic and not bottled up to reflect a representation of the people who elected these people, so we can have a say in what actually happens in this country.
So that was a great example (Inaudible). But he paid severely for that among a lot of Republicans, you know who had voted for Trump, and a lot probably even voted for McCain thinking that he would vote against that bill.
LEMON: So listen. The farewell letter to McCain, it was published in the Daily Beast. Here's what he wrote, OK? You said your independence was legendary. While I didn't always agree with you always, there was never a question in my mind that you always did as you pledged you would and then indeed put country first. When was the time you disagreed with him?
MCKINNON: Gays in the military. You know that was one that I felt pretty strongly about and as did he. And, you know, we kind of tangled about that a couple of times. But, you know, eventually, he came around on that issue. But, you know, he was an old military guy. And I kind of got it, but, you know, it was something we disagreed with.
But again, you know, he had a famous temper, but he never held it very long. And he appreciated the fact that people would disagree with them when they felt strongly about it.
LEMON: Yes. You went on to work for John McCain after working for George W. Bush, who had stymied McCain's first White House run. And then you quit working for McCain because of Barack Obama. How did you come to that arrangement, and how did that play out?
MCKINNON: It was an unusual arrangement, Don. Senator McCain asked me to work for his Presidential campaign. And I said I would be honored. But I would mow your lawn in Sedona if you asked me to do it. I do anything. I said, but I -- if I do this I have an unusual ask, which is that if you get the nomination and this guy Barack Obama, who I met and I liked him. I disagreed with his politics, most of it anyway.
[22:35:00] But I thought his candidacy would be good for the country. And if he was nominated and McCain was nominated, I didn't want to be the tip of the spear attacking Obama, and didn't think I'd be the right guy to do it anyway. So McCain kind of -- he said that was kind of weird, McKinnon, but you are kind of weird anyway. So but I think he sort of dismissed it thinking it wasn't going to happen.
It was early 2007. And then -- but to make sure and knowing that he might forget, and I wanted the senior staff not to be surprised, and also to pin my own wings to the wall because I was afraid I would chicken out and not honor my word after I pledge that. I wrote a memo to the campaign. And then it happened. And of course, McCain had forgotten.
And so I had to go get the memo and walk it in. He looked at me and was like - McKinnon -- but, you know, then he gave me a hug and he said man, thanks for helping me get here. I really appreciate all you have done. And it would be very un-McCain-like not to keep your word, so god bless you and good luck.
LEMON: As you always say, it's a pleasure, Captain. It's a pleasure. Thank you, and you're right, hats off to John McCain. Thank you, Mark McKinnon.
MCKINNON: Yes. I know he will be taking it hard upstairs.
LEMON: Taking it hard. Thank you, Sir. When we come back, the enemy is dead. That is how one Russian senator reacted to the passing of John McCain, the stark differences between McCain and Trump's view of Putin and what happens to the U.S./Russia relations. That's next.
[22:40:00] LEMON: Senator John McCain was a thorn in Russia's side throughout his political career. In Russian media, he was portrayed as the ultimate cold warier and a symbol Russia phobia.
Joining me now to discuss is CNN National Security Commentator, Mike Rogers. He is the former House Intelligence Committee Chairman, and the host of CNN's "DECLASSIFIED." Mr. Rogers, always a pleasure. Thank you for coming on.
MIKE ROGERS, NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR, CNN: Thank you for having me.
LEMON: Yes, absolutely. John McCain is remembered so far as many things, his decorated military career, his decades in Congress, his Presidential aspirations. What do you think John McCain's legacy will be?
ROGERS: You know I think he is that guy that did work to, you know, reach his hand across the aisle when it wasn't popular. I think that's going to be a big part -- he is hawkish on national security. He was -- believed in the importance of U.S. engagement in the world. I think that is going to be really important, you know. He led so many congressional efforts around the world to try to work out problems in real time.
He didn't get a lot of credit for a lot of that. But he did a lot of -- some great work overseas for that. I think when you look at that body of work. I think that is, you know, the story of John McCain. He was for, you know -- I thought McConnell said it right today, you know. There is no better friend to have in a fight and, you know, no worse enemy.
When he wanted to clobber you, he surely came at you. As a member of Congress, I have been on both sides of that. But I always respected him. And his temper never, you know, went longer than 24 hours. I'll tell you that, you know. He would call you up sometimes after, you know a disagreement when I was chairman, and, you know, say we are all right. We are all right. We are all right. We are all right.
He would hang up the phone and the next day we would be back at something different.
LEMON: That is how it is supposed to be. That is how it is supposed to be. You know you have an argument or whatever, you go have a a beer later, or go out for coffee or whatever, and then it is fine. You don't have to agree. But that is how it is supposed to be. Listen. But -- let's stick to this Russia thing, because there are some pretty disgraceful things that have been said about him in Russia, and recently on Russian television.
Because he was a frequent foe of Russia throughout his career, and the reaction to his death really hasn't been kind. Russia's TV quote, called him quote, the main symbol of Russia phobia, Russian senator said this about him. He is a symbol of the outspoken anti-Russian thinking. In essence, Russia cannot be anything other than hostile. The enemy is dead. May the lord accept his dark soul and determine its future, gee-whiz.
LEMON: It's harsh, but why was he so unpopular, which is a good thing with the Russian government?
ROGERS: It was a good thing. I mean actually, if John McCain were on your show right now, he would take that as a badge of courage.
ROGERS: Because he had the courage -- he was very sober about what the Russians had been doing, not only recently, but over the last 40 years, you know. They can put on a happy face, but they have been pretty ugly actors around the world. And they do it with the levers of power that they have. They don't have an economy. I mean when was the last time you bought anything that said made in Russia, not recently.
And so what they do is they use their intelligence services. They use cutouts. They do the things like they did to us in 2016. And John McCain understood that that force was always and constantly at work to great democracies, including our allies, and was always willing to stand up. So I don't think he would be bothered by it. I think he has probably got a bit of a smile on his face that the Russians, who he knew and frequently called out for their activities, now think that he is no longer important.
But what they don't understand is I do think the legacy of that hawkish, work across the aisle, U.S. engagement will transcend John McCain in a way that I think he'd be proud.
LEMON: He spent 5 1/2 years in a Vietnamese prison after being shot down from a bombing mission in 1967. And this is with a man running the prison said of McCain's passing. He said at the time I liked him personally for his toughness and strong stance. Later on, when he became a U.S. Senator, he and Senator John Carey greatly contributed to promote Vietnam-U.S. relations.
So I was very fond of him. When I learned about his death early this morning, I felt very sad. I mean what is it about John McCain that even the man who oversaw his torture at the Hanoi Hilton came to admire him?
[22:44:55] ROGERS: You know this is one of those moments, Don, where you say we should not cry that he died but we should smile that he lived. And this is one of those moments. He was able to get through some very harsh treatment, both mentally, emotionally, and take that into his U.S. Senate role and then reach back and say I forgive. Let's move on. We can do something better.
And that really was that spirit and that legacy of John McCain. He always believed yes, we are going to fight it out when we have the difference. But at the end of the day, we're going to work for something bigger and something better, because he always put his country first. And he believed that Vietnam as a friend of the United States was the better solution for the United States of America, and that international engagement.
Think about somebody who could have carried a grudge, you know, unlike what we have seen here in the United States in the last few days. This guy could have carried a grudge. He didn't do it because he put his country before that, and he put the interests, not only of the people of Vietnam, who by the way, he believed he was fighting for and the interest of the United States.
I just think that is the essence of John McCain's effortless style and personal ethos that he brought to public office.
LEMON: Thank you for your kind words about John McCain. Mike Rogers, appreciate it.
ROGERS: Thanks, man.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
[22:50:00] LEMON: (Inaudible) excuse me, Chuck Schumer says he's going to introduce a resolution to rename a Senate office building after John McCain. The building currently named after former Georgia Democratic Senator Richard Russell, who served from 1933 to 1971. Russell was known for his strong support of the military. He supported President Roosevelt new deal programs to get the country out of the great depression.
And he was known as the master of the Senate's rules and procedures. But Russell was a segregationist. He had a deep opposition to civil rights, and was vehemently against the Civil Rights Act. He simply didn't believe in equality. In his own words, Russell said, we will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling amalgamation of the races in our southern states.
So should a building on Capitol Hill when used by elected officials be named in honor of someone who didn't fight for all Americans, or should it be named after John McCain?
Joining me now is Michael Higginbotham. He is a professor at the University of Baltimore Law School and the Author of Ghosts of Jim Crow, Ending Racism in Post-Racial America.
Good evening, Sir. Thank you for joining us. Listen. Senator Schumer is proposing to changing the name of the Russell building, office building to the McCain Senate Office Building. What do you think of that idea?
F. MICHAEL HIGGINBOTHAM, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE SCHOOL OF LAW: Yes. I think it is very appropriate. As you mentioned, Richard Russell was a divider. He co-authored the southern manifesto, which was an encouragement of legislators to oppose integration after Brown versus Board of Education in 1954. He opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which eliminated discrimination in public accommodations and employment.
So he's the poster child for Jim Crowe's segregation, a divider, somebody who did not represent all Americans. And I think it's really wonderful that John McCain's name would go on the office building, because John McCain has been a uniter, as has been mentioned so many times today.
LEMON: Richard Russell was a Democrat. Why do you think Republicans would balk at supporting the change?
HIGGINBOTHAM: Well, I don't think they should. I think it would be very appropriate, as you say. McCain is a Republican, so Republicans should be in favor of it. Russell was a Democrat. But I think a bipartisan effort by Republicans and Democrats would be very appropriate for this change. And as I say, McCain is a uniter. That would be much more appropriate, particularly in these most divisive of times.
LEMON: Yes. You know the same day President Trump said there were very fine people on both sides in Charlottesville. He also said this about taking down Confederate statues. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You you're you really do have to ask yourself where does it stop. Are we going to take down, are we going to take down statues to George? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson?
Do you like him? OK, good. Are we going to take down the statue, because he was a major slave owner? Now we're going to take down his statue. So you know what, its fine. You're changing history. You're changing culture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Wow. God, there's so much wrong with that.
HIGGINBOTHAM: A whole lot wrong.
LEMON: This whole thing is about backwards thinking, right? That was a prime example of the -- Senator Russell was not part of the Confederacy, but he did have some backwards views about civil rights and about equality. Do you think the President feels the same way about taking down Confederate statues as he would about taking down Russell's name?
HIGGINBOTHAM: Well, it's an interesting question. I would think that the President needs to be a little bit more sophisticated in his analysis and in his approach.
LEMON: Good luck with that.
HIGGINBOTHAM: We are a country with a long history of race discrimination. But one country that has acknowledged that history was wrong. And at least most people have acknowledged it. And when you have that kind of a situation, it is very important to have a little bit more complexity in your analysis. So certainly, we've had individuals that were slave holders.
[22:55:09] We've had individuals that who supported segregation. But we've also had individuals who opposed slavery and who opposed segregation. We need to recognize and honor many of those individuals as well. And John McCain, of course, would be an appropriate person to recognize with all his sacrifices for the country, putting the country over party. He needs to be recognized, and this would be very appropriate.
LEMON: Michael Higginbotham, always a pleasure. Thank you, Sir.
HIGGINBOTHAM: OK, my pleasure.
LEMON: When we come back, is Paul Manafort changing his tune? Attorneys for the former Trump campaign chairman reportedly sought a plea deal with federal prosecutors, but talks stalled. Remember, the President said Paul Manafort would never flip. He was trying to, what it means for Manafort's future next.