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Manafort Sought Plea Deal Before Second Trial But Talks With Mueller's Team Broke Down; Trump Organization CFO Granted Immunity; Roger Stone Predicts He Will Be Indicted; Why Trump Was Slow To Comment On McCain; President Trump Finally Speaks About John McCain; Eulogies For John McCain; New Book Calls V.P. Pence 'The Shadow President;' Debate Over McCain's Successor; GOP Senate Candidates In Arizona Embrace Trump; John McCain's Farewell Message To America. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired August 27, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Done Lemon. 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast, live with all the new developments for you this hour. Wall Street Journal reporting that after being found guilty of fraud at his first trial, former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, stop a plea deal before his upcoming second trial, but talks with Robert Mueller's team broke down. This happened against the backdrop of President Trump's former allies abandoning him. His former lawyer, Michael Cohen claims the president directed him to pay two women for their silence during the 2016 campaign.
That case is being handled by prosecutors for the Southern District of New York. Cohen could also be a key witness in the investigation of the trump Foundation where the President and his three eldest children are accused of operating in persistent violation of state and federal law. That is quote. The CFO of the trump organizations Allen Weissenberg also granted immunity by the Southern District of New York. And then there is long time Trump associate Roger Stone attempting to raise funds for his legal defense even though he hasn't been charged with anything. So predict set, Mueller will indict him.
The president's current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani confirming they haven't heard from the Special Counsel office in three weeks. Giuliani is also pushing and arbitrary deadline of September 1st for Mueller's team to be clear there are no rules or deadlines that Mueller's operating under and Giuliani knows that.
So, let's begin this hour ahead with three of our CNN Legal Analysts, Laura Coates, Renato Mariotti and Areva Martin. She is the author of "Make It Rain."
Good evening to all of you, so good to have you on. So, Laura I will start with you. This is a reporting from the Wall Street Journal, OK? Reporting that jurors in Virginia were deliberating Manafort's defense team. I was trying to get an agreement with prosecutors for his second trial that is supposed to begin next month, right? Ultimately they did not reach the deal but what does it say to you that those conversations are happening or didn't happen. LAURA COATES, CNN INTERNATIONAL LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm not
surprised. Of course, remember, they tried to combine these two trials, but Paul Manafort opted against it hoping instead to have the defense that he would be able to advocate from Southern Virginia, divide the resource of the prosecuting team, have them on the ropes in this particular case. And so when he see it is writing on the wall they will go forward.
And of course, remember around the time he is reported of having this conversation is around the time that the prosecution team said we got about three time as much evidence in this next trial as the first. I am not surprise that he wanted it that point to try to consolidate the cases knowing full well it didn't have the effect of dividing the resource and undermining their momentum at that particular case. Now if that is unsuccessful it should also tell you perhaps that it is Mueller's team that said, no you had an opportunity to bite that apple, now you get no apples.
LEMON: Interesting. So Areva, listen that the Journal reports the plea talks were stalled over issues raised by Special Counsel, Robert Mueller at Mueller adding this, it isn't clear what those issues were so why do you think Mueller step in, raise concerns about a possible deal?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, obviously the prosecutors are always looking to negotiated a deal if there's something there they can get out of. It is a full cooperation in this case would have to mean, Paul Manafort providing the prosecution with valuable information. Information that is valuable. I don't think we can forget what's been happening in the media around Paul Manafort. We saw Donald Trump praising Paul Manafort for not flipping.
Calling him a courageous and brave man. We saw the Paul Manafort team in exchange thanking the President. So all of this kind of dog whistling back and forth suggesting that the president is looking at pardoning Paul Manafort. And we had heard reports that the President said he would bring in another lawyer if the inn-house White House council is not willing to draft this pardon. So the questions are still out there, does Paul Manafort really want to cooperate with federal prosecutors or is he just buying time waiting for the President to pardon him?
LEMON: Interesting. Renato, what does it tell you that Mueller's concerns were great enough that the talks stalled?
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, first of all don't forget Mueller has most of the cards here, if not all of them. I think both of my colleagues here have already made that point pretty clear. What I think happen was that Manafort was trying to get something out of this deal other than just the typical thing you get out of pleading guilty which is you avoid trial. You save yourself some money and so forth. If I want on Manafort's team, what I would be trying to do is try to get Mueller to concede and have all of the charges --
[23:05:00] excuse me the sentencing for all the charges in both cases handle by Judge Ellis in Virginia. That will be clearly in Manafort's interest. Judge Ellis seem to have a little bit of sympathy for Manafort. I don't think the Judge in D.C. who has her orders defied by Manafort is nearly as good a feelings towards him. But I don't think Mueller will give him any concession.
I don't think Mueller is going to do anything out of ordinary for Manafort at this point a guy that, you know, has dragged this all the way to a second trial on the brink of a second trial, wasted a lot of resources and attacked the Special Counsel office. And during the last trial was trying to tamper with the jury.
LEMON: Yes. Well, the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani is telling Dana Bash tonight that Trump's lawyer still haven't heard back from Mueller's office on their proposal for Mueller's team interview Trump. Giuliani says the Special Counsel office told him they are -- this is a quote, still studying his latest letter to them. It has been nearly three weeks since they sent that letter, what is going on with this delay?
COATES: Well, the delay and he is probably only hearing here is probably accurate. Because of course remember, the idea of having this conversation with Robert Mueller and his team is contention on there being good faith negotiations. It seems that over the course of the past three weeks if they look back. Rudy Giuliani and his team, including Jay Sekulow through his radio show and podcasting, has been trying to go suggest they do this in the court of public opinion not in private conversations and negotiations with Mueller and his team.
He laid out deadlines, he has talked about the types of questions that he would demand. He has made allegations and statements about whether or not he in fact will comply even if those demands are met. It seems to me we are at a point in time when it seems the game of chicken that Mueller's team has decide not to play any longer and may have a couple of options here. Either one they can go ahead and issue a subpoena and do away with bad faith of negotiations or they could write that report and hand it off to Rod Rosenstein even without the President's opportunity to speak about what happened in his campaign or they could continue to play this game with Rudy Giuliani and hope that Giuliani doesn't remember or doesn't try to advocate for to it to end before the midterm election. All of the possibilities that at the end of the day, again, it is Mueller who holds the cards. Giuliani who has led people to believe that he ever had new leverage.
LEMON: I haven't hear rigamarole so long. Thank you for that.
COATES: I am old soul.
LEMON: I know, my grandma use to say that all the time, rigamarole, forgot about that word.
COATES: I don't know how to spell rigamarole, but I say it frequently.
LEMON: I appreciate it. I really, Giuliani told Dana that he thinks Mueller's team might be planning something. Do you think Giuliani is right? MARTIN: Well, I don't think we can believe anything that Rudy
Giuliani says. We know he has become more of a spin doctor than a lawyer and that he is spinning information, oftentimes giving misinformation and the inaccurate information trying to appeal to Trumps base tried to continue to you know, of a surface narrative that there is in this witch hunt. This whole undermining the legitimacy of the special counsel's investigations.
So I don't placed a lot of cretins in anything that he says. Although I should note that Roger Stone, a trust -- trusted Trump advisor has made some prediction that the special counsel is about to indict Donald Trump Jr. for lying to the FBI. So they're all kinds of theories out there. One thing we know about the special counsel he has been above reproach. He has been incredibly professional and rather than you know I'm leaking information and showing his hands. He is just gone about the business of indicting people that have been engaged in criminal activity. So to the extent you know there's some other folks out there that have been engaged in criminal activity, they probably have reason to be worried tonight.
LEMON: Interesting. Let us talk about this, this false deadline Renato, because Giuliani has said Trump is open to talking to Mueller on the limited conditions, but now he says Trump won't sit down for an interview after September 1st, because I could interfere with the midterm elections. That is a false deadline isn't it?
MARIOTTI: Well, of course it is and you know, look, as you pointed out earlier, there's no actual deadline that Mueller has really what I view this as a veiled threat by Rudy Giuliani. Look, if Rudy Giuliani was a private lawyer or still it is old law firm. No one would be talking about this. No one would care that Rudy Giuliani is making up some random deadline for Bob Mueller. The reason you were talking about this is because it's essentially a veiled threat by a spokesperson for the President of the United States, suggesting that he is going to try to shut down the Mueller investigation or do something to undermine the Mueller investigation.
[23:10:02] If it doesn't wrap things up on his timetable and the reality is the President is under investigation and when you are under federal investigation. You don't get to tell the prosecutors and the FBI agents to stop investigating you, if you feel like they are taking too long.
I will tell you what I investigated crime. Most of the people I investigated thought my investigations took too long, they love for to wrap up early so I didn't get the evidence against it get the charges together, but I don't expect Bob Mueller to that willingly.
LEMON: Well, Laura, meanwhile the Southern District of New York is offered immunity deal to Trumps the Trump organization CFO Allen Weisselberg in their investigation to Michael Cohen. This investigation it was maybe an even bigger thought, I think Areva things that to President Trump because this one cannot be shut down. I want to ask you and then Areva, quickly, do you agree with that?
COATES: Well, yes, the idea that this thing one that you can shut down. Remember, the reason the President is talking about the Mueller probe being a witch hunt that he is going to be beyond his mandate, although that is not true to look into raven farm out the case with Michael Cohen, and of course the Southern District of new York U.S. Attorney already recuse himself from that prosecution, because it was the President himself who intervene for that role.
Now it's been handed over to a second person in the U.S. trade office who is a career, I believe attorney and now you have the SDNY can actually prosecute any crimes that comes across and so, if you have the CFO other Trump organization, the only non-family member who is in is very high efficient authority. Being in the position that actually had the immunity, it means one, he had valuable information. Two he could actually corroborate somebody's testimony, who may had have credibility issues, see Michael Cohen in that.
And number three, in some way, I had something to prosecute you about. I can't just offer immunity for no reason. So it is a very opposed threat is waiting on the president of the United States. And one, that probably can be turned into any ammunition for what a witch hunt would look like.
LEMON: A bigger threat to the president, why do say that Areva?
MARTIN: I made pretty clear Don, you can't get rid of the entire Southern District of New York and is not just the Southern District that is investigating now the Trump and Trump team you have the state Attorney General of New York. You have the Manhattan district attorney. So you have these three bodies investigating Donald Trump, you can't just fire everyone as if he is suggesting that after the midterms.
He may get rid of Jeff Sessions, he may get rid of Rod Rosenstein, we have seen the numerous tweets where he is attacked his Justice Department, but this goes further than anything that I think Trump was anticipating. So while he is been on this, you know, media campaign to undermine the Special Counsel, well guess what. Here are some other investigatory and law-enforcement agencies investigating him not only him, but members of his inner circle and his entire fans. The three children his children. In addition to him. So I think this poses a much bigger threat to Donald Trump that even what's going on with respect to the special counsel's investigation.
LEMON: Thank you all, by the way your Rigamarole is spelled exactly the way it sounds, rigamarole, confuse or meaningless complex and sometimes ritualistic procedure. You win the vocabulary prize tonight.
COATES: no, no. It is Areva Martin and her earrings for the win.
MARTIN: It is the ladies night. I am sorry Renato. I love it.
COATES: Sorry Renato you are not in the category.
LEMON: Renato, nice purple tie. It is purple. Thank you all I appreciate it. We will be right back.
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: John McCain a senator, presidential candidate, war hero, father and husband, but tonight we also remember McCain's life as a naval aviator. McCain was an icon to pilot some calling him larger- than-life. Joining me now is one of those pilots who viewed McCain as an icon and that is Captain Mark Kelly, he is a retired U.S. navy combat veteran, retired NASA astronaut, from McCain's home state of Arizona.
Captain Kelly, thank you so much for joining us this evening.
MARK KELLY, RETIRED U.S. NAVY COMBAT VETERAN, NASA ASTRONAUT: You are welcome, Don.
LEMON: You know you say that you knew who John McCain was ever since you imagine being a pilot. What would you remember most about him?
KELLY: Well, I grew up in New Jersey in 1960s and 70s, and by the time I really started seriously think about being a pilot in high school I was well aware of what he went through it at the Hanoi Hilton with once I got the flight school. He was a guy we talk about it thought about a lot of for somebody who flies -- flew in combat like myself and others you -- you just certainly hope you never get shot down and you wind up in a situation that he was in, but you do try to think that if that ever did happen to you that you can serve in a way and deal with the experience the way John McCain did. He was somebody that all of us looked up to.
He was a hero of mine and you don't we don't very often get to meet our heroes and for me. It was one of the highlights of my life to get to know him.
LEMON: I know you and your peers, consider McCain as a mentor while in the navy pilot school. But you also became friends with him favorite memory?
KELLY: Well. I have a few I got to know him, because my wife Gabby Gifford was a member of Congress from Arizona. I guess a little bit from being an astronaut office but mostly through Gabby and you know politics is a tough business. Gabby was a Democrat. He was a Republican in her last reelection you know he did ads against her and the not too fun specifically for Gabby when the senior Senator and you know is you know going right after her in an election and in its politics and we understand that.
[23:20:00] I was really surprise a couple years later I was in his office and in Phoenix and he sat me down and he apologized actually for doing this. It is not many people who would even remember two years later, but he was in a lot of ways is very kind and generous and he felt it is very important to let me know that you know they had a little bit of regret for doing that. It was really important to me that you're (inaudible). LEMON: Well, it is important for me, it is important for the country.
Everyone listening to hear what you said he was an opponent of my wife. You know, some ads, who is a senior senator, we did not like it, it was not great for her, I am sure, you know, it made her feel bad, you feel bad. But yet you are still here saying great things about him and you remember his contribution to this country and the sacrifices. That is how it should be.
KELLY: Yes, and you know he carried that may be ethic of sacrifice and service with him throughout his life. You know, he spread around the globe, I mean we have so many problems you know across this planet and he was one of those guys that was out there spreading American values to try to do what's in the in the best interest of the American people. You know we don't see enough of that anymore or not you get the sense of things are changing on that front and his leadership not just here in the United States, but across the globe is something I think we are really gonna find -- we are going to miss.
LEMON: What do you think Americans most need to learn from his life of service in this country?
KELLY: I think bipartisanship is at the top of the list. I mean we have become a very divided and partisan country, but you know what my wife Gabby Gifford. You know he was he was a guy more than I that say anybody else right that was constantly trying to reach across the aisle. He was friends with you know, Democrats and he worked with them.
We'll see a lot of that lately. We really need to get back to that because of what if we don't were not going to be able solve this country's problems. It's not going to be possible, so I hope the 535 members of the United States Congress are thinking a lot about that this week and hopefully they'll find a way to, you know, do that you work together to do the nation's business.
LEMON: I did not know him personally you did. I'm sorry for your loss. And I thank you for coming on and saying such good things about him, I appreciate it.
KELLY: Well, thanks for having me on.
LEMON: When we come back. It's a two full days for the President to comment on the passing of John McCain, what that says what it says more about him and not McCain, that is next.
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump finally speaking tonight about Senator John McCain after declining to say anything all day long.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, any thoughts on John McCain, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe John McCain is a hero, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing at all about 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: Well, let us discuss now, CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley is here. CNN Contributor, Michael D'Antonio is here as well. He is the author of the book now, "The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence."
Thank you both for joining us. So, Michael, I am going to start with you. Wasn't until after the American legion really released a statement urging the President to follow proper protocol at the White House put up a statement. I am going to read this, despite our differences on policy and politics. I respect Senator John McCain service to our country and his honor had signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States if half-staff until the day of his internment. And here he was 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 to 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)
LEMON: Why he is unable to take the high roads in this situation?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Kicking and screaming, no. I mean this is how it feels like he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the normal thing and I wonder sometimes if he just doesn't have that gear in the normal gracious impulse that everyone has when they are mourning the death of a national figure and really someone part of the American family. It just doesn't occur to him to do the right thing and he has to be forced. So ultimately he was forced.
LEMON: This is the first thing you learn in business, right, or as an adult. Don't take anything personally.
D'ANTONIO: As a human being.
LEMON: Don't do anything personally, you know?
D'ANTONIO: So you play sports, you wrestle with somebody or on football field. Then you shake their hand afterwards.
LEMON: So, Doug, I want to bring Douglas in now. Senator John McCain taught us about leadership in all the roles that he held through his 60 years in public service. I mean, what would be a good lesson for the President to learn from McCain's example? DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: He needs to learn
everything from John McCain what true patriotism is, taking care ad worrying about the Veterans, the veterans today who had plead with the president to do the proper, you know going to have staff begin with the flag and get a proper kind of eulogy. But just learn to be a globalist, learn to recognize that Vladimir Putin is not a friend of the United States.
Learn to reach across the aisle. Create some aura of bipartisanship. Try to unite Americans together, not divide them. One could go on and on.
I thought it was one of the worst shows of Donald Trump. And I do think he is missing a gear because it is a no brainer to recognize that John McCain was an icon American hero. He served national symbol of endurance. And the president seemed be grudgingly almost like we had to claw out of him a simple kind remark on a staff.
LEMON: You know, after being flown at full staff this morning, you know, the president later have to -- he relented, Michael, and lower to half-staff. What is it -- what is it about this president?
I just -- I can't even felt like I couldn't believe it. As I was -- honestly, as this was happening there, I was like, there must some mistake, we're reading something wrong, this is not happening in the way that it is.
And the longer it went on, it's like, my, goodness, how low have we sunk in this country that you can't even do that for an American hero? Someone who was captured and devoted their lives to this country. We have sunk to the depths and it doesn't seem like we are going to get pulled out anytime soon.
D'ANTONIO: There is no bottom (ph). Your exasperation is absolutely perfectly felt. Everyone, I think, was exasperated by this.
LEMON: Oh, no. There are people who are making excuses for it, which floored me even further. I'm like, really? And people who knew John McCain, there was someone who even was a surrogate of John McCain who was making excuses for this president. There is no excuse for this. Pardon me. Go on.
D'ANTONIO: There is no excuse. And I almost think that the problem here is that there is no winning in mourning. He only is comfortable when that's a winner and a loser. And there is no winner here. There is just a loss for the country, a call to grace, and this is not a man who is called to grace.
LEMON: Yeah. And lot of losers here. So, listen, you know, McCain asked, Douglas, he be eulogized by presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, the two men who defeated him in his runs for president. Can you imagine Trump ever asking Hillary Clinton to eulogize him?
BRINKLEY: Of course not, but he doesn't have the class of John McCain. And, you know, it is going to be quite moving to hear these eulogies from these former presidents, former adversaries being able to say all the wonderful things they say about and feel about John McCain.
I thought Hillary Clinton has been particularly articulate about her friendship and her travels, going around the world with McCain, how much the men and women of her armed forces loved just meeting Senator McCain, how many countries he has globe trotted to on behalf of promoting American democracy abroad.
So it is very fitting that these two presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, were chosen to do the eulogy. Don, Jimmy Carter gave eulogy for Gerald Ford's funeral and it was a similar situation where in 1976, they are running against each other. Ford had lost, but Ford wanted Carter to be a eulogist.
LEMON: Michael, listen, I want to talk to you about your new book. I find it fascinating. It is called "The Shadow President: The Truth About Michael Pence" by Michael D'Antonio and Peter Eisner.
Listen, you said that Pence believes that he can save Trump's soul. And a person close to you told you that -- here's a quote, it says, the vice president actually believed he could bring Trump to Jesus, and like Jesus, he was willing to do whatever was necessary to help save Trump's soul.
Really? Talk to me about that, please.
D'ANTONIO: Well, this includes some astounding displays of hypocrisy. This is a man in Mike Pence who declares himself a man of faith, a true Christian, but yet he says nothing about Roy Moore. He says nothing when children are locked up and separated from their parents.
This is a fellow who when he was governor said that there should never be a religious test for immigration. And yet when Donald Trump proposed to bar Muslims from American ports of entry, he went along with it. So there is -- in George Will's estimation, he is the most (INAUDIBLE) figure in our public life today.
I think in some ways he is, because Donald Trump is genuinely the man that he prefers (ph) to be. He of the grabbing persuasion. Mike Pence accepts all of this, all of this depraved behavior, and says and does nothing.
[23:34:56] I think if you look at this guy standing behind the president at so many of these events, I don't think you can see a more expressionless person. He has absolutely no expression on his face because he is just there to support the president and never expressed his own values.
LEMON: It is just sick. Morality is transactional now, right? And it's -- the moral high ground is now a moral valley.
D'ANTONIO: Well, the second page of our book talks about how Pence once said, the worst moments in American history come when we value the economy over our morality. That is what President Trump has done.
LEMON: That's where we are. Thank you. "The Shadow President." Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Thank you, Douglas. We'll be right back. [23:40:00] COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump officially ordering White House flags to fly at half-staff in John McCain's honor, but why did it take widespread criticism and scolding by a group that represents two million veterans for him to do that?
Here is to discuss now, Republican Strategist, Rick Wilson. He is the author of "Everything Trump Touches Dies." Also, CNN Political Commentators, Scott Jennings and Symone Sanders. Good evening, everyone. Good evening, good evening, good evening.
First, your reaction to John McCain's passing. Rick, I just -- you know, I saw him sitting there like this.
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL STRATEGIST: For all of my various catalogs or objections to Donald Trump, today was --
LEMON: There it is. Look at the body language as they are asking --
WILSON: He looks like a petulant child. It is beneath the office of the president. It is beneath the dignity of this country. And -- and I guess we are not shocked by it anymore. But it was so small and so petty and so trifling that, you know, even folks in the White House reached out to me and saying how much they hated what he was doing.
LEMON: Scott, listen, late this afternoon, we have been talking about the White House flag being lowered and then raised and then lowered again. Is this an unforced error by Trump?
I have been saying -- I was watching this, there got to be something wrong, like this would never happen, someone made a mistake, the president doesn't know about it, you know, like this is going to be corrected soon and I'm going to turn on the news and -- but then it just went on and on and on. Unforced error?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I mean, they turn the lay-up and do a contested half-court shot for no reason whatsoever. I mean, it was clear the White House staff had a plan to do this the normal and proper way. The president upended it as he sometimes does, you know.
They turn these things that should be (INAUDIBLE) into indefensible moments. And this is not a defensible moment. So, I support the president. I want to see him succeed. But doing things like they did on this flag issue with McCain makes it real hard out there.
And so I would tell the White House that -- and I know they know this, but you got a whole bunch of Republicans out there that want to see the president do right and defend him in these days make it difficult.
LEMON: OK. So let's talk about the tradition, OK, Symone, is it a tradition for flags to remain at half-staff through the day of internment? We all know the whole NFL issue with the kneeling and the national anthem and how he has, Symone, made that into disrespecting the flag and our soldiers which should is not. Is he that playing fast and loose with the rules here when it comes to our flag? Or maybe he just doesn't understand what real patriotism is, because if there's any time to show patriotism, it was this weekend and until John McCain is laid to rest.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. If there's any time to put our political differences aside for an American hero, it would be right now. Rick had it absolutely right. The president is just petty. Yes, petty and trifling. This is what we have seen over the last 24 to 48 hours.
I do think that it is interesting that I'm pretty sure that Donald Trump is still going to try and make NFL players kneeling about the flag, even in the midst of this disrespect, in my opinion, of John McCain, which is unfortunate. I'm happy that so many people spoke up and pressured the president.
And, you know, now the White House seems to be doing the right thing. It shouldn't have taken this, Don. This is a lesson for so many young people that are interested in politics engaged in a political sphere on what not do or how not to exhibit decorum and bipartisanship.
LEMON: Listen, I want to talk about this. It is important for the country. We lost an American hero. But we also lost someone who some people say, to whatever balance we have in the Congress, meaning Senate and Congress, John McCain was the person who -- at least one of the people who is holding that balance and holding people accountable.
What happens to his seat now? What happens to the balance in the Senate? What about the president's agenda? We'll talk about that when we come back.
[23:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: OK, so, as the nation mourns the loss of John McCain, there is a debate over who will fill his U.S. Senate seat? Should it be someone independent like McCain not afraid to take on the White House, or a Trump ally who will staunchly defend the president?
Back now with Rick Wilson, Scott Jennings, and Symone Sanders. So Rick, this leaves a vacant Senate seat in Arizona. The governor -- seat. President Trump has tweeted (ph) support for Governor Ducey in Arizona's primary which is tomorrow. Do you think he is going to pick someone who is a Trump loyalist or someone who should represent the McCain wing of the party? Who should be picked?
WILSON: Well, after tomorrow, Ducey may have a little more latitude to make a choice. I am a big fan of the unlikely scenario. Jeff Flake resigning a seat, Ducey naming him to the four years remaining on the term, and now Cindy McCain to the temporary seat.
But, I don't know where Ducey is going to go with it yet. I think he is a pretty hard Trump guy. That scenario would cause a lot of hair to catch on fire in the White House.
LEMON: Yeah. Symone, this person is going to serve until 2020, when a special election is held. Republicans only have 50 to 49 Senate majority. What are the implications of Governor Ducey's choice in light of Brett Kavanaugh's hearings and the president's growing legal challenges?
SANDERS: Look, I think it is extremely important. The Republicans do not have some super majority in the Senate.
[23:49:58] It takes one or two members to stand up for what they believe in to make a difference. I think about where we would be in this country if Senator McCain had not voted "no" on the health care repeal not that long ago. Where would we be? And so, the person who is going to fill his seat, I think, is pretty important.
I think, look, everyone is going to be looking to what Governor Ducey is going to do. I would hope that we are not going to get Kelli Ward- type, someone who is literally on tour with a white supremacist. But who is to say? I think Governor Ducey is doing right, though, saying that this isn't a conversation that is going to be had until after Senator McCain's interment.
LEMON: OK. So, Scott, I want to get your response and bring you in here, because tomorrow, three Republicans are in a primary to replace Arizona's other senator, which is Jeff Flake, who is retiring.
Representative Martha McSally, Dr. Kelli Ward who is firmly on board with President Trump, and 86-year-old former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio who is pardoned by Trump. You got any prediction for us, Scott?
JENNINGS: I think McSally is going to win. I think Kelli Ward is a terrible human being for someone to think she said over the weekend and deserve to lose this race and does not deserve to be appointed to the Senate seat --
LEMON: Stop right there, Scott. Stop right there.
JENNINGS: I think if I were Governor Ducey, I would --
LEMON: Stop right there.
LEMON: Can we just applaud him for saying that? What she's said and done --
SANDERS: It is true.
LEMON: -- it is disgraceful.
WILSON: It's unbelievable.
LEMON: Go on, Scott. Sorry about that.
JENNINGS: It is disgraceful. It is terrible. And I know she tried to walk it back, but whatever. I mean, look, the reality is, McSally is the only Republican in this race that gives the Republicans a chance to hold the seat, and she will be a loyal Republican in the U.S. Senate. So, I think McSally is the right choice for Republicans.
As for Ducey, I think he needs to appoint someone who is going to be what McCain did, which is support the party most of the time. McCain was a staunch Republican and supported the party. I think he needs to ask this person point-blank if they support Kavanaugh and make sure that's a "yes."
And then put them in in September, let them get to work for the people of Arizona and for the Republican agenda. So, whether that person is deemed to have come from the Trump wing or the McCain wing, I mean, I don't know that they're always mutually exclusive. I think there's some diagram crossover there, but I want a loyal Republican who is going to support Kavanaugh because I want him on the bench the first Monday in October.
SANDERS: Kavanagh is problematic, Don. We brought it up, I just want to note, we don't even have the records from Brett Kavanaugh's entire time. By the time the hearing happens on September 4th, we won't have a fraction of the records. So, how can any senator effectively evaluate Brett Kavanaugh's records without --
JENNINGS: You know what, Symone? You make a great point. How can any senator announce their vote on Kavanagh before they look at everything. Oh, wait, every Democrat said they are "no" on Kavanaugh --
JENNINGS: -- on the first day after the nomination.
LEMON: Why do you all want fight at the end? I'm out of time. We all fight in the end. All right.
SANDERS: We don't see the records.
LEMON: I got -- I want to separate you two. I want to separate you two. I got to go. But, listen, I just want to put this up. After everything Kelli Ward has done, she tweeted out today just two days after the passing of Senator John McCain from brain cancer, she tweeted, political correctness is like a cancer.
SANDERS: Oh, my god.
JENNINGS: I mean, terrible. This is terrible. She is in the same camp as Todd Akin, Christine O'Donnell, and the rest of his trash candidates. If we nominate her, we're out of the seat and the party ought to be out of business out there. Ridiculous.
LEMON: Several seats have it (ph). When we come back, John McCain -- thank you -- reflects on lifetime of service to his country. You're going to hear final words to America, next.
[23:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Senator John McCain was a hero and a proud American who cared about his fellow citizens. And he left a farewell message for all of us. It was read today by former campaign manager, Rick Davis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK DAVIS, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER OF JOHN MCCAIN: I've often observed that I'm the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for 10 satisfying lives, and I am so thankful.
Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anybody else's. Fellow Americans, that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American.
We are citizens of the world's greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world.
We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe.
We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they've always been. We are 325 million opinionated, vociferous individuals.
We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement.
[24:00:00] If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. Do not despair of our present.