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Ambassador Haley Resigns; President Trump Hinting Nepotism; Hurricane Michael Heads to Florida. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 9, 2018 - 22:00   ET



CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Don't forget, her approval, 67 percent in a Quinnipiac poll. Name me one other Trump official with anything close to that.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Yes. Fifty five percent were Democrats too. So she's got a lot going on right now.


CUOMO: Chris Cillizza, you're beautiful. Thank you.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, my friend.

CUOMO: Thanks for watching us. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon starts right now. Cillizza took me over time. I will beat him accordingly.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: No, that's OK because I was sitting here with one of my guests coming up. I'll introduce him later, it's not with the incoming. He's coming up later and we're going to talk all about that.

But Chris Cillizza, if you're still there, that was impeccable analysis. I say that, Chris Cuomo--


CUOMO: I gave him all the answers. He just presented them.

LEMON: -- because he said everything I said today. Everyone is like analyzing. There you go, Chris Cillizza.

CUOMO: Wait a minute. Is everything you said--


CILLIZZA: You're showing the right Chris.

CUOMO: Hold on.

CILLIZZA: Great producing.

LEMON: It's a Chris.

CUOMO: Wait. If it's everything that Don said today, one, then it's not great analysis. And two, that's the only reason he likes it.

LEMON: Don't hate, Chris Cuomo. Don't hate. Don't be a hater. Chris Cillizza, you're right. Here's what -- here's the thing. Everybody is analyzing over analyzing.

I've met Nikki Haley. I don't know her well. I've interviewed her. Very professional, smart, nice enough woman. But it's really as simple as this. She needs the money. She makes more money in the private sector than she does in government. Plus, she wants to be president of the United States. She took the job for a short time.

Now she has the Trump coalition, and then she'll have other Republicans on her side, and then she got out early before everything Trump touches dies as Rick Wilson says. And then she's going to get some independents and maybe some Democrats. She's a very smart woman. That's it. That's the end of it. That's what happened.

CUOMO: I just don't know why it had to happen right now this way. The analysis could still hold and she didn't have to get out in a curious set of timing mechanisms--


LEMON: We'll find out.

CUOMO: -- right after Kavanaugh, right before midterms. That's all I'm saying.

LEMON: We'll find out. You're right. I mean, it is as everyone else says, I don't know if that's the right one, it's a bit fishy, maybe a little suspicious that she's getting out now. People want to know why because she could have done it the day after. But maybe the damage will already have been done--

CUOMO: Maybe.

LEMON: -- after the midterms and it will just look like she's maybe leaving a sinking ship if Republicans do badly. But who knows? Maybe they'll do well, and she could have just said I'm ready to go then too.

CUOMO: There's always going to be a plus-minus. Don, you're right about that.

LEMON: Thank you Chris squared. I appreciate it. Missed you yesterday. I hope you had a great weekend. I hope you caught some big fish. I know that you never really catch any. But that's all right. Yes, there you go. See you soon.

This is CNN Tonight. I am Don Lemon.

And the big news tonight of course is hurricane Michael. This one is a monster, a category three storm taking aim at more than 2.4 million people in Florida. That's a lot of folks. With gusts of up to 150 miles an hour. It is expected to get even more powerful before it makes landfall tomorrow afternoon. According to Governor Rick Scott said it all today.


RICK SCOTT, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm and if forecast keeps getting more dangerous, this storm could kill you. And you could not take it lightly.


LEMON: It could kill you and you shouldn't take it lightly. That said we're going to be getting a new forecast during this show tonight, and we're going to bring that to you as soon as it comes in, so don't go anywhere.

And as we track hurricane Michael, there's of course the political storm in this country. Just a little while ago at a campaign rally in Iowa, a one hour and 16-minute rally where the president never got around to mentioning the hurricane headed for Florida. He did find time, though, to unload on Democrats, using the new Republican talking point, calling them here it is, this is a new point -- a mob.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You don't hand matches to an arsonist, and you don't give power to an angry left-wing mob, and that's what the Democrats have become.


LEMON: OK. So, facts on this show. Facts. I think you tune in every night for the facts, so thank you. So let's remember the facts here. The real mob, not Democrats. The real mob is a mob of white supremacists who killed a woman in Charlottesville. Killed. Killed.

People who are voicing their opinion about something that they don't believe in or that they think is bad for them is how the government -- how the country works. That's not a mob. This is what the president -- see those white supremacists? This is what he called that mob.


TRUMP: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me. Excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did.


LEMON: Mob of white supremacists who kill people, very fine people. And then there is the turmoil still raging tonight over the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Less than 24 hours after a major victory for President Trump, putting his pick on the highest court in the land in spite of accusations of sexual assault from a woman, the president himself called credible.

[22:05:01] The ascension of Justice Kavanaugh shing a very bright light on what you could call this president's woman problem. With some women, anyway. Let's remember he won among white women.

And now one of the very few women in the Trump cabinet, Ambassador Nikki Haley, surprises just about everybody with the announcement that she is quitting. And unlike a lot of departing members of the Trump administration whose exits could be described as don't let the door hit you on the way out, Ambassador Haley got a glowing review from the president.


TRUMP: Nikki Haley, ambassador to the United Nations, has been very special to me. She's done an incredible job. She's a fantastic person very importantly, but she also is somebody that gets it.


LEMON: OK. So, more facts here. This is why this is an especially big problem for this president. Ambassador Haley is not just a member of the cabinet, OK? Keep that in mind. She is one of only six women and one of the most popular in this administration.

Seventy five percent of Republicans, 55 percent of Democrats, and 63 percent of independents gave her a thumbs up in a Quinnipiac poll this spring. That was the point I was making to both Chris's earlier.

So there's no question that losing her right now with just four weeks to go until the midterms with Democrats well ahead of Republicans -- there's no question that this is far from good news for this president.

Two administration sources telling CNN the timing of all of this, a top female official exiting on the day Justice Kavanaugh takes the bench is not helpful. That's for sure. And the big unanswered question is why? Why? Why is Ambassador Haley quitting now?

Those same administration sources say she's been unhappy ever since she was passed over for the secretary of state job. Glass ceiling, huh? And they say she has presidential ambitions.

There are also unanswered questions about Haley's acceptance of seven free flights from a South Carolina businessman last year. Now, we don't know yet whether any of that factored into her decision. Maybe it did not. We don't know. But sitting beside the president today, she had a lot of glowing things to say about two other members of the administration.


NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I can't say enough good things about Jared and Ivanka. Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands, and Ivanka has been just a great friend. And they do a lot of things behind the scenes that I wish more people knew about because we're a better country because they're in this administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: You know who else was talking about Ivanka Trump today? Her

father. Listen to what he said about a replacement for Ambassador Haley.


TRUMP: I've heard a lot of names. I've heard Ivanka. I've heard how good would Ivanka be. The people that know, it's nothing to do with nepotism, but I want to tell the people that know, know that Ivanka would be dynamite. I think Ivanka would be incredible. That doesn't mean I'd pick her because you'd be accused of nepotism even though I'm not sure there's anybody more competent in the world.


LEMON: OK. I'm not laughing at the competent part. Listen, you can decide that. But that is the definition -- that is exactly what nepotism is. It's like, I don't know why he would accuse me of -- that is what nepotism is. You're hiring a family member with millions of other people in this country who are -- you don't think so, but more than qualified for the job. More so than your daughter who sold shoes and jewelry.

Now Ivanka Trump has since tweeted that she won't be taking the job. But that doesn't change the fact that her father -- nepotism -- who is the president of the United States, apparently thinks there would be nothing wrong with giving the job to his daughter.

So with all of this, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that some of the people who are now a big part of the political conversation. Listen to what the president says tonight about his BFF. Kanye.


TRUMP: African-American unemployment has reached its lowest rate ever recorded in the history of our country.


TRUMP: And African-American poverty has reached its lowest rate ever recorded. And Kanye West, who gets it--


TRUMP: -- and big Jim Brown, how do you think he'd do in the NFL today? Bum. The greatest. But they're coming over to the White House very shortly. We're going to have a little lunch and talk about it, but they get it.


[22:10:10] LEMON: So Kanye is going to let the president use him again. But let's remember, talking about African-American unemployment, that's why Kanye wants to go there. African-American unemployment has been declining for years. This is where facts, research, reading, knowledge comes in. OK? This

is where they come in. It was declining way before President Trump took office, but I digress. So Kanye is headed to the White House on Thursday. And remember this?


KANYE WEST, RAPPER: You, Taylor, I'm really happy for you. I'm going to let you finish. But Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.


LEMON: So that was -- OK. So that moment right there and the George Bush doesn't care about black people, that's when the same people who are praising him now were calling him the n-word. Kanye, good luck.

So, Taylor Swift is making a splash in politics too, endorsing Democrats in Tennessee in the midterm races. And apparently, inspiring 65,000 people to register to vote.

Again, the midterms are just one month away and with the country more divided than it has been in years, we could be on the verge of some very big changes.

So we've got a lot to talk about tonight. Susan Glasser, April Ryan, Michael D'Antonio are all here. This is an upside down. We have the sweetheart of the heartland now going for Democrats. And we have an African-American rapper who have called out Republicans before saying one, didn't care about black people and that Taylor Swift -- you know that moment onstage and that's when people were calling him the n-word back then. It's an upside down world. We're going to discuss right after this.


LEMON: So Nikki Haley's resignation is stunning, even to people beyond Washington and the U.N. But equally stunning, President Trump's suggestion that his daughter, Ivanka Trump, would be incredible and dynamite as America's U.N. Ambassador.

Susan Glasser is here along with April Ryan, the author of "Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House," and Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump." Good evening to all of you.

So, Susan, is there more to this Nikki Haley story, post-Kavanaugh and just before the midterms, also Bolton and Pompeo were surprised. Why now?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, it's a great question. For now, what we do know suggests that Nikki Haley has performed the almost impossible feat of leaving the Trump White House somewhat at least on her own terms. She wasn't fired by tweet. She didn't have days or weeks of speculation about whether she would be replaced. So, you know, it being a surprise, she apparently met with President

Trump last week, gave him this resignation letter is dated October 3rd. As you said, it was a surprise to Secretary of State Pompeo and national security adviser Bolton.

Sources have reliably reported, I think, there to have been increasing tensions. She had a much freer hand and an open pathway to President Trump in the White House during the very troubled tenure of Rex Tillerson, the first secretary of state. She really did not get along with Tillerson, and conversely that gave her a pretty wide latitude with the president, who had already soured on the secretary of state.

In recent months, I think she had much less of that autonomy. I also would say she's fundamentally a politician. And to me, we don't necessarily know what she's running for yet. She says she's not running for president in 2020 against President Trump. But in my view she managed this very artfully as a politician would, you know, creating her own drama around her next act.

LEMON: Yes. So Ivanka Trump tweeted today that she won't be replacing Ambassador Haley. That's after her father said this when asked if she were a candidate. Watch this.


TRUMP: I've heard Ivanka. I've heard how good would Ivanka be. The people that know, there's nothing to do with nepotism, but I want to tell you the people that know, know that Ivanka would be dynamite. You'd be accused of nepotism even though I'm not sure there's anybody more competent in the world.


LEMON: You should see his face. He knows that he's -- he's just saying it, and he knows it's not true. But you know that look. You know that look when you're saying -- I know I'm the best and you got that smile. God, you guys can't see the facial reaction there.



LEMON: But nepotism is already part of the equation.

D'ANTONIO: They checked that box twice. So we've got Jared in there. We've got Ivanka in there. You know, the problem with Ivanka going to the U.N. would be what would he have to replace her? With Kanye? Would that be the guy he would pick to fill her shoes?

It's all kind of crazy talk, but he's leaning back and laughing about it because it's for his base. He's basically telling the base, I can say anything. I can say any stupid thing.


LEMON: OK. OK. Let me ask you this. OK. I'm glad you said that. Because can I be honest? We talked about it, and you said he said he never what?

D'ANTONIO: He never gets one fact right.

LEMON: Never. And he stands there in front of those people, and they eat it up, and none of it is true.

D'ANTONIO: But that's the point. The point is he doesn't have to get it right, that he's bigger than the facts. He's bigger than everyone else in Washington. He's bigger than any factor in anybody's life.


LEMON: Wouldn't you be insulted if someone just stood -- if someone lied to your face all the time, wouldn't you say, God, I can't trust that person?

D'ANTONIO: He's lying to the people that everyone wants to lie to as well. He's sticking it to you. He's sticking it to me. He's sticking it to--


LEMON: But he's also sticking it to the people in that audience with the tax, with his policies, and they -- with taxes and with health care, those are the folks in the heartland who need the health care more -- they need the Affordable Care Act probably more than especially the people on the coast, right?

D'ANTONIO: They want to win the culture war.


D'ANTONIO: And they feel that they're winning it.

LEMON: Good point just because of like--

D'ANTONIO: He can say any damn thing he wants.


D'ANTONIO: And that's power, baby. That is power.

LEMON: April, as we say, it's cray-cray.


LEMON: It is.

RYAN: But, you know, but--


LEMON: Go on.

[22:20:01] But let me say this really fast.


RYAN: You know, it's not just about nepotism. Think about this. It's bigger than that. The president was floating out Ivanka, and they were even seeing things kind about Jared Kushner.

If, indeed, Jared Kushner or Ivanka Trump were to have to go through a hearing, a confirmation hearing on this, it would be the worst thing because it would go into the tax issue and it would point to the president.


RYAN: So they knew they floated it, but they know and knew that they could not officially do this because it would look bad, and it would get into a whole other kettle of mess.

LEMON: April, let me help you keep to that point because last year -- and I want to get your response to this. Ivanka Trump, remember, briefly sat in for her father a meeting with world leaders at the G20.

RYAN: Yes.

LEMON: And then there is this New York Times reporting that Trump wanted Jivanka, right, Jared and Ivanka to go back to New York. Do you find it notable that she's so quick to end any speculation now that, hey, I'm not doing this?

RYAN: You know, she plays a very big role in this White House as an adviser in the president's life. But, and because of that knee-jerk reaction from the world community about how she sat in on that.

And then also once again, going back to the tax issue, they are quelling this right now before it gets started. They did bring it out, but people -- I mean, I heard that there was a communications call where a lot of the big names in the Republican Party were talking to them, and they said, you cannot do this. And they made it clear. You cannot do Ivanka or Jared because it would look bad on you and the president, and they didn't want to get into this tax issue once again.

LEMON: So what do you mean about the tax issue? Be clear about that.

RYAN: Be clear? You know, the president doesn't want to bring up his taxes. You know, if there was a hearing, they'd be -- they would ask for their taxes. And it's worse for Jared Kushner with the properties and his family business.

LEMON: The 666 building here in New York City.

RYAN: Yes, 666. So they don't want to go down that road. It's more so that than nepotism. They can say nepotism, but it's taxes and it can point to the president as well.

LEMON: OK. OK. Good point.

RYAN: I know. LEMON: Susan, the president says -- I know. Let's talk about possible

replacements for Nikki Haley, Susan. The president has five people, right. Earlier he said he would consider Dina Powell, the former deputy national security adviser. A number of people have floated U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison. What do you think?

GLASSER: Well, I think it's too early to tell honestly. He said he would appoint someone within two to three weeks. That may or may not happen. That would put us right basically on top of the midterm elections.

So I'm a little dubious that we'll see any nominee before then. But, you know, it's interesting to say that the president has explicitly already on day one come out and said that he is considering Dina Powell. She would be a favorite of many in the Republican establishment here.

She was a Bush official, as well as serving in the Trump White House where she became close with Ivanka and Jared. Interestingly enough, she also apparently got to be close with Nikki Haley, who tweeted out a picture of her with Dina Powell over the weekend in South Carolina, presumably after she had already handed in this October 3rd resignation.


LEMON: Of them boating, Susan. Yes.

GLASSER: Well, that's right. So that's an interesting data point. I also thought -- we haven't mentioned it. It was fascinating to me that during her sort of exit good-bye photo opp with President Trump in the Oval Office, Nikki Haley went out of her way to praise both Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. She even called Jared Kushner a hidden genius. I think a lot of people--


LEMON: Hey, Susan, let me play that. Let me play that and then let you finish your comment, OK. Let's play it.


HALEY: I can't say enough good things about Jared and Ivanka. Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands. I mean, to redo the NAFTA deal the way he did, what I've done working with him on the Middle East peace plan, it is so unbelievably well done.

And Ivanka has been just a great friend, and they do a lot of things behind the scenes that I wish more people knew about because we're a better country because they're in this administration.


LEMON: The last word and what's your read on that? I'm sorry to interrupt but I wanted people to see it. Go on. GLASSER: Yes. No. Thank you for playing it because I think it really left out -- that is not normal for a sort of good-bye photo-op of that nature. And so it was -- it seemed both purposeful on Ambassador Haley's part and very striking.

On the one hand, obviously President Trump loves it when his family is praised by those around him. On the other hand, it seems in a factional White House, right, where it's really been driven by infighting from the very beginning, it's also sort of an acknowledgement of which faction, which team Nikki Haley was playing on.

And especially in some of these issues of foreign policy and national security, there have been bitter fights from the very beginning because you have basically a Republican foreign policy establishment and orthodoxy that is really different than the views of the president himself.

[22:25:09] Often, you know, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have been aligned with those, not to say that there aren't hard-line views. Nikki Haley, for example, was pushing President Trump to withdraw from the Iran deal. That's one example. She was also reported to be in favor of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, another controversial move.

LEMON: Right.

GLASSER: But I think it's just really kind of amazing that in this country that we live in, you know, she's praising the president's family on her exit. It's a very canny political move certainly.


GLASSER: But she's gotten a lot of pushback on that hidden genius comment.

LEMON: It's very strategic. She's playing all different demographics here. She's playing Democrats and Republicans, she's plying the Trump folks and the Trump family as well. The president loves to hear his daughter praised, so she's, you know, 2024, look out. Going to be on the ticket.

GLASSER: She's a lot of Republican establishment types really like Nikki Haley.


GLASSER: They're really rooting for her to run.

LEMON: Yes. I got to go, guys. Thank you. Fascinating conversation. I appreciate you. I'll see you next time.

Only one month to go to the midterms, and our new CNN poll shows Democrats have a big lead, especially among women. We're going to dig into why two-thirds of women voters say that they're voting Dem, next.


LEMON: The midterms only a month away. Democrats say their votes are -- voters are fired up, but Republicans say their base is also fired up, angry about nastiness, the nastiness of the Kavanaugh hearing.

[22:30:00] So what do the polls show? I want to bring in now Harry Enten, CNN politics senior, wow, look at that.


HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER & ANALYST: That's a fancy grab. Look at that, my goodness.

LEMON: Like that. Let's do that again. Let's do that again. Harry Enten.



ENTEN: Technology is amazing. I feel like I am on the Fox NFL Sunday.

LEMON: CNN Politics Senior Writer and Analyst. That's him, and then Mark Preston, CNN Senior Political Analyst.


LEMON: I was going to say, Mark...


ENTEN: Mark, the Red Sox are still winning, so we're in good shape.

PRESTON: I know. We're in great shape, Harry.

LEMON: Mark, what did you text me? I love your work? What did you say?

PRESTON: You're the best, Don. You're my guy.

LEMON: Oh, yes. OK, so listen, Harry, let's talk about the four weeks to the election. The reason you have that fancy graphic is because you're debuting this new election forecast for CNN. And we're going to be talking at least every Tuesday about it.

ENTEN: I look forward.

LEMON: You crunched the numbers just before the show. Give us the forecast.

ENTEN: I think the forecast in the House of Representatives is that Democrats are right now favored to take control of that body. The best estimate we have is they'll end up with 225 seats. That's seven more than they need to gain control of that body. But I should point out that the margin of error is wide enough that we should not be surprised if Republicans, in fact, maintain control of that body.

So it's something we'll be updating every week. On the Senate side, though, Republicans are favored to retain control. In fact, right now the best estimate is they'll actually gain a seat.

LEMON: How did you get to those numbers?

ENTEN: We looked at polling data. Historically how accurate they are at this point. We also looked at demographic data in the states, how it voted in the past in presidential contests, Senate contests, House contests, state legislative contests, the candidate quality, how much fundraising has been going on, the ideology of the incumbent on the House side. We looked at a slew of variables.

LEMON: What happened to this blue wave? I never really believed in it but happened to this blue wave that everybody is talking about?

ENTEN: Well, in the House, we still get at least a little bit of a blue bubble. On the Senate side, look, it's the map. The map is the problem. You have so many incumbents running in red states, North Dakota being the prime example of Heidi Heitkamp falling behind. It's just very difficult for Democrats.

LEMON: So Mark, let's jump into our new CNN polling, OK? Who do likely voters plan to vote for Congress? Fifty four percent say Democrats, forty one percent say Republicans, that's a 13-point lead for Democrats, but is that just sort of general because it's not state by state there.

PRESTON: No. And that's some generic ballot, but let's put that and put it parallel to what Harry just talked about in his forecast. If you go back to 2006, that's when Democrats had a 21-point lead, which was the largest that they've had in 12 years. And of course, we saw what happened in 2006. We saw history made.

We saw Nancy Pelosi become Speaker of the House. Democrats take over. But if you look at this 13-point margin, which is considerably less than what we saw in 2006, I mean it arguably shows kind of where Harry is right now in his forecast, where Democrats will pick up seats.

LEMON: Can I ask you something, Mark?


LEMON: OK. So 2006, though, wasn't that the Obama effect? Obama was running on the ticket, and people were excited about Democrats because they were excited in some sense about Obama and...

PRESTON: Two thousand...

LEMON: Two thousand eight, OK, OK, gotcha.

PRESTON: We saw that, but we saw Republicans stumble and Democrats seize power when we saw going back to 2006.

LEMON: OK. PRESTON: But basically, what we're seeing right now is that Democrats

are going to take back the House of Representatives, and why are we talking about it now? We are talking about it now because it's so important because whoever controls Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, could control all the investigations into the Donald Trump administration.

LEMON: But they don't control the impeachment part of it, which is what Democrats want. That would be the Senate, right?

PRESTON: Well, they -- the House would control the impeachment. They could impeach or they could -- I mean if they were to impeach, it would then get kicked over to the Senate. And that's where the Senate decides whether to convict or not to convict. You go back to our most recent episode or case in this. We saw Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives, however he was not convicted.

LEMON: Convicted and stayed in, right? So Harry, talk to us about the President's job approval being 41 percent. How much are today's House numbers tied to the President? Because I was trying to talk to Obama, he's thinking he starts running in 2006. I remember when I came to CNN that's when Obama started to run, but actually didn't do it until 2008. But how does the President...


ENTEN: In a Presidential year, the economy is usually the number one issue. If the economy is good, the incumbent party does well. If the economy is bad, the incumbent party does poorly. In a midterm election, it's all about the President's approval rating. It has the same effect that the economy does in a Presidential year.

So the fact that the President's approval rating is only 41 percent in our latest poll is indicative of an incumbent party that's in deep, deep trouble in the House of Representatives, because remember all 435 seats are up there. And in fact, if you look back over time, if you average the years in which the President's approval rating was at 45 percent or below, on average the incumbent party has lost nearly 40 seats in the House.

[22:34:58] LEMON: All right. Mark, talk about this because we always talk about who's going to come out and vote, you know, what demographic, what group. Young people usually, historically they don't show up. But gender is a big factor in this election too, and women usually show up. They decide the elections usually.

PRESTON: Right. So let's put this in perspective. Let's go back to the day when Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, OK? We saw the MeToo movement explode. Look at where we are right now. You are seeing right now a 30-point disadvantage for Republicans when it comes to women voters. And you have to say that is due in large part because of President Trump.

Certainly, some of the things that he has said, and we are seeing what I believe is going to be a very energized woman base, specifically in suburban areas, in very key suburban areas that might be held by Republicans right now that are very much in danger of losing to Democrats. They very well could lose because of the energy on the side of Democratic women.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, gentlemen, learned a lot. All right, the President...

ENTEN: Like school for you.

LEMON: Harry's forecast. So the President boasting about his upcoming lunch with Kanye West tonight while rallying voters in Iowa. Is he using Kanye as a political pawn, and maybe Kanye's kind of using him too to promote his album? Plus, we'll have a brand new forecast coming up at the top of the hour. Hurricane Michael now a category 3 storm with more than 2.4 million people in its path.


[22:40:00] LEMON: President Trump is doing everything he can to win over black voters ahead of the midterms, and he's apparently turning to BFF Kanye West for help. Listen to this.


PRES. DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: African-American poverty has reached its lowest rate ever recorded. And Kanye West, who gets it, and Big Jim Brown, how do you think he'd do in the NFL today? Bum, the greatest, but they're coming over to the White House very shortly. We're going to have a little lunch and talk about it, but they get it.


LEMON: On the menu at the White House, lunch on Thursday, a conversation about prison reform and job opportunities for ex-convicts among other things. Those are good issues. But let's discuss now with Bakari Sellers, Tara Setmayer, and Scott Jennings. I am going to let you all talk tonight because I have already said how I felt about Kanye.

So you all just discuss. Seriously, Bakari, do you think Trump is just using Kanye as a prop to win over black voters before the midterms?

BAKARI SELLERS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I am not sure he's using him as a prop per se. But what Kanye West has done with Donald Trump is what other people have done who have gravitated into his orbit, which is just shower him with adulation. For what reason, I have no idea. But my issue with Kanye West is quite simple. It's that anti- intellectualism simply isn't cool.

And Kanye West, these issues as you stated, these issues that they're going to talk about are issues that are central issues in many African-American communities. They're very important issues. But the fact is we're not sending Kanye West to the White House to talk about these issues because he can't. He doesn't have the depth to. I want to hear what Kanye West wants to do when we're talking about

criminal justice reform or prisoner re-entry. The fact is he cannot. He doesn't have that depth. Just the other day, he was talking about stem programs and how we needed to have more stem programs, and had to turn around and ask his colleague what did stem mean.

And so Kanye West is what happens when Negroes don't read, and we have this now. And now, Donald Trump is going to use it and pervert it. And he's going to have somebody who can stand with him and take pictures.

LEMON: I am just looking at Scott's face. Scott's like whoa, OK.

TARA SETMAYER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: The Chris Rock reference by the way, Scott. Go back and watch the old Chris Rock stand-ups from the 90s.


LEMON: Listen, maybe it will work, Tara. Will it? I don't know.

SETMAYER: Work for whom? It's not going to -- in the black community? Listen, black folks are about to trade Kanye West in the racial draft, OK? They've had it with him. He's not the same...


JENNINGS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I do know that reference. I know that is an old Dave Chappelle skit. I know that. I got that one. All right, good, good, I am one for two. All right, keep going.

SETMAYER: Seriously, I mean this is not the Kanye West of 2004. This isn't the college dropout album guy. This is not -- and what's funny to me is to watch all of these white people behind Donald Trump clapping away at the name of Kanye West, when it wasn't that long ago that Kanye West said that George W. Bush doesn't like black people.

LEMON: Doesn't care.

SETMAYER: After Hurricane Katrina. And, you know, Kanye -- but now all of a sudden Kanye, because he's put on a MAGA hat and he's an attention whore like the President. He's all of a sudden now the model spokesperson. He's the token Negro of the Trump administration? This is ridiculous. And no one should be taking Kanye West seriously. He clearly has issues. He's already been hospitalized.

You know not to trivialize mental health issues, but I mean obviously, Kanye has taken a turn in a very strange way. You read any of his interviews, go back and read his interview with Charlamagne tha God. It's all over the place. So this is not exactly the best representation, to Bakari's point, especially on an issue as important as prison reform.

[22:44:57] There are a lot of other people who are more well versed on this issue that are serious other than Kanye West. LEMON: So Scott, the White House announcing today that Kanye and the

President will be talking about job opportunities for ex-convicts and ways to increase manufacturing in Chicago. Do you expect anything substantive to come out of their lunch together, or is this just sort of equal people of fame using each other for their own cause, which it may not necessarily be a bad thing?

JENNINGS: I would be shocked to find out -- I mean I would be shocked to find out if people that were involved in politics and marketing used each other for their own benefit. I mean when has that ever happened before? I mean look, I think these two guys, Trump and Kanye, do have something in common, and that's they're both marketers.

They're both promoters. And I think maybe that's what they see in each other. They both think they transcend their industries. They both think they transcend politics. So maybe they have a connection over that. I don't know if anything substantive is going to come out of this, but I know this. President Trump has advisers who say, sir, we have a very low approval rating among African-Americans.

What are we going to do about it? So they go out and they talk about the low unemployment, which he did. You played that clip. You've got a very well known African-American entertainer, top of his industry, who wants to come and stand and talk with you and talk about issues. You're going to do that. Of course, the President is going to take these meetings. Any President would take this meeting under the circumstances that Trump has been handed.

LEMON: Hmmm.

SETMAYER: They also have in common they're narcissists.

LEMON: There was someone else who just tweeted me something else. They deserved each other because they're both -- and it started with an I. I'll let you figure out what they said.


SELLERS: But that's the biggest problem that we have. And just briefly about the numbers, Barack Obama cut these numbers in half, especially when you talk about African-American unemployment. And that trend is still going in that same direction. It's not as if Donald Trump has done anything new. That's first. The second thing is criminal justice reform is very, very complicated.

If Donald Trump wanted to take positive steps in the right direction, you bring in a Michelle Alexander. You bring in a DeRay McKesson. You bring in somebody who studies these issues, who understands these issues, who can help you put together a plan. Because what Donald Trump has done for criminal justice reform is call Kim Kardashian to come over to the house and grant clemency to one person.

That's not criminal justice reform simply because you use celebrity and you have access, and you can get one person some semblance of justice. The problem we have with Kanye West and the reason we have to keep talking about him is because he bastardizes his platform. There is no Harry Belafonte in Kanye West. There is no individual who you look at who upholds their platform and uses it in a quest for justice in Kanye West.

Kanye West is a disturbed individual. And we need to focus on his mental health issues and hope he unravels that. But other than that, Kanye West is just somebody who is being taken advantage of. He reminds me of (Inaudible) sleep and eat from Spike Lee's great movie Bamboozled. That is what this is.

LEMON: OK. Wow, Bakari. But it's true. The truth hurts.

JENNINGS: Show me the lie, Don. Show me the lie.

LEMON: You know what that same movie says. Don't fall for the hokie doke, right?

JENNINGS: Correct.

LEMON: We're going to talk about Taylor Swift, just won a big award by the way. Taylor Swift, remember, I am going to let you finish, Taylor?



[22:50:00] LEMON: All right. We're back now. Pop superstar, Taylor Swift, has long resisted weighing in on politics. But now, she's breaking her silence. She's announcing to her 112 million followers on Instagram that she will be supporting the Democratic challenger in Tennessee, Senator Marsha Blackburn, who is challenging Senator Marsha Blackburn.

Here's part of what she posted. She said in the past, I have been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for all Americans, no matter their skin color, gender, or who they love.

Back now with Bakari Sellers, Tara Setmayer, and Scott Jennings, so wow. But she also goes on to back up and give reasons why she's not doing it, instead of platitudes, OK? So Tara, tells CNN that in the last 24 hours since Swift posted that Instagram, they had a spike 650 -- 65,000 new voter registrations.

I mean we don't know what party affiliation, but I mean do you think celebrity endorsements make a difference?

SETMAYER: I think people that have 112 million Instagram followers have an influence. Sure, I think that people are paying more attention in a midterm election than usual. Usually, no one cares about midterms, and voter participation is so low, especially in the demographic that Taylor Swift caters to, 18 to 24-year-olds.

I applaud Taylor Swift for using her platform judiciously. And it was well thought out. She didn't rant and rave about, you know, abolishing amendments or anything like Kanye West did, who is just uneducated on things. She was -- it was a very thoughtful post and good for her. She was careful about not particularly bashing one party or the other.

She said you may not agree 100 percent of the time with one party, and that you should vote based on issues that are important to you.

LEMON: Yeah.

SETMAYER: And she's right about that. And she's been a very savvy businesswoman. She's no dummy. Not only is she very talented, but she's also a savvy businesswoman, and she has done a lot of good thing for women and girls. And so I don't have a problem with this. And I really don't think she's losing any sleep over President Trump coming out and saying that he likes her music 25 percent less.

[22:55:11] LEMON: He also said, Scott, that well, she must have not known about Marsha Blackburn. And then she responds very succinctly about why she doesn't support Marsha Blackburn. Do you think she doesn't know what she's talking about.

JENNINGS: No. I think see does. And I agree with much of what Tara said actually. And I think it was noteworthy that Taylor Swift came out, and her first big political endorsement was of a Senate candidate that endorsed Brett Kavanaugh. She did it right hours after (Inaudible) came out and said he would have voted for Kavanaugh.

So I guess I agree with Taylor Swift that we need more Kavanaugh voters in the United States Senate. So I'm sure...


LEMON: You're spinning more than Hurricane Michael. We need to move him on the other side of the screen.


JENNINGS: You all just said she's up on the news. You said she's up on the news and she's up on the issues.

LEMON: I said Marsha Blackburn. My question was about Marsha Blackburn. That's OK.


JENNINGS: Marsha Blackburn, I don't know if she knows about her, but I am sure Marsha will shake it off and go on and win.


JENNINGS: Taylor's not going to keep her from winning.


LEMON: Can we go to break? That was good. I love the beginning when you're giving (Inaudible) lessons in blackness.

JENNINGS: Well, I am making white person jokes now. You all made the black people jokes in the first panel. I will make the white person jokes. And we'll just all explain to each other.

SELLERS: Can I mention something real quick?

LEMON: Quickly, quickly, I am already over, yeah.


SELLERS: Taylor Swift is dope for doing this, and I hope more young people get involved in the process, Democrats and Republicans, because young people are going to change the dynamic of this country. So go Taylor.


LEMON: -- that there's no bad blood here.


LEMON: By the way, what was the entertainer of the year?

SELLERS: She won.

LEMON: Artist of the year, artist of the year.

SELLERS: She's more woke than Kanye West.


SETMAYER: She won over Kanye again. Here we are how many years later. And I am team Taylor.

LEMON: So I have got to go. I am going to let you finish, Tara, tomorrow. We'll be back.