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President Trump Always Ready for a Fight; Post-Midterms Controversy Heating Up; Trump Attacks Female African-American Reporters; Activists Groups Claim There Are Ballots Inside Miami-Dade Mail Facility; Flashback Friday in Florida. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 9, 2018 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You don't need to say it.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yes. You don't need to say it. I stand by the fact -- well, two things. It's interesting that you have cable news hosts and TV correspondents and anchors, or news correspondents and anchors who are saying to the president of the United States not responding to him by saying I don't want to punch down. Imagine that. You don't want to punch down to the president of the United States because you know his behavior.

And then every time he says something like you're racist or you're stupid, it's simple projection. Every time he says something or you're corrupt or you're crooked, every time he says something about someone else it's really about him. It's quite simple.

It's projection, and I can't believe we -- you know, most people, maybe most people have, I don't know, but we keep pretending that it's something other than what it is as we sit here and analyze this on television and in the media. It is whatever he says about someone else, it's I know you are but what am I.

CUOMO: Yes, I hear.

LEMON: That's exactly what it is.

CUOMO: I mean, look, one of the reasons you and I are such good friends is because we're different. We look at things different. We complement each other. And you have an emotional sophistication. I don't.

When I watch the president, my mind is all about politics. It's all about what I grew up around, and what I know works and what doesn't work, and it just screams out to me that he's listening to too few and the wrong people. He just got clobbered in another popular vote. He lost the popular vote in 2016. The base is shrinking, based on what we just saw in the midterms. Who knows what happens with these Senate races. That was his saving grace that he picked up all these seats. We don't even know how many he's going to pick up now.

If he just acted with decency befitting the audience, who knows how big the tent would grow. I know people on the left are going to attack me and say don't give him any good ideas. I want the president of the United States to succeed. I want the position to be respected. I want people to have faith and confidence in good leadership. I just don't know why he's doing this. I don't know why he thinks it works.

LEMON: But Chris, OK, all right. You have to listen to your own words. Didn't you just quote Maya Angelou?

CUOMO: I did.

LEMON: OK. Do you ever think this person, time and time again, we have been -- this is just honesty, OK? I'm just being honest. If you keep -- people keep saying he's going to pivot, he's going to change. He's going to lead. And he hasn't done it now, how many chances -- that means he's not capable of it. So, we should stop demanding and asking that question of him and maybe we should look to the Obamas for leadership or moral leadership.

Maybe we should look to some other person. Maybe it should be George W. Bush or someone else, one of the other presidents or a number of the other presidents, maybe they should step in at moments of crisis or when we need leadership, and we should listen to them and not listen to this president and just let him be because what'd you say, don't be a sucker?

CUOMO: Don't be a sucker.

LEMON: Don't be a sucker. OK, don't be a sucker. Has he mentioned the caravan, "scareavan?"


LEMON: OK. Has the mothership--

CUOMO: "Caravanished. "

LEMON: OK. I call it "scareavan." Has the mothership really talked about it much?

CUOMO: Nope.

LEMON: OK. The voter fraud commission, remember thousands of people voted illegally.

CUOMO: Closed down.

LEMON: OK. So then, I--


CUOMO: And he just lost his race for governor.

LEMON: OK. So then don't be a sucker. Don't be a sucker.

CUOMO: I hear you. I'm not saying that it's about waiting for his virtue to blossom and come into full flower.

LEMON: But don't waste your breath and say--

(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: That's not what I'm saying.

LEMON: OK. Yes, he should.

CUOMO: I think it's a practical assessment.

LEMON: They don't happen.

CUOMO: See, I don't see him as someone who is burdened by conviction, I don't see him as somebody who's confused or waiting to develop. He's like 70 something years old. I'm saying I think he does it only because he thinks it works, and I don't know why he thinks it works. I really don't. He had this initial program--


LEMON: It workds.

CUOMO: -- that Jared was supposed to be in charge of called DJT 100. His goal when he became president was to find a way to 100 percent popularity.

LEMON: It does work for him in the moment.

CUOMO: He just got clobbered in this popular vote.

LEMON: It works for him in the moment, Chris.

CUOMO: I know but I'm telling you I grew up in these places. I watched all the data, and they talked to these guys.

LEMON: OK. I respect that.

CUOMO: Anybody who looks at the data from this midterm is going to say to him we've got stuff we've got to work on for 2020.

LEMON: I respect your political prowess, and your family's political prowess.

CUOMO: Just experience, I have no prowess.

LEMON: OK. Well, the experience that you have in the arena. But this is a horse of another color, OK? He -- it works for him in the short- term like a Ponzi scheme works, and so if he can get himself through the next two years or if he's reelected without being caught up in the Robert Mueller thing, without being caught up in the con, if he can just keep going one lie after another, keep, you know, the shiny object where the media has to talk about other things, if he can just keep ahead of that Ponzi scheme until it's all over, then he's good.

[22:05:01] And every we keep falling for the OK-doke every single time. Think about all the other stories that have gone by the way side. Stories that you have preached about like the children on the border who were put in cages. That is still unresolved.

CUOMO: Yes. Still happening. LEMON: Still out there.

CUOMO: Almost 140 kids that I don't think they're going to be able to reunite.

LEMON: The lie about the former president wiretapped Trump tower. Didn't. All of those things, all of those things that have been, should have been scandals, would have taken down any other administration is not because it's like a Ponzi scheme. He keeps playing us.


CUOMO: But he just lost the house. He just lost a bunch of governor's races.

LEMON: But not in his mind. Not in his mind.

CUOMO: But he just got clocked in the popular vote. He's a smart guy. He knows what's happening around him.


LEMON: Chris, listen to me.

CUOMO: He knows this isn't his best foot.

LEMON: Listen to me. Not in his mind, and not to the people who are part and have been taken by the Ponzi scheme. They think it's a winner, it's a winner, it's a winner until the house of cards crumbles and then they -- and then what do you do? You still won't believe it. It's cognitive dissidence. You still can't believe it. I cannot believe that I have been taken by this. People just refuse to believe that it is a con. And it is a con.

If you look at the economy, OK, let's look at the economy. The economy is doing great. Who sets the table? That is just the honest truth. The former president set the table who was in one of the worst recessions that we have ever had.

Conservatives will point or Trump supporters will point and say, we have -- what about Obama's growth. Well, if you're in a hole and you have to dig yourself out of it, of course your level of growth is not going to be as high as the person who inherited a fantastic economy.

Look at the last two years of the Obama presidency as far as job creation. Created more jobs than Trump did in the first two years of his administration, but everybody keeps falling for that, and same thing, this was not a blue wave. My gosh, this is awful. Even I was so -- I was really upset by some of the people who were on our own network saying, my gosh, again.

Yes, this is a wave. Both parties got something out of it, but people keep falling for the OK-doke and no one -- on one is -- people are afraid to call him out. Even us in the news media we're afraid to call it out because we have this whole fake pretense that we have to -- everything has to be -- we have to be objective in the sense of false equivalency.

Well not everything is equal. Not everything is black and white, and if you're not on the side of truth, then people perceive that as being biased when it's not. The truth is always unbiased and unfiltered. A lie is a lie all day long, whether a Republican or a Democrat tells it.

CUOMO: I don't disagree with any of that. Look, I mean, I understand why politically they're going to play to advantage and say this economy is better than the one we inherited and it is. You know, the growth rate in the last quarter for Obama, his last year wasn't great.

LEMON: Hey, Chris.

CUOMO: He had a little bit of a depression.

LEMON: What I'm saying is you're looking at it in a traditional sense that this is a political. This is not. This is lie versus truth. This is Ponzi scheme.

CUOMO: Some of it -- some of it is lies, some of it is politics. I don't think that you have to go all in in one direction.

LEMON: No, you don't.

CUOMO: Some things he says are right. Some things he says are wrong, some things are a matter of opinion. Some things are damn lies.


CUOMO: And as long as you're fair about them all, you're good. Objectivity, fairness, whatever word you want to use. As long as you're doing the job and you're showing all the different sides, and people will say, but you don't do that.


CUOMO: You're so negative. It's because of what comes out of his mouth. I have no problem defending that all day long. You can have tax cuts. You can have a strong economy. You can have a strong hand abroad and not be mean to the people who are your opponents.

LEMON: My producer going this is the whole top of the show. You guys are--


CUOMO: The best part of your show.

LEMON: OK. Let me tell you this.

CUOMO: You're never better than--


LEMON: And I'm going to let you go. I love talking to you. Let me tell you this. The reason--


CUOMO: I love you too, Maria. I'm sorry, it's his fault.

LEMON: Maria is not here tonight, it's a skip.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

LEMON: But let me tell you this. The reason that he has issues with people like me and April and Yamiche and on and on is because--


CUOMO: All well-dressed?

LEMON: All well-dressed, all good looking, actually, all great at what we do, and when you're someone who has experienced discrimination. When you can see the con and the discrimination from miles away, he knows it. He knows we see him, and so the first people he will attack will be us because I see you coming, brother.

I get it. I get your racism. I get your bigotry. I get your con. I get your lies. I've seen that. We have a sixth sense about us where we understand all of that maybe before people who hadn't had to deal with it see it. There it is.

CUOMO: So, what does it mean to you when you hear Niger Innis or other African-Americans say, no, it's not true. That's just--


LEMON: You can be African-American, you can be anyone and so you can be coopted by a lot of things. Yes. And doesn't mean they're always telling you the truth either. There's expediency.

[22:10:04] Sometimes when you are in that position it's the first shortest line to the -- it's the shortest line to the front. You know what I'm saying?

CUOMO: I understand.

LEMON: Yes. The people who are -- who feel the way that many people in the African-American community feel and who are on television, there are a lot of them, so you got to get to the back of the line, right?

CUOMO: I wouldn't do it on the show if I didn't think it was obvious.

LEMON: But if you're an African-American or a minority and you want to be on television and you want to have a platform and you want and you're maybe-- I'm not saying this is Nigel -- if you have opportunistic traits, the shortest line to get in is that line. All right? See you Monday.

CUOMO: See you Monday. LEMON: If not before. Have a great weekend.

CUOMO: You too, bud.

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

And I want you to welcome everybody to flashback Friday courtesy of our friends in Florida. The state that brought you the grueling 36-day recount battle between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000. They're at it again that state.

They're going ballot by ballot in Broward County. The only thing missing, those infamous hanging chads. Remember those? Republicans have seen their leads in Florida's U.S. Senate and governor's races dwindle as new ballots have been counted since election day, which is why Governor Rick Scott whose lead in the tight Senate race has narrowed significantly, why he followed a lawsuit demanding voting records in his own race.

His opponent, incumbent Senator Bill Nelson fighting back insisting that when every ballot is counted, he'll win.

And then there is Arizona's Senate race. This is where Democrat Kyrsten Sinema's lead over Republican Martha McSally has expanded to over 20,000 votes, 20,000 votes. And I have said this before. President Trump must be really, really rattled tonight. The blue wave in the midterms is actually bigger than it looked on election night.

House Democrats have picked up 30 seats, and out of 10 house races, not yet called by CNN, the Democratic candidates, their leads in five. Democratic candidates lead in five, and if those numbers hold up, Democrats will get a 35-seat pickup, and the bigger the blue wave, the more rattled the president, but he's got plenty more good reasons to be rattled, OK?

There's the firestorm over his firing of Jeff Sessions and his pick of Matthew Whitaker as acting A.G., the man overseeing the Mueller investigation. Now President Trump is playing games, trying to backtrack claiming he doesn't know Whitaker even though it was the White House that urged Sessions to take him on as chief of staff in the first place. And even though the president himself said just last month that he knows Whitaker.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Matt Whitaker, I don't know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions, and he was always extremely highly thought of, and he still is, but I didn't know Matt Whitaker. I didn't speak to Matt Whitaker about it. I don't know Matt Whitaker.

I can tell you Matt Whitaker is a great guy. I mean, I know Matt Whitaker.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: There's the Wall Street Journal's report that Donald Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the hush money payments made to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels, payments that may have violated campaign finance laws. Even though the president on Air Force One in April of this year claimed he knew nothing about the payment to Stormy Daniels.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

TRUMP: No. No.



TRUMP: What else?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to her allegations?

TRUMP: You have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney, and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: I don't know.


LEMON: All of that on the same day a federal grand jury here in New York City returned a 30-count indictment against the Trump supporter accused of sending 16 mail bombs to targets including CNN. And the president, he just -- he's doubling down on his strategy.




TRUMP: No puppet.

CLINTON: And it's pretty clear.

TRUMP: You're the puppet.


LEMON: Puppet, no puppet. I know you are but what am I? Whatever you want to call it, it's this president's favorite line of attack, responding to the outcry over the offensive racist campaign ad by accusing reporter Josh Dawsey of asking offensive questions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, a lot of folks have said that ad was offensive. Why did you like that ad? What were you trying to--


TRUMP: Well, a lot of things are offensive. Your questions are offensive a lot of times, so you know.


LEMON: Asking questions? That's just reporters doing their jobs, but that's not the only question this president didn't like.


YAMICHE ALCINDOR, REPORTER, PBS: On the campaign trail you called yourself a nationalist. Some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists. Now people are also saying that the--

[22:15:02] TRUMP: I don't know why you'd say that. That's such a racist question.

ALCINDOR: There are some--

TRUMP: What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question, but I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions.


LEMON: And when a reporter asks questions he doesn't like, this president, well, he resorts to insult.


TRUMP: I mean, you talk about somebody that's a loser, she doesn't know what the hell she's doing.


LEMON: He responds to questions about his acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker not being confirmed by the Senate. Well, by raising false questions about Robert Mueller's lack of Senate confirmation.


TRUMP: But Mueller was not Senate confirmed. Why didn't they get him Senate confirmed? He should have been Senate confirmed.


LEMON: OK. So, this is the fact. The fact is Mueller's position doesn't require Senate confirmation. The attorney general does. And don't forget the bombshell new book from the former first lady, Michelle Obama wrote that she would never forgive Donald Trump for promoting the racist birther lie that Barack Obama was not born in this country, and this is a quote.

"What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington. What if that person went looking for our girls. Donald Trump with his loud and reckless innuendos was putting my family's safety at risk, and for this, I'd never forgive him."

The president's response shows you just how much the former first lady got under his skin.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say to Michelle Obama who says she will never forgive you for your birther comments in the past?

TRUMP: Michelle Obama said that, I haven't seen it. I guess she wrote a book. She got paid a lot of money to write a book, and they always insist you come up with controversial. Well, I'll give a little controversy back. I'll never forgive him for what he did to our United States military by not funding it properly.


LEMON: Well, frankly, it is outrageous that he would claim that the former commander in chief didn't fund our military. So here are the facts. OK?

Yes, President Trump is spending more on the military than President Obama, but let's take a closer look at the numbers. You see, spending going down for a few years under President Obama but then going back up. The drop happened when Republicans pushed President Obama to bring the deficit under control. It was a bipartisan agreement, so both parties are responsible.

But this president falling back on his usual target, blaming someone else, President Obama.

A lot to talk about tonight with Jack Quinn, Susan Glasser, and Max Boot. We'll dig into it next.


LEMON: So, President Trump wakes up in Paris in the morning. He is there this week to take part in the commemoration marking the end of World War I a century ago, but literally two minutes after Air Force One landed he picked a fight with French President Emmanuel Macron, one of many the president has targeted in the days since the election.

So, I want to bring in now Jack Quinn, Susan Glasser, and Max Boot. Max is the author of the "Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." Good evening, everyone. Good to see all of you. So, Max, let's talk about this blue wave which seems to be looking bigger now washing over President Trump. Is he rattled?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think that's a good supposition, Don. I mean, it was interesting because on Wednesday he said it was very close to a complete victory. He said those words, but he didn't act like a man who had won. He acted like somebody who was very angry and who was lashing out.

Of course, that was the day that he lashed out at our Jim Acosta and denied him a White House pass. Of course, today he lashed out at three more journalists, so I think when he's beating up on the media, that's a sign that he's desperate for an outlet, and he always feels like attacking the so-called enemy of the people is a sure fire crowd pleaser for his base.

But I think it's kind of how he blows off tension and tries to change the subject because he doesn't want to talk about the fact that the Democrats picked up 35 or more seats. He doesn't want to talk about the fact that the Republicans are losing the Senate race in Arizona.

He doesn't want to talk about the fact that he just fired Jeff Sessions because Jeff Sessions would not stop an investigation of Donald Trump, and he just appointed this political henchman who has talked about wanting to strangle the Mueller investigation, and he certainly doesn't want to talk about this Wall Street Journal report about how he was intimately involved in violating federal campaign finance laws to pay off his girlfriends.

So instead of talking about all that kind of stuff, he's alleging these nefarious Democratic conspiracies in Florida of which there is no evidence and he's beating up on the press. We've seen this playbook time and time again, Don.

LEMON: It's amazing -- and this is just a couple of things that played out within the last few days or hours. It's every day it's something, it's one if not two or three things, like really egregious, egregious things.

BOOT: And you know, if he would just stop talking and stop tweeting his numbers would go up.


BOOT: His popularity would increase.

LEMON: Yes. Susan, you know, this president's picking fights with everyone. He's picking fights with the former first lady. He could have been the bigger person as Chris and I talked about. He's picked a fight with the media, even a world leader as I mentioned, Emmanuel Macron. Does the president appear to you like he is having a hard time restraining his emotions right now?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, I'm glad you brought that up, Don. Because looking at those clips from today in particular, as he's leaving to go to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I, what is the president doing? He's calling people losers on the White House lawn. He's just ranting and raving the. He's yelling at a very good young woman reporter calling her questions stupid. It's not even the normal unpresidential performance by President

Trump. It seems as though he's a guy who's really angry and, you know, sort of losing it in a way that suggests that this has been a very tough week for him.

Although, I'd like to go back to that interesting press conference on Wednesday because to me, it also seemed as though President Trump was to a certain extent buying his own spin that there had been a very big win.

That's what he tweeted overnight on Tuesday night, and I think he did initially somehow believe that perhaps the blue wave wasn't as significant as it is turning out to be.

[22:25:00] LEMON: But Susan, let me ask you this, Susan, if you believe that you won, then you carry yourself as if you've won. You don't -- there's no need to pick a fight with anyone and say hey, I've won this. So, I understand your assessment, but to me he did not have the posture of a person who won. As a matter of fact, he had the exact opposite. That's just my assessment. Go on. Sorry.

GLASSER: Well, no. I mean, obviously we don't know what's inside his mind, but I'm struck by this. That in a brute political sense, he has determined that because the Senate has remained in Republican hands and that Democrats may well use the house to not only investigate him but perhaps even impeach him, that he thinks he can win as arguably President Clinton did, a partisan argument over the merits of that, and he's made some sort of a calculation that the Republican Senate is never going to vote to convict him and remove him from office.

Therefore, he's not accountable to anyone. Therefore, I'm going to fire the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, the day after this election and what are you going to do to me. What are you going to do to me?

So, I do think there was an element of that in President Trump's calculation. I also agree with you, he seems like a guy right now who's very angry, who's very upset, who's lashing out. The media makes a convenient target. That seemed to be his plan from the beginning is to change the story from his losses into picking a new set of fights.

By the way, he's not going to find a lot of buddy-buddy friends to him on this overseas trip. He seems to have been forced by Macron's objections to put off his meeting with Vladimir Putin. He's going there with his European allies even proposing the creation of a new European army in order to protect against Russia, China, and even the United States, which is what President Macron said.

LEMON: Yes. Maybe it's this, maybe he is -- he is confused about the difference between bravado and actual power or strength. They're not actually the same thing.

So, Jack, listen, CNN is reporting that Mueller's team has begun writing its final report. There's also the Wall Street Journal's reporting that shows Trump was directly involved -- Max just said this in the hush money payments. Midterms are over, and clearly the investigations are heating up again, right? JACK QUINN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Look, and you know, we've talked

about the elections. There was something on the Senate side for the Republicans to brag about. The big news, I think was, in two pieces.

One, the president did not fare well in some of those states in which he surprised the whole country in 2016, places like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan. He didn't do well there. The blue wave was particularly effective there, but most importantly, the Democrats now have the gavels in the house. Democrats will chair all of these critical committees. With that comes subpoena power. There will be subpoenas issued.

However, I think it's way premature to be talking about impeachment. Let's see how the special counsel comes down on the issues he's investigating, but Democrats will be investigating everything that has been controversial, make no mistake about it. And those--


LEMON: How successful do you think they'll be with either the subpoena or the taxes or any of the other information they want to get, especially the financial information which he says is a red line?

QUINN: It's a somewhat legalistic answer, they will be successful wherever their oversight jurisdiction depends on getting access to information that the executive branch holds. Executive -- executive privilege arguments come down to a balancing of legitimate interests between the different branches of government.

The Congress has a right to oversee the operation of the government. The executive has a right to have confidential communications, but let me tell you one thing, and I believe this with all my heart, I would bet anything on this.

If there is a fight over a draft of or the final product of the Mueller investigation or the fruits of that investigation in terms of investigative files, no claim of executive privilege over those materials will be successful.


QUINN: I think there is absolutely no question about that.

LEMON: All right.

QUINN: They are not going to be able to keep that secret.

LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it. Have a good weekend. We'll be right back.


LEMON: The President got very personal in his attacks on the press this week. When April Ryan tried to ask him a question at his Wednesday's press conference, which is her job to ask questions the President was insulting telling her to sit down. It didn't end there. He bashed her again this morning after being asked a question about CNN's Jim Acosta.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I watch her get up. I mean, you talk about somebody that is a loser. She doesn't know what the hell she is doing. She gets publicity, and then she gets the pay raise or she gets the contract with, I think, CNN, but she is very nasty, and she shouldn't be. She shouldn't be. You've got to treat the White House and the office of the presidency with respect.


LEMON: That is -- that is really -- that is the inner workings of his mind. Now you see how it operates. You get publicity, you get a paycheck. He is projecting again on to April Ryan. By the way her book is under fire, reporting from the front lines of the Trump White House. Some insight into the President's mind. You get publicity, you get more money, you get a contract. That is what he is projecting on to you. I just want to get your reaction to what he said today?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALIST: First of all I have the utmost respect for the White House. I have the utmost respect for the office of the President. That is -- I've said it over and over again, but that is where everything comes to war to peace, and everything in between, and there's also life and death in the tongue and in the pen that is delivered by the President there. Everything is serious at the White House. Everything that comes there should be taken seriously from the mundane to the most relevant or the most important, and I don't get where he says I have no respect for the office just by asking a question about voter suppression.

LEMON: You think he is trying to intimidate you, to silence you?

RYAN: Of course he is trying to intimidate me. Especially the fact that he is talking about my finances and it's interesting --

LEMON: What's wrong with you making money? I'm not saying that it's true what he said, but what's wrong with you making money and getting a contract?

[22:35:03] RYAN: I suppose I got a pay raise and got a contract, and it's interesting how he is worried about my finances, which is inappropriate, I am not a government employee, and yet he cannot reveal his own taxes. Hmm, did I say that? Anyway.

LEMON: Let me ask you this then. Let's talk about Abby Phillip. Because she asked the President a question. This is how he reacted.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Do you want him to rein in Robert Mueller?

TRUMP: What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question, but I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions.


LEMON: Listen, her question was not only smart and fair right on the money, it was the most pressing political question of the day.

RYAN: Of the day.

LEMON: He is also suggesting that Abby is not good at her job, an insult he has hurled at you, at me, at other African-Americans knowing that it's a racist insinuation.

RYAN: Yes, well, let me say this. You know, people are questioning today, because of the President's statement, you know, if his response was stupid. This is real. When you are the President of the United States, you have the responsibility to answer questions. That is part of the job. We are built into the constitution, if you didn't want to deal with us, maybe you should have thought about the job requirements and thought about running for the office, but that was a question that was real.

He does not want to answer real questions. He tends to choose or have Sarah call on people who are friendly to the administration, these conservative reporters that ask softer questions that don't put him in a situation or light that he has to answer it and come forthright with answers. Abby asked the right question. She has asked -- Abby is smart. She asks the questions that are relevant of the day, and she is a good analyzer of fact and what the President says as well.

LEMON: So I want to ask you about Yamiche. We've seen the question where she asked him about -- she wanted him to clarify the term nationalist and whether it was -- he was emboldening white nationalists and if he understands that some people, you know, that was a concern for them. His reaction was to deflect and accuse her of asking a racist question. Why does he say that? I don't know, what does that say to you?

RYAN: Don, you know -- and I've said it over and over again. Once again, it is a sad day when the President of the United States has to be asked if he is a racist. I asked him that in January, and Yamiche had to come back and ask him this week, and with me, remember he did not answer. It took him three days to answer. This time he fought back and tried to turn the tables on her.

All he had to do was explain and not be defensive and explain what his meaning of nationalism was. You know, he is a nationalist. OK, explain it, because people are saying that is linked to white nationalism. All he had to do is explain instead of being defensive and now putting her in a spotlight where she could be a target as well, by calling her or making a statement saying that she asked a racist question. He is very freewheeling with these words that can really cause harm.

LEMON: Yes. This is not normal.

RYAN: It's not normal.

LEMON: And we should point that out. RYAN: We cannot accept it as such.

LEMON: Thank you, April. I appreciate it.

RYAN: Thank you, Don. I appreciate you. Thank you.

LEMON: Florida's races for governor and senate, well, they're tightening right now, and now activist groups are claiming there are ballots stuck inside a mail facility that haven't been counted, the latest next.


LEMON: Three activist groups in Miami-Dade county claim that there are ballots inside a mail distribution center, ballots that have not been delivered to election officials. CNN has seen pictures of the containers, but has not seen the containers themselves. This while the gap between candidates in the Florida Senate race, it gets closer and closer and votes are still being counted in several counties.

Let's discuss now David Jolly is here, he is a former Congressman from Florida and Marc Caputo the senior political reporter for "Politico." Good evening one and both. So, Marc, this is your beat. I know that you were a former representative there, so it's good to have both of you on. Marc, I'm going to start with you, what is the latest that you're hearing on the vote counts on the race for Senate and governor in Florida?

MARC CAPUTO, FLORIDA PLAYBOOK CO-AUTHOR, POLITICO: Just that they're tightening, and with the tightening of the vote margin, the amount of pressure and in some cases harsh rhetoric, conspiracy theories that we're hearing out of Republicans is increasing. There's an increasing focus and claim that there's fraud, but even though the governor had called on the Florida department of law enforcement to investigate, which is the state's version of the FBI, FDLE said well, we're not investigating any fraud, because we don't have any allegations of fraud.

So we're in this odd world where the governor wants the state's law enforcement agency to investigate fraud and then the law enforcement agency says, OK, we're here to investigate fraud. Then they don't have anyone coming and giving them any evidence that there's fraud. So we're in this -- as I said, this kind of bizarre world.

Tomorrow the ballots from all of the counties should be certified or better said, unofficially tallied, delivered to the state, the state canvassing board will then decide or officially announce what races to certify, what races are going to be recounted. We have three statewide races that are probably going to be recounted.

LEMON: Even the ones that are allegedly -- the ones that are supposedly at a mail center that haven't been delivered, are they going to be counted? They're going to be there tomorrow?

CAPUTO: Well, no. One of the tragedies of voting by absentee ballot is you have to rely on the mail system. In every election there are thousands and thousands of ballots statewide that don't make it in on time. Under state law your ballot needs to be into the supervisor of elections office it was cast domestically, by the way. It needs to be in the election supervisor's office at 7:00 p.m. that night.

LEMON: Is that so or does it have to be -- I thought it had to be postmarked by?

CAPUTO: It doesn't just have to be post marked. It has to be into the election supervisor at 7:00 p.m. that night on election night. So, if the post office doesn't deliver it there, you're screwed. Now, in Miami, in Miami-Dade where these pictures of the New Times had first reported, they do go to the main mail center three times a day on Election Day.

[22:45:07] These pictures of these ballots was at a different mail facility and the mail service is in charge of delivering the mail. In the end the supervisor of the elections office is not in charge of collecting mail.

LEMON: I want to get David, but let me just ask, because here, that is Florida law, because here in New York it just has to be postmarked by Election Day, doesn't have to be in there by Election Day, right? So that is -- OK. Those are the rules there.

All right, David, just give me your overall assessment on this and the conversation we had and what's going on down there. I mean, you're no stranger to this?

DAVID JOLLY, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Yes. No, there's a very important point that we have to drive home every day as we listen to elected officials on all sides of this, but particularly Donald Trump and Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, and it's this. Republicans, particularly Rick Scott and now Donald Trump and Marco Rubio continue to conflate their frustration with timeliness and their perhaps legitimate allegations of competence or incompetence with allegations of fraud.

And the latter is actually an allegation for which they have absolutely no proof and it is an allegation of criminal activity that, frankly, Donald Trump and Rick Scott and Marco Rubio should be ashamed of making if they can't provide evidence. For Donald Trump and Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, if you have evidence of fraud, put up or shut up.

Because the reality is this, we are in an initial count, not a recount. When we talk about 2000 and the hanging chads, and we look at the imagery, that was a recount. What we're talking about right now is actually trying to make sure that every ballot has been counted, every ballot that was submitted is counted. The state law requires a recount. We will get there after noon tomorrow.

But right now what is happening among elected leaders, particularly on the Republican side, is they are suggesting fraud with no evidence, and they are misleading Florida voters, and it's a shame.

LEMON: Is that why -- listen, I really have to go. I am really up against, but is that why you say there should be a supervised hand recount in each county in Florida for these races?

JOLLY: Absolutely. And state law ultimately is going to require a supervised hand recount. More importantly Governor Rick Scott needs to recuse himself from any executive supervision of this recount because he has a conflict of interest.

LEMON: Great conversation, learned a lot. Thank you, gentlemen, I appreciate it.

Is Florida's vote counting giving you flashbacks from 2000? Well, I'm going to speak to someone who was there for that infamous recount. Dave Boise, he represented Al Gore. He joins me next.


LEMON: Well, tonight in the Florida Senate race, Republican Rick Scott leads incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson by just under 15,000 votes. Scott's lead is narrowing as more votes are being counted right now. Both sides now expecting a recount after the actual counting of votes is completed.

So joining me now to discuss this, David Boies, he was the lead counsel for Al Gore during the Florida recount battle in the 2000 Presidential election. Oh my gosh, good to see you, by the way, I'm having flashbacks now.



LEMON: And I think -- yes. The America aged and I'm sure you did because you were right in the middle of it for those 36 days. So, listen, votes are still being counted right now. There are already lawsuits. It's 2000 all over again. How do you see this playing out?

BOIES: Well, remember, as you said, this is just the first stage. In 2000, we were in a recount situation. We're still just counting the votes. The first step is to count the votes. That hasn't been done yet. People need to wait and see what that vote count is going to be. Everybody thinks and I agree there's going to be a recount. We're not there until at least tomorrow.

LEMON: Yes. So let's talk about it. I mean, remember, we were all paying close attention to Broward County and on and on. Right? You just heard the conversation about whether it has to be postmarked in Florida or received. I think the rule is it has to be received by a certain time on Election Day. Can the American people have confidence that all of their votes will be counted fairly? It's not your fault if the mail system is late or so on.

BOIES: Yes, I think it's a mistake as a policy matter to require everything to be delivered as opposed to postmarked, but that is the rule in Florida. For domestic ballots. It's different, for example, if you're in the armed services. But if you're here in the United States, the rule is, you've got to mail it early enough so that the mail service delivers it. Every year, that results in some votes not being counted.

LEMON: But the basic -- because miss of my question, can Americans have confidence that their votes will be counted? Because listen, it's 2018. We can't figure out a system, number one, that can't be hacked or can't be influenced by Russians and on and on or by outside forces. What do we do?

BOIES: We can do a lot better than we're doing now. We can do a lot better by having more early voting, we can do a lot better by making it easier to register. We can make it a lot better making sure that the local canvassing boards have all the resources that they need. There's lots of things that we can do. And the cost is tribal and a critical part of our democracy and we should do better at that.

LEMON: What about the candidates on both sides? They're out there making all of these statements. Listen, you were part of that in 2000, right? One side says one thing -- how important is the P.R. campaign and what may become a really messy legal battle?

BOIES: I think the P.R. campaign has some importance particularly in a democracy, because you want your supporters to know what's going on.

[22:55:02] You want to try to influence public opinion. But fundamentally, this is going to be decided by the supervisors of election, by the canvassing boards and if necessary by the courts. I think the American people can have confidence that the system can work and it's up to those of us who are part of the process to make it work.

LEMON: David Boies, I appreciate your time. Have a great weekend. Thanks for coming on.

BOIES: You bet.

LEMON: The President says he doesn't know Matthew Whitaker, his own acting A.G., even though just last month he told Fox News that he does know Whitaker. Why is he dancing around this?


LEMON: This is "CNN Tonight." I'm Don Lemon. How Matthew Whitaker went from United States attorney for the Southern District of Iowa to the acting Attorney General is now coming more clearly into focus.