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Trump and His New BFF; Pile of Lies Out of the POTUS' Mouth; Senator John McCain Blasting Trump in his Speech. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 16, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The president answering questions for 40 minutes in the Rose Garden today and everything he said was good news, if you're Donald Trump.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
The president thinks his administration has done a great job with hurricane response even in Puerto Rico still suffering from the devastation of hurricane Maria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was very honored to see a man that I've had a lot of respect for, Lames Lee Witt of the Clinton administration, the head of FEMA, he waive us an A plus. I just see it just came out.
And I've always had respect for him. He gave us -- he's the FEMA director of the Clinton administration. Gave us an A-plus for how we responded to the hurricane aftermath all of the hurricanes and that includes Puerto Rico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Actually, he didn't. James Lee Witt told us that assessment was for hurricanes Harvey and Irma. On the subject of his combative relationship with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are probably now, despite what we read, we're probably now, I think, at least as far as I'm concerned, closer than ever before. And the relationship is very good. We're fighting for the same thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You know who else president, the president says he has a good relationship with? That's Steve Bannon. The same Steve Bannon who left the White House back in August, the same Steve Bannon who backed the candidate running against Trump's choice in the Alabama Senate race. The same Steve Bannon who is promising to wage war against the leaders of the GOP, leaders like Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have a very good relationship as you know with Steve Bannon. Steve is doing what Steve thinks is the right thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And Trump also thinks he is doing much more for the families of fallen soldiers than his predecessor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you look at president Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate when I think I'm able to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That's not true either. Barack Obama during his time in the White House wrote letters and made calls to families of fallen American troops, just as other presidents have done.
So let's discuss all of this now. I want to bring in now CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston, senior political commentator David Axelrod, and political analyst April Ryan.
Good evening. I mean, where do we start here, Mark?
MARK PRESTON, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: I mean, what a day. You know, where do we start with this?
LEMON: Let's start with Mitch McConnell because it was a united front, a show of united front as you have seen with other leaders who have come out with him, saying everything is hunky-dory, it's fine, saying they are closer than ever before. We know how they have been feuding. It has been on Twitter. The president has said it's been going back and forth. Are you really buying this love fest?
PRESTON: Well, I a couple of things. One is this is a classic Donald Trump stick and carrot approach. He beat you and then he'll throw out a carrot in front of you. We saw that just happen today within hours of where he was very critical of the United States Senate, specifically republican senators for not getting his agenda through and he took no responsibility for it.
Now at the same time, though, Don, he knows that he needs Mitch McConnell on the Senate if he's going to have any kind of success if he's going to get any kind of victories. What's interesting about Donald Trump is that he has this unhealthy obsession with his legacy so early in his term right now, not that every president doesn't, but it is so unhealthy so early in his term right now.
And the fact is Donald Trump likes victories and he likes wins and without Mitch McConnell he's going to get none of those.
LEMON: He also has an unhealthy obsession with the former president. It's almost like a girlfriend who broke up with him or something. It's like, she's worse.
So, April, you called this news conference with the president and the Senate majority leader a hot mess. Why is that?
APRIL RYAN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, one, you know, those comments, James Lee Witt and also with the President Obama saying that the president never called or visited with any of those fallen soldiers, I couldn't believe that.
And after Sarah from CNN, the reporter from CNN asked that question the president said that, I leaned over and said that's not true because I was there. You know, I remember going to the hangar where the victims of Benghazi came back when the American diplomat and the others members of the embassy came back from, coming from Benghazi. And I remember being there.
I remember the president going to Dover Air Force Base. That was sacred for that president. That's a sacred moment. And to say something like that was very tough.
And then at the end with the issue, you know -- well, a couple of times. Reporters were asking questions -- some reporters got three questions. But John Roberts from Fox News asked I guess his third or fourth question, I guess the third or fourth round, really, he asked about the NFL, and that's when I got my chance to ask about police involved shootings.
[22:05:02] The actual reason why the NFL players are taking a knee, and the president kept saying it's disrespect and I threw that question out and he kept saying disrespect. Never discussing the issue, the reason why the players knelt.
It was just -- when you listen to a president of the United States, words matter. And for us to hear that certain things didn't happen, it just leaves a lot to question his credibility and just what really is happening.
LEMON: Yes. What was interesting is that he hasn't spoken out about this, David, and the president was also asked today about his public silence for nearly two weeks on the four green berets killed in Niger. He said he hasn't spoken to their families yet but he has written letters that will be arriving soon. But it's this comment that drew criticism. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed. It's very difficult thing. Now, it gets to a point where, you know, you make four or five of them in one day, it's a very, very tough day. For me that's by far the toughest. So the traditional way if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And then he later back tracked, David, when questioned about his claim and he said he only knew what his general -- what his generals told him. He said, you know, I heard that. I heard that. I don't know if that's true. I'm paraphrasing that but basically saying that.
Former Obama staffer Alyssa Mastromonaco wrote this on Twitter.
DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes.
LEMON: She said, "that is a," I can't use the language, "f-ing lie to say President Obama or past presidents didn't call the families of members of soldiers KIA, killed in action. He is a deranged animal."
I mean, you were at President Obama's sides -- side for years as countless service members were killed in war. What was your reaction to his comments today?
AXELROD: Well, I mean, it was outrageous. And not just about him but about previous presidents as well. Any president feels as President Trump said what when he started speaking that those are the toughest calls that you have to make, those are the toughest meetings you have.
That is really when being commander in chief comes home to you because you have the responsibility for these young men. You send them into battle and you are moved when there is a loss.
I was there, Don, in October of, I believe it was 2009 when the president in the middle of the night flew out to Dover to, as April mentioned, to receive 18 service people who were coming back in coffins from Afghanistan and met with the families of those service people in the middle of the night for several hours, consoling them.
And I remember how sober he was the next morning in reflecting on that experience. So, you know, I don't know why President Trump feels the need to throw those things out. He does it all the time. Why does he feel the need to claim credit for this outstanding job in Puerto Rico when Puerto Rico is in such distress right now?
Any reasonable person would say Mr. President don't say those things. But he does and he does and he does.
AXELROD: I don't know why.
LEMON: I want to talk about Puerto Rico, but just to reiterate what happened. This is a former White House photographer, pictures he put this up today on social media, he put this pictures on Instagram showing President Obama consoling the parents of army Sergeant First Class Jared Monti who was killed in Afghanistan.
So again this president did not have his facts right. Mark, I want to ask you about what David just talked about and that is a response to hurricane Maria. Because a new poll out tonight it shows 44 percent approved how the president is handling the hurricane response. That is a 20 point drop from just a few weeks ago. That was after Harvey and Irma hit the mainland. How damaging are these numbers for the White House.
PRESTON: Well, they're very damning. Because it's not just necessarily, you know, some people might say, well, he might not be doing well with Hispanics, he might not be doing well with Puerto Ricans who have moved here to the mainland United States, but that is a reflection right now of his stewardship of the government.
And I'm not saying that it's very easy, a very easy job to be doing what he is doing, because it is very difficult and I'm sure David can speak to that. You are juggling multiple balls, but the fact of the matter is that President Trump continues to go out and say things that are false, that are misleading and flat out lies and also deciding to go to war with the mayor of San Juan down in Puerto Rico.
Why would you do that? There's absolute no reason when we heard from our own correspondents right now that while supplies are getting to the port, they're not getting out of the port. Why isn't President Trump more concerned about perhaps sending in the military or sending in more folks to try to start rebuilding that infrastructure and getting those supplies around?
[22:10:00] But, again, Don, it all goes back to what we said at the top. President Trump really, really is focused on his own legacy and he's focused on himself, and there's a bit of narcissism there that I think is really getting in the way of him really doing a solid job as president right now.
LEMON: How frustrating is it to sit there as someone who has covered the White House for what is it, 20 years now, two decades, April, and knowing in real time that this president should be fact-checked and then not always having the opportunity to do so? It's got to be frustrating for people who, if this is your vocation.
RYAN: Yes, it is frustrating. You know, it was frustrating. I was trying to get a question in. I was smack-dab right in front of him and he made it a point not to recognize me. But towards the end he did, and when he was saying these things, particularly when he talked about James Lee Witt, and I understand that he sometimes leaves other facts out or changes it a little bit.
And I remember a conversation that he had with Congressman Elijah Cummings, you know, at the very beginning of this conversation when he came out saying after that conversation; Elijah Cummings said that I'm the greatest president ever. That's not what Elijah Cummings said.
Elijah Cummings said he would be the greatest president if you did such and such and such and such. So, it's always a part of the fact and then something else with it. And that's unfortunate to say about an American president because words matter.
RYAN: And listening to him today, particularly when he talked about Obama and prior presidents, I mean, not just President Obama, but George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and I was like, that's not true. And again, I told in the report it is frustrating. But that's why
we're there. We're the first line of questioning an American president and we also have institutional knowledge and memories sometimes that will help correct the misstatements.
LEMON: David, I want to ask you about this one because I thought it's important to point out here. The president also weighed in on Hillary Clinton supporting NFL player's rights to protest. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I hope Hillary runs. Is she going to run? I hope. Hillary, please run again. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's at odds with you over whether or not this is disrespecting the flag. Is she right or is she wrong?
TRUMP: I think she's wrong. Look, when they take a knee, there's plenty of time to do knees and there's plenty of times to do lots of other things. But when you take a knee -- well, that's why she lost the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That's why she lost. What do you think of that?
AXELROD: Look, he would love to replay this election from now until the next election, you know. He lives in this world, this race with Hillary Clinton is the most -- I mean, think about what's going on in the world right now and that he wants to engage in that discussion.
But I do want to go back to one thing, Don, which is McConnell. And, you know, Trump ran as an anti-establishment candidate. McConnell is the ultimate establishment man, as Mark pointed out, he needs McConnell to some degree.
But he loves having Steve Bannon out there strutting around in his Johnny cash outfit, you know, threatening to gun everyone down and, you know, calling McConnell Caesar and calling for Brutus to step up and do away with him and so on.
Because, you know, he knows that he's got a gun cocked at McConnell, figuratively speaking. In this day -- this day and age I shouldn't use that language. But he's got this implicit threat that Bannon represents.
So if I'm McConnell I'm standing up there feeling deeply uncomfortable when Trump says Bannon is a friend of mine and he's doing what he thinks is right because there's a game being run here and Mitch McConnell is caught in the vice.
LEMON: Yes. David, April, and Mark, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
LEMON: Yes, I've got to go. I'm sorry. Next time, April. We'll see you soon.
When we come back, an emotional Senator John McCain choking up tonight as he blasts those who would abandon America's leadership in the world for the sake of what he calls half-baked spurious nationalism. There's more and it's very powerful and you'll see it next.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: You should sit down and really watch this because Senator John McCain made an impassioned plea tonight for the United States not to turn away from its role as an international leader.
I want to bring in now CNN's Fareed Zakaria, host of Fareed Zakaria GPS. It really was amazing to watch. He was awarded -- John McCain was awarded the Liberty Medal tonight of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and in his acceptance speech he took a shot at President Trump. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MCCAIN, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: The fear in the world we have organized and led the three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain the last best hope of earth for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems...
... is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.
We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What do you think? I thought it was strong.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN: It's an extraordinary -- I really urge people to listen to or read the whole speech. It's extraordinary. It's eloquent. He really tells it like it is. And you could tell it comes from the heart.
And it really is -- I mean, one hates to politicize it, but it is a frontal attack on Donald Trump. And it is a frontal attack really on Donald Trump's essential world view.
If you go back to Trump the businessman, taking out ads in the New York Times in 1980s, it was all this very selfish, narrow view of America in the world. We're being taken advantage of by the Japanese. We're being taken advantage of by our NATO allies. That has been the consistent theme of trump's view of the world.
And McCain is essentially frontally assaulting him. He's saying what America has been about for the last 75 years is the opposite. It has been about a country that tries to uphold international order, to you know, to try to create a word of peace and prosperity and rules.
[22:19:59] And if you think about its coming at the end of a week where Trump is trying to pull out of the Iran deal, where he has pulled out of the Paris agreement, where he's pulled out of the Trans- Pacific Partnership, where we learn NAFTA is on the brink of being of collapse.
We are watching the foundations of that international order that John McCain was praising. We're watching it crumble.
LEMON: There's so much to talk about. First, let's talk about the blood and soil, because that was a direct reference to what's happened in Charlottesville, those white supremacists who were saying blood and soil Jews will not replace this and all of that.
ZAKARIA: Well, I think it was clearly tied to that. It's to that idea of European nationalism, which has always been about blood and soil. And what he was contrasting it with was America. America, which has always been based on ideas and ideals.
ZAKARIA: Not blood and soil.
LEMON: In the last segment I was sitting there, you know, I asked April how frustrating it is because as I sit at home before I come in and I watch these speeches and I watch what's going on, and I sit and I was like, well, that's not true, that's not exactly right. OK, well, he has a point about that.
But I've never had to fact check in my mind speeches or comments by a president of the United States ever. And people will say, well, the news is just being anti-Trump. The news needs to point out -- that is our job to point out inaccuracies and falsities and lies. And it happens so many in just one speech today. What is going on, Fareed?
ZAKARIA: Well, you even saw it, you know, -- as you know, I've always said that the problem with Trump is there is no -- there is no such thing as truth and lies. He's just making this stuff up. He's making it up on the spur of the moment. It's almost like performance art and you know, I don't want to keep using the same word, but we all know what it is. You saw this moment where he looks down and he says, you know, James deWit has given...
LEMON: James Lee Witt.
ZAKARIA: James Lee Witt has given me an A-plus for our hurricane efforts, and he says James Lee Witt, director of FEMA and the Clinton. A man I really know and respect. You know that that's nonsense, that he never heard of that guy before this moment. And then he says and he gave it to me for all the hurricanes, including Puerto Rico and it turns out that wasn't true. It was given for just the first two.
LEMON: Irma and Harvey. ZAKARIA: Irma and Harvey. And so you think to yourself, there's
something almost pathological about it. You know, he can't stop himself from just -- in that moment he feels like this will sound better. Why don't I say I know this guy really well?
LEMON: It's much -- it's -- people embellish all the time, but when you're the leader of the free world, that's a whole, that's a whole another level.
ZAKARIA: When as you say, well, a really interesting question that's why I think it's pathological. Why do it? It doesn't really give you much advantage. It ends up producing this firestorm of fact-checking and criticism. And you know, what's -- I'm not sure that he can stop himself.
LEMON: Yes. The Canadian man who was just rescued by the Taliban in Pakistan says that when he was told by his captors that Donald Trump is the American president, he thought they were joking. If someone told you five years ago that Donald Trump would be the next president, would you have believed them?
ZAKARIA: No, of course not. And I, you know.
LEMON: Can you imagine that, though? You've been -- you've been captive for five years and then you come out...
ZAKARIA: Rip Van Winkle and your biggest surprise is Donald Trump is president. Look, I think all of us got it wrong in that sense. But I think that the important, perhaps the part that I'm most surprised by is, I did think that Trump would behave a little bit more like a conventional president in this sense.
That he would try to broaden his coalition, he'd try to appeal to the whole country, he'd try to figure out a way to do the things that a majority of the country wanted rather than just his base. In that respect he has been more peculiar and again, somewhat self-defeating. I'm not quite sure why he's not doing...
LEMON: Did you think that or did you hope that, Fareed?
ZAKARIA: I hoped that, but I also thought, look, the guy -- he's an intelligent man, I assume. He's a successful businessman. The obvious thing to do would be pivot to the center. Go for big infrastructure project. Unite the country.
I still don't understand what exactly the game is. You know, for example, if you're trying to pass tax reform to belittle Bob Corker. Maybe there's a genius strategy there that I don't -- Mitch McConnell, I don't understand it. If you're trying to get a legislative agenda passed and you're systematically insulting the senators who you need to pass that agenda, you know, again -- now, as he would say, he's president and we're not, and so obviously there is some talent there, but.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you. By the way, good to see you. Good to see you. And by the way, the interview with Hillary Clinton was really great. Really great.
ZAKARIA: Thank you.
LEMON: Very interesting responses that you got from her. So for anybody who missed that, make sure you check it out cnn.com/fareed. CNN.com/fareed.
[22:24:57] And when we come back, the president standing side by side with Senator McConnell today despite very publicly calling him out multiple times throughout his presidency. But what's really behind their sudden show of unity?
LEMON: To hear President Trump tell it, he and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell are BFFs. I want you to listen to the president today. This is in the Rose Garden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My relationship with this gentleman is outstanding, has been outstanding. We are working very hard to get the tax cuts. We will continue to work hard to get the healthcare completed. I'm going to be surprising some people with an economic development bill later on, but I haven't even told Mitch because I want to focus on tax cuts and some other things right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He hasn't told him, but they're BFFs. That is a tall order for a party at war with itself and facing what could be devastating midterms next year.
Here to discuss, CNN political analyst Nathan Gonzales, and Kurt Bardella, the former Breitbart spokesperson. Thank you, gentlemen for joining us.
Kurt, you first. The president giving a big public show of support to the Senate majority leader, someone he has very publicly rebuke for failing to pass healthcare reform or to repeal and replace Obamacare.
[22:30:01] This is just two weeks ago. He re-tweeted. He said "the only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is after hearing repeal and replace for seven years he failed. That should never have happened."
So, is this mending of fences, what's going on here?
KURT BARDELLA, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, BREITBART NEWS: Well, I think the operative word that you said, Don, is it's a show.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[22:30:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is just two weeks ago. He re- tweeted. He said "The only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is after hearing repeal and replace for seven years he failed. That should never have happened."
So, is this mending of fences, what's going on here?
KURT BARDELLA, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, BREITBART NEWS: Well, I think the operative word that you said, Don, is it's a show. And that's all that today was. It's just for show. There's no sincerity behind it. Mitch McConnell certainly doesn't believe that Donald Trump is his friend.
I think if anything maybe in that moment during that press conference Donald Trump probably believed that he was Mitch McConnell's guy. But we all know that whether it's tomorrow morning or over the weekend or a week from now he's going to end up criticizing Mitch McConnell.
And he has these irreconcilable forces here. You cannot say on one hand Steve Bannon is a good friend of mine, I support what he's doing. I understand the frustration that he represents with members of the Senate, who are Mitch McConnell's colleagues and part of his caucus, and on the other hand try to say you're also Mitch McConnell's best friend.
How? It was just a few weeks ago that Donald Trump was in Alabama next to Luther Strange trying to convince everybody that they didn't know who Mitch McConnell was.
LEMON: Yes. So listen let's talk about that because the president also voiced some frustration at the Senate's inability to push his agenda forward. And the reason I bring that up is because Steve Bannon was on the opposite side of him in that race, right. So here is what he has said publicly, Bannon, about Mitch McConnell. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Right now it's a season of war against a GOP establishment. We've cut your oxygen off, Mitch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Bannon has made no secret of the fact that he wants to purge as many establishment republicans as possible in the upcoming midterms. How can the president be aligned with Bannon and McConnell at the same time?
NATHAN GONZALES, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, as Kurt said, I don't know that that's possible. And I think you have competing interests here. I think for a while Steve Bannon and now President Trump came together to help get him elected president, but I don't think that their goals are the same.
I think President Trump wants to get a deal done. He wants to deliver on the campaign promises that he talked about, and I don't think he really cares about who is involved or even what the deal looks like. He just wants to say he got it done.
Steve Bannon on the other hand has kind of aligned himself with Trump, but I think he's using President Trump as a way to either destroy the Republican Party or remake the Republican Party into something he thinks it should be.
I mean, I remember last cycle I was getting e-mails from Speaker Paul Ryan -- about Speaker Paul Ryan's challenger saying Speaker Ryan wanted to elect Hillary Clinton and he was for amnesty and he was clubbing baby SEALs and I thought that they were from Paul Nehlen, the challenger, but it was actually from Breitbart. It wasn't even from the challenger.
And so I think there's competing interests here and that's what makes getting something done more difficult.
LEMON: Nathan, you're a numbers guy. So I want to take a look at some of these numbers in the upcoming midterm about the current balance of power in the House, is the republicans a 241, you see they've got 241 to 194 majority. Your analysis shows that democrats likely are to pick up some seats there.
Your projections show a lot more republican seats up for grab than democratic ones and you say there are 48 GOP seats in play with only 14 democratic seats in play. The democrats would need a net gain of 24 seats for the majority. How likely does that seem to you?
GONZALES: Well, I mean, history is on the democrat's side. In 18 of the last 20 midterm elections the president's party has lost seats. And the average seat loss in those 18 elections is 33. And you mentioned democrats need 24.
Democrats are recruiting a strong, I would say a strong crop of candidates and challengers but one of the big unknowns right now in this cycle is that traditionally midterms are bad for the president because they become a referendum on the president and voters can't vote against them because he's not on the ballot.
But right now most voters don't believe President Trump is the head of the Republican Party. He's kind of his own entity, and so I'm not sure that even if voters don't like what the president is doing, if they're going to take it out on republican incumbents.
LEMON: So, Curt, our White House reporter Sara Murray had some reporting about republicans in and out of the White House trying to let President Trump know if the dems take the House, he could be facing impeachment. How realistic do you think that democratic majority is now?
BARDELLA: I think it's incredibly possible. Think about this. Right now we're just nine months, ten months into the presidency of Donald Trump. Imagine a year from now, how tired we're all going to be of this daily charade.
And you have to imagine that the American people at that point, especially if not much is happening in Congress, will hold the president accountable for having this united government of republicans in control and not being able to get anything done.
And that's why republicans are so concerned right now with Donald Trump's fixation by driving these wedges with his own party. Because I'll tell you if democrats take control of Congress they will have oversight authority. They will have subpoena authority. They can depositions, halt hearings, get document, and they effectively cripple the Obama admin -- or the Trump administration.
The minute that they have that power it's the same experience that we have when I work at the oversight committee. We took control of the majority while we were working with Darrell Issa, the oversight committee and that's what we did.
We were able to successfully launch investigation after investigation and really get a lot of the White House's attention and slow down the Obama presidency.
[22:35:01] LEMON: Kurt and Nathan, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
When we come back, President Trump today blasting sexual assault allegations against him that surfaced during the campaign as fake news. We're learning today his campaign has been subpoenaed. Gloria Allred, who represents one of Trump's accusers, she joins me next.
LEMON: President Trump's campaign being subpoenaed by lawyers for Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the "Apprentice" who accused Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her in 2007. The subpoena requests, all documents concerning any woman who asserted that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately. Asked about it, the White House today, the president called the subpoena fake news.
Joining me now is Gloria Allred who is representing Ms. Zervos. Gloria, thanks for joining us. Explain why your legal team is subpoenaing the Trump presidential campaign.
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, Don, this is not fake news, as President Trump said. As a matter of fact, this subpoena due has taken him is in the court file lodged with the court in our lawsuit against President Trump.
[22:39:56] And in fact, along with the subpoena is a letter from the Trump/Pence campaign acknowledging the subpoena and agreeing that they will produce all documents after the court decides whether or not to grant their motion to dismiss our case.
If the court decides to allow us to continue to litigate this case and deny Trump's motion to dismiss, then they will have 30 days to produce all the documents that we requested.
So this is about as real as it can be, and apparently, Trump's lawyers know that. The campaign knows that. But Donald Trump himself is the only one who thinks that's fake.
LEMON: What do you think the documents in the campaign, they're going to be relevant to your lawsuit, Gloria?
ALLRED: Well, there are many documents. Of course, our lawsuit is a defamation lawsuit by Summer Zervos, because during the campaign, of course, we heard the Access Hollywood tapes and the Billy Bush on the bus tapes in which the president is alleged to have said or we heard his voice saying that he felt he could grab and kiss a woman because he was a star, that in fact he could grab them by he mentioned their genitals.
And then when Anderson Cooper in the debate with then candidate Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asked Mr. Trump did you in fact do what we heard you say that you did on those tapes, the Access Hollywood tapes and the president said it was just locker room talk. He denied ever doing that.
After that women began to come out and they came out to the New York Times. Then many of them came out with me at press conferences and accused the president, well then-candidate Trump of, in fact, doing some of what we heard him say on the tapes.
After that president, then-candidate Trump at some point said they're all liars, all the women are liars. What they said was fabrication and fiction. I'm going to sue them all after the election. Well, he did not sue them all after the election.
I called on him to retract his threat. I called on him to acknowledge that what Summer Zervos had said was in fact true. He did not take the opportunity to retract or acknowledge. Therefore, three days before the inauguration I filed a lawsuit on behalf of Summer Zervos, who is a real hero. And she's the only woman who did accuse Donald Trump who then went ahead and filed a lawsuit, because her reputation is important to her.
LEMON: Can I -- can I...
ALLRED: Because truth matters, and she would like him to acknowledge what in fact is the truth, and she says that what she alleged about him is true.
LEMON: You heard the response from the President Trump. I don't need to play the sound bite because you heard that, he said it was fake news.
But listen, this is the attorneys for the president, also released a statement, Gloria, and then I want to read for you. It says, "Ms. Allred has served as -- has served a far reaching subpoena on the Trump campaign that seeks wholly irrelevant information intended solely to harass the president. Indeed, Ms. Allred herself has questioned how the president could run the country if faced with broad discovery."
So what's your response to his denial?
ALLRED: Well, first of all, everything that we requested in the subpoena is relevant. We want -- for example, we all documents concerning any woman who asserted that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately, including any basis for Donald J. Trump's statement that any such woman or women fabricated or created or lied about her interactions with him or were motivated to come forward by fame or, quote, "ten minutes of fame," end quote, money, politics or pressure from the Clinton campaign.
By the way, we also are asking, and this involves CNN, we say that we're requesting all documents concerning David Bossie's statement to Jake Tapper of CNN that they are, quote, "is not one thread of evidence," end quote, of any of the women's allegations that Donald J. Trump touched them inappropriately or his statement that these women are, quote, "people who are put out by Gloria Allred and the DNC and the Clinton campaign," end quote. So all of this plus more we need in order to prepare our case against President Trump.
ALLRED: And we believe that all is relevant. They think it's far reaching. We would respectfully disagree, and we're looking forward...
LEMON: I need you to stand by, Gloria.
ALLRED ... to receiving all the documents if as and when and we're hopeful of this that the court allows us to proceed with our lawsuit.
LEMON: You're coming back, so you'll get more. I need you to stand by. I need to get to the break. Because when we come back, Hillary Clinton slamming the president, comparing him to Harvey Weinstein. We'll tell you what she said and Gloria will be back on the other side of the break.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The Trump campaign subpoena for documents by lawyers representing Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the Apprentice who accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in 2007. The president saying this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I can say is it's totally fake news. It's just fake. It's fake. It's made up stuff, and it's disgraceful what happens, but that happens -- that happens in the world of politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Summer Zervos lawyer, Gloria Allred is back with me. And we're joined by CNN's chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, legal analyst Laura Coates, and CNN political contributor, Ed Martin. Hello. Welcome to the panel. Gloria, welcome back. Jeffrey, how strong of a case does Summer Zervos have against President Trump? Does she have a chance of getting anything? JEFFREY TOOBIN, SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: I don't know. I don't know
the evidence at this point, Don. But I do know that a sitting president can be sued, because that was established without question in the Paula Jones case where the United States Supreme Court said even though it's potentially a distraction to a sitting president, people are entitled to their day in court, so the lawsuit can proceed.
Whether this lawsuit has any merit and whether a court will allow depositions to go forward, discovery to go forward, that's a separate question. It's a harder question.
ED MARTIN, POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: But Jeffrey, you agree, Jeffrey, I mean, you're smart enough to know, you agree that when someone threatens that they've been harassed, doesn't have a suit and then files against a public person saying I was defamed, that's the kind of classic long shot play, right?
And when Gloria Allred of all people runs out to do media, what we know is what the president is saying this is a publicity stunt meant to distract from the person Weinstein, who is at the heart of actual assault. He admitted -- Weinstein admitted, said it's consensual...
TOOBIN: Weinstein has nothing to do with this. This is totally irrelevant.
MARTIN: How can it not?
TOOBIN: She files this lawsuit...
LAURA COATES, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: You're conflating issues. Gentlemen, you're conflating two issues.
COATES: Harvey Weinstein's case actually did not precede the allegations about Summer Zervos.
TOOBIN: Of course.
MARTIN: He's admitted -- he's admitted...
COATES: But the more -- excuse me. The more realistic approach is it's right. The president can in fact be sued, but the idea of fake news being one of semantics does not go very far in a defamation allegation where you know that truth is the ultimate defense to it. And so it is certainly...
COATES: ... appropriate for somebody to investigate whether they have a defense or whether it's truthful to actually in issue is Harvey Weinstein is indeed a separate matter. [22:50:02] LEMON: But Harvey...
MARTIN: you really think...
LEMON: But the president also admitted to, as well, what is sexual assault saying that he can grab women by the genitals.
LEMON: That came out of his own mouth.
MARTIN: No. That's not what he admitted to. He said he described he was talking in a way as he said and others have agreed was kind of jocular and silly and all that. But no matter what, you've changed the subject from a guy who has admitted -- Weinstein admitted...
LEMON: No, you're changing the subject. This has nothing to do with Harvey Weinstein. Harvey Weinstein, this was after -- this suit -- Gloria, can you please take us through when the suit was filed?
ALLRED: Yes. Mr. Miller, the suit was...
ALLRED: Excuse me, the suit was filed on behalf of Summer Zervos...
ALLRED: ... in January of this year. The allegations against Mr. Weinstein did not surface publicly until just recently.
MARTIN: No, you're doing a round of publicity...
ALLRED: One has nothing to do with the other.
MARTIN: You're doing a round of publicity and a subpoena trying to say as you've admitted, you're a political operative trying to hamper the president.
So you're out there saying we want to tie up the president and make it difficult and have subpoenas. It's a subpoena and a norm -- I'm a lawyer, too, Mrs. Allred. If you look closely it's a case that is a long shot case that's done to cause trouble on a public official. You've already said that. It's about making his life...
ALLRED: Well, with all -- I'm glad you told me you're a lawyer because I wouldn't have guessed it from what you're saying.
ALLRED: But thank you very much for your argument. Let me just share with you that this has nothing to do with that -- and your name- calling.
MARTIN: With what?
ALLRED: And you're suggesting...
MARTIN: With what, name calling who?
ALLRED: Wait. Don't interrupt me, please. Let's be respectful. Your name-calling is...
MARTIN: OK. You start.
ALLRED: ... just an indication, sir.
MARTIN: What name-calling?
ALLRED: ... that you don't have a good argument.
MARTIN: What name-calling?
ALLRED: You're interrupting me again, which people do to women way to often and we don't accept that. Wait a minute.
MARTIN: OK, Gloria. OK.
ALLRED: Wait a minute. Let me finish my response and then you'll your chance I'm sure.
MARTIN: You're filibustering now.
ALLRED: Are you ready? Let me finish my sentence.
MARTIN: We're waiting. Go ahead.
ALLRED: Thank you.
MARTIN: Go ahead.
ALLRED: What I'm saying is when you name call and you try to characterize...
MARTIN: What's the name call?
TOOBIN: Hey, knock it off. LEMON: Let her finish.
TOOBIN: Knock it off and let him talk for God sake.
ALLRED: Then that is a sign that you do not have a good argument on the merits, so thank you for letting me know you can't defend this.
MARTIN: Gloria. Look, Gloria, this is a classic Gloria Allred move. When you don't have an argument you say other people offend you, other -- I name call. I didn't name call.
ALLRED: You didn't offend me. You just showed me you don't have a good argument.
MARTIN: Gloria, you're interrupting. See how you're doing this. You interrupt.
ALLRED: Moving on, this is about...
MARTIN: You can interrupt because you use the status of you're the fighter and everyone has to sit back and take it. Well, I'm not going to do that, Gloria.
COATES: Well, actually if I may...
LEMON: I need to interrupt -- I need to interrupt because we have to go to a break, and then you guys can do all the interrupting on the other side.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
[22:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So the panel is back. Laura, you first. You say defamations only defense is truthfulness, and that the president is damaging his own case by calling them liars. How so?
COATES: Well, absolutely. One of the things that is so important in any defamation action is actually to prove that it's in fact a false statement that's damaging to one's reputation.
So if there is evidence to suggest that in fact the statements aren't true, then you very well can't say that you are being defamed. Or if there is no change in the people's view of your reputation you're not being damage as well.
And so there is some validity in an investigation into figuring out whether this is false or true. But the only way to do that in any legal action outside the court of public opinion is to discover, which is what's been asked for.
TOOBIN: One of the -- one of the problems potentially with this lawsuit is that it really is sort of a bootstrapped sexual harassment case. I mean, clearly the underlying offense here, according to Gloria's client, is sexual harassment.
But because of the statute of limitations has lapsed they have...
TOOBIN: ... they have sort of manufactured a defamation case out of Trump defending himself. Now, this was successful in Massachusetts that in the Bill Cosby case was allowed to proceed. But I'm not sure every court will say that the same way.
LEMON: Do you think he'll be deposed, Jeffrey, because I mean, how damaging, because remember, Paula Jones...
LEMON: ... which led to a decision.
TOOBIN: Led to his impeachment. I think it will certainly be a while until he is deposed. The other, it will be other discovery, first, Gloria Allred like any good lawyer has filed a very voluminous discovery request.
I suspect that the judge narrow will somewhat, but I think he or she, I don't know if which gender the judge is, will give some discovery in this case and then it'll proceed to a motion for summary judgment. And if that's denied, I expect there will be a deposition of the president but probably a year or so at least down the road.
ALLREAD: And it's a woman judge. We had a male judge assigned to the case first. He recused himself for reasons that we do not know. And that's fine. And then it was assigned to Judge Schecter, a woman judge in New York Supreme Court.
LEMON: So, Ed, let me ask you. Nearly a dozen women have publicly accused Donald Trump of sexual assault or misconduct. You don't think there's any truth to any of those dozen or so women?
MARTIN: You know, the thing, Don, I said one of the things that Phil (Inaudible), my old boss used to talk about, when you run for high level, she run for Congress twice, I ran for Congress, you learn a lot about how the game is played.
At the level of Donald Trump having run for president and becoming president, if there was evidence, if Gloria's client or others had evidence of these kinds of things I think we would have a different kind of outcome.
So at a certain point you have to say the president, when he says it's fake news, I think what he means it's politics -- he said that it's politics at this level. I mean, Harvey Weinstein was allege...
TOOBIN: Well, can I ask a question? Can I ask a question before we get onto Harvey Weinstein?
MARTIN: Well, I thought...
TOOBIN: Lots of people have run for president.
MARTIN: I thought I was...
TOOBIN: How come Donald Trump is the only one who 12 or 13 people...
MARTIN: He's not the only one. He's not the only one. I mean, what happened to Bill Clinton...
TOOBIN: Twelve or 13 people...
LEMON: Ronald Reagan. What about George Bush, George H.W. Bush?
MARTIN: What happened to George H.W. Bush, right? I mean, I thought he had other allegations of affairs that he had. But, look, you agree, don't you guys agree that...
LEMON: What about other presidents who have not been accused of this like Ronald Reagan, like President Obama.
MARTIN: Look, don't you agree? Wait, I thought you guys -- I thought you guys were pretty clear that since the Drudge Report Lewinsky, everything has changed. And everything about politics has changed. I think sort of concedes that now.
LEMON: Ed, what are you talking about now?
LEMON: What is the Drudge Report have to do with...
TOOBIN: That was 20 years ago.
MARTIN: No, I mean.
ALRED: This is going to be...
MARTIN: Can I answer the question? The answer to the question, Don, is that after Lewinsky became the center of politics, everything went down into the gutter and now you just crawl things up and -- OK.
LEMON: So Lewinsky, Ok, Lewinsky that the president was impeached for.
MARTIN: Right. Exactly.
LEMON: So this president can be...
COATES: Ed, it seems -- Ed, if I -- Ed...
MARTIN: No, the point -- the point is that nothing, nothing was off. Nothing was off limits.
COATES: You conflate several important issues.
[23:00:03] MARTIN: Wait, nothing was off limit.
COATES: And the volume of your voice is not change or betrays your argument in any way. What it does amplify to me is that...
MARTIN: The volume of my voice.