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CNN TONIGHT

Trump's Former Staff on Mueller's List; Trump Lacks Empathy for Fallen Soldiers. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 17, 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] ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: ... and all who loved them. Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon and CNN Tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news tonight, the Trump's, President Trump's inner circle.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

Here's what we're learning tonight. Sean Spicer has been questioned by the special counsel investigators. He is just the latest of team Trump members going face-to-face with investigators including Reince Priebus and Keith Kellogg who was interim national security adviser after Michael Flynn was fired.

And sources telling CNN, former foreign policy Carter Page has been subpoenaed by the Senate intelligence committee. He told the committee last week he would plead the Fifth.

All this comes again as President Trump picks a fight again with Senator John McCain, warning the war hero and former presidential candidate, quote, "I fight back and it won't be pretty."

We had a lot to get in the next couple of hours here on CNN. But I want to get right to CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash, chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, CNN contributor and former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, Bill Kristol, the editor at large at the Weekly Standard, and CNN political commentator Dan Pfeiffer, and CNN senior politics analyst Stephen Moore.

I think we have enough people to discuss this this evening. Let's hope so. So, Jim, I'm going to start with you. What are you learning tonight about Sean Spicer's meeting with special counsel investigators?

JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, CNN: This took place yesterday on Monday. It follows meetings last week with Reince Priebus, the former fired chief of staff to the White House as well as Keith Kellogg who was the interim national security advisor after Michael Flynn was fired. It shows frankly a picture that the special counsel investigation is

expanding beyond the interference, the Russian interference in the U.S. election. Because of course Spicer was not there during the campaign.

Key issues we know that the counsel wanted to discuss with him include the FBI Director James Comey's firing. He was not a very central player in the administration. That was one of the issues probably that led to his departure.

But we also know that he took copious notes. And for an investigator like Robert Mueller, those notes certainly material to the investigation. And it shows that this investigation is going to the senior ranks of the Trump administration following the chief of staff Priebus, the press secretary Sean Spicer as well as his former national security advisor as well.

LEMON: That's what I want to ask you, so who is next on Mueller's list? Do we have an idea?

SCIUTTO: We know that on the list includes Hope Hicks. I mean, she, first of all, she still serves as White House communications director and is actually where Spicer was not in those meetings. She has been in many, you know, small meetings with this president, so would have been privy to conversations that others were not.

Don McGahn, who was the White House counsel, this shows this investigation continue -- will continue to go into the most senior levels of the Trump administration.

LEMON: John Dean, I want to ask you, Politico is reporting that Spicer was fired for the questioning of the former FBI Director Comey and President Trump's meeting with the Russian officials. Where does this tell you where Mueller is in his investigation right now?

JOHN DEAN, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: He's being thorough clearly. And I think Spicer is a wonderful witness because we know he apparently made these notes contemporaneously, and those can be very invaluable. They're really very solid collaboration of information for a witness. So I think he's got an important potential witness with Spicer.

LEMON: We've heard about these copious notes, right, maybe a month or two that Sean Spicer kept copious notes. And these notes could either, you know, vindicate the president or get him into more trouble. But you said these things can be very important.

DEAN: They corroborate his memory, and they will stimulate his memory. And they hold evidentiary value because they were made contemporaneously.

LEMON: Yes.

DEAN: So that's the importance.

LEMON: Dana Bash, I want to bring you in now. In addition to Spicer, the former White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus was also interviewed by Mueller's team. What do you think these men would be in a position to know?

DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: A lot, no question about it. Look, there are lots of things that special counsel clearly wants to know. But there are two events or big issues that both Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer could shed light on.

Number one, and most recently is the firing of James Comey. Reince Priebus was the White House chief of staff. And to ask him questions about the reasoning that the president gave in internally is very important for this investigation.

It's a very open question, a very intensively debated question whether or not obstruction of justice is even possible when you're talking about the Pesident of the United States.

[22:04:59] But I think I hear Mr. Dean laughing. But if you go, kind of just follow the dotted line that Robert Mueller is intentionally or unintentionally drawing with the kinds of people and the kind of information he's asking for, it certainly appears that he is exploring that.

The other thing -- the other question is the Air Force One trip, Don, back from Europe when the whole -- the whole story about the Don Junior e-mails that unveiled the fact that he took a meeting during the campaign in 2016 with the premise being I have dirt on -- from a Russian national, I have dirt on Hillary Clinton.

And the Air Force One trip, Sean Spicer was on that trip. Now it's our understanding he wasn't in the front cabin when the president was apparently working with staff on the statement that Don Junior ended up putting out. But he was on the plane. So he had proximity. And I'm sure that Mr. Mueller would want to ask him questions about that in addition to people we know are going to go like Jim Sciutto mentioned, Hope Hicks who was there. Don McGahn, the White House counsel for whom everything should technically go through.

LEMON: I want to ask and I don't know if is -- who, but maybe it was a throat clear.

DEAN: I cleared.

LEMON: But Bill...

(CROSSTALK)

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I was respectfully silent when Dana was speaking.

LEMON: Both Priebus and Spicer was pushed out by the president, Bill. Do you think that they're going to be loyal to him?

KRISTOL: Look, I assume they are going to tell the truth if they're under oath speaking or speaking to the FBI, whether or not you're under oath, speaking to the FBI, you could be, you know, get in trouble for lying.

So I assume they will tell the truth. I think John is right that the contemporaneous notes are important. I just make two quick points. I think, look, ultimately, he's -- Mueller is going to talk to Trump.

And what's this -- I'm not a lawyer and thank God I've been on the other end of these investigations, but this strikes me as getting pretty close to the ties. If you're doing -- the former chief of staff, the former White House press secretary, the current White House communications director, I suspect it might just be weeks or months away or two from Pence and Trump.

I don't think we're months and months and months away. I think of this -- I always thought that things are going to go faster than people think. People have a sense these investigations take forever. They take a while. But I think we might be getting near, you know, I don't want to be shooting for years end or something like that.

And so, I do think that will be a huge moment when Bob Mueller interviews Donald Trump and see whether what Trump says nothing. I do think that, I always come back to the January 27th meeting, one on one meeting, one week into the administration when Trump has the FBI director over for a one-on-one dinner. The man he barely knows.

He's getting acclimated, he's having some celebratory dinners with all his friends, family and supporters and suddenly Friday night one weekend, dinner with Comey. What happened, I mean, that is extremely unusual as people have commented.

And getting the Priebus, Spicer who would have presumably contemporaneous notes of what Trump told them about that dinner about beforehand, what he intended to raise, maybe what he did raise, So I think that's been under reported honestly in this different, you know, Comey encounters, that one strikes me as pretty amazing.

LEMON: Stephen Moore, I want to ask you as a supporter, does it concern you that, you know, Bill just said the vice president and the vice president, he is thinking they're next to be interviewed here. Where do you stand on this?

STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, CNN: Well, I mean, I think Bill is probably right, that this might end with Mueller asking both Trump and Pence about their activities. I don't think that they have anything to hide, so I'm not concerned about it in terms of, you know, what information they have.

I think they acted in a way that was appropriate, you know, for the president. So I don't think there's a huge, huge scandal here.

By the way, I was just at a speech, Don, that Trump gave at the Heritage Foundation tonight. He seemed very relaxed. He got a big ovation from the audience. He didn't seem -- he didn't seem out of sorts whatsoever. He seemed very, in a very ebullient mood.

LEMON: Well, we'll see. Jim Sciutto, I've got to ask you because I understand you have some new exclusive reporting tonight on a close Putin ally's role in Russia's meddling in the U.S. Election. What have you learned?

SCIUTTO: This draws a direct line from those troll farms, the fake news, the divisive stories that were injected into the U.S. election right back to the inner circle of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, focusing on Yevgeny Prigozhin. He is known as the chef to the Kremlin.

And yes, he has catered Vladimir Putin birthday parties. He catered dinners for President George W. Bush when he visited Russia in 2002 and 2006. But the fact is, beyond that he's a Russian oligarch with enormous influence in Russia enormous businesses.

And he is U.S. investigators believe but also documents we've reviewed have shown the primary backer of a troll factory based in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was known as the Internet Research Agency, known as the IRA.

[22:09:58] And it is the organization full of hackers that were injecting fake news stories into the election, including stories that targeted via social media to key districts in the 2016 presidential election.

And what we're discovering by looking at these documents was just how specific financial ties are between someone very close to Vladimir Putin and these advertisements, fake news stories, divisive news stories, things about Black Lives Matter, gun control, et cetera injected into the U.S. election debate right up to Election Day.

Looking at these documents, Don, I mean, it's really fascinating. It sounds like something stolen out of a George Orwell novel. There was literally listed in these documents a department of provocations in this agency, whose job it was -- and it was listed again, was to inject fake news stories into the U.S. election, divisive news stories.

And the budget -- and this is important -- was a million dollars a month. So it's a significant amount of money coming from someone very closely tied to the Russian president with the intention of really dividing the U.S. electorate as the election approach. It's fascinating stuff but also sobering stuff.

LEMON: It is. And it's interesting, Dan Pfeiffer that now the fake news story is now part of the Russia story which is part of the collusion story when that whole fake news moniker was developed by the president, I'm not sure he had that in mind.

DAN PFEIFFER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: No, I think fake news to Trump means news he doesn't like.

Look, it's very clear and you can see this in the conversation we just had about Mueller in this investigation circling this, we know that Russia interfered with the election. We know Russia interfered with the election with the goal to help Trump.

Everyone agrees that except possibly Trump. And so now we're going to get to the bottom of this. Because I have to say that their strategy is pretty sophisticated and so pretty sophisticated understanding of American politics. Going to districts to target what sort of hot button issues, to highlight, to whom.

And you know, we're going to -- hoping we get the bottom of this we're going to find out if someone in the United States or someone at, you know, and potentially someone associated with the Trump campaign worked with the Russians to help that tragedy more effective.

And you know, and I hope Bill is right that Trump is -- that Mueller is getting to his conclusion here sooner rather than later. Because even beyond the politics, we have Mr. Trump, Sean Spicer and everyone else, this is an incredibly important national security story.

LEMON: You mentioned, Steve Moore, the Heritage Foundation. Well, tonight the president was back and it was teleprompter President Trump. We'll talk about that when we come right back.

MOORE: OK.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We have some breaking news to report to you right now. President Trump finally calling the families of troops who lost their lives in the Niger raid. And telling the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson, quote, "he knew what he signed up for."

I want to bring in now Congressman Frederica Wilson. She spoke to Sergeant Johnson's widow tonight and she joins us on the phone. Thank you, representative for joining us. You spoke to the widow of Sergeant David Johnson, Sergeant La David Johnson. Her name is Myeshia. How is she doing tonight?

FREDERICA WILSON, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: She's very distraught. And we were in the car together, in the Limousine headed to meet the body at the airport. So I heard what he said because the phone was on speaker.

LEMON: What did he say?

WILSON: Well, basically he said, well, I guess he knew what he signed up for. But I guess it still hurt. That's what he said.

LEMON: The president said to her he knew what he signed up for...

(CROSSTALK)

WILSON: He knew what he was signing up for.

LEMON: But when it happens, it hurts anyway.

WILSON: So it's almost as if this is a young, young woman who has two children who is six months pregnant with a third child. She has just lost her husband. She was just told that he cannot have an open casket funeral, which give said her all kinds of nightmares how his body must look, how his face must look. And this is what the President of the United States says to her? LEMON: Representative, as we're speaking now, we're looking at the

video of her meeting the coffin. She says she's expecting her third baby in January, and she is leaning over that coffin with a flag drape over his casket. You could see was shaking there as she sobbed uncontrollably. She has a 2-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. But continue on. What were you saying?

WILSON: And he had just told her that just as she was about to do what you just saw. There's no reason for the president to be so insensitive. Not only to the family of this soldier but the impervious rhetoric, you know, it's disrespectful to the family of every soldier that has paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

And our community is livid. Because this was our hero. We don't have many heroes in our young men in Miami-Dade County. But he was a hero for us. And we don't like what was said. And that is not something that you say to a grieving wife.

LEMON: What was your reaction, representative?

WILSON: I asked them to give me the phone because I wanted to speak with him. And I was going to curse him out. That was my reaction at that time. I was livid. But they would not give me the phone.

LEMON: What did she say?

WILSON: She was just crying. She couldn't say anything. The only thing she said when it was time to hang up was, thank you, bye-bye.

[22:20:00] LEMON: And were there other family members in the car with you or there with you?

WILSON: Yes, there were other family members in the car.

LEMON: What was their reaction?

WILSON: They were all crying. They were all crying. It was a solemn cry because they were still upset about the fact that this could not be an open casket. They were upset because they don't know why he was separated from the rest of the soldiers.

This could turn out to be another Benghazi. And I have asked for an investigation. Representative Hastings of Fort Lauderdale and I have sent a letter. And we want to find out exactly what happened. And I'm expecting a classified briefing when I return to Washington to answer some of those mitigating questioning that I can't answer on my own.

LEMON: Representative Wilson, thank you for your time.

WILSON: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you so much. And please give our thoughts and condolences to the family. I want to bring in Dana Bash. Dana, there's a response from the White House.

BASH: Yes, Don. And I'll read it to you right now. The response from the White House is basically that the president here I have in front of me now, "The president's conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private."

So that's a very long way of saying no comment because we're not talking about what the president said to this understandably very upset widow. And I'm not sure that he even knew that the congresswoman was there with her listening.

But as you just heard from the congresswoman, she did not think that the tone that the president took was appropriate. I'm sure that the White House, the president himself will have more to say after listening to the fact that a congresswoman literally just said to you that she wanted to grab the phone and curse out the President of the United States for the way that he talked to the window, a gold star wife now after she found out that she was going to visit the coffin of her husband.

And as she just said, somebody who she was hoping that would at least get an open casket and couldn't for whatever reason. So, it's incredibly emotional. And it...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It is. And especially when you look at the video. I mean, but, you know, that playing there.

BASH: Six months pregnant...

LEMON: Six months pregnant.

BASH: ... with -- exactly. And looked like her daughter there. She's got another baby as well. And you know, it's just a lot.

Now, this is -- this is a congresswoman and a very understandably, very upset and emotional woman listening to the President of the United States.

LEMON: Right. Yes.

BASH: The White House is not saying what his intentions were, and I'm sure we're going to hear from the president soon about what he meant when he said those words.

LEMON: And I want to bring in Dan, because Dan is someone who's worked in communications and messaging when it, you know, it comes to presidents. I'm not sure what the president meant by those words and how they were taken, but this is a concern from people.

And then the president will speak for himself whenever he does that, about whether it's visiting storm victims or throwing paper towels or what have you, that some feel that this presidents lack an empathy gene. And this is maybe more evidence of that.

PFEIFFER: Don, I think that's right. One of the more important roles of a president whether republican or democrat is sort of, it's a pastoral role. It's to speak to the country, the families, the individuals in times of great tragedy.

And there's probably no more solemn duty than speaking to the families of the soldiers who serve that commander in chief. You know, when those soldiers give the ultimate sacrifice. And I don't know what the president said here.

He, you know, this is, you know, we've all got to let this family grieve in peace and deal with this in the way in which they choose, but it does speak to that -- the president has just shown throughout both the campaign and then now in the presidency the inability to empathize, to show sympathy, to express that sympathy in any way that fits with the circumstance.

Whether it was in Puerto Rico or his first visit to Houston, it just always rings like he's awkward and strange and like it's missing something that the way in most humans would react in that situation. I don't know whether that's a personal problem or a communications problem, but it's going to be something that's going to dock him throughout this presidency.

LEMON: Stephen Moore, your reaction to what we just heard.

MOORE: Well, got you. It's such a heartbreaking story, Don. I mean, this David Johnson seems like such a great, great man, and you just hate to see someone die in the line of duty like this.

[22:25:01] And so, you know, I can't really speak to what the president said. But it's heartbreaking. Three kids, terrible.

LEMON: Yes. Jim Sciutto, these are, you know, you were imbedded with the Green Berets in Iraq, correct?

SCIUTTO: I was. Listen...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: These are hard conversations to have.

SCIUTTO: I actually had experience with them. There was a fire fight in Iraq in Kirkuk early in the invasion where a Green Beret kept me from getting shot, right, so I have personal experience. And Sergeant Johnson -- Johnson served -- Johnson served alongside them.

Listen, you know, this started as a question about why the president did not mention in any context via Twitter, via the official White House statement, via his many camera appearances, four lost soldiers in Niger.

It then transitioned into a question about whether he had called those families, with the president himself making what was established as a false statement about previous presidents not calling or contacting those families.

For instance, the president saying that ask General John Kelly now the chief of staff or retired General John Kelly what had happened. We've since reported, my colleague Jeff Zeleny, that, in fact, President Obama invited John Kelly to the White House, and Michelle Obama sat at a table with John Kelly after he lost his own son in battles.

The fact is that President Obama did reach out to his family. So it started as the president did not mention these four lost soldiers in any context at a time when he mentioned many things via his Twitter feed, then it became an issue the president making the false statement about what previous presidents did.

And now you have this, and again, I was not on this phone call, but what appears to be at a minimum an awkward conversation with the widow...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Somewhat insensitive.

SCIUTTO: ... of those fallen soldiers. Listen, you would think it would be a relatively easy thing to do. Not easy because it's painful but a relatively direct thing to do, to speak honestly to someone, to a widow, a woman, a mother who had lost her husband in battle, but it doesn't seem to have turned out that way and it raises real questions.

I speak to folks in the military all the time, and this is very personal issue as you would imagine, because they've lost brothers in arms and sisters in arms in combat.

And when they see this play out in the public sphere, they expect certain things to be said by their commander in chief, and they don't often hear those things. And that from their perspective is a shame.

LEMON: Well, and it's, you know, in the context of Bill Kristol, I'm so sorry for your loss. We lost a hero. And you know, if I could take it all back for you I would, but I'm really sorry, and if you need anything, you can reach out to me.

But this is something that, you know, when I heard today that the president said, well, as you know, Obama didn't reach out to Kelly. I was like, why is he using this as a political -- the fallen son of one of his staff members as a political pawn? Why? Who would do that?

KRISTOL: Yes. I guess I was physically sick actually when I had been in a couple of meetings and went online and saw he had tried to use Robert Kelly as kind of an example of President Obama allegedly not calling. I was like I said every president called everyone in the first week, they had letters, they invited them to the White House later.

Then President Bush, he really tried to meet with the families when he traveled around the country, he did it privately. You know, if you look at his public schedule there would be a speech from noon to 2, and something else at 3.30 and there was a gap on the schedule. And people thought he just had down time, and often in that time in his hotel room or in the hangar they would invite the families, the gold star parent or spouses of fallen soldiers and marines from that area to come meet the president and they left a lot of time.

You could see the president did not want to rush that. So I think President Bush and President Obama I mean, they handled this in their own way but for me it was that press -- first, it was the president. Instead of just asking the original question, look, I'm writing letters, I have to call these people, we need to honor them, we honor them. We grieve for the families.

What you said a very straightforward answer at the press conference. Instead he had to sort of do a drive by slap at President Obama, go on about other president, speculate and then he's asked again. Well, how do you know that? Why do I know that?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That's what I was told.

KRISTOL: So, the general -- I ask the generals. And then this morning that was bad enough. It really was bad I thought. Then this morning the use of Robert Kelly, I really felt -- I don't know. It's just terrible.

LEMON: It's sickening.

KRISTOL: Yes, it really is.

LEMON: This is the concern from many was that when something really horrific happened, would this particular president be able to console the country or be the consoler in chief or the person who made us feel -- there was concern especially after Las Vegas if he was able to do that, and when he was on a teleprompter he was able to do it? He met with some of the families.

[22:29:59] But this is, this is what a president is supposed to be able to do.

DEAN: He is -- he is not good extemporaneously, that's obvious. I work for a president who was not good extemporaneously. You have to script these things and learn them. And Nixon was one, for example, who was very careful to know what to say and when to say it in those kinds of circumstances. So I'm surprised he's not even taking the time to do that.

LEMON: Well, we want to play tribute to Sergeant La David Johnson if we can put that video up, and that his widow there today receiving the body. Twenty-five-year-old member of the third Special Forces group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina losing his life.

Our hearts, our thoughts, and our prayers go out to this family and all the families and people who are affected.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: NFL owners and players meeting today amid the raging controversy over some players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. But President Trump doubling down again tonight on players kneeling. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:35:01] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We believe that our great American flag should be treated with reverence and respect and that young Americans should be taught to love our country, honor our anthem and proudly recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Joining me now is Marvin Washington, he is a former NFL player. Marvin, thank you for joining us this evening. I just want to read a portion. This is from your op-ed on CNN.com. And you said "The inescapable reality for those of us raising black sons is that we pray every time they leave the house they don't end up becoming the next hash tag with a viral video after an encounter with police. That's what this protest is about. What Trump has done by contrast is plainly the worst kind of race baiting."

Those are really strong words. What are your thoughts behind it?

MARVIN WASHINGTON, FORMER NFL PLAYER: But it's true. You know, the thing about being a black parent and raising two sons, I have, you know, brothers. I have uncles. I've gotten a talk. Every black parent has given their son or daughter that talk.

We're asking for anything except for to be treated fairly, to be treated equitable and to have a level playing field when our sons and our daughters and ourselves go out. And that has not been the case over the last, you know, I would say the last few years because that's not new.

The cameras are new to think that we've been fighting this fight for a long time. And it's kind of, you know, it's kind of frustrating that we're relitigating things that my mom and her sisters and my dad were now fighting for in the '50s and '60s.

LEMON: Let's talk about Colin Kaepernick because he filed a grievance against the NFL alleging collusion to keep him out of the league. I mean, whether or not his attorneys can find evidence of collusion, that's one thing. But there are have been a number of quarterback injuries in the NFL this year in the NFL and Kaepernick still doesn't have a job. What's your opinion on this situation?

WASHINGTON: Well, you know, article 17 either imply or expressly, you know, that the owners have colluded against him. You can say it's implied because I do not believe there are 90 something quarterbacks in the NFL that are better than Colin Kaepernick. And he showed a lot of patience because if it was me I would probably have filed a collusion suit at the end of May or June.

But he has, I think he's going to get some traction on this. And it's only going to take one guy, maybe a disgruntled ex-employee that knows he's never going to work in the NFL again, can come out and affirm what Colin Kaepernick knows in his heart that's happening.

Because as I told you before. If the owners want to show solidarity to the players and what have you what's -- and that's in question is sign Colin Kaepernick. You know, Roger Goodell made calls two years ago in the seventh round to make sure Michael Sam get drafted by, the St. Louis Rams at that time. Then why doesn't the NFL put some pressure on the team to make sure that Colin Kaepernick get signed?

LEMON: If you had a chance to sit down with the president to talk about how he has turn this into something that it's not, what would you -- what would you say to him?

WASHINGTON: You know what, talking to 45, I don't think he would even listen, you know. Because he does things his own ways. They're irrational, they're off kilter. They're something we're not used to. You know, just like the segment before this. This is like -- I don't know how we can keep up this pace as a country because every week there's something.

And he has new enemies every week and new gaps every week. But his consistent thing is bashing Obama, Hillary, and now it's the NFL players. But NFL players are fighting back, community leaders are getting involved.

And so this thing is not going to be settled because the whole thing is the owners want this thing to go away. They don't know how. But you're going to have the best in their hands next month when it's Veterans month and you are going to have soldiers and gold star families being honored during that month, and this thing is still going to be going on.

LEMON: Marvin Washington, thank you, sir. I always appreciate your time.

WASHINGTON: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

When we come back, much more on the meetings between NFL owners and players. What's next? Will players continue to protest?

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Talking a little bit more the flag thing. The spokesman for the NFL saying the league does not expect to change its policy, which encourages players to stand during the national anthem, though that's not mandatory.

And I want to bring in now CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan, a sports columnist for USA Today, CNN contributor, Donte Stallworth, a former NFL wide receiver, and sports agent Leigh Steinberg.

So good to have all of you on this evening. So Christine, representatives for NFL owners and players they met today in New York. And while there wasn't any plan decided on, a spokesman for the players said the meetings were productive. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JED YORK, CEO, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Racial and social economic inequality has existed in this country for too long. Our players are not trying to be disrespectful to the flag. They're not disrespectful to our country. They are trying to bring awareness who refuse to come from their communities that most people that look like me don't understand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Was this meaning a good first step for the league and players, did anything actually get accomplished?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS ANALYST, CNN: Well, I think it was a really good first step. I think just the fact that they're having this meeting is really significant in the wake of Donald Trump's SOB line of what, almost four weeks ago now triggering all of this reaction and fuelling this, you know, furor and concern all the way around the country.

What does it mean moving forward? I think they're going to have another meeting. My sense is that they will eventually do something, whether it is highlighting each team in the community and the concern of social injustice, whatever. But it's not going away.

[22:44:57] And I think also very important is that there was no mandate for the players to stand, something that was discussed a lot last week as you know, Don. And it was Donald Trump misquoting Roger Goodell. He never said the players had to stand. He said they should stand.

I think we'll continue to see some players take a knee because they do not want Donald Trump to be seen as the winner here and have that tweet storm of Donald Trump declaring victory, when in fact, I don't think it's a victory for him because I think these players are actually going to do something very significant within their communities.

LEMON: Listen, at the very least they're having a conversation and a lot more needs to be done. But just hearing the sound bite that we played before, I thought it was some, at least productive in a sense. At least they're having the conversation.

But here's what I want to know. You know, they're having the conversation, everybody's involved in this except for the person, Donte, who got this all started. And there was some confusion over whether Coin Kaepernick was even invited to participate in the meeting that players spokesman, Malcolm Jenkins, said today that Kaepernick was invited by the players.

But his attorneys, Kaepernick's attorneys said later that he had not been invited by anyone from the league or team management. How should he -- what should he do going forward here? Does it hurt his credibility if he doesn't attend future meetings, if he's not involved?

DONTE STALLWORTH, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: You know what, I think he's, number one, I think he's doing his own thing. He initially stated last year that he was going to donate a million dollars. He's done that. He's been out in the community. He has done a number of things. I think it probably could be helpful if he was there in attendance but...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But don't you think the league and the team, listen, not him. If I started this and management didn't invite me, I probably wouldn't show up. Don't you think management should invite him and include him in the talks, something that he got started?

STALLWORTH: Yes. I think it would be beneficial to have him there and have his voice be heard since he is, you know, initially the person who got this whole thing rolling.

But the players also I've talked to players and I've talked to a couple of league officials. Both sides have said that they feel like this meeting was a very productive start, and it's the very beginnings of something that they want to continue in the next week or so.

And there's going to be a lot of things that are going to happen from a standpoint of players -- again, and I've said this before and got a little flack for it. But players are not just looking at these racial inequality issues there.

Again, they're looking at the gender pay gap. They're looking at housing discrimination. You will see what players will do in the weeks to come, and the NFL is going to give them a platform to do all this just as they do breast cancer week and just as...

LEMON: Wow.

STALLWORTH: I'm sorry, breast cancer month. And just as they do the military month in November. So, that's what the players have been wanting all along just for the NFL and the owners to step up to the plate. They don't want this to be an NFL -- or owners versus players issue. They want the owners to support them in these endeavors...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But that's -- that's easier said than done because that's what the president has done. He's turned it into an owners versus player.

(CROSSTALK)

STALLWORTH: Yes. But, Don, he didn't even -- the president was not even brought up today in the meeting today from what I've heard.

LEMON: Yes. OK. But listen, but that he's turned the conversation that way. It wasn't that way until he did it.

STALLWORTH: Right.

LEMON: Leigh, I'm so glad to have you on. And I'm interested in your perspective because it's a unique one, you're an agent for a number of NFL -- number of players in the NFL. What are you telling -- what are they telling you about the protest, what do they want to see happen, and what advice are you giving them, if any?

LEIGH STEINBERG, SPORTS AGENT: So, I'm proud that players should have political consciousness and been willing to stand up for what they believe. But the symbolism of the protests needs to be followed up by action. So now players are starting to think about how in combination with the league and with owners, they can go into the inner city, put together programs that do early education, that do job retraining, that have interaction with police departments for better community relations.

So the question is action now. You probably wouldn't have seen as many protests had not President Trump gone ahead and used language that he did. So what all these protests were about was to focus on problems you'll probably see the NFL do a week very much like they do for breast cancer, focusing on inner city issues.

And I think that players feel like now they want to go back and play ball, but they want to see these issues addressed. And they will be addressed.

LEMON: Christine, the NBA tipped off tonight. No kneeling during the anthem, but the Cleveland Cavaliers did stand together, arm in arm similar to the gestures that we have seen in the NFL. LeBron James also spotted wearing sneakers with the words g equality on the back of them. What do you think we're we'll see in the NBA this season?

BRENNAN: I don't know that we're going to many people taking a knee, maybe none. The NBA in some ways is light-years ahead in terms of the conversation, in terms of the players and their impact in the communities.

[22:50:06] LEMON: Why is that?

BRENNAN: And it will and even more important I think, Don, to answer your question. The coaches. I mean, when you see some of these coaches, Steve Kerr, Popovich talking the way they have about the president from the get go. I think that you are seeing that there's a much more understand -- an attitude of understanding of these issues and I think there's a much more liberal, you know, concern, maybe event that would be seen as more liberal anyway and it's been that way a long time.

The NBA because it has been dominated by African-American for so many decades the NFL of course, the majority African-American as well it hasn't been that way for as long as the NBA has, I don't believe, so the NBA is much more open-minded I think for a much longer period of time.

LEMON: Thank you all. I wish I had more time. We had breaking news at the top of the show. Thank you. I appreciate your time.

When we come back, the former Fox News anchor who called out her own employer about sex harassment, why she says we may have reached a tipping point in America. Gretchen Carlson joins me next. And I'm going to talk about Harvey Weinstein, that scandal and much more. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Harvey Weinstein officially removed today from the board of director of the Weinstein Company. Meanwhile, a screen writer who was part of his inner circle apologizing for turning a blind eye and not speaking out sooner, claiming everybody knew about Weinstein's behavior.

Joining me now is Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News anchor who is author of "Be Fierce. Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back." Thank you so much. For writing this and I was reading it on the subway today and people were looking at me and I was like, you know, men are looking at you reading this. And I know you said that more men should step up.

GRETCHEN CARLSON, FORMER ANCHOR, FOX NEWS: Yes.

LEMON: I want to talk to you about that.

CARLSON: OK.

LEMON: But I also want to ask you about, because it's unfortunate that -- and maybe the timing is right because you're the perfect spokesperson with this whole Weinstein scandal you said it is a water shed moment.

CARLSON: It's a water shed moment, but first I just want to start by saying that it's horrific.

LEMON: Yes.

CARLSON: I mean, this is abhorrent that this kind of behavior was allowed to go on for three decades. And there's no way that it could have gone on without enablers and people, you know, not coming out and telling what they knew.

And this is how we handle sexual harassment in the corporate culture unfortunately. Many times is that we cover it up. And if it were not for the braveness of these women to come forward we would not know about this now. And if I played any role in inspiring any of those women to have a voice then all my work in the last 15 months has been for naught.

LEMON: Yes. Well, it's interesting because during the time, you know, it started to surface about what happened to you it was, you know, the election, the Access Hollywood thing, and now we have this. And I think even the reporting is different now. Do you see a double standard when it comes to Harvey Weinstein and the president, Harvey Weinstein lost his job this will, if the allegations is true he should. The president said, you know, grab you by the lady parts and he becomes the president of the United States. So then candidate says it and then he becomes the president.

CARLSON: Yes. I mean, the difference is one, is running a private company, another is elected by the people of America. LEMON: Right.

CARLSON: You know, and everyone is entitled to their vote. I mean, I chose that moment as a teachable moment for my children.

LEMON: Yes, you said it's a teachable moment, why is that?

CARLSON: It's a teachable moment and I hope millions of others parents also did the same thing, which is to sit their children down and say this is not how you treat human beings, you know.

[22:55:03] For me, human decency supersedes any political policy. I don't care what party you're in.

LEMON: Right.

CARLSON: It's about how we treat one another and that was just central to me. And I talk a lot about it in the book.

LEMON: Yes. This is -- this is a new poll. It's from the ABC and the Washington Post and it's pretty stunning to show. Eight and ten women say that they have endured unwanted sexual advances in the workplace, a third of those women say it escalated to sexual abuse, 58 percent of those women chose not to report the behavior. I mean, that translate to some 33 million women in America who are being either sexually harassed in the workplace or beyond.

CARLSON: Right, it's an alarming epidemic. And what I found out after my story broke and all of these women started reaching out to me, many of whose stories I talked about in the book was that it's pervasive across all professions. It's not just Hollywood and it's not just television journalism, it's everywhere, Don. And this is why everyone should be concerned about this. Because why is it that every woman still has a story in 2017? That's outrageous.

LEMON: Yes.

CARLSON: And I hope to be a factor in doing something about that to change it, and that's why I wrote the book to encourage other woman to have the same bravery.

LEMON: And it's fear. I mean, you are afraid for a long time, and women are afraid to come forward.

CARLSON: Right. Because what happens to you when you do. You are labeled a troublemaker and worse.

LEMON: You lose your job.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You lose your job.

LEMON: And never have a career again.

CARLSON: Right, never have a career again. Seventy percent of people don't come forward and of all the women I spoke to they're not working in their chosen profession any more.

LEMON: Yes. We saw that in the internet with the 'me too.' Did you see that campaign?

CARLSON: Of course.

LEMON: Yes.

CARLSON: Look at what social media is doing right now. It's carrying on the national dialogue of this story. And that is a good thing. It's a good thing that all of these women have found that bravery and men are in the equation too, and we need you. We need you guys out there.

LEMON: I'm glad -- you're reading my mind. That's what I want to ask you because I grew up. I'm the only boy with a single mom, you know, a family of and grandmother was my nanny, and so on. I didn't call a nanny back then two sisters and grandma.

CARLSON: Right.

LEMON: But why is that, so I was reading I was looking around, you know, guys are looking at me, is he reading Gretchen Carlson's book, why is it so important for men to step up?

CARLSON: Yes. I mean, actually on my own scientific study on the streets of New York City more men actually stop me to thank me for what I did and they want to shake my hand. You know what they say? They say thank you for my daughters. OK.

I mean, women are also appreciative, but the man chapter in my book actually became the longest chapter because I found so many amazing men who were already doing great work. Most men want a safe environment for women in the workplace, right?

And so, I wanted to honor men. This is not male bashing, this is saying, come on over and join us in this fight together because we can't accomplish it without men.

LEMON: Well, it's similar, as I was reading the men chapter, it's similar to, and hear me out here, what's happening in the NFL, what's happened with minorities, that even though you may not be affected by that, you should at least prioritize racism and discrimination because it will eventually effect you.

CARLSON: It's a great analogy.

LEMON: Yes.

CARLSON: I mean, because in that we all have to be together as a society as well to make it better. And the same thing with sexual harassments. I mean, I actually believe it's a men's issue, it's not a women's issue. It shouldn't be on women's shoulders to alone and try to fix this.

LEMON: Exactly. CARLSON: You know, we're the ones that are feeling ashamed but it's

actually in most cases the guys they are making us feel that way, and so it's really their issue so we need the good men to speak up more and stop being enablers and bystanders and become our allies.

LEMON: Do you feel free?

CARLSON: I feel fierce. And I feel that I have given the gift of courage to so many other women across this nation and even across our, you know, even internationally. And so free, liberated, yes. Which is basically the same word, right.

LEMON: Yes. Because I just wonder if you ever just take the time and go. I saw you at the women's variety event...

CARLSON: yes.

LEMON: ... and they introduced you and you got at least what, like a two-minute standing ovation.

CARLSON: Thanks.

LEMON: I wonder if you ever just look back over this time and just, what have I done.

CARLSON: Yes, you know, it's really interesting because every morning when I wake up I remind myself to be fierce by looking at my bracelet that says that.

LEMON: Yes.

CARLSON: But you know, it's not that you want to be the face of this every day.

LEMON: Yes.

CARLSON: But look, I think I'm making a difference.

LEMON: Yes.

CARLSON: And I'm giving the gift of courage to other women, and that's what it's all about. All about giving that gift of being fierce.

LEMON: Thank you.

CARLSON: It's great to see you.

LEMON: Good to see you.

CARLSON: Thank you.

LEMON: Good luck. I'll be fierce, Gretchen Carlson's new book.

When we come back, breaking news, President Trump finally calling the families of troops who lost their lives in the Niger raid and telling the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson, quote, "he knew what he signed up for but when it happens it hurts." We'll talk about that.

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