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CNN TONIGHT

Two Republicans Show Courage Blasting Trump; Trump Breaks the Record of Politicians Lying. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 24, 2017 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news tonight. This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

We should not underestimate the significance of today. A stunning moment in our history. A moment that many of you may have thought would never happen. Here's why. A sitting republican lawmaker standing up to the president and his own party pleading with them not to pretend that President Trump's behavior is normal or acceptable.

Well, today, not one, but two senators, republican senators called the President of the United States reckless, a liar and a threat to our democracy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF FLAKE, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us and calling fake things true and true things fake.

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: You said he's an untruthful president. No question?

BOB CORKER, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Yes, no question. I mean, I don't. We grew up in our family not using the l word, OK. But yes, just -- I mean, they're provable untruths. Provable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Senator Corker, Senator Flake both absolutely right. We cannot call fake things true and true things fake. We cannot allow the president himself to lie to us. These are words that President Trump and his party need to hear. America needs to hear them.

It's the reason we're here night after night digging through the events of the day and trying as best as we can to get to the facts. And that is nothing new. I want you to listen to these famous words it's from the Army-McCarthy hearings, this is back in 1954. The chief counsel, Joseph Welch asking Senator Joseph McCarthy this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH MCCARTHY, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency? (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: In an op-ed published tonight in the Washington Post Senator Jeff Flake remembers those words by saying this. "The moment was a shock to the system. A powerful dose of cure for an American democracy that was questioning its values during a time of global turmoil and threat. We have temporarily forgotten who we were supposed to be. We face just such a time now. We have again forgotten who we are supposed to be. And the parallel don't stop there."

These words from Edward R. Murrow in 1954, as well, as just as true today as they were then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARD MURROW, JOURNALIST: We must not contuse dissent with disloyalty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: President Trump said who values loyalty above everything is said to be in high spirits tonight after all Senator Flake is a thorn in his side. He is retiring. Bu America can't afford to lose any more men and women of principle from the ranks of our nation's leaders.

Not if we intend to be a nation that can still stand on our principles and still hear the whispers of our better angels. Listen to this from Senator Flake.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLAKE: It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us why didn't you do something? Why didn't you speak up? What are we going to say?

Mr. President, I rise today to say enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalies never becomes the normal. With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough, that a pivot to governing is right around the corner. A return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Let's start our discussion now. I want to bring in CNN political commentator Ryan Lizza, political commentator Jack Kingston, a former U.S. congressman, and political analyst April Ryan. Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley joins us as well.

Good evening to all of you. Thank you so much for coming on. Ryan, I'm going to start with you. We heard these astonishing remarks today from two republican senators. The question is what now?

RYAN LIZZA, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, the first thing I would say and I'll differ to Douglas a little bit on this is I think this will go down -- Jeff -- Senator Jeff Flake's speech today will go down as one of the most important speeches that any politician has made in the era of Trump.

He gave voice to what frankly, many republicans tell also in the press privately all the time. And what I think a lot of his republican colleagues have been thinking but don't necessarily have the political courage to say.

[22:04:55] And I think going forward this is not a speech that can just be a one day event and then the Republican Party moves on. Every republican in Congress is going to have to grapple with these words and these arguments. He used a word today. He talked about complicity.

He said that republicans Americans are complicit in the worsening of the culture and the normalizing of behaviors that shouldn't be normalized.

And every republican up there is going to have to respond to this at some point in the next few weeks. And a lot of them are going to say, well, we want to get this tax cut thing down, we don't have time to talk about that. And that is the tension in this party right now.

It is between just wanting to sort of ignore a lot of the stuff that Jeff Flake talked about, and frankly, you know, the most important thing, is this person fit to be president of the United States versus well, he's the president, he's a republican, he can sign our agenda into law, he can get conservatives on the Supreme Court, you know, the other stuff doesn't matter. So I think this is a turning point in the Republican Party in the era of Trump.

LEMON: Yes. It's interesting because he said the things that republicans won't say in front of cameras. Or publicly you'll hear it when the cameras stop rolling at least for my experience, or in the commercial break, or at a restaurant or at a dinner party but they don't say it to other people.

Doug, have you ever seen anything like this before?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, CNN: Nothing like it. It was unbelievable Senator Flake I thought did a remarkable job and was very brave. I mean, you can go back to the 1950s, you played the clips there, you know. And I think Flake is thinking about Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism and how republicans are better and had to stand up like Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, and eventually Dwight Eisenhower how to stand up against Joe McCarthy.

The problem in 2017 is Joe McCarthy is in the White House and has named Donald Trump. Meaning the nativist, hard right wing, you know, almost a virtual style of paranoia and fear is in the White House. And that presents a giant problem to republicans like Jeff Flake. And I don't think, Don, that you're going to see Flake disappear. People are acting like he's putting politics. He is not.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He has 19 months. BRINKLEY: He's going to be a...

LIZZA: That's right.

BRINKLEY: Yes, and he's going to -- he may end up running for president in 2020 as a conservative challenging Trump or a third party conservative movement which would kill a Trump re-election campaign. Flake is here to play ball. I didn't today as a resignation speech but one of almost fighting words of integrity.

LEMON: Jack Kingston, it's good to see you back on the program. I want to play a little bit more from Senator Flake and what he said today on the floor and then I'll hear from you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLAKE: I'm aware that there's a segment of my party that believes that anything short of complete and unquestioning loyalty to a president that belongs to my party is unacceptable and suspect.

The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined, and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters, a notion that we should say or do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is a historic and I believe profoundly misguided.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And here is Senator Corker earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORKER: I don't know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard. The basement of our nation will be what he will be remembered the most for. He's obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president.

The world leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue. He purposely is breaking down relationships we have around the world that have been useful to our nation.

RAJU: Do you think he's a role model to children in the United States?

CORKER: No.

RAJU: You don't?

CORKER: No, absolutely not.

RAJU: Do you regret supporting him in the election?

CORKER: Let's just put it this way, I would not do that again.

RAJU: You wouldn't support him again? CORKER: No way. No way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I said 19 months, he had 14 months left, Jack. But these are your fellow republicans talking about the republican president who you support. What do you have to say to them?

JACK KINGSTON, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, I think number one that Jeff Flake's favorable or unfavorable, that number show the story his favorable is 22 percent, his unfavorable is 67 percent. His...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I thought unfavorable was even lower than that but maybe you're looking at something different, but go on.

KINGSTON: Well, actually you're right they probably are worse than that because that was an August poll. But I talked to two former members from Arizona tonight and said, you know, Flake has been on the wrong side of immigration. He's been on the wrong side of Cuba. And I think that his problems are political, and they're the problems everybody else has.

[22:09:57] And unfortunately, when you go down the polls and there's no pathway to win your primary, there's no pathway to win the general election, then you start pontificating. And I think we've seen this role play out by another friend of mine John Kasich. And you know, by the way, I like all three of these men, but you know...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You see this more nothing more than just pontificating? Because I mean, to do that, to do what a lot of people aren't doing in many aspects takes courage. Some people would say, you know, the courage came a bit late for them, but you don't think it takes a bit of courage to go of the sitting president of your own party?

KINGSTON: I think it takes courage if you're running for re-election and hang i there. And by the way, I talked to Senator Corker's office tonight and they are continuing to work with the White House on a number of very important issues in the Middle East and on the world stage.

So their relationship is not broken. And we all do know that President Trump has had dust ups with Lindsey Graham and with Jeff Sessions. And he's gotten beyond it. It's my hope that they would get beyond here. That doesn't mean what they are saying should be dismissed. But I am saying that you know, when you're on your way out the door it's not nearly as brave as, hey, I'm up for re-election and I'm going to carry this mental back home...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: OK. Let me get that one piece that you said there, Jack. You said it doesn't mean that it should be dismissed. Why did you say that?

KINGSTON: Well, I think that all of us in Washington can and should behave a little bit better. But I do remember when President Obama -- not pivoting here, but let's look at history a minute. President Obama was...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It's a pivot, but that's all right, go ahead.

KINGSTON: No. I'll go further than Obama. But you know, you can keep your own health care. The average American family will get $2,500 back on their premium, the Bush large signs that were like yard signs all over Washington for ever a year. You know, where's the WMD, Bush lied about it. Not saying that he did or didn't, not saying that Obama meant to say what he said.

I mean, you go back to Richard Nixon and Tricky Dick, you know, they're not the first politicians of either party, Trump isn't, to be accused of lying. And I think people in America say, yes, but what's the agenda? Am I going to get my -- am I going to get a job, am I going to get a tax rebate...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I think Trump is the first politician in American history to be accused of lying this much and for things as Corker just said, things that are demonstrably false or demonstrably true, saying that they are false. I think that this is unprecedented. I think I know it is unprecedented. You can't compare one lie to 27, or 30, or 40, or 50 or the 300 or so that has been accounted by the Washington Post and the New York Times or more, 300 plus.

KINGSTON: I think if you look at the idea of lying in Washington from politicians I don't think it's new. And that's all I'm saying.

LEMON: OK.

KINGSTON: I think it's very tough our ball game.

LEMON: April, I'm sorry. Let me -- I need to get April in before we go to the break. It's just in fairness. April, go ahead. What do you have to say?

APRIL RYAN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: It's a tough situation right now for the Republican Party. We're seeing buyer's remorse play out publicly, for people who don't have any worries about political suicide anymore.

But it's a -- there are a couple of things that really strike me more so. It's about the numbers for this president. If indeed you see the bible bet the rustbelt really favor what some of these counties who are leaving Corker and Flake leaving, which he doesn't look like right now, that could be a death now for this president.

But you also have to remember this. This is a president who came in brash, who came in like a bull in a China shop, but people didn't mind it at the beginning. Now they mind. And this is, we are now -- we saw the representative when he was running for office. We are now seeing the full in, full effect Donald J. Trump as president. And it's a lot to take for a nation who's trying to heal from a lot of wounds for many decades and from hundreds of years. So it's a lot for a lot of people and the buyer's remorse is starting to come out more and more.

LEMON: We'll get more on the other side. Everybody, stay with me. Much more of our conversation coming.

When we come back, Senators Flake and Corker both blasting President Trump for not telling the truth. But he's actually set a new record for false claims in one week. We'll tell you just how many that is.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It is impossible to overstate how important this moment is, two United States senators, two of them felt compelled today to publicly blast the president for not telling the truth. And not just getting caught doing it once, doing it over and over and over.

My panel is back with me now to discuss this. Ryan, let's get you back in. We know President Trump does not tell the truth. Both Senators Flake and Corker called him out today for that. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLAKE: We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us and calling fake things true and true things fake.

RAJU: Is the President of the United States a liar?

CORKER: The president has great difficulty with the truth on many issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Is this what all these attacks -- why are you laughing at that?

LIZZA: It's just the understatement there by Bob Corker.

LEMON: Yes. Just saying he has trouble with the truth but he won't, he's saying the l word is tough to say. And you know, you have to admit, when you're talking about the highest office in the land and the president, if you call the president a liar, it's a really tough thing.

I mean, journalists struggled with it in the beginning, politicians did as well. And finally you just have to call it what it is, a lie is a lie in the morning and at night all day long.

LIZZA: You know, I want to borrow on argument from our colleague Fareed Zakaria who has made the point that Trump is not so much a liar but he is a B.S.'er. In some words, liars understand when they are lying. They understand the difference between what is fact and fiction.

In some ways it might be better to have someone who lies on occasion as president because it makes you this comfortable that they understand that difference. With Trump and I'm sure everyone knows people like this in their own live, he B.S's. In other words, he says stuff, he throws stuff against the wall and throws out arguments and information that is just may be true, may not be true, it's whatever he can do to get through that moment, that situation.

[22:20:08] And his understanding of the line between what is fact and fiction is not -- is not very clear. And so that's the way that I started to look at him...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Well, what was like yesterday, you're right.

LIZZA: ... much more as a B.S.'er than a liar.

LEMON: Well, when you think -- where the other day when he was ask about calling the troops, he said well, I guess the other presidents didn't do that and then someone called them, well, that's what I was told, that's what I heard.

LIZZA: Exactly.

LEMON: And then we saw the sound bite when he was asked, I think it was 2015 -- I may have the year wrong -- when he was asked about the bone spurs and the reporter said which foot? He said it's in the record.

Now, I have sciatica. If someone said which side is it, I would know immediately which side it was my right or my left? He doesn't know which foot he had bone spurs in. So, you know, I think that you're right on that. It seems that something he's getting out of the situation.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: He's gotten pretty far as a B.S.'er. It's not he's going to change now.

LEMON: Yes.

KINGSTON: But I really want to make sure because I know there are a lot of people out there who are thinking this is a watershed moment for the Republican Party, but the American perception is that politicians lie. Just put in any president's name, Obama can't...

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: Not like this.

KINGSTON: Well, there was a book published in 2003 called "Bush Lies."

RYAN: Don't normalize. Don't normalize.

KINGSTON: I'm sorry that this is offensive to you. You just put in any president's name from Obama to Nixon and put lies.

RYAN: But not like this.

KINGSTON: Nixon lies. Kennedy lies.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Not like this. And let me give you the information, Jack. Daniel Dale, the Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star keeping a running list of all the president's false claims between last Monday and Sunday. He said 57 things that were not true.

RYAN: Yes.

LEMON: Fifty seven things, that's in a week. Dale's tally this shatter his old record of 40 false claims in a week.

KINGSTON: OK.

LEMON: And this is week after week after week, Jack. We're not talking about over the course of someone's career.

(CROSSTALK)

KINGSTON: But, Don, let me tell you this.

LEMON: We're talking about week after week. That does not alarm you?

KINGSTON: We on this panel and in this town, we do count those metrics. But I'm saying to the American people don't. They absolutely believe all politicians lie.

RYAN: Yes, they do.

KINGSTON: Well, they truly don't.

LIZZA: So you're defining everything down because people have a cynical negative view of politicians, then we should just go with that and allow the worst instincts and worse traits...

(CROSSTALK)

KINGSTON: No. What I'm saying is you don't start licking your chip -- don't lick your chops because just like...

LIZZA: Jack, do you have kids?

KINGSTON: ... has an unfavorable rating of over 65 percent.

LIZZA: Jack, Jack, Jack, do you have kids?

KINGSTON: Yes, I have kids.

LIZZA: When they were little, did they ever tell a lie?

KINGSTON: Not much, they're absolutely perfect...

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: When they told a lie, did you say to them don't worry, son, OK. All kids lie. It's no big deal.

KINGSTON: You know...

LIZZA: Or did you actually trying to explain to them why they shouldn't lie?

KINGSTON: You know, you guys are doing is you are judging Donald Trump, and I understand that. But I'm trying to explain to you why the base isn't upset about this. They see Donald Trump has taken care of things...

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: But Jack, can I...

KINGSTON: ... and passing legislation. And remember, you're talking about the Senate versus the White House. He is more happy with what's going on Capitol Hill.

LIZZA: He's actually not passing legislation which is why...

RYAN: Jack, the reason...

KINGSTON: It's the Senate and the House.

LIZZA: ... why you said today is so important.

KINGSTON: All I'm trying to do is explain to you. I'm not -- I'm not saying you won't.

RYAN: Jack, the American public...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Jack, it sounds like you're condoning bad behavior. You're saying that something that is unprecedented.

KINGSTON: I'm not saying everyone doesn't. And who cares?

RYAN: He is.

LEMON: No, everyone -- that's not true. Everyone doesn't. Go ahead, April.

RYAN: But here's the issue. The base is happy with the fact that he's anti-climate change, that is pro-life, pro-marriage and all those things that work for the pillars of the Republican Party. But let's look at the time right now. That's one thing. Let's talk

about all the other stuff from the Twitters, the Twitter rants to the insensitivity issues to the out-and-out telling mistruths or untruths. But here's the big piece. And I understand you want to normalize it.

(CROSSTALK)

KINGSTON: No, no. Your word is not mine.

RYAN: This is not normal and these are not normal times. And the president -- wait a minute, Jeff, let me finish. Let me finish. Let me finish. Let me finish. You're normalizing it.

KINGSTON: Well, I'm not.

RYAN: The reason why this is so serious at a time such -- the reason why this is so serious at a times such as this when you write laws as president you have life and death in that pen and in your tongue because you can send people to war. This is very serious time as we've got North Korea.

I mean, when the president said -- he said let's wait and see. I can't even remember what he said a couple of weeks ago when he said, he was talking about North Korea, and we didn't know if he was joking or not.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: The quiet -- the quite before the storm you will see. Yes.

RYAN: OK. And we were like -- the quiet before the storm, we didn't know whether he was joking or not. And that's bad. If you don't know when the president of the United States is joking or not about something so serious as going to war or possibly doing some kind of military action with North Korea, that's a problem.

[22:25:06] And then you've got Iran on the other side. We've got a lot of stuff going in this nation and globally that just -- and then we've got -- we've got gun terror in this nation.

(CROSSTALK)

KINGSTON: OK. But...

RYAN: We've got things where we've got issues with gold star families.

KINGSTON: But April, but remember.

RYAN: You got to...

LEMON: Jack, I've got to get Douglas. Douglas has been sitting by. We got to get Douglas. Listen, Jack, just said all presidents lie. Have we ever seen a president with such a blatant disregard for the truth? I just that with the Toronto Star and that was just the Toronto Star.

BRINKLEY: Well, look, when Jimmy Carter ran for president in 1976, he said elect me I'll never tell a lie, I'm not like Nixon, I'm not like Johnson. And reporter went down to meet Lillian Carter in Plains in Georgia, the mother of Jimmy Carter and Ms. Lillian said wonderful to see you to the reporter, you look beautiful, how lovely. You are just wonderful.

And the interview started and the reporter said now your son, Jimmy Carter is saying he's never told a lie, and as a mother are you saying your son has never lied. And Ms. Lillian said Jimmy tell white lies all the time but he's not a liar.

And the reporter thought they had her a scoop and said to Ms. Lillian, well, you're splitting hairs. What's the white lie? And Ms. Lillian said, remember when I said welcome to Plains and how nice it was to see you, that's a white lie.

The point is you know, we all -- we all fudge a little in politics and exaggerate, you know, but Donald Trump is not doing white lies. His are just blatant lies all the time. And the problem is going to be what happened in Nixon, and he won the biggest landslide in 1972. And by '73 it's not that the democrats went after Nixon which when Barry Goldwater the hero of Jeff Flake. Goldwater went to Nixon and said you lie to me and I don't back liars. And that started the beginning of the end of Nixon.

LEMON: Yes. All right. That's got to be the last word. I'm sorry I have to go. Before we go, I just want to read this. This is an op-ed from the Washington Post tonight from Senator Flake. And it says, "There's a sickness in our system, and it is contagious. How many more disgraceful public feuds with gold star families can we witness in silence before we ourselves are disgraced? How many more times will we see moral ambiguity in the face of shocking bigotry and shrug it off? How many more childish insults do we need to see hurled at hostile foreign power before we acknowledge the senseless danger of it?

That's part of that, and it's in the Washington Post this evening. We'll be right back.

[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:30:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It is obviously not a coincidence that both of the republican senators who blasted President Trump today are on their way out of office. So is President Trump's take over of the GOP almost complete?

Let's discuss now. Republican strategist Mike Murphy is here. So good to have you on, Mr. Murphy. So, good evening, by the way. In this 17 minute speech I guess you can call it a retirement speech, Senator Jeff Flake said what we cannot accept any longer. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF FLAKE, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: In this century a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order. That phrase being the new normal.

But we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue with the tone set at the top. We must never regard as normal the regular and casual and undermining of our democratic norms and ideals.

We must never meekly accept the daily sun green of our country, the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms and institution, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency, the reckless provocations most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons. Reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have been elected to serve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You know, up until this point, Mike, most of the criticism of this president have been sort of veiled. You know, people don't say his name. Now they're saying his name, calling him out directly. What did you make of this moment today or two moments really with Flake and Corker.

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think we're really seeing kind of an extraordinary event, which is senators from, you know, are attacking openly now the president of their own party. And before that we had former President Bush and Senator McCain, Senator Sasse of Nebraska has been critical.

We've reached kind of a boiling point. And what happens is when these guys decide not to run for re-election it's a huge shot of truth serum. And they can say what frankly what a lot of republican politicians are now saying behind closed doors, they're saying it openly.

So, it's kind of an amazing thing. Though, I will give Senator Flake some credit. He's been critical of Donald Trump for a long time ago, an excellent book about the poor direction he thought our party was going in. And the other half of the equation, though, is he got in trouble in his own primary.

So now he's free much like Senator corker of Tennessee to go and speak his mind and not worry about the political calculation. And he's kind of jarring how direct they're being in their criticism of the president, though, in my perception, he deserves plenty of criticism.

LEMON: Well, both, and as you mentioned Corker, they're both retiring, they're not running again.

MURPHY: Right.

LEMON: Do you have to step down or not run again in order to go up against this president or criticize this president?

MURPHY: Well, that's the million dollar question. The Arizona republican primary electorate is, you know, particularly pro-Trump. And I don't believe he has a lock on the party at all. He does have a huge chunk of primary voters that is a daunting factor for a lot of these folks who would probably like to be more critical.

So it will be interesting to see if this spreads even among some people who may want to go fight it out in their primaries next year. But you know, generally politicians are political pragmatists, and Donald Trump does have a huge chunk of the republican primary electorate that is on his side, even though sometimes not on really conservative issues.

So a committee conservatives like Flake can still get in big trouble in a primary, in this case before he's not to run. So, you know, what's curious to me is this 'Corkeritis' going to spread.

[22:34:59] Because we've got some republican senators who are up in 2020 in three years, they may start thinking you know what, I'd rather have three years of freedom to speak my mind to do what I think is right then have to go slug through a tough primary and tough re-elect to have six years. That will be interesting to me at this spread.

LEMON: I think you just coined a new phrase, 'Corkeritis.' So, I want to ask you then because someone mentioned -- Douglas Brinkley said, you know, that this could -- Flake could be setting himself up for a run in 2020. Who knows, it could be a republican who goes up against Donald Trump. He doesn't necessarily think that this is retirement speech.

MURPHY: Yes, and I think the same for Bob Corker who's a formidable candidate. You know, both these guys have impeccable conservative records. This Trump stresses less about ideology and more about character where the president has raised big doubts about his character and his decision-making ability throughout the electorate class of the Republican Party.

You know, people say, well, how come so few are talking about it, it is amazing even for two to break free like this. And again, they don't have the burden of a re-elect in the republican primary. But again, you've got people on the 2020. I don't think this wheel has stopped turning, and the president's reaction to always throw gasoline on a fire isn't going to make it even better. So we're in the middle of a big moment here, and we'll see how it turns out.

LEMON: Can we talk about Steve Bannon now, because you know, he was a former chief of staff to this president...

MURPHY: Sure.

LEMON: ... said that he is happy about Flake's announcement. Chief strategist, I should say, saying he added another scalp in his collection as another establishment domino falls. Do you think the Bannon populous wing of the party is winning the soul of the GOP?

MURPHY: Well, you know, that's yet to be litigated. Certainly one with President Trump's nomination in the primaries, but now we're seeing exactly what winning feels like here. We're having a lot of trouble.

So, you know, it's interesting in Arizona, because I'm sure Steve Bannon is high fiving in his pals over at Breitbart that they had a big win. But if you back up now and look at that race with no Senator Flake running for re-election, Kelly Ward, their preferred candidate reminds me of the witchcraft aficionado we ran and lost the Delaware seat with.

Their vacuum will get filled. There are a couple of members of Congress there, including Martha McSally who is an Air Force colonel retired and amazing record from the Tucson area who might run and I think would beat Kelly Ward. There's another kind of pro-Trump candidate, the state treasurer.

So this is going to get more complicated now in Arizona. And I think Flakes chosen candidate is now the weakest in the possible field. So, you know, on one hand he can claim part of a scalp on Senator Flake. On the other hand we'll see what happens on primary night. It may be a short-lived victory for Mr. Bannon.

LEMON: Mike Murphy, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir. Come back.

Thank you.

LEMON: We'll see you soon.

MURPHY: Sure.

LEMON: Senator Jeff Flake by the way will be on CNN's New Day tomorrow morning during the 7 a.m. hour. Make sure you tune in.

And when we come back, our breaking news, a source says Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund the infamous Trump-Russia dossier during the election. What this could mean for the Russia investigation.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Here's some breaking news. A source telling CNN tonight that Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research behind the Russia dossier of allegations about President Trump and Russia. The Washington Post was first to report the story.

So, let's discuss for you. CNN legal analyst, Michael Zeldin, and CNN national security and legal analyst, Susan Hennessy. Both are here to discuss this. Good evening to both of you.

Susan, you first. Does this change anything now that we know the Clinton campaign had a hand in funding the dossier?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Not really. I mean, this is basically information that's been known sort of in large part since the very beginning. The very first reports about this dossier included a reference to the fact that this was funded early on by a republican primary opponent of Donald Trump. We don't know who that is.

And then once Trump won the primary that it was handed over to democrats. They were sort of the only remaining customers at that point. You know, CNN had confirmed that facts and reported that as early as January 12th of this year. So it's a little bit unclear why this is sort of landing as such significant news at this point. It really is just a little bit additional detail, a little bit of confirmation on what was already widely known.

LEMON: Is it something shiny in the corner maybe?

HENNESSEY: I think there's a lot of motivations in the White House today to distract a little bit here. We saw Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeting about this, as sort of this is the real story. You know, sort of trying to once again draw the Clinton campaign into this tale of the Russia investigation in order to discredit not only this individual dossier but really special counsel Mueller and congressional investigations writ large.

LEMON: It's interesting she said this is a real story and when someone asked her in the briefing about the Washington Post, she said I wouldn't use the Washington Post as a source.

So, Michael, I want to bring you in now. The dossier is being dossier is being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. Does this new information impact that probe?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: No, I think that Mueller is going to look at the quality of the research that Christopher Steele did, the former MI-6 British intelligence person, and then he's going to make a determination as to whether or not what Steele wrote, which was essentially that there was a relationship that goes back many years between Trump and the Kremlin.

And he's going to determine whether or not there's truth behind that and whether that truth is provable.

For Mueller I don't think who the payer of the dossier matters one bit. That's not relevant to him. It may have political legs in some small sense, but it has no legal bearing on Mueller's findings.

LEMON: So I've got to ask you this because as I read it, maybe the Clinton campaign should have been more transparent about it. And that was, the critics of her campaign when she was running. Remember she got sick, why didn't she tell anybody that they weren't as transparent as they should be.

But there are people who are now working for this president who came on the show before and they ran, you know, different things for other candidates, and they did opposition research on this particular candidate. There are firms who pay for that opposition research.

[22:45:00] What is so unusual about hiring a firm to conduct opposition research, Michael?

ZELDIN: Nothing. This is -- this is what happens in political campaigns. The problem is that the Clinton and DNC people are going to be accused of not being transparent, the word that you used I think fairly so. And they're going to have to sort of fend for themselves with respect to that.

But as a legal matter, it's of no consequence to Mueller and really should be no consequence to anybody who's looking at this matter from a legal liability standpoint. Because as I said earlier who pays for it doesn't determine the outcome of it unless there's some, you know, perception there was corruption, that it was paid for in order to get a specific outcome, but I don't think there's any allegation of that here yet.

LEMON: And you're right, there should have been more transparent. Susan, speaking of the Russian investigation, here's what the Wall Street Journal is reporting tonight. They say that "The Manhattan U.S. attorney's office is pursuing an investigation into the possible money laundering by Paul Manafort." You're not surprised by this. Why is that?

HENNESSEY: Well, so we dug up there are a number of different strands of investigations into Paul Manafort, so only some of them involve his connections to Russia, his connections to the campaign. There's truly a sort of a sprawling investigation involving Manafort that actually potentially predates his involvement in the Trump campaign.

It's one of the reasons why there's so much concern about the fact that President Trump has decided to violate a pretty fundamental norm by personally interviewing candidate for the U.S. attorney's office in those districts that are overseeing investigations into these matters that obviously bear on the president's own interests.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Susan. I appreciate it.

When we come back, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus demanding that General John Kelly apologize to Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. One of the women calling for an apology joining me next.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders doubling down today denying that General John Kelly lied when he criticized Congresswoman Frederica Wilson last week. The women of the Congressional Black Caucus, well, they aren't buying it, they're demanding an apology from the White House chief of staff.

Let's discuss now. California Congresswoman Barbara Lee is here. A member of the CBC, the Congressional Black Caucus. Good evening, thank you so much for joining us. Sarah Sanders was asked about this again today about General Kelly, mischaracterized Congresswoman Frederica Wilson's speech. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't believe that General Kelly mischaracterized, he gave his account of what took place. General Kelly and his family have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I think he's led with honor and integrity. I think he's doing a great job as chief of staff and I don't think he has anything to correct or apologize for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So he didn't mischaracterize. We have what he said and then we have the tape which doesn't show what he says. Shouldn't he apologize since he was wrong?

BARBARA LEE, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: General Kelly should apologize, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson is a well-respected member of Congress. She's smart. She has a history of fighting for children and for families. And she told the truth. And so why in the world would he try to malign his character, the tapes and the videos really show exactly what happened.

What's really fundamental here, Don, is that, you know, lying has become the norm. It's OK to lie. Our children, what are they hearing and seeing from this administration? And it's really sad and so we want General Kelly to apologize, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus are standing firm on that because when you don't tell the truth about someone, you owe them an apology.

LEMON: Yes.

LEE: That's the right thing to do.

LEMON: Can I ask you this because Congresswoman Wilson has hinted that this whole altercation, which began with President Trump's comments was racially charged. She told the New York Times that the White House itself is full of white supremacists. Do you think she went overboard?

LEE: Congresswoman Wilson is very clear in terms of how she sees this White House and what she believes. And I have to tell you what I believe. When you look at the fact that he had hired Steve Bannon, he hired Gorka, of course they're not there now, but the agenda of the alt-right is very present.

When you look at Steve Miller, when you look at Charlottesville, when you look at the wall, when you look at the criminal justice -- the Department of Justice now, look at what Jeff Sessions is doing in terms of surveillance of quote, "black extremists."

When you look at the budget that they presented, when you look at the fact they're trying to roll back our voting rights with voter suppression efforts, you know, it's hard to really realize or to understand why this alt-right agenda is not visible to everyone. And so I'm very concerned about the clock being rolled back to the days when I don't want to remember.

LEMON: I want you to stick around, congresswoman, because I want to get your message to the president right after this break.

[22:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In the midst of the fiasco over President Trump's condolence call to the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson, well, key details of just what happened during the ambush in Niger are being overlooked.

Back with me now, Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Congresswoman, thank you for joining us again. What is your -- I want to get your impressions on these details but what's your message to the president? LEE: Well, my message first to the president is please ask your chief

of staff, Mr. President, to do the honorable thing, please apologize to Congresswoman Frederica Wilson because she deserves respect. She has a long history of fighting for people, of being on the right side of history on doing some remarkable things.

So, please ask General Kelly to apologize, that's the decent and the honorable thing to do.

Secondly, I want to ask the president to please read your letter, Don Lemon's letter, because our grief and our sorrow goes out to the Johnson family at the loss of Sergeant Johnson and to all of the soldiers who were killed in this ambush. We're grieving and we are in mourning.

And so, Don communicated a very heartfelt letter to you and he spoke for millions of people, I would hope you read that and understand what he was saying.

Next, I would hope that you would ask for a thorough investigation of what took place and remember, we need to go back and repeal this 2001 authorization because we are sending our young men and women into harm's way. Members of Congress don't even know what wars that they're engaged in and...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Can I ask you something? Let me read some of the things. We have learned that you are gathering information on a terrorist leader, what do you want to know and what is Congress going to get to the bottom of it?

LEE: First, Congress needs to conduct an investigation and release the details to the public. And it needs to be conducted swiftly.

LEMON: OK.

LEE: Once the investigation is complete, Don, though we need to look at what this legal authority is.

[22:59:58] And I say to you, we need to repeal the authorization to use military force that was passed in 2001 and come up and debate a new one, if in fact we're going to send our brave men and women into harm's way.