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Thousands Of JFK Files Released, Others held Back; Secret JFK Files Released Tonight; Data Company Hired By Trump Campaign Contradicts Campaign Statement; Republicans Back Trump Despite Criticism. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired October 26, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[23:00:00] KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That is what it feels like. I can say it as a woman who's experienced harassment. And it's very humiliating and it really affects you psychologically. So he did a lot of damage to these women. I think we're seeing the tip of the iceberg. I don't think we've come even close to really talking about what's going on in this country in terms of sexual harassment. It's not just these, you know, powerful men. It's a lot of other people who have maybe a little less power, little less high profile but are doing a lot of damage. So I think that, and also the last thing I'll say is, you know, until women can actually do this and not worry about losing their job, then we haven't, we're not there. And I would say we're still not there. Most of the women who complained about Bill O'Reilly or Roger Ailes have not been able to get jobs. The only one I can think of is Megyn Kelly. So the most powerful woman was able to move on and the rest of them have not been able to. So what does that say? It still says to women that you know (inaudible).
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Didn't she do that after he was gone, Kirsten, didn't she talk about that after he was gone?
POWERS: I can't remember exactly the timeline.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bill O'Reilly?
POWERS: I think she was still there when she complained --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was still there.
POWERS: -- bill talking about were with Norah O'Donnell. You're right. You're right, it wasn't even --
LEMON: It was Roger Ailes is who I'm talking about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also, I just think, you know, before we get too celebratory about how the world has changed, remember 1991, Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill hearings, people said the world has changed, now people understand sexual harassment. Well, in fact, you know, that is 26 years ago. And all these incidents we're talking about took place after those hearings. I don't know how much the public learned about that and it learned in 1991 and I don't know how much they'll learn from this. I hope they will.
LEMON: I think this is different. At least I hope. I've got to go. I've got to get to the next hour.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope the pendulum doesn't swing too far the other way. I don't want to see what happened with campus sexual assault stuff and kangaroo courts on college campuses and people not being able to defend themselves.
LEMON: I got to go. Thank you everyone
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to disassociate myself from those remarks. Anyway, we'll --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have discussion on that because that is real. That is real.
LEMON: Thank you, everyone. That is it. This is "CNN tonight." I'm Don Lemon. A little past 11:00 here on the east coast. We're live with breaking news. Thousands of never before seen documents on the assassination of John F. Kennedy released tonight and they're full of fascinating details, but hundreds more, hundreds more were held back at the last minute. What's in them, why is that? Why can't we see them more than 50 years after the assassination? Why is President Trump going back on his pledge to release everything? Tom Foreman has been diving into the JFK files for us. He is here now with all the latest details. Tom, hello to you. You have been digging through all these files. What have you uncovered so far?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've uncovered a terrific team of people here helping me dig, because I couldn't possibly do it. Look at this, look at this, Don, this is just one of these files, and this is 14 pages of handwritten notes. This gives you an idea of how hard it's going to be for everyone to sort through all of this stuff. What we have found is that almost immediately, the authorities were trying to cover an almost endless number of leads and ideas out there. For example, they were following at one point former member of the National State Rights Party, because he was making a speech in Florida in January after the assassination, detailing how he believed Ruby, Jack Ruby, who killed Oswald, had been working with Oswald to set him up at the job at the book depository, make sure he was in a position to let him know where the route was, he was connected to police and that sort of thing and he killed Oswald to keep him quiet. That sort of thing.
That is one of endless numbers of bits of information they seem to have taken in here with people with all sorts of different theories about this happened. The soviets thinking it was an ultra-right-wing group trying to knock Kennedy out of power. The Cubans saying that some of their intelligence officers, oh, I knew Oswald, he was a good shot. People down in Mexico. It's a whole huge mix of things out there and really what you see in this, Don, more than anything else, is that the net was unbelievably wide and they were talking to almost everybody who knew almost anything to see if it would tell them something about how this happened beyond just Lee Harvey Oswald.
LEMON: Tom Foreman, thank you very much. I want to bring in CNN Presidential historian Timothy Naftali and Philip Shenon, author of "The cruel and shocking act, the secret history of the Kennedy assassination." So much to talk about when it comes to this. Tim, I'm going to start with you. You have been looking through these documents and you found very interesting material about J. Edgar Hoover in the investigation? What can you share about that?
[23:05:05] TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, the house investigators came across a document dated just two days after the assassination just after Lee Harvey Oswald was killed in Dallas, and it's Hoover explaining why he does not want an independent Presidential commission and he is detailing the mistakes that the FBI had made in not following up some leads about Lee Harvey Oswald.
Now, these many I stake mistakes are not new to us. That material came out a while ago. The fact that Hoover is detailing them saying, look, we intercepted this telephone call that Lee Harvey Oswald made to the Cuban embassy about a visa, people are going to think we really messed up there and we intercepted this letter that he sent to a soviet that we've identified as a member of the KGB who works on assassination matters, we're going to really look bad if the public learns about that.
NAFTALI: It's all listed there. The basis for a cover-up. It's a cover-up not because the FBI killed Kennedy, but because the FBI screwed up. It reminds me of reading the 9/11 commission report and the two Islamists, Mentar and Hosmi who the NSA and CIA found, figured out were important and they came to this country and the FBI never followed up on the leads the CIA gave them in time. Sounds like that. Reads like that at least.
LEMON: Phillip, I want to bring you in now because you wrote a book about the Kennedy assassination. The idea these documents will undercut or completely refute the warren commission report seems really unlikely. Yet you say the conspiracy theories will persist. Why do you say that?
PHILIP SHENON, A CRUEL AND SHOCKING ACT, THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION: Well, you know, I think these documents are going to be really interesting and really important when we see them all. We really saw only a tiny fraction of them tonight. And not the most important ones. But I think they're going to show that, indeed, the U.S. Government, the CIA and FBI, in particular, had a lot of information before the assassination to suggest this man, Lee Harvey Oswald, was a danger. I agree. There's a comparison to be made between the Kennedy assassination and 9/11. The government had a lot of information to suggest something terrible was about to happen, but bungled that information and the terrible thing happened.
LEMON: So Tim.
NAFTALI: They didn't connect the dots. LEMON: Tim, Hoover had an interesting assessment of Jack Ruby, one
I'm not sure, had you ever heard that before? Have we ever heard that before?
NAFTALI: You know, when Hoover didn't like somebody, he called him a well-known homosexual. This discussion of the, of Ruby's killing of Lee Harvey Oswald includes Hoover writing that, you know, he is a hoodlum and also a reputed homosexual. I didn't realize he was gay. That doesn't surprise me. Hoover saw homosexuals everywhere. And sometimes wasn't unhappy about that, I'm sure.
LEMON: Because the word is that he was as well. So, Philip, listen.
LEMON: Yes. The President rolled this out like a cliffhanger. It would be interesting to know -- to know what he knew and what details he knew. Are the files, are they just hyping the release here?
SHENON: Well, no. I think what's gone on at the White House over the last couple of weeks was a mess. That there were these frantic negotiations going on between the White House and the CIA and the FBI. Those agencies trying desperately to prevent some of this material from being released. And apparently, I get the impression President Trump just wasn't aware of that, because we had these tweets from him over the last week in which he suggested that everything was about to be released and as I said, we only got a very small fraction of the secret documents that we were expecting today.
LEMON: So what happened, you think?
NAFTALI: What I think, what I think you had a last-minute appeal probably from Mike Pompeo who because of the national security act is responsible for the protections of sources and methods on the part of the executive branch.
SHENON: I think, actually, you know, think about what was supposed to happen today, it was 25 years in the making. The agency of government, the CIA and FBI and everybody else had 25 years to think about this under the law that the documents would be released. I think some of them have been thinking about it. I don't know if it was a last-minute appeal. I think there had been frantic appeals for the last couple weeks, but at the White House there was chaos. They weren't addressing the issue until this very day.
LEMON: Why would sources and methods matter so much, Tim? I mean, listen, it's been decades. Why would it matter?
NAFTALI: Look, I believe in as much openness as possible and after 50 years, I think you let it all out, but because of the wide net that the assassination records review board put out in the '90s and Philip knows all about this, they collected 5 million pages of documents and a lot of them have nothing to do with Lee Harvey Oswald.
[23:10:16] They have a lot to do with the public's concerns about a series of conspiracy theories that the Cubans did it, that the mob did it, that the CIA did it, that Kennedy wanted to pull out of Vietnam and that is why he was killed. So details about all of those different areas were pulled together and all called assassination records. Now, when congress legislated this act, congress said all assassination records must be released within 25 years. I don't think they had a clue that they were talking about 5 million pages. And I think what the agencies did was they convinced the review board which was a sober nonpartisan group of people that a lot of these records are not relevant to helping the public understand whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a conspiracy. The review board in 1998 said we're not going to release them, but the law said that they would have to be released within 25 years, but they left open the possibility that whoever the incumbent President was, he, or she, could stop it.
I think that they were just kicking the can down. I think that the agencies have been trying to prevent some of the sources from coming out, the code and cypress stuff. I think they've been avoiding that a long time. Trump was the wildcard given his backgrounds and conspiracy thinking, he wasn't going to play the way a usual American President would play.
LEMON: That is what I want to ask Philip about. The idea of the resurgence in the Kennedy assassination in various conspiracy theories, because we're livening in a time as Tim referenced, there are so many other conspiracy theories flying around. I have is to sit here every single night and debunk them.
SHENON: Well, listen, you know, it's a wonderful bit of irony that this whole drama today began 25 years ago when Oliver Stone produced his conspiracy-filled film, "JFK," which produced such an uproar that congress had to respond by passing a law the next year that released all these millions of pages of documents. Of course, under the law, the President of the United States is the only person who can block the release. The President 25 years later happens to be a conspiracy theorist, himself.
LEMON: I just wanted to see about Ted Cruz's dad, if it was in the papers. Thank you, all, thank you, both. I appreciate it.
When we come back, new questions tonight about the Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica. Why an executive from the company said they were involved in every campaign stop the candidate made.
[23:17:00] LEMON: New questions tonight about just how closely the data firm, Cambridge Analytica, worked with the Trump campaign and what that will mean for the Russia investigation. CNN contributor John Dean is here, a former Nixon White House counsel. Also CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem and Nada Bakos. Hello to all of you. Thank you for coming on. Mr. Dean, you first, Trump campaign claiming it didn't rely on that data company Cambridge Analytica that reached out to the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to get access to Clinton's e-mails. A video tonight posted by "The Guardian" is contradicting that. Here's a senior executive from the company talking about how they helped Trump win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOLLY SCHWEICKERT, HEAD OF DIGITAL, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA: We started working with the Trump campaign in about June of 2016 when it became obvious that a sophisticated data apparatus would be need. By ensuring that every campaign stop was driven by data and reflecting what was currently being seen in the field, he was able to use his travel time most effectively.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So Cambridge Analytica was even driving where Trump campaign that directly contradicts the Trump campaign's statement. How problematic is that, do you think?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I think it's very problematic that the Trump campaign did not reach out and have a very close connection with Cambridge Analytics. It's clear from the record, it's been long known. We're getting a few more facts. This drives the story a little further and the relationship they're trying to deny I think is very close, Don.
LEMON: Yes. Does this new information push Mueller's team closer to a collusion case?
NADA BAKOS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALSYT: I think that is still to be determined, but I think Mueller's probably very focused on the counterintelligence aspect of the Russia investigation, so he is probably looking very closely at Cambridge Analytica, micro targeting they were doing in addition to aligning that about what he knows about the Russian influence and their activities.
LEMON: Juliet, this story is significant because of the WikiLeaks ties to Russia. Talked about Julian Assange and so on. Here's Trump's own CIA Director. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: Time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is, a non-state hostile intelligence service off embedded by state actors like Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: How important is the relationship between WikiLeaks and Russia to Mueller's investigation?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's significant if there are ties between the Trump campaign and the members of the Trump campaign via WikiLeaks or directly to Russia. That is still the question that Mueller is clearly looking at. But just something on Cambridge Analytics which no one is saying, they're a data mining organization, do what's called psychoanalytic analysis in which they get data and target it toward voters, relatively benign in most elections. What's their interest in the e-mails? I mean, Steve Bannon had been a Vice President. So the idea that this was part of their business model is ridiculous. This is part of an attempt to contact WikiLeaks to get Hillary Clinton's e-mails.
[23:10:10] It had nothing to do with their business model and it was an e-mail from the CEO to the head of WikiLeaks. I mean, these are insignificant people. So before we even, you know, just, we shouldn't buy into their argument that this is just what they did as part of their job. This is not their job.
LEMON: Yes. Nada, you know, we're also learning tonight that in interviews with the Senate Intelligence Committee, then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta denied knowing about an arrangement to pay for some research that led to that infamous Trump dossier. Hillary Clinton also says she was unaware of the dossier until it was published. Do you buy that?
BAKOS: Well, we've known for almost a year that the Democrats were behind funding that ended up culminating into the dossier. You know, it started out as Republican efforts, Democrats took it over. Eventually Christopher Steele was paid to come up with this dossier. I wish there would have been transparency maybe in the front end of this. I don't think this is a bombshell report. This is something we've known for almost a year so I do buy that they maybe didn't know the detail of this. If you hire somebody like Christopher Steele, that is typically not going to be communicated up the chain to someone like Wasserman-Schultz. This is not something that is, you know, a detail that she would be involved in.
LEMON: But John, the intelligence community has confirmed many of the details in that dossier. If it is a reliable document, does it even matter who funded the research?
DEAN: Well, I don't think so. It's certainly not an unnatural or illegal act for the Republicans originally and the Democrats to pick up the material and defund it. It's part of the process today. As unfortunate at that might be. I see nothing but noise here, Don. And a little effort to deflect.
LEMON: Yes. Juliette, I wonder why you're predicting that Mueller will be. Making moves in this investigation soon, you say, you suggest before thanksgiving. Why do you believe that?
KAYYEM: Yes, I was on a radio program, they said, when? I said given the pace, something is changing, just sort of lay out what we know right now. This just what you all are reporting is a series of very top people close to the Trump campaign are now being interviewed. The Trump campaign and White House are certainly going after Mueller in ways they hadn't before. There's this whole side thing of who paid for the dossier, as if that matters at this stage. All that matters is it real or not?
You have Michael Cohen, some reporting about Michael Cohen, the President's former lawyer regarding what he may have said or some purchases that may have been made in New York related to whether money transpired. That story is still unfolding. This pace is fast and that means that people are talking to investigators and people who are not that close to the Trump campaign are talking to investigators.
And so you just look at the pace, it's closing in. Let's just put it, we are at the oval office door. Cambridge Analytica is part of a piece half that, hard to deny how close they were to the Trump campaign. Once again, let's not forget Bannon was their Vice President so the pace is like nothing we've never seen before. That is what these conspiracy cases look like. They get, they're slow and get real fast.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
When we come back, two leading GOP Senators blasting President Trump with scathing criticism, but since then silence from the rest of the Republican Party. Will anyone else speak out?
[23:28:11] LEMON: Two Republican Senators blasted President Trump with some blistering criticism this week, but has anything really changed in the GOP? Let's discuss now, Max Boot, senior fellow at the council on foreign relations and the author of "Invisible armies." he joins us. CNN senior economics analyst, Stephen Moore, who was an adviser to the Trump campaign. Good evening, gentlemen, hey, Max, I just want to read this to you here. Remarkable attacks this week on sitting President. You've got a new op-ed from "USA today." it's called "On Trump." GOP hasn't learned Churchill's lesson." in it you write about the strategy going along. You say "Will history Judge the mainstream of the GOP as harshly as it Judges the mainstream politicians in the 1930s with a few brave truth tellers just like Senators Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain, afforded the horrors now heaped on Winston Churchill and his friends? I believe it will." the near term, do you think the Republican Party, will they be unrecognizable to the people who choose to stay in it?
MAX BOOT, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: Clearly I think the Republican Party is certainly unrecognizable to me. That is why I left the Republican Party after having joined in the 1980s. It's no longer the Party of limited government and strong American foreign policy and free trade, all these things that Republican Presidents have stood for since World War II. It's all out the window. Donald Trump effectively hijacked the Party and most of the Party essentially has Stockholm syndrome. What I was trying to point out in the article is there are a few brave souls, admittedly those who are planning to leave office before long speaking out about what Trump is doing and they're certainly a very embattled minority right now, but it is my conviction that in the end, they'll be vindicated, that this Trumpian style of government is failing right now, will not succeed and the people who are opposed to it, especially at some risk to themselves like Jeff Flake who is an opponent of Trump even before he decided not to seek re-election, those people I think will be afforded much greater honor by history than they are today when they are dismissed by much of the Republican Party as being inconsequential.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Steve, I want to get your response, let me read this before, a little bit more before you respond. "Republicans in Washington cover their cowardice by claiming they need to (inaudible) to Trump to past their policy agenda. As if it were worth risking World War III. Corker's words to cut taxes. In a sense, Stephen Bannon is right to exalt that the establishment Republicans are in full collapse." Do you support the president and his tax cuts? Is that a fair assessment and is the establishment collapsing?
STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, CNN: Well, there's no question that Donald Trump, this is a new Party. I think Max is right about that. I like the direction in a lot of ways of this new Party. It's a new Populist Party that is really moving toward primarily helping the middle class improve their economic situation. Look, it was people like my friend, Max, and Jeff Flake who I supported in the past who back in the campaign said Donald Trump is the titanic for the Republican Party, throw him over the boat, get rid of Donald Trump. Of course, not only did Donald Trump win, he had a lot of coattail effects in the last election helping a number of Senators get elected so it is Donald Trump's Party today.
It's a different Party. It is more populist. It -- there is a rethinking on the foreign policy. About, you know, what kind of engagement the United States should be in it. On economics, though, I would say, you know, look, this is -- this is still a Party of reducing taxes, limited government. Max, I mean when you were at "The Wall Street Journal," you believed in those things. I think on economics, I don't see why you have parted company with him.
BOOT: Well, Steve, I think it's fair to say that my problems with Donald Trump go well beyond the policy realm, although a lot of his policies are deeply troubling including pulling out of the trans- pacific trade accord, pulling out of the Paris climate accord. Using this kind of loud rhetoric that increases the risk of North Korea. Fundamentally it comes down to the character and nature of the President that he is somebody who is not fit for office, he really belongs in adult daycare as Bob Corker has put it. You can have very little confidence in what he is doing, because every single day, he is pursuing a crack pot vendetta against somebody. Whether it's the mayor of San Juan, or a gold star family. Somebody or little rocket man, dictator of North Korea. He gives the impression of having a personality disorder, another Senator was quoted as saying yesterday.
This is not somebody that we can trust with the highest office. He is not achieving the policy agenda that you dream of. Obama, his attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare crashed on the runway in part, because he is such an incompetent advocate, because he doesn't understand the first thing about policy. All he understands is trying to get standing ovations, because it's all about him, him, him. It's not about the policy agenda. So I think it's very misleading to cherry pick a few positions and say why don't you believe this? It's because I don't believe Donald Trump is fit to be President of the United States. I think it's incredibly dangerous what he is doing dividing the country, shredding our international reputation, and potentially leading us into a greater calamity of the kind that Bob Corker has warned about. MOORE: Max, let me respond to that. Look, the primary issue in this
campaign, I worked on the campaign, the American people, was jobs and the economy. Jobs and the economy. How to get America to be an economic heavyweight again. And you look at what's happened in the last ten months. It's an amazing story revival. We took over an economy that was growing at 1.5 percent. Already growing at twice that fast. 3 percent. Seeing a record stock market, seeing record business confidence. Consumer confidence. We're about to pass the biggest tax cuts since Ronald Reagan. That is a pretty conservative agenda.
And to say he is a crack pot, I mean, a crack pot doesn't have that kind of record. And, look, I don't agree with everything Donald Trump says and does. I don't agree with oftentimes his style. I wish he were more Presidential. So far I think the record is pretty good. The Republicans, you know, the Republicans need to stand together and stick together here if they're get to get this tax cut done and help make the economy strong. I think if they all came out and started attacking Donald Trump, it would not only hurt the President, would hurt the Party as well.
LEMON: You don't think it would help to get him to do what you just said, to be more Presidential?
MOORE: Look, I think everybody would like to see Donald Trump act more Presidential at times, and, you know --
LEMON: Isn't it incumbent upon the people in his own Party --
MOORE: Different President than has been in the past.
[23:35:00] LEMON: Stephen, serious question, because you just said that you think Republicans should stick together. I understand that sentiment, and instead of coming out and speaking about the President, but if the President isn't acting Presidential, if he isn't acting in accordance to the office, not living up to the position, why wouldn't Republicans come out and tell him that and perhaps that might curtail his behavior? Why wouldn't you?
MOORE: I think a lot of Republicans have said that, either in public or private, but on the other hand, look at some of these Democrats. I mean, are saying things like Max just said that he is mentally incompetent, so on. There are some who actually want him removed under the constitution from --
LEMON: Steve, Steve, this is not just Democrats.
MOORE: Max is --
BOOT: My point is --
LEMON: Own Secretary of State called him a moron.
MOORE: I know, look but my point is. This is like the birthers of the Democratic Party. I spoke out against the birthers who said Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States.
BOOT: You elected a birther. Donald Trump was the chief birther.
MOORE: Well, what I'm saying is that, you know, now you've got these people on the left that are making these claims that, you know, Trump should be impeached, because he is mentally incapable. Trump has many faults but he is not mentally incapable.
LEMON: Okay, Max?
BOOT: Maybe you should tell that to people like Bob Corker and Rex Tillerson who would suggest otherwise.
LEMON: I got to go. Thank you.
When we come back, a brand new poll shows the President's approval numbers dropping drastically in key demographic -- in a key demographic critical to putting him in the White House. We're going to break down what's behind the downward slide. That is next.
[23:40:58] LEMON: President Trump is successfully purging the Republican Party of his opponents, but when it comes to his approval rating with voters, things are not going his way. A surprising new poll shows him losing support from his base. Here to discuss, CNN contributor, Salena Zito, and Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden. Good evening to both of you. Welcome to the program. Salena, I want to start with you. There's a new Fox poll out and shows the President's approval rating is now at 38 percent. That is down 4 points from last month. And ten points from February. The drop comes mostly among white men without a college degree. Now only 56 percent of that group support Trump. Down 12 points from last month. This is a group that pushed Trump to the White House. Why do you think their support is fading right now?
SALENA ZITO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER STAFF: Well, I think it's based on that feeling that there's no legislative victories, right? The things that were very important to these voters, not just health care, but also, you know, infrastructure and infrastructure projects, which I personally thought was something that you would see the President lead with, because that would have been something that he could have been able to get bipartisan support with. I think that these voters are probably sort of, if it you look at a voter as, like, you're for someone, you're against someone, and you're over here and kind of waiting to see what they're going to do, I think a lot of these voters are likely in that position. He needs some legislative victories to sort of get them back to his side. Or they end up in the, you know, I'm done with you, you didn't do what I wanted you to do side. If these, you know, if some things aren't done. So tax reform, infrastructure --
LEMON: Tax reform is important. He is got to get that.
LEMON: Or those numbers are going to -- are going to shrink -- go down even further.
LEMON: Ron, the. President's disapproval numbers climbed to 57 percent, including 49 percent to disapprove strongly. Both new highs in the Fox News polling. What you think is behind these numbers?
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I agree with most of what Salena said. Most of it is the voters in the middle, voters who gave Trump a shot, see him busy attacking people on twitter, attacking gold-star widows, attacking people in Puerto Rico, just attack, attack, attack, and not doing what he said he would do, which is get things done, get infrastructure projects under way, create manufacturing jobs, you know, really deliver on that stuff. And so I think when you have a President who is busy, seems like he is super distracted with these petty feuds with people, he is acting just mean and unpleasant. I think that turns people off. That is not what they elected him to do. I think maybe some of his core supporters love the fighting turf, the fighting nature of it, but folks in the middle are tired of it.
LEMON: Let me say, some core supporters I speak to say I want to give him a chance, but he needs to shut his mouth and get something done, get to work. I'm being honest. That is not shocking. I think that is essentially what Salena is saying. Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska slammed the new identity politics coming into his Party from Steve Bannon, back candidates from the likes of Roy more, Alabama Senator Race. Here's how he described this. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN BEN SASSE, (R) NEBRASKA: We don't know how to talk about what government, universal human dignity are about. I think we're getting an identity politics of white backlash grievance. I feel like these parties don't have lot of principles and the Alabama senate race looks just that crappy to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Wow, white backlash grievance, is that what's behind the candidates like Roy Moore, Salena?
ZITO: Well I think identity politics, period, is awful. I think most Americans would agree that they're really tired of it. Moore is a little bit different of a character in this way. Not that he is not guilty of doing -- inciting the kind of sort of politics, but his election is very specific in that the voters in Alabama were really, really angry at the governor that left. He resigned. There's a great big scandal. He used campaign money illegally and they never sort of had a way to punish him. And this was their way to punish him because the guy that he appointed to the U.S. Senate was strange. Part of the -- not he was strange -- was --
[23:45:33] LEMON: Yes.
ZITO: Senator Strange. And sort of that was their way to -- LEMON: I'm glad you cleared that up.
ZITO: Yes, I know. Because that would go viral or something like that, right? So Moore was -- that was very specific to Alabama, but if you see more primary races next spring where you see incumbents challenge and see those types of candidates emerge for the Republican Party, I don't think that is good for anybody.
LEMON: And the President called him, what, big Luther, right? Strange. Listen, Ron, I got to ask you, do you think Ron Sasse -- Senator Sasse, excuse me, do you think he is speaking in part there about President Trump's election as well?
KLAIN: Well, you know, I'll let Senator Sasse speak for himself, but I will say obviously some of his colleagues in the senate, Republican colleagues in the senate have said that about President Trump. Obviously, Senator Corker, Senator McCain, Senator Flake. And so you are hearing conservative Republicans, these aren't liberal people at all, but conservative Republicans saying they are tired of this tolerance for white nationalism, for the kind of hateful bigotry and divisiveness that is coming from the President, and they are fighting to keep their Party as a conservative but inclusive Party. And Donald Trump's trying to steer it in a very different direction. Roy Moore is an example of that. It's not surprising Senator Sasse and others are speaking up against that.
LEMON: Thank you, both, appreciate it. Appreciate your insights.
When we come back, do Republicans who say they have grave concerns about the President have a moral responsibility to speak out?
[23:51:29] LEMON: Conservative Ben Sasse from Nebraska slamming his own Party for playing to what he calls white backlash grievance. Is he right about that? Let's discuss. Former Republican Congresswoman Nan Hayworth is here an independent women's forum board of directors and CNN political commentator Charles Blow a columnist for the New York Times. Good evening to both of you.
NAN HAYWORTH, INDEPENDENT WOMEN'S FORUM BOARD OF DIRECTOR: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Do you agree with Senator Ben Sasse? Again, he says it is a white backlash grievance and it is the new identity politics.
CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know what he actually means by white backlash grievance. Do I believe that there is a bit of a backlash by white voters, a group of them? Absolutely. I always question when people use the term identity politics, because all politics are identity politics and we only apply that particular phrase when people are up lifting and identifying and honoring politics of people who are not white. And so when -- we start to say we're pandering to Latinos.
No. You're just recognizing that they are a legitimate group with a culture and you respect it. You're pandering to black people. No, you're recognizing that this is a legitimate group with a culture you respect. When you don't do that, the absence of that is also an identity politics. It's just a white identity politics. It means it's constantly saying assimilate to this. That this is always whiteness. And that is a problem. Right? All these politics are identity politics.
LEMON: Why do you say this is a course correction?
HAYWORTH: I'm sorry, course correction?
LEMON: You say that we're seeing a course correction.
HAYWORTH: No, I didn't.
LEMON: You didn't say that? That is the researcher had course correction.
HAYWORTH: No, no.
LEMON: You didn't say that to the producer.
HAYWORTH: No, no. But I did talk about I think identity politics -- I do think President Obama tended to frame many things in terms of identity, and he is not the only one. Hillary Clinton framed her entire election in terms of identity politics, in that case sexism. I think it diminishes all of us who participate in American life, and I say that as the daughter of an immigrant, if we devolve into and it's not respecting the distinct characteristics of various groups of Americans. And we all belong to different groups. I'm a doctor. I'm awe Lutheran. I'm a mother. It's not that. It's that when we frame policy as the result of identity, you know, the reason you support a certain policy is because you are white or because you are black or because you are Latino. That diminishes the opportunities that we have to transcend our inherent traits. The whole idea of being American is to get beyond those things.
BLOW: That has not been the historical idea of being American. Martin Luther King says the law can't make you love me, but it can stop you from lynching me.
HAYWORTH: Okay. Because I quoted Doctor King when I was talking about --
BLOW: I'm quoting myself because I'm talking right now. Thank you.
HAYWORTH: Yes, of course.
BLOW: So we look at the law to protect us from things that would harm us. Everybody in society -- and I think when you talk to specific groups of people, they have very specific concerns about whether or not they are being protected in America, whether or not their interests are being advanced in America. And those are not just like ubiquitous things that apply to every single American. They're specific things about the law that specifically target black people. [23:55:15] LEMON: Listen, I have less than a minute here. We say all
those things and when we look at research, even pollsters that are working on campaigns, we're going to target whites, we're going to target blacks, we are going to target this demographic and that demographic. And then someone comes on and says we're all Americans and we shouldn't be having identity politics. At the core of politics is about identity.
HAYWORTH: No, it's not. The core of American politics was that we seek and, you know, we are always trying to get closer to our ideals.
LEMON: Did you identify as a conservative?
HAYWORTH: I identify, yes.
LEMON: Well, how is that not identity politics?
HAYWORTH: Because I'm a fiscal conservative, because I espouse a certain set of policies. I espouse a certain way in which the government relates to us as economic actors, irrespective of our race, our gender, where we live.
BLOW: If gay people had protested and demanded specific policy changes for them, they would not have that and people will look at that and say if you talk to them specifically, that is identity politics. No. That is just saying I recognize you. I see you. You're not (inaudible).
LEMON: I've got to go. I'm over. Thank you.
HAYWORTH: We have to get beyond those things.
LEMON: Thank you. Good night.