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CNN TONIGHT

Old Issues Coming Back Against Trump; Democrats Pelosi and Schumer Boycott Meeting with POTUS; North Korea Launch Its Hwasong-14 Missile. Aired 10:30-11p ET

Aired November 28, 2017 - 22:30   ET

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


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[22:30:00] DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

Breaking news. We are learning tonight that before his inauguration Donald Trump had already begun raising questions about whether the notorious Access Hollywood tape was a fake. That is according to the New York Times which also reports Trump told a republican senator he wanted an investigation, even though he had publicly admitted it was him on the tape and apologized for it.

Well, all the times also reports the president is continuing to push his false birther conspiracy theory. That's right, questioning the authenticity of President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

We're going to have much more on that in just a moment. It comes, though, at a very crucial time for this president and this administration and his party when reality, not conspiracy is what he should be focusing on.

A top domestic priority is taking everything on a do or die effort to pass a tax plan. It could of the Senate budget committee today, but they're still a long way to go with this.

That as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi bail on a promised White House meeting to discuss the looming fiscal clip. Leaving President Trump to make lemonade out of lemons with a photo-op with just some empty chairs next to him. Not exactly a picture of bipartisanship or unity there.

And then there's Kim Jong-un challenging the president with a missile launch. That Defense Secretary James Mattis says North Korea could hit everywhere in the world.

So much for President Trump's claim he's made progress with Pyongyang.

we have a whole lot to discuss this evening. And I want to get to CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Also CNN contributor Salena Zito, and political commentator Peter Beinart. Where do we begin?

So, Dana, I'm going to start with you. President Trump lobbied republicans on Capitol Hill today. You've been following him today. He got a win on the tax bill. Is this the art of the deal? Is it finally working?

DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: I don't know if it's the art of the deal, but it certainly it's clear. I was there up on Capitol Hill today not to mention hearing from republicans as part of this debate that we had this evening.

[22:35:01] And it does seem, Don, that even in republicans who I talked to who are not giant fans of the president, that unlike what went on with Obamacare repeal failure when the president kind of chewing and frowning it didn't really help, in fact, sometimes anecdotally it hurt, his efforts hurt the process, it's different this time.

Just for example, he really had an intense conversation with Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin inside the republican lunch today. He was up on Capitol Hill. And they went kind of back and forth about Senator Johnson's concerns, that small businesses are not going to get enough of the tax break.

At the end of the day Senator Johnson was one of those who voted to at least keep the process moving forward, he voted yes in the budget committee. He's -- we were told that President Trump met, sort of in a side bar meeting with Susan Collins and talked about her concerns.

Again, those are two people who have not seen eye to eye on just about anything. So, in the short term it looks as though, today was a good say for the president, doing what he promised to do. But we should also keep in mind this is just among republicans. Democrats aren't involved in this process.

LEMON: Hey, Dana, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't they do this last time, at least vote to get it to move so that they could at least discuss it? Remember, with one of the -- with one of the Obamacare things were...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Yes, sure. I mean, this is just a step in the process.

LEMON: Right, OK.

BASH: The big question is going to be what happens on the Senate floor this week.

LEMON: OK.

BASH: And that is still very much TBD, whether the Senate republicans can get it done. But you know, at least they don't have a big failure on their hands today.

LEMON: Yes. And if you -- if you sort of listen to, as you said some of the folks who will be voting on this, it seems that they are active for it than they were with repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Salena, on the GOP tax bill. Big corporations get a huge permanent break, individuals don't. The Congressional Budget Office came out saying that the poor will end up paying more. Is the president taking advantage of the fact that his base will stick by him through thick and thin, you think?

SALENA ZITO, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Well, I mean, you know, the poor are arguing a 1,500, I believe it's $1,500 back, right, in this tax bill? Now, that might not seem like a lot of money to some people, but as someone who is a single mom and has two kids and lived close to the poverty level for a very long time, $1,500 is a lot of money. That's day care for three months.

So, you know, I think there's a little bit of everything in this bill for the people that supported him. And it's interesting to me as someone who saw the different sort of coalitions that were forming around President Trump, that people didn't really understand and why they sort of missed this election.

So you see the upper middle class suburban voter getting something that they want, but you also see the middle class getting something that they want.

LEMON: But Peter...

(CROSSTALK)

ZITO: And then you also see the child credit, tax credit...

LEMON: Yes.

ZITO: ... which is also really, really important, especially for single parents or a struggling young family.

LEMON: But Peter, the big difference is that for big corporations this is permanent. It's not permanent for, this is temporary for...

(CROSSTALK)

PETER BEINART, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Right. In order to pretend that this doesn't explode the deficit these tax cuts have to end for individuals in 2025. Which means that according to the Joint Committee on Taxation by 2027 taxes for people making under $75,000 will actually go up, right?

So if we actually take them at their word that these tax cuts are going to end in 2025, overall the taxes are actually going to go up for people making under $75,000.

The huge wind fall is going to be for the very wealthy. If you don't believe that, if you think all the tax cuts are going to continue, then you have a massive budgetary deficit problem. We saw this movie before. This is exactly what George W. Bush did at the beginning of his administration.

LEMON: Dana, so there are few people in the audience tonight who asked about that. Saying how can you guarantee that, you know, for now until forever, when this comes up again, that we won't get a tax increase? Was there a good answer for that?

BASH: Not really. And I think generally the answer that republicans give is the economy is going to do so well, there's going to be so much economic growth with these tax reform, really tax cuts, that it's not going to be an issue.

But we'll see. I mean, it's really hard to tell whether or not that's going to happen particularly when you just look at history, there wasn't as much reform granted, but certainly there was a big tax cut in 2001 with George W. Bush.

And what happens according to the Congressional Budget Office is over the next 10 years the deficit exploded. So you know, it's unclear exactly how this is going to sell.

[22:40:02] And I think that the answer is whether or not people who are at home, who are middle class voters in particular, people who took a chance on Donald Trump even though their families or they personally have voted for democrats for a long time, whether they're going to feel the tax relief or whether there will be a tax increase because of this bill, if in fact it becomes law.

LEMON: Dana, I have to ask you about this. I'm going to get the other folks in, but I have to ask you. I have to change subjects now.

This New York Times report tonight on President Trump on a few fronts. First, the president continues to suggest that the voice on the Access Hollywood isn't actually exactly him. He's still questioning the authenticity of President Barack Obama's birth certificate in closed door conversations.

And he also continues to repeat the claim that he lost the popular vote because of widespread voter fraud. I just want to read some of it here. And here what it says. It says, "Mr. Trump -- Mr. Trump's journey into the realm of manufactured facts have been frequent enough that his own staff has sought to nudge friendly lawmakers to ask questions of Mr. Trump in meetings that will steer him towards safer terrain."

Dana, what is going on here?

BASH: This is Donald Trump, Don. I mean, it is. It's the Donald Trump that you interviewed during the campaign, that I interviewed, that we watched on the campaign trail, and more importantly, the one who we saw before this presidential run back in 2010 and 2011 when he was very aggressively questioning President Obama's birth certificate.

It is his personality trait, and it is the kind of thing that he continues to do to be Donald Trump as opposed to evolving into the president of the United States and all of the things that go with the traditions of being president.

People didn't elect him to be a regular politician. I totally get that, but that's far different from pushing things that are false, pushing things that are not factual, and pushing things that are hurtful to people who had that office not that long ago.

LEMON: How is this, Salena -- how is this helpful to the president or his base by him making things up? How is this helpful?

ZITO: I don't -- I mean, as Dana said, this is how he was during the campaign. I mean, that's the thing about Trump, and that's the thing about the people who voted for him. He was a known commodity in their lives for 20 years...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But Salena, with all due respect, this is not the campaign anymore. He's the leader of the free world.

ZITO: I know that, but he's still the same person.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And the majority, he did not get the majority of the American people voting. There is no -- the simple...

(CROSSTALK)

ZITO: But it doesn't matter. He still won and he still got the vote. And the people that voted for him knew exactly what they were voting for. They weren't...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: No, what I'm saying by that is the whole popular vote thing. He's saying -- he's still saying that he won the popular vote.

ZITO: I'm sorry. Yes.

LEMON: Because of massive voter fraud. That is actually not true.

ZITO: That's him. I know.

LEMON: The Access Hollywood have come forward and said the tape is absolutely true.

ZITO: Right.

LEMON: President Obama has presented his birth certificate.

ZITO: Yes.

LEMON: But how is this helpful? That's how what -- you know, not that -- yes, that's how he won. We all agree with that.

ZITO: Yes, yes, yes.

LEMON: But how is that helpful.

ZITO: It's not. I don't think it's helpful. But I don't think it changes the minds of the people that voted for him because they knew just who this guy is. Maybe that's where that whole take him seriously but not literally thing.

You know, he has always been loose with the facts. I have always encouraged people to read that first book that he wrote or, you know, had a co-writer with, the "Art of the Deal." I mean, it's all in there. He comes right out and says, I twist the truth to get what I want or, you know, to make a point about something else.

LEMON: Yes. Peter, let's just -- I mean, he's saying, and quote, "I twist the truth." That means I lie, right? What does that mean when you're twisting the truth. It means a lie. He is not dealing in reality. When -- I can't even put into words because you know what I want to say here. When are people going to start saying, you know, not be afraid to say something is up with this person?

BEINART: You know what I find despicable? These White House advisers are going off-the-record and snickering to the New York Times about because they know that they're working for a man who is a pathological liar, that's actually Ted Cruz's words, pathological liar.

A man who is disconnected from reality. They know how dangerous this is because they see it up close. The republican senators know it because they see it too. But they don't have the guts to actually come out and say this man is threat to our republic and should resign. They'd rather snicker to the New York Times on background about it. If they really believe this stuff, they shouldn't be complicit.

[22:45:01] LEMON: Yes. Is this true, I was trying to get one of the quotes here where it says that a republican lawmaker laughing, it was a senator, laughed at the president talking about -- you know, thought it was funny but didn't want to be named on the record. How is that funny?

BEINART: It's -- we're talking about cowardice here, right? There are few really brave honorable exceptions. I think in that piece, they said that Jeff Flake is going to give a series of speeches about Donald Trump's relationship to truth. He's a brave man, Bob Corker. But most of them are too afraid of their political base to stand up to him.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let's put up the quote. Let's put the quote up because I don't have it in front of me. There it is. They said, "One senator who listened as the president revived his doubts about Mr. Obama's birth certificate chuckled on Tuesday as he recalled the conversation."

Really? I mean, Dana, what's funny about that?

BASH: I got nothing, Don. I really don't. Nothing.

LEMON: Yes.

BASH: Nothing is funny about it except for the fact that it sounds like he is -- believes he is being devilish, that he is being funny, that he's being Donald Trump. I mean, he has been this guy for 71 years, and, you know, it isn't going to change. And it's unfortunate. Look, I'm not condoning this at all, but at least he's not saying this

in public, which is what he said for many, many years until he got into the White House.

LEMON: OK.

BASH: That's the best I can do, Don.

LEMON: I met a -- every single day and every time I come on I am at a loss for words about as to how much this devolves into just an alternative universe.

BEINART: Right.

LEMON: I mean, it's not even factual anymore. People are laughing because someone says, you know, I twist the facts, basically saying I lie and it's acceptable. I don't know where we've gone. But I've got to say Jonathan Martin in the New York Times will join us at the top of the 11 o'clock hour. I appreciate it. Thank you, all. Thanks so much.

When we come back, North Korea conducting yet another missile test. But this one has the potential to reach anywhere in the world, says Defense Secretary James Mattis. Senator Lindsey Graham says this.

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LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: We have to go to war to stop this. We will.

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LEMON: What other options do we have and what are we just learning about the missile?

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LEMON: New developments on North Korea tonight to tell you about. Pyongyang announcing a missile launch today, it was a brand new type of ICBM with far superior capabilities, able to reach anywhere in the United States.

The Secretary of Defense, James Mattis says, it went, quote, "higher frankly, than any previous shot they have taken." President Trump saying this.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you probably have heard and some of you have reported a missile was launched a little while ago from North Korea. I will only tell you that we will take care of it. We have General Mattis in the room with us, and we've had a long discussion on it. It is a situation that we will handle.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Joining me now is CNN military analyst Major General James Spider Marks and Colonel Cedric Leighton. Good evening to both of you. Thank you so much for coming on. Colonel Leighton, I'm going to start with you. What's your takeaway about from what you saw today?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, MILITARY ANALYST, CNN: Well, Don, I think the biggest thing is that -- you know, as Secretary Mattis said, this is a missile that has greater capabilities, the North Koreans are now calling it the Hwasong-15, the Hwasong-14 was the one that was launched in July.

And basically, we're talking a higher altitude, a greater capability and that greater capability means that it can have a range that may encompass the entire United States and potentially basically the world from North Korea, and that is a significant development.

LEMON: General Marks, tonight, a North Korean official told CNN's Will Ripley, that they have ruled out diplomacy with the United States, until they -- until they, North Korea, can demonstrate their nuclear capabilities.

The official told Ripley, that there are two steps to this goal. First, the testing of the long range ICBM. And the second is a large scale hydrogen bomb test. So with today's launch did they accomplish step number one, and how is the U.S. going to respond if they test a nuclear bomb?

JAMES SPIDER MARKS, MILITARY ANALYST, CNN: Well, I think what they're saying, Don, is clearly they want to negotiate from a position of strength and they've defined that as having a capability to marry up a nuclear warhead with a missile that can reach the United States.

They have been on this path to achieve that capability for literally the past decade, and no country, no nation, no form of influence has been able to modify their behavior and put them down a path that would arrest that or least modify in some way.

So, I think it's fair to say, there are intelligence community can step up clearly within about the next few months and state with certainty they've the missile that can strike anywhere. They've got the nuclear capability, and they have been able to miniaturize it, marry it, and can launch that thing.

Now I would also suggest that that capability has been on a path to be achieved over the course of many, many years. So we're seeing this unfold in front of us.

Bear in mind also that in February, coming up in a few months, the winter Olympics will take place in South Korea, that is a watershed event. That's the world will be focusing on the Peninsula. Kim in advance of that, will pop another nuke, he's already achieved his third ICBM launch. He'll probably pop another nuke of some sort, then he'll back off during the celebration of the Olympics, but the world will be paying attention like they never have before.

LEMON: So let me just ask you, Colonel Leighton, what people are everybody's wondering, is there a chance we go to war here with North Korea?

LEIGHTON: Absolutely. There's a chance. I don't think it will happen immediately. I hope that it won't happen ever. But there's definitely a chance, and we have to be prepared for that, we have the greatest risk I think here is miscalculation.

[22:55:00] And the idea that we've got two leaders who really don't understand each other, that gives me a lot of concern. And the fact that now one of those leaders is developing weapons that can potentially hit a large portion of the globe.

And he's really looking for ways in which he can demonstrate his capabilities, that is going to be I think the biggest danger that we have here, and then plus, of course, any response that we make is going to have to be tempered with the realization that this could very quickly spiral out of control.

LEMON: Short answer if you can, General Marks, what do you say to my question before?

MARKS: Yes, we need to be very, very concerned. Clearly the options are narrowing, economic sanctions, diplomatic sanctions take time to have an effect, the military can solve this problem, there are tremendous down sides were there to be a military option, Seoul would suffer greatly, we could eliminate the threat in the North, but the consequences would be huge.

LEMON: Gentlemen, thank you. I appreciate your expertise always.

LEIGHTON: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: See you next time.

(CROSSTALK)

MARKS: You bet, Don.

LEMON: When we come back, it was the videotape which had the potential to derail then candidate Trump's campaign. Talking about grabbing women by their genitals. Mr. Trump issued a rare public apology, but now he's expressing doubts, that the voice on that tape was even his. And bringing back the fake claim that President Obama was not born here.

I'm going to talk with one of the New York Times reporters who broke the story. That's next.

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