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CNN TONIGHT

RNC and Trump Supports Roy Moore; Jerusalem is Set to be Named as Israel's Capital; Donald Junior Next in Line to Answer Questions. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 5, 2017 - 22:00   ET

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


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[22:00:00]

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: Incredibly strong family. Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand things to Don Lemon. CN Tonight starts now.

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

A dark cloud of the Russia investigation looming over the White House. The president's overall approval rating at just 35 percent. So it is no coincidence that he is doubling down and playing to his base tonight. Because that's all he's got.

That includes standing by republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, a man who has been accused of child molestation. A man the president explicitly endorsed on Monday despite of multiple accusations against him.

In today's White House press briefing Sarah Sanders asked over and over and over again how the president justifies support of Moore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You have the choice between two individuals and the president's chosen to support Moore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even if that person who supports his agenda has done what Roy Moore accusers have said?

SANDERS: Again, we've said that the allegations are concerning. And if true, he should step aside. But we don't have a way to validate that, and that's something for the people of Alabama to decide, which we've also said and we maintain that.

And ultimately, it will come down to the people of Alabama to make that decision.

JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: How can that vote in the Senate be that important that you would take a gamble on somebody who has been accused of molesting kids...

(CROSSTALK) SANDERSD: I think that's something...

ACOSTA: ... of harming someone who's underage?

SANDERS: As I've said that's something for the people of Alabama to decide. We found the allegations very troubling. And again, this is up to the people of Alabama to make that decision. I'm not a voter in Alabama and can't make that decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why endorse him, if you want the people to decide. Beside you're influencing the decision by endorsing him. And secondly, are you saying that no matter who runs as a member of the GOP, it's OK as long as you are in lockstep with the president and vote like he wants?

SANDERS: Once again, I'm not going to get into every person that could or couldn't run for office down the line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said the president would want somebody in the Senate who supports his agenda versus one who does not. Excuse me. I just want to clarify it again, is it the White House's position then to formally here, that it is worse to have a democrat in that Senate seat than somebody who is accused of sexually abusing a teen girl?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That influencing question was really, really -- that was a good question there. But how was the answer to that question difficult? You don't support a candidate who is accused of sexual abuse and child molestation. I can't believe that I actually have to say that.

At the very least the president of the United States should decline to endorse a man who faces multiple accusations of inappropriate behavior with much, much younger women, young women.

But the White House, their talking point on all of this, it's something for the people of Alabama to decide. You heard Sarah Sanders say it over and over and over again. That is nothing but a cowardly dodge because the White House is -- they're stacking the deck here.

The president has given his full unequivocal endorsement to Roy Moore. No doubt about that. And he has been crystal clear about his reason for doing it. The president tweeting this about Roy Moore's democratic opponent, Doug Jones.

"Putting Pelosi, Schumer liberal puppet Jones into office in Alabama would hurt our great republican agenda of low on taxes, tough on crime, strong on military and borders and so much more. Look at your 401ks since election. Highest stock market ever. Jobs are roaring back."

There's a lot about all of that tweet, a lot in all of that tweet that is debatable there, but we'll get to that in the broadcast. But the stunning fact is that the president of the United States would rather have an accused child molester in the Senate than a democrat. Think about that.

But not all republicans, not all of them are following his lead. Republican Senator Jeff Flake today sending $100 check to democrat Doug Jones. Flake tweeting a picture of the check with the message, "country over party." It's really just a powerful. Not that much money, but it is a powerful message and one that the White House needs to hear.

So let's get to the broadcast now. I want to bring in now CNN political commentator David Swerdlick, political analyst April Ryan, and Bob Cusack, he is the editor in chief of the Hill.

Good evening to all of you. So glad to have you on. April, I'm going to start with you. You were in the White House briefing room today, right?

APRIL RYAN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Good evening.

LEMON: Because the White House says...

RYAN: Yes.

LEMON: ... it is up to the people of Alabama but now you have the president weighing and supporting an accused pedophile here. And the RNC is now supporting and funding his campaign again.

RYAN: Yes. We are seeing something we've never seen before. The goal posts will forever be moved because of this. Alabama holds the key for how elections in this Trump era could look.

You know, this president is known to not to want to lose. And this is not just this election. This goes into trying to create wins, legislative wins down the road. And Roy Moore would be someone who'd stand right next to him. That's what's presumed.

[22:05:03] But right now it is -- it seems to be a win over these teenagers, teenagers, not young women. You said young women earlier.

LEMON: Yes.

RYAN: I'm thinking of teenage girls, young teenage girls.

LEMON: You're right.

DAVID SWERDLICK, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes, you're right. Kids.

RYAN: Yes, not young teenagers. So, and that's the thing. We have to be really -- I mean, just put it on the table for what it is and not be euphemistic, just be real with it. Teenagers that the congressional leaders, the Senate and House leader said at one time they had credible accusations and allegations against this candidate. Teenagers. It's a lot. The goal posts are moved by this president when it comes to...

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: It's stunning because and I think the journalist who are in the back room, and I forget his name. But it was a very good question about. If you have questions and these allegations or accusations concern you, then don't put your finger on the scale. Then don't influence the election by saying, well, I have full -- he has our full support.

David, Steve Bannon out campaigning for Roy Moore tonight. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: This election's going to boil down to something very simple. Do you support the program of Donald J. Trump that Judge Moore supports? Or do the good folks in Alabama support the program of Hillary Clinton already rejected on November 8th, 2016 that Doug Jones represents?

2It's very simple. It's an open -- it's an up or down vote, an open and closed case. When you take away, everything else, the last couple of weeks have been tough weeks for some people. Right? Haven't been tough weeks for me. You know, I made my decision. A while ago I got my decision to stand with Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right, David. So, there are a couple of things here.

SWERDLICK: Yes.

LEMON: Bannon is still making this about Hillary Clinton. And then he compares how he is standing by Moore just like he has stood by President Trump. I mean, Bannon is the guy with Trump, and Trump still follows him?

SWERDLICK: I think so. And look, Bannon at a minimum, Don, is energized. He spoke today, I was at an event today in Washington, D.C. where Bannon spoke black Americans for a better future. It's a black republican, black small business owner event.

He gave a speech there and by this evening he's already in Alabama giving a different version of a similar speech. He's all in on this idea of he's leading this charge now outside of the White House against the republican establishment and he's relishing it.

The problem, though, is that in the case of Roy Moore and the case of Alabama, he's doing his campaign against establishment republicans and more broadly against both parties in Congress at the expense, as April just pointed out, of supporting someone who's alleged to be a serial dater of teenagers.

And you know, that at the same time he's trying to, you know, up end the Republican Party, he's also dragging the Republican Party down into the this gutter with him. And, you know, the White House is right. It is up to Alabama voters. But if Alabama voters fail this basic test of citizenship, it will have repercussions beyond next Tuesday. LEMON: You're being kind with a serial dater. Because there was one

woman who said she at the time she was 14 and he went beyond just...

(CROSSTALK)

SWERDLICK: Yes, just to be clear. He's accused of at least one crime in one instance.

LEMON: Yes.

SWERDLICK: But you know, many accusers against Roy Moore obviously.

LEMON: So, unless we forget it. I mean, remember he didn't support Roy Moore in the beginning. I mean, this all about politics. So let's not get all bent out of shape about it. It's really about politics. It's outrageous considering the accusations...

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: But morals, too, Don.

LEMON: Yes. That's what I say -- that's what I'm saying if you let me finish. It's outrageous when you consider the accusations against Moore. But then at the end of the day it all boils down to politics.

Because if you look at the polling out, Bob, it shows that President Trump's approval rating is at 35 percent. You know, the strategy is not about growing the number of people supporting him, it's about keeping his base solid in his corner, I would imagine, keeping them happy.

BOB CUSACK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE HILL: Yes, I talked to some pollsters, and there's head scratching to them because that base that 35, maybe 31 or 32 percent they are going to be with Trump no matter what. I mean, they love this guy. And the pollsters say, you know, really he should try to at least build it, build it up to 40, get it to past 50. Because then your legislative muscle, your agenda you can get through.

But if you're in the mid-30s then members of your own party will take shots at you. So, I mean, I just -- I think that base is going to be with him. Sometimes you do want to appease your base, but he's got to get those numbers up, because those numbers, Don, they really scare republicans on Capitol Hill a year away from the mid-term election.

[22:09:56] LEMON: Before I get back to something that a new policy here, April. I just want to go back to David. David, you know, I have to say it's been talked about the bubble that -- bubbles that people live in. And I was watching a report on -- happened to be on another network, and it showed the folks down in Alabama and the Roy Moore supporters.

And the people turned to me and said didn't you used to live in Birmingham, and I said, yes. And they said is this actually real? Are those -- is that real or is that -- I can't believe that these people are saying what they're saying about him and sort of how they're twisting the logic to support him. And it's real.

I mean, it is a bubble. And Christians are supporting him, and they're saying he's the best when it comes to abortion. But it doesn't matter when there are accusations of child moles station. It's really odd.

SWERDLICK: It is odd. And you know, it's this one, look, it's worth saying that Moore is not charged with a crime right now and that he's innocent until proven guilty or charged with a crime.

But if you read the reporting by my Washington Post colleagues that came out a few weeks ago, a reasonable person reading that looks at that and says, look, you know, you're taking a real risk by putting this guy in office.

Even if you don't like democrats, even if you have some doubts and yet, I think we are at such a place -- you know, so many people have said it, but it's true. Such a place of partisanship, Don, that you have a lot of voters in Alabama, and I looked at the Real Clear Politics average before coming on...

LEMON: Yes.

SWERDLICK: ... and it's about 48 to 46, you know, neck and neck almost. People are so polarized that they want to vote for their guy and twist themselves into knots to say it's OK to vote for my guy.

LEMON: I would imagine though, that the White House is doing this and the president's doing this, and he probably has some internal polling that shows that Roy Moore is most likely to be the winner in this case.

(CROSSTALK)

SWERDLICK: I think that's right.

LEMON: We shall see. But I think that's probably why they're going this far and the republicans as well, the establishment.

April, let's turn now, I want to talk about Israel and Jerusalem. According to a senior administration official we are learning to tonight the president will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel tomorrow...

RYAN: Yes.

LEMON: ... and direct the State Department to begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem despite allies saying that this is a really bad idea. Why is he doing this now, why poke the horn its nest and is this also about his base as well?

RYAN: It's fulfilling a campaign promise. And they're also saying -- the White House is saying that this is reality, and they're just supporting reality.

It comes at a time when it's questionable because there's already so much going on around the world. And then with this move, you know, you've got the Palestinians that they're talking about having days of rage over this. There's threats to U.S. embassies around the world. All because you have two countries who are claiming Jerusalem.

The move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is major. And the president is saying it's not going to happen in months. It could take years, but for him to make this statement it is pushing the ball in a way that rewards Israel, and the Palestinians are going to look at this as a problem unless they get something to appease them.

And it doesn't look like right now there's something to appease the Palestinians on the table. The president wants to fulfill a campaign promise. And we've got to wait and see what happens, but it sounds like the fallout is already happening.

LEMON: Yes. That's all we have time. For Bob, thank you. Thank you, David. Thank you, April. I appreciate it. We'll see you next time. We'll continue the conversation.

Coming up, highly anticipated testimony in the Russia investigation. Donald Trump, Jr. set to answer questions tomorrow from the White House from the House intelligence committee - excuse me - about his contacts with Russians.

When we come back I'm going to ask a member of that committee what questions he has for the president's son.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: There are some big developments in the Russia investigation to tell you about. The White House today refusing to say exactly when the president learned that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI. That, as questions are swirling about whether the president attempted to obstruct justice.

And there's also the highly anticipated testimony from Donald Trump, Jr. to the House intelligence committee tomorrow. So let's discuss all of that with a member of the committee, and his name is Congressman Eric Swalwell. Thank you so much, congressman. Good to see you.

(CROSSTALK)

ERIC SWALWELL, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Of course, Don. Thanks for having me back.

LEMON: Is there a credible case for obstruction of justice against President Trump?

SWALWELL: Well, he's helping to make the case. There's no -- you told it to Lester Holt on national television exception for obstruction of justice. And there is certainly no who could be so dumb that they would cap to the crime on Twitter exception. And he's done I think both of those.

But also, you know, that the firing of James Comey who we now know when he was fired that the president knew that Flynn had lied and he had asked Comey to make the case go away. That evidence is uncontradicted. Comey is the only person who has come in under oath publicly and made that case and no one has contradicted it yet. So, I think he's certainly being investigated for it.

LEMON: OK. So, just to be clear, is this something that the House might take up?

SWALWELL: Well, you know, it's unclear. You know, it doesn't seem like -- especially counsel Mueller could seek an indictment against the president. It would certain be the first time it's happened or he could refer it to the judiciary committee in the House or he could say there's no evidence. You know, there seems to be the three options.

I just hope that, you know, he is as determined as finding out what happened as the Russians were determined to interfere in our elections, and that we are not as reckless with the truth in our way of getting to the bottom of it as the president has been with most of the assertions he makes.

LEMON: OK. Let's go to something else that I said in the introduction. The White House wouldn't say when President Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI. OK? So CNN is reporting that the White House told him, told him back in January. Why do you think they're dodging this?

SWALWELL: Well, because the president had kept Flynn onboard for so long. You know, the question is, well, if you knew that he lied to the FBI, why did you keep him on your staff?

LEMON: That's a really good question.

SWALWELL: And then also, of course, it doesn't look so good in light of what Director Comey told Congress, which was that I think it was February 14th, the president cleared the room.

Again, the action of clearing the room and asking Pence and Priebus and others to leave so he could have a one-on-one conversation with Comey, also seems to shows an intent to conceal, you know, his actions.

[22:20:00] LEMON: The White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders today was asked if the president's considering pardoning General Flynn, the president's former national security advisor. And here is her answer. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yesterday the president said that he felt very badly for General Flynn. Would he consider pardoning him?

SANDERS: I'm not aware that has come up or any process or decision on that front.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you haven't talked to him about it.

SANDERS: No, I haven't asked. I haven't asked the president whether or not he would do that. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you -- can you...

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: I think before we start discussing the pardons for individuals we should see, you know, what happens in specific cases.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it fair to say it's on the table?

SANDERS: No, I just said I haven't had the conversation with him because I don't feel it's necessary until, you know, you get further down the road and determine whether or not that's even something needed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, senators from the president's own party, congressman, have warned against pardoning Flynn, warned about doing it. But that wasn't a no, was it?

SWALWELL: No, and he's shown a willingness to pardon individuals before the cases are complete with Sheriff Arpaio. You know, his pardoning powers is not absolutely can't, you know, pardon to carry out obstruction of justice. You know, he's not immune from that.

And so, you know, hopefully he'll just allow this investigation to complete itself and then, you know, make decisions from there. I don't have high hopes for that because he's done anything but that. But I don't believe his pardon power is completely absolute.

LEMON: I want to get this in before we go but it's important. Donald Trump, Jr. set to testify before your committee tomorrow, what are you going to ask him?

SWALWELL: Well, I can't confirm if he's testifying, but he's a relevant witness for us who we are seeking to interview. We want to know about the June 9th meeting with Clinton Russia private confidential he wrote, "I love it. Can we hold that information up until September."

I want to know about his relationship with WikiLeaks. He was communicating with them. The intelligence community assessed that they worked with the Russians. We want to know about the financial transactions of the family. But also Donald Trump was seeking to build a Trump tower in Moscow during the primary campaign and Donald Trump, Jr. was the executive vice president.

So, a lot of questions about the relationships with the Russians. Of course, Don, these could be just a thousand coincidences, right?

LEMON: Yes, you caught me off-guard. I'm a little speechless there. Thank you so much. Always a pleasure to have you on, Congressman Eric Swalwell.

SWALWELL: My pleasure. LEMON: When we come back, new questions about what Mike Pence did or didn't know about Flynn's talks with the Russian ambassador. We're going to dig into what he knew and what he found out and what Flynn's plea deal could mean for the vice president.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Growing questions tonight about Vice President Mike Pence and his claims that he was kept in the dark about mike Flynn's talks with Russia's former ambassador to the U.S.

I want to bring in now CNN legal analyst Laura Coates, national security and legal analyst Susan Hennessy, and legal commentator Ken Cuccinelli.

Good evening. Thank you for coming on. Hi, Susan. Let's start with you. So, according to the court filings, Flynn spoke with senior members of the presidential transition team about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Pence was the head of transition, so how plausible is it that he really didn't know about any of this for nearly a year?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, it's sort of considering how chaotic and dysfunctional the early transition was, I suppose that's a pretty good defense. Right? Maybe Pence really was kept out of the loop.

You know, the most interesting period of time was the period of time between January 15th, where then-Vice President-elect Pence -- he goes on national television and tells the American people unequivocally that Michael Flynn did not discuss sanctions with Sergey Kislyak during that call.

And one occurs between that time and February 13th when Donald Trump actually fires Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI and for lying to Pence. So it's sort of time line gap that we don't have quite yet is when did Pence learn not only that Mike Flynn had lied to him but actually that he had made a substantial material misrepresentation to the American people, and how long did he allow that falsehood to exist, you know, without coming forward to correct it.

LEMON: So, Ken, you guys were stepping on each other so I couldn't hear what you said. So you just sort of, you just strike this all up to chaos in the White House?

KEN CUCCINELLI, LEGAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, I was laughing because I have made that explanation myself in the past. And look, for your viewers, I worked against the Trump team on the Cruz team in the primary, and chaos reigned in their camp.

And frankly, the chaos theory somehow or another for the only time in American history worked for them in the campaign. And when they picked Reince Priebus as chief of staff, that chaos continued right into the White House.

I mean, General Kelly was a good pick in the sense that he's starting to bring order to that. There is an awful lot that went in not just in the transition but way, way into this first year of the Trump White House that was truly chaotic.

And that is not a predictable or well-managed way to govern, whether it relates to this issue or any other. As it relates to Vice President Pence, I can't think of anywhere that the vice president has been willing to sort of shoot from the lip in the way the president does on Twitter a lot and so forth...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He's been awful quiet lately.

CUCCINELLI: Well, not just lately, but he has preserved, I think, his reputation for honesty and accuracy on his own part as much as a vice president can because he doesn't drive the train. And this would be...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But the folks around him wouldn't help him including Flynn.

[22:29:58] CUCCINELLI: No, I agree completely with you. In this situation to the point earlier made, the interesting period here is January 15th to February 13th. Because I would find it very surprising for the vice president as opposed to say the president if he went on national television and said something like that that he knew to be false. That would be very shocking to me.

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: OK. Laura, I'm interested in hearing what you have to say about this next thing. I don't want if you want to weigh in on the other thing, but this is what I've been wanting to ask about.

LAURA COATES, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Sure.

LEMON: The president's personal lawyer has been arguing that presidents are legally unable to obstruct justice. But the exact opposite view was once argued by another senior lawyer working with Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

I want you to take a listen. This was him talking about President Clinton. This is 1999. Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am concerned about a president under oath being alleged to have committed perjury. I hope that he can rebut that and prove that did not happen. If he can show he did not commit obstruction of justice and he can complete his term.

But there are serious allegations that that occurred. And in America, in Supreme Court and the American believe no one is above the law. And the president has gotten himself into this fix that is very serious. I intend to give him an absolutely fair trial.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: I mean, listen, there's a tweet and a sound bite for everything. And that one's back from the TV time machine from 1999.

COATES: Yes.

LEMON: So is Sessions right, presidents can obstruct justice?

COATES: Yes, the president can obstruct justice and he's not above the law. And any notion to the contrary is absolutely ludicrous and not legally persuasive at all. And here's why. People talk about article II and the President of the United States being able to have to enforce and faithfully execute the laws of the land.

Well, that actually presumes he has followed the laws of the land and that he himself cannot be above them. Imagine if you will, the instance where the president of the United States commits an offense or violation that particularly heinous, are we going to hid the president? Cannot by virtue of the fact that he is currently the president, could not broke the law?

The distinction, Don, is whether or not he can be actually indicted as a sitting president or whether it's referred to impeachment and eventually could actually be indicted. But not whether or not they could actually commit an offense.

And on the first issue about Mike Pence, I find it extremely shocking to believe that there is somebody like Mike Pence who is the most seasoned of all the political operatives who are surrounding the orbit of Donald Trump, that he is not engaging in kind of a perverse version of don't ask, and don't tell me anything so that I can maintain my credibility in front of a criminal probe or the court of public opinion at the expense of my own credibility as somehow who doesn't know anything.

But I can reasonably say I've got plausible deniability here. I have no idea what's going on, so you cannot hold me accountable in any law that requires my knowledge or my intent.

But that as legally absurd to me as the concept of the president of the United States being somehow immune from the obligations that everyone else is.

LEMON: Yes.

COATES: He certainly has some privileges, and it is good to be the king. But you can still obstruct even if you are.

LEMON: As you were saying that, and I was reading, then I was writing plausible deniability, right, on my little blue card here. I mean, Susan, what do you think, what does that say that the Trump administration is using this argument in the first place?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Yes, so I think that, you know, I completely agree with Laura regarding some sort of the questions of legality. You know, as a strategic matter, it is sort of interesting, right? We've seen this shift before. Going from sort of, you know, asserting

that factually there was no collusion, there was no coordination. And then moving into, well, collusion. Collusion isn't a crime.

Now we're seeing, you know, sort of, once again this sort of subtle step from, you know, the president did not obstruct justice as a factual matter and then moving into, well, the president can't obstruct justice as a legal matter.

So once again, I think they're a little bit moving the goal posts here. You know, this administration tends to shed a light on the areas that they're most insecure about, they're most concerned about. So I do think that is a significant alteration in the president's strategy and one that now his own White House lawyers are really trying to wash back.

LEMON: That last one is called projection. So, let's -- Ken, let's talk about obstruction of justice being the president can obstruct justice. But you said being convicted -- I saw you nodding your head. Being convicted is an entirely different thing.

CUCCINELLI: Well, I think Laura made an important distinction that really is up in the air, is whether or not a president can be indicted while they are the president under federal charges versus impeachment, which is always available as a constitutional matter and I think is the expected course.

I also think that in some of the discussion this could get sliced more finely. So let me use some real world examples. The firing of Jim Comey...

(CROSSTALK)

[22:35:00] LEMON: Yes, do that.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, the firing of Jim Comey an executive act, not specifically case related per se is going to be a lot harder to make any sort of case for obstruction of justice with President Trump than the kind of example that you showed Jeff Sessions using, where you have a specific case where the president is participant in the violation of the law.

LEMON: Lied under oath.

CUCCINELLI: Yes. And I just picked that one because you played a clip on it. I'm sure I could come up with a thousand other examples.

But when you leave -- when you leave the management role of the president, the chief executive of the federal government, where I think it's much harder to make a legitimate case under the Constitution for obstruction of justice...

LEMON: Yes.

CUCCINELLI ... down to a participating person in what we be alleged to be a criminal act, those are two different analysis. LEMON: All right.

CUCCINELLI: And I have not heard that distinction made in a lot of the discussion in the last time.

LEMON: There are other people standing by in other studios and they need to get on and have their say, so thank you all. I appreciate it.

COATES: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come back, the White House calling the allegations of sexual impropriety against Roy Moore troubling, but apparently not too troubling as the president throws his endorsement behind him. Other republicans changing their tune, falling in line as well. Is the GOP putting party over principle?

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Alabama's republican Senate candidate Roy Moore rallying supporters at a campaign event tonight with the full backing of President Trump and the Republican National Committee, as a matter of fact.

Joining me now, CNN political commentators, Ana Navarro, Symone Sanders, and Ed Martin. Good evening, everyone.

ED MARTIN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Good evening.

LEMON: Symone, when the Washington Post initially reported on the accusations against Roy Moore the RNC quickly, they quickly withdrew their support. Now they're back in his corner all of a sudden. What changed in the week since the initial -- they initially denounced him? What happened?

SYMONE SANDERS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Donald Trump told them what to do. Look, I don't think the RNC currently have a spine, a backbone, let alone a moral compass. And that is problematic for, you know, republicans all across the country who believe in good conservative values.

So this is just actually very concerning, and I'm just disappointed but not surprised. Because this is the same Republican Party that embraced and help elect Donald Trump.

LEMON: Ed, Moore is...

MARTIN: Yes.

LEMON: ... he's accused of some really terrible things. What message is the GOP sending by supporting him?

MARTIN: Well, you know, I was a member of the RNC for a couple years from 2013 to '15. And I want to tell Symone I agree with her. I really think that the RNC not only showed poor judgment but it showed me consistency. For those like people like me, Don, I've been on your show for five or

six weeks, my argument has been consistent and it's simply this. The accusers deserve to be heard, they should be respected but so should Roy Moore. And I recognize, most people do, that when you come down a stretch run of a campaign, you employ Gloria Allred and others, you at least have to say it looks like a political argument.

And here's what Americas is all about, Don. You know this is true.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: OK. Ed, hold on.

MARTIN: Wait, wait, wait.

LEMON: No, no, no, because you still didn't answer my question.

MARTIN: Yes.

LEMON: Listen, when you guys come on, I don't care if you're a republican or democrat, I just want to answer the damn question.

MARTIN: OK.

LEMON: Just, because that's my question. I'm asking for the American people and they just don't want you to spin all the time. People are sick of that. So when I ask -- my question was, what message is the GOP sending to by supporting someone who's accused of such horrible things? It's very simple question.

MARTIN: The simple answer is this, Don, America is a place where we don't run people off based on accusations and outcry and the media. We allow a process that lets the truth come out. So the accusers should be recognized but so should Roy Moore and his long career in life. That's the message. The American people live in a country...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You just blame it to the media. It's not an accusation or an outcry...

MARTIN: .. where we don't demonize.

LEMON: ... of the media.

SANDERS: I thought you agreed with me, Ed. What happened?

LEMON: The accusation and the outcry -- hold on. The accusation and the outcry is not from the media. The media is reporting.

MARTIN: No, no.

LEMON: That is talking point for you.

MARTIN: No, no, no. I said...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: What kind of message -- I'm going to say it again. What kind of message is the GOP sending by endorsing someone who is accused of such terrible behavior? Did you understand that?

MARTIN: The message -- yes. The message they're sending is that America is great because we don't run people out of town on accusations. We allow people to be a part of a process, and we're going to see how that plays out.

LEMON: OK.

SANDERS: The message is that pedophiles...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let Ana get in.

ANA NAVARRO, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: How about you let me in.

LEMON: Go ahead, Ana.

NAVARRO: Let me answer both of your questions. So you first asked Symone what it changed in the last three weeks. The answer is practically nothing. Three weeks ago republicans were voicing great -- you know, were very vocal in denouncing Roy Moore and distancing themselves from Roy Moore.

The only thing that has changed in the last three weeks is that more women have come out. In fact, another one came out today in Florida who had a card when she was a teenager that he signed to her. More and more women have come out in the last three weeks.

Another thing that has changed is that the accusations are now three weeks old as opposed to being 24 hours old. And so since it's cooled down an older story now, I guess they feel that it's a little less toxic.

Now as far as the message that the Republican Party is sending the message they're sending is that they are a bunch of hypocrites who say one thing three weeks ago and when nothing changes, changes their tune...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I said the same thing...

NAVARRO: The message they're sending is that they are a bunch of -- they're not Grand old party. They're not the party of Lincoln. They're the party of Roy Moore and their grand old is what they are. Grand old perverts who are willing to compromise morals and convection and decency for a vote.

[22:45:00] That's the message they're sending. And you're saying, no, the process and we can't run people out of town. Well, we sure as hell ran Harvey Weinstein out of town. (CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Yes, he admitted it.

NAVARRO: And we sure as hell ran Al Franken out of town.

MARTIN: He admitted it. He admitted it.

SANDERS: Wait, wait.

LEMON: Hold on, guys. Hold on, hold on, hold on. I want to get in this conversation. I've got to get to the break. We'll be right back. Don't go anywhere.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Child molestation...

LEMON: Don't go anywhere. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking news tonight, is that Steve Bannon President Trump's former top aide is headlining a rally in Alabama for Roy Moore praising the candidate and the president but denouncing establishing GOP leaders.

Back with me, Ana Navarro, Symone Sanders, and Ed Martin. So, Ana, you first. His former advisor, Steve Bannon took to the stage tonight we've been watching it all night to campaign for Roy Moore lashing out at former presidential candidate Mitt Romney after Romney tweeted out that electing Moore to the Senate will result in the loss of honor and integrity. This is how Bannon responded. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: You ran for commander-in-chief. You had five sons not one day of service in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have 7,000 dead and 52,000 casualties and where were the Romney's during those war?

(APPLAUSE)

[22:50:01] You want to talk about honor and integrity, brother, bring it, bring it down here to Alabama. You have the guts to get on the stage, you have the guts to go on a stage of a man who serve in Vietnam and you expect us to believe honor and integrity.

Judge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinky finger than your entire family has in his whole DNA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So listen to this. The next thing this is a bizarre answer from Donald Trump but I want you to stay with me. This is when Donald Trump because there was a method here. Donald Trump was asked by Howard Stern how he avoids contacting sexually transmitted diseases. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a dangerous world out there.

(CROSSTALK)

HOWARD STERN, RADIO ANCHOR: It is.

TRUMP: It scares like Vietnam. It's sort of like, you know, the Vietnam War.

STERN: It is your own personal Vietnam, isn't it?

TRUMP: This is my personal Vietnam.

STERN: You've said that many times.

TRUMP: I feel like a very brave soldier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, I mean, I think it takes gall for him to bring up military service.

NAVARRO: It takes more than gall. It takes absolutely no shame. It takes no wherewithal. Listen, he helped to elect the guy who called John McCain a loser, who called POWs a loser, who said he didn't like -- he didn't like people who got captured.

He helped to elect the guy whose two sons have never served. He is asking about Romney's sons, well, what about the Trump name? He helped to elect a guy who said Trump hid behind his religion. He helped to elect a who hid bone spurs while he was playing tennis and golf the entire time, who didn't serve one day, has not done a thing as far as service to this country.

And Steve Bannon has the gall to stand on the stage and question Mitt Romney after Donald Trump offended John McCain, offended POWs and had a bone spur. Poor baby.

LEMON: He is.

NAVARRO: Now he does explains like he keeps tweeting his foot in his mouth.

MARTIN: Hey, Don?

LEMON: Yes.

MARTIN: Hey, Don, I don't if it's OK. I don't know if Ana is done with her show, but let me just say, Ana, is Romney, McCain, you know, huntsmen fan. What Bannon is talking about is Moore, Roy Moore for Senate versus a very liberal democrat and Romney thinks it's his role to jump in and lecture everyone just like Flake. It's a battle, Don, in the Republican Party, it's my team the people

that believe in Americans and America first against Ana's elite world view. And that world view she's losing and she's mad about it.

SANDERS: If I may...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: So let me finish. Let me finish.

LEMON: Hold on. Hold on. I will, Symone. I will.

SANDERS: If I may...

LEMON: Symone, Symone, hold on. What is more elite...

NAVARRO: You know, he's part of Hollywood elite and you're calling me elitist.

LEMON: Hold on, everyone.

MARTIN: Can I finish?

LEMON: Yes. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on, please, please, please.

MARTIN: OK.

LEMON: What is more elite than three deferments for bone spurs, playing golf. What you're saying doesn't make sense. What's more elitist than that?

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: No, well, can I answer? Can I answer?

LEMON: Of course, you can. I just finish my question.

MARTIN: So what's elite -- OK. The party that Ana wanted, wanted to have globalist policies to continue and that's the elite view of the Republican Party. Bannon is down there helping Roy Moore who went against that wing of the party.

LEMON: OK.

MARTIN: And he won the primary, Don.

LEMON: All right.

MARTIN: So now it's the fight when Romney weighs in with a tweet...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I need Symone to get in.

MARTIN: ... Romney could campaign, he could do things he write with the tweet. Bannon said, hey, don't mess with Roy Moore. (CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: So, Don, here's what we have.

LEMON: Go ahead, Symone.

NAVARRO: Understand something. This battle is not about -- this battle is not about Roy Moore and Doug Jones. It is about Steve Bannon who wants to be the Lex Luthor, the villain of the Republican Party making it in his image...

MARTIN: No.

NAVARRO: ... this is about beating the establishment, it's not about beating Doug Jones.

LEMON: OK.

NAVARRO: This is about Steve Bannon being able to claim...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Symone.

SANDERS: And I would actually agree with Ana.

LEMON: Please, Symone.

SANDERS: I would actually agree with Ana on that point.

LEMON: I got to get to the break. I promise you right after the break you will get to respond. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to give you short trips for saying that.

SANDERS: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

[22:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right and we're back. Symone, it's your turn, let's talk Billy Bush quickly and then you can add whatever you can get in the next two minutes. He spoke about the infamous Access Hollywood tape last night on Stephen Colbert. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILLY BUSH, FORMER HOST, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: Last week for some reason came out with that's not my voice on the tape. Like I said, you can't say that. That is your voice. I was there. You were there. That's your voice on the tape.

I would also like to say that's not me on the bus. You don't get to say that because I was there and the last 14 months of my life I've been dealing with it. You dealt with it for 14 minutes and went on to be the president. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So that guy lost his job over that tape. The other became president, what are your thoughts?

SANDERS: My thoughts are that Donald Trump should have to answer for his transgressions. We have 13 women who have credibly accused the president of the United States of anything from sexual assault to actual rape and we -- he hasn't answered for that.

The point I would like to make is this. Currently we have members of the modern day Republican Party going all in for a child predator. The goal post has been moved. Ta-Nehisi Coates talked about this and he's no (Inaudible). Ta-Nehisi Coates talked about this in his latest book "We Were Eight Years in Power" in American tragedy and then interviews about this.

And he noted that the biggest danger of Donald Trump's presidency is that the line has now been moved. And so, things that folks once deemed unacceptable, lines we shall not cross, like being a pedophile, but possibly, grabbing women by the vaginas.

MARTIN: Possibly.

SANDERS: These are now things that are seeing so not only just main stream but acceptable. That the Republican National Committee, that the current republican president of the United States of America will go through no lengths, will go -- will not expend any bounds to get this man an accused child predator elected solely because they want to push through a tax bill that's dangerous to a large part of the American people.

LEMON: Yes.

SANDERS: That's a freaking travesty.

LEMON: OK. Thank you all. I'll see you next it. I appreciate it.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

It is -- coming up on 11 o'clock here on the East Coast. We're live with new developments to tell you about.

[23:00:01] Steve Bannon campaigning in Alabama tonight for Roy Moore and this time he's got the president on his side. But Bannon he's not just rallying the troops for Moore, an accused child molester.