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CNN TONIGHT

Trump Junior Refused to Answer House Intel Committee; Trump's Israel Decision May Cause Chaos. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 6, 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] PAUL VERCAMMEN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: ... we can.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: We wish them best. Paul Vercammen, thank you. Be careful. Our best to all the people there facing the flames and fighting the fires.

Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts now.

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

And we have major breaking news tonight on the Russia investigation and this is big. The president's own son and namesake, Donald Trump, Jr. refusing today in a marathon all day session to tell the House intel committee what he and his father discussed after news broke about his June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who Trump Junior believed had dirt on Hillary Clinton's campaign.

The president's son invoking attorney-client privilege, leading to questions like, exactly why he would do that.

Let's remember, Trump Junior first claimed that meeting was about Russian adoptions. A story that didn't last long, he admitted he had been promised dirt on Hillary Clinton's campaign and had learned the Russian government, wanted his father to win the presidency.

Paul Manafort who was then the Trump campaign chairman also attended that meeting along with the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner. Donald Trump, Jr. says he spoke with White House aide Hope Hicks when news of the meeting first broke.

And tonight, a lot of people in the White House, are probably looking over their shoulders and wondering who said what to whom. One person who is definitely paying close attention to all this is special counsel Robert Mueller.

And after spending all day testifying and refusing to tell the whole story to investigators, Donald Trump, Jr. takes to Twitter tonight. Like father like son slamming democrats and Al Franken, saying "Nothing like trying to claim the moral high ground weeks after you should have and when it's clear that it's over. No one is buying. You could call that an incredible lack of self-awareness." Blasting democrats for being late, holding Al Franken whose days in the Senate, by the way, may well be numbered after the majority of democrats call on him to resign to account for groping allegations.

Completely glossing over the fact that his own father has never been held to account for the accusations against him.

So, let's start now. I want to begin with Manu Raju, he's our senior congressional reporter, and Matthew Rosenberg as well, as CNN's national security analyst and a correspondent for the New York Times.

Gentlemen, good evening. To you, Manu, I'm going to start with you, Donald Trump, Jr. refusing to answer questions about communications his father -- with his father in a marathon session before the House Intel committee today, what do you know about that?

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, he answered a lot of questions, Don. But the one thing he would not answer was, what exactly he discussed with his father after the news broke in the New York Times early this year, about this meeting that occurred in June of 2016 at Trump Tower where Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort is there, and that we have now learned he was promised dirt from the Russians, on the Clinton campaign.

And then was told in an e-mail communication that the Russian government wanted to help his father win the election.

Now after Donald Trump, Jr. published those e-mails on his Twitter account he did in fact meet with his father. We're now learning after that occurred, after he put those on Twitter. Now, he said that he would not respond to questions about that meeting with his father, because he said attorney-client privilege, since there were attorneys in the room, that's what he told the lawmakers today, as part of the session.

Now, democrats were not happy about this, Adam Schiff came on afterwards, the top democrat in that committee, saying that you can't -- you can't really invoke attorney-client privilege like this, and he's pushing them to respond to the questions.

But, Don, republicans on the other end, they seemed satisfied. Mike Conaway the top republican who is investigating this Russian issue on the House side, said, look, he answered all of our questions. They didn't see a need to call Donald Trump, Jr. back.

LEMON: All right. Let's break this down a little bit more, Manu. Because Don Junior did say that he spoke to Hope Hicks when confronted with the news reports of the Trump Tower meeting with Russians, right?

RAJU: Yes, that's right. Sources are telling us that in fact, that's what he did testify today, that he changed text messages with Hope Hicks, once he was confronted that this news was about to break about this Trump tower meeting, and, of course, that initial response was not entirely accurate.

They gave a small picture of what exactly happened in this meeting, they did not say initially, Donald Trump, Jr. did not say initially that he was promised dirt on the Clinton campaign, talked instead it was mostly about Russian adoptions.

But we do know that there was some White House involvement, according to Donald Trump, Jr.'s testimony today. And we know separately that there was an effort on Air Force One to craft a response that President Trump himself was involved with.

Now Donald Trump, Jr. did not say that he talked directly with his father about the response, but by acknowledging that the White House communications director was involved, that it raises some questions about whether or not the White House is trying to mislead the public in anyway about exactly what this Trump tower meeting was about, and whether they were trying to mislead investigators as well, Don.

[22:05:09] LEMON: Matthew Rosenberg, you're also speaking to your sources about Don Jr.'s testimony, what are you learning?

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: You know, there's the issue of whether this conversation was somehow subject to attorney-client privilege. We also heard that, you know, the subject of his e-mails or Twitter messages with the WikiLeaks came up, he compared WikiLeaks to another media organization, said it was just like Jake Tapper at CNN or my colleague Maggie Haberman.

And, you know, there are also questions about phone calls he made around the meeting in June 2016 with the Russian lawyer. Some of those calls on whom they were with still remain unclear, mostly though, what we heard is that Mr. Trump had a lot of 'I do not recall answers, I do not recall this, I do not recall that. And it is certainly frustrating to the democrats on the committee. Republicans feel otherwise.

But going into this, there are obviously a lot of questions, and I don't get the impression that many of them were cleared up.

LEMON: So why are they so concerned about it? They feel that he is just not being straightforward with him? You said republicans are OK with it, but democrats are not?

ROSENBERG: Look, this committee is incredibly divided. Far more divided than its counterpart on the Senate intelligence committee on how to proceed in this investigation. You know, that meeting, what went on in June 2016 at Trump Tower, there's still questions about who knew what when, whether Donald Trump himself knew anything about it, and I don't think those have been satisfactorily answered as far as the democrats are concerned or for other investigations. I think the public still has a lot of questions here too.

LEMON: OK. Matthew and Manu, thank you very much. I appreciate that. I want to turn now to a member of the House intelligence committee, Congressman Denny Heck. Congressman, thank you for joining us.

So many questions this evening. Your colleague and ranking member Adam Schiff wasn't thrilled that Donald Trump, Jr. refused to discuss his conversations with President Trump about the Trump Tower meeting, citing attorney-client privilege. You heard that in the reporting, and you know, you were -- and members were there. What can you tell us about that?

DENNY HECK, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I can tell you this, Don. Then-candidate Donald Trump was not Donald Trump, Jr.'s attorney. Donald Trump, Jr. was not then Donald Trump Senior of the candidate's attorney. There is no attorney-client privilege at work here whatsoever.

But I want to make another observation about this. Frankly, Don, in light of the tweet that Donald Junior sent out tonight. I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding and an egregious air being made by the Trump administration. They are misapplying their chaos theory, which frankly has worked pretty well for them in the political realm, to the legal realm.

The truth of the matter is, during the campaign and even in the last 11 months, the daily tweet storm of provocative, sometimes outrageous things has had a way of serving them well by deceiving, deflecting, distracting from whatever else was in the news that they were under the gun for.

But the truth of the matter is, Bob Mueller doesn't care at all about Donald Trump, Jr.'s tweets or Donald Trump, Sr.'s tweets except in so far as they might be used as evidence in a legal proceeding going forward. There's the political environment, there's a legal environment and they're confusing the two.

LEMON: I would imagine, I don't want to put words in your mouth, did you think that Donald Trump, Jr. was trying to hide something by citing attorney-client privilege? And if yu believe that what do you think he's trying to hide?

HECK: So the fact of the matter is, over now several dozen witnesses, if truly I had a nickel for every time somebody had said, I do not recall, I do not believe so, to the best of my recollection, I literally could add all that together and retire on the interest paid on the principle sum.

LEMON: Yes. Well, Congresswomen Jackie Speier who has been on the show a number of times, she says that Donald Trump, Jr. has a, and this is a quote, "a serious case of amnesia."

HECK: Well, and that would distinguish him from a lot of the other witnesses how, Don.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, I wasn't there I don't know. But listen, do you know how many...

(CROSSTALK)

HECK: Don, you may not have been there but by your report tonight you almost were there.

LEMON: Yes. Yes. Do you know how many times he said, Donald Trump, Jr. I do not recall in this meeting? Was it...

(CROSSTALK) HECK: I don't.

LEMON: Yes.

HECK: Interestingly enough, Don, a couple witnesses ago, I started making hash tags on my yellow pad, just to kind of keep track, and in the first 40 minutes I hit 23 and I gave up.

LEMON: Yes. What can you tell us about his demeanor, he was with you guys for eight hours, was he calm, was he combative?

HECK: No, mostly calm. Again, I'm not incredibly comfortable characterizing in too particular elements what the transaction was there, but I will say this.

A couple of the gaps have been highlighted here in this report understandably so. But we also learned some things, which I'm not at liberty to reveal, that I think helped move this forward.

[22:10:02] And the truth of the matter is, I think we get a little bit of that with each and every witness. Notwithstanding the number of times they say, I don't recollect, I don't remember or I don't believe so.

We get a little something out of every one of them, and it's our job to kind of string them together, identify where the inconsistencies are, and take the seeds of truth and fact and piece it all together in our work product going-forward.

LEMON: Let's talk about your colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Republicans, how did they respond to Don Junior invoking attorney-client privilege?

HECK: So I think what's a mistake is to characterize what's happening in the select intelligence committee is a purely partisan undertaking, there's no question, and everybody can see it for what it is, that there are varying degrees of enthusiasm from the majority party. Especially compared to those of us who believe that this is an existential threat to the health of our democracy, i.e., Russian interference on our election, and we are duty bound to get to the bottom of it and to the truth of it.

But the truth is, you can't paint all republicans with the same brush. There are some who deeply believe that what the Russians did was wrong, and they want to get at the truth, and there are some who believe that we have to come up with recommendations about how we can protect ourselves against this going into the future.

The truth is, the next general election in this country, the mid- terms, they're like 11 months away, so we need to get on with our work.

LEMON: Yes. Congressman Denny Heck, thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

HECK: You're welcome. LEMON: When we come back, the president's son claimed attorney-client

privilege when he refused to say what he and his father discussed about his Trump Tower meeting. Why would he need to do that? I'm going to ask two attorneys. That's next.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We have breaking news tonight on the Russia investigation. Donald Trump, Jr. won't tell lawmakers what he and the president discussed about his Trump Tower meeting with Russians.

Let's discuss now two CNN legal analysts are here. Richard Ben- Veniste, the former Watergate special prosecutor, and Laura Coates, former federal prosecutor.

Good evening to both of you, so glad to have you on. You first, Laura. I want to first get your reaction to Don Junior refusing to tell the House investigators what he discussed with his father, after reports surfaced about that Trump Tower meeting, invoking attorney-client privilege at these hearings. Does that apply in this instance?

LAURA COATES, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: It doesn't seem to be at all. I mean, kind of an absurd principle. I would essentially say that because a lawyer is in the room with you, that the attorney-client privilege attaches, and here in Washington, D.C., you throw a rock, you're going to hit about 42 attorneys.

In fact, our conversation right now, Don, would be attorney-client privilege if that was the only requirement you had to have. The entire premise of it is you have to have a conversation intended to be confidential. You have to have the circurmstance that have confidential indications of it.

And if he's talking to his father and there happened to attorneys in the room and there's no advice being given there is no indication it's supposed to be confidential, or that advice is being solicited. How could it possibly attach.

LEMON: OK. So, Richard, if you agree with that, then, by citing attorney-client privilege. The question then becomes, what might he be hiding?

RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, it's clear that this was not a spur of the moment invocation. Obviously, Donald Junior must have anticipated with his attorneys that he would be asked this question, and as Laura points out, attorney-client privilege only applies when an individual is seeking advice from an attorney and is providing information in order for the attorney to provide legal advice.

Here we don't know who these lawyers were, but I bet you they were not Donald Trump's attorneys and probably not personal attorneys for his father. Moreover, a conversation with Hope Hicks who may be an attorney wouldn't be privileged because she wasn't acting in an attorney capacity. So, this is bogus and just one more distraction he'll have to come back, I'm sure and clarify whether he is invoking a Fifth Amendment privilege which is his privilege to do...

LEMON: Interesting.

BEN-VENISTE: ... or some other valid privilege.

LEMON: Got you, so he's going to have to answer for that, you think?

BEN-VENISTE: He does.

LEMON: Well, Richard, is he in any legal jeopardy?

BEN-VENISTE: Well, he's in legal jeopardy if he has participated in an unlawful conspiracy, to aid and assist the hacking of information from the...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But not legal jeopardy from his -- from his testimony today or from when invoking the attorney-client privilege of saying he doesn't recall?

BEN-VENISTE: No.

LEMON: No?

BEN-VENISTE: No, unless his testimony which was -- as I understand it, that given under oath, if he stated that he could not recall things that he obviously should have recalled. That's not an absolute guarantee that you won't be prosecuted for perjury.

In fact, I've been involved in the prosecution of individuals including in Watergate, who said they couldn't recall and it was proved that they were lying.

LEMON: Wow. Laura, Don Junior also testified that he spoke to Hope Hicks. Not directly with his father when he was confronted with these new reports of that June 2016 meeting. Does it matter who he spoke to? Hope Hicks was with the president on Air Force One.

COATES: I think what he's trying to do is distance himself and perhaps prove some loyalty to his father. And I think that's certainly a worthwhile endeavor. However, it's not going to satisfy Robert Mueller in the criminal probe because it does not exonerate Donald Trump, if he in fact was a participant in a discussion that was going to mislead either the public which is OK to do, but ultimately to mislead any investigators in this particular claim.

And so, his participation even if it was somebody who had more of a tertiary or outside role, if there was still a role, he has not exonerated his father. Although I'm sure he has satisfied the loyalty test that his father often has invoked. LEMON: Laura, I want to talk to you about the other news about

General Flynn and text messages that he may have sent to a former business colleague about a plan to join Russia on an energy project, alleging texting it was good to go and sanctions would be ripped up. His lawyers, Flynn's lawyers they're denying it, is this going to be about following the money, do you think, all of this?

[22:20:05] COATES: Absolutely. I mean, you almost have the impression on all the president's men hearing deep (Inaudible) where to follow the money. And when you do so you will find that Michael Flynn first of all, Mueller is already aware of all his money endeavors which is probably one of the reasons he had enough leverage to convinced him to take a guilty plea on at least one count.

But on following the money what you really find here is a duplicitous person who both had a partisan based interest and removing the sanctions that were imposed while he was a civilian. Although you know, may have violated the Logan Act which will be prosecuted.

But you also have somebody who was trying to have an actual financial benefit from an actual policy. So in both accounts, you have corroboration to probably Robert Mueller already knows, that somebody with a duplicitous intent was able to be manipulated and had a reason to be subject to manipulation by perhaps someone trying to collude with, you know, with them for interference in the election.

LEMON: Go ahead, Richard. I see you want to respond to that.

BEN-VENISTE: Well, in fact, this is outrageous if it is true, that the national security adviser would immediately upon the swearing-in of the new president be texting a former business partner giving him inside information about allowing Russian participation in a nuclear deal in the Middle East.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So if it is true, is that -- if something is fishy here, could 2there be more charges?

BEN-VENISTE: Only if they are new and haven't been disclosed by Flynn, otherwise they would be covered by his plea agreement. And by the way, just to clarify, the follow the money conversation never occurred. That was a made up...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It was good in the movie though.

COATES: It was great in the movie. I had to account for all the president's men.

BEN-VENISTE: You want to believe me or you want to believe the movie?

LEMON: The movie.

COATES: I believe you. But you know, it's important... (CROSSTALK)

BEN-VENISTE: Thank you, Laura. And no, thank you, Don.

COATES: It's important to mention here, of course that one of the reasons that the attorneys for at least I think his business partners are saying this has never taken place, aside from whether it was a movie or it was actually a figment of my imagination.

The reason they're saying this is because Michael Flynn right now, upon having taken a guilty plea is the quintessential persona non grata. Nobody wants to touch him with a 10-foot pole. Because, a, they don't know what he's already disclosed to Robert Mueller before taking a guilty plea.

And they do not want to be associated with somebody who may be in the complete line of fire of Robert Mueller, and perhaps the congressional probe. And so it's very likely they're saying that this never took place. They have no information on it.

But again, it's true. If he did have this conversation and the main question has to be how did he maintain his security clearance if he disclose information about having a financial interest. He would ultimately have to deal with the national security advisor. At somewhere along the line on this money trail somebody has not disclosed and there is a violation of law.

LEMON: Well, whether or not there is...

(CROSSTALK)

BEN-VENISTE: Look, Laura, if he sent a text, Bob Mueller will find it.

LEMON: All right. I got to go. But whether it was in the movie or real or not, he will find it. No seriously. It has paid off for a lot of investigations. So, thank you, both. I appreciate it.

And of course, Richard, I believe you as well.

(CROSSTALK)

COATES: I do.

BEN-VENISTE: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: We come back, the president setting off a firestorm by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Now there are warnings of turmoil in the region are peace talks are derailed. Fareed Zakaria will join me next with his expert analysis of the situation.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The president's stunning decision today to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel setting off a firestorm around the world. Senior White House officials forced to acknowledge that that decision has derailed the peace process. A deal that was supposed to be job one for the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Here to discuss now, Fareed Zakaria, host of Fareed Zakaria GPS right here on this network. Thank you, sir, for joining us. Do you think that this was an un-strategic decision or move?

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN: Well, you know, here we have the guy that keeps telling us he's the world's best negotiator. And he has just made a preemptive concession without getting anything in return from one side in what is the most complicated negotiation in the world.

So, I don't know anybody who understands why you would do this preemptively without getting anything in return, I completely understand the merits off recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It is de facto, it will continue to be. But in the complicated, you know, minutiae of this Middle East diplomacy this was always left for the end.

And the whole idea was, you give this to the Israelis and they give something in return. If you're trying to play that game, if you're trying to get a deal, why would you do only one side? So if he's completely un-strategic, it's not tailored to any process. It's not announced with any, you know, reciprocal concessions by the Israelis or any to deal with the Palestinians.

It feels as though it's sort of a gratuitous symbolic slap in the face of millions of Palestinians, tens of millions of Arabs without actually doing anything.

LEMON: A campaign promise, right, it was a campaign promise.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAKARIA: So was building the wall and getting Mexico to pay for it. So was labeling China currency manipulator, I don't know...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But this seems purely political in the sense that it was just a campaign promise as you said, and I think the one thing that people are mentioning is, bringing a halt at least or the promise of not expansion -- expanding settlements.

ZAKARIA: It's not -- we don't -- we have no concession from the Israelis on this, you know, that we know of that will stick. Look, the whole -- this whole issue has always been a phony issue created for American policy.

[22:29:56] Do you know where it comes from? Congress in 1995 sponsored a bill saying, you know, Israel -- the United States is going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Why did they do that? Because Bob Dole, the republican nominee for president or a guy who wanted to be wanted to show that he was pro-Israeli and he didn't have much of a voting record that suggested that, so he latches on to this issue, turns it into a bill.

It passes and it has this waiver and everyone understood the president would keep exercising this waiver, so it was kind of meaningless. So it started as an act of political pandering, it's ended as an act of political pandering.

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: Yes, and here we are. Let's listen to the president today. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis, and a great deal for the Palestinians. So today we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: White House senior officials, Fareed, say that this decision will bolster extremist, calls for holy wars and delegitimize the United States as an arbiter in the peace process. Do you agree with that?

ZAKARIA: I think it makes it hard for the U.S. to claim to be an honest broker, for to claim that, you know, it's trying to look after the interest of both sides. And you know, when you're trying to do these negotiations, you will always need that reputation because you're trying to get each side to make concessions.

Whether it will cause violence I doubt it. The Palestinians are so weak, so divided, so dysfunctional. Israel is so strong. I don't really think it changes anything. It increases the despair of Palestinians, it increases the reality that they are in this kind of lose-lose situation.

Could that at some point explode? Yes, but you know, Israel has a really tight grip on the situation. They have built a wall which has insulated them from terrorism, Israel's army is now in a league of its own compared to any potential competitors. It's a regional superpower. No, it just adds to the dysfunction and despair.

And for those Israelis who don't want to live with six million people, you know, potentially who live on territory Israeli controls but who have no political rights or in another country. It adds to the moral embarrassment of a country like Israel which is a real democracy, having this, you know, kind of weird population that's in a quasi- colonial situation of dependency on it.

LEMON: Let's talk about what it means to your home especially to Evangelical Christians here. Vice President Pence stood prominently behind the president today, in 2002, here's what he said of this Israel to congressional quarterly.

He said, "My support for Israel stems largely from my personal faith in the bible. God promises Abraham, those who bless you I will bless, and those who curse you, I will curse."

The vice president is a key go between with Evangelical groups in the administration, so this deliberation about Jerusalem, why is it so important to you Evangelical Christians?

ZAKARIA: Evangelicals like Pence do believe -- I mean, they have a liberalist interpretation of the bible. They see, you know, Israel as part of the narrative particularly of the Old Testament, you know, it is possible that President Trump was thinking about the Roy Moore election, and the role that Evangelicals could play there, it is possible that he was thinking about Sheldon Adelson and some of the other very prominent backers he had.

Steve Bannon has often pointed out that Sheldon Adelson was one of the few people who stayed with Trump the day after the Access Hollywood tapes came out. So there is some kind of, you know, kind of deep loyalty there. But you know it's a very odd thing to have done.

The United States has managed to be this extraordinary arbiter of peace in the Middle East that has tried to be an force for stability for peace for reconciliation, and what we are now moving into is the United States that is kind of nakedly partisan.

So, most of American policy in the Middle East is now nakedly anti- Iranian, which is basically like we've just signed on to the Saudi agenda, whether it's in Yemen, whether it's in Qatar. In Yemen, we are supporting Saudi Arabia in a war that is basically about to turn into the worst famine in the world.

Yemen has been destroyed as a country. It may be the world's worst humanitarian crisis. With the Israeli/Palestinian situation we're exacerbating the divisions and the divide rather than trying to heal it.

So the whole idea of the United States as this broader power that had, you know, had a more peripheral vision was worried about peace and stability, is going away, and we're turning into one more of the very partisan sectarian actors picking sides.

LEMON: Well, that's what President Abbas said today that we lost the role of arbiter when it comes to Middle East peace process.

ZAKARIA: Well, you have the king of Saudi Arabia, the pope and the European Union all criticizing you, you kind of -- you've probably done something at least questionable.

LEMON: Always a pleasure. Thank you, Fared Zakaria.

Don't miss Fareed Zakaria GPS Sunday 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern, of course right here on CNN.

[22:35:02] And when we come back, over 30 democratic senators now calling on Al Franken to resign, the senator saying he'll make an announcement tomorrow. Will he resign, should he resign and could that force the GOP to reexamine accusations plaguing members of their own party.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Minnesota Senator Al Franken set to make an announcement tomorrow, it is unclear if he plans to resign over allegations of sexual harassment, but tonight 32 of his democratic colleagues in the Senate calling on him to step down.

Let's discuss now with CNN political analysts Kirsten Powers and Molly Ball, republican strategist John Brabender. Good evening, fascinating place where we are in politics today.

Molly, the ranks of democratic senators calling for Al Franken's resignation growing and growing. What do you think today was a tipping point?

[22:40:01] MOLLY BALL, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, I mean, you can tell that there have been a lot of conversations behind the scenes and this was a coordinated effort. You had the democratic women stepping out first to be the ones to say, we find this unacceptable, and then the Minority Leader Chuck Schumer having conversations with Senator Franken throughout the day.

And when he did not succeed in that behind the scenes lobbying effort also making a public statement near the end of the day. So I think the combination of the weight of the multiple accusations now that there have been, I believe seven or eight against Senator Franken. And just the length of time that this has gone on, it reached a critical mass. And so you had pretty much -- most of the caucus now having called on him to resign.

LEMON: Do you think democrats, Kirsten, realize that they would have limited -- they would be limited in their response to Roy Moore if they didn't do something about this, and that they were losing the moral high ground.

KIRSTEN POWERS, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: No, I don't think that that's what led to this. I think you know, base from the conversations I've had with people who are -- have some knowledge about how this came to be. The democratic women senators, in particular have been very troubled by the accusations against Franken and we're giving him some space to kind of do the right thing.

I think when you had the seventh accuser come out, that was when they said, OK, this is just too much...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Enough is enough.

POWERS: ... we can't give you any more time. They were -- they, as Kirsten Gillibrand said, she believe the women. And so they wanted him to do the right thing, and he wasn't doing the right thing. So they called on him to resign.

LEMON: And how many times can you say the same response keep repeating I'm sorry.

POWERS: Right.

LEMON: You know, I didn't mean to do it. POWERS: Exactly.

LEMON: Or what have you. John, where do you think republicans should be on this, I mean, can they credibly call for Franken's resignation without acknowledging issues with Roy Moore as well?

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think I would look at this a little bit differently. I think there are certain issues in this country that there should be unanimous opinions. And whether you're republican or democrat, we should all be standing up as one, and criticizing this type of behavior, whether it's on either side of the aisle.

I would put this on things like racism or religious freedoms, there are some things that transcend politics. And certainly harassment, public affairs denial, a lot of the things we're seeing in the news today, we should be standing up as one.

I think there was a lot of condemnation of Moore, just like with Franken, it hasn't been universal. But I think a lot of republicans did step up and criticize Moore and I'm glad to see the same thing is happening with Franken, quite honestly.

LEMON: I think that there's -- I mean, it's pretty universal now with Franken even though...

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: It's very universal with Franken. And I would yes, it's true, a lot of the republican establishment did criticize Moore. What's a little different though is...

LEMON: They've come back around.

POWERS: They've come back around, and also they didn't like Moore in the first place.

LEMON: Right.

POWERS: Versus democrats really like Franken.

LEMON: Right, right.

POWERS: They have a -- Kirsten Gillibrand has a good relationship with him, this was not an easy thing for her to do. And there could be a price to pay with the base as well because they love Al Franken, he's a progressive hero. So it's not quite the same thing. The better analogy is Donald Trump. And Donald Trump, no one is calling on Donald Trump.

LEMON: He's never been held to account.

POWERS: Yes.

LEMON: At the top of the show, I talked about how Don Junior after testifying today for eight hours or however long he was there, didn't talk about that, according to people who were there, he wasn't very forthcoming.

POWERS: Right.

LEMON: But then comes out and talks about democrats.

POWERS: Exactly.

LEMON: So, it's -- he didn't steal it.

POWERS: Yes.

LEMON: The apple doesn't fall afar.

POWERS: Yes.

LEMON: Listen, I've got to ask you about this, John. Because I think most people will agree with you, this is something where -- this is universal, where everyone should sort of be in the same place on this. But Chris Christie today showed a bit of a double standard. We're hearing from republicans on why they won't denounce Roy Moore. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: If Roy Moore is elected, it is a reflection of the opinion of the voters of Alabama, nothing more, nothing less. If we're going to make John Conyers leave, the longest serving member of Congress has to resign. Then Al Franken should go too. If that's the new standard then it should apply to everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Molly, he's saying the same standard should apply to everyone, except Roy Moore, does that make much sense?

BALL: Well, it does. I mean, it's literally true that the voters of Alabama will make this decision, but you know, what he was being asked was what he thinks they should do, and who he thinks deserves to be in the Congress.

You know, the only people who could fire Al Franken accept outside of, you know, whatever disciplinary proceedings are the voters of Minnesota, but that doesn't stop his colleagues and others from weighing in and saying whether they think this is acceptable behavior for somebody who is in the United States Senate.

So, you do hear -- you know, when you hear this from both sides, this has become a politicized issue. Where republicans for a long time were saying, well, should we have to abandon Roy Moore if democrats are sticking by their people. And now you have a lot of democrats saying, it's not fair that we have to lose someone, as Kirsten said, that we like, Al Franken, when the republicans get to keep their dirty old man.

[22:44:57] So it is not. I don't think a partisan phenomenon these allegations of sexual misconduct, but we are seeing a lot of partisan responses to them.

LEMON: This is not the hill you want to die on by defending this, and neither whether you're a republican or democrat. This issue is not it, and I think everyone can agree with John, universally, one standard, should be applied to everyone. We'll talk more. Stick around, everybody.

When we come right back, Steve Bannon making vicious and personal attacks against republican -- the republican establishment, is he in a full on war against the GOP, and if so, who will win?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Steve Bannon ramping up his war against the GOP establishment.

Back with me now, Kirsten Powers, Molly Ball, and John Brabender. I want to play part of Steve Bannon what he said last night while he was campaigning for Roy Moore and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Let's talk about the republican establishment. Because they are the ones that first came after Judge Moore. This is the scam. They don't mind giving up a seat to a democrat. Do you know why? They don't mind being the minority party, they don't mind being out of power. They don't.

Because here's the joke. They can make as much money on the way down as they made on the way up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:49:59] LEMON: So Kirsten, Bannon slammed any republican who has come out against Roy Moore. If Moore wins does he get credit for re- energizing the extreme wing of the GOP?

By the way, I have my tea here.

POWERS: Yes.

LEMON: Because I opened my jacket. I'm not feeling well, so Kirsten may have to take over.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: I'm going to take over.

LEMON: Hopefully I can make it through the next hour and a half, but or hour and 10 minutes. Sorry. Go ahead, Kirsten.

POWERS: Is he going to get credit? Yes, I think he will get credit. Is that something you want credit for?

LEMON: Yes.

POWERS: I guess if you're Steve Bannon, you do. LEMON: Yes.

POWERS: I don't know why anyone won't want credit for helping elect Roy Moore. What Steve Bannon was saying there isn't really true. Look, the reason the establishment doesn't like Roy Moore isn't because of the reasons that he said.

It's because of the obvious problems with him. He says a lot of -- separate from the fact that he has his accusations against him with the girls, he also is a pretty -- he says a lot of very troubling, slash, and kooky things that I think make him not really fit for the Senate.

LEMON: Yes. And considering how he handled himself when he was a judge and was removed from that position.

POWERS: Exactly. He's been removed from office two times.

LEMON: Yes. Molly, Bannon has a unique position, though, that most don't get. He served the highest levels of the White House. When he left the White House he said that he was going to war for President Trump against his opponents. So talk to us about the Bannon effect. How dangerous is it do you think?

BALL: Well, so I actually think the credit goes the other way if Roy Moore ends up winning this race. It's Roy Moore who reinvigorated Steve Bannon's political brand, not the other way around. Bannon sort of, jump on this band wagon when Moore started gaining speed -- gaining steam.

And let's not forget, he went up against Trump in the primary. Roy Moore has his own political brand in Alabama. Bannon besides Trump has gotten behind a lot of other unsuccessful primary candidates. He doesn't exactly have the greatest record as a political strategist.

So this seems to me a case where Bannon has sort of inserted himself and jumped on the band wagon of a candidate who was doing pretty well before he came along. But it is true that as a political attack the thing about the republican establishment definitely resonates with particularly republican voters in Alabama.

When I was covering the primary I heard it a lot. The name Mitch McConnell might as well be a dirty word to republican voters.

LEMON: Wow.

BALL: And it was -- it was a big reason that Luther Strange was not able to win the primary and Roy Moore was.

LEMON: Yes. Steve Bannon went after Moore critic Mitt Romney for not serving in Vietnam. Play this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BANNON: You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice patties in Vietnam. Do not talk to me about honor and integrity.

(APPLAUSE)

And now I'm going to get personal. You ran for commander in chief. You had five sons. Not one day of service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I mean, John, listen. Let me -- the president, the current president who he fought for was an adviser to, had multiple draft deferments, four for college and another for bone spurs in his heels. And Bannon was, you know, a fighting aid during Vietnam, stayed in college and later after the war joined the navy. He did serve. But I mean, the question here, is hypocrisy much?

BRABENDER: Well, look. I know Steve relatively well. And you got to put Steve in context a little bit. First of all, Steve he's a smart strategist. He was the one that figured out for the president what states to concentrate on to win 270. Without Steve Bannon there I don't think he ever -- Trump would have won the presidency.

Second of all, what Steve was trying to do here -- and let's remember, Steve did serve in the navy. So at least he has some authority to speak on this. But what Steve was trying to do was to get the crowd excited and Mitt Romney was an easy target. I did the race in 2012 against Mitt Romney in the primary when Rick Santorum was running against him. Santorum beat Romney in Alabama...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But listen, just because he is a good strategist, John, but that doesn't give you...

BRABENDER: No. Let me finish.

LEMON: ... that doesn't you license to be an ass and a hypocrite...

BRABENDER: Absolutely.

LEMON: ... and talk about someone's service. Like do we have to why is he measuring Mitt Romney...

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: I'm giving you the rationale and the context.

LEMON: OK.

BRABENDER: With that saying I think Steve was wrong to do it.

LEMON: All right.

BRABENDER: I think I got to know Mitt Romney personally as a very honorable man. I think he's done great things for this country. I think he cares a lot about this country. So I think it was an unfair criticism. I think that was the motivation of why Steve was doing it. POWERS: But also why, it's just interesting that you said that. That

you said it's something that he needed to say to get the...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Can you hold on, Kirsten?

POWERS: Sure. Sorry.

LEMON: I just want to get to the break.

POWERS: Yes.

LEMON: We're going to come back. We'll be right back. Don't go anywhere.

[22:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back now with my experts. Kirsten, you were talking John was saying that he understood the rationale for him doing it, not that he condoned it.

POWERS: Well, what's interesting, John, you were saying that he was, Bannon was just trying to get the audience excited by attacking Romney. And I just think it's interesting that that's what get people excited. I mean, what is it in these audiences. I can't imagine any democrat going to somewhere and choosing some, don't know, establishment democrat figure and making personal attacks against them. And that's what the audience wants to hear?

BRABENDER: Yes. But they certainly would use Donald Trump. The whole point is...

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: No, but it's not the same thing.

BRABENDER: ... this was about what is this race...

POWERS: He's attacking Mitt Romney who's like, he's a guy who ran for...

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: What is this race about? Republican politics today it's about making changes, go with the Trump agenda, get rid of the establishment. And what they're really scared is letting somebody like Doug Jones go join the democrats and have more votes at the top of his agenda.

LEMON: I got to go. It's the top of the hour. I want to talk about Time magazine with you guys. But I didn't. And I say we will talk about it the next hour. Where was Gretchen Carlson? Where was she?

[23:00:05] POWERS: That's a great question.

LEMON: That's a great question.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: I don't know the answer.

LEMON: Thank you. See you guys soon.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. It is 11 p.m. here on the East Coast. We're live with breaking news tonight.