tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN August 21, 2017 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT
the best army generals we have, is our general in charge of u.s./korea command. i've been there. i've met with them. i spent a few days last week working on just this issue. this is serious. the president knows it's serious. the options are not pretty options, but having north korea with nuclear-tipped warheads that can strike the united states is not a good thing to have for this country. but it's not just that they would launch a missile to the united states, what i worry most about is that they'll sell one. i worry that they're going to prolifera proliferate. that they're going to sell it to the highest bidder, to a terrorist. that is why this is a serious issue and this young man is an unstable person and i do think he should be called to account for his reckless rhetoric. i think that's what the president is trying to do. >> our next question comes from n.t. boyle, a republican who's chief of staff for the racine county executive. m.t.? >> hi, speaker yin. thanks so much for this
opportunity. you touched on this earlier. this is not about the bigotry and the racism that is no part in any politics, but this is a little bit of a partisan question because despite having a republican president, majorities in both the house and the senate, discord exists in -- within the republican party. as we saw, again, in the aftermath of the charlottesville protest. we need a voice of reason to reunite our party. and speaker ryan, you are in the position to be this voice. what are your plans to reunite the republican party and america as a whole? >> i don't think of myself honestly as republican first. i'm an american. i'm a conservative. that's the way -- i want to conserve these founding principles, improve people's
lives. p pass into law better ideas that solve people's lives and solve problems. this is why we're in the middle of rebuilding our military, why we overhauled the veterans administration so they get the care when they need it, that they deserved, that they earned. this is why we're doing regulatory relief. i mean, one -- out of 20 years, only one regulation was rescinded in the congressional review act, going back and getting an old regulation. we've done it 14 times this year already. we're busy performing trying to improve people's lives, lift wages and incomes. that's why i think tax reform is so critical. that's why i think making sure we move people from welfare to work is so critical, to restore upward mobility, get higher wages, get people off the sidelines into the workforce. the point i'm trying to make, get things done, improve people's lives, make a positive experience. that's why we're focused on getting this agenda executed and putting into law. take our principles that bit th build this country.
apply these visions and princip principles. offer solutions. we ran on this last year. now we're basically four-sixths a way of putting this jeagenda t of law. out of the house. i wish i could say the senate is moving as fast. 260 are still sitting in the senate. we have a ways to go and we got to get more work done. but that's what it is at the end of the day, it's not what i say, it's what i do and how we were fo perform. that's why we're focusing so much on this interactions out there. you turn on the tv, it's distractions galore. the results are how you lead from the table. >> thanks, m.t. we'll be right back with more of cnn's town hall with house speaker paul ryan. no splashing! wait so you got rid of verizon, just like that? uh-huh. i switched to t-mobile, kept my phone-everything on it-
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theatre with house speaker paul ryan and this town hall and the beautiful 1st congressional district of wisconsin. and mr. speaker, your colleague and friend, republican congressman steve scalise, who was previously injured when that insane gunman opened fire on the republican congressional baseball team earlier this summer, he joined the house gop conference on the phone today. >> yes. >> that was that like for you, what was it like for your members? >> it was -- it was really very emotional for us. i've been seeing and visiting with and talking with steve, myself, but most of our members hadn't had a chance to even hear his voice. he was just out on a baseball field, 7:30 in the morning, practicing baseball for a charity game, when this guy opened fire and hit him through the hips. he's going to be okay, but he's in a rehab hospital now out of the intensive care unit. he's got a long road ahead of him, but he's going to be okay. he is very, very strong and sound in mind and his body's
healing and i got to tell you, it was extremely cathartic for all of us and my members were really, really relieved just to hear his voice, to hear him talk. he was just talking about work, talking about getting back to work and getting things done. >> how did he sound? >> great, great. >> sounded like him in normal -- >> i'd gone to see him a number of times. he's eating well. he has a lot of physical therapy ahead of him. >> is he going to walk again? >> he's going to walk but he's going to have to relearn how to it. i won't go into the details of the multiple operations he's had, but, yeah, he's going to walk. >> what was it like for the other members of the republican conference to hear from him? because -- >> a lot of them just got on the phone and just -- i think it changed the moment for all the work we have ahead of us. we were basically going through the list of things to do in september, and they were just elated to hear his voice. he sounded great, sounded strong. he sounded like steve. i call him steve-o. he sounded like steve-o. >> we wish him well. >> please keep him in your prayers. >> we are. . a lot of religions here tonight. i'm sure we all are.
we want to thank house speaker paul ryan for joining us tonight. the audience. and of course the racine theatre guilt. "cnn tonight" with don lemon starts right now. jake, thank you very much. it was a great town hall with the house speaker paul ryan. a lot to discuss on this busy news night. we'll analyze it all. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. thanks for sticking with us. we have a lot of breaking news. president trump speaks to the nation about the war in afghanistan, vowing america will fight to win, but refusing to reveal numbers of troops or timetables. our military experts on what america's new strategy is, they'll talk, they'll join us. and in our live town hall that you just saw, the speaker, house speaker paul ryan, says the president, in his words, messed up, with his shocking comments about neo nazi violence in charlottesville.
let's bring in the panel. let's discuss now. cnn political commentator jason miller is here, a former trump senior communications adviser. political commentator ana navarro here as well. former congressman steve israel, also a cnn political commentator. cliff may, founder and president of the foundation for defense of democracies. senior political analyst mark preston. we got a lot of very smart, knowledgeable people to join us tonight. mark, i'm going to start with you. the town hall just wrapped up. you heard it. you're there. the house speaker was criticized for not calling president trump out by name for his response to charlottesville. what did we hear from him tonight? >> reporter: well, couple things, don, he certainly tried to clean up the fact that he hadn't been as vocal using president trump's name when condemning him for the remarks. we also learned that paul ryan, the house speaker, spoke to donald trump on monday morning. now, if you recall the timeline here, there was a statement that was released by the white house on a saturday. it wasn't very forceful enough.
by monday, we saw president trump address the remarks. paul ryan told us here tonight on cnn that he had spoke to the president that morning and that he was very pleased with those remarks. then comes tuesday and then, of course, we know how everything went after that. the wheels went off the bus. paul ryan said, you said that it was messed up. his response to the charlottesville comments. he also said that he did not agree to a -- he was asked a question by one of the audience members, one of his constituents about a resolution that's in congress, would he afree to censor president trump? he said no because this is not a political issue in a sense that it's a partisan issue, it's not republican/democrat. he said it's an issue that as a country, we need to come together on. in regards to tweeting, per se, couple things we heard from house speaker tonight, one is, he said do i wish there was a little less tweeting? of course, i do. he also said that it's incumbent upon -- it's also incumbent upon
parents, though, to keep an eye on them whether they're watching a lot of television or whether they're on any of these social media networks when he was asked about bullying by the president. he said, listen, as parents we need to keep an eye on our kids. now, in terms of policy, there was a bit of policy discussed tonight in regards to tax reform. he said he thinks it will be easier to get tax reform through than it was to try to pass obamacare and then when asked about obamacare, he really kind of hit the ball back toward the united states senate. said, look, in the united states house, we passed the bill, now it's the senate's turn. don? >> a lot to talk about that. we want to talk about afghanistan, talk about our town hall, obviously. talk about these poll numbers. jason, i want to get your reaction to speaker paul ryan. he said trump was talking about charlottesville, was morally ambiguous. what do you think about that? >> well, look, i think that the president, i very much liked his comments tonight. i like the fact that he addressed bigotry and hate right off the top on his speech. as i said earlier last week, i
liked his comments on monday. i thought that tuesday he got off track, but i think coming back with some of this tweets over the weekend, what he said tonight especially the line he used tonight about having the courage to heal our divisions within. that's a very powerful line that he had in his speech this evening and i think the president really showed what kind of leader he can be, not just with the tone and the approach he took, but also as we'll get into a little bit more, the overall approach to foreign policy. i think wefr se've seen a lot o mature it frity as a leader, st, look at south asia as a theater and coming up a strategy. >> you heard what mark said, less tweeting. he wasn't happy about what he said as tsh whi-- which was a q that i asked. you like better what he says on the teleprompter than rather than what he's saying off the cuff which may be i think what americans think is in his own heart because when he reads a teleprompter, you know, people say it doesn't sound like trump. he doesn't really mean it, he's reading something someone else
wrote him. >> these are fundamentally president trump's words, when he gets up there, what he said tonight, what he said last tuesday, what he was saying on monday. again, i think, one of the things with speaker ryan, i think this is where you take a look at what president trump says and his remarks, standard president trump speech, versus, say, a town hall from speaker ryan. you see the difference between the two. speaker ryan did a very good jobben to of going through and answering specific questions. the thing that didn't come through that we see from a leader like president trump is a very clear, consistent vision. with president trump, we see him talking about jobs. we see him talking about the economy. and most every answer will come back to these points. it's a very clear aconsistent message. part of the problem with speaker ryan, sometimes we see the disconnect between the white house and capitol hill is there doesn't seem to be that ideological core, that driving force on the hill. look, september is going it be big. >> you mean from the house speaker. >> we don't see the same ideological core or the drive that we do from the agenda items we have coming from the white house. september is going to be big.
the speaker's going to need to start moving on tax reform, he's going to need to start -- we have a debt ceiling issue coming thu. he's got his work cut out for him. >> going to need the president to stick to the teleprompter in order to keep the focus on that otherwise he'll be distracted with -- >> we're going to need the house get moving on tax reform. i wish we had already been able to check the box and gotten it all the go to the senate on oba care. >> ans a, i want to get your reaction but first listen to house speaker paul ryan. >> peach on monday was pitch pers perfect. in answer to a question, i think he made comments that were much more morally ambiguous. much more confusing. i think the could have done better. needed to do better. what he did two days ago was a
good start. just what i heard 25 minutes ago is exactly what a president needs to say, what we needed to hear. so i do believe that he messed up in his comments on tuesday when it sounded like a moral equivocation or at the very least moral ambiguity. >> i think the issue that eric was expressing is the reluctance to criticize president trump for specifically saying things like "very fine people were marching in that rally that had swastikas and anti-semitic chants and -- [ applause ] -- there were not any very fine people in that rally. >> that's right. that's right. that's right. >> and -- [ applause ] -- it wasn't morally ambiguous. it was morally wrong. >> yeah. >> what the president said. [ applause ] >> let me just add to what you
just said. i have a hard time believing if you're standing in a crowd to protest something and you see, you know, all these anti-semitic slogans and the hitlers and the swastikas that you're good with that and a good person. you're not a good person if you're there. that's so very clear. >> ana, you've been begging republicans, your own party, to grow a spine, stand up to the president especially after charlottesville. you excoriated members of your party for looki ining the other. do you think -- jake seemed a lot stronger than paul ryan. paul ryan never said that in his comments except for tonight and that didn't mention the president, mention his name. did he go far enough tonight, you think? >> let me tell you, don, this is hard for me. and it's hard for me because i've known paul ryan, i know and love his wife, jana. i know paul ryan is a very good father, a very good husband, a very good son, a very good family man and a man who's got very high morals. really. so it's disappointing to not
hear him be more forceful and i realize that he's trying to strike this balance between the person he is, his own principles, his own convictions, his own behavior, and cutting the president of his party slack. giving him more chances and trying to strike the balance by criticizing what he said without criticizing the man who said it. and so, you know, i think it's cringe worthy because had anybody else said it, i'm pretty sure paul would be much more forceful. he's at some point putting his position as speaker above his own brand, his own principles and his own core. for somebody like me, who knows him, who's liked him, who knows what his actual values are, not the ones he's projecting and bending like a pretzel to try to articulate, it's somewhat painful to see that paul cannot be more forceful, cannot be himself.
the paul i see there is the political paul. now, that being said, i give paul a lot of credit because this is his second cnn town hall and he has taken very tough questions at both. i remember the first one where he took a very from a dreamer, a d.r.e.a.m. act kid. in this place, again, he took very tough questions. he takes them all. he excels at the policy questions. these where he has got to reconcile the paul ryan i know with speaker paul ryan, willing to fudge a little bit on donald trump and not condemn what is condemnable, for me, is a little painful. >> yeah. cliff, i got to ask you then. with ana having said that, if this kind of moral clarity was so essential and he needed to follow up and add to what jake
said, why did the speaker feel comfortable waiting six full days to address what the president did in. >> i can't speak for paul ryan. when he talked about the moralquiv indication or ambigui ambiguity, he was suggesting something else. i think the president is somebody who should listen to his advisers and have his words filtered so that his proper meaning gets across. if for example, he was saying not that there was anybody good in the nazi or kkk march, there isn't, but that there are some people who don't want to see george washington's statue pulled down, don't want to see franklin roosevelt's statue butted or abraham lincoln's at that time to you pulled down or vandalized as happened in chicago, those are not bad people. he may not have the communicated all that effectively. he should have people working with him so he gives a speech like he did tonight about afghanistan where it's pretty clear what he means to say. i disagree with those who think what the president is trying to
say is there is some good naz zanz some good klansmen just i don't think he thinks there are good al qaeda or taliban. he needs to be clearer in his communications. i think he lost an opportunity because as paul ryan said on monday, he was very clear. on tuesday when he was impromptu, he left a lot of room for ambiguity. people can interpret as you have and ana has. not as i have. that is unfortunate because he blew an opportunity. >> cliff, if you were going to a rally and let's say you were upset with a statue coming down and you saw people with nazi symbols and saying racist things, would you continue to stay there and support it? do you think very fine people were among the crowds there? >> look, i think people get confused. you or i clearly would walk away from those kinds of people. i would also walk away from and i fa. they hold up signs saying more
dead cops. they support violence and utilize violence. they didn't kill anybody that weekend but they have attacked people in the past. i would also walk away from an ante fa rally. i would ask, don't you think that's also correct to walk away from them, as well. >> the president said he thought there were very fine people on both sides. >> i think what he meant by that, there are people who think that a statute of a confederate general, the robert e. lee should cop down, that's a legitimate position and people think it's part of our history. that's a legitimate position but nobody who is a neo-nazi, nobody who is a skin ahead or clansman or within ante fa in my vision is somebody who is a reasonable or good person. those are people full of hate. i kind of think that's what he intended to say. >> it sounds like you're just for clarity, you're not making the same moral equivalence for antifa and the neo-nazi folks out there, the neo-nazi racists.
one is there fighting fascism and whether their tactics are right, we can debate that. but they're not on the same level, are they? >> the soviet communists for a while thought fascist. that the did not make them good people. they killed a lot of people, too. and i fa is full of anarchists and commune yifs and they are not good people. if you want to say who is worse, yeah, i guess at this point, there's no question the neo-nazis are worse. that doesn't make and i fa good guys because they dislike people that you and i dislike. i hope we can agree upon that. >> ana, you want to respond to what he said? >> look, i think i don't understand how anybody can be in the presence of such hate and not be part of that hate. i don't know how you can be in a march, a protest that to me looked like a kkk march except without the hoods. you know, something and i've been thinking about this protest
in charlottesville, this kkk march without the hood, and there's something that made me so sad about that and that i think we have not discussed enough on tv. how young most of the participants were. a lot of times when we see old footage of kkk marches, it's kind of, you know, old bitter people blaming their lack of success in life to other people. but to see this very young generation in charlottesville, it's heart breaking because it tells you it's an entirely new generation of hate, of racism of bigotry. and that to me was heart breaking. >> we agree on that. absolutely agree. but the young people who join ante fa who call themselves anarchists and communists and say we're going to restrict the rights of those we disapprove of, surely you can condemn, as well on this show. can you not? >> sure.
listen, i condemn anybody that tries to trample on any other american's rights. i condemn anybody that tries to divide us. that includes the president of the united states. >> okay. i'd like to hear you address antifa specifically. >> it sounds like you're making a case better than the president of the united states made the case. i think he didn't really say he addressed the people, the pro efforts. he wasn't talking about when he said there are very fine people on both sides, he wasn't talking about the people supposedly who were there for the statues. go on, steve. >> listen, i do think you're right. that's why we talk about the moral ambiguity andquiv vocation and why he bungled an unit to make clear hatred from the far left or right, he does not support either one. we need to support american values, freedom of speech for everybody regardless of race, creed or color. that's where he should be because i think, i think that's what he actually believes.
>> steve, go ahead. steve has been sitting by patiently. >> look, thank you. it's hard for a new yorker to sit by and be patient. look, what we're hearing tonight is a reflection of the deflection. this is not about the antifa. i condemn with them. this isn't about them, don. this is about a group of neo-nazi who's marched past a synagogue with torch lights and assault weapons. every time we hear if you're going to condemn one, you should condemn the other. that's not what this is about. it's about those groups filled with hate, violence and venom. that's what we should be focusing on, not these distractions and this continued deflection. what we saw tonight, by the way, was a president who was a uniter when he reads from a teleprompter but seems to be a divider when he speaks from the heart. i will hope he will be more consistent with the words written for him as we go forward. >> focuston al qaeda, the taliban, the islamic -- because
those are the one who's said death to america. >> steve. >> don't disagree with you at all. >> that's good. >> you talk about afghanistan. >> it's great to find common ground. one thing i notice about the paul ryan, the very well done town hall that cnn did with paul ryan, people were having a civil debate. there's not enough of that in this country. have you people pulling down statues. >> cliff, it sounds like the president of the united states should be listening to your advice because he's the one, i mean, he's a big part of the divide, the separation. he may say that he wants people to come together but his words reflect something else. >> and don. >> i agree he did not do this. i respond to don. don, if you're saying he did a bad job on tuesday, particularly on tuesday when he was impromptu and said whatever popped into his mind, i totally agree with you. >> i didn't by the way, think as an american, i didn't think it was necessary for him to bring that into the afghanistan speech
tonight, as well. i didn't think he should have brought charlottesville into that. if he wanted to speak about his comments, he should have spoken to the nation about charlottesville and not muddled it by putting it into a speech about afghanistan. that's what i thought as an american. >> listen, your advice, my vis, ana's advice, perhaps he's listening to all of it and maybe will take the best of it. >> go ahead, ana. >> first of all, i think it was fine for him to bring up charlottesville because the country needs to hear more from him because he has bungled so he has screwed it up. he hasn't messed it up. he has been a complete and absolute failure. how hard can it be to condemn neo-nazi for god's sakes. >> this is not complicated math. this is something that should be morally simple. it is not moral ambiguity. it is moral deficiency, lacking morality. i think it is really important that we all agree that it is just as much of a priority to condemn foreign terrorism as it
is to condemn domestic terrorism. both want to destroy america. both want to destroy american values. both are costing american lives. both are instilling fear and terror in american citizens. and we cannot allow that. so that's what i want from the president of the united states. a very strong, unequivocal, condemnation of terrorists, foreign and domestic. >> yeah, well, dan, i hate to disagree with you. not so much because i think that my issue is that their issue of race and what we're dealing with right now should be prioritized just as much as the issue in afghanistan because we have people out on the streets now who are fighting in our very own country, not that is many lives are being taken as in a war in afghanistan but this should be a priority for the president especially after having bungled it by so many people's estimation that he should specifically address this and not put it