tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN September 17, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
this is "cnn tonight" i'm don lemon. we'll look at five headlines in the hour. the chairman of the house judiciary committee threatening to hold president trumps former campaign manager corey lewandowski in contempt after a combative refused to answer key questions about potential obstruction of justice by the president. former fbi agent a cnn analyst is here to talk about president trump relationship with the bureau. and his new book called cross fire hurricane. inside trumps war on the fbi. plus, counting votes. tonight in israel. key trump ally netanyahu fighting for his political life. the imply cases for middle east. a disturbing question. who are antisemitic slurs still common in america? and the issue of race is front
and center. in the upcoming 2020 election. what's driving it. let's begin with corey lewandowski stone walling at the congressional impeachment hearing. >> is it correct reported in the mueller report june 19, 2017, you met alone in the office with the president? >> i said is it -- >> is there a book and page number you can reference. >> volume 2, page 90. is it correct on june 19, 2017, you met alone in the o vaul office with the president. >> the white house directed i not disclose the sub tans of discussions with the president and advisers to president confidentiality. this is not my privilege. by i respect the white houses decision. >> the big picture now. all in house. good evening. so, who came out worse for the wear after the hearings today?
corey lewandowski or the democratic committee. >> i think the democratic committee. corey lewandowski did exactly what he wanted to do. he began the senate campaign in new hampshire. if you listen to his remarks it seemed like that's part of what he was doing and sewing up the support and enthusiasm of one person in the audience. donald trump. you thought he is showing himself to be a sort of perfect proxy for trump. he's transmitting communicating values. i was watching this, the national geographic videos the bird does a mating dance for another bird. that was corey lewandowski for trump. minus the eroticism. >> i can hear everybody's headphones in the control room. >> was it not? >> quite a picture. >> it's true. listen, katherine, at several points he was straight up
trolling democrats. questioning him. >> you should be here to be telling the truth. the truth will set you free. in the american people. i yield back. >> the time expired. witness may answer. >> i don't believe there was a question. >> very well. >> yes, there was. >> can you repeat the question. it was a rant. >> are you ashamed of the word you wrote down? >> i'm very happy of what i have written. you're welcome to read it. >> are you ashamed to read it out loud? >> i'm not ashamed of anything in life. are you? >> that's mr. president to you. there are responses about ruining the tooth fairy. it's so simple. you're ruining tooth fairy for my kids. if the kids are worried you should be more embarrassed.
>> i respectfully disagree with frank. i don't think this was a great day for corey lewandowski. this is a guy who went on tv and announced to the world a apparently at the same time he is also trying to fund raise for a senate campaign. that he lies most of the time. except -- >> promoted it there. >> during one of the recesses today. he announced he lies under oath. when he's not under oath. which is most of the time. talking to members of the media. including talking to perspective voters one would imagine. this is a guy who i thought he came off as really churlish. this was a hearing that was about obstruction of justice and this is the most obstructive performance i can imagine. the democratics didn't seem prepared. but i didn't think corey
lewandowski himself did anything other than embarrass himself. >> i had congressman on last hour. the american people got nothing out of it. he said his one of the biggest take aways they should let the expert staffers ask more questions. it sound like they may make adjustments moving forward. >> that's a smart move. questioning by the attorneys at the end was way more effective than the members. >> more illuminating. >> way more brought to life. it was strange day. corey lewandowski was a train wreck of a witness. as a former prosecutor and put hundreds on the witness stand. he was angry and sarcastic and flinging personal attacks and his cap pain. he gave damming testimony. testified the president tried to get me to get the ag to tamp down the investigation.
that's presidency ending in normal times. it didn't move the needle because the house democrats have been so weak in the way they have gone about this. and -- >> excessively weak. >> he copped to obstructive behavior. >> here's the question i want to ask nadler. any of the people. is the conduct that's laid out in the mueller report enough to impeach? if yes, why are we having the hearings? if no, what will it take? >> nancy pelosi doesn't want to move ahead with impeachment. for political reasons. she's correct. in the meantime this that happens. the party seems to be doing something. to its base. it's a stalling mechanism. >> i agree. but nancy pelosi is a better politician than ne. but do your job. if impeachment is warranted. and the senate won't pass it. so what, do your job.
>> the threat is a second donald trump term. you have to put the calculations of that ahead. >> number one has to be to limit this very dangerous president. >> doesn't that all hinge on -- smart political calculation. doesn't it hinge on whether or not the democratic nominee can win or beat trump. if they can't, folks will -- >> they could impeach the day after the election. that's an option. i'm not sure. >> he admits he lies to the media. >> i'm sorry, nobody in front of congress ever lied to the public before. i'm sorry. >> is that an admission you lied? >> absolutely not. >> did you lie in interviews denying you have been asked to give answers to the special counsel? >> i don't believe so. i have no obligation to be honest no the media. >> what does that say to you?
>> chip off the president's block. the president feels no obligation to be honest. with the media or american public or anybody. lying is a new art form in the administration. it's holy. he's reflecting that. >> part of the issue is shame doesn't work. in trump land. you have to have other tools at the ready to do something. if not impeachment. contempt of congress one would imagine. we talking about this. the legality of this better than i do. you're an attorney. there has to be power legally exercised here: shame and public berating and talking heads on cable tv will not get them to behave. or abide by the law. >> that's an important point. democrats get caught flat footed. they can't believe corey lewandowski will show up and put on a performance like that. >> where have they been? >> one of the great advantages
trump and have is that. >> this is from elliot williams. a colleague. in all the chatter about today's theater and silliness. don't lose sight of the fact a witness confirmed potus committed an act that met all three elements of the federal crime of obstruction of justice. intent. >> he's right. if this was not the president of the united states we were talking about, he would have been indicted on many different felony counts. i firmly believe that. the paradox is it doesn't move the needle. it's in the mueller report. a lot of the democrats are trying to do is draw public attention to the mueller report. there's been all efforts to do that. a graphic novel. die jests and dramatic readings. and the problem is by doing that you're suggesting there's not enough there. we need more.
and they'll never get there. >> part of the reason corey lewandowski refused to read from the report was because he knew in some sense if he did that would end up in a campaign ad. in the same way mueller didn't want his words used in -- >> the actual report is damming. >> yes. i'm sure that part of the strategy for democrats is to just like keep stalling and throw meat to the base. same may to produce tell generalic material. so if we were duplicating the report material. >> nancy pelosi is against it. slow walking this. i wonder if today you think today convinced more americans, maybe enough. i don't know. to support impeachment. who weren't already on board. >> doint think today will move the needle. most americans won't watch. they saw people pouting and
screaming and the take away is i don't like washington period. the question is if this is so frustrating. in that sense maybe it moves towards impeachment because they're tired of looking as impotent. as corey lewandowski mocked them. >> if they move, they may move a little bit. >> maybe not far enough. and nancy pelosi isn't moving. >> is it too late? >> we'll be so dloeclose to the election the nominee will say don't bring this noise. of the ivory billed woodpecker. what??? no, no no no no. battery power runs out. lifetime retirement income from tiaa doesn't.
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it's the easiest because it's the cheesiest. kraft for the win win. the president former campaign manager stone walling dodging questions in nearly six hours of testimony today. leaving democrats frustrated. let's discuss now. his brand new book is out today. it's called cross fire hurricane. inside donald trumps war on the fbi.
it is his first tv interview. congratulations. cross fire hurricane. >> appreciate it. >> we'll talk about that. let's talk about the news that happened today. democrats on the judiciary committee trying to use the hearings to build a case for impeachment. putting all this stone walling and the drama aside, did americans learn anything today from the hearings? >> no. everyone went to their corners. people came in with a certain viewpoint left with the same viewpoint. and this han an exhausting few years for the american people. since the beginning of the this investigation. into russian collusion allegedly. now leading to what is apparently impeachment investigation. that continues to change the dech in addition of that. the definition of that. the american people are trying to decide what's the reality that's going on. what's politics, what's noise. this was a loud day with a lot of political noise. people didn't learn much of anything. >> another conflict between the house and congress involving the
intelligence community whistle blower. chairman schiff says acting director is refusing to turn over the contents of what schiff calls a credible urgent whistle blower complaint regarding a serious or flag rant problem. abuse, violation of law. or deficiency. made a month ago. the question here is, what are they hiding? >> this is so hard to fathom. think about what a whistle bloeler is. coming forward to report alleged ma malfeasance or criminal activity. we don't know. if an employee sees something wrong they can report it. without that becoming public. and it appears this employee went through the proper channels and new the information is with held from congress. when i was inside the fbi we had to sign a certification every year that if we witness an intelligence abuse, we would come forward and report it.
through the appropriate channels. what concerns me is the american people are left unknowing what the abuse is. especially congress. but to other potential whistle blowers who might be on the cusp of doing the right thing. and say the information may not get to where it needs to go. >> are they supposed to go through the doj? the acting dni consulted about the complaint. would that be unusual? why would he be compelled to do that. >> we don't know if it's criminal in nature. if there's a criminal an ex sus that led to an investigation that not those aren't always reported to congress. these committees exist for a reason to oversee the u.s. intelligence community. and you mention the book i talk about the gross intelligence abuses in the past that happened. and the reason we have congressional oversight now is because the intelligence committee did bad things in the past. if someone is inside the
intelligence committee and reported something. that should trouble us if it doesn't get to where it need to go. >> cross fire hurricane. out today. in the book. you write about going with your former boss the fbi director james comey. briefing president-elect trump about allegations in the steel dossier at trump tower. tell us why the director comey asked you multiple times that day to be sure a special laptop was available to him immediately following the meeting. >> the picture we saw in the car wasn't from the day of that. there were no smiles. it was a serious occasion. what he feared is that some day the president-elect at the time might lie about the interaction between him and himself and the fbi director. you have to take yourself back to the place in time. the fbi had its russia investigation under way into four members of the trump campaign trying to determine
illegality related to the russians. and going to trump tower to brief the incoming administration. on the russia threat. also comey had to pull aside the president and brief him one on one on the allegations in the steel dossier. >> you have been frustrated about that. right wing media uses that. and says this was the investigation based on the faulty information. >> regardless of how many times we say that's not the case. now someone in media. based on reporting reno the genesis of the investigation was not the steel dossier. it was the george papadopoulos meeting. we were on the cusp of finding out the origin of the russia investigation and whether the fbi did what they needed to do. >> didn't you talk about that last night? you did an event with comey. is this what he said about the pending report. >> let's see the facts.
and because my strong sense is as with so many things that happened over the last two years, it's been a lot of lie going on. by the president and those around him. including people in congress. lerts see the facts. the inspector general i don't always agree with the analysis. that's fine. i believe they are honorable hon nest people who are good at gathering facts. >> other members, former fbi colleagues. what you think the trump administration lasting impact on bureau will be? >> we'll see. we'll find out the results of the investigation. the point of this book is bring readers inside the fbi. we have heard voices from partisans and right and left. talking about how the fbi did everything right or corrupt and crooks and criminals. what i tried to do is give you the voice of the people in there on the receiving end of this campaign of attack. and take you through the
experience. this isn't an endorsement of the fbi actions. i'm critical of the bureau and comey and others at certain times. to give the picture for the meernl of what was reality and the spin. >> half the proceeds to who? >> one thing i really want to do with the book is use it as a vehicle to help a cause that i think is really important. to this day we passed the 18th anniversary of 9/11. there are fbi agents dies from illnesses that are manifesting from the time they spent at ground zero. digging through the rubble. i learned about the course of writing the book there's a fund the agents association manages that takes care of the family members of fallen agents. and sends children to college. and what i try to do with the book is use that for good. this is not controversial. all the topics we talked about are controversial. this is not controversial
supporting the people. half the proceed go to that fund. i hope people research the fund. the illnesses will continue. people paying the ultimate sacrifice. who went into harms way for us. >> the organizations link is up on the screen. take a good look at that. and thank you. >> good man. >> the book is call td cross fire hurricane. inside donald trumps war on the fbi. drawn into another middle east conflict? how the white house is responding to escalating tensions between iran and saudi arabia. that's next. we believe your my should always be working harder. that's why your cash automatically goes into a money market fund when you open a new account. just another reminder of the value you'll find at fidelity. open an account today. of the value you'll find at fidelity. ♪ ♪
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trump administration officials saying the pentagon was ordered to plan potential responses to the attack on facilities. in order to prevent a knee jerk reaction. the u.s. has imagery that shows weapons used in the strikes being staged in iran. cnn hasn't been shown the images. joining me now. so good to have you both on. one source telling us what happened with patience is it prevents stupid moves. in response to the locked and loaded comment. are cooler heads prevailing here? >> the tone and the rhetoric and the policy. or lack there have out of the white house. there isn't any sense there's a
clear consistent coherent strategy. when it comes to dealing with iran. we hear locked and loaded but president trump removed john bolton. or trump elected not to respond when the iranen shot down a drone in june. it seems like they are sort of walking back some of the tougher rhetoric. then the question becomes what is the strategy? how is it that the u.s. is in a situation where your worse case which is not that far fetch ted. and your best case is potentially a return to the status quo. if you talk to the europeans they are hoping that yes, cooler heads prevail. that diplomacy will be given a chance. what does that look like? it will take more than a photo opportunity with the president at this stage to fix the damage. >> sources say the white house is waiting for saudi arabia
ruler to decide on a response before choosing a path forward. should we be waiting on the saudis? >> first of all it's notable and striking the saudis haven't publicly blamed iran but asked for an investigation. a year after dismissing calls of their murder of columnist khashoggi. saudi arabia hasn't been willing to join secretary of state and trump administration officials in officially ping the blame on iran. even if the administration were to decide on a more military response to this, they face enormous credibility issue. in selling any possible military action. they have complained about iran so many times they blame iran for so many different actions it's unclear and we're starting to see in the reporting around
this intelligence officials speaks on background to the "new york times" and others and suggesting that this intelligence is so sensitive it may never been the slam dunk they know the administration would need in order to proceed in a convincing way. we have this problem where the trump administration has ratcheted up the pressure and called the campaign against iran max pressure. to what end? iran has called their bluff. potentially. if we believe the president and it's unclear what he'll do. meanwhile the infighting continues inside trump world. you have lindsey graham supporter of the president blaming him for this situation. it's a remarkable twist. >> both of you are saying we don't know what the response looks like. what is diplomacy in this situation. the allies don't know. is there a response that won't
lead to war? >> i think there potentially was. but the question is has the window on that already closed. because let's be cheer about this. this is attack on saudi arabia. but it's an take on the global community. attack on energy prices. and the iranen revolutionary guard will continue to escalate tensions. it's the only leverage they have. to get the u.s. to sit doin at the negotiating table and potentially alleviate the sanctions that are having a blistering effect on the economy. i think there was a perfectly good moment and a good sound argument for robust response. and that potentially by punting that decision to the saudis and saying we're waiting to see who they say is responsible. saudi arabia has been caught in an awkward position. it's revealed how vulnerable the oil resoirs sources are and the
infrastructure. they don't want to see an escalation. now nobody wants to take ownership of this situation. that's a role that traditionally the u.s. would take. whether it favored a military response or diplomatic. >> the israel election. it's been interesting to to follow. too close to call. a tight race between netanyahu and his rival. netanyahu campaigned on his relationship with trump. if he loses, does president trump share any of the blame? >> well if he loses is a big if. it appears it's already now the morning in israel. it appears to be a dead heat. at the moment. between netanyahu and the blue and white coalition. remember this is a parliamentary system. the trick will be who can create a coalition. there's no one winner. no one party takes a full control. enough of majority to lead to
put together a coalition. and israel have gone to bed before thinking his long tenure was over and woke up and that wasn't the case. i know many people including opponents of net matthew who will not believe his tenure as prime minister is over until he actually walks off the political stage. tonight he said he wasn't going to do that. >> we'll be right back. you can stream and scroll through other people's vacations,
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the city counsel president of trenten new jersey issues an apology after she used an antisemitic slur earlier this month. according to to local media. the second such incident involving a new jersey koun sul member. joining me now to discuss. good evening to you, gentlemen. we have two separate incidents this month. new jersey used the term jew down. to negotiating down costs. what do you know? >> it's incredible. it happened within a few days of each other. in patterson a council member at a public meeting talking about a redevelopment deal and expressed appreciation that the developers didn't try to jew us down. in other words negotiate a better deal. and he was immediately rebuked
by the members. particularly the palestinian the muslim man. and the following week in trenten. a council president in a closed meeting with government officials and with her members and talking about a lawsuit. and she expressed concern about a woman who was going to be jewed down. she didn't want her don't jew her down. and in that case, she was not rebuked immediately. two of the counsel members to this day are standing by her defending her. saying it was a fine thing to say. jew is okay it's just a verb. the council president herself has apologized. her two colleagues are continuing to defend this. it's way of speaking. this is how we grew up. it doesn't mean anything. to be a good negotiator is positive. there's some education. >> i remember that when i was younger that happened in the
workplace. someone said that. and had no idea that it was offensive and everyone around her had to let her know. you don't say that. at least two members of the council are defending her. i just want to read one of the them saying this is councilwoman. writing on facebook. i believe her comment jew down was more a reference of negotiating not i hate jews. inappropriate in today's culture. absolutely. but to jew someone down is a verb. and not antianything. or indicative of hating jewish people. she's not facing any calls to resign over this. listen, what's this woman just said, is wrong. no one is saying it's hating jews. it's inappropriate. to jew someone down is a term that is offensive. because of the connotation.
explain that. >> right. even though you might say this is a compliment. it suggests you're a good negotiator. it's saying you care about money. it's stereo typing a group. like asian people are good at math. you can sigh say it's a compliment. but it's lumping people together. and has certain negative con notations. i don't think people should lose their job. if they're willing to apologize. what we should want as society is if people don't understand something, to help them learn. so they can progress. if in the face of being told by people, look, this is hurtful to us. you still deny that. it's a problem. >> that's what i'm saying about this comment. this quote. i believe it was a reference to this person doesn't understand their own ignorance? right. if someone says you're good at basketball.
i would say that's you probably shouldn't say something like that. >> right. and i think we as a challenge in our society is to progress beyond some of the deep seeded stereo type harmful and hateful that existed and give people the chance to grow. i don't think we should be overly punitive. at a certain point if people can't see the evidence facing them that's a problem. >> another before we go, another member told new jersey globe that what mcbride said was a statement of speech. made this comparison. it's like a card dealer. they want $5,000. you jew them down to 4,000. >> that's unbelievable. >> we shouldn't lose sight of the fact. there's antisemitic violence going on. in this country. on the unprecedented levels. that's the backdrop. >> thank you. if someone tells you you're
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american identity are being thrust center stage by both parties as the 2020 election heats up. what is driving that? >> well, i think we have an action/reaction cycle where donald trump is appealing to white racial resentments more overtly, more openly than any national figure in either party since george wallace in 1968, and partly in response to the changing nature of the democratic base and coalition, i think the democratic candidates are clearly talking more explicitly about the idea of systemic racism or systematic racism or institutional segregation than any democratic candidate really since i've covered national politics in 1984. >> and even obama or clinton? >> i think much more than obama or clinton. hillary clinton dipped her toe into those kind of arguments. but when you hear the kinds of things that beto o'rourke, for example, said at the last democratic debate in houston, where he argued that the introduction of slavery more than the declaration of independence was in essence the
foundational moment in shaping american history, i mean that is kind of confronting issues or framing issues of racial inequity much more directly and overtly. >> let's listen to that, ron, and let you finish. here it is. >> yeah. >> racism in america is endemic. it is foundational. we can mark the creation of this country not at the fourth of july, 1776, but august 20th, 1619, when the first kidnapped african was brought to this country against his will and in bondage and as a slave, built the greatness and the success and the wealth that neither he nor his descendants would ever be able to fully participate in and enjoy. we have to be able to answer this challenge. >> is he right? are democrats right to counter trump with statements like that? will it help them? go on and finish what you were saying. >> well, look, as you know, i believe that the fundamental dividing line in our politics, the fundamental fault line between the two coalitions, is
attitudes toward the demographic, cultural, and even economic changes that are reshaping america. the democrats fou rely on the places and the voters that are the most comfortable with change, and republicans rely on' antly white, heavily evangelical, non-urban voters who are most uneasy about that change. if you look at the academic studies in 2016, they all reach the same conclusion the belief on whether or not racism still persists in this society and whether or not there is gender discrimination in this society was a much better predictor of how people voted in 2016 than their immediate economic circumstance. the more likely people were to deny that racism exists or deny that gender discrimination exists, the more likely they were to vote for donald trump. what i point out in this story is that relationship is still holding true very powerfully. i looked at some results from the quinnipiac university national polling in late august, and among people who say they approve of donald trump's performance in office, more of them say whites face discrimination than say
african-americans face discrimination. and the belief on whether whites or african-americans face discrimination engenders a very large divide on whether you support trump or whether you support biden in early tests. there is no question that these underlying attitudes about the way america is changing, i believe, is driving our -- we've been heading in this direction for it to be driving our politics. trump has leaned into it by so overtly identifying with all the voters and forces that are unhappy about the way america is changing. and i think this looms again as the fundamental fault line in 2020. >> and you said earlier and in your piece -- and correct me if i'm wrong -- that he has leaned into it more than anyone since george wallace. am i correct? >> i believe. >> okay. >> i think so. >> you also bring up barry goldwater in 1964. let me read this in. in 2020, the contrast between the nominees on issues of race relations will likely be as stark as any since the republicans in 1964 nominated senator barry goldwater, who opposed the civil rights act, against president lyndon johnson, who steered it into
law. you also say trump is appealing to white racial resentments. how ugly could this get? how will this play out? >> look, i think it's going to get very pointed. it's already. how much uglier can it get than tweeting that people should go back even though they are, you know, americans? look, i think that what we're seeing -- and you see the countermove on the other size, which i think democrats face partly because trump has been so overt, they face enormous pressure. they are using language we have not seen before from democratic nominees and talking about systemic racism and basically arguing that economic inequity is rooted in systemic racism. even when joe biden tried to return to some fairly standard issue 1990s new democrat language, as tangled as it was about combining -- remember that part, beyond the record player, talking about sending social workers to help, you know, low income parents raise their kids, look at the backlash that he received over that, intense and widespread among
african-american thought leaders and political leaders. and i think that gives you a sense of where we're headed, where you're going to have a democratic nominee who is more explicitly than before framing, you know, raising the arguments and concerns about systemic racism, and you're going to have trump appealing to voters who deny that racism, you know, still exists in american society. i think we're going to see voters sorting along these lines, possibly even more than we did in 2016 when, as i said, it was the best single predictor of how people voted. >> ron brownstein, really fascinating. thank you so much. i appreciate it. >> thanks, don. >> and thank you for watching. our coverage continues. billions of mouths.
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good evening. a big night, including breaking news in the democratic presidential race. new polling that could really shake things up. we'll have that. also, new word on what, if anything, republicans, especially the president, plan to do on gun laws. what the state of play now is and what a leading lawmaker has to stay about it. we begin, though, with this. the first witness of the first hearings on impeaching president trump is done testifying before the house judiciary committee. corey lewandowski, the president's former campaign chairman, spent a lot of time saying very little today except for claiming again and again what is a hotly dispu