tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN October 20, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
this is cnn tonight. i'm don lemon. just a little before 11:00. we're live with new developments on the deadly ambush in niger. what we are learning raises questions about the u.s. mission there. administration officials tell cnn the body of la david johnson was killed and was found nearly a mile away from the ambush. want to bring in ambassador, director of the central intelligence agency. the director of the fbi in new york. good each. happy to have you on. james, i want to start with you. i want to ask you what happened in niger. the details are murky. cnn is reporting that sergeant johnson found nearly a mile away, 48 hours after he was discovered to be missing, how could that happen? >> good question. the deployment and interaction with other troops, such as
native troops and so forth, could go some distance to explaining it. a mile away, i just don't know. it's an oddity. another oddity is that they didn't have an armored vehicle. they were in a truck. maybe they don't have enough money to have the kind of equipment they need. i don't know. those are two things i think the one mile and why they weren't in an armored vehicle. may give us tips on where things were going and why. >> let's talk about the operation. the operation involved american, french and nigerian forces along with private contractors. how much do we rely on those contractors? what do they do? >> they are in an active situation with armed forces or
cia or others. and go with one of the contractors after they get out. the way congress cut back has led people to move toward having contractors perform a lot of the same functions. >> the fbi is involved in the niger investigation. what is that about? >> well, the fbi has jurisdiction in cases where an american has been killed overseas and american property has been destroyed. as you recall back in august of '98 when the embassies in tanzania and kenya were blown up, the fbi sent teams over from the united states to handle the situation in terms of working with the governments of the
countries involved and gathering evidence and helping them sort through the evidence and determine what happened. this is what will happen in this particular case. in 1998, we didn't have the manpower presence in africa that we do today. the immediate response came from legal attaches and assistant attaches in the african countries. i suspect there will be a team or there is a team sent over from the united states to help in evidence gathering. >> how long do you think that will take? >> you never know. if the body was found a mile from where it should have been found, there's all different things to become involved. there's no crystal ball to predict in this case. >> takes as long as it takes. families are waiting for answers. americans are waiting for answers. the families deserve those answers. let's hope it doesn't take that long.
james, leon panetta, he served as defense secretary. listen to what he told wolf blitzer about niger. >> these are dangerous areas. there's no question in my mind that there was an intelligence breakdown here. they did not know that there was isis in the area. there turned out to be 50 of them who opened fire on our forces. they were told that everything was okay. >> intelligence breakdown. do our forces in africa have the support they need? >> leon may be right. i don't know. i haven't made a study of this. west africa and really much of africa, period, is serious risk of falling into the hands of the islamists, the jihadis. whether or not it's one particular jihadi organization or another is less important than the fact that you have troops from these jihadi
organizations coming through african villages and shooting them up and killing women and kids and it's a terrible situation. they see it as a way of recruiting believers for their religion. that's happening in africa. we all have to decide, i think, whether we want to put up a resistance to that. we're also, of course, getting refugees from africa into europe, which changes a lot of the political and social character of several european states. africa is a seriously difficult place right now. it's going to get more that way. we have not done well sometimes in recent memory, president bush you remember the aircraft carrier that said the war is over, whatever it was --
>> mission accomplished. >> mission accomplished. you also had president obama pull our forces out before they had fully done what they needed to do in iraq. that left room for isis and other terrorist groups to come in. we haven't done this very well in africa so far. we have to do a lot better job. fiddling around, getting in there and half heartedly doing something is the worst of all possibilities. >> the short time we have left, i want to get bill in. this is important, one thing secretary mattis made clear, the u.s. is expanding counterterrorism there. >> i'm sure it's just exactly what jim had to say. you are going to have the presence of isis and/or other radical islamist extremist groups there . you never know which is worse than the other. the other side of the coin is,
without presence of troops not in the concentrations that maybe they need to be in in order to protect themselves, and protect american interests, that's going to continue to lead to incidents like this. we really have to -- part of the what the fbi will do, the agency does as well, will be gathering intelligence while we're there to determine if there is some way to plug into accomplishing what our goals and objectives are. >> thank you. i appreciate it. see you next time. what i want to talk about five former presidents, carter, bush, clinton, bush and obama. teaming up tomorrow. guess who won't be joining them? the current occupant of the white house. here to discuss cnn presidential historian douglas blinkly, julia kiam and i'll lialice stewart. good evening.
doug, tomorrow, all five living former presidents, both bushes, clinton, carter and obama coming together to raise funds, hurricane victims. it's called the one america, one appeal concert. it will be held in texas. president trump was not invited to participate. why do you think that is? >> it's going to be amazing tomorrow. they are calling it deep in the heart of texas at the reed arena at texas a&m. it's at the george h.w. bush lie briery. they go to each other's libraries. it sold out, 11,000 people. they're all friends. all five of those presidents at this stage, they are not friendly to donald trump. he would be either grandstand or take over the event. i'm not sure that they -- people want to travel to be on the same stage with him. i'm just doing that as conjecture. you heard speeches of obama this week and of george w. bush.
donald trump has the job of the presidency to do. it's nice we have ex-presidents able to come together in such an incredible way and do hurricane relief, the volunteers of america, first responders, to make sure we don't forget about puerto rico, u.s. require begvis and texas and florida. >> president trump gave himself a ten out of ten how he handled puerto rico. do you think he cares about not going? >> i think that ten out of ten must be a curve. i think -- i don't know what donald trump thinks. to be honest, i don't think we should care what he thinks. this is the irony and aggravation of this presidency. is that he is -- it's all about him. hurricane relief concert really should be specifically about those who are victims, those who lost homes, those who in puerto rico we don't even know who is
dead still. because we don't have an accurate count because the electricity is not on. that's what we should be talking about. i think that the president -- the ex-presidents certainly know that. if trump were to be there, he would say something wrong, he would end -- it would be about how poorly the administration is doing in puerto rico. i've been in this field a long time. i am very forgiving of disaster management. i am. i understand it. i don't get this anymore. i don't -- it's not that hard to deliver water on an island. it's just not. battle e bottled water. it's not a ten. i don't think we're at a two anymore. >> it's not that hard to say, the people are suffering and i don't want to grade myself. we could always do better. boom. end of story. that's what most people would do. >> if i can say something about the event tomorrow. a little like doug, i look at this as a great thing that will
be happening tomorrow. i'm more focused on who will be there as opposed to who will not. there's a great book, the presidents club, it talks about the kind of comradery they have. it focuses on the fact that they have mutual respect, reverence for the office. they're willing to put politics above all else to protect the reverence and esteem of the office. these five former presidents have that. they're a tight knit group of people. i think it's phenomenal they're doing this. at the same time, i think what they are able do outside of the federal government is very important. meanwhile, i think president trump he and fema and the corps of engineers and all the various federal agencies are doing everything they can, 24/7, to provide relief for them. we need boats. we need help. joint together, this is a positive thing. when they announced this back at the beginning of september, the president praised the effort and
said whatever we can do to help. i think we need to look at this as a positive thing. them doing what they can to help these poor victims of all of these hurricanes. president doing it from the inside. them doing it from the outside. >> that was a very glass half full response. i commend you for that. that was great. can you imagine something happened like this, happening like this, let's -- in modern times and president clinton not being there, president bush not being there, president obama not being there. come on. there's something going on here. people aren't just making this up. to be a fly on the wall when you have all those five men, especially after that's happened this week. >> that would be interesting. wouldn't it? maybe we would hear something like, maybe he doesn't get it yet. look, i think part of this has to do with the fact that donald trump really is -- this president is not of any political establishment and does not have the relationships that
previous presidents had going in to the political system. really, he doesn't have in a sense then -- he has not treated the office with the same reverence that past presidents have, in part because the voters sent him to washington -- at least his supporters sent him to washington to smash things up and to tear things down and do things differently and shake them up. he approached the office differently. i think that has been in stark contrast to how past office holders treated the office, even when they weren't always perfect in and of themselves. not all of them always treated the office the way they should have when they were serving. i don't know that there's that much to make of this at the end of the day. i do think part -- >> there's been nothing like this. come on, david. there's been nothing -- this sun precedented. let's be real. nobody ever treated the office like this in modern times. nobody disrespected that desk
like this. >> well, look, i'm the last person that's going to argue with you there. we have never had somebody in office who had never held political office, never held military office. this is the first time we have had -- it's not that donald trump is the outsider he claims to be because he was a donor. >> i never held office. i have reverence for the presidency. i would know -- i would treat it with some modicum of dignity. those qualities are taught. >> i think as we saw from speeches in the past few days by senator john mccain and george w. bush, they notice all of this. they are trying to send a message and about having more honor about the political system in which he is a part and which he is now the major force involved. it's just that he is different. i think it may -- he may never be a part of the club that they are part of. >> you and alice win the award
tonight. he is different. the former presidents said they would have september a video message. when we come back, the gop at war with itself. the man who declared war on the party establishment is about to take the podium in california. kyle, we talked about this. there's no monsters. but you said they'd be watching us all the time. no, no. no, honey, we meant that progressive would be protecting us 24/7. we just bundled home and auto and saved money. that's nothing to be afraid of. -but -- -good night, kyle. [ switch clicks, door closes ] ♪ i told you i was just checking the wiring in here, kyle. he's never like this. i think something's going on at school. -[ sighs ] -he's not engaging.
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is the gop fighting with itself. who will win that war? could it be steve bannon? about to take the stage. back with my panel. doug, explain, why you say there is a neo civil war in the republican party. >> i think that's part of what's been going on this past ten days or so with bob corker. the so-called gop establishment is rearing up and saying enough of trumpism. it's going to play out in 2018.
who did the opening salvo of this is hard to say. bannon declared war on the so-called establishment politicians. i think it's the big story in '18 is who gets -- who is really running the republican party. is it trump supporters or is it the establishment? >> i wonder if was yesterday a fresh battle in the civil war? >> absolutely. i talked to steve bannon last night. he is fully engaged and ready to continue this war. he made it quite clear that he is at war with the gop but it's not just his war and it's not just president trump's war. it's the supporters of donald trump. those who voted for him. it's their war. he made it clear he is ready to carry the mantle for the nationalist, populist movement. he is ready to drain the swamp. he is ready to take on the washington establishment. never in his wildest dreams did
he think he would be invited to speak at the california gop. there he is. he made it clear, anyone whether mitch mcconnell or speaker ryan or any of the people that stand up to trump, he is going to speak out. he made it clear he will try to find candidates to go against all of these incumbent senators running for office because he wants to get rid of the establishment and bring in people that in his mind will support trump and further that agenda. >> you interviewed senator john mccain. here is some of what he told you. i'm a student of history. i know what happened in the 1930s. the america firsters isolationism, rise of naziism, america withdrawing. that's what happened. what else did the senator tell you? >> i asked him if he had ever felt compelled in all of his years of public life -- he has been in congress since 1983 -- to give a speech like this. had he felt the american public was susceptible to this sort of isolationism. he said no.
he feels that's a very urgent situation. he felt very heartened to see george w. bush to speak within days that he did. there are a lot of republicans that are concerned the party is making a turn away from the party of ronald reagan. it blossomed under ronald reagan. it's turning toward this ethno nationalism. it's concerning to them. are they going to let it slip away? they have a tendency to shy away from conflict and think -- there's some truth to this. for all of president trump's rhetoric, he has not acted yet that radically. there is a faction of the
party -- bannon is the latest figure leading this faction -- that wants to bring to fruition much of trump's rhetoric even if trump never does. >> does this criticism from the former two presidents and also from mccain, does that serve to help him with his base? >> to a degree it does. they see republicans that have lost their grip on power. made a lot of mistakes. a lot of the voters feel like we ended up in a recession, two wars doing what you said to do. now this guy doesn't know what he is doing, he's a bad guy, yet we had so many problems when you were in charge. why should we listen to you? maybe this is your last grasp on power. there's a bit of that. sometimes this can help trump solidify his support. then there are other republicans that may be skeptical of him that say his rhetoric is out of bounds but what has he done
that's that radical? so far, not that much. i will say that when there's a battle over control of a party and the ideology it should take, if you do not see more of the traditional conservative wing of the party fight back against nationalists, they will end up losing control of it. that's how this thing works. >> then we have all this stuff going on. we have -- see what's happening in niger. we have forces people didn't know about. we have north korea. hasn't acted radical yet. >> i don't know if a strategy is to keep your fingers crossed at this stage. david is exactly right. about bannon. i want to remind people, in the first days of the trurm p edmp administration, bannon was put on the national security staff. you don't have someone political like that. what it did is it set a tone for national security strategy for the trump administration. i don't know what the strategy is. some is anti-obama.
some is just destroy everything and figure out what's going on. some is make our allies mad. it's fair to say it's hard to say this a cohesive strategy. what i do know is that sort of disruption of the national security process. do we know what that means when we put chad on the list. ? all of those questions are not interest greated into trump's decision making process. we can thank steve bannon for that. even though one could argue that there's not some disruptive change by trump, that's arguable. the processes have been so imploded already. the next president will have to rebuild processes and non-par
s non-partisanship if there isn't a major catastrophe between now and then. >> everybody gets their turn. we're not beating up open yon y >> i agree. >> she makes some good points. the way the president has operated has been a bit unusual to say the least. he has been at war with some of the more established figures in his own administration. >> i do need to interrupt. there's steve bannon in anaheim. i don't mean to be rude. he will take the stage. as we talk about the civil war, some is by him. he is going to make sure that what the president promised during the election happens. even if the president doesn't get it done, he intends to get it done. maybe he is president bannon as this point as has been joked about. thank you so much. i appreciate it. see you next time. have a great weekend. lies coming out of the white house, the president making flip-fl flip-flops. what grade are people across the
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it's been a week that felt like a year at the trump white house. how would americans grade the president on everything that happened? here to discuss two men who have the ear of america, joe madis , madisomadison, and john fredericks, talk radio host who is a former co-chair of the trump campaign in virginia. good evening. thank you for coming on. joe, you are up first. a busy week.
the president flip-flopped back and forth on health care, accused former presidents of not calling fallen soldiers, he got into a fight over a congresswoman over a call, he gave himself a ten out of ten on his handling of hurricane maria in puerto rico, even though after it hit some to 80% of the island is still without power. that's not everything. since the president likes taking grades, talking about grades, what grade would you give him this week? >> i would give him -- listen to me very carefully. i would give all of us, america, an f. we let this family down. we should not be arguing who said what, how it was said, why it was said. america this week lost its soul.
when we saw that mother, widow kr johnson, over that flag-draped coffin, we should have put all our differences aside and thought about all four of those men who gave their lives. i have an f. and i think what president -- former -- the two former presidents did was that they reminded us in their own individual way that america better get its act together. and we better reclaim our soul. because nothing should have moved us more than that mother with those children and that unborn baby. so quite candidly with that long list of things you delineated, i
would say all of us deserve an f. and i will close by saying this. that i think this sunday at every nfl game, every nfl player ought to take a knee in honor of ladavid johnson and those other three men who gave their lives so that we could enjoy something like an nfl game. i give the president an f. i give the chief of staff an f. i give broadcasters an f. i give all of us an f who jumped in our corners and quite honestly just should have focused on those soldiers. >> john, how would you grade the president? what do you think he deserves for the week? >> he gets an a on substance,
because the only substantive thing that matters to americans at the end of the day is the fact that in this senate, they passed something, a budget resolution which has the potential to lead to the biggest tax cut and tax reform in the history of the republic. big are than jack kennedy's, bigger than reagan's. bringing down middle class taxes. getting jobs back, getting wages up. growing the economy, getting people back to work, protecting families so they can earn more money. on substance, he gets an a. as far as the terrible week played out with this -- with the four servicemen who died and the congresswoman wilson politicizing a conversation the president had with this grieving
widow immediately after she knocked people over to get to cnn and other cameras to n order to politicize this, in order to get her moment in the sun and blast trump, taking things out of context -- this entire thing has gone on for a week. this is sick. this is a sick society when we allow the politicizing something as dreadful as you losing a son or husband or loved one in battle overseas and it becomes a political football -- >> are you calling the president sick as well? >> no. >> he sets the tone. >> i'm calling wilson sick for going on tv and politicizing this. if there was a misunderstanding or if -- >> john, you just proved my point. i could walk off this set right now. you know you just proved -- >> nobody is stopping you. >> you just proved my point.
you just proved my point. first of all, she didn't run. secondly, you know, quit this foolishness. that's what i'm trying to say to you. she didn't run to a camera. quit characterizing that. >> sure she did. she was on a camera within hours. >> she did not run to the camera. >> political gain. >> you know what? you proved my point. >> it dropped -- >> you proved my point. i proved my point. all of this about -- wait a minute. excuse me. what about that family? what about those children? what about that woman over that coffin? you just proved my point, john. let's put these differences aside. what you just said was freaking petty and freaking wasn't the word i was thinking of. >> what i said is the truth. >> i heard what you said. >> she took this to the politicalization level in order to blast trump.
the thing is sickening. instead of -- if there was a misunderstanding -- >> john, can i ask you something? >> pitiful? >> can i ask you something? let me ask you something. >> she took it to the camera -- >> john, that's what yo is sjoe saying. >> john, john, john! let me in here. that's exactly what is a joe is saying. this could have been ended if the president of the united states had said, something i said was mischaracterized. or whatever. i am deeply sorry. this would have been over. you are putting all the blame on wilson. does the president of the united states, who sets the tone, discourse in this country, does he -- does he not deserve any blame? is he not at fault here at all? even today, even yesterday john kelly mischaracterizing what she said, is there no blame to be put at the white house?
>> general kelly lost a son. he came to the press conference -- >> i didn't ask you that. that's not my point. is there -- answer my question. is there no blame to be put on the president and the white house? we understand he lost a son. he told bus about that. >> there's no blame. the blame is on the shoulders of wilson. >> stop right there. we'll be right back. rs in a day. tempur-pedic helps you get the most out of every one of them. only proprietary tempur material precisely conforms to your body, instead of pushing back. you get up to twice as much pressure relieving power, so you won't toss and turn. and tempur-pedic is the best at minimizing motion transfer from your partner. so you won't be disturbed during the night. you'll sleep deeply... and wake up, feeling powerful. only the best carry tempur-pedic. find an exclusive retailer at tempurpedic.com ♪ hungry eyes ♪ one look at you and i can't disguise ♪
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>> bigotry seems emboldened. our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabr fabrication. >> we can't have the politics of division that we have seen so many times before. it dates back centuries. it's the 21st century. not the 19th century. come on. >> what did your listenering have to say? >> the first thing they said in reference to the former bush president was that they were glad he finally spoke out and in terms of the division, the white nationalism that's been redefined as economic nationalism. i guess, you know, they are happy that he finally came to
the corner in which obama has been all throughout his presidency. but at the same time, you know, we recognize and the audience also pointed out, politics is a game of division. i think we have unfortunately a generation or two who don't know about the kennedys and the goldwaters and the people who despite their differences would do what was best for the country. any time you have a white racist neonazi speaking on a college campus that doesn't provide any intelle intelle intellectual insight, i think both presidents and i will say it finally what i began with in the first segment, i think what both presidents said in
different ways, that this country better be careful. we're losing our soul. that's what i think they both are saying. that's what my audience felt. although, they didn't -- they were happy to see that bush finally came on board. >> i want to get john in before we run out of time. did president bush's comments upset the trump voters you talked to or do they not care about it? >> well, you know, it's amazing. george bush, he didn't criticize president obama for eight years. it took eight months to criticize president trump. amazing, isn't it? his appearance at the speech in new york was a cross between night at the museum and tales from the crypt. this guy was a disastrous president. he destroyed the republican party as we know it. his party was big donors, cav r caviar, country clubs and put
hal h haliburton -- >> what does that have to do with calling out bigotry? >> there's no bigotry. this is a code word that you throw out. >> are you for real? come on, john. john, you cannot mean that. there's no bigotry? >> you don't want -- do you want to lose all credibility? people carrying torches, that's not bigotry saying jews will not replace us? >> that has nothing do with president trump. >> john. all right, john, i have to go. i have to go. you have to go have a seat. a lot of people have been talking about -- he needs to have several seats tonight. i don't know what's going on. a lot of people have been talking about gold star families this week. when we come back, they're going to speak for themselves.
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all the finger pointing and name-calling between the trump white house and congresswoman wilson, it's important to remember that it all began with a phone call from the commander in chief to a grieving gold star widow. gold star families hold a special place of honor in america. tonight listen to some of those families talking about their loved ones, our fallen heroes. >> my son, even when he was young, he just -- he just lived and breathed army. and he's been doing that, running through the woods with paintball guns and everything. >> he's my baby boy. he's always going to be my baby
boy. >> sure. >> your mind is just all over the place. i'm expecting him to come through the door any minute. i'm expecting a phone call. whenever i receive phone numbers or calls from numbers i don't know, i'm hoping it's him. i'm still hoping that he's coming home. i'm still in shock to tell you the truth. >> at the time when your child is killed and the guys in uniform come to your house, you really go into a different world. you aren't expecting anything. you don't know what to expect. you don't know what to do. >> it is clearly the worst day of your life, and that trip to the airport to pick up the body of your loved one is a trip that every moment of it is cemented into your memory. my heart goes out to that family. i wished i could just give them a hug. >> he lived it wide open. you know, he knew what he wanted in life, and he went for it, and
he's an inspiration to myself and many other people. he lived it to the max. it's been a long process, and it's been trying, but, you know, we've had a lot of support from our community, from our state, our country. my brother's brothers in arms and, you know, we've kind of -- we've pulled together. >> he was a phenomenal man. he sacrificed his life, and i know for a fact he would have done it as many times as necessary to protect his brothers and to protect our nation and to protect me and you and everybody. and i just -- i don't want it to ever be taken for granted because i lost my husband in defense of this nation, and that's something that i will treasure forever knowing that i married a hero. selfies, cat videos and winking emojis.
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find it in a subaru crosstrek. this week as cnn hero was shocked when she saw brand-new children's books ready to be tossed. now nearly 20 years and one and a half years later. she's even transformed the places where they go to read them. >> for a child the library can be a magical place. >> i'm officially the most awesome girl in the world. >> it can transform you academically, but it can also nurture you emotionally. what people don't realize is that school libraries are sometimes not funded at all.
we provide libraries for underserved communities and schools. our whole goal is to spread literacy and the benefits of literacy. >> to see rebecca and her team transform a library, go to cnn heroes.com. that's it for us tonight. thanks for watching. good evening. john berman here in for anderson. the story the white house wishes would go away is not going away, partially because the president and his team won't let it go away, the white house, the president, the chief of staff all have been lashing out at a congresswoman who was there when the president called a grieving military widow, the wife of sergeant johnson. kelly spoke about it at length about the congresswoman yesterday. the president spoke about it all again tonight with fox news. >> he was so offended because he was in the room when i made the call, and so were other people