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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  December 20, 2018 11:00pm-12:01am PST

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you have it. you raised your hand. now use it and get things done. history is being written and you are wrong to think that the beginning and end of the story will be president trump. what will history say about you in this moment? thank you for watching cnn tonight with d. lemon starts right now. >> it's like the wizard of oz, chris. seriously. once you expose the man behind the curtain, you see what you get. we saw it in the oval office with nancy pelosi and chuck schumer, and all of these lawmakers seem to be afraid of him when their greatest power is if they stand up to the president and to the rule of law and to the constitution. >> they have a duty to do so. this last election reinforced that mandate. they shouldn't have needed that example for it to be made manifest in their own actions. you saw mitch mcconnell come out tonight. little strong for him. he mentioned russia, mattis mentioned russia in his good-bye. they've got to pass laws.
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they have to take their power back, especially where the military is involved, don. it's such an easy situation. they've abdicated power to presidents past. not just this one. obama, starting with clinton and kosovo they've done it. they have to take their power back or they have no excuse. >> i was watching a.b. today art. she was on a conservative network, she said this was -- whoever is giving the president advice, it was political malpractice at this point. >> that assumes he's taking it. >> assumes he's taking the advice. >> i have to tell you, the moment of metaphor, i'm not about bashing people. i don't need to do that. i can fight with ideas. stephen miller, that's who comes out on a day like this? >> well, come on, who else does he have? >> the president. >> of course it should be the president. but, again, remember what -- who the real wizard of oz was? that's all it is. i don't want to call names here. but the president won't come out and do it for the same reason that he puts out a video. maybe he really doesn't want to
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expose himself that he doesn't know what he's talking about. maybe mattis did it all in this letter today. you read that letter, right? >> uh-huh. >> maybe mattis did it -- maybe he said everything that we need to know right there in that letter. >> a moment like today is a moment made for a president. this is a day where you come out, you make your case to the american people and you show them why you are their leader. he did not do that. >> i have to tell you, i'm going to read that letter because i think people should know what's in it. i think it's very important, and i am actually scared at this point. and i'm going to talk about that now. >> i see opportunity. >> okay. i hope you're right. thank you, chris. i'll see you. >> have a good night, pal. >> you, too. this is cnn tonight. i'm don lemon. i want to be plain, okay. whatever you're doing, please just sit down and watch, even if you watched just this much of the show because i think it's important for our country and the world. if you were worried tonight, you
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should be, because honestly, who knows what is going to happen next? not being hyperbolic. i'm not being an alarmist. and here is why. however you felt or feel about james mattis, secretary mattis, general james mattis, he was the bulwark between impulse and stability in this administration. he was the last person left who could tell an impetuous president, slow your roll. hold your horses. cool your jets. you don't want to do that. so tonight, a political earthquake is rolling through washington as the trump administration sinks further into chaos. defense secretary james mattis, hailed as a great military leader, is resigning after the
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president falsely claimed isis is defeated and announced he is withdrawing troops from syria. mattis also knows that that is a false and dangerous position for the united states military to take. he has also said to be against the president's expected order to withdraw about half of u.s. forces from afghanistan as well. now, in this country, the president of the united states is the commander in chief of the u.s. armed forces. that is the way it works. it's momentous. it requires a steady hand, a sense of responsibility for the lives of our young men and women in uniform, and adherence to the values that they fight for, that they put their lives on the line for every single day. you can decide for yourself if
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the current holder of the office possesses those qualities. pretty much everyone believes that secretary mattis does. he has all of those qualities. and what secretary mattis did tonight proves that he does. and we will have plenty of time to talk about that during this show. a must watch, because we're going to talk about all of it and we're going to be open and honest about it. what happened today has made it crystal clear that president trump is acting against the advice of top pentagon and national security officials because he thinks he knows better. >> i know more about isis than the generals do, believe me. >> is the president smarter than his generals? think about it. is he smarter than his generals? does he know more than his
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generals? a man with no military experience, got five deferments during the vietnam war -- remember bone spurs? a man who once said that avoiding stds, sexually transmitted diseases when he was single, was his own personal vietnam. a man who has disparaged gold star families, does he know more about these conflicts than a four-star general? a four-star general. with a 40-year military career. well, we're all about to find out. the world is about to find out. general mattis has had it.
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he's had enough. general kelly is leaving as chief of staff. general mcmaster, long gone as national security advisor. so here's what i want to do for you. because you need to hear it, okay? i want to read the full text of mattis's resignation letter. we can see where he spells out his differences with president trump. he calls out the president's dismissal of america's long-standing military alliances such as nato. and hints at trump's coziness with russia and china. saying those countries are trying to shape the world in their authoritarian models, okay. please give me your attention. here it is. it says, dear mr. president, i have been privileged to serve as our country's 26th secretary of defense, which has allowed know serve alongside our men and
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women of the department in defense of our citizens and our ideals. i am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our national defense strategy. putting the department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the department's business practices for greater performance. our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict, and sustain strong u.s. global influence. one core belief i have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. while the u.s. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. like you, i have said from the
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beginning that the armed forces of the united states should not be the policemen of the world. instead, we must use all tools of american power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. nato's 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9/11 attack on america. the defeat isis coalition of 74 nations is further proof. similarly, i believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasing with intention with ours. it is clear that china and russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model -- gaining veto authority over other nation's economic diplomatic and security decisions to borough moat their
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own interests at the expense of their neighbors, america and our allies. that is why we must use all the tools of american power to provide for the common defense. my views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. we must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity, and values. and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances. because you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, i believe it is right for me to step down from my position. the end date for my tenure is february 28, 2019. a date that should allow
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sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed, as well as to make sure the department's interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include congressional posture hearings and the nato defense ministerial meeting in february. further, that a full transition to a new secretary of defense occurs well in advance of the transition of chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in september in order to ensure stability within the department. i pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million service members and the 732,079 dod civilians receive undistracted attention so they can fulfill their mission to protect the american people. i very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
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no mention of the president. the reaction of democratic congressman john of california sums up what a lot of americans are thinking tonight. using two words, when told matt mattis is leaving the pentagon, those two words, and i quote, oh, shut. soon he will be gone, along with kelly, with mcmaster, with tillerson, the list is too long to go through. and as the world reeled in shock from this announcement, who strolled out of the white house to face the cameras and make the case for this administration? >> there is a lot to be happy about right now. >> stephen miller.
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sounding a bit unhinged. >> let's talk about syria. let's talk about the fact, isis is the enemy of russia. isis is the enemy of assad. isis is the enemy of turkey. are we supposed to stay in syria for generation after generation spilling american blood? and fight the enemies of all those countries? >> the president says on one day isis is defeated, the next day he says icy is there, let russia take care of t. >> isis has been defeated. but if ice igs wants to retrench and regrow and reorganize, it's going to be up to those countries to defeat their enemy. >> why is he screaming? he's wearing a microphone. are there any adults left inside the trump white house? besides the president's adult daughter and son-in-law maybe? the mattis resignation comes as
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the federal government is on the verge of shutting down tomorrow night. days before the christmas and new year's holidays. president trump telling congress that he won't sign a temporary spending bill to keep the government open. if he doesn't get his funding for his border wall. after unfollowing ann coulter because she tweeted his presidency is a joke if he doesn't build the wall -- yes, really, that happened -- he doesn't have republican votes. and he knows it. when the white house hinted trump would accept the temporary bill, his conservative base and right wing media went crazy, so now the clock is ticking on a government shutdown tomorrow. it's ticking on the opening of a stock market that has already been teetering amid the uncertainty of the president's policies. like i said, if you're worried tonight, you should be.
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the chaos in washington tonight, no one knows what's next. lot to discuss. kaitlan collins, major general james marks, david axelrod. smoothing haircare, from whole blends. blended with purpose, for hair that hates humidity. with rich coconut oil, a legendary smoother, and cocoa butter known to soften. as a whole blend, it nourishes for 24-hour frizz control. blended makes us better. whole blends. blended makes us better. what's the worst part about paying for things you don't want? the-- paying. and what's the best part about getting things you do want for free? free stuff. that's why verizon now comes with six months of free apple music. i like music. i like popcorn. how dare you! (vo) but the latest iphone, get iphone xr on us. verizon.
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for a limited time, $50 for them $10 for you. applebee's. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood. the trump administration is in chaos tonight, dragging the nation with it. general mattis resigns as pentagon chief, as the federal government at&ters on a
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shutdown. i want to bring in now cnn's kaitlan collins, also major marks, and david axelrod. i'm so glad to have all of you on tonight. caitlyn, i know you're up against the dlok get off the white house lawn. we're glad to have you as long as you can tonight. caitlyn, i want to start with you. a looming government shutdown, mattis leaving, is the white house aware of the chaos enguchling them? >> they've been aware of it all day long. some senior officials were surprised to learn that secretary mattis was leaving tonight. that really adds to the level of chaos they've been dealing with all day, discussing with president trump about signing the short-term spending bill. but mattis really caught him off guard. publicly officials are trying to say that the president and secretary mattis have this great relationship. behind the scenes things had actually been much icier than that. you can't downplay the fact the secretary is resigning in protest of the decision to
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abruptly withdraw the troops from syria as he did yesterday, something that caught not only mattis, but also the secretary of state pompeo off guard and several other national security officials as well. and essentially, they're stunned by this idea that mattis is leaving over this because they weren't expecting this to happen. officials thought maybe it could come later on. they knew that the president and mattis had been in a rocky terrain lately with their relationship, but they weren't expecting this. of course, the narrative in washington has been that mattis was the adult in the room, and that was not only the narrative just in washington and around town, but also inside the walls of the west wing. so i do believe it's causing some concern tonight because it did catch them off guard and they don't know who the president is going to pick to replace him, even though the white house is saying he'll have someone by the end of the year. >> caitlyn, where is the president? on such major important issues, at a time when the country and the people in the country need assurance that we are in good hands, when the stock market is
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tanking, when so many people are leaving his administration, when the government might be shutting down, he sends out stephen miller. he puts a video out to announce the withdrawal of troops in syria. where is the president? >> well, i think the question here also is regarding this upheaval that we've seen, essentially, in the administration. since president trump came into office, there has been this talk of who in the room is restraining president trump from his impulses, his campaign promises, his decisions, and essentially those people have all left the building, tonight with the departure of secretary mattis. i'm told there are questions inside the west wing of whether or not he's actually going to stay on through the end of february as he said tonight in that letter to the president. and, don, it's becoming increasingly clear the president had not read secretary mattis' letter to him that he brought with him when he came to talk to president trump in the oval office today to tell him he didn't believe withdrawing u.s. troops from syria was the right decision, something that clearly president trump did not agree
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with and in the end resulted in his resignation, because the president sent out this glowing tweet saying he's retiring, even though he's already retired from the military technically. but praising him and praising his service as the defense secretary. but if you read that letter, as you just did on air, he implicitly criticizes the president and essentially says they do not agree on their viewpoints of the military and of the world and what's best for the nation. that is stark. that is a remarkable comment, and a remarkable letter coming from the defense secretary and it's left some officials inside the west wing wondering where they go next. and as one white house official pointed out to me, and as you pointed out earlier, there is not a single utterance of praise for president trump in that letter. that is pretty stunning, don. >> yes. general marks, i want to bring you in now, because even though the president said he's retiring, general mattis is quitting in protest. that's what the belief is. that's what you would -- from reading that letter. this is a man with 40-plus years
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serving this country, and he's falling on the sword. is he? >> well, you have to assume that the decision to withdraw our forces from syria might have been the final decision in a cumulative effect of what might be some disagreements. but the private relationship between secretary mattis and the president belongs to them and i would not presume to even comment on what that is like. what concerns me about this is everything that we have stated, is that jim mattis really is an incredibly measured, talented, brilliant warrior. i mean, he understands the intellectual foundations of the business. he understands the business of war fighting. he understands how to run large organizations that are defined by chaos and uncertainty. and he also brings to the table the real understanding of what the implications are of leading an organization like the defense department, where you commit young men and women to combat where there is incredible
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uncertainty. and you know they may not come back. here's this very measured hand that's going to go away. look, i've grown up in a world where i absolutely embraced the notion that there is no irreplaceable man or woman. it's tragic that jim is leaving, but let me tell you, i am hopeful and i hope my hope is not misplaced, that we are going to find someone to be the secretary of defense. and jim will have a life after service to a nation that has been incredible and will have someone as the secretary of defense that will step up and will provide the service that's required. a final thought, though. it's troubling to me that one of the key ingredients is the acknowledgment that the secretary of defense has to be aligned with the president. i get alignment. i get being in the same formation. i totally understand that. but what's imperative about all organizations is you have to have the push back. you have to have contrarian voices in the room that are obligated to speak up and say, look, you know, the king has no clothes. there are some alternative paths that we need to walk down, and
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we need to consider. and i'm concerned that that is missing. that's my biggest concern. >> well, i hope you're right about the first part of your assessment, that there will be someone who will come along who will be the adult in the room. david, you're nodding along as the general is talking. >> yeah. look, i worked for a president who was a wartime president. came to office, we had 180,000 troops committed overseas, and he and i sat through nine very, very robust meetings between the president and his military commanders and his secretary of state, secretary of defense talking about the future in afghanistan, talking about some of these very issues. it is true -- we have civilian control of the military for a reason, and the responsibility ultimately rests with the commander in chief for a reason, but it relies on the commander in chief acting responsibly, hearing different points of
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view, weighing them, and making considered decisions. and what has happened in the last 48 hours is, is not that. it was he made an abrupt decision with huge implications for allies and for adversaries without the -- not just against the advice of his commanders, but apparently without their final word on it. and that's very dangerous. you said, don, in your open that he said he knew better than the generals. the frightening thing is we're going to find out. we're going to find out right now. >> so, david, you know that building behind caitlyn. what's going on in there right now? >> well, you know, the building i knew isn't like anything i've seen in the last two years, but i think what you have is a staff in one part of the building and a president in another part of the building who is maybe
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communicating with people outside of that circle and making very, very impulsive decisions that are largely motivated by politics. i think the decision on the wall is motivated by politics. the wall versus shutdown. and the decision on syria, i believe, was made for that reason as well. and perhaps even to change the subject from things that he thought weren't breaking his way. and he may be right on the politics, by the way, that it may be a popular move to bring troops home. it probably is. but -- but when you're president of the united states and commander in chief, you have to, you have to consider the full array of equities. and that isn't his -- that isn't his interest. >> i think you can agree with bringing troops home, but not doing it this way, especially informing people by tweet. >> absolutely. >> general, i see you want to get in. quickly, because i want to get to the break. >> what i want to say is the removal of troops from syria is
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a tactic. that's not a strategy. what we're waiting for is the strategy. there are elements of power that can be used to achieve the nation's desired end states, and military is simply one of them. to remove the troops, it's a tactic looking for a strategy. we're waiting to hear what the strategy is. >> thank you all. i wish we had more time. we have a lot of show to get to. i really appreciate your time. much more on today's absolutely incredible news. the defense secretary resigning in protest over the president's policies. former director of national intelligence james clapper reacts next. t in this house. 'cause that's no ordinary family. that's your family. which is why you didn't grab just any cheese. you picked up new kraft expertly paired cheddar and swiss for eggs. beat that! kraft. family greatly. new listerine® ready! tabs™ aren't gum, mints, or marbles. seriously, what is this? if you guessed they're tabs that turn into liquid as you chew, so you can swish and clean your whole mouth instantly, then you were correct.
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defense secretary jim mattis, regarded around the country and by our allies as one of the few steadying influences on president trump w mattis on his way out, are we less safe? i'm joined now by cnn national security analyst james clapper, the former director of national intelligence. i'm so happy that you could join us. thank you so much, director. i want to read to you retired u.s. army general told after the news of mattis' resignation. he said, the kind of leadership that causes a dedicated patriot like jim mattis to leave should give pause to every american. simple question. will americans be less safe because james mattis is leaving? >> yes, don, i think so. i mean, obviously the sun will come up tomorrow and somebody will follow jim mattis -- i can't think of anybody that's going to replace him.
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i find this disturbing, but not surprising. knowing jim as i do, i figured it was a question of time when he would reach the point where he would have to do what he did. his letter is classic. you know, it will go down in history. it was compelling both for what it said and what it didn't say. >> what are you hearing, director, from others in the national security and intelligence community? >> well, i think everyone is -- that i've engaged with is, you know, upset and disturbed about it. i got an e-mail from somebody earlier this evening saying, this makes me very nervous. tell me something that will make me calm. and i said, i don't think i can. >> you know, this president has insisted -- and when he was a candidate, for years, that he knows more about defeating isis
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than america's generals. i want you to listen, this is from 2016 when he was a candidate. >> do you still feel like you know more about isis than the generals? >> well, they don't know much because they're not winning. that i can tell you. i think they're not winning for a different reason. i think obama's hurting them. >> how so? >> it's being run -- from what i here hear, it's being run from the white house. >> so is president trump doing exactly what he criticized president obama of doing for our nation's top generals? he just quit over. >> yeah, exactly. and, of course, president obama initially didn't want to get engaged in syria, and so that's another irony here, the parallels of similarities between president trump and his predecessor, whom he roundly criticizes. by the way, i say that it is completely wrong to assert that isis has been defeated. they have not been.
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>> you said just a moment ago that the letter was as compelling as what it said, what it didn't say. what didn't it say? >> well, typically in a letter like this, there is an expression of what an honor it has been to serve in this administration and under your leadership, or words to that effect. that's typically what you put in a resignation letter. it's what i put in mine when i resigned in the last administration. that wasn't there. and i think it was a pretty and obvious compelling omission. >> the last line was, i very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform. and as i said in my open, didn't say anything about the president. >> right. >> and i'll add, as you added, the administration. do you think others in this administration will begin to speak out or perhaps leave their positions because of this? >> well, you know, i hope so. you know, i just want to foot
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stomp something that julia said earlier this evening about her hope that he does not remain silent like others have done when they've left this administration. and jim still has a service to render to this country by speaking up, and i hope he does. and i hope he, by the example that he set, that others will think hard about our values and what's important for this country and, you know, can they look themselves in the face and continue to serve this president. >> we know he made it two years before leaving. a pretty lengthy tenure for someone in trump's administration. who is going to want to take this job, do you think, especially knowing that the president may just decide -- the president may just decide to ignore any advice you're giving or making, and he does unilaterally decisions all on his own? >> exactly.
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you know, he's a stable genius, so i guess he's capable of doing that. i don't know who will step up and serve, unless it's somebody that's going to be a complete yes man. and it seems to me what the president much prefers is people who will, you know, just salute smartly and yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full, and march off and do whatever he wants done without any thought about the implications. and this withdrawal from syria is reckless, in my view, as an example. >> you're the third person in the last few minutes on cnn to say that. david axelrod, james said exactly what you said. we appreciate your time. we appreciate your perspective. thank you, director clapper. >> thanks, don. >> mattis' resignation is just the latest crisis to hit the administration with a shutdown looming, stocks falling, robert mueller hanging over the
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president trump will soon begin the search for a new defense secretary, part of the chaos rocking the white house tonight. and we may be just hours away from a government shutdown. there's lots to discuss. ryan lizza is here as well as anna navarro and scott jennings. good evening. i'm so glad to have all of you on, such a serious night, serious news. randy, i'll start with you. mattis stepping down, the market tanking. there is chaos in every corner of washington tonight and president trump is at the center of it. >> he is, as he always is, don, right? i mean, we can't, we can't think this is new, right? i keep hearing people say that the wheels have finally come off the bus. i think we left the wheels several miles back on the side
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of the road and there's no spare, either. and, you know, i think it was very instructive today. you had two people that had huge influence on donald trump in two of the biggest stories of the day or of the week. one was mattis being unable to convince the president of a policy on syria to keep some level of forces there, to understand why it's in our national security interest to have some engagement there. couldn't influence the president, and he essentially either was pushed out or resigned. i think we'll get the full story in the days to come, right? and on the looming government shutdown, you have radio talk show host rush limbaugh bragging today that he convinced the president to shut the government down. whether he was just brging -- he's a bit of a blow hard. whether he was bragging or that's true, that's the kind of person -- that's the kind of clown that has influence on this
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president. and i think the question tonight is the same as it always is when we're in these chaotic situations. it's not so much about trump. it's what do other republicans do and say about this, people who can actually have some influence. trump will never change, but the grown ups in the republican party, if there are any left, really, really need to step up because things can always get worse tomorrow. >> well, let's talk to a republican now and a grown up. so, scott, you're pretty straight with me on this show. are you concerned about the direction that this president is -- where he is at this point? >> yeah, i am. i think it's been a pretty rough period since the midterm. he's got a lot of balls in the air right now, not just from a policy perspective, but from a personnel perspective. and he has a lot of worried allies out there. on the shutdown front, he was presented a plan by the congressional leadership whereby the government would be funded and they would spend the month of january all locked together
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fighting the democrats over the idea of getting more border security and a wall, and making it perhaps the center piece of his state of the union. he agreed to that plan, and then went back on the agreement. on mattis -- so, you've got allies worried on capitol hill. now mattis, allies worried around the world because you've got the secretary of defense leaving and a willingness of the president to go against what's in the best interest of our allies with the kurds and israelis on his decision on syria. so right now i am concerned for the president because he has a lot of allies out there and he's got a lot of political positions that are correct, that the impulse is correct. but i'm worried about the strategy to keep the allies together and to get some victories out of all the chaos that presently exists. >> i want to note for our viewers that scott is the trump supporter on this panel, so just so you know. anna, this president's obsession with the wall, he is shutting the government down over potentially, even though there is no way that he's going
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to get the money for it. it's not politically possible. anyway, it was mexico who was supposed to pay for the wall, and he had secretary mattis send troops to the border in a pre-election stunt. talk to me. >> look, i think we've seen this over and over again before, right? remember when he had the meeting on immigration reform and daca? and then agreed to that? and then the right wing came out, criticized him, and he went back. do you remember when he had the meeting on gun reform? made promises, and then right wing came out, criticized him, and he took it back. we're seeing the same thing over and over again. possibly the only person that donald trump fears more than right wing commentators is vladimir putin, who is having a very good day and a very good week. as in america, we are seeing a spiraling down of the stock
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market. we are seeing chaos in government. we are seeing finally some concern from republicans in congress. in russia, vladimir putin got a hem of a christmas gift. everything on his list he's been granted with donald trump. withdrawal of troops from syria, lifting up sanctions on the companies of a russian oligarch tied to the interference in the u.s. elections. he's getting everything. you know what? the money he invested in interfering in these elections and influencing public opinion for these elections has paid off big time for vladimir putin because he has managed to sow discord and destabilize america in a way that should scare every single american. >> all right. everyone hold their thoughts. i'm going to bring you back to the next block. you mentioned republicans, right, anna. my question is, will republicans continue to stick with this president? right after this break. well, how are the massage chairs working out for everyone?
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i dunno. i'm still a little stressed about buying our new house. well, it's a good thing we don't have to worry about homeowners insurance. geico can help with that. we can get homeowners insurance help from geico? well, sure. and they could save us a bunch too. mmhmm? i'm starting to feel better already. get to know geico and see how much you could save on homeowners and condo insurance.
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chaos with a capital c tonight at the trump white house. back with me ryan, ana and scott. so ana, you know, republicans have been running interference for this president. does that start to change given the decisions the president is making on national security? >> frankly, i don't know. if anything, it's not about national security. i think it's more about losing elections. but look, there have been so many things that have happened in the last two years where they should have stood up to him, where they should have shown that they are a co-equal branch of government. i just read a tweet tonight from marco rubio talking about having to fulfill their constitutional duty to provide oversight to the executive branch. really? now?
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now you're going to start? after you've had rip van winkle syndrome for the last two years? where have you been? as he violates the emoluments clause. where have you been as he bullies the judicial branch? where have you been as he meets alone saying god knows what with vladimir putin? where have you been as he bashes u.s. intelligence and undermines u.s. elections? where has the republican congress been? and where have the cabinet members been? look at how the resignation of mattis has reverberated. where have all the other cabinet members been when he has been equating neo-nazis to those who protest against them? where have they been? you know, i remember last year when it was reported that mattis and kelly, john kelly had made a pact so that both of them would not be outside the country at the same time so at least one of
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them could be around to provide adult supervision. it is scary now to think the level of sycophants that are around providing supervision or lack thereof to the colicky 72-year-old man baby in the oval office. fortunately, i went online today, don, and there's actually something called white house nannies.com. i suggest somebody in congress look them up. >> you were asking where are the republicans? paul ryan has been sitting around in the circle with folks seeing who can compliment the president the most. i got to ask you, scott, how much longer do republicans stick with this president? >> well, i think they will stick with him if they will hear his -- if he will listen to them on the key strategic elements of getting the things done where they have shared goals. the president needs to understand in the new washington following the midterm the house is death, the senate is life. if i were the president, i would figure out how to keep myself allied with the senate republicans because you have
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majority in the chamber and that's where the rubber hits the road on personnel. so i think they will stick with him if he will work with them and listen to them and execute on their shared goals and their mutual plans. where it gets hard to do that is where you make agreements and then you blow those agreements up -- >> what do you say -- >> -- back to the drawing board. >> he says he doesn't watch but he often watches as you know. he talks about us but he says he doesn't watch us and members of the administration watch. because we hear the feedback. what do you say to the president if he's watching right now? >> well, i would say that you've got a lot of people on capitol hill who want you to be successful and they have laid out some plans for you to be mutually successful with allies in congress. when you agree to those plans, stick to those plans and use all the power of your allies and your alliances on capitol hill to stick it to the democrats. when you go at it alone, it's hard to get maximum political impact when you're trying to win a public debate about an
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important topic, which is border security. now we're plunging into a government shutdown because the deal in the house won't get 60 votes in the senate and we don't have a clear way out of it. so in order to achieve your policy objectives and political objectives, you need all your allies on the same page functioning together with you, not in the dark when you're functioning on your own. >> ryan? what happens tomorrow, ryan? >> well, you know, i think a lot of republicans need to sleep on what's going on tonight and make a big decision and realize that their obituaries will be about how they act in moments like this, especially right now, and we learned a lot in the last 48 hours. we learned that donald trump is more influenced by a fool and infotainer like rush limbaugh than he is by a well-respected general like mattis and republicans on the hill need to decide are they going to be the party of fools like rush
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limbaugh or mattis and that's what they are staring at over the next few days and months. >> thank you, all. i appreciate your time. we've got a lot more on today's bombshell news. fareed zakaria tells us why mattis's resignation is such a critical moment for our country. i'm going to speak with the incoming chair of the house foreign affairs committee as well. from whole blends. blended with purpose, for hair that hates humidity. with rich coconut oil, a legendary smoother, and cocoa butter known to soften. as a whole blend, it nourishes for 24-hour frizz control. blended makes us better. whole blends. for a limited time, $50 for them $10 for you. applebee's. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood. ♪ can you feel it put a smile on everyone's face this holiday with great gifts from amazon. with low prices and fast, free delivery with prime.
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this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. our breaking news. the defense secretary james mattis quits just a day after president trump's abrupt and controversial decision to withdraw u.s. troops from syria. check out the reactions, though, from top officials. i'll start with john brennan. he says disaster looms. the next one says, "oh, shit." deeply alarming. almost our worst nightmare. we'll endanger our nation, damage our alliances, and empower our adversaries. should give pause to every american. this is chaos. it's putting america in danger. isolationism is a weak strategy that will harm america. we're less safe. this is scary. a loss to our country's leadership. president trump is plunging us

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