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CNN TONIGHT

Democratic National Convention Set to Kick Off in Philly; DNC Chair to Step Down After Leaked E-Mails; Did Russia Hack and Leak DNC E-Mails to Help Trump?; Analyzing Clinton and Kaine's First Joint Interview. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 24, 2016 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[22:00:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That's it for me. Thanks for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Well, It turns out it's Democrats who have to worry about convention chaos.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.

We're live here in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, although there's not a lot of love for DNC Chief, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She says, she's going to step down at the end of her party's convention. That's in the wake of the leaked e-mails suggesting DNC staffers plotted against Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, in her first interview with running mate Tim Kaine told "60 Minutes" this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There's the Hillary standard and then there's the standard for everybody else.

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: What's the Hillary standard?

CLINTON: Well, it is, you know, lot of, as you saw at the Republican convention, unfounded, inaccurate, mean-spirited attacks with no basis in truth, reality, which take on a life of their own.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, let's get right to CNN's Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, good evening to you. You were on the plane with Debbie Wasserman Schultz yesterday. What a difference 24 hours makes. Give us a timeline of what happened today.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It does, Don. I was in Miami yesterday when Hillary Clinton was introducing her running mate, Tim Kaine, and one of the party officials, party leaders who was introducing both of them in the warm-up act was Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Of course, she's a Florida Congresswoman.

We happened to be on the same plane from Miami here to Philadelphia. She was looking to this convention, the historic nature of this convention, you know, the fact that the Democratic Party is nominating the first woman to be its presidential nominee. And certainly, her fortunes changed today. The reality here is that the controversy over those leaked e-mails that really showed the DNC was not nearly as impartial as they suggested during the primary, it got to be too much. And there's the worry about more e-mails coming out from these WikiLeaks.

So it just became this cloud that was threatening to sort of disrupt the nomination -- the nominating convention here. So finally, she decided late today that this was untamable political situation and she would step down. But, Don, that didn't really end it because I'm told she still wants to address this convention tomorrow afternoon. And you can be sure some Sanders supporters and maybe others will not be that happy to see her. So we may have an interesting floor moment like we saw last week in Cleveland.

LEMON: And you would think they would want to avoid and just sort of cut the cord and move on. But, Jeff, tell me more about what you're hearing from your sources. It took some very high level phone calls to get her to even budge, right?

ZELENY: It did. I mean, I'm told that she was hunkered down throughout the day. She really wanted to try and weather this storm. She thought she would be able to. She's had some controversy during her time as the chair of this party, but really, the Clinton campaign and others thought that she needed to do the right thing and step aside. And finally, I'm told that she wanted a call and a conversation with President Obama. He, of course, appointed her to be chairwoman of the DNC. So it was worked out before that but then he called and thanked her for her service, and Hillary Clinton also released a statement.

I do not believe they talked on the phone today, but she did issue a statement, you know, raising her for her work. It's one of those classic things when someone steps aside and moves along, you ignore the controversy in front of you and you praise them for their work. But, Don, one thing that is still out there, she hasn't acknowledged and apologized for, you know, those words that were said against Senator Sanders and that is the reason that so many Democrats, at least on the Sanders side of thing, he got 43 percent of the vote, are still pretty sore about this.

LEMON: Yeah. And, you know, Donna Brazile, who's going to be stepping in in the interim has apologized, but we haven't heard from her. What about the Sanders' camp, Jeff? What are they saying?

ZELENY: The Sanders campaign, you know, I am told that they are fine with the idea of Debbie Wasserman Schultz coming to speak tomorrow briefly. But they say, "Look, we also cannot control our own delegates here." They said they would try and keep them in line and not harass or heckle.

But there's no question about it. There are some raw feelings. And senator Sanders this morning on "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper, he called once again for her to resign. And by the end of the day, that's exactly what happened. So her tenure ends after the convention, technically on Friday. But after tomorrow, I doubt we'll see her any more in front of the cameras. Don.

LEMON: Jeff Zeleny with the reporting on this. Jeff, thank you very much for that.

Here to discuss this, my political dream team, Bakari Sellers, Kevin Madden, Angela Rye, David Chalian, Peter Beinart, and Kayleigh McEnany.

[22:05:01] You cannot write this stuff, right? If we thought we had, you know, the grill last week was going to be lit, as people are calling it, this is. So here's my thing, all right, why are they dancing around doing this whole dance with Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Why not just say, "Debbie, you're done, move on, e got to get this." Why are they playing quoits with her?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think the better question is, why didn't they do that two months ago?

LEMON: Yeah.

CHALIAN: I mean that this ...

LEMON: What's going on?

CHALIAN: It was clear that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was not going to be the chair of the DNC after this convention. That was something Democrats were talking about a couple months ago, Don. And clearly, it was a sort of scalp that the Sanders folks were asking for at that time. And I don't know why the Clinton folks didn't negotiate their way out of it back then.

The one thing I'll say, you know, you heard Jeff report, she wanted a phone call with President Obama?

LEMON: Yeah.

CHALIAN: Do you remember, also during the chair, it was reported how she wanted pictures with President Obama and photo ops like all the time at every event or every fundraiser they went to together. She would always ask for like another photo with him according to that report. So, I don't understand her thinking on this because she seemed to be on island. But you are right, the fact that the Clinton campaign allowed this, I know the e-mails just came out, but these problems with Debbie Wasserman Schultz ...

LEMON: We're big, yes.

CHALIAN: ... were apparent before the e-mails. So, the fact that they got to the Sunday, the eve of their convention and this is what they're dealing with, is just a mishandling.

LEMON: You have to -- this is bad crisis management. You're Democrat ...

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think this is not good timing by any stretch or whatsoever. But I do think when the e- mails come out, there was no dabbling around. They king of lanced the boil. But, you know, I think that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, I mean, what they're doing tomorrow is a part of some grand bargain, a grand negotiation. We do know that much.

LEMON: With Debbie Wasserman Schultz?

SELLERS: Yes. I mean ...

LEMON: Why?

SELLERS: ... with Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

LEMON: But why?

SELLERS: Because -- I mean, first of all, what you have to understand about the Clintons is that they're extremely loyal. I think that's the first thing. First and foremost, they're extremely loyal. And second, I think that she deserves some respect. I mean, although it's very clear that she was impartial during this campaign, very, very clear that she was impartial. It's also ...

LEMON: Partial?

SELLERS: Impartial.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was not ...

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: It's very clear that she was partial, that she did put her thumb on the scale. I do think that there is room for her and to see what she has to say tomorrow.

RYE: So, a couple of things. One is David, I would agree with you only partially. This was supposed to happen before, but not just two months ago. This has been a year plus in the making. She has frustrated many of her congressional colleagues that shall remain nameless, but I will say that as a chairperson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has come across very defensive.

She's probably going to get mad because I'm saying this but this is the truth, and we're talking about why. Very defensive, very combative, not willing to listen to her peers, unable to -- I mean, it's the big tent party, and you don't welcome people into your personal tent. Who is in your kitchen cabinet? Who will tell you no? You look like an egotistical maniac the day of the convention. Do we need an e-mail problem? No. This is not -- I mean, even if it's not to the grand, you know, scale of what happened at the State Department, we didn't need anything called e-mail happening this week. Let's just be, all the way, honest.

LEMON: The Republican colleagues are just laughing.

RYE: But it's true. I just think that at some point, you have to lay partisanship aside and just tell the truth. This is not good.

LEMON: You know, there is something about self-awareness, don't you think?

RYE: Well, hello.

KEVIN MADDEN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The other thing is at the end of the day, the chair of the party is still staff and when staff becomes the story, staff has to go.

RYE: That's right. That's right.

MADDEN: The other important part is campaigns are built on decisiveness. The most decisive campaigns always win. The indecision here and the drawing this out has created much more of a distraction that they ever needed on the eve of the campaign.

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And you know, this problem goes that Barack Obama wanted to fire Debbie Wasserman Schultz back after 2012. I mean, this has been a problem in the making of the Democratic Party for several years now.

MADDEN: And if anything too that the contrast between no drama Obama and every day drama ...

BEINART: Right.

MADDEN: ... DWS.

BEINART: Right. We saw this last fall when she got into a fight with Tulsi Gabbard, her vice chair about the fact that Gabbard wanted more debates. I mean, there have been warning sign after warning sign. This has been, I think, a systemic failure at the leadership level of the Democratic Party that they didn't solve the problem earlier.

LEMON: Kayleigh, kindly hold your thoughts, I'll play this from Donald Trump, I mean your response, this is Donald Trump, what he set on "Meet the Press" this morning, then Kayleigh will respond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He has been gamed. He has been -- it's a rigged system against him. And what happened with the choice of Tim Kaine was a slap in the face to Bernie Sanders and everybody. I was shocked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Kayleigh, that's how he's responding. He has every right to respond that way. What do you think of -- make of what's happening?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, because on a really strong level, he empathizes with Bernie Sanders. We recall when Colorado had, you know, their presidential preference poll cancelled and -- you know, that harmed Donald Trump and he was out there saying this is a rigged establishment doing this. So this played directly into the narrative Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump had both been putting forward that the DNC, which is purportedly impartial on the day she's staying on the neutral broker, she's privately e- mailing Bernie Sanders doesn't have a chance.

[22:10:07] The CFO was saying, "Let's brief up his Jewish heritage. Let's call him an atheist." And the CEO says amen in all caps back. So this is a really sad day for democracy when you have power structures at the top holding down the will of the people, and Donald Trump empathies. But I think, yeah.

SELLERS: But also, we must -- we got to be clear about this because Jeff Weaver was on earlier and we talked about this. It was a 300- delegate difference. So, I think that's very important.

MCENANY: Yeah.

SELLERS: It's millions of votes difference. But I want to -- let me also be clear about this. What was going on in the e-mails, I know we have a -- we can have a conversation about rush and how they got out and all of those things, but WikiLeaks didn't comprise the content of those e-mails.

MCENANY: That's right.

SELLERS: Those e-mails were disturbing. I've always said the two rules in politics, you should never talk about anybody else's religion or where they send their kids to school. I think those are two very off limit subjects, and the fact that there was banter going back and forth and they were laughing about it is unacceptable to anybody. And I think that is why you have to take decisive action and not just Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but there need to be a lot of people to go.

LEMON: One person I thought had the exact right reaction not just because she's my colleague, but when someone says, we did wrong, we apologize, we are going to fall on the sword, this is Donna Brazile, how she characterized it to Anderson. Listen. We don't have it. OK. Well, America ...

RYE: Well, I know what she said, and I think ...

LEMON: I thought we did have it, sorry.

RYE: You're right, Don. I think that part of it is at some point adults have to come to the fact, come to an agreement that, listen, we made a mistake. We were errant in our approach. We were errant in the way that we handled this. I did something wrong, and no, I probably shouldn't speak the opening day of the convention.

MCENANY: And Bakari's side to the fact about delegate gap, you know, if the rules have been different from the outset, if those debates have been featured at primetime hours where Bernie Sanders had maximum exposure, if you didn't have the DNC privately leaking documents to the Wall Street Journals, that's something else we learned.

LEMON: So what you're saying, it's not the e-mails, it's the other things that went along with the e-mails. That was just an indication. RYE: I don't know about that.

BEINART: If you remember - but remember, the irony was that actually Hillary Clinton did well in those debates.

LEMON: Yeah.

BEINART: She probably wouldn't have suffered very much at all had they been in more primetime. I think to say one thing on behalf of Debbie Wasserman Schultz,we should remember that Debbie Wasserman Schultz did not try to stack the deck against Bernie Sanders of her own accord, right. She is, as you said Kevin, she was staff. She was trying to tilt the playing field towards Hillary Clinton because that's what the powers that be inside the Democratic Party above her pay grade want. It's what Barack Obama wanted, that's what Hillary Clinton wanted.

RYE: I would not put ...

LEMON: The buck stops with her because she's the head of the party.

RYE: She doesn't care. She's not really sad. She actually pointed that there's the chief of staff.

BEINART: Right. But she's not actually the power inside the party.

LEMON: Listen to this, here's Donna Brazile.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONNA BRAZILE, INCOMING DNC INTERIM CHAIR: I took the position early on yesterday to walk into Philadelphia to apologize to the Sanders team about the distractions that the e-mails were causing. I also apologized for the insensitivity and tone and really some of the harsh and very, what I believe to be toxic words that came from some of the staffers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Now, some would say, she didn't have any other choice but to do it that way because it's so obvious. But there was no, well, the Trump campaign did this with the Russia. She just said, we were wrong. And when someone does that, what do you say after that? What do you say?

SELLERS: But they're not mutually exclusive either. I mean, I think that -- I think you can actually sit here as a Democrat and say, "Look, we messed up." Like, the Democratic National Committee convention messed, people need to go, people need to be held accountable. The way they treated Bernie Sanders in these e-mails was unfair. It was very, very partial. Got that part out correctly. But I also think that you can look at the effects and long lasting effects and the repercussions as we move forward, not only do we need to change leadership, but as a larger, general discussion -- general election discussion that has to had.

MCENANY: And what I will say is that I know the right and left here at CNN loved Donna Brazile. She's such a class act.

LEMON: Yeah.

MCENANY: She handled that just the right way and that's -- you know, we all love her.

SELLERS: And giving you some advice, one person you do not go after as a Republican is Donna Brazile.

MCENANY: Is Donna Brazile.

MADDEN: The other thing is she's trying to lower the temperature.

LEMON: Right.

MADDEN: The best thing that she can do right now for the party and for her candidate is to make sure that this is just a 24-hour news cycle.

LEMON: Yeah. Anyone watching, that's how you handle a crisis

RYE: Yes.

LEMON: You just take ownership of it.

Stick around, everybody, much, much more to come live from Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. By the way, do you know, I lived here? I bought my first house here. And I love Philly. It's the first night and there's drama. Don't go away, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:17:32] LEMON: Welcome back to Philadelphia, everyone. There's a Wells Fargo Center right there. That's where the Sixers play, yeah. Long time ago when I was here, Ivan Iverson was here. It's a long ago. Yeah.

Turmoil on the Democratic Party hours before the opening of the national convention here in Philadelphia. Back with me, Bakari Sellers, a Hillary Clinton supporter, our Republican Strategist, Kevin Madden, CNN Political Commentator, Angela Rye, CNN Political Director, David Chalian, Peter Beinart, the contributor to the "Atlantic", and Kayleigh McEnany, a Donald Trump supporter. Everybody already knows who you guys are because they asked me about you on the airport, on the train. "That Kayleigh, she's on every night." Like these cast of characters are in America's living rooms every night.

So, let's talk about this. Can we talk about how this was handled, because I think you brought up a good point? And you brought up a good point, one about the e-mails. They don't need a headline. Democrats, the last thing they needed was a headline with e-mails in it, the e-mails from the DNC being just one indication of how her thumb or the party's thumb may have been on the scale here. So, do you think, David that this was handled quickly enough, and as Kevin said, that Donna Brazile is going to make this a one-week or a couple- day story?

CHALIAN: And not just Donna, you know, every Democrats who's going to take decision, they're going to try move beyond this and focus on other things. I think it has the potential to be a short-lived story. I don't think it will stay with us necessarily all week long. I don't think it was handled well.

LEMON: So then what -- so then, if they want -- why isn't Debbie Wasserman Schultz on a plane back to Florida? And they're going, maybe she'll speak. I don't know if she deserves this. It's like, no, this is the presidential election.

CHALIAN: I do not fully understand why Debbie Wasserman Schultz's pride had more cloud here, more weight in the negotiation and the calculation ...

LEMON: Is that because of Hillary Clinton?

CHALIAN: ... than did Hillary Clinton's political needs. That to me, I don't understand why that slighted that way.

LEMON: Loyalty. Loyalty, you said, from the Clintons.

RYE: She has a primary, so I think we should also be honest about other political environmental factors that exist, right? So, Bakari brought up the fact that the Clintons are loyal people. They're not only loyal to someone who supported her in 2 008, but also someone who has a primary opponent now, who Bernie Sanders wanted to endorse. So she has ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did endorse.

RYE: Right. So he actually did endorse the opponent. The issue is, now she's got a race. She have a congressional race. This wasn't her primary day job. She had to. So they wanted to make sure that she saves a little bit of face. This is a walking commercial for her opponent.

MADDEN: You know, I think they overthought this. I think they tried to manage this in a way that was too cute.

[22:20:00] And, you know, this is -- what's the old saying, it's not show friends, it's show business.

LEMON: Yeah.

MADDEN: Right? They needed to move on, they need to be very decisive and make a decision and it had to be about the better interest of the party rather than the better interest of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And, it feels like they're moving in that direction. Look, here's the bigger problem, I think, for the party and they're going to have to spend the next 48 hours managing this, is it's about e-mails.

And when you think e-mails and Hillary Clinton, you start to think about problems about her being honest and trustworthiness and the whole FBI investigation into her personal server. That fits right into -- I mean this is right into Donald Trump's -- you know, this is right in his wheelhouse. He wants to draw a frame around this in a controversial way that distracts the next four days of Democratic messaging. And that's where it's like a problem.

BEINART: They can have one advantage, though, which is that -- and this is what makes it fundamentally different, the Republican situation.

LEMON: Right.

BEINART: Bernie Sanders is on board. He has endorsed Hillary Clinton, right. It's not like Ted Cruz who basically came in to this bonfire basically, kind of poured gasoline on it, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

BEINART: So Bernie Sanders is going to speak on Monday night. If Bernie Sanders gives an -- really is a rousing -- you know, gives a rousing endorsement of Hillary Clinton, that helps to put that behind.

LEMON: OK, listen, listen, listen, Wasserman Schultz, right, on Wasserman Schultz, here's Paul Manafort when you're talking about e- mail. Paul Manafort, "Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned over her failure to secure the DNC's e-mail service and the rigged system she set up with the Clinton campaign. Now Hillary Clinton should follow Wasserman Schultz's lead and drop out over her failure to safeguard top secret classified information both on her unauthorized home server and while traveling abroad." Wasserman Schultz e-mails only put the Democratic Party at risk ...

MADDEN: That's my point.

LEMON: ... was writing to Democratic instead of democrat ..

RYE: Right, right.

LEMON: ... the Democratic Party at risk, but Hillary Clinton's e- mails put all of America at risk.

MADDEN: This is my point.

SELLERS: I mean, first of all, Paul Manafort has been saying some things over the past few days, I mean whether he lied to the entire country for two days, three days last week, even here on air with our colleague, Chris Cuomo.

LEMON: He was my little pony.

SELLERS: That was ...

LEMON: I know, that came out little ...

SELLERS: So, I mean, and today how he just flat out dismissed any correlation between the Russians and we know that exists. But I think that tomorrow, the reason that -- the reason that you can hedge your bets on Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaking is because you know that the story will not be Debbie Wasserman Schultz tomorrow. You know tomorrow night, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, because things do change and Mr. Chalian can attest to the fact that things are changing quite quickly here in Philadelphia, that she may even -- we don't know if she'll actually touch the stage tomorrow night, but the story is going to be Bernie Sanders tomorrow night. That's a fact. The story is going to be the fact that Bernie Sanders is going to come up there after all this has happened on night one of the contention, the keynote speaker with his crew out there, Hillary's crew, and we're going to talk about unifying the party.

LEMON: Bernie Sanders before the -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz resignation, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNIE SANDERS, U.S. SENATOR: I asked and demanded Debbie Wasserman Schultz's resignation many, many months ago. And I state that again, I don't think she is qualified to be the chair of the DNC, not only for these awful e-mails which revealed the prejudice of the DNC, but also because we need a party that reaches out to working people and young people, and I don't think her leadership style is doing that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, you know, protests big here in Philadelphia. You know, you can have an event with all love and someone is going to protest here in Philadelphia. Back in 2000, I was here for the RNC convention in Philadelphia. There were lots of anarchists, lots of protests, one of the highlights of the convention then. But, you know, Sanders people are going to be out there. They're going to be upset by this. Are we going to see protests about this tomorrow about this?

MCENANY: Yes. And that's the thing for -- Bakari can tell the fact that Sanders will stand there on the state and endorse Clinton. He already has done that. We know he's on board. But the latest CNN poll shows 40 percent of his supporters are not. They will be on the streets protesting. They are going to be out there. They feel very slighted. I take you back to the Nevada caucuses where an entire tier of the caucus was eliminated where Bernie Sanders won. People have felt that that was not justifiable. And now, this comes out which essentially justifies the way that they've been feeling despite all along despite the fact that you've had Debbie Wasserman Schultz saying, we're neutral, we're neutral. This just justified their cause, 40 percent are not on board. You're going to see protests and perhaps voters coming to stop.

SELLERS: Let me just say to you that this is not new to the Democratic Party. In 2008, we had a group of women in this country named PUMAS, Party Unity My, and I know it's late but I'm not going to go that far. I want to keep my job tomorrow. And they went out in -- and even at this point, we had 40 percent of Clinton supporters who said they would never vote for Barack Obama. That is a Democratic trend. That is what we do as a party. But I an guarantee you, the biggest uniting factor in the Democratic Party is your candidate, Donald Trump. LEMON: Listen, Ted Cruz spoke at the Republican National Convention, and got boos. Donald Trump said, you know, I wanted him to have his moment, and Donald Trump knows how to control the news cycle. He probably knew it was going to be big news. Should they let Debbie Wasserman Schultz and let people get out there and boo her and let -- you know, see if America tunes in to see what she has to say?

RYE: That's the thing. It was interesting to hear Bakari say he thinks Bernie Sanders is going to be the story tomorrow.

[20:25:00] If she shows out there after this big and bold and after these e-mails gets booed, that is going to be the story. There is going to be gif after gif for that, right? That is going to be the story online. It's going viral.

BEINART: And that's why it will be malpractice to let her do that. No matter what the Trump people say, them letting Ted Cruz go out and give that speech was a big mistake. And if the Democrats allow Debbie Wasserman Schultz to go and get booed on stage, it will be a big mistake for them.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: But he's not because he's going to go out and talk about Donald Trump. The fact that we're talking about these e-mails, they don't really say poo is something when you compare, what "Washington Post" had to say about ...

LEMON: Yeah.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: I know you don't like what I'm saying, but it's still the truth. "Washington Post" said that Donald Trump is dangerous for the country. That's not a partisan issue. That's a damaging to our patriotism.

LEMON: OK. But to her point, though, the e-mails did this had more true.

RYE: All I'm saying about poo is poo versus ...

MCENANY: Yeah. But, Bernie -- no, Bernie Sanders would entirely disagree with you. They say that they should make believe us. They should -- no, you don't want me to say the contents of the e-mails because I know that they are damning the fact that your party said let's invite a story about Bernie Sanders and describe him as a atheist even though he is not that. That is a really big problem from a news ...

RYE: It is a problem. And you know who doesn't care enough to bring it up tomorrow on the stage? Bernie Sanders.

LEMON: We'll be right back. We'll be right back. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [23:30:05] LEMON: All right, the top aide to Hillary Clinton suggesting that Russian hackers released the DNC e-mails to embarrass the party and help Trump win in November. I want to talk about this with Matthew Rojansky. He's the Director of Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Also back with me, Bakari Sellers, Kevin Madden, Angela Rye, David Chalian, Peter Beinart, and Kayleigh McEnany. This is where the politics come in. This is where the conspiracy theories and blaming other people comes in.

So, David, to you first, here's Hillary Clinton's campaign manager this morning on the DNC e-mail hack. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBBY MOOK, CAMPAIGN MANGER, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: What's disturbing to us is that -- experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke in to the DNC, stole these e-mails. And other experts are now saying that they are -- the Russians are releasing these e-mails for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump. I don't think it's a coincidental that these e-mails were released on the eve of our convention here. And that's disturbing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So we heard in the interview with Anderson that Donna Brazile said that there are more e-mails and there be -- may be more to apologize for here. Do you think this is just the beginning of the leaks?

CHALIAN: Well, I think, Robby now is going to get a lot of follow-up questions under what he said this morning because now, there's going to be a ton of questions the Clinton campaign to provide evidence that they can connect the dots and some way to Russia.

There's been some reporting about the hack that does some of that but doesn't fully connect it in the way that, I think, Robby is suggesting this morning. So, I do think you're going to see this story is going to brew over the next couple of days here at this convention.

First of all, it would be an enormous story, obviously, if a foreign nation is trying to get involved in an American presidential election and choosing one candidate over the other. There's no -- the fact that the foreign nation may be Russia, in our complicated relationship with them, would make it even a bigger story. But, Don, we're not done hearing from the Clinton campaign on this. They're going to sort of put real evidence on the table.

LEMON: Yeah.

CHALIAN: ... if they're going to continue ...

MADDEN: I think it's a huge mistake for the campaign to make that accusation.

LEMON: Yeah.

MADDEN: I mean if they have that feeling where there are experts out there making that ...

LEMON: Not the experts ...

MADDEN: ... making that -- let the expert. I mean, get those experts in front of media so that story can take on another life of its own, but that's definitely is a mistake.

LEMON: Let me ask the expert now. This is the -- Matthew, the Former United States Ambassador to Russia tweeted, this today, says, "As a U.S. voter, I'm appalled by Russian, want it investigated and stopped. As long-time analyst of Russia, I'm impressed. They're good. So, Matthew, do you think the Russians are behind this mail leak? Is there evidence, enough evidence, to support that?

MATTHEW ROJANSKY, DIRECTOR, KENNAN INSTITUTE, WILSON CENTER: Well, the technical question of attribution, in other words, was the actual penetration of the DNC servers a Russian intelligence operation? Was it linked to an origin in servers in Russia? That is a technical forensic question. It's easily answerable. It's going to depend on the evidence, and that's definitely going to come out.

What we know is that there have been hacks in the past of DNC servers and other high level political targets in the United States that have been clearly linked to Russian government affiliated hacking groups. It's a tactic of the Russian government used before. By the way, it's also something that other governments around the world use. Most of the attacks on those kinds of major targets in the United States come from some type of government leak group. So that's not far out to imagine that that's possible. The question that seems to really preoccupy people is motive. Does this mean that the Russians are trying to interfere in American politics? And that's a tougher question because, you know, the effects, obviously then, are up in the air.

LEMON: Yeah. What would the motive be? Why are they trying to influence this election? Listen, given how shrewd Russia is about optics, what are they trying to prove here if they are, indeed, involved?

ROJANSKY: That's exactly it. So, from the Russian perspective, most people so far have been preoccupied with this, you know, is there some sort of Putin-Trump bromance? Is Putin going to so benefit from the policies that Trump is talking about whether it's being circumspect about NATO or pulling back on support for Ukraine in the Republican platform, that Putin would just go barging into the American election and intervene on behalf of Trump.

Well, first of all, it's not clear that this is going to benefit Trump. I think that's an open debate. But second, I think the far bigger motivation for the Russians is that all along, they have made the argument, this is what the United states does in the former Soviet neighborhood all around Russia, in places like Ukraine, in Georgia, and then ultimately in Russia itself. You know, Ambassador McFaul was tweeting, sort of praising and criticizing the Russians. It was McFaul's arrival as ambassador in late 2011 that came in the middle of a big protest movement on the streets of Russia that the Russain government said, "Oh, this is the American CIA arriving to bring about a color revolution, a coupe, intervening in our election."

[22:35:00] It came right between elections parliamentary elections and the presidential election where Putin came back to power. And so, I think the biggest motivation for the Russians, it's not to benefit Trump, it's not to benefit Hillary specifically, because they can't really predict how that's going to play out in American politics. Your panel would know better. I think it's to show Americans, hey, we can mess with your politics just as you can mess with ours. You're not the only great power out there that has that capability.

LEMON: I want to hear -- this is what the Trump campaign, how they are responding. Paul Manafort spoke with Erin Burnett earlier. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: On the issue of Russia, though, it is still important. I mean Russian government hackers did break into DNC servers last month. We know that. We know that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have said positive things about each other. You personally, of course, Paul, advised the pro-Putin, former president of Ukraine. Why is it so far-fetched to blame the Russians and say that the motive was to help you?

PAUL MANAFORT, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: It's just absurd. I mean, Donald Trump is running for President of the United States. Donald Trump is talking about the failed leadership of the Obama Administration. I don't know anything about what you just said. You may know it, and if you do, then you ought to expose it. I like to say you know. I don't know what you're talking about. It's crazy. The fact that we're having this conversation is the wrong conversation. The conversation we should be having is what does Russia have from Hillary Clinton's server? That's the bigger issue, not what anybody got from the DNC server.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Is it absurd, Bakari?

SELLERS: It's definitely not absurd. I mean, in fact, it was just a month ago when the forensic firm, CrowdStrike, said that there were two Russian hacking agencies that were associated with their defense, had actually hacked into the DNC server. We know that to be the case. We know that to be true. I think what the Clinton campaign, to David's point, is having a hard time doing and will have a hard time doing is completing the circle. I don't think we can discount the fact that Russians were involved in the hack. But actually completing the circle and saying Russians were involved in the hack to benefit Donald Trump is a much more difficult leap. And "The Washington Post" today just came out with an article about six hours ago in which they were talking about the many people, to Kevin's point, the many experts of which I'm not one, who have come out and said, "This is not beyond the realm of belief. This is not absurdity, in fact, there are many people believe that this is fact."

LEMON: I want to hear from a Conservative on the panel. What do you think of Manafort's response? Is it absurd?

MADDEN: Well, it's alarming, I think. I don't know. I mean, in order to say absurd, I'd have to have evidence that he's absolutely -- that the charge is absolutely 100 percent inaccurate. And I don't know that. I think it's alarming that we're having charge and countercharge. And I think the countercharge that Paul Manafort made that Russians having Hillary Clinton's e-mails from her server is just as explosive.

So, you know, we are in a very interesting time, and it is a very alarming charge back and forth. And I guess -- you know, I'm thinking -- what I try to think when we see fights like this on a campaign is, if I'm the swing voter in Columbus, Ohio, is this persuasive to me? Does this matter to me? And I think both -- the reason that those swing voters right now are still swing voters is because they can't tell who's telling the truth, right.

LEMON: Right, all right -- I got to go to a break. Stay with me, everybody. We'll be right back. Live from Philadelphia, this Democratic National Convention, CNN's live coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:42:00] LEMON: So there's some fears about Democratic disarray in Philadelphia. Hillary Clinton and running mate, Tim Kaine, are presenting a united front. Back with me now, my political dream team. Now, let's talk about that, you know, let's actually hear, this is their first joint interview. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELLEY: He calls you Crooked Hillary. What do you call him?

CLINTON: I don't call him anything, and I'm not going to engage in that kind of insult fest that he seems to thrive on. So, whatever he says about me, he's perfectly free to use up his own airtime and his own space to do. I'm going to talk about what he's done, how he has hurt people in business time after time after time. The small businesses, the contractors, the workmen and women who he refused to pay after they rendered services, the total disregard that he has shown toward large groups of people in our country, his vicious language against immigrants, his insulting distinguished federal judge of Mexican heritage, his mocking a person with a disability, his really inflammatory language about Muslims, about American-Muslims, about Muslims all over the world, his demeaning comments about women. I'm going to respond to what he has said that I think is so fundamentally at odds with who we are as a nation, where we need to be heading in the future and the kind of dangerous, risky leadership that he's promising.

PELLEY: You know what he ...

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want to -- she's done a good job of letting the, you know, water go off her back on this. That's not the way I feel. When I see this, you know, Crooked Hillary or I see the lock her up, it's just ridiculous. It is ridiculous. It is beneath the character of the kind of dialogue we should have because we have real serious problems to solve, and that most of us stopped the name calling thing about fifth grade.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. David, what do you make of their response, and we'll talk about their chemistry, but I mean she went in and just one sound bite on Donald Trump. She really went in on him.

CHALIAN: Yeah. And she's been saying for a while that she doesn't want to get in the name calling game wit him, probably a smart decision. He's very skilled at that game, and it probably wouldn't work to her effect. I do think you saw the role that Tim Kaine is going to play a little bit here because ...

LEMON: Good cop, bad cop?

CHALIAN: Yeah. And he is going to ...

MADDEN: A relatable cop.

LEMON: What did you say?

MADDEN: Relatable cop.

CHALIAN: Relatable cop. There's no doubt about that, but he is going to defend her. He is going to be a defender. And I think you saw the relief on her face yesterday ...

LEMON: Yeah.

CHALIAN: ... when they rolled out that she has a defender on the payroll now, like I think that she was clearly happy to have somebody ...

[22:45:01] MADDEN: She went into this very kind of long, drawn out, talking point driven, cautious, calculated, and he popped in and very succinctly and in a very relatable way, hit back on Donald Trump's smart ...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I think it's the same thing, it's like -- but isn't that the problem that people say with Hillary Clinton, like she's too ...

SELLERS: I have to talk to David for a minute because I don't think his role is to be defender. I think he's actually very uncomfortable being an attack dog. I think ...

CHALIAN: Oh, I don't think so. Really?

SELLERS: Well, I just think that ...

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: Well, maybe that's fair because I think that there are other attack dogs on the campaign trail. I think you have Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, who fills -- McCarthy, who fill ...

RYE: He's the third person.

SELLERS: ... who fill that void. But what I do think he does though is he -- unless you've been living under a rock, we all know that Hillary Clinton has very high negatives went it comes to trustworthy and honesty. What he does do is he ups the decency quotient. I mean, you have to take a step back, I said this earlier and it bares repeating that Tim Kaine is a very good guy and good guy do win sometimes apparently.

LEMON: Yeah.

MCENANY: Well, I think you're living in an alternate universe a little bit, though because for Hillary Clinton, I love you, sorry, but ...

RYE: I love you but ...

MCENANY: ... alternate universe because for Hillary Clinton to stand up there and act like she's been miss positive, she stood out on the stage with someone who called Donald Trump a thin-skinned racist, in my opinion, one of the harshest things said in this campaign. You know, she's devoted to the entire speeches to the fact that, you know, maligning Donald Trump. So to act like you've been miss positive, it just does not ring true.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Yeah, let Angela comment.

RYE: So, Kayleigh, I don't know else is a lawyer, here, Kayleigh and Bakari, let's break this down like a rule of law. Thin-skinned racist. Thin-skinned? Absolutely. You saw him come |e back at Ted Cruz after being shamed on that the stage last week. Racist, if he's not racist, he sure does do a whole lot of pandering to them. So I hope that you understand thin-skinned and racist, facts not an insult.

MCENANY: No, that's not OK. That is a completely insulting to say it the fact Donald Trump is a racist. When you had a number of black men and number of Hispanics stand on that stage and say, I know this man and I attest to his character ...

RYE: They've been doing that just before slavery. It's happening a long time.

MCENANY: I think that if you're going to levy that ...

RYE: In alliance? God.

LEMON: Look, look, look.

RYE: OK.

MCENANY: That's a harsh accusation.

RYE: It's not. It's real, though.

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: Islam is not a race, it's a religion.

MCENANY: I agree, but I was talking about ...

BEINART: But we have never had a presidential candidate in modern history who has done anything close to suggesting we have a religious litmus test for entering the United States. So, if Donald Trump has crossed a frontier of bigotry that no and it has across in modern history.

MCENANY: No. You know what, and you ...

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: You had in a mom stand on that stage last week and pray at a Republican convention ...

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: They were quiet.

LEMON: Hang on, one at a time. Go ahead.

SELLERS: That is like I have five black friends, like it doesn't work.

RYE: Or one.

SELLERS: So, I mean, I don't go as far as saying Donald Trump is a racist. I think Donald Trump uses racism because he understands that will garner him votes. But I will say though is that Donald Trump has lowered the level of discourse in this country to a depth that we haven't seen before, and to say -- and to kind of compare the tenor and the rhetoric used between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I don't think you stand on ...

MCENANY: The only evidence ...

LEMON: Here's the thing. Hold on, Kayleigh. Hold on. Here's the thing. Everyone says, well, that's because you're too P.C. and you just don't want to hear the truth. That's the defense from the Donald Trump side.

RYE: There's a difference between being P.C. and being appropriate. He is always on the other side of what is appropriate. This isn't about being politically correct. He is appealing to bigots and racists with great regularity.

MCENANY: That's not true. RYE: It might not be true to you but it's true Donald Trump ...

MCENANY: And the only evidence ...

RYE: Hold on, hold on. Donald Trump, before he was a candidate was a birther. Before he was a birther, he was a housing discriminator. Before he was a housing discriminator, I'm sorry, actually, let me go back chronologically, I'm about to go to Central Park because that's what I messed up time wise. So all of that preceded him being a candidate. Your candidate is a bigot and he ...

MCENANY: It is rather ironic to sit on a stage today when the only evidence we have of a party using race or religion to their advantage came in the DNC e-mails we saw today where he was recommended by the top of -- no, you can yell over me. I sat there very patiently and listen to you. You go to return the same respect, Angela.

LEMON: All right, go ahead, Peter.

BEINART: I'm sorry. Comparing one DNC staffer talking about Bernie -- whether Bernie Sanders ...

MCENANY: The CFO and the CEO ...

BEINART: ... whether Bernie Sanders is ...

RYE: You're right about that.

BEINART: ... is an atheist. And I think that was appropriate ...

MCENANY: No, it's ...

BEINART: ... to Donald Trump who in addition to your -- right, Nick Ristos has a very powerful column ...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I got to. I've got to. I've got to go. On the other side of the break, we'll continue. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:58:14] LEMON: Back now with my panel. I -- we -- I have to get to the commercial breaks. I hate cutting off your conversation. We're talking racist, bigots, that sort of thing. Who was holding, was it you?

MCENANY: Well, Peter said that this was one staffer that sent an e- mail where they suggested that they make up a story that Bernie Sanders is an atheist, bring out his Jewish heritage. This is not just one staffer, this was the Chief Financial officer of the DNC. The Chief Executive Officer of the DNC said amen to the strategy and two top DNC officials were on the e-mail. In an organization where the culture would be that that would be intolerable to bring up someone's religion and heritage, that would be dismissed and that person would be called into H.R. That did not happen, and that, to me, was one of the big stories that came out of all of this.

BEINART: I'll just respond to this. As someone who happens to be Jewish, I like many others Jewish journalists, have received literally hundreds and hundreds of anti-Semitic tweets from Donald Trump supporters. I have yet to receive an anti-Semitic tweet from a Hillary Clinton supporter. So, excuse me, and Hillary Clinton, as far as you know, has not been retweeting anti-Semitic symbols, as another Trump supporter, General Flynn just did yesterday. So, if you can talk about anti-Semitism, I think the Hillary Clinton campaign has a long way to go to catch up to where Donald Trump is.

LEMON: How do you respond, though? This is a staffer. She's not talking about supporters. She's talking about staffers.

BEINART: Yeah. What this guy did was totally inappropriate. And I agree. And I think a lot of us said ...

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: But, I mean, I love the richness of Kayleigh's argument because she's talking about the fact that you shouldn't criticize someone's culture or someone's heritage when Donald Trump went after a judge because he was Mexican. That wasn't the case. Every time he talks about Elizabeth Warren, he calls her Pocahontas, and even on stage, made an offensive symbol. I mean, like, to say that somehow we -- Democrats are mocking people's heritage and culture is almost laughable in the face of what Donald Trump does day in and day out.

[22:55:01] LEMON: Does it make a difference that it is a staffer and a candidate. It would be different if Hillary Clinton was doing it.

SELLERS: Fire him, fire whoever else -- get rid of all of them. That doesn't belong. But that's different. Let me explain to you the difference real quick, Angela, I'm sorry. The difference is those are staffers. Fire all of them. It comes from the top of the ticket on the Republican side. That is the difference.

MCENANY: That's not true because we saw a number of black men take that stage last week and talk about how much they love Donald Trump. We saw a very diverse ...

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: One black girl three times.

MCENANY: A very diverse convention where for the first time ...

SELLERS: They had the fewest number of black delegates at the RNC in over 100 years. In fact, they had 70.

MCENANY: The message coming out of the RNC last week was one of unity.

RYE: Time out. Can we not ...

LEMON: I got 20 seconds. RYE: Can we not say that we know that Donald Trump is not racist

because he has black supporters, like that's just kind of crazy.

MCENANY: He's not racist. That's a ridiculous thing ...

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: That term is thrown away -- thrown around too loosely and it's really sad that we ...

RYE: Don't you think he appeals to racist?

BEINART: It is thrown around too loosely. Donald Trump deserves it more richly than any in danger American politician in modern memory.

MCENANY: That is simply not true to call someone a racist. He does deal with people of all races, all colors. He hired with all races and all colors.

LEMON: It is almost the top of the hour and it's fiery. The convention hasn't even started in full yet. It's not even official, the gavel, and look what's happening.

MCENANY: It's popping off.

LEMON: It's popping off in here. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)