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President Obama's Farewell Speech; U.S. Intelligence Reports on Russian Hacking. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 10, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Also, John, giving a perspective of sort of how he sees the country, how he sees politics in America today, good and bad.
[22:00:04] JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And at a time when we do tend to argue over every issue and play out the debate about every issue or every tweet, shall we say, I think we should recognize this turning of page and the closing of a chapter in our history. Number one. Come up to 15 or 30,000 feet, a consistently huge moment.
It was history. He himself saying a lot of you, the volunteers didn't think it was possible. Back when he started to run lot of people didn't think he could get past the Clintons, he could past the other people in the field that the country was ready for its first African- American in the history.
So, as we talk about everything else it is important we should recognize the turning of that page. But the part that it be interesting is how is this process would start as we think it could help us in the beginning by republicans.
Many of whom I think will take it as lecture. There was some clear admonitions, call them what you will, points of reference for the new president, President Trump, whether it's about climate change, whether it's about respecting Muslims, whether it's about celebrating diversity, respecting your critics and democratic institutions.
He only mentioned the president-elect at the very beginning when he promised a smooth transition. But some were subtle, some of them not so subtle, directly joined and it would be interesting to see how their process in the days and weeks ahead. John?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It was a -- it was a progressive profession of faith but it was rooted in deeply conservative values. It was rooted in deeply American values. He connected his political faith with the founding fathers quoting George Washington.
And I think that, I think that breaks the soaring context to the speech. It roots in his political favor as something deeper, and something transcendent and something enduring. And while he confronted those forces of change he very clearly also said that fear is the most destabilizing force in our democracy. And while he issued a warning about the future it was rooted in
reaffirmation of basic citizenship. And that's what it's ultimately it's uniting and not a partisan take.
COOPER: It is also, as we think about the next president about to take off at something they're speaking silence but it could not be any more different. We are not going to be hearing a speech like this from a sitting president for the next four or eight years.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And look, let's be honest, the reason -- one of the main reasons and the many reasons that Barack Obama did burst on the scene is because of the way he gives a speech. I mean, he is an orator, that's just who he is. And that's why he can hit out of a park like this.
And you're absolutely right, Anderson. I mean, it's going to be a while, you know, who knows how long before we can hear a speech like this. And I think republicans and democrats alike can say if nothing else, he's a good orator.
On that note, it's just a couple -- a couple of quick note. As I was watching I was remembering going with then-Senator Barack Obama to Iowa to his very first visit trip to Iowa and witnessing the response and the reaction that he had from the democrats there.
To John's point earlier about the fact that he, you know, he sort of leapt over the people who were supposed to be next in line. And I had a chance to talk to him, and I said to him, are you concerned that you're going to be like Icarus, that you're flying too close to the sun?
And here we are, you know, eight, nine years later, and you know, he's two-terms, a two-term president and he just gave a bit of a victory lap, which I'm sure a lot of people, it's Rorschach test. You love him. Or happy that he gave and people who don't are like really, you're not understanding this past election?
But the one thing that I will say, and especially be interesting from our democrats here, there's such a debate inside the Democratic Party right now as to which way to go. So, you go towards the lobby of the lunch bucket economic issues or do you stay with the sort of diversity issues and the racial divide in this country?
And he really in a way that almost only he can do, brought the two of them together.
BASH: By talking about the fact -- and gave them, the democrats a road map for that by talking about the fact that, you know, if you are, you know, a minority, you also have to think about the middle aged white man who from the outside may seem like you have the advantage.
COOPER: Which obviously a lot of democrats, I mean, the Democratic Party has not done a good job. BASH: Precisely.
COOPER: And has lost those voters as we -- Bakari?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: But it's a false choice. And I think that most people who want to see the Democratic Party in this country move forward understand that it's a false choice.
We don't have to be a group of people as a country or the party that looks and says, hey, we need to address flyover country or white rural America or we have to address the issues of the Hispanic community or we have to address the issues of other minority communities, in fact, we can do it all.
And what President Obama did tonight was he talked about this level of empathy which I thought was amazing. Because what Barack Obama did tonight would say that as a young African-American male I have to step out of my skin and begin to understand what it feels like for the factory worker, who although I may assume he has some level of white privilege actually just got laid off from his job.
And that same factory worker didn't have to understand that I want my child to come home after being stopped by the police. And then we all have to understand that we're in this together.
COOPER: You said we can do it all. I talk -- you seem to talk about the Democratic Party, but, or human beings. But the Democratic Party did not do a very good of that with this election.
[22:05:05] SELERS: There's no question.
COOPER: I mean, the criticism of Hillary Clinton is that she was playing to various groups and it didn't work.
SELLERS: But I think we're missing what Barack Obama was about tonight. Barack Obama's speech wasn't about yesterday, Anderson. Barack Obama's speech was about tomorrow. And so, yes, we can rehash how we lost in Scranton, we can rehash how we lost in Milwaukee.
John King went up and down the board and show where we lost in this elections but that's not what this is about. This is about how we're going to lead the future of this country and whether or not we're going to be together in this battle.
We all have this breaking news stories about whatever is happening in Russia and Donald Trump. But what was refreshing tonight is that you got a chance to see grace, you got a change to see dignity, you got a chance to see a man love his wife and be an amazing father. And that is the 44th President of the United States.
COOPER: Congressman Kingston? Obviously, a Trump supporter.
JACK KINGSTON, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: You know, I think what we saw tonight is reality meets Philadelphia. The last time I was in a big room like this full of enthusiastic democrats was in Philadelphia and there was so much optimism, and yet, get up in this and really it's channeled to one man and one personality and that's Barack Obama.
And to some degree Michelle Obama, but it is not transferrable to the Democratic Party. When you think since he's been in office, 1,000 democrats, governors, congressmen, state representatives have lost because his enormous popularity which we saw tonight. That at one point somebody yelled out "I love you," and the crowd went crazy. It was like a Justin Bieber concert in some ways and I say that respectfully.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go.
SELLERS: There's no way that could be respectful.
KINGSTON: It was respectful and I won't retract it. But the reality is what I'm saying is, that love was for a personality, not for a platform, not for a policy.
COOPER: And Angela, to the congressman's point, you can't argue the Democratic Party is in some level of confusion at this stage, you might even say disarray.
ANGELA RYE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. So is the Republican Party actually. And you know, all of the parties. And I think part of that has to do with where we are in this country right now, which is people rejecting labels and boxes and all of that. That I mean, that a global phenomenon.
But I think it's really important for us to take a step back and think about what the president said tonight. He talks about things that are threats to our democracy. He put on not only his state of the union hat, he put on his constitutional law professor hat, he put on his founding fathers hat.
And he said we have a threat to -- with economic opportunity, we have an issue with racism, we have an issue with factless debate in our politics, and finally, we have an issue with taking our democracy for granted.
It is so important for us to not look at that through partisan lenses. Because as he said when we begin to do that, when we begin to take some of these things for granted, that's how we end up in war, that's how we end up not being -- not really deeming ourselves as patriotic.
This isn't about a Justin Bieber concert, it's not about a Barack Obama as a personality. It's about a Barack Obama who has always been able to see the hope of what America can become.
KINGSTON: That is not...
RYE: The hope of -- the hope of a more perfect union.
COOPER: Jodi Kantor. Jodi?
JODI KANTOR, NEW YORK TIMES CORRESPONDENT: There was also a very sobering tone to the speech. If we think of Barack Obama as somebody who began his national political career by talking about optimism and hope and change and unity and progress, he ended his presidency by defending certain things is that we didn't think a few years ago.
He need defending, science, basic facts, journalism, the ability of citizens to talk to each other on the most fundamental level. So although I heard the optimism in the room that you're reflecting, I also heard a great level of concern about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, Jodi...
KANTOR: I also want to say something about the shootout to Michelle Obama. I have tried to report the story of the Obama partnership and how it has affected this presidency. But I believe that it is so subtle and deep and fascinating, that we'll have to hand the baton to the historians.
Michelle Obama is to push him to really pushed Barack Obama to become the politician she wanted him to be. She saw him as a lofty above at all figure, she wanted him to have a different kind of presidency, a very elevated presidency. And just the way that Jackie Kennedy was in many ways the architect of the Kennedy vision, I think we're going to say the same thing about Michelle Obama in the future. That is some way perversion of the presidency.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Barack Obama admitted that tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BORGER: I mean, he said I wouldn't be the president I am without her. But to your point Jodi, also he began on hope and he talked a lot tonight about not giving in to fear.
BORGER: This was a major theme of this speech. He said, you know, we should be vigilant but we can't be afraid. And democracy can buckle when it gives in to fear. And I think what he was telling the American public was, don't do that because you're going to destroy the Constitution.
[22:10:01] And this was his parting point, I think, and maybe it was part of a constitutional scholar in him, but I also think it was his way of saying if you give in to fear then you lose the hope you came in with.
COOPER: John? AVLON: You know, this was fascinating farewell address. I mean, first
of all, most farewell addresses are in the Oval Office. Like Eisenhower, or they're open letters to the American people. Here you have almost a rally-type environment to the hometown crowd.
But what's consistent is the role of warning offered by the departing president. Think about Eisenhower warning about the rise in military industrial complex. And so, Gloria is right.
There was discussion about not giving in to fear, about some of the global challenges from fact-free media to taking our democracy to granted to a wave of a liberal democracy taking over the western world right now potentially.
But that is part of a tradition of departing president not only offering a valedictory for his own presidency but a warning about the values we need to hold fast to amid the darker currents to change we can probably...
KINGSTON: But there's also -- there's also with presidents they talk more on policy because there's more achievement to talk about. And I would just say respectfully, why didn't he brag about Obamacare, why did not...
RYE: He did.
KINGSON: ... why did not brag -- you know, he mentioned in passing. And he did not say here's what right it. And then he should have talked about ISIS and what he did about that.
SELLERS: Because that's not -- that's not -- that wasn't the purpose of tonight. And if you were looking...
KINGSTON: I know it wasn't, but he wants to lecture, I understand.
COOPER: Let Bakari in. Let Bakari in.
SELLERS: But you didn't -- tonight was not about me coming down and telling you in the state of the union what we have accomplished and what we are going to accomplish tomorrow.
KINGSTON: And it's been good to hear.
SELLERS: But Congressman, no. What we need to hear is there are a lot of people in this country on both sides that are afraid. There are lot of people in this country that are angry. And what he did today was try to stand in that gap and he challenged you as middle aged white man from Georgia who is republican...
(CROSSTALK) KINGSTON: Are you picking on my people?
SELLERS: But he challenged...
RYE: No, you're sitting right here.
SELLERS: But listen, guys, because he challenged me as well, he challenged Anderson, I mean, he challenged all of us to make this a more perfect union. This wasn't about the fact that we have 20 million more people on health care or the stock market at nearly 20,000 or that more people are employed now or that we have two million people less in poverty. This wasn't about that.
RYE: Let me stand on that.
KINGSTON: Well, I actually go, I think it was about that and I don't think he expanded on it, and I don't think he defend it. You go back to Reagan's speech...
COOPER: Do you think that's what, I mean, does the American people want yet another speech in which a politician is touting all their accomplishments?
KINGSTON: We can talk about another speech. Reagan's farewell speech he talked about opening up to Soviet Union, he talked about the relationship with Gorbachev and then he warned the coming administration. He said, you don't let -- "you got to cut the cards," that was his exact phrase for us to verify. I would have liked to have seen him say and I'm passing the baton on it and I want to give the warning with it.
COOPER: Go ahead. I try to -- OK.
BASH: But Congressman, OK. Just a little bit perspective. If he would have done more than he did, which I guarantee you, many of your colleagues and maybe your, you know, former constituents think he gave too much of a victory lap here, he would have been accused of lecturing too much.
But also remember, Reagan was passing the baton to his vice president who was becoming the president.
BASH: And so he doesn't have that luxury. So, but I hear what you're saying. One thing that I will say, is that, again, you know, instead of even listening to our partisan friends here, you're kind of proving his point. And we're all proving it. That he's trying to say of course he's a partisan figure. He is a president, he is a politician.
But he was trying tonight genuinely so I think to not be that, to be the president and to say guys, we need to figure out a way around this. And I also think that to me one of the best lines on that note, and got a standing ovation here, was stop arguing with each other on the internet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BASH: Actually look at stranger in the eye in person and have a conversation.
KING: I think to that point, number one, the congressman does raise a legitimate question about his effectiveness in the post-presidency, what -- how does he choose? What organization does he take? What form does he take?
Because when it hasn't been about him, I don't mean it harsh as it sounds but in 201, 2014, and 2016, the democrats got decimated and he was the president of the United States in all three of those elections.
When it hasn't -- when he has not been at the top of the ballot, the democrats have suffered. So what form does it take? But I also think as the guy who started as a community organizer, we're at a very interesting time in our politics, but it's all big institutions including the Democratic and the Republican Party don't have anywhere near the sway they used to have.
KING: They don't have -- Donald Trump just blew up the Republican Party.
KING: He was not its candidate, and the Democratic Party is in -- the national Democratic Party is in bad shape. Now his message seemed to be, start this in your community.
KING: Organize locally and then expand the circle. Expand the circle and if you're really mad get the petition signed and run yourself.
AVLON: And look, it's beyond what people project on this president, this was not a partisan speech. This was not a polarizing speech. When he quotes Atticus Finch...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
[22:15:03] AVLON: ... that's the way of reaching out in a transcendent way...
KINGSTON: Lot of people.
AVLON: And the alt-right, exactly your people, Jack. And at the ultimate message, the ultimate message is that our independence is inseparable with our interdependence.
AVLON: And that's an enduring message for the ages rooted in the founding fathers carried forward.
BORGER: I think what the president was saying, and you know, ironically you have a president which state and local governments have been hollowed out of democrats at the local level under his presidency. We know that's a fact.
However, what he is saying now and they've admitted it, they didn't pay enough attention to that, and what he is saying now is start at bottom again. We got to start at square one, here we are, you have to organize, get out there, go do it. And that's how we have to work our way back.
So if I had to guess what -- and they've talked about organizing for America now, is now going to be a grassroots organization again to start all over and he will be involved in that.
COOPER: But that -- well, that gets to the question of what he does now. And he's 55 years old, he talks about still being involved as a citizen.
COOPER: But is it clear what that means at this point?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we know.
SELLERS: It is clear.
KANTOR: First of all, he really is the ultimate author president. When he was younger he told people he was a writer before he was politician. So, I believe that he will write one of the richest and most fascinating presidential memoirs because we'll have to make a choice between being really direct and being really honest which makes a really good book, and being with the politics.
But in tonight's speech I think we also saw Obama recognized a paradox which is that often the less partisan you appear, the more effective of a partisan you can be. If after the presidency he comes out and just becomes like another partisan warrior right in the trenches, he will be much less powerful than if he retains the respect and the dignity of the office. That was always an Obama strength and I think we'll see him try to horde that and play it up in years to come.
RYE: I agree. So, a couple -- a couple of things here. I think yes, he will obviously write a book but I also think it's important to know, I think they realized now that OFA actually crippled the Democratic Party. So, I would be really surprised to see if he leaned into OFA it in that way.
I think they realized that there's a number of things that they have to do to rebuild the DNC, one, and I think, two, he's talked about wanting to go in and train young leaders like they started right he was elected to the Senate, knowing that there does needs to be a younger bench.
I think the third thing is he's going to lean into this foundation, he's just now getting to get the foundation team together. He's going to do it from D.C. but that's big thing for him. And then we're going to see him take business pursuits later on.
SELLERS: But also I think he...
KINGSTON: I think he's going to try the platform.
SELLERS: ... he was pretty clear earlier this week, I think on the last week about the fact that he will jump in if Donald Trump is going to send 800,000 children back home.
SELLERS: I mean, this is, he talked about that, and today we actually saw in Session's confirmation hearing that they would be willing to abandon that.
So, I mean, he's talked about the policy points in which he would come out. But I do want to harp on one thing that he talked about tonight in his speech. And there's two things that are the cornerstone of our democracy, and it was kind of played out by Jack and I's interaction, is that not only you have to be willing to challenge and talk about the things that make our democracy the most amazing thing in the world but you also have to be willing to listen.
That's very important. And the other thing which I'm kind of I'm speaking to my republican friends right now, but I'm speaking to all of us I guess like the president did, is you have to be willing to love your neighbor even if they don't love you.
And I mean, I think that that was something that he really harped on that today by just talking about these groups of people who feel beat down in this country, whether or not you are unemployed or whether or not you are going through problems with your, you know, gaining civil rights. I just thought tonight was a night that bookend an incredible ascension, so, you know, the 44th presidency.
BORGER: I think he is somebody who is, and he said, you know, in terms of talking about what our politics has become, and now it seems as if he's starting to stand outside of it a little bit and critique what our politics has become.
And I think he sees himself as useful critic that way. Saying not it's only become dishonest, he said, but now we have a selective sorting of the facts and our politics have become self-defeating. A self- defeating.
KINGSTON: Let me speak a little bit on that. Can I?
KINGSTON: As the white guy. You know, he said we would not deny that racial relations are better today than they were 20 or 30 years ago. I don't know anybody who is debating that. But I think you could debate our racial relations are better today than they were eight years ago. And I don't feel like they are.
I remember when he was sworn in, I had 11 people staying in our house, and it was racially mixed group full of optimism, democrats and republicans and mostly students who, you know, I'm not really sure. And feel a sense after Ferguson, and after Baltimore and after Milwaukee.
[22:20:03] Here was a man who could have been really, really good in terms of being proactive but I don't think he was.
RYE: I got to -- I got to...
COOPER: But we...
RYE: Go ahead.
COOPER: Yes, I just want to get just some final thoughts here before we're going to be tossing to Don Lemon. I mean, do we know, I mean, it is interesting, John Avlon, to hear you putting this speech in the context of other farewell addresses.
AVLON: Yes. Look, it is a great American tradition. He quoted Washington's farewell address very directly and he rooted a lot of his ideas and his projection forward in the founding fathers. But it's part of that communion, that conversation between presidents.
And farewell address tend to be part valedictory, they're trying to bridge the past, the present and the future but they always contain a warning about the storm flash on the horizon. He definitely did that tonight.
COOPER: And John King, I mean, now, between now and inauguration day, are we going to be hearing from President Obama?
KING: We will hear from him if there are official business of government to take care of it. This was done by design. President Bush did the same thing. You have some space. You have some space to have the grace. There's been inauguration playing, the confirmation hearings are underway and President Bush as President Obama said was very grateful.
And he's trying to do the same thing. We know he has many differences with Donald Trump. We heard some of that today in his speech but he views his responsibility to say farewell, and then unless some official act that the president has to comes up, to largely step aside.
COOPER: And President Obama who has been greeting people in this crowd, many of whom have worked on campaign of President Obama over the last 8 or I guess 10 years, probably even some of his Senate race are in the hall.
He spent a lot of time greeting them, talking to them.
I want to thank everybody on the panel. It has been extraordinary night here in Chicago. History. Time now to turn things over to Don Lemon and CNN Tonight.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Thank you very much. A very emotional speech. For the speech. The Obama's have left the building. A speech given by the president now with family in the front row making his farewell address to America from the McCormick Center in Chicago.
We're following that big story tonight in the news. Plus, we're also following this bombshell information on Russia and the president- elect.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.
President Barack Obama comes full circle, making the final speech of his presidency in the place where it all began.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You are the change. You answered people's hopes and because of you by almost every measure America is a better stronger place than it was when we started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And meanwhile, our CNN exclusive, and it is shocking. Classified documents presented last week to President-elect Donald Trump including allegations that Russian operatives claim to have been compromising personal and financial information about him.
That's according to multiple U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the briefings. We'll discuss all of that. I want go right to CNN's Carl Bernstein, our political commentator, also CNN's Jim Sciutto, our chief national security correspondent.
Gentlemen, good evening. To you, Jim, this is explosive, it's an exclusive. Some exclusive reporting for us that the nation's top intelligence officials briefed the president-elect and the president -- current president last week about claims of by Russian efforts to compromise the president-elect. What exactly are you learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Don. And a lot of teamwork went into this. Multiple U.S. officials with direct knowledge of these briefings tell CNN that classified documents on Russian interference at the 2016 U.S. election presented last week to President Obama and president-elect Trump, included these allegations that Russian operatives claimed to have compromising both personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.
The allegations part of a two-page synopsis based on memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative who is past word U.S. intelligence officials considered to be credible.
The FBI is now investigating both the credibility and the accuracy of these allegations against the president-elect, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources. But I should make clear it has not confirmed many essential details in these memos about Mr. Trump.
These classified briefings I'll remind our viewers last week were presented by four of the senior most U.S. intelligence chiefs. The Director of national Intelligence James Clapper, the FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director, John Brennan, and NSA Director, Admiral Mike Rogers.
This two-page synopsis also included allegations, this is important as well, that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government. This according to two national security officials.
CNN has confirmed the synopsis was included in those documents presented to Mr. Trump. We cannot confirm if it was also discussed in his meeting with intelligence chiefs.
[22:25:05] We've reached out multiple times to the Trump transition team for comment, they have not commented, neither has the Office of the Director of national Intelligence or the FBI.
I should note there was a tweet though from the president-elect which appeared to reference our story, the president-elect calling it in his words, fake news, there it is, "Fake news, a total political witch hunt," he said.
LEMON: Of course, that's not surprising. And also the legitimacy of these documents and confirming them, that's going to be what the transition team tries to do to say, you know, that they're not can't be collaborated.
Even Kellyanne Conway tonight, there is a comment from Kellyanne Conway, Jim Sciutto, she was on Seth Meyer's show tonight and she was asked about your reporting. And here's how she responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Guess what hasn't happened, Seth, nobody has sourced it. They're all unnamed unspoken sources. And the story says it was based on Russian investigator to begin with, so where are we doing...
SETH MEYERS, NBC HOST: That was based on an MI-6 British investigator.
CONWAY: Right. Well, one of those and then it said that it also may have -- may have originated with Russian investigator. It also says that Hillary Clinton and groups that wanted Hillary Clinton to win may have been behind the investigations themselves, and most importantly, it says that the FBI is trying to confirm it.
So, nothing has been confirmed. And I have to say as American citizen regardless of your party or if you don't like politics at all which are many Americans, we should be concerned that intelligence leaked to the press and won't go and tell the president-elect or the president of the United States himself now, Mr. Obama what the information is. They would rather go tell the press...
MEYERS: But the report was that -- the press report was about them...
CONWAY: It's an allegation.
MEYERS: ... going to the president.
CONWAY: And it says that they never briefed him on it, that they appended a two pages to the bottom of his intelligence report.
MEYERS: I believe it said they did brief him on it.
CONWAY: He has said that he is not aware of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Jim, what's your reaction to that?
SCIUTTO: Well, there couple of factual inaccuracies in there. But let's get to the big picture. The big picture is that, yes, it is true these allegations have not confirmed. But the fact is you know multiple bodies here in Washington that are taking them seriously, that includes the intelligence community which took really the extraordinary step of including this in briefings, intelligence briefings to the president and president-elect, one.
Two, the FBI is investigating these allegations now. They are taking them seriously. And the fact is it is not a partisan issue, because republican and democratic lawmakers are also taking them seriously.
We've spoken to lawmakers of both sides, senators and house members, that are taking them seriously. Again, they have not confirmed the veracity of the allegations but also, and this is key, Don, they're not dismissing them.
SCIUTTO: And that's an important point. LEMON: The facts of inaccuracies. First to you, Jim, and then Carl. Was it presented to the president and the president-elect?
SCIUTTO: It was indeed in the briefing materials.
LEMON: So that she was wrong on that account?
SCIUTTO: Well, she claimed and we made this distinction on our story. We know that it was included in the briefings materials presented to both president and the president-elect. And let's keep in mind they don't put garbage in briefing materials, OK? They just don't waste the time of the senior most people in this country with that kind of thing.
But I will -- I will caveat and this is important, this may have been what she was referring to, we do not know that it was also discussed at the briefing, that went into this in depth. Increase -- including the materials, we don't know that it was also part of the verbal discussion between those involved.
LEMON: But it was in the original document?
SCIUTTO: It was.
LEMON: Yes. OK. Go ahead, Carl, what's your respond?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: My response is, that this is an extraordinary development in the sense that the senior intelligence chiefs of the United States of America have taken this body of information and decided that going into a new presidency they are going to ensure that there will be a full investigation of these allegations.
And it's very true that we do not know the accuracy of these 35 pages of allegations that come from Russian operatives, whose information was given ostensibly to a former MI-6 British intelligence operative. The backstory is kind of interesting.
LEMON: Yes. Tell us that.
BERNSTEIN: The way this came about was that the MI-6 former intelligence operative with long experience in Russia and the former Soviet Union was hired by a Washington opposition research firm that was doing work for opponents of Donald Trump, both republicans and democrats.
And these people in Washington came up with a lot of financial information about Donald Trump's investments involving Russians, about his trips to Russia, about his loans from Russia, and they decided that they needed more investigation.
They then hired this former MI-6 investigator who has ostensibly, and the American intelligence community confirms this, great sources from Russia.
[22:30:06] And he then work on this for months. And over the course of the months he became so concerned by what he found about Donald Trump. Again, we don't know the accuracy of the allegations that were given to him by Russians.
BERNSTEIN: He then took the information to the FBI, to the FBI station in Rome in August. Gave them what he had found. That information came back to Washington. Then in -- it's very convoluted story.
BERNSTEIN: Then a former ambassador to Russia from Britain also had heard about this information and contacted John McCain.
LEMON: And then he gave to John McCain.
BERNSTEIN: And John -- And John McCain sent somebody to see the MI-6 former investigator who then came back with these documents.
BERNSTEIN: And the documents were turned over to the FBI. Again, three months after the first turn over, subsequent documents were given to the FBI, to Comey personally by John McCain.
LEMON: So why did this come out...
BERNSTEIN: That is the long ended story.
LEMON: So, the question is, especially when you considering what happened with the FBI and Hillary Clinton during the election, why didn't this come out before the election?
BERNSTEIN: Well, first of all, the question of what is this, that Harry Reid, the former democratic leader wrote a letter to the FBI. He was aware of some of these materials and demanded that the FBI release them. FBI did not. The FBI said it did not want during in the midst of a presidential campaign apparently to release this information.
BERNSTEIN: Now there is concerted effort by the outgoing intelligence officials, some of whom will stay on in the Trump administration, but they want to make sure that this matter is investigated and that is a big piece.
LEMON: Jim, may I ask you the same question why this didn't come out. And I think that it was interesting when you heard James Comey testifying today, he said, when they asked him about this, he said, well, similar questions involving hacking and whether who was being investigated for what.
He said I'm not, you know, I'm not really making a commitment, I cannot confirm nor deny. Why did this did not which seemed ironic to some of the people who are questioning him. Why didn't this come out before the election?
SCIUTTO: Well, first of all, the U.S. intelligence community had to do some leg work on it. Again, they haven't confirmed the facts in the allegation or the claims in the allegations. What we know has changed since then is that they have invested the source of these memos, this former British MI-6 official for some credibility based on their experience, too.
They've been able to corroborate some of his Russian sources as well. It's a process, right, before you can -- you can raise it to the level to the investigation. So, they had to do some of that work.
LEMON: Can I just add, there was no corroboration on the Clinton thing either, he came out days later and said there was nothing.
SCIUTTO: Well, listen, you know, I can't make judgments for how James Comey makes this decision or the intelligence agents make. James Comey, I supposed if he were to compare he had many e-mails to compare over time. These are allegations that don't have a paper trail in effect yet, or one that they've confirmed to back it up.
Again, that's not my judgment.
CIUTTO: But, listen, it's a fair question. As you saw several senators ask James Comey today, he didn't have an answer for it, right?
SCIUTTO: He didn't have an answer for it. But that's going to be part of this process, is what, you know, what was the thinking and how much was invested in each of these various investigations, whether it's Clinton e-mails, Clinton Foundation questions, Donald Trump's.
And keep in mind, there are two categories of allegations in this new material that Carl, Jake, Ed and I have been looking into it. One personal and financial indiscretions or compromising material. Plus, communications between Trump surrogates and Russian government operatives during the campaign.
You know, both of which are serious, arguably that second one is more serious.
LEMON: Very serious.
SCIUTTO: Some sort of idea of coordination. And I'll tell you, let's look at the categories of people looking into this, intelligence community, FBI and we know and Carl knows, democratic and republican senators on the Hill want to look into that issue. This is not a partisan issue. (CROSSTALK)
BERNSTEIN: There is going to be a serious congressional hearings looking into these allegations, especially those about communications between the Trump campaign and the Russians and what they consisted of if indeed there was such communication.
This is going to be in all likelihood a long ride if what we have told by these intelligence people is the case.
LEMON: Yes. Jim, there is, you know, we have not put up the entire PDF rup but some nes organizations have. We haven't spoken about all the allegations that are in there. Why is that, what's -- why are we reporting, you know, what we're reporting and other news organizations are reporting what they're reporting?
[22:35:01] SCIUTTO: It's a fair question. We had an enormous here. Our decision was based on this. We, at CNN could not independently confirm the allegations, some of which are salacious and very personal in this document, and because we couldn't, it was our editorial decision not to put them out there in public.
And to focus on that the people in the organizations that are taking a hard look at this and focus on that news. That the I.C., the intelligence community presented this to the president and the president-elect. That the FBI's investigating, that republican and democratic lawmakers are investigating.
That is the reason that we did not present allegations in public that we had not been able to independently confirm and that our sources of which there are many have told us that they have not yet substantiated, although they have said they're investigating it. So, our decision editorial is to stick with the investigation and the number of bodies and organizations and agencies that are now investigating these allegations.
LEMON: Carl, you said there are going to be hearings on this and it will be bipartisan, correct? What is -- what does this...
BERNSTEIN: We'll see how bipartisan.
LEMON: Does John McCain have hard copy, a hard copy of this?
BERNSTEIN: McCain obtained 35 pages the full set of documents that were given to him by an intermediary from the MI-6 investigator. He will took a looked at them, he then thought they ought to go to the FBI. He personally called to Comey, went in to see Comey. There was a five minute meeting between McCain and Comey and that was that.
LEMON: Yes. Interesting. I have to go but how potentially damaging is this do you think?
BERNSTEIN: I think you don't speculate on this, because I've learned as a reporter, let's see where the facts take us. LEMON: Yes.
BERNSTEIN: And that's what we need to do. But this is an extraordinary development.
LEMON: Great reporting. Thank you, Carl. Thank you, Jim. I appreciate it.
SCIUTTO: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: When we come right back, in the final 10 days of his administration, President Barack Obama makes his farewell address to the nation in front of a cheering crowd in Chicago. We're going to take you there.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Barack Obama leaving office in just 10 days, giving his farewell address to the nation tonight in Chicago.
Here to discuss, White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski, chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and senior political commentator David Axelrod.
Hello to all of you. Did something happen in Chicago tonight?
LEMON: David, I'm start with you. What was it like for you to be there tonight?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it was a very bitter sweet night because I've known Barack Obama since he was a young man. I remember my first meeting with him in little diner, someone asked me to talk to him.
And I met this young guy. And what he said tonight, hitching your wagon to something larger than yourself, I think he expressed that to me that day. And here was this guy with all this promise just back from Harvard Law School and explained to me why he was interested in public service.
And I was taken by him then and I was taken by him tonight, because he's never ever, ever deviated from that fundamental principle. And I'm just like so many people who worked with him and for him very proud of him tonight.
LEMON: Let's listen to that moment, David.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And that's why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started. Because I know our work has no the only helped so many Americans, it has inspired so many Americans, especially so many young people out there, to believe that you can make a difference, to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It's interesting when he talks about that, very -- that sort of sentiment which -- or the sentiments that thrust him into the spotlight during the Democratic National Convention.
AXELROD: Yes. I think the spirit of 2004 was very much in this speech but you know, that's one of the -- when people say what are -- what's the most important quality that Barack Obama has, I would say consistency.
He has values that he believes and they are fundamental American values and he articulates them with conviction and passion. And that's very important now. There's a lot of disquiet in the country, there's a lot of division in the country.
And I think his most important message tonight is that democracy is not a gift. We have to work at it and we have to stay engaged and you know, sometimes your candidate will win and sometimes your candidate will lose. But it's ultimately this process that gives us our voice and gives us our power. And it only doesn't work if we let cynicism win and people walk away from it. And so I think this was a very important message tonight.
LEMON: I want to bring in now CNN political analyst David Gregory as well. David, I'm sure you watched the speech and watch the tone that the president struck tonight with the crowd roaring. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If our democracy is to work the way it should in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
For blacks and other minority groups, that means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face. Not only the refugee or the immigrant or the rural poor or the transgender American but also the middle aged white guy who from the outside may seem like he's got advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change. We have to pay attention and listen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: David, he's talking about Donald Trump's America there.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and I want to pick up on what Axelrod was just saying because I think it's so important. What I think that the president spoke to tonight was the importance of standing by your democracy even when it's hard. For all of those opponents of Donald Trump, for all of those who voted
for Hillary Clinton, who were Barack Obama supporters, now you've got a new political reality. It's still a time to be engaged, to be civically engaged.
And he talked about Atticus Finch, I think about the admonition from the famous poet Wendell Berry, which is that, "We, as Americans as citizens have to be able to imagine lives that are unlike ours."
[22:45:08] LEMON: Yes.
GREGORY: So, as citizens we have to do that. And here's the president in a lofty soaring address telling Americans of all political stripes they got to engage in that as well, if they're going to heal a little bit here.
Because a lot of our differences political now are beyond ideology they are fundamental. And David knows it having served in the White House. They are about who you trust, what you trust and who you fear.
And I was actually surprised. I thought the president was going to lead more of the opposition tonight. I think he really was in a position to say look, there's very few people who can do this. He's an outgoing popular president who can say we've got to make some repairs on the democracy to keep people engaged and to try to unite at a very divisive time. He presided over a divisive time politically and now we are going to have a new one.
LEMON: Gloria Borger, to you, I thought it was interesting if we can stick at this point for a moment, that he, especially asked people who have been marginalized traditionally in the society especially African-American to have some empathy or try to put themselves in the shoes of not only other marginalized people, refugees and such, immigrants and such.
But to, he said, you know, the average white guy whose life has been upended by, you know, technology, and so on. Was that -- was that poignant moment for you? Did that stand out?
BORGER: Yes. I think his whole speech was poignant in a way and very graceful way for the president of the United States to exit. And I think what he was trying to talk about the political discourse in this country and what it's become, and how dishonest it's become, and how it doesn't serve our purposes anymore when we don't -- when we don't trust each other or try and put -- you know, understand what the - what the other person's argument is.
I think tonight we caught our first glimpse of citizen Obama talking about the responsibilities of citizenship. And as we were talking about earlier, you know, this is a president who came in talking about hope and change, and he left talking about fear and talking about how fear can cripple democracy when you let it govern democracy and when you let it cripple the Constitution.
And you know, I think these are things that need to be said, and I think this is something that Barack Obama's thought a lot about. As we talked earlier, he's a constitutional scholar. And he -- and I think these are messages that he wanted to give to the country going forward, given the issues that are going to be discussed in this country going forward, whether it's about our national security, and whether you have a Muslim ban and on and on.
And so, I think it was his way of addressing these issues without directly taking on Donald Trump.
BASH: And Don, I...
LEMON: So much -- hang on, Dana. Dana, I have to get to a break.
LEMON: I will give you the first word on the other side.
LEMON: You and Michelle Kosinski. And we'll talk about some people are wondering where was that message during the campaign, not only from Hillary Clinton but from democrats and the president as well. We'll be right back.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: We're back talking about President Barack Obama making a rousing farewell speech tonight in Chicago in front of a cheering crowd and with his family looking on.
Back with me now, Michelle Kosinski, Dana Bash, Gloria Borger, and David Gregory. Sorry, Dana to cut you off. Dana, my question to you in the vein of what I was talking about with Gloria, and so, the president is asking, you know, everyone just sort of empathize with each other.
And I can hear people on the other side saying where was that empathy for marginalized people, and people of color, for women, for Hispanics when they were doing poorly, whey they said they couldn't get a job, or they were kept from getting an education or from getting a job.
But now all of a sudden it is we should have some credence and empathy for you when it's not legitimate or real until you're suffering as well? Explain that to me.
BASH: Well, I think that before the break you talked about something, you said was he reaching out to Trump's America? And I think that is a good way to frame it. And especially that sort of key nut in the speech that struck you clearly Don, definitely struck me right away, about trying to tie people who are African-American or of color who feel like they haven't gotten a fair shake to people who are, you know, white and middle aged, and out of a job and they feel like they can't get a fair shake and put them all together.
And you know, my original thought of that was that this is Barack Obama trying to steer the Democratic Party, having an identity crisis about which one of these should be going for and really championing, saying you can do both.
And to your point about being Trump's America, I mean, this was him reaching out to Trump's America, but it's also the historic Democratic Party.
BASH: And so, he's trying to sort of bring it all together as he exits the stage to say, you know, we got to do a better job, not just the party but leaders, by the institutions, and everybody and everything that voters who supported Donald Trump railed against, which is why they demanded change in the form of Donald Trump.
LEMON: Michelle Kosinski, the question that I asked before the break is, many democrats are wondering where was this message during the election? Why didn't you or Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party reach out to those people, with Trump America as we put it here, during the election?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I know. I mean, we've seen that circulating plenty on social media too. I think that's a natural response to this. I mean, I think there are questions about, you know, the power of his speech in that way at that point.
I think he felt like he needed to counter the rhetoric at the time and counter it strongly. And then, you know, there are questions about how really far does that go. And I think that's part of what he was talking about here.
Because when you look at this, we were expecting an optimistic message, there was some of that.
[22:55:02] But I felt like this was as much as anything else a big cautionary tale. I mean, he laid out in great detail all the things he feels are serious threats to democracy itself right now, inequality, racial divisions, complacency, even people just not listening to each other and fake news.
He seemed to be calling it all out, calling out people retreating into their bubbles; it was like a warning moving forward. At one point he even called out briefly Russia and China. So, he wanted to put that out there, get it sort of on the record as these are the things that we've seen.
And then to try to get that inspirational message at the end that, you know, if you don't like what you're seeing, you need to do something about it, and that he still believes that people can work together. But you actually have to get out there and try.
So, this was really, you know, part optimism, you know, the inspiration the believe are still there, but also a big message from the campaign, and from the outcome of the election, which is, you know, you have to be careful. You can't let things go out of control or as he put it, you know, with naked partisanship, democracy itself is at risk.
LEMON: Good night from Dana Bash in Chicago and -- go ahead, David, I'll give you the last word, but quickly because I got to get to the break.
GREGORY: OK. I think part of this was his attempt to say to his supporters and democrats. Look, you can't assume that these things were done. You elect the first black president, we're not going to have racial problems or you get a coalition of minorities and women and young people and that sits on a straight line and it's all democrats all the time.
That there are setbacks and sometimes you lose, sometimes you have to recalibrate but this is still moving in a direction. His demographic support, his Obama coalition is still a big part of where the country is going demographically.
But this is a time when democrats have to be recalibrated, and I thought he made it very clear, he's going to be a voice in that rebuilding of the party that he's young enough and he's active enough to try to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and organize again.
LEMON: Thank you. Good night to our folks in Chicago. I appreciate it. Thank you, Dana. Thank you, Michelle. Thank you, Gloria.
BASH: Good night.
LEMON: And David, thank you as well.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)