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North Korea Issues New Threat; Cuba Say It's Started An Urgent Investigation; Can New Chief Of Staff Bring Order To White House; White House Feud; U.S. Diplomats In Cuba Possibly Targeted In Acoustic Attacks. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired August 9, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:10]DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: North Korea lobbing a new threat at the U.S. tonight in response of President Trump's vow of fire and fury. This is CNN Tonight. I am Don Lemon. Pyongyang saying it's seriously examining a plan to launch a missile strike targeting an area near the U.S. territory of Guam. That is in response to President Trump's warning that any additional threats will be met with fire and fury, a warning that seemed to catch some of his top advisors off guard.
Plus state department employees sent home from Cuba after a mysterious acoustic attack, the symptoms resembling concussions. Some could have permanent hearing loss. Cuba now saying it's launched what it calls an urgent investigation. Tonight, Espionage expert said weigh in on the mystery. What happened, who's behind it and what they're trying to accomplish.
Let's get right to the escalating war of words on North Korea. A lot of people were taken by surprise of President Trump's threat of fire and fury against North Korea. But he has a long history of sometimes surprising statements of nuclear weapons. CNN Suzanne Malveaux has more.
SUZZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not the first time the President has brought up using nuclear weapons but it's the most stark.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea best not make anymore threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: For those left wondering what the President meant, a clue in a pair of interviews from 1999.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: First I'd negotiate. I would negotiate like crazy and I'd make sure that we tried to get the best deal possible.
North Korea is totally out of control and would you rather have a very, very serious chat with them now and if necessary you might have to do something fairly drastic or would you rather have to go after them in five years when they have more nuclear war heads and missiles than we do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: It's not just talk. President Trump now holds the nuclear codes and has the sole discretion to launch an attack and he hasn't ruled it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not happy meaning military action?
TRUMP: I don't know. We'll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Candidate Trump's apparent lack of understanding about nuclear weapons was often on display. As in this CNN debate when asked about the so-called nuclear triad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The three legs of the triad. Do you have a priority? I want to go to Senator Rubio --
TRUMP: I think to me nuclear is the power, the devastation is very important to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: The nuclear triad refers to the three ways the U.S. is capable of launching nuclear weapons. Either by plane, submarine or missile silo. Another eye popping campaign moment, this from morning Joe on Trump's foreign policy briefings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked at one point if we have them, why can't we use them?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: The Trump campaign denied the exchange but Trump says he would consider using nuclear weapons against another foe, ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think the last one to use to use the nuclear weapon -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell the Middle East we're not going to
use the nuclear weapon?
TRUMP: I would never say that. I would never take any of my cards off the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: While the President wants his cards on the table, North Korea's Kim Jong-un wants a seat at the table of nuclear nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Obviously he is a pretty smart cookie but we have a situation that we just cannot let -- we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: So as North Korea escalates its threats, President Trump is doing the same. Suzanne Malveaux CNN, Washington.
LEMON: Suzanne thank you very much for that. Now I want to bring in CNN global affairs analyst David Rohde also Matthew Murray who was national security advisor to the senate armed services committee for Senator Edward Kennedy and CNN Political Commentator David Swerdlick, so good to have you on, so Matthew, I want to start with you. We just saw President Trump talk about nuclear weapons and North Korea over the years. With North Korea escalating their threats, does the President have grasp on this issue?
MATTHEW MURRAY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, Don, in the last 48 hours I think we've seen what Trump meant when he said the era of strategic patience regarding North Korea was over. A statement he made in June during a series of meetings with the South Korean leadership. And looks as though strategic patience has been replaced with tactical improvisation and maybe even impulsiveness and by that I mean to say he made two statements in the last 48 hours, which are upsetting the delicate balance that is the U.S. Nuclear deterrent.
Nuclear deterrence it's based on two elements. One is our capabilities. And the other is our intentions to use those capabilities. And in the one case when he tweeted this morning that his nuclear -- he had ordered a modernization of nuclear weapons that had taken place over the last six months, that was demonstrable wrong on both counts. He indicated that it was his first order as President, which it was not.
[23:05:16] It was one of -- the second or third and it's also clear that we haven't had any dramatic up scaling or upgrading of our nuclear capabilities and the other statement that he made yesterday the one about fire and fury equally ambivalent on the question of our intentions. When would we use nuclear weapons? So the gap between what he is thinking and the delicacy of the balance of nuclear deterrence theory has created I think a small crisis and he does seem to be out of sync with his own advisors and out of sync with the history of nuclear deterrence.
LEMON: David Rhode the President, he did improvise that fire and fury and those remarks and now North Korea is threatening Guam and you have the new statement tonight. What did he expect would happen?
DAVID ROHDE, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: Look, it's not clear. I mean this is -- may sound odd but maybe the best case scenario is he is making a political statement for his base in United States and he'll look tough on North Korea and he is not serious about using nuclear weapons. If this is his doctrine of using nuclear weapons, it's astonishing and alarming.
LEMON: David Swerdlick, this is part of the statement from North Korea. It says a U.S. President at a golf range again let out a lot of nonsense about fire and fury, failing to grasp the ongoing grave situation. It seems that he has not yet understood the statement. Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him. First of all North Korea is trampling over the president's red line and now they're throwing insult at the President. How do you see the President responding from here?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, Don, yes, the North Korean government is trolling President Trump and his administration. They seized on that fire and fury wording that really was unnecessarily colorful and didn't really mean anything. Almost reminded me of the scene in the movie "Pulp Fiction" where Samuel Jackson quotes the bible verse before he does his job killing the guy and later says it just sounded like something cold blooded to say before I did what I had to do. I am going too actually to give the benefit of the doubt and say this is not actually a crossing of the red line yet.
It's a crossing of a rhetorical line. What will be a crossing of a red line from which the President might be boxed in is if North Korea actually goes through with this missile test and does anything close to firing a missile anywhere near Guam, even if no one's harmed, then the President will have to put up or shut up on this idea that North Korea can't threaten part of the United States. Which Guam is I think that is the box that President Trump is in right now. There are two theories of the case. Either this is too mercurial, unpredictable leaders sort of talking to each other. Or the other thing is that North Korea's strategy is to test President Trump and President Trump's strategy is to test China. I think we need to see how this plays out.
LEMON: David I want ask you about this, I had Robin on in the last hour and she has a piece in the New Yorker about what many leaders and officials think about the President and how much he knows or doesn't know about international affairs and she says the list of other Trump blunders is long. In March he charged that Germany owed vast sums to United States for NATO. It doesn't. No NATO member pays the United States and never has, so none is in the rears. In an interview in the Wall Street Journal in April, Trump claimed
that Korea actually used to be part of China. Not true. After he arrived in Israel in May, Trump said that he had just come from the Middle East. Did he even look at a map and that is before delving into his demeaning tweets about other world leaders. So is he knowledgeable enough about these issues to be speaking off the cuff about nuclear weapons when he is supposed to be talking about opioids?
ROHDE: David Rohde or David Swerdlick?
LEMON: David Swerdlick and I'll ask both of you. Go on.
SWERDLICK: I think at a minimum what we know about President Trump from all the reporting, from the statements going back to the campaign that he is not deeply read or has not deeply thought through the end game of a lot of these scenarios. Just take NATO for example throughout the campaign, he ratcheted up the idea that NATO was in the rears and never focused on the fact this has been an ongoing issue for past Presidents.
LEMON: NATO members should pay their fair share and they were speaking about a talking point that wasn't true.
[23:05:06] SWERDLICK: Something that by the way President Obama said repeatedly. He said it last year in Germany, a couple of years ago in Estonia, but what he didn't do was agitate our allies to the point where they felt like they were on unless you are footing with us, when push came to shove in a global crisis like we're now in. Certainly your allies on the same page with you if you're confronting an adversary like North Korea.
LEMON: David Rohde your response now.
ROHDE: I edited Robin's story. It's fantastic. And he doesn't have a deep understanding of the issues which is why he should be scripted. He does well when he does his addresses abroad where he is reading from a teleprompter is got to stop making comments like this, whether off the cuff as this one was about North Korea or he is tweeting. He is got to stop this.
LEMON: Matthew to you quickly, please, does he have enough knowledge to be speaking off the cuff?
MURRAY: He doesn't even seem to understand his own strategy. What's really mystifying about this whole series of events is he just scored a major diplomatic victory at the U.N. last week in which he brought China on board a sanctions policy and there was a unanimous vote in the Security Council to impose sanctions on North Korea. That was a moment that he should have been ready to forge ahead with a strategy of diplomacy to let these sanctions work and to leverage in the fact that China was now aligned with the United States, to see what they could do and maybe produce a new diplomatic dynamic. So he, with these statements, seems to have stepped all over that. In the meantime, his cabinet has been busy cleaning it up. Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson had done good work. I think to sort of rectify the misimpressions created by the Trump statement. And so we're hopefully in a situation where it can be stabilized. But I hope he will play more team ball with his foreign policy cabinet.
LEMON: All right thank you Matthew, thank you David and the other David. You decide which one is which.
SWERDLICK: Thank you very much.
ROHDE: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, all hopes were on John Kelly to tamp down the drama in the White House. What do the last two days show about that?
[23:15:54] LEMON: General John Kelly is now 10 days into his new job as a White House Chief of Staff. Are we seeing any signs he is bringing order to west wing often seen as so chaotic and what about his ability to rain in President Trump, let's discuss now. CNN Senior political analyst Tara Palmeri and the White House correspondent for Politico as well, Political Commentator Matt Lewis a Senior Columnist at The Daily Beast and Kurt Bardella former spokesman for Breitbart, which was formally run by Steve Bannon, now President Trump's chief strategist. So we have a lot -- we have very accomplished people. Tara I am going to start with you, President Trump's comments about fire and fury against North Korea, reportedly they were improvised. You can see Jared Kushner, John Kelly sitting across from the President and at times -- at the time he made those comments and if you look at all the people sitting there, their faces when he made the comment, General Kelly was there as well. Do you think he is been able to limit or control what the President is saying, because this was made off the cuff?
TARA PALMERI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The thing that General Kelly is learning right now is that he can control the aides around Trump but he can't actually control Trump and that is the difference and he accepted that knowing that you're never going to stop him from tweeting. So that was never -- I was surprised to see that in reports. He knew that off the cuff.
LEMON: When you said that, duh. Not to you but if you thought he was going to control Donald Trump, I mean.
PALMERI: There are two-fold issues with Donald Trump. He has this freewheeling style and he likes to talk to aides all the time. And now General Kelly says if you want to talk to Trump, you have to go through me. And from what I've spoken to senior administration officials in the past few weeks and they say there's way more order. People are showing up on time. They are actually going to meetings. Before they would skip them because they didn't feel they had to deal with Reince.
LEMON: People skip meetings - I mean you work in the White House?
PALMERI: Yes. But they didn't feel like they had to go because -- what were the repercussions, right? They could just talk to the President directly. So General Kelly says I'm on a war against factions. I don't want to read anymore stories in the presses unacceptable about the divisions in this White House. There will always be policy brawls but they should not be playing on the press and they should be civil and he is going to have a problem with that because whether he likes it or not there are right wing media aligned with Bannon who are going to take out their grievances against McMaster in the press and Bannon will be blamed them fairly or unfairly even if he is not orchestrated.
LEMON: Matt, Trump likes chaos. I mean he likes it. How do you reconcile that?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That is why the toughest job in America, Tougher than being President, maybe. I agree with everything that was said here. John Kelly is a general, not a magician. What would the world be like if John Kelly wasn't the chief of staff is maybe what we should be asking. I think he is probably doing as good a job as anybody can possibly do and I think he is doing a good job of bringing order in terms of the staff. He is the chief of staff, not the chief of the President. The President doesn't work for him. He works for the President and that tells you all you need to know about why it's so hard to rain in the most powerful man in the free world.
LEMON: Steve Bannon's feud with national security advisor H.R. McMaster making headlines for the past week now and many wondering if President Trump should think about letting Bannon go, including the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal now less. So this is a couple quotes from today journal. Mr. Trump may worry about the damage Mr. Bannon and his allies could do to his administration if he is no longer part of the White House team, but if his minions continue to vilify his colleagues inside the White House, how can anyone tell the difference? I mean that is pretty strong words, it is from Rupert Murdock home papers, so how do you think they will be received by President Trump?
[23:20:13] LEWIS: I don't think he'll pay much attention to that, to the Wall Street Journal. It's a conservative outlet but they've been pretty anti-Trump and I think for a good reason.
LEMON: Really? You think the journal's been anti-Trump?
LEWIS: yes they have. Of course, Brett Stevens here went to the New York Times recently is a prime example of somebody who's an anti-Trump voice that came from the Wall Street Journal. I'll tell you my personal opinion. I think everybody's safer having Steve Bannon inside the tent, keeping busy at the White House.
LEMON: Well you know him. You know Steve Bannon. You worked at Breitbart and you wrote this today for CNN. Is it any wonder North Korea or any other adversary of the U.S. isn't scared by Trump's threats? Most regimes do all they can to suppress gossip and prevent stories of disorganization and lack unity from appearing in public." so what do you think is going to happen next in the Bannon-McMaster feud? KURT BARDELLA, MEDIA CONSULTANT FOR BREITBART NEWS: Until there's a
clear winner, it's going to continue escalating. I think for Bannon until he believes he is won and successfully had McMasters removed from his position running the NSA. I think what you're seeing is a complete inability by the entry of Kelly to stop or control anything that wasn't happening before. We heard about how Trump was so deferential to generals. Well on perhaps the most serious foreign policy situation unfolding right now that could define his presidency. He is putting out statements without running them by his chief of staff, who is also a general.
You're seeing the complete open warfare between the national security advisor and senior White House strategist, Steve Bannon and McMaster. That is going on in open warfare in public view. You know what they're doing right now? North Korea, they're publishing commemorative stamps. They're not afraid of President Trump because President Trump can't keep his own house in order, how could anyone really fear anything he has to say or do when all they have to do is look at his twitter feed and see he spends his time and days attacking the free press, attacking his own Attorney General. Pitting his own staff against one another, I don't think that really inspires fear in any of our enemies.
LEMON: Do you agree with Matt that everyone is better served by having Bannon in the White House? He is more dangerous outside his role in the White House?
BARDELLA: I think on some level it comes down to what is he really know about some of the controversy that is gone on?
LEMON: Would he take revenge?
BARDELLA: He is a very vindictive person. If he thought he could out last President Trump or anyone inside the White House, he would. But I think the wild card more than anything is the Russia investigation. Steve played a very active role at Breitbart in communicating with the campaign and played an active role running the campaign later on. How much he knows could have a significant impact on whether Trump ever lets him go or not.
LEMON: He is a survivor, Bannon.
BARDELLA: Without question.
LEMON: So do you think he is going anywhere?
PALMERI: I don't think so and the one thing about Bannon is he is really trying to align himself with General Kelly. He is told colleagues and aides that he believes General Kelly coming on board is a win for the nationalist in the White House and he is tried to form an alliance based on their military history and the truth is that Kelly is a very good friend of McMaster. He is going to defend McMaster and not going to be amused with any attacked against him but at the end of the day, Steve Bannon actually took a demotions when Reince Priebus left because they were technically on the same level and now General Kelly is the chief of staff and he is one step below him so he the new master and I think he knows how to stay as a survivor as you said.
LEMON: Thank you very much, I appreciate it. When we come back, U.S. embassy employees in Cuba suffering from a mystery illness tonight, Cuba's said it is launching an urgent investigation. We'll tell you everything we know about the soviet espionage tactic that could be causing their serious health problems.
[23:28:26] LEMON: Breaking news and a bazaar mystery involving American diplomats in Cuba. Cuba's government is investigating a strange set of symptoms effecting U.S. embassy employees in Havana. The State Department believes several were subjected to acoustic attacks, possibly by sonic devices. At least two developed serious health problems. I want to bring in CNN Correspondent Patrick Hoffman who is in Alabama and Military Analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton a former member of the Joint Chief of Staff and National Security Analyst Steve Hall, retire chief of CIA in Russian Operations. This is -- it's fascinating. So Patrick, let's talk about this. The state department addressed the situation in a briefing earlier today. Let's take a listen and then we'll discuss.
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HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: Some U.S. Government personnel who were working at our embassy in Havana, Cuba on official duty. So they were there on behalf of the U.S. Embassy there. They've reported incidents that have caused a variety of physical symptoms. We don't have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents. We can tell you that on May 23rd the state department took further action. We asked two officials who are credited at the embassy of Cuba in United States to depart the United States. Those two individuals have departed the United States. We take the situation very seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Ok. So Patrick, those are some very vague comments from the state department. Can you help us make sense of what went down, what's going on here?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely and this is very mysterious. Sounds like something straight out of a spy novel. When they talk about acoustic attacks, these are actually frequencies these diplomats we're told were being bombarded with. The human ear cannot hear these frequencies but they had a physical impact on the diplomats working in Havana, they began to feel ill, one diplomat were told had permanent hearing loss and these frequencies can give you headaches, make you feel nauseous. You just don't feel right and it was happening in multiple locations. It became very clear as U.S. government began to investigate this that something was going on and in a place like Cuba, you can't bring in these kinds of devices.
Very sophisticated devices, we're told without the government knowing about it. You certainly can't use them without the Cuban government being aware of it. So the question right now is, was this deliberate attack on U.S. Diplomats or was this ease dropping operation that end up making people very, very ill, because of the frequency and the power of the devices being used. We just don't know, the U.S. Government, we're told doesn't know. But the trail leads very quickly back to the Cuban government for months they've been demanding an explanation from authorities in Cuba and they have not been getting the answers that they wanted. Eventually expelling Cuban diplomats from United States in retaliation and today going public essentially saying despite the Cuban government's denials that U.S. just doesn't buy what the Cuban government is telling the U.S. and they hold the Cuban government responsible for what has happened.
LEMON: So who and why, Colonel Leighton who would do this and why?
COL CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET), MILITARY ANALYST, CNN: Well, one of the key possibilities here, Don, is that it's just like the correspondent in Havana mentioned. It could be just right out of a spy novel and what we're talking about here is the intelligence services of Cuba or Russia. And the reason the Russians would be involved in this is because they have researched acoustic weapons for many years and they've been looking at how they could possibly use them, not only to gain information but also to conduct attacks on personnel and one of the big things that they can do is target specific individuals using frequencies that are not necessarily discernible to the human ear, but can have huge physical effects on the human body.
LEMON: So Steve, this you have to admit it. It sounds like a mystery straight out of the cold war. Do we have any idea who did this?
STEVE HALL, RETIRED CHIEF OF CIA RUSSIAN OPERATIONS: Oh, yes. This is a bit of a blast from the past but not that far off the beaten path in terms of intelligence collections operations. I think we might be getting a, little bit confused in terms of the attack idea. You're talking about attacking a specific target. These are types of capabilities that were developed by the soviets and now the Russians who are very good at it in the '50s and the '60s. What they're actually doing is collecting. They're using various energy sources.
I apologize I'm a liberal arts major, not a physicist. But they use different types of directed energy to basically flood a building, flood a location. To try to obtain information data that can be reflected back. It was an older capability that Russians are very good at. I think that is why we're talking about the Russians. In my assessment it's likely that the Russians probably provided the equipment and perhaps the training as well. That could have happened as many as 20 or 30 years ago. The Cubans certainly has that capability. This is just sort of a classic collection operation which interestingly I think has for the most part been superseded by what the Russian can do via internet. They don't have to use these arcane and older technologies. But the Cuban can still do it.
LEMON: So the Colonel Leighton, has the U.S. ever used an acoustic attack on Cuba or any other country?
LEIGHTON: Not to my knowledge, Don. And we've done testing in the acoustic area but we have never used them on specific targets, either specific individuals or entities in a hostile environment. So there are no records that indicate that anything like that has happened.
LEMON: Why does it make people so ill?
LEIGHTON: Part of it is because the way in which the human ear, for example, operates. It operates within a certain frequency range and what happens is if you go beyond that the frequency range it can actually effect things like balance and areas in which fluid is retained the body and what that does is actually effects the way in which blood, for example can be pumped through the human heart. So it can make people ill in that way and make people ill in terms of how their brains actually operate. It can actually have the feeling of a concussion when they're dealing with or subjected to these kinds of signals.
[23:05:05] LEMON: All right thank you all. I appreciate it. Patrick, thank you. Thanks for joining us.
When we come back, President Trump's inner circle rattled by a predawn raid on a home of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, will it tamp down the President's rhetoric on the Russia investigation? We'll talk about it.
LEMON: Special counsel Robert Mueller sending a message loud and clear with a predawn raid on the home of Paul Manafort. Let's discuss now. CNN Political Commentators Ben Ferguson and Marc Lamont Hill, also Syndicated talk radio host John Fredericks and CNN political commentator Charles Blow. Yes, it's going to be an interesting panel.
John I want to start with you, we learned today the FBI raided one- time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's Virginia home in late July. What's your reaction to that?
JOHN FREDERICKS, HOST, SYNDICATED TALK RADIO: He is a bad guy. That is the bottom line. You look at some of Paul Manafort's history and his background. You got to really question this. Donald Trump made two disastrous hires since he started to run for President and has been President. The worst was Paul Manafort. The second was Anthony Scaramucci. Good thing he saw this and fired the two of them within a short period of time. This guy came into the campaign.
[23:40:13]LEMON: Didn't Kelly fire Scaramucci.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Seven days --
FREDERICKS: He made a bad decision with Scaramucci and he fired him. That decision was not made without the President's approval. He made a bad decision on Paul Manafort. He was a disaster in that campaign no question about it and he fired him when --
LEMON: But did he fire him or was it Ivanka who wanted him to go? FREDERICKS: At the end of the day the President made the decision to
bring him in, he made the decision to let him go.
LAMONT HILL: He made two bad choices, two bad hires.
FREDERICKS: My point is they were bad hires but having seen that, he was quick to fire them. He didn't throw good money after bad. Paul Manafort's in a heap of --
LEMON: We'll let you make your point.
FREDERICKS: The Ukrainian situation is very troubling, Don, for what he did, the money that flowed around there how he got involve in that government.
LEMON: Shouldn't he have extreme vetted him?
FREDERICKS: Perhaps. I mean it was a bad hire, they didn't vetted him enough, look I don't want to be bias here, I was not a fan of Paul Manafort in the campaign. When he came in I thought things went off the rails. That was the worst period of the campaign that we had.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If there's a universal moment where conservatives all said what is this guy doing here, referring to Paul Manafort? I was in the same camp you are. I think he is a bad guy and everybody who knew his history at that moment --
FREDERICKS: Why didn't you guys say something then?
FERGUSON: I did.
FREDERICKS: I was listening.
FERGUSON: I was exiled at that point from the campaign, because I criticized him. The whole reason is Manafort pitched the President a good pitch.
LEMON: Did everybody hear that? That you were ex-out of the campaign --
FERGUSON: For sure. That is a tough part of the campaign. He was out and I said look, Manafort's a bad guy. Paul Manafort pitched himself well. He said I know the delegate count. That is how he got into that position. He said I know how this works.
LEMON: Charles, go ahead.
CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There are many more bad hires he is made, including Flynn and it's not simply that he didn't vet him. People kept saying these are not the people who should be around you. He refused to listen to counsel and we have to be concerned, not just about people that he hired but what kinds of people are -- is he attracted to? There's something about these kind of sleezy guys that he finds attractive. There's something about dictators that he finds attractive. He also has a fetish for the generals for whatever reason that is. FREDERICKS: There are a lot of questions.
BLOW: There's not a fetish -- I actually don't believe he is listening, because if he did he wouldn't have shot off at the mouth about North Korea and not even his chief of staff. Let alone the generals in the field and the Pentagon.
What I'm saying is -- he sees that courage in people who make it on their own.
FERGUSON: The psycho bubble mumbo jumbo. Nothing is coming out of his mouth.
LEMON: Listen, everyone. But to his point there are a lot of questionable people around this President or who were involved in the campaign. Look at Flynn, same thing. Start would the lock her up or whatever and now he had to be fired. There are a lot of questionable people. It says something about his choices.
FERGUSON: You said a lot of people.
BLOW: A number.
FERGUSON: But if you look at Manafort, his problems are not going to be from the campaign. Manafort's problems are from pre-campaign phase. It's from money involved long before he was even looking at --
BLOW: Meet me at Trump tower --
[23:45:06]LAMONT HILL: There are a couple of things, one we don't know it yet, right.
FERGUSON: The evidence is point to the fact that dealt I think financial crimes and you can't have financial crimes in the campaign. If there's nothing there to even come up.
LAMONT HILL: No one's disputing there's an investigation about the campaign. The question is there other things pending because he was in the room? We will find that out once we investigate. But the thing for me is this narrative of surprise. Some things catch you by surprise. Every Presidential administration has had missteps because somebody slips through the cracks. But people keep coming up who aren't even that difficult -- he didn't need a deep investigation for Manafort. Even Republican who loves everything Trump, oh, Manafort -- what I'm making a claim about is the Trump administration seems to continue to have this narrative of surprise. Two sources today said that the Trump administration is surprised that a -- how could you be surprised that Manafort has an investigation? That is bazaar. You have generals who are surprised that Trump tweeted out wild stuff.
LEMON: Two sources told CNN that the warrant for Trump team by surprise quote rattled a few cages of the inner circle. Do you think he is going to stop referring to it as a Russian hoax? BLOW: He should. There's a big point that we're missing which is
Mueller's team is tight and they're not leaking. We've gotten kind of used the idea that as things happen we're going to know this happened in late July. We're just finding it out and not from leaks from Mueller's team and what they're investigating you have no idea. I have no idea. We have no idea. They're not leaking. They are just doing --
LEMON: Hold on. I'm going to really tick you off then because I got to go to break. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Back now with my panel, yes they were talking during the break. You were trying to make a point?
FERGUSON: The Manafort thing, a lot of people is doing their analysis, because they hate the president. What we saw from one link that came out last week was hey, we're not seeing a lot of collusion but what we are going to move on to is financial crimes. We think that is more fertile ground. There is fertile ground to be looked at with Paul Manafort, as an American here say I am a foreign agent and registered with the government. He is in deep trouble. But let's not try to act if somehow this was in the White House. It was --
[23:50:12] LEMON: Did you feel the same way --
BLOW: Who said that? I'm curious.
FERGUSON: That was a leak that came out last week and that was the quote in the Washington Post.
BLOW: You don't know --
FERGUSON: You sound like it was a conservative --
BLOW: You don't know that. What -- competition. What I'm saying is this. I want to know if that -- if it came from one of the 16 lawyers on that team. That is what I'm trying to figure out.
FERGUSON: What I'm saying are multiple people involved is quoted as saying that they're moving to financial crimes which makes sense why you would go before a Judge. I think you want it so desperately to be somehow involved in the campaign. You don't be the judge.
BLOW: Are you saying me?
FERGUSON: I am saying you, yes. I think you would love for this to be directly about the campaign.
BLOW: That sounds like psycho analysis.
FERGUSON: You saw this --
BLOW: You tell me what I want. I love -- What are my motivations? You can come to my house and --
FERGUSON: Something I reveal like.
BLOW: Don Lemon, man --
LEMON: I feel like we're in a bar.
FREDERICKS: Manafort for things they did when he had nothing to too with Donald Trump or Trump campaign or anything else.
LAMONT HILL: You don't know that.
LEMON: Listen, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop! That doesn't matter. He was still the chairman, campaign chairman of Donald Trump's campaign.
LAMONT HILL: He got fired.
LEMON: That is right, but he was still involved.
This is a clip. This is a clip from senior Senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN RON JOHNSON, (R) WISCONSIN: I'm not going to speak for John McCain. He has a brain tumor right now. That vote occurred at 1: 30 in the morning. Some of that might have affected him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really? He just had recovered from getting the brain tumor removed and flew all the way to Washington, D.C. You think that played a role in his judgment call?
JOHNSON: I don't know -- I don't want to speak for any Senator. I really thought John would vote yes in the conference at 10:30 at night, by about 1:00, 1:30, he voted no. I haven't confirmed what is on his mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAMONT HILL: Sort of to echo the -- really?
LEMON: Come on.
FERGUSON: This is not -- this is one thing that to me isn't even funny. You have a Senator -- I don't care who you are. You're a Republican or a Democrat. You're fighting for your life. You have brain cancer. You come back to cast your vote. No one should question whether it was a medically induced vote because of a condition you have. I think that was bush league by Senator Johnson. I think it was embarrassing. I think he should apologize for it.
LEMON: He apologized -- he said he had nothing but respect to him. And the vote came at the end of a long day for everyone, he did not apologize.
BLOW: That is like a Trump apology.
LAMONT HILL: I was tired. But there is -- it's the height of arrogance to think that the only someone would vote against this bill --
FREDERICKS: Or disagree with you.
LAMONT HILL: How about the bill was unworkable. How about the fact the day --
BLOW: Dozens of other Democrats said no.
FREDERICKS: The entire Republican leadership lives in an alternative universe. They raised money for four election cycles and campaign on repealing and replacing Obamacare. They had nothing, they lied to their donors. They lied to their people.
LAMONT HILL: What is it --?
FREDERICKS: You want to blame the --
LEMON: Ok. So here's the thing. John McCain had intricate knowledge of the health care system because he was actually dealing with it in the moment.
LAMONT HILL: President -- he doesn't -- this is real life for him, but it is also a bad bill that wasn't workable.
FREDERICKS: Why would they repeal the bill, because they lied to their constituents for seven years? Now they want to blame John McCain because he has cancer? That is got to be one of the most despicable statements --
LAMONT HILL: They were running on repealing Obamacare. The voters don't actually want this. This is -- let me finish. This is far more -- this is working far more than the Republicans want to concede so they have nothing to do with this--
FREDERICKS: Would you concede to me --
LAMONT HILL: Not --
FREDERICKS: That the Republican leadership over four cycles in seven years ran on a complete lie. They should be held accountable.
LAMONT HILL: Yes. What did you say?
FREDERICKS: They should be held accountable.
LAMONT HILL: I think Republicans should be held accountable.
[23:55:07] LEMON: I don't think they realized how tough it was going to be. I think it's a point they -- they didn't realize. Some people, because they were running on rhetoric, some people actually liked the services --
LAMONT HILL: People like being covered.
FREDERICKS: I don't think you understand a lot of the American people have massive problems with Obamacare. I think the reason John McCain probably voted no was for one simple reason. He thought the bill was not well established, well thought out, well put together and he said we can do better.
LEMON: Or he was simply holding his powder and saying I got you now. But go on, Charles.
BLOW: I agree with you on this. It wasn't even really a bill.
FERGUSON: Right (inaudible) A bill?
BLOW: They literally said -- we don't want to see this acted in legislation. We want to let the housework out an actual bill, which is an incredible thing to say. You are right. They lied. But the idea that they were lying should not take anybody by surprise. It is exactly what Marc said. It was a way to run against Obama because it was branded with his name --
FREDERICKS: Obama care was --
BLOW: I'm sorry. It was associated with him. At the end of the equation it is always going to be about whether or not some people are going to feel -- some increase, some pain, some economic pain so that other people can live. That is always going to be what you have to work out. Some people are going to say -- my parents --
People over here feel alive -- who are alive --
FERGUSON: 73 percent of Americans still say there needs to be a complete overhaul or massive changes to Obama care.
FERGUSON: There's a reason the Republicans didn't want, some of them didn't like.
LEMON: You know who was worse than 73 percent was the 17 percent who approved the bill the Republicans put forward.
LAMONT HILL: I got to go.
LEMON: I would love to stay here. We can go across the street and have a drink after this but we've got to get out of here. Good night, here's Anderson.