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Moore Won Over Trump's Bet; IRS Now Shares Info to Mueller's Team; Russia Facebook Ads Promotes Chaos. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired September 26, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And here's the breaking news. President Trump's candidate defeated by Steve Bannon's in Alabama.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
That result in Alabama's Senate runoff race has people asking tonight whose GOP is it anyway? What is the future of the party? And what's up with the horse?
Plus, big developments in the Russia investigation. The million-dollar question. How did Russians know who to target with those ads on Facebook during the presidential election? Did they have help? And the IRS giving financial information to Robert Mueller about key Trump campaign officials.
We have a lot to get to tonight in this hour. But I want to get right to CNN's Alex Marquardt at Roy Moore's headquarters. He's down in Montgomery, Alabama with the very latest. So, Alex, anti-establishment candidate Roy Moore beat up President Trump fill for Senate. Fill us in of what's the mood there tonight.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, he did. There's a lot of happiness and excitement here at the watch party for Roy Moore at the campaign headquarters. It got a little quite in the past few moments but that's just because everyone has gathered here up front waiting for the judge to come out and give his victory remarks.
Luther Strange has conceded defeat. Now this is very much a blow to the Washington establishment that says a significant blow to the president who cast his -- who threw his weight behind Luther Strange.
This was a race that pitted the insiders against the outsiders, the grassroots against Washington, and President Trump against many of his own supporters.
The president deciding to go with the establishment candidate Luther Strange who had worked for years in Washington as a lobbyist while many of his own base and many of his most prominent supporters like Steve Bannon like Sarah Huckabee -- excuse me, like Sarah Palin, did go for Judge Roy Moore.
He is very much the outsider with no Washington experience talked about draining the swamp. But President Trump made it clear that his support for Luther Strange came out of a sense of loyalty that Luther Strange had shown that he would be a loyal foot soldier in the Senate, willing to vote the way that the president wanted to advance his agenda, to vote against Obamacare.
But in that same speech on Friday night, a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, he wondered aloud with Strange right there, whether it was even smart to be getting involved in this race and said that it could be a major embarrassment to him if Strange lost. Strange has indeed now lost. The White House grappling with that embarrassment.
LEMON: And Alex, up on the stage right now behind you we have him up, is Steve Bannon. And this was Steve Bannon's candidate. And you have been pointing out here, you know, Donald Trump went for the other candidate, the establishment candidate who did not win, and now there's Steve Bannon up on stage now. We're going to listen to him, Alex, and we'll be back. Stand by.
: Well, Senator Corker stepped down today. He's not going to run for re-election.
And you're going to see in state after state after state people that follow the model of Judge Moore that do not need to raise money from the elites, from the crony capitalists, from the fat cats in Washington, D.C., New York City, Silicon Valley.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: This campaign was outrageous. Thirty million dollars spent about 2.5 all in the politics of personal destruction against one of the finest men in this country, Judge Roy Moore.
The question was called today in the State of Alabama who's sovereign, the people or the money? And Alabama answered today, the people. Thank you very much.
LEMON: That was Steve Bannon up on stage. Of course, the president's former senior advisor up on stage. And so as we look at things here, I asked you what the mood was like there, the mood seems to be pretty excited.
Again, he was saying, you know, that this was, he was not the establishment candidate. He does not need to raise money. He has no ties to Washington, and he expected more candidates like this to win. And there he is, that's Roy Moore up on stage down in Alabama where our Alex Marquardt is right now. Alex, let's listen in a little bit.
ROY MOORE, FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE: Thank you. Thank you. You see my family up here. My sons, Kaleb, Roy, and Caya, Roy's wife, of course my wife. I've got my young mother of 90 years old standing down here.
(APPLAUSE) I've got my brothers, my sisters, and I appreciate all the people that come tonight.
[22:05:01] I want to get my staff up here just a moment, if you will, the people that worked on my staff, if you'll come up here. Brent, Drew, Thomas, you all come up here a minute. Let's give them some room. Dean.
You know, there's so many people that worked on the staff that should be recognized. Thomas here has done -- Thomas (Inaudible) has done a wonderful job.
I like to say -- I like to say I thought this guy to run, but I didn't. This is -- Stacey. He's done a great job.
LEMON: All right. We're going to keep an eye on Roy Moore down in Alabama winning that Senate GOP race down there. And we have our correspondent there Alex Marquardt is there, and also joining us is Kaitlan Collins there as well. Kaitlan, let's talk. You're at the headquarters of Luther Strange. And so what's the mood there? He has -- you're in the home with Alabama obviously, he has conceded, given his concession.
KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, CNN: Yes, he has conceded. He came on stage just a few minutes ago, Don, and thanked his supporters, thanked his staffers, thanked the president for his endorsement. And though the president had endorsed him and came down and rallied support for Luther Strange, it wasn't enough to pull him over the line to defeat Roy Moore clearly.
But the question now is did the people who voted for Roy Moore really think that the president had endorsed Strange authentically here. Because as you know, Don, at that rally in Huntsville Friday night, I was there. And the president said that he might have made a mistake in endorsing Strange.
He first endorse him in early August, and then later on we reported that after he was shown some poll numbers where Strange was behind Moore, he considered backing off that endorsement but then later doubled down after he was told that Strange could still defeat Moore.
But clearly that hasn't happened. And at that rally on Friday night the president predicted that if Moore would win, the media would blame the president for Strange's loss saying that although he did all these things to try and get him over the line, he just couldn't do it.
However, at that same rally he said that if Roy Moore defeated Luther Strange, he would be campaigning for him before the general election in December in Alabama.
LEMON: Interesting. Kaitlan, stand by, Alex, stand by. I want to bring in our panel now. Chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and political commentator, David Swerdlick.
So now, it's a runoff with Judge Roy Moore. Dana, I mean, is this result going to rattle and already rattled a Republican Party, many who are at odds with the republican president?
DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, it's beyond rattling. I mean, this is the prime example of a very divided Republican Party, and one that you just saw Steve Bannon speaking live there -- one that he is articulating in a very public way now, that he wants to continue to push, to push this breach in the Republican Party.
It was a little bit scrambled in Alabama for the reason that Kaitlan was just talking about because the president endorsed the quote, unquote "establishment candidate." And President Trump's supporters and the people who work for him and consider themselves outsiders, wanted the guy who won, Moore.
So it is scrambled, but I think that this is also something that we need to keep in mind going forward. Whether or not this is a telltale sign or a warning sign for other incumbent republicans.
You already saw Bob Corker of Tennessee say today that he was not going to seek re-election. He had said when he ran the first time, he was a citizen candidate, a businessman. He would just seek two terms, fine.
But there are other endangered republicans who might look at Alabama and say do I really want to deal with a republican primary contest that I might actually lose or should and just bow out now? That's a real question. Even if they don't bow out, they're going to meet serious challenges. Because people like Steve Bannon and those who helped him in this race are going to feel very emboldened that they can continue to topple establishment republican candidates.
LEMON: Gloria, Kaitlan refer to this -- to this. I want you to listen to what Donald Trump said would happen if Luther Strange lost this race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Luther doesn't win, they're not going to say we picked up 25 points in a very short period of time. They're going to say, Donald Trump, the President of the United States, was unable to pull his candidate across the line. It is a terrible, terrible moment for Trump. This is total embarrassment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Not quite, but, look, this is what the president just tweeted, Gloria. He said, "Congratulations to Roy Moore on his republican primary win in Alabama. Luther Strange started way back and ran a good race. Roy win in November."
[22:10:03] It wasn't quite, but the first words out of my mouth tonight was Donald Trump's candidate, the president's candidate loses and Steve Bannon's candidate wins.
GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Right.
LEMON: So, he was sort of right.
BORGER: Well, yes. Look, in many ways this was sort of an unnatural fit for him, for Donald Trump. I mean, he would normally back the insurgent. Instead he blacked the establishment candidate, so that's another thing he can blame Mitch McConnell for, which he will -- which he will no doubt do.
But he will jump on this band wagon. And as Dana was talking about earlier, I think what we heard from Steve Bannon was a direct call to arms for the populous and the Republican Party, cheering the fact that Senator Corker has retired from the Senate in Tennessee. It's clear to me that in Arizona they're going to put up a candidate against Senator Flake, they'll put up a candidate against Dean Heller in Nevada.
I think this has emboldened them. They had more than $10 million spent against them. Bannon said it was 30, but it was a lot of money spent against them, and they managed to win.
Again, this is -- this is Alabama. But, you know, I think that this war that Dana's talking about in the Republican Party, has just broken out into the open here. And you're going to see a lot of these republicans being worried about primaries and some establishment republicans worrying that a democratic may actually be able to win in the State of Alabama for the first time since 1982.
LEMON: I have to ask you, David.
DAVID SWERDLICK, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes.
LEMON: And this is nothing disparaging about Roy Moore. This is just who Roy Moore is. Because some people are wondering whose party is it? Is it, you know, the Republican Party of yesteryear, is it Donald Trump party.
LEMON: What the Republican Party is going to look like? I mean, he got fired from the Supreme Court down in Alabama because he refused to remove the statue of the Ten Commandments. He like the Quran to (Inaudible) He believed the president, the former president wasn't born in the United States, suspended for defying a Supreme Court gay marriage ruling, believed that homosexuality is illegal. What is -- what is -- whose party is this?
SWERDLICK: So, on the one hand it's not totally surprising. Everything you just listed off is red meat for a certain portion and hard core portion of the republican base. On the other -- and Alabama is a fire engine red state, right.
I think that Moore is going to go on even if the democrat is more competitive, go on and win the state. But I mean, you have a situation here where it does say something both about the Republican Party that you still got all of this energy for someone who has these views, which really are sort from another time, in my view, particularly when you talk about not enforcing the Supreme Court's decision to make same sex marriage legal, a backward view.
And not a judge not supporting the rule of law. But you also have a situation here where President Trump now even if it's not a total embarrassment to him, it does show that he isn't able to hold his party together in a way that you would normally expect the president to do.
The president for better or worse is the titular head of the Republican Party, but he's not holding together the establishment with the populous base. And that I think portends poorly for what they're going to do in terms of getting their agenda accomplished in the coming couple of years.
LEMON: Go ahead, Dana.
BASH: You know, we've been talking about President Trump understandably because he is the titular head of the party, but the other person who, just in terms of just the raw politics here who's going to see a lot of focus on him, unwanted, is Mitch McConnell.
BASH: The Senate minority leader. Because not only was Luther Strange his guy, and it was, you know, he was very open about it. He wanted the more establishment republican who had been appointed to be the elected senator from Alabama, but because, again, Steve Bannon and those who agree with Steve Bannon are very open about not just changing the party and trying to pick-off these establishment candidates.
They want to pick-off the establishment candidates because they want to wage a coup against the republican leadership in Congress. Mitch McConnell in the Senate and also Paul Ryan in the House. But we're talking about the Senate now. And that is the sole reason.
And you know, this is the kind of thing that we saw since the tea party wave began in 2010. But it was more sort of focused on Congress because we thought perhaps because they didn't have the White House. That's not true anymore. They do have the White House, and yet, they're still just have this fervor inside this particular part of the republican base to continue to kind of rage against the machine even though they have their biggest prize in the White House.
BORGER: yes, I think...
[22:14:59] LEMON: Yes, Gloria, can I ask you something before you weigh in?
LEMON: Because we have to remember this is where president -- his candidate was defeated, but this is where this culture war started. President Trump was down in Alabama campaigning for Luther Strange, called NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem, called them SOBs. We have to remember that.
BORGER: Well, we do. Look, the president knew his audience. He's very intuitive about this. And he knew, he knew that he would be applauded. And you know how he gets his energy off his audience. And once it was over, he figured he had done a pretty good job.
And he -- I spoke to a friend of his today who spoke with him a day or so ago and the president's very pleased with what he's done. And I think that you're going to continue to hear more of this from the president. I think the culture war is something that works for him.
And I think that it didn't work for Luther Strange, but I do think this president will wholeheartedly endorse Judge Moore and will campaign for him. And I also believe that to Dana's point about a coup being in the offing either literally or figuratively in the Congress, I think Donald Trump would be all for it.
Donald Trump has made no secret of the fact that he thinks Mitch McConnell has not been his friend. And by the way, as people were going to the polls today in this day, do you think they thought great things about the leadership in the Senate after they failed yet again to repeal and replace Obamacare? I wonder how that played into this. So I think the President of the United States will be all in favor of a change in leadership.
LEMON: I want to put up the president's tweet again, and I'll let you respond, David. But the president said congratulating Roy Moore on his republican primary win in Alabama. "Luther Strange started way back and ran a good race. Roy win in November." And by the way, Larry Sabato just tweeted, "The Alabama special election is in December not November," responding to the president's tweet.
But go ahead, David.
SWERDLICK: Yes, Don, I just wanted to pick up on something that Dana said a second ago about I think, Dana, you said waging against the machine. Now this was -- this is something the Steve Bannons of the world are going to try to rally around. And then as Gloria said, President Trump might ultimately be in favor of this idea of a coup.
But at the same time, at least in the short-term if you look at what Senate republicans are going to be dealing with. You have a situation where you are going to have a Roy Moore potentially coming to the Senate now, who will potentially cause more rancors, be more extreme on a rhetorical level but probably will vote very similarly to Luther Strange on issues like taxation, on issues like healthcare.
But, so, that leaves senators who are more moderate like Senator Murkowski or Senator Collins with more still having more power than these far right republicans because they are the swing votes that are needed for the republicans to get anything of the big chunks of their legislation passed. Longer term, maybe it's a coup, shorter term I think it's raging against the machine. LEMON: Thank you all. Fascinating conversation. I appreciate it. We
have to remember, again, this is where those controversial son of a bitch comments happened in Alabama. And the president still thinks this is, you know, a winning strategy for him and that's why he said it and he continues to believe that he is winning with this.
When we come back, more big developments in the Russia investigation. CNN learning tonight the IRS is giving information to Robert Mueller about key Trump campaign officials. And we're also learning more about those Russia related Facebook ads and how they might have been targeted.
[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: We have some new reporting tonight on two big developments in the Russia investigation. One involving the IRS and one involving Facebook.
So, joining me now is CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown, and Dylan Byers, CNN reporter for media and politics. Hello to both of you. Pamela, you first. You have this exclusive new information on the Russia tonight. What are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, that's right, Don. We've learned that the IRS is sharing information with investigators working with special counsel Robert Mueller. And this comes, Don, after the two sides were at odds for months over the summer. Dealing with the scope of Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling, Mueller's investigators requested information on several people associated with the Trump campaign including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, of course the former national security advisor.
And we're told by sources that the IRS initially had reservations because of what were seen as far reaching of broad requests for information for Mueller's investigators. In the case of Manafort the scope included possible tax and financial crimes dating back to January of 2006, 10 years before the Russian meddling of the presidential election last fall, Don.
LEMON: So, Pamela, your reporting also indicates this also centers on the July raid of Manafort's home. Tell me about that.
BROWN: That's right. So we've learned that there were some tension between the IRS and the special counsel that was going on behind the scenes of that FBI raid on Manafort's home in Alexandria, Virginia. In fact, multiple sources tell us that the IRS didn't participate in that raid because of objections that the search would interfere with the separate IRS investigation of Manafort.
We're told that the IRS and the FBI initially had their own Manafort probe even before the election and before Mueller was appointed. The special counsel's office, though, went ahead with the search on Manafort's home with only FBI agents carrying it out. And that is unusual for the IRS to sit out a search on an investigation that centers on tax and financial matters, Don. LEMON: Does this mean the special counsel Mueller's investigators now
have access to tax returns including possibly to president's tax returns?
BROWN: Well, it's not exactly clear whether the special counsel has asked for or obtained President Trump's tax returns. Our sources say that if Mueller's office does have those returns, then deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who have receive the probe likely would need to sign-off given the sensitivity surrounding the manner.
Now as for Manafort and Flynn, given the scope of those investigations, it's more likely that Mueller has obtained those records. And I spoke to a former high ranking Justice Department official today who tells me that the information shared by the IRS would include anything tax return related. Such as, real estate, banking records, metadata, that kind of thing.
But the IRS is very restricted in what information it can share, even with other government agencies and it would normally need a specific grand jury subpoena in order to share tax returns with another agency.
Don, we should mention the IRS criminal division investigation and special counsel decline to comment.
[22:25:03] LEMON: OK. Dylan Byers, to you now. You have new information tonight about the political ads Russians bought on Facebook leading up to the election. What can you tell us about that?
DYLAN BYERS, SENIOR MEDIA AND POLITICS REPORTER, CNN: That's right. What we know now is a little bit more about the content of the ads. Obviously what happened weeks ago, Facebook came forward to the Senate and House intelligence committee and gave them just a very small sampling of what was in those 3,000 ads.
The Senate and House Intel committees are still waiting on Facebook to actually hand over those ads as CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would do last week. But what we're hearing is that the ads weren't necessarily intended to promote one candidate or dismiss voters from supporting another candidate. They were solely focused on amplifying an atmosphere of chaos, amplifying political divisiveness.
And specifically what that meant is you might have an ad promoting the idea that illegal immigrants were a threat to this country. You had an ad, one of our sources tells us, that promoted the second amendment, promoted gun rights. You had ad that promoted the Black Lives Matter movement but might have been geared towards striking fear in the hearts of people who were prone to dislike the Black Lives Matter movement.
The entire campaign at least based off of the small sampling of ads that we know about was not based on promoting Donald Trump, not based on promoting Hillary Clinton, based on sewing political divisiveness and essentially creating a culture of partisanship and trying to undermine American democracy.
LEMON: Dylan Byers and Pamela Brown, thank you very much for your reporting.
When we come back, we're going to dig deeper into the latest developments in the Russia investigation. How far will investigators go, and how will the president respond?
[22:30:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Our CNN exclusive tonight. Robert Mueller's team getting information from the IRS as they pursue this Russian investigation.
Here to discuss CNN counterterrorism analyst, Philip Mudd, Michael Isikoff, the chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates. Good evening to all of you.
Phil, you first. We now that the IRS from the reporting sharing information with the special counsel Robert Mueller about key Trump campaign officials. What does that tell you about how extensive Mueller's investigation has become?
PHILIP MUDD, COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST, CNN: Look, you look at the amount of time he's going back to look at this kind of information. There's a simple answer and there's a subtle answer. The simple answer is, were they accepting money from people who might have also been involved also years later in participating in supporting operations to put false information in the American elections?
I think that's a simplistic interpretation of the FBI and director Mueller -- I can't say anything but director Mueller, I served under him for five years -- his cooperation with the IRS. There's the second answer, and this is a hammer.
You walk in with somebody who is either on the periphery or at the center of the investigation. Here's, Don, how that conversation goes. We've got tax information. It suggests that you declare tax that don't show earnings you got from Eastern European contracts.
You can either face a federal charge or you can talk to us about what you know about Russian involvement with the Trump campaign. You make the choice. Federal charge or you talk? He's got a hammer if he's got IRS information. I'm talking about Robert Mueller.
LEMON: And what do most people, the people who are in that position whoever they say I want to talk?
MUDD: Well, especially if you're pushing out on periphery of people who don't have a core involvement in the investigation, what's their lawyer going to tell them? You want to go to jail for Donald Trump if you have information about what happened in the campaign and you weren't a core participant in that campaign? If I'm sitting on the margins on that, I'm saying I'm going to die and somebody out, I'm not going to jail and I'm not facing a federal charge. Huge hammer, Don.
LEMON: Laura Coates, you agree with that?
LAURA COATES, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, it's a huge hammer but it's not necessarily a binary choice that he has to actually make in this particular circumstance. There could be some finessing and massaging in the form of a federal, you know, a plea bargain of some sort or there could be a combination.
And frankly, a prosecutor who is worth his or her salt would probably look for that particular negotiation and that massaging. Because when you do that you were able to not only hook a big fish but you're also able to get the information to hook perhaps a larger one. Or one who is parallel in terms of his, you know, gravitas in the overall investigation.
So I do agree with the contingency that of course, there is room for the prosecutors and his team and of course, Mueller's and his team, they do have the upper hand. He, Manafort is not in a select position in a unique position to be able to hold the cards and call the shots. Not if you're going back 11 years in financial crimes and not if Mueller has the authority to investigate it.
LEMON: Before I get to Michael, Laura, I have one more question. Let's talk about these tax returns. Because as Pam pointed out Mueller would have needed the deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein who oversees the probe to sign-off on getting tax, Trump's tax returns. Legally do you think Mueller can make the case if necessary?
COATES: Well, make the case for what? If making the case to figure out if Donald Trump somehow has an IRS or an IRS statement or tax return that indicates his involvement into nature of the criminal probe of collusion, and they could make the case that way. You follow the money in these important cases.
On the other hand, if whether it's making the case in the sense of does this information indicate that this person aside from Donald Trump has some financial dealings or financial incentive to engage in collusion, or remember, he's got a larger directive under Rod Rosenstein, which is he can follow wherever the investigation leads, things that arise from or may arise out of the overall criminal probe.
So he can make the case that one is in his power to investigate it. And if there is evidence and there's smoke and fire, he can make the case there is in fact collusion. We're not quite there yet, though.
LEMON: OK. So, Michael, here's what the president said to the New York Times, this was in July about investigators potentially looking into financial matters. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mueller was looking at your finances, your family's finances unrelated to Russia. Is that a red line?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?
[22:35:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say yes. I would say yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And investigators are said to be sharing information about Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, not necessarily Trump, but how do you expect the White House to react?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Well, as long as its Manafort and Flynn, I'm not quite sure the president will be all that exercised in that exchange. He was asked about Mueller going after his own tax records.
And so, you know, I don't know. Look, I thought that Pamela's reporting was pretty interesting tonight on a couple of aspects. The fact that the IRS was not onboard with what Mueller was doing is at least initially is very puzzling. And it does raise a lot of questions. Why wouldn't they be?
If this is a tax investigation and the IRS would clearly have primary interest in that, why would they be resisting sharing information and cooperating in Mueller's investigation? Now, it may be simply bureaucratic turf battle there, but it also could raise questions about the scope of Mueller's probe and the direction in which he's going.
LEMON: All right, much more to talk about. Stay with me, everyone. When we come back, the president's longtime friend and confidant Roger Stone testified behind closed doors on Capitol Hill today. We're going to tell you what went on behind the doors and what he came out and what he said publicly afterwards.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Former Trump advisor on Capitol Hill today as part of the Russia investigation. He testifies.
Back with me now Philip Mudd, Michael Isikoff, and Laura Coates. Before we get to Roger Stone I want to ask you about the Facebook.
LEMON: Some questions about Facebook. Senate intelligence committee began receiving some 3,000 election ads sold by Facebook to Russian linked accounts. You saw Dylan's report trying to divide America, the nation on gun rights.
LEMON: Black Lives Matter and what have you. Does this show you the level of the Russia operation? What do you think of that?
ISIKOFF: I find this really frustrating. The Americans, including the Congress, the American people are focused on what did Roger Stone did, what did Paul Manafort do. They are losing sight of a fundamental question. How did a foreign power interfere in an American election? What you're seeing in terms of Facebook passing over information to congressional committees is the question Congress should ask. What happened in terms of American intervention? Forget about Jared
Kushner, forget about Paul Manafort. How did a foreign government interfere in a the election by putting information, for example, out on Facebook, and can we pass legislation or provide support to Silicon Valley to prevent this in 2018, in 2020?
Robert Mueller will deal with a question of who did something wrong in the past and should they be prosecuted? The Congress using information like this should stop spending time focus on what Paul Manafort did in the past and say, what do we do to protect Americans in the future. We're mixing this up in the investigation.
LEMON: because they don't have the investigation -- the investigatory capability.
ISIKOFF: They don't. Look at a couple of questions. If you want to look at a mass of amount of text data from a human being, if you want to look at e-mail data from a human being, if you want to look at financial records going 10 years back, that's technical capability and that's manpower. The FBI and Mueller can do it. I don't think the Congress can.
LEMON: They should be protecting the next time.
ISIKOFF: The next time, yes. And let Mueller worry about whether somebody did something that reaches a federal violation last year.
LEMON: Laura, long time Trump confidant Roger Stone testified before a closed session of the House intelligence committee today spoke to reporters afterwards. Let's take a look at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: I think what's happening here is that the special counsel will try to manufacture a crime and then say, look, Manafort we won't prosecute you for this if you simply admit you were colluding with the Russians and that Donald Trump knew everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What do you think of that, what he said? Do you think that Manafort will turn on the president?
COATES: Well, it remains to be seen. But what he had alluding to is this is a type of witch-hunt where Mueller is trying to have a self- fulfilling prophecy come through by trying to, you have the most leverage against Paul Manafort and use that leverage to, you know, make up evidence in the collusion investigation.
But it sounds like this is not so far a witch-hunt. It sounds like there is an investigation that's based on trying to go through many rabbit holes, but also based on the conduct at least in part financially of Paul Manafort.
And so the idea that what they're trying to do is manufacture evidence is a little bit naive. What they're trying to do is find out whether or not Paul Manafort has been involved in collusion, whether he was financially vulnerable. Whether he used his position with now president of the United States, and tried to capitalize on it in the repayment of debt, et cetera, which are known to be true.
And so, if that's the case, then they do already have leverage, and they could certainly ask him to cooperate in the investigation. What that is a mutual exclusive point on whether or not they'd be manufacturing something. What they have is leverage. Could they capitalize on it?
But if Mueller's only evidence here is leverage, then he doesn't have much of a case. But if what he has is financial information that says that a member of the campaign and, remember Paul Manafort was the chairman of the campaign at one point in time, then that will justify in many ways the probe that he is now conducting.
LEMON: Yes. Michael, I want to ask you, because you know Roger Stone, you've been with him (Ph), we're told one of the questions Roger Stone would not answer in his testimony today was the name of the person who got him information from Julian Assange during the campaign. You interviewed Stone. You asked him the same question. I want to play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: July 21st, WikiLeaks tweets that they've got the goods on Hillary. I'd like to know if this is true. I've asked a friend who is a journalist who I know is, has interviewed Assange and has a relationship with him. And he comes back and says, yes, it's confirmed they have this material and they'll probably release in October which is what I said.
ISIKOFF: Who's the journalist?
STONE: I'm not going to say.
ISIKOFF: You're going to get ask.
STONE: Good. I will decline to answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And he said he wouldn't want to give someone up. What was his reason to give up what...
[22:44:59] ISIKOFF: Yes. You sort of played the next view exchanges because I asked him on what grounds. He said it's a journalist and therefore, his conversations with the journalist was off the record.
Since we don't know who the journalist is or what his credentials are or what else this person is, it's hard to judge. But, look, that was the key question. That was the reason Stone was there. The reason he was of interest to investigators is because he appeared to have inside knowledge of what Julian Assange was going to dump onto the internet based on hacks by Russian intelligence. How did he get that information? That is the one question that Stone didn't answer.
So, you know, it kind of raises questions about the whole point of his testimony. Now, this was a voluntary interview. He wasn't under subpoena, so he can't be compelled to answer the question. Now the committee will have to come back and subpoena him if republicans will go along.
But can I just add one thing?
ISIKOFF: Stone was correct on one point. He did in his prepared statement say why wasn't this behind closed doors? Why wasn't this out in the open? Here we are what, nine months into the investigation, and there hasn't been a single public hearing with a fact witness, with somebody who actually has direct knowledge of what took place during the presidential election.
And you go back through history, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Whitewater, campaign finance, all those hearings in Congress were in public. The public could see. And yet, these hearings, with fact witnesses are all, so far have all been behind closed doors. It's very hard to see the justification for that.
LEMON: Very good point. And today they could have watched your interview and they would gotten that much information than they got from Roger Stone.
Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
COATES: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, the president saying he'll visit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands next week. His sudden decision catching his own staff off-guard. We're going to tell you why, that's next.
LEMON: President Trump surprising his staff with his announcement that he'll travel to Puerto Rico next week to get a first-hand look at the devastation from hurricane Maria.
I want to bring in now CNN White House reporter, Jeremy Diamond. Jeremy, so the president said he is going to go visit Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands next Tuesday. What can you tell us about this? This is a last minute decision, wasn't it?
JEREMY DIAMOND, POLITICS REPORTER, CNN: Yes, well, what we've heard so far in our conversations with White House officials today is that the president was apparently very, very eager to get to Puerto Rico. Initially, as of yesterday, White House officials were planning a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands that was not going to include Puerto Rico in a first stop because of kind of the challenging logistics of getting there right now with the situation.
[22:49:54] But the president has been insistent about this. And yesterday's Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert returned from Puerto Rico and he was essentially, the president was informed that he would be able to go there as early as Tuesday so he took that opportunity. But the decision did surprise some staffers this morning who weren't quite expecting it to come together so quickly.
So now advance staffers are going to be headed over there pretty quickly to try and get this visit together. So we'll have to keep our eyes on that. But of course we know that the president has started to receive some criticism about his response to this. His focus on the NFL versus this. And obviously that has an impact on this president.
LEMON: So you're here because the president is here, right. He said that the president is here.
LEMON: He's at a fundraising dinner tonight in Manhattan. And you know he had a dinner last night. He was pretty happy with his response to the NFL and the whole controversy over kneeling for the anthem. Did he say anything about that in that dinner?
DIAMOND: So he did. I spoke with several attendees at the dinner tonight. And they said that the president did mention the NFL controversy. But he didn't say anything very knew. He essentially reiterated his position saying that it was so important for him that athletes respect the flag.
One thing that he didn't talk about, however, Don, is the fact that last week the RNC announced that it is covering part of the president's legal bills, more than $230,000. And part of this fundraiser tonight, a portion of those funds are expected to go to that legal fund that the RNC has been using to pay the president's personal legal bills stemming from this Russia matter.
So, all of that going unsaid, even as he's raising $5 million, part of that potentially going to pay his legal bills.
LEMON: Yes. There's always, there's a lot going on. Jeremy Diamond, we appreciate you joining us. I want to bring in now CNN senior economic analyst, Stephen Moore, a former senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign, and also CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro.
I have you both on set this evening, thank you so much.
STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, CNN: Good to be with you.
LEMON: Let's talk about the president is saying now he is giving his full attention to the situation in Puerto Rico. But I'm not sure if his Twitter account, you know, says that. Over the last four days he's tweeted more than 20 times about the NFL controversy, five times about Puerto Rico. Does that say anything to you about his priorities?
ANA NAVARRO, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes, it says to me that he's distracting national attention. When he starts tweeting about the NFL and whether people are kneeling, napping, standing, or you know, singing, it distracts national attention.
We spent all weekend talking about this NFL controversy, which is a fabricated controversy by Donald Trump. He's chasing windmills dressed in football uniforms, when there are 3.5 million Americans, American citizens. They are our brothers and sisters. They are our responsibility.
The same way that the folks affected by Katrina were our responsibility, Harvey and Irma in my state were our responsibility. We are part of the big American family.
The president of the United States has got to be laser focused on this. They are in peril. People have died. More people will die. They are in stifling heat. They have no water. They have no electricity. We don't -- we haven't heard from so many of them. We don't know if they are dead or alive.
Desperate family members here trying to know something, learn anything about their family. And the lame pathetic excuse for a president that is Donald Trump is tweeting about the NFL while Americans are dying and while Americans are in this level of need. He should be talking about one thing and one thing only, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico. Not tweeting against John McCain.
NAVARRO: Not tweeting against the NFL.
LEMON: I want to get Stephen in, because, Stephen, I mean, you heard what she heard...
NAVARRO: And careful what you say today because I'm about to have a Puerto Rican moment right now.
LEMON: She's very passionate. And you know, a lot of people are passionate about this, because it said, you know, it's been a couple, it's been, what, almost two weeks since Maria happened, and now he is, you know, just focusing at least publicly on this problem and tweeting about the NFL.
MOORE: That's not true that he's just publicly focusing on this problem.
LEMON: Why do you think it's taking...
MOORE: Well, look, there's a, you know, I just got the statistics from the White House. There are 10,000 FEMA people in -- personnel on the ground in Puerto Rico right now. There is a million meals that have been served to the citizens of Puerto Rico. I mean, Ana is right. It is an incredible tragedy what's happened to
that -- to that island. But the idea that somehow he's neglected, you know, that he and FEMA have neglected what happened in Puerto Rico I think is an unfair criticism.
And look, we've got three...
LEMON: Do you think it's fast enough?
MOORE: ... we got three major hurricanes in the last, what, three or four weeks, you know. So we have FEMA on the ground in Houston. We have FEMA on the ground in Florida. You know, they are in the Virgin Islands. They're in Puerto Rico. And to say that, you know, that he's not devoting resources -- I've seen even people say he's not devoting resources to Puerto Rico because he doesn't like Hispanic people. I mean, these are just crazy charges.
LEMON: Do you think it's fast enough?
NAVARRO: Well, Steve, can I ask you ask? Can I ask Steve something?
NAVARRO: What happens when he tweets about something? Does he not distract national attention? Do we not talk about it on TV?
MOORE: Well, Ana, don't you think people care about what happened?
NAVARRO: No, but let me ask you something. Is anybody going to die or is there the same level of urgency to somebody kneeling towards the anthem today than there is towards what's happening in Puerto Rico today and what happened last week?
MOORE: I don't see how one is related to the other.
[22:55:01] NAVARRO: I do.
MOORE: But I got to tell you this. Ana, I got to tell you this.
NAVARRO: He has tweeted 20 more times about the NFL. He tweeted four times about Puerto Rico.
MOORE: I got to tell you. People...
NAVARRO: American citizens are dying
NAVARRO: People are not dying because somebody is kneeling or standing for the NFL or for the anthem.
MOORE: No, but a lot of people who served our country who are completely outrage by the actions of NFL players.
NAVARRO: And there's a lot of people who served our country from Puerto Rico.
MOORE: But I'm not questioning about that.
NAVARRO: There's a lot of our relatives who are dying.
MOORE: But Donald Trump -- but you're saying Donald Trump...
NAVARRO: They're American citizens.
MOORE: ... is somehow neglect...
NAVARRO: The grave stones at Arlington Cemetery have Puerto Rican names.
MOORE: Ana, you're making an outrageous claim that somehow he's neglecting Puerto Rico.
NAVARRO: Yes, I am.
MOORE: Because he tweeted out something about...
NAVARRO: Yes, I am. Because the rest of us have spent the weekend talking about the NFL instead of Puerto Rico.
NAVARRO: OK. Ana, let me ask you this.
NAVARRO: We should be laser focused on that.
MOORE: What about the media? Why is the media then focus every single story is about the NFL?
NAVARRO: Because we chase -- because we chase -- we chase his shiny objects. And when he throws them in front of us, we chase them. That's why he should not be throwing them right now.
MOORE: Now the media loves the story...
NAVARRO: Precisely because of that.
LEMON: OK. I have to say this. I think the media has done -- we can always do better. But we have reported a lot on this network about Puerto Rico. We have correspondents and producers and people on the ground.
MOORE: But you've done more stories on the NFL this week.
LEMON: Well, so as the president.
MOORE: OK. You can't accuse him...
LEMON: No, no, I'm not accusing him, I'm asking a question. So you're saying -- you're saying that we're more focused on it and you're criticizing us but you won't criticize the president when it seems that he's more focused on it as well.
MOORE: Because I happen to agree with everything that he said about the NFL players. I thought it was incredibly unpatriotic what these players did. I thought it was un-American. And I thought the president was right to call them out on it. We can disagree about that.
LEMON: Hold on, hold on, hold on. Do you think the pageantry is un- American? Because basically it's just pageantry you're sending there. You don't have to be a patriot. Your actions are patriotic.
LEMON: If you look out for your fellow American, that's patriotic. If you understand that everyone is not like you, if you prioritize racism even though it doesn't affect you, that's patriotic. If you realize that 40 percent of our active military are racial minorities.
MOORE: Of course they are.
LEMON: And they are affected by social equality or inequality, that's patriotic. Whether someone gets on their knee or lays on the ground for the national anthem, that doesn't really matter so much.
MOORE: Don, I guess it really matter for the American people...
LEMON: And this issue -- hold on.
LEMON: This issue, which has bothered me all weekend watching, because that is not the reason people were taking a knee. It is not -- and they will tell you, many of those people who were taking a knee have military members and veterans in their family. They're not trying to insult veterans nor the flag.
LEMON: They're trying to get people to understand...
MOORE: Don, what percent...
LEMON: Hold on. Let me finish.
MOORE: What percentage...
LEMON: They're trying to get people to understand that there are certain inequalities that certain people in this country face.
LEMON: And they want to draw attention.
MOORE: What percentage of NFL players do you think actually served in the military? A tiny, tiny percentage of them. And these are not athletes...
LEMON: What percentage of -- what percentage of people, what percentage of people do you think who are, including our president, who are complaining about those people actually serve in the military. And I hear people this weekend as I'm watching the game, people complaining about people not taking a knee, they're in a bar or in wing joint, they're not standing either, they're ordering another beer...
NAVARRO: OK. Can I say, I love -- I love the national anthem. I stand up, I put my hand on my heart...
LEMON: So, do I.
NAVARRO: ... when I hear this anthem. And you know what, that's not going to save the people of Puerto Rico.
LEMON: Hold on.
NAVARRO: They need fresh water. They need power. The people that are frail...
LEMON: But Ana, Ana...
NAVARRO: ... the elderly, the infants need to be airlifted out.
LEMON: Ana, I completely agree with you.
NAVARRO: Only the U.S. government can do that quickly.
MOORE: But why are you saying we're not doing it. We have a million...
MOORE: We have served million meals.
LEMON: Hang on. Hang on, hang on, hang on.
NAVARRO: Even Mark Cuban sent his plane.
LEMON: Ana, Ana, Ana, hold on. Ana.
NAVARRO: And in the meantime, to be distracted by this issue about the NFL, because he is tweeting that.
MOORE: How is that -- how is that...
LEMON: Ana, hold on, that's one conversation at a time. We're going to devote more attention to Puerto Rico.
NAVARRO: No, no, no. I'm here, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico.
LEMON: OK, fine. Well, then, stand by just for a second. So, can't you understand that there are people who don't feel that they are disrespecting anyone and it is their right to do, even if you don't agree with it? I stand up, I put my hand over my heart. But I still agree that my fellow American can, has the right to do whatever they want to do.
MOORE: OK. Look, I...
LEMON: And those people, veterans, died for that.
MOORE: I accept that, I think they have the right to do this. Millions and millions of Americans have a right to do what they're going to do which is to turn off the NFL and stop watching these games and watching these pampered athletes. This has nothing to do with race. What other country in the world can you make 10 or $15 million, you know, chasing a pigskin around? I mean, the idea...
LEMON: What's wrong with that?
MOORE: Nothing. I love football.
LEMON: Many of these people came from -- many of these people came from nothing. Don't you -- shouldn't you respect the fact that they've made it?
MOORE: Of course. My point...
LEMON: That's the American way. Why would you call them pampered? Do you think -- do you think playing football and getting football, and a possibility of a head injury, you think that's pampered?
NAVARRO: By the way, Don, I will say this. I agreed with a lot of what Donald Trump said. I disagree with him totally on the idea of these hard hits because people are getting concussions, they're dying, they're becoming paralyzed by that. So, I disagree with him on that. I think targeting should be highly penalized with...
NAVARRO: So, certainly, you cannot be defending Donald Trump calling anybody in public the president of the United States. Me knowing how much you respect the president the son of the bitch, much less doing in Alabama.
MOORE: I think there needs to be...
[22:59:56] NAVARRO: And frankly, I wish that 3.5 million Puerto Ricans would go down on their knee and maybe then people would pay attention.
MOORE: ... whether they're white or black, Hispanic, whatever, I don't think it's appropriate to -- there's a lot of ways you can protest, Ana. But to disrespect the national anthem and the flag...
LEMON: So let me ask you this. Let me ask you this.
NAVARRO: And you don't think he disrespects the presidency by going out to Alabama in a rally saying son of a bitch? Do you think those are words that should be uttered by the president?
MOORE: I wouldn't have said that. I agree with you.