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CNN TONIGHT

Obama Commutes Sentence of Chelsea Manning; Trump's New World Order Taking Shape; Trump to Take Office With Low Approval Rating. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 17, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:17] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Just hours left in his presidency, Barack Obama making a stunning decision.

This is CNN TONIGHT, I'm Don Lemon here in Washington.

President Barack Obama granting clemency and commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, who was serving a decades-long sentence for leaking thousands of pages of secret government documents.

I want to begin our breaking news coverage this hour with CNN's justice correspondent Evan Perez.

Evan, tell us about the president's decision to commute the Manning sentence.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it came as a big surprise here in -- certainly in the last couple of days before the president leaves office. Chelsea Manning was serving a 35-year sentence. She served about six years -- six and a half years of that sentence for leaking about 750,000 Defense and State Department documents.

In the last few months she's been the subject of a tremendous outpouring from the human rights community which have argued that she was suffering in this prison -- in the military prison because, you know, she's been suffering, she's been struggling with gender identity issues. As a result of this human rights groups from around the world had collected signatures, tried to get President Obama to grant clemency to her. And that's exactly what he did.

Now this was done over the objections of the Pentagon and other people inside the government including the National Security officials who felt that this went too far. And it came as a surprise as well simply because WikiLeaks really was put on the map by Chelsea Manning's leak and as you know, in the 2016 election the Obama administration has made a big deal about the role that WikiLeaks played in the Russian intelligence disinformation operation.

The allegation is that the Russians stole documents from Democratic Party operatives in order to hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign and they leaked it to WikiLeaks. So a lot of surprise in what the president announced today -- Don. LEMON: And so WikiLeaks is tweeting tonight, this is if Obama

commutes Chelsea Manning sentence from 35 years to seven, release date now May 17th. Given that WikiLeaks interference in the U.S. election, why would President Obama let Julian Assange declare victory now?

PEREZ: It's a -- that's exactly what's making a lot of people scratch their heads especially in the national security community. But here's what happened. I think one of the things that the Obama administration officials today in talking to reporters explaining this -- they basically said look, this was a discreet issue. This is Chelsea Manning who pled guilty to these charges and essentially went to prison to face her time. That is a far difference from another leaker who -- obviously Edward Snowden who also comes up in relation to WikiLeaks and the support from Julian Assange because as you know Edward Snowden has been hiding in Russia, essentially in exile, being hosted by Russia.

Today they announced that his asylum request had been extended for another couple of years. So they in the administration say that this is far different because Chelsea Manning sort of, you know, owned up to her mistakes. She pled guilty and she's been serving her time.

LEMON: All right. Evan Perez, thank you very much.

I want to bring in now David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston, CNN Politics executive editor, CNN political commentator Ryan Liza, Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker," and Edward Jay Epstein, the author of "How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, The Man and the Thief."

Ed, I want you to listen to what President Obama said about Chelsea Manning back in 2011.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to abide by certain classified information if I was to release stuff, but I'm not authorized to release, I'm breaking the law. We're a nation of laws. We don't individually make our own decisions about how the laws.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: He's being courteous and he's asking the question. Well, he broke the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I'm not sure if you could hear that so I'll just read the transcription here, OK, Ed. He said, "I have to abide by certain classified information. If I was to release them," not sure if the audience heard it because it was tough. "If I was to release this stuff I'm not authorized to release I'm breaking the law. We're a nation of laws. We don't individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate. No, he's all fine. He's being courteous. He's asking a question. Well, he broke the law."

So that sounds pretty definite. Why commute her sentence now?

EDWARD JAY EPSTEIN, AUTHOR, "HOW AMERICA LOST ITS SECRETS": Commute whose sentence? Manning's sentence?

LEMON: Chelsea Manning's, yes.

EPSTEIN: Well, compassion. A president can pardon anyone.

[23:05:03] I think that Chelsea Manning should be pardoned and Obama is doing the right thing, and he's basically suffering what I think could be called cruel and unusual punishment given his situation. So I think basically what Obama is doing is extending mercy and compassion. Nothing wrong with that.

LEMON: Ryan, does commuting Chelsea Manning's sentence give a thumbs up to future whistleblowers or leakers? I mean, if President Obama -- is he encouraging leaks on Donald Trump's watch?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think so. I mean, Chelsea Manning has spent seven years in prison, in some pretty tough circumstances. She was convicted, went through the criminal justice system, and served time. So I don't think the fact that he's chopping off a huge chunk of that sentence is going to make future whistleblowers think, I'll get off easy, here I only have to spend, you know, seven years in prison. I think this was unusual case.

I think she had the backing of a lot of the LGBT community and there were some issues around that. And look at the -- I think if you ask me the same question about Snowden, I would say, well yes, because he didn't face the criminal justice system. And I think that's -- there's a big difference here, right? So This is one reason why the White House is arguing, they decided sort of leniency in the case of Chelsea Manning but with the case of Edward Snowden, who of course has not faced the criminal justice system, they decided at least so far, I guess they still have some time, they decided not go forward with anything.

LEMON: And David Gergen, that's probably going to be the first question, if not one of the first questions at the press conference tomorrow. To Ed's point, Ed said he thought the president was just being human and being compassionate. What do you -- what do you say to that?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's one of these really hard calls a president of the United States occasionally has to make. Barack Obama is by nature a compassionate man. I think he understands she has been suffering. She did cooperate with authorities. At the same time people in the national security zone as the president himself was saying just a few years ago, you know, they -- a lot of lives are spent and often lost trying to get information that's classified in this country.

And when you leak three quarters of a million documents, many of which are classified, that's a massive violation of the law, it's not a small violation. And there are going to be many in the national security community, you know, think she's a traitor and should pay a heavier price. So I think it's one of these 51-49 calls. There's some good argument on both sides. I think we should wait and hear the president's explanation, but I'm sure it's right. The compassion what moved him.

LEMON: Yes. Speaking of both sides, Mark, and I mean, Democrats and Republicans. Republicans are speaking out. Democrats really aren't saying anything.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Well, we haven't heard a whole lot from Democrats now and to David's point, this is a very difficult call for anyone really to weigh in because some folks will say that she was a leaker, she was a whistleblower, but there's a lot of people out there in America who think that in fact Chelsea Manning was a traitor and caused people's lives to be put on the line.

I think, though, that this story has legs in the sense that for the same Republicans right now or critics of WikiLeaks who are angry at this information getting out through WikiLeaks, will they still be angry if our Intelligence Community continues to show evidence that Russia got involved in our elections and used -- and WikiLeaks was part of some kind of a plan to do so? And of course we're already hearing from our Intelligence Community that they broke into the Democratic National Committee.

LEMON: Yes. And White House -- a White House official is saying concerns about WikiLeaks and its interference in the U.S. election are wholly separate from the Chelsea Manning decision. Can you separate the two?

GERGEN: I don't think they're going to be separated in the public mind. I mean, all of these are getting smushed together and I think it's been most unfortunate chapter for the U.S. Intelligence Community overall. There must be a lot of demoralization even before this. And this is going to be a blow to people in the Intelligence Community who feel they were -- you know, that people should pay a price in order to deter. But, you know, let's hear the president. I think he deserves to be heard on this because -- and I do think, I continue to think, Don, that the big news today equally was how many people he commuted, who are nonviolent drug offenders.

LEMON: Right. And most of those --

GERGEN: Yes.

LEMON: 1597 or so that -- that's not the exact number.

GERGEN: Yes.

LEMON: But somewhere in the 1500, almost 1600 range. He's done more than his predecessors.

GERGEN: Yes. I do think he's -- it's laudable what he's done.

LEMON: Yes. So, Ed, I want to ask you because Ryan said, you know, he would separate the two. He would separate Snowden and Chelsea Manning. But your new book about Edward Snowden is a deep dive into the extent of his crimes.

[23:10:04] You call what Snowden did a theft. Should Barack Obama pardon Snowden?

EPSTEIN: No. He won't pardon Snowden. It's night and day between Snowden and Manning. Snowden stole communications intelligence, which is the keys to the kingdom of intelligence, it's the sources and methods by which we intercept conversations, Internet communications, telemetry, military crypto warfare, everything basically comes down to the sources and methods of the NSA.

Snowden purposefully took a job to steal these documents and he stole these documents and the person who knows this better than any journalist is President Obama because he has all the secret intelligence, the same intelligence you're embracing over the Russian leaks. The same Intelligence Community has said that Snowden has continuous contacts with Russian intelligence. There's no comparison in my mind between Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

LIZZA: Can I just add one thing, Don?

LEMON: All right. Stand by, panel. Ryan, I'll let you in on the other side of the break. I got to get to the break. So stay with me, everyone.

Donald Trump is still three days away from taking office but a new world order is already taking shape, and China among other countries not happy about it. We're going to talk about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:15:38] LEMON: Donald Trump is not president yet but a new world order is already taking shape. Back with me, Mr. David Gergen, Mr. Mark Preston, Mr. Ryan Lizza and Mr. Edward Jay Epstein.

Ryan, you wanted to make a point before the break. What did you want to say?

LIZZA: No, just quickly, I was going to say there was a pretty -- there's a pretty big difference, just to follow-up on what Ed was talking about, between the way that Manning released the stuff he stole and the way that Snowden released what he took. Manning gave it all to WikiLeaks and they posted it all unfiltered without any journalists looking at it and making any editorial decisions. Snowden was far more responsible. He had this stuff vetted by journalists. He didn't release anything on his own. So I do think that's actually an important difference that makes -- frankly makes the Manning commutation a little bit more surprising.

LEMON: Yes. David, let's talk about this new world order and foreign policy. Because the "New York Times" describes Donald Trump's effect on foreign policy this way, and this is the quote, said, "The Germans are angry. The Chinese are downright furious. Leaders of NATO are nervous while their counterparts at the European Union are alarmed."

Is that a fair take you think, David? GERGEN: Hell of a lead, isn't it, to a story?

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: Yes, I think it's fair actually. I think they captured something -- it's almost like they've tweeted out, you know, six sentences in a row.

Listen, these last days have been unsettling, I think, to put it mildly, around the world because there are so many things that Donald Trump and his people have said that are so untypical of transitions. It's not just that presidents reach out to their own -- you know, the American people and try to bring them in and heal things. It's presidents also try to emerge as world leaders without joining in with others and trying to, you know, protect a world order so to speak. And that world order is now coming unraveled very quickly. This old world order. And in the case --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He's not even in office yet.

GERGEN: He's not even in office.

LEMON: You said that we are -- we shouldn't be surprised, we should be shocked that he's inserted himself into foreign policy before?

GERGEN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that the way he has gone after foreign leaders like Angela Merkel, who has interfered within the UK, the cozy relationship he's had with these populist parties that are trying to bring down the establishment government next year. France, big elections. Germany, big elections. Another one, big elections. Possibly Italy. And, you know, Trump -- the Trump people are cozying up to Farage who, you know, was for Brexit. They're interviewed this weekend. Who was the person he had an interview with? One of Theresa May, the new prime minister of Britain, of course, but they had Michael Goff in who was one of her great enemies to do an interview with. It was a slap in the face of our British friends.

And then you take what is going on with China. You know, China have -- well, the Chinese have what's now called the three T's that are really ticking them off. Trade, Taiwan and Tillerson. First two understandable. Third one, Tillerson was a surprise. I'm a fan --

LEMON: I thought you were going to say Trump. That would be fourth.

GERGEN: No, no, it's Tillerson because he said we -- he threatened to block access to the islands in the South China Seas. That would be a really very dangerous step.

LEMON: And speaking of China, Ed, I have to ask you. A prominent Chinese paper accused Donald Trump of playing with fire. This is their quote, questioning U.S. policy towards Taiwan, is that saber rattling or is that threat to take seriously you think? EPSTEIN: Until he becomes president it's simply saber rattling.

We're sailing into uncharted waters in the South China Sea and every place else. China is a very important trade ally to the United States. It's very important to our economy. I have no idea and no one has any idea that Trump who takes over as president, if he's going to be the Trump that we've seen tweeting like crazy. I think we should wait 100 hours.

LEMON: Ryan Lizza -- yes.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: Look. And we don't know. But on the South China Sea, I mean, look, this was a policy that frankly was first articulated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a very important conference in Asia when she sort of shocked the Chinese and said, look, what goes on in the South China Sea is of interest to the United States and it needs -- and the International Community needs to take a look at this.

[23:20:09] So I don't think -- now Tillerson may have been using a little bit more bellicose rhetoric but the Obama administration has been on board warning the Chinese about their provocations in the South China Sea.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: Warning is one thing, but --

LIZZA: Of course the question is what the United States actually do about it.

GERGEN: Yes, it's true. They have been warning. But there's a big different thing. Warning and raising the possibility that you're going to blockade those islands. You know, nobody knows how you would do that but it would very likely bring on armed conflict of some sort.

LEMON: Yes. Mark, which is one reason that I think that we should be critical and judicious about Donald Trump's tweets because he tweets so often, tweet something and then he'll contradict himself with a tweet, another thing the next day. He's also sending mixed messages to NATO. On one hand he's saying they're obsolete then he says, quote, "NATO is very important to me." So which Donald Trump should we listen to?

PRESTON: What day is he saying what he's saying? You know, we saw one of his top advisers out in Davos say that, you know, don't always listen to what Donald Trump says, he doesn't necessarily mean it. He says it along these lines.

The unpredictability of Donald Trump is what draws him to get so much support here in the United States from people that are frustrated by what they think is the establishment and the go along, get along nature of this town. And in some ways, I mean, that's understandable. However diplomacy cannot be done in 140 characters. Diplomacy is a very difficult thing to be able to work your way through. And I think that the problems that we have here in this country with Obamacare and all that, Donald Trump has to deal with that in a way that he can bring people together.

When we're talking about the world stage, that is what is very scary because to David's point when you are turning to our allies and you have them not wondering whether you're on their side or not, that's when things go south very quickly.

LEMON: Ryan, is there a danger in being too unpredictable?

LIZZA: Sure. I mean, look. You know, there are some people who say, well, look at Tillerson, look at Mattis, they've sort of clarified where they are on some of these important issues. Mattis has been very clear that NATO is crucial. Tillerson and Mattis both talked about Russia as strategic threats to the United States in ways that contradict some of what Trump has said but at the end of the day the president's rhetoric alone can set policy. Right? Just as president- elect, he has changed the way that Merkel and our Eastern European allies are thinking about the next few years. Right?

So I don't think -- that interview, if you watch that whole interview he did the other day in his office with those two journalists, it was like he hasn't gained any knowledge about foreign policy in the last two years. He was saying the same things he said two years ago. And, you know, I understand that he's a different kind of candidate and a different kind of politician, but at some point you do expect him to engage in some of the basic diplomatic niceties that are -- there's a reason they exist.

Because when you're president, your words can actually endanger the country. Right? So is it good that he's unpredictable? You know, I suppose in certain limited circumstances, yes. But overall, no.

LEMON: Yes. A very simple answer. Thank you, panel. Thank you, Ed. Thank you, David. Thank you, Mark. And thank you, Ryan. I appreciate it.

Coming up, Trump's low approval ratings as he prepares to take office. Is that a problem for him? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:28:15] LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. Is Donald Trump digging a hole for himself before he even takes office in three days? Want to talk about this now with CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Kevin Madden and Salena Zito, columnist for the "New York Port."

I'm so glad both of you could join us.

Salena, you should be here in D.C. Hurry up and get here.

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'll be there tomorrow.

LEMON: But until you do, let's talk via satellite about these new polls. This new CNN/ORC polls show Donald Trump entering the office with one of the worst approval ratings of any recent president. Only 40 percent approve of the way he has handled the transition. What's your reaction, Selena?

ZITO: Well, I suspect no matter who won, they were probably not going to get great marks. It was so contentious. The country is so divided. Having said that there has been so many -- I mean, it's just been sort of surrounded by chaos of news around Trump, whether it was one of the people he's trying to get confirmed, the Russian hacking, the -- with Putin, the tweets, you know. I mean, that sort of adds to that chaos.

Having said that, I went out and talked to people about that today and they -- you know, I mean, Trump supporters right now, they're still on the honeymoon stage. They're still ready and willing to give this guy a chance. And they say, you know, look, we don't trust polls. They had it wrong during the election so we think he -- you know, he's doing fine.

I think, you know, time will tell how he's doing. I say, a month, six weeks, two months after he's in office, there's probably a broader gauge of how people perceive him as a governor -- you know, governing rather than still campaigning.

LEMON: Yes. And again this says how's he's handling the transition, that people -- only 40 percent approve.

[23:30:04] I'm going to -- you say, Kevin Madden, that if Hillary Clinton had won -- sorry, I guess we lost Salena. We had a problem with that.

Kevin, if Hillary Clinton had won, she'd have low approval ratings going in as well?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, look, if -- this is -- I think the polls right now are reflective of just the partisan divide that we see right now in the country. And, you know, I predicted before whoever -- before this election that whoever went into office would go in with probably historically high negative ratings right now. I mean, the election took place only a few weeks ago. The country hasn't entirely repaired itself from the contest that we had on November 8th. So there is a great deal of work that still needs to be done.

I think Donald Trump, though, has a challenge in the sense that the same combative style that worked for him during the campaign is one that he has continued to adopt through the transition. That is a bit of a departure from other transitions where there is a concerted effort by both Democrats and Republicans to reach out to the other party. To spend a lot of time here in Washington going up -- you know, working with people, working with their transition on Capitol Hill and having the people that they were putting in place work with the folks in Congress.

And the pageantry of that, I think, has an impact on the overall population. And so I think many of the past presidents who have gone into Election Day with much higher approval ratings, that's largely been the result of that outreach and we just haven't seen that at this point.

LEMON: I mean, you're talking about outreach and also about being transparent. I had a stat earlier of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, somewhere between 14 and 17 press conferences to announce and talk about their Cabinet picks or what have you. Donald Trump has had one. And so the pageantry and --

MADDEN: And it was a very combative one.

LEMON: Yes.

MADDEN: And then also it was against the backdrop of a number of different storylines that have emerged from election day until now. As Salena had mentioned, the Russian hacking issue and also I think some of the -- some of the transition picks have been met with some resistance up on Capitol Hill. I think the transition has done a -- as good a job as possible of trying to manage their way through that.

One of the things, though, that I think Salena mentioned, as she talks with voters, I think his most ardent supporters are still with him. That's absolutely true.

LEMON: Right.

MADDEN: But remember that there are a bunch of folks out there who one of the reasons they voted for Donald Trump was they didn't like Hillary Clinton. So they still are sort of parked in and they voted for him. But they're still parked and have a bit of an edge of undecided to them. And so they're moving a little bit right now. And you see in some of these polls where he went up seven points after the election and then he dropped back down 14 points. That group is very mobile and they have to be -- I think the Trump folks have to keep an eye on that group of voters.

LEMON: Yes. I'm going to play something that Donald Trump said on FOX earlier tonight. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: I don't like tweeting. I have other things I could be doing. But I get very dishonest media, very dishonest press. And it's my only way that I can counteract. Like I'm going to be close to 50 million people including Facebook and Instagram and different things. I'm going to be very close to 50 million people. So when people misrepresent me because the press is very dishonest, unbelievably dishonest, and when people misrepresent me, I have at least a way of saying it's a false statement.

Now if the press were honest, which it's not, I would absolutely not use Twitter. I wouldn't have to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What do you think of that, Kevin? MADDEN: Well, this is not very different from any other president.

There's always been this frustration that the media puts a filter on some of the messages and some of the priorities that a president has. So Donald Trump saying that he wants to go directly to the public and talk to them about what his priorities are and what they should care about as it relates to his agenda is not new. And I think that frustration -- the thing that's interesting is it's not going away. That tension between the executive and the media is always there.

LEMON: But it's different this time because, you know, they're saying they may move the media out away from the White House. He is saying that he may not have as many press conferences. He has not, as I pointed out, during his transition period.

MADDEN: Yes.

LEMON: And he has -- listen, every administration has a contentious relationship with the media.

MADDEN: Right.

LEMON: But his is more contentious. We didn't have candidates who are going out of their way to delegitimize the media and speak, you know, about them as much during rallies or thank you rallies in the campaign.

MADDEN: Yes. Yes.

LEMON: This is different.

MADDEN: It's very different. He has not stuck to the conventions of the past and I don't expect that the White House is going to look just like the other White House of the past. So I think that's going to continue.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Kevin Madden.

MADDEN: Great to be with you.

LEMON: Thank you, Salena Zito somewhere out there in space. We're sorry. We lost your satellite. Coming up the number of Democrats -- there she is. Salena, just in time to say thank you. I appreciate it.

ZITO: Thanks a lot. Great.

(LAUGHTER)

[23:35:04] LEMON: Your best performance ever.

The number of Democrats on Capitol Hill who are boycotting Trump's administration growing tonight. We're going to talk about it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It is inauguration week and Donald Trump is battling numerous feuds before he's even sworn in. Here's to discuss CNN political commentators Andre Bauer, Maria Cardona, Tara Setmayer, and Angela Rye.

Tara, three days until inauguration. Have you ever seen this much controversy surrounding the president-elect?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, no. We've never had a president-elect quite like this one.

(LAUGHTER)

SETMAYER: Look, a lot of these are self-inflicted wounds. Some will say that, you know, shots were fired by others and Trump is just responding and -- but when you are about to ascend to be the leader of the free world, the last thing you should be worrying about is what anyone thinks of you, what "Saturday Night Live" is doing to parody you, you know, what some congressman are saying about you now. Whether you agree or not, these are things that are so insignificant as you're about to take power, the most powerful greatest country in the world.

[23:40:04] This is the problem with Donald Trump. It's part of his narcissism and it takes away from the United States and the peaceful transition of power and our shared national experience as Americans and taking pride in the process.

We're over here talking about Donald Trump whining about things that he doesn't agree with certain people about certain things and he's doing it on Twitter. He's got to stop this and realize that what he's about to become is bigger than himself. And if he ever realizes that then potentially we won't be having these kinds of --

LEMON: You know what, I've never heard anyone put it -- that's actually pretty smart.

SETMAYER: Well, thank you.

LEMON: What he's about to -- seriously. What he's about to become is bigger than himself.

SETMAYER: Sure.

LEMON: And I wonder if he even thought about it because even when -- even when Donald Trump tweets about me, my mother will call me and say, don't punch down. So --

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But here's the problem.

LEMON: So you have to understand that you're about to be the leader of the free world.

CARDONA: Absolutely. That's right. And here's the problem. I absolutely agree with Tara. Here is the problem with Donald Trump. He doesn't think that there is anything bigger than himself or anyone bigger than himself. You can see it in his attitude, you can see it in how he comported himself for 18 months during the election. You can see it in how he's comported himself since then where he has done absolutely nothing to bring this country together.

LEMON: But it did get him here and, you know, and millions of people did vote for him. I mean, Andre, do you agree that maybe he should become more presidential? Do you think it's working for him just fine?

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's working for him just fine. I think he'll evolve into the job and I think he will become more presidential like you want him to. But look, expect the unexpected.

LEMON: OK. This is Ground Hog's --

CARDONA: Everyone has said that, though.

LEMON: Wait a minute, hold on. This is Groundhog Day. I've heard you --

CARDONA: I mean, exactly. That's what I just was going to say. So many times.

LEMON: Because I've you say that a number of times.

BAUER: And he has. Look, this guy --

CARDONA: No, he hasn't.

BAUER: Reached out after the election. He brought in folks you never thought -- Al Gore which showed up in Trump Tower. No, he reached across the aisle. He's brought folks in that I never thought he'd bring in.

LEMON: Ivanka.

BAUER: Nobody thought would bring into this panel. And he is becoming what so many people wanted to see him become. He has become --

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: No way. Not even close.

BAUER: He has toned down the partisanship.

SETMAYER: No, he hasn't.

CARDONA: No, he hasn't.

BAUER: Well, you all are going to -- hold on.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Hold on. Let him explain. Let him explain. Let him explain.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, Andre.

LEMON: Let him explain how he's done that. How has he toned down the partisanship?

BAUER: Well, he -- you already don't hear about full-fledged building the wall anymore. He's already throttling back several things.

SETMAYER: We do actually.

BAUER: That he talked about early on. He's reaching across the aisle. He's trying to show I think some civil discourse, and quite frankly, since the day he got elected it has been pound, pound, pound. Not one time has it been let's give him an attaboy a day or two. Let's in some way give him a chance. It has been from the beginning --

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: Can I --

BAUER: No, no, no. Hold on. Hold on.

LEMON: Yes. Do you think that it's self-inflicted wounds that if he did some of the things that Tara said and he didn't sort of poke people or respond on Twitter or he was a little bit more mature in the way he handled things, you don't think that people would be like Donald Trump is not on Twitter anymore?

BAUER: I don't think --

LEMON: He's responding, he's doing --

(CROSSTALK)

BAUER: The establishment nor the media thought he was going to win. They're still trying to figure it out.

RYE: That's true.

BAUER: Instead of trying to figure out and work together. You've got a -- several dozen congressmen that aren't going to show up. It's not about them. It's not about Donald Trump. It's about moving this country forward. And they've got to work with him for the next four years.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: That's true. But he's done nothing --

RYE: Wait. Wait. Maria --

LEMON: Let Angela -- Angela --

BAUER: Look, I look to Nikki Haley. But I stand on the stage after I lost to Nikki Haley and applauded her and pulled for her. I route my governor. I want my governor to do well even though she beat me. I was right there, supportive. I never badmouthed, I never said anything because I was for the home team and I was for the state of South Carolina. They're a United States congressmen and women -- (CROSSTALK)

RYE: Guys -- Maria and Tara, I have not said anything, let me just chime in here.

SETMAYER: Go ahead.

RYE: I have to say to you, Andre, it's immensely troubling after this weekend that we had. This -- going into Martin Luther King weekend, going into his inauguration week, him flapping at John Lewis. I have not seen a change in Donald Trump. I don't know many people who would say they have. This is someone who consistently throughout -- not just his campaign but consistently throughout his life has taken credit for things that he's never done. He'd still doing that right now. He's rolling out announcements, taking credit for jobs in this country that really aren't to his credit.

So I just -- I can't imagine what him being presidential looks like. I think that Donald Trump is here in spite of himself because people wanted whatever the change was so desperately, they didn't care what the package was. I am interested to see what his real change, his positive and constructive change look like. But we haven't seen that yet.

BAUER: That package got through 16 other very qualified Republicans.

RYE: I agree.

SETMAYER: The House divided against itself.

CARDONA: But see, and he is still in campaign mode as you are. You say that he has reached out. He has done nothing of the sort. He has done absolutely nothing to let the majority of the American people who frankly did not vote for him, make them really understand that like he says he wants to be the president for everybody yet he's out there insulting a civil rights icon for the African-American and frankly for America in general.

SETMAYER: All of us.

(CROSSTALK)

[23:45:10] CARDONA: And just being divisive.

SETMAYER: Andre, do you think that the way Donald Trump handled the John Lewis situation was presidential?

LEMON: OK. Don't answer that until we come back. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: And we're back now with my panel. And you were asking him?

SETMAYER: Before the break I -- since my friend Andre has been saying for months that Donald Trump will become presidential and he's grow into the job. So my question was, do you think -- here's an opportunity -- that his response to John Lewis was presidential?

BAUER: No.

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: Good for you.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: Andre, I love Andre.

BAUER: His mechanism works for getting things done. And you're going to see stuff happen in the first 100 days.

RYE: What's that stuff?

BAUER: You're going to see accomplishments. You're going to see legislation. You're going to see movement that you might not normally see. But Donald Trump has a way of getting things done. And it is --

SETMAYER: But don't you think the way a leader reacts to adversities speak volumes about their character and how they're going to lead? This is something as simple as a congressman, one of 435 who has a negative opinion of him. Guess what? There's millions of Americans that have a negative opinion of him. And he decided, instead of taking the high road the way John McCain did when John Lewis attacked him, comparing him and George Wallace in 2008, John McCain came out and said, I'm saddened by the comments made by someone who I respect -- greatly respect.

[23:50:16] The end. Why couldn't Donald Trump just say the same thing?

BAUER: But he's a businessman that doesn't back down.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: That's not quality --

LEMON: I think that's (INAUDIBLE), though.

CARDONA: That's not a quality that you --

LEMON: Hold on. Hold on. Backing down to what?

BAUER: If a congressman calls him out, if a congressman calls him out, he's not just going to take it. He's going to respond back. And so --

SETMAYER: Why is that necessary?

CARDONA: But that's not leadership.

SETMAYER: You're the leader of the United States. You don't -- you know how many things he has to multitask and he is worrying about what a congressman thinks? That's the problem there. RYE: But he's also still proving himself about the election. He was

just also tweeting about the -- about Hillary Clinton losing to him. So it's not just about him being a businessman who doesn't back down. It's about him being an egomaniacal individual who is so easily distracted by any single naysayer.

CARDONA: Well, it goes back to the point that he really doesn't think that there's anything or anyone more important than himself. But that is not a leadership quality.

LEMON: Andre, you're on your own.

(LAUGHTER)

RYE: We love you still, Andre. We love you still.

LEMON: On all of this.

CARDONA: We love Andre.

SETMAYER: Believe me, Andre. I would love to see Donald Trump be this presidential president that he claims he is capable of being because that's good for the country.

LEMON: And you're also a conservative.

SETMAYER: And I am --

LEMON: You're a Republican.

SETMAYER: That's right. As a Republican conservative that has great concerns about Donald Trump, I want to see him succeed in areas where we agree, but just something as simple as the respectability of the Office of the Presidency that those of us on the right have criticized Barack Obama for in a lot of times, we want that respectability back. Donald Trump has yet to do that. And I hope that he learns.

LEMON: Let's talk about the inauguration, OK. Because we're here in Washington. You can see -- looks like we're on the Starship Enterprise.

SETMAYER: We are. We are.

LEMON: You can't see the Capitol behind us.

CARDONA: The fog.

SETMAYER: Should we do mystery fog --

LEMON: What factor 9, Scottie? So what do you -- do you think they're going to get rain as expect? Do you think they're going to get out and walk at the end? Everyone always wonders ever inauguration.

BAUER: I think he'll get out. I don't think he -- I think he will get out and walk. LEMON: Yes.

RYE: Do you think he'll walk with Melania or Ivanka?

CARDONA: I don't --

RYE: I mean --

CARDONA: Well --

SETMAYER: He's the man of the people and talked about the people --

CARDONA: She's in the first lady's spot. Look, he's also a germaphobe.

SETMAYER: He is. But if he talks so much about being a man of the people, this is the people's inauguration. Right? If he doesn't get out and walk, I think that would be really a slight to all of the people who are coming here to support him. So --

RYE: How many?

CARDONA: How many people are going to?

SETMAYER: We have umbrellas. We have umbrellas. Well, he won the election.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: I think people will show up. He said record crowds.

RYE: Well, come on, Don.

CARDONA: Of course he is going to say that, Don.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: You know, record crowds the next day for that women's march. Those are the -- shout out to Tamika, Janae and Carmen, Linda.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You guys are such haters.

SETMAYER: The women's march --

CARDONA: No, that's not -- I'm not hating. I'm supporting the women's march.

LEMON: OK.

CARDONA: The women's march has been able to get 1200 buses. The inauguration 200.

RYE: Tell them, Maria. Tell them.

LEMON: OK. So listen.

BAUER: We shall see.

RYE: We shall see.

LEMON: And listen, the man is president-elect of the United States. If I was president-elect, I wouldn't care if one person showed up. I'm the president.

SETMAYER: That's right.

LEMON: I'm going to represent that one person.

CARDONA: That is true.

LEMON: And all the other millions of Americans.

BAUER: I'm going to be there so there's going to be one person.

CARDONA: But you should also represent all of America.

LEMON: That's what I said. And all of the other millions of Americans.

Let's talk about his approval rating going into office, Andre. 40 percent. Lower than any recent president. How significant is this to you? And if you look at, it was 61 percent for George W. Bush even though it was a very highly contested election and, you know, where the emotions on both sides. How do you respond that?

BAUER: I don't. I mean, we know the polls have been wrong all year, why are they right now?

LEMON: The polls -- and that's the thing. The polls were not wrong. The poll showed, and we talked about this earlier.

CARDONA: That's right.

LEMON: Hillary Clinton would win the national vote and win the popular vote and she did.

CARDONA: She did.

RYE: The popular --

BAUER: It also said she'd win Michigan. It also said she'd win --

CARDONA: Well, those are the state poll.

LEMON: Yes. State polls.

CARDONA: Like national poll like this one.

LEMON: It's a national poll.

BAUER: Well, every chart I saw, I kept seeing these boards how Hillary is going to wipe the state clean. It was going to be no race. I remember being election night being smirked at when I said look, he may still be in this thing so these polls, you can make these polls anything you want. I've had polls that said I was going to win an election and I lost and I've had polls I won, that said I was going to -- you know, I've had it both ways. And anybody can make a poll --

RYE: But, Andre, you're litigating the election results still and this is about the handling of the presidential transition.

BAUER: No, who did you poll?

RYE: Well, here's a good point. Right before --

SETMAYER: Quinnipiac, Gallup, CNN, ABC --

RYE: Right before we went to break -- we came back Tara asked you if you thought that his exchange with John Lewis was presidential. You said no. These are folks who agree with you. So I think the folks like the former lieutenant governor --

SETMAYER: That's one poll so Quinnipiac, Gallup, CNN, "Washington Post."

CARDONA: They all show these numbers.

LEMON: Martin Savidge also spoke with people who are very supportive of Donald Trump. I think he was in Michigan. And one of the things they said is, you know, he's got -- he's promised a lot and he's got to get it done. I didn't marry him so I won't -- I just voted for him. He's got to get that done. But the one thing they said was they wanted him to tone it down. And they also said he should get off of Twitter.

(CROSSTALK)

[23:55:03] BAUER: Well, I hope he -- pay attention to the polls. I hope he moves forward and in those first 100 days lights it on fire and does what the American people want done for so long. And that's a substantial change and I hope he brings that.

SETMAYER: But he's demonstrated that he's poll obsessed.

CARDONA: We'll see.

SETMAYER: He continues to even tweet about that.

LEMON: Those same polls also show that they have very high hopes for Donald Trump especially when it comes to job creation. Do you refute that poll?

BAUER: I would question all polls because I know how easily they can be diverted. You get any numbers you want.

LEMON: And they think that he would deliver on job creation.

CARDONA: And here's the thing. LEMON: Do you refute that poll?

BAUER: I think he can deliver --

(LAUGHTER)

RYE: You fell for the Okie Doke, Andre.

LEMON: You were right, though. You know. We're going to --

CARDONA: Here's I think the danger is in these numbers and of course he is going to look at these polls. Because he hates poll when is they are not, you know, good for them.

SETMAYER: Right. Just like facts.

CARDONA: But the danger is, look at -- if you look at the polls for the past presidents.

LEMON: Yes.

CARDONA: They were like going into the inauguration, that was the high point for every single administration.

LEMON: Yes.

RYE: Yes.

CARDONA: Is 40 percent going to be the high point for Trump?

LEMON: I've got to go. I got to go.

Everyone is wondering why we keep looking up that way. Because the monitor is up above the camera.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: They're looking at the polls.

LEMON: That's why people looking up, and we were looking at the polls. Looking at what's on screen.

SETMAYER: Live TV, folks.

LEMON: Thanks, everyone. Thank you.

CARDONA: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Andre, you're OK?

BAUER: I'm fine.

RYE: Andre, today he's a coaster.

CARDONA: He did great.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That is it for us tonight. Thank you so much for watching us.

RYE: Smirk, Andre.

LEMON: I'll see you right back here tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(END)