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Interview With Tom Steyer; Has Flynn Flipped on Trump?; Interview With South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham; Interview With Illinois Senator Richard Durbin; Trump On The Alabama Race: "Jones Would Be A Disaster"; Trump: We're Saying Merry Christmas Again. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired November 26, 2017 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Big week, as the president wraps up his weekend with another round of golf.


BASH: He's about to face his biggest battle yet.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will be up to the Republicans to come through for America. It's up to the Senate.

BASH: Taxes and a looming government shutdown colliding together with just days to make a deal.

Two tough senators, Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin, are both here next.

And closing in? Michael Flynn stops sharing information with Trump's legal team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be concerned if I were perhaps in the White House.

BASH: Is Flynn ready to flip? Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara weighs in on that.

Plus, irritated Democrats. An ad campaign calls for Trump's impeachment.

TOM STEYER, FOUNDER, NEXTGEN AMERICA: This president is a clear and present danger.

BASH: And the Democratic mega-donor behind it doesn't care if the party wants him to stop.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: It's not some place that I think we should go.

BASH: Is Tom Steyer just playing into the president's hands? We will ask him live.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is stuffed.

This morning, President Trump is wrapping up his Thanksgiving break at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida. The president hosted a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed some time on the golf course, playing with pros Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

This afternoon, the president returned right here to Washington, where he's facing what might be the busiest and most defining month of his first year in office.

With no major legislative accomplishments to date, President Trump and congressional Republicans are now racing to pass tax reform before the end of the year.

Complicating matters, the controversial special Senate election in Alabama on December 12. And there's also a looming government shutdown, if Congress is not able to pass a spending bill by midnight on December 8.

Let's get right to two leading members of the U.S. Senate, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and the number two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin of Illinois.

Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining me this weekend.

I want to start with taxes.

Senator Graham, first to you, President Trump has promised tax reform by Christmas.


BASH: Some of your colleagues, Senator Corker, Senator Flake, for example, they have expressed concerns that this bill is going to make an even bigger hole in the deficit than there is now.

So, are Republicans going to have the votes by the end of the month?

GRAHAM: Yes, I think so.

I think what they are concerned about is that the personal tax cuts expire in 2025, and that's a bit of a gimmick. But we will get there because failure is not an option when it comes to the Republican Party cutting taxes.

For every Republican senator, the fate of the party is in our hands, as well as that of the economy. The economy needs a tax cut, and the Republican Party needs to deliver. So, I think we will get there.

BASH: And, Senator Durbin, the tax bill would double the standard deduction for -- it would double it to $24,000 for a married couple. It would increase the child tax credit to $2,000 per child.

I know there are things that you don't like in the bill, but those provisions would help working families, would they not?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), MINORITY WHIP: For the rest of the story, though, there's a real problem, a trillion-and-a-half dollars added to the deficit, threatening Medicare and Social Security, tax breaks for the wealthiest people in America and the biggest corporations.

Meanwhile, the tax breaks for working families, half of them will see a tax increase, half a tax break. Those disappear, as Senator Graham just mentioned. But the tax cuts for wealthiest people are permanent. That's just unfair, and that's why half of the American people are skeptical about this Trump tax plan.

BASH: Gentlemen, I want to turn to something that is looming.

And that is, unless Congress acts, the federal government is going to run out of money in less than two weeks.

Senator Durbin, members of your party are threatening to vote against the bill to fund the government unless Congress votes to protect dreamers. Those, of course, are children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.

Is funding the government contingent on finding a legislative solution for dreamers?

DURBIN: Listen, there are a number of things that we have to do before the end of the year. And I think Senator Graham will agree with me.

We heard on an earlier program right here on your network that we face the end of the Children's Health Insurance Program. The Community Health Care Clinic program, that's also expired.

But we believe, Senator Graham and I do, that we have a fixable priority in the DREAM Act, a bipartisan solution to this problem to make sure that these young people have a chance to earn their way into citizenship. We can do this, and we can get it done before the end of the year.


BASH: Will that be a demand? Will you demand that that gets done in order to get your vote on funding the government?

DURBIN: Let me tell you, I'm not prepared to go home for the holidays until we get our work done.

BASH: Is that a yes?

DURBIN: I will just leave it at that.

BASH: I just want to make sure -- because -- make sure that our viewers know what we're talking about. It sounds like you're willing to risk veterans benefits, pay for

government workers around the holidays in order to push through a DACA fix. Am I reading you right?

DURBIN: Well, I can tell you, here's the read that you should have.

We have done precious little this year in the United States Senate. I think Senator Graham can point to the defense authorization bill as the only substantive bill we've considered. You know that, Dana. You follow this day to day.

So, now we have three or four weeks to get some real work done. We believe the DREAM Act, Senator Graham and I believe we can put together a bipartisan coalition to pass it and make that part of the end-of-the-year effort.

BASH: Senator Graham, your fellow Republican senator Tom Cotton said that Republicans have definitely ruled out attaching DACA to the spending bill. Period, end of story, he said.

You and Senator Durbin, as he just discussed, do have bipartisan legislation to protect dreamers. What is the holdup?

GRAHAM: Well, the way I look at the end-of-the-year bill, it is a chance to really do some good for the country as a whole, starting by funding the Defense Department more adequately.

I'm not going to vote for a spending bill that doesn't dramatically increase defense spending. And I'm willing to increase non-defense spending of the NIH, the Corps of Engineers, the FBI, the CIA.

We need border security. So, there's a deal to be done. Dick's right about this. For the DREAM Act, I think you could get strong border security and a break in chain migration. If you can put those three things together and put it on the end-of-the-year spending bill, that would be a heck of an accomplishment for 2017.

BASH: Well, Senator Durbin, would you go with that? If they -- if the Republican leadership agrees to put protections in for dreamers, would you go for border security and an end to chain migration?

DURBIN: I can tell you, when it comes to border security, we have signed up for that. Senator Schumer said that months ago. We believe that there are aspects of border security that Democrats and Republicans can agree on.

When it comes to chain migration, bottom line -- and I have even spoken to Senator Cotton about this -- is, when these dreamers become citizens, they are not going to be second-class citizens. They are going to have the same rights as others in the United States. That's something that even Senator Cotton and I agree on.

BASH: One last question on this.

Senator Graham, do you think a government shutdown is possible over this DACA issue? GRAHAM: In Congress, anything's possible.

I think it would be sad to miss this opportunity. The president has talked very warmly about the DREAM Act kids. Everybody believes the military's in a world of hurt. John McCain points out about the training accidents are no accidents, because we have underfunded the military for so long.

Everybody believes we need more border security. I think most people believe we need to go from chain migration, family-based immigration to merit-based immigration. And I think most Americans want to give these DREAM Act kids a more certain life.

So, let's do it in December. Let's do it for the good of the country. Let's take care of a lot of problems at one time to show the country we actually can function. I'm rather excited about the possibilities of legislating in December.

BASH: Nothing -- another thing, Senator Graham, coming up in December is a special election in Alabama.

And, this week, President Trump seemed to offer support for the Alabama Senate candidate, Roy Moore, the Republican...


BASH: ... who is being accused by four women, including a 14-year-old girl at the time, of sexual assault, didn't rule out campaigning for him.

And, Senator Graham, just this morning, the president sent a tweet on this issue. He said: "The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer-Pelosi puppet who is weak on crime, weak on the border, bad for our military and our great vets, bad for our Second Amendment, and wants to raise taxes to the sky. Jones would be a disaster" -- Jones being the Democratic candidate.

Senator Graham, you have called Roy Moore -- called on him to step aside. You have said he should be dealt with severely. Do you think the Republican Party leader, the president of the United States, should be telling voters to support -- to support Roy Moore?

GRAHAM: Well, that's a political decision by the president. He's definitely trying to throw a lifeline to Roy Moore.

From a Republican point of view, I don't see what winning -- I don't know what winning looks like for Roy Moore. If he wins, you get the baggage of him winning, and it becomes a story every day about whether or not you believe the women or Roy Moore, should he stay in the Senate, should he be expelled.

If you lose, you give the Senate seat to a Democrat at a time we need all the votes we can get. The moral of the story is, don't nominate somebody like Roy Moore who could actually lose a seat that any other Republican could win. And from a party perspective, we have got to look long-term, not short-term. And what I would tell President Trump, if you think winning with Roy Moore is going to be easy for the Republican Party, you're mistaken.


BASH: So, yes or no, is the president making a mistake here?

GRAHAM: That's up to him. I'm not going down the road he's going. That's up to the president.

BASH: OK, Senator Durbin, I want to ask you about multiple women now coming out and accusing your Democratic Senate colleague Al Franken of groping.

Franken released a new statement saying that he crossed a line. He said that he understands that this is a problem and he's sorry. Now that more women have come forward, should Franken resign?

DURBIN: Listen, Al Franken has acknowledged what he did was wrong. And it was wrong. He's also submitted his whole case to the Senate Ethics Committee. I think that was the right thing to do.

Let's have a hearing, an investigation. Let's let this really reach whatever conclusion it's going to reach, but through a due process. That, to me, makes sense. Others who have tried to run away through charges, you have to say Al Franken has faced it, and he's done it in a responsible way.

I think it's the way to approach it.

BASH: A couple of quick questions for you both at top of the news.

Senator Graham, you have been very outspoken about the need for sanctions against Russia in response to meddling in the U.S. election. The president reluctantly signed a bill that was passed in a bipartisan way in August. The deadline to impose those sanctions came and went.

The administration appears to be dragging its feet. What are you going to do about it?

GRAHAM: Push him to impose sanctions.

Russia is up to no good throughout the entire world -- 98-2, I think -- 97-2 was the vote in the Senate. The House was overwhelmingly supportive of sanctioning Russia. They did interfere in our election, and they need to pay a price.

So I would urge the administration to impose the sanctions passed by the Congress, because, if you don't, you're creating a problem for yourself at a time that we need to focus on solving problems.

BASH: Senator Durbin, there's currently some confusion about who is running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mick Mulvaney was appointed by President Trump. Leandra English was tapped by the outgoing director.

Who do you think is in charge?

DURBIN: Well, I asked -- of course, you can turn to Dodd and Frank, the co-sponsors of that legislation. And I read the provision. It says that, when the director steps aside, the deputy director shall be in charge of the agency, not may, shall be in charge.

And so now there's an effort by Mick Mulvaney and the attorney general to really push him into this position so that he can take away their power. Remember, this was the agency that fined Wells Fargo $100 million for defrauding the people who were creating phony accounts. It's a watchdog agency.

Wall Street hates it like the devil hates holy water. And they're trying to put an end to it with Mr. Mulvaney stepping into Cordray's spot. But the statute is specific, it's clear, and it says that the deputy shall take over.

BASH: Senator Graham, finally, who do you think is in charge of the consumer protection agency?

GRAHAM: I think the president's on good ground here to appoint somebody under the vacancy statute.

In terms of the agency, it's the most out-of-control, unaccountable federal agency in Washington, really no oversight at all. They can get into everybody's business. I don't think they add much at all to consumer protection. They sure add a lot to increasing costs for midsize banks throughout the country that had nothing to do with the financial collapse.

So, I hope it's Mick Mulvaney, and I hope he will ride herd on these folks.

BASH: OK. We definitely didn't end on a bipartisan note there.


BASH: But we appreciate the two of you, Democrat and Republican, coming on together. It was a great discussion.

And thank you both very much. And happy Thanksgiving.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

DURBIN: Thanks, Dana.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

BASH: Is former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn working on a deal with Robert Mueller? And should the White House be worried?

Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara is here to talk about that next.

Plus, now that Thanksgiving is over, the president is ready to make Christmas great again.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.

A major new development in the Russia investigation.

A source says lawyers for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn have notified President Trump's legal team that they are no longer able to discuss special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

This split, first reported by "The New York Times," could indicate that Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal.

President Trump's legal team is pushing back, saying in a statement, "No one should draw a conclusion that this means anything about General Flynn cooperating against the president."

Here to discuss this is former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara.

Preet, thank you so much for joining me this morning.


BASH: I want to share a tweet that you sent out for -- with our viewers, rather.

You said: "If you're dead to rights, flipping on others and cooperating with the prosecution is the only sane, rationale move. Also, prosecutors accept cooperation only if you can provide substantial assistance higher up in the food chain. Stay tune."

What did you mean by that?

BHARARA: Well, look, first, I think that the Trump lawyers are correct, in the sense that no one can draw any final conclusion as to what has happened, because it's happening behind closed doors.

On the other hand, the cost-benefit analysis when anybody engages in, in his head, if there's a lot of evidence of having committed a crime, is exactly this, that if you're dead to rights -- and a lot of the reporting suggests that Michael Flynn has a considerable amount of exposure, based on his dealings with Russia and not disclosing some of those dealings.

And, I think even more significantly, if the reporting is to be believed, some of the dealings he's had with Turkey and arrangements he had to get paid for official action that he might engage in as the national security adviser after the inauguration.

And, if all of that is true, and he has considerable legal liability, criminal liability, then the way to get yourself off the hook -- and, in his case, not only himself, but potentially also his son, who is involved in some of this -- the only way to do that is to cooperate with the prosecution.


It doesn't mean, just because he's withdrawn from a joint defense agreement, that that will happen. But my view is, based on how things used to operate in my office and based on the way the world works, is that there's a substantial likelihood that they are at least in discussions with respect to cooperating.

Now, that could fall apart because maybe he's not disclosing everything, he's trying to protect or he's trying to minimize, and the prosecutors decide not to sign him up to a deal. But I think that the likelihood is that that is what they are talking about.

BASH: OK, let's assume, for the sake of argument here, that there is a deal in the works or it will happen at some point, if not already.

How much further up the food chain can the prosecutors go with Flynn?

BHARARA: Well, it's unclear, but, obviously, the prosecutors are looking at everything.

Now, some of the things that we know about include the dealings with Turkey, as we discussed. But the other things that are going on here are -- what special counsel Mueller is looking at has -- have to do with obstruction.

BASH: Mm-hmm.

BHARARA: So, one of the things we know, for example, is that Michael Flynn was being investigated by the FBI, that he was fired by the president of the United States after about 23 or 24 days.

And we also know that, soon after that, the president of the United States, if you believe Jim Comey -- and I think a lot of people do -- told Jim Comey to back off on the Flynn investigation.

So, there's a potential obstruction -- and then, when he didn't back off on the investigation, Jim Comey was fired by the president. So, we don't know what Michael Flynn knows with respect to that request by the president to Jim Comey.

So, if Michael Flynn and the president had a conversation in which -- I'm only hypothesizing here -- where Michael Flynn says, you know, Mr. President, can you help me out and can you make this investigation go away, or the president offered to do so, that gets you a little bit further along to an issue of obstruction.

So, the kinds of things that Michael Flynn can talk about include conversations he had with the president, not only about Turkey, but also about his -- the president's interactions with Jim Comey, the firing of Jim Comey, and, by the way, also all sorts of things that we may not know about.

And they could include other Cabinet officials. That can include members of the president's family who also serve in some capacity for the president. And they can include the president himself.

I want to caution everybody that this is speculation, but it's based on how the process has tended to work in the past.

BASH: And just to sort of button it up, if you are President Trump right now, knowing that this is your national security -- former national security adviser, somebody who you spent a lot of time with during the campaign, how worried are you that Michael Flynn is cutting a deal?

BHARARA: It depends on what the president has done and what the president's conversations with Michael Flynn and others have been.

But if you have done bad things, then you should be very worried.


Thank you so much, Preet Bharara. Thank you very much for joining me this morning and trying to make sense of all this...

BHARARA: Thank you.

BASH: ... with your -- with your expertise and experience. Appreciate it.

BHARARA: Thanks.

BASH: He's given millions, but billionaire mega-donor Tom Steyer isn't getting support Democratic support on his latest move, an ad campaign calling for President Trump's impeachment.

Democrats say it's not helpful. Tom Steyer responds next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

If you have turned on the television lately, including right here on CNN, you have probably seen this ad calling for President Trump's impeachment.


STEYER: People in Congress and his own administration know that this president is a clear and present danger who is mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons, and they do nothing.


BASH: That was billionaire Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager that President Trump has called -- quote -- "wacky and totally unhinged."

The president isn't the only one not loving all this talk about impeachment. Neither are Democrats.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says that's not where the party should be going right now.

Joining me now from his home state of California is Tom Steyer.

Mr. Steyer, thank you so much for joining me this morning.

You have become perhaps the loudest voice calling for impeachment. The Constitution sets the grounds for impeachment as treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Which has the president violated?

STEYER: Good morning, Dana.

I would say it's clear that he has violated the Constitution, in the sense that he's violated his trust with the American people through obstructing justice by firing the head of the FBI, Mr. Comey, for what he said explicitly was over the Russian investigation.

He has been taking -- in contradiction of the Emoluments Clause, he has been taking payments from foreign governments almost since the very first day that he took office.

I don't think there's any question and -- that he has, in fact, met that standard for impeachment. But I think the important thing is not just that he's met the standard, but it's very important and urgent that we get him out of office.

BASH: But the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and multiple congressional committees are in the middle of their investigations, investigations, I should say, that President Trump calls a witch-hunt.

Aren't you playing into the president's message by calling for impeachment even before these investigations are complete?

STEYER: As I said, I believe -- an impeachment is actually a process where the House puts him up for a trial in the Senate.


So, in fact, to have him impeached merely means that, in a public way, the Senate goes through all of the evidence right in front of the American people.

And the fact of the matter is, we know from what he has said publicly that he's violated the Constitution and is subject to impeachment.

There will be, inevitably -- we're in favor of the Mueller investigation. God bless him for what he's doing, but the fact of the matter is, this president has performed in a lawless way throughout the campaign and throughout his presidency, and he's an urgent threat to the American people.

So, to sit here and wait, doing absolutely nothing, is the wrong thing to do. The American people want this man impeached. BASH: I want to read to you what President Obama's former chief

strategist David Axelrod tweeted. He said the following.

He said, "Steyer impeachment ads seem to be more of a vanity project than a call to action. It is at least this point an unhelpful message. If impeachment becomes a political tool, it will be as damaging to our democracy as the degradations Donald Trump has inflicted on it."

What face is front and center in these ads with some of your fellow Democrats are saying as you just heard is that you're using the specter of impeachment to build your own political brand. Your response?

STEYER: I think that the people in Washington, D.C., and the political establishment can't accept the idea that the American people are supposed to have their own voice. And what we're doing is providing a venue for Americans to add their voices together to change the conversation, the dysfunctional conversation in Washington, D.C. That's what we're doing.

And so, in fact, what we're trying to do is let the people's voice be heard, which is exactly what our organization has always done, is to go for more democracy. It doesn't surprise me that political elites want to close off the American people and make sure that they remain in control.

BASH: Mr. Steyer, you have -- you're from California. You've said that you're considering running against the Democratic senator there, Dianne Feinstein, who is up for re-election next year.

You two have a really different take and approach on President Trump. You're obviously calling for impeachment. She has called for patience on that issue.

Would you do a better job as senator from California?

STEYER: Well, I haven't said I'm considered running. What I have said is I haven't ruled it out. And the fact --

BASH: Is there a difference?

STEYER: I -- I actually think there is but I don't want to split hairs with you on that subject.

I think the main point is this. What we're trying to do and what we would encourage Senator Feinstein to do, too, is to actually look at what's going on on the ground and to listen to the American people.

Anyone who goes out -- and I do this all the time -- and listens to normal working people about what their (ph) (INAUDIBLE), know that they think that there's a real problem in Washington, D.C., that it is not responsive to their needs and there is something wrong with this administration that is dangerous to their health and safety on a daily basis and, in fact, we should be acting.

So I urge Senator Feinstein to be much more urgent in the need for change than she is right now.

BASH: Briefly, where are you in your process of not ruling out a run for the Senate?

STEYER: I don't need to rule it out. The fact of the matter is, right now --

BASH: Are you going to run? Are you going to run? Do you think there's any chance that you're going to run?

STEYER: I don't need to rule it out and I haven't had time to think about it. The fact of the matter is, I am spending all of my time working to make sure that the petition gets as broad a listen as possible and, in addition, we are a huge grassroots organization registering, engaging and mobilizing voters around the country. So I have a more than full-time job without running for any specific office.

BASH: I have to ask you about the other thing that you have done politically. And that is, raise a lot of money and give a lot of money.

You have said that the Democratic Party needs to get behind Bernie Sanders and his policies but at the top of his agenda is limiting the influence of big money in politics. You were the biggest donor in the 2016 election cycle of giving over $91 million to Democrats. Are you a part of the problem that Bernie Sanders is working to fix?

STEYER: First of all, I'm absolutely in favor of changing the way that money is used in politics and I think it is a huge problem and I think it should be changed.

Let me make two points. One, we try and do this in as transparent a way as possible, which is why I'm on your show right now, why I say everything that we're doing straightforwardly so people can look at me and gauge whether I'm telling the truth and why I'm doing it. And secondly, when you talk about spending that money, that money is spent ongoing door to door and having citizens talk to citizens about the issues of the day.


It's spent registering over a million people in 2016 to make sure we get the broadest possible democracy. It's going on to 370 college a campuses to talk to young people about the issues, to engage them so that they will involve themselves and see the importance in the political process.

In fact, what our organization does is try and make sure every underrepresented group gets registered, engaged and gets its voice in politics. So, in fact, we are trying to make the democracy as broad and strong as possible.

If you want to change the way money works in politics, we're all behind you. We're working with the system we have right now as transparently and strait forwardly as possible. BASH: Tom Steyer, thank you so much for joining me this morning. Appreciate it.

STEYER: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: And President Trump just this morning is signaling support for Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race despite several women accusing Moore of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault. That's next.

Plus, President Trump is already in the Christmas spirit. Just don't wish him happy holidays.




TRUMP: I can tell you one thing for sure, we don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat.

REPORTER: Are you going to campaign for Roy Moore?

TRUMP: I'll be letting you know next week, but I can tell you you don't need somebody who is softer on crime like Jones.


BASH: That was President Trump earlier this week seeming to support GOP candidate Roy Moore but this morning the president has been tweeting about it from Palm Beach. We'll certainly going to see what he does when he gets back to the White House.

But already this morning he said, "The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on Border, Bad for our military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, and wants to raises taxes to the sky. Jones" -- the Democratic candidate -- "would be a disaster."

Welcome to our panel. Appreciate you coming.

I'm going to have to start with you, David Urban, you helped get -- you helped get President Trump elected in the state of Alabama. You still are close to them. Do you think that this move to really push Roy Moore in Alabama is a good one?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't. I would break with the president on this. I think the only thing worse than Doug Jones is Roy Moore.

I think -- I think Roy Moore will be an anchor around the Republican brand. I think it will be a disaster for the midterms and the party will continue to try to move to separate itself.

I think what he's alleged to have done, still obviously alleged to have done will have to be proven in the court of law but this is a political contest we're talking about. This is politics. And when you're explaining, you're losing.

And so I think that this is a loser for the Republican Party. I think the that the governor should have just postponed the election, it's well within her purview to do so and can solve it very quickly.

BASH: So it would be better for the Republican to have Democrat Doug Jones in the Senate than Roy Moore?

URBAN: Look, I think in the long run Democrat Doug Jones would become Republican Doug Jones in the short run.

I think, just like -- there are very many. Look at Senator Manchin -- Joe Manchin -- is what used to be called a blue dog Democrat -- right -- in this town. I think that Doug Jones from Alabama would become a very -- a likely vote for Republicans on many things before he switch parties.



KRISTOL: Urban breaks with Trump. (INAUDIBLE). What's the rest of us have to say? I think Trump will --

BASH: Wait. Would it be news if you break with Trump?

KRISTOL: That would be huge.


KRISTOL: Exactly. He -- I think Trump has decided he might as well just be for him. He's not going to get anything by distinguishing himself at this point. He has got his own problem on the similar front to the one that -- the ones that Roy Moore has.

I wouldn't be surprised if they get tax reform through. (INAUDIBLE) Thursday they are likely to vote. It looks like they might get it through the Senate.

If I were -- I suspect Trump will then be inclined to go down to Alabama, campaign for Moore but really campaign against Jones. And say, look at this vote, 51-49. Whatever (ph) it's going to be

We cannot afford it. If you want to kind of have conservative policies, you can't afford to have a Democrat like Doug Jones. I'm just saying, I think Trump -- Trump has decided he's all in. He might as well try to pull it out.

SELLERS: But this is the type of tribalism that is the cancer of our country right now because, you know, when Donald Trump says that Doug Jones is soft on crime, it's the antithesis to everything Doug Jones is.

I mean, we're talking about somebody who prosecuted the individuals who bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church. I mean, we're talking about somebody who has a track record of actually being a law and order individual who has that on his resume.

Running against somebody who is, again -- I use this word again, this SAT word this morning, the antithesis to all of that. Because you have Roy Moore who is accused of being a predator.

We're not talking -- talking about someone who sexually harassed somebody, as wrong as that may be. We're talking about somebody preyed on 14-year-old girls, allegedly. And so when you're talking about this type of predatory behavior and you put that up against Doug Jones what is the actual debate here? And the fact that the president is putting his mantel behind that is even more troubling.

KRISTOL: I'm not --


NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He had a chance to say that any Republican won't do in this case and to choose the morality that daughter -- he has -- even his own daughter said that anybody -- there's a special place in hell for anybody that preys on children. So Bakari's point is just really that.

We're not even just talking about grown women here. We're talking about the accusation of a 14-year-old girl and he makes light of it saying that some of these allegations were 40 years ago. Well, news flash for the president, when people are in pain like that and women and men who have gone through that type of trauma, you can't put a timeline on when they reveal that trauma.


But to say to the United States of America that he would rather have someone like Moore in there just for political expediency, really is the wrong message to send.

KRISTOL: Here's a question. I very much agree with that. Here's the question.

So Trump's played his card. What do the Republicans do? What does Mitch McConnell do?

I mean, Jeff Flake has said I would vote for Doug Jones if I were in Alabama. Most of the other Republicans are -- I'm -- I'm separating myself.

TURNER: With Senator McConnell he had that memo, that four-page memo.


KRISTOL: No, no.

TURNER: Yes, but they were --

(CROSSTALK) KRISTOL: -- to try to separate ourselves. Like, Governor, I'm going to take us off the hook. You can't (ph).

TURNER: They can.

KRISTOL: It's going to be a choice.

And I think the interesting question to ask senator -- all Republican senators later this week is, OK, you (ph) have (ph) a (ph) choice (ph). Where do you stand?

TURNER: That's right.

BASH: Well, they have --

KRISTOL: Are you willing to break -- are you willing to break --

SELLERS: But Roy Moore -- Roy Moore --

BASH: Go ahead. Let him finish.

KRISTOL: That's it. No, I mean, I think --

SELLERS: Roy Moore won a primary. Like let's not -- let's talk about the state of the Republican Party.

I mean, Roy Moore beat a sitting United States senator. Luther strange wasn't somebody who just came along. He was actually the United States senator.

And Roy Moore just didn't become a problem. I mean, Roy Moore doesn't think Muslims should be able to serve in the United States Congress. Roy Moore thinks that homosexuality should be illegalized.

KRISTOL: David Duke was one of the two finalists in Louisiana in 1990, I think it was.



KRISTOL: Republican. He was the de facto Republican and President Bush, the Republican president of the United States, said, you should vote for the Democrat even though it was Edwin Edwards. He was corrupt and he had all kinds of problems.

You should not -- you cannot let David Duke be a Republican -- United States senator.

BASH: David, you hear what Bakari is doing here -- smart politics. He's making this about Roy Moore. The president is trying to play what he thinks is smart politics and making this about the Democrat.

Bakari mentioned that, among the other things that Doug Jones -- we don't hear a lot about him because Roy Moore has been the story that -- that he -- has done is successfully prosecuting two members of the KKK for the bombing -- the infamous bombing back in the '60s.

So is that dog going to hunt?

URBAN: Listen, again, I think as Bill said, look, I'm a supporter of the president 99.9 percent of the time. I break with him on this instance.

I think that Judge Moore is not a great candidate here, to say the least. I think that the Republican Party would be better off having this -- you know, writ (ph) large (ph) here you're better off having the Democrat come in.

I would say that, again, just like Senator Manchin, and other blue dog Democrats, they vote with the Republican Party a lot. There's an opportunity to kind of win that seat back in a few years back and it will go back to the Republican Party.

I think that it's going to be a really problem -- a big problem for the Republican brand, as Bill points out correctly, you know, what if you're -- what if you're Mitch McConnell -- the other senators, he wins. Do you seat him? Do you not seat him?

You have to take a stand. The party has to take a stand.

TURNER: This is a bigger --

BASH: Does expelling him even matter?

TURNER: This is a bigger problem though than just the Republican brand.

We see all of these sexual exploitations, and that is being light here, that is coming out all across this country from all sectors. This is about the type of country we are and for the voters in Alabama to separate partisanship from what is the right thing to do on behalf of girls and woman in this country, that any grown 30-year-old man preying on 14-year-old girls, somebody who is not your physical, mental equal, what does that say about you?

What is the measure of the man that would even -- even prey or even approach a 14-year-old girl? And so this is not just about Moore. This is about a crisis in this country when it comes to sexual exploitation of girls and women that has been acceptable.

So if we draw anything from this, it's that this kind of behavior cannot be rewarded and it cannot stand and we have to take a firm position, Republican or Democrat, and not make this about partisan politics. This is about women and girls and men and boys who have been sexually exploited in this country.


BASH: We're going to -- we're going to have to -- we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you all for that discussion. Really fascinating and enlightening on what we're going to see coming down the pike this week. Forget season's greetings. Forget happy holidays. This year President Trump is vowing to take on the war on Christmas.


TRUMP: We're getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don't talk about anymore.

Well, guess what? We're saying merry Christmas again.




BASH: Welcome back.

The holiday season is here and this year forget about wishing someone a Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus. It is the Trump administration. It is all about Christmas.


BASH (voice-over): It is the season, a time for good tidings and cheer and, of course, for President Trump to fulfill one of his favorite campaign promises.

TRUMP: We're saying Merry Christmas again.

BASH: Making Christmas great again.

TRUMP: You'll be saying Merry Christmas again when you go shopping. Believe me.

They have been downplaying that little beautiful phrase. You're going to be saying Merry Christmas again folks.

BASH: It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Even if you don't celebrate.

TRUMP: I have friends that aren't Christian, they like to say Merry Christmas. They love it. Everybody loves it.

BASH: Everybody loves it. And for the president, there's nothing better than the jolly old man himself.

TRUMP: How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.


TRUMP: Let me see for myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead. Pull it.

BASH: Perhaps Trump's fond feelings for December 25th stems from his childhood in Queens.

TRUMP: We always had a beautiful Christmas tree. And my mother would put beautiful presents under and we would get up early in the morning and she would say, no, no, it is too early.


We would get up at 2:00 in the morning.

BASH: A real treat this year, the Republican National Committee is giving one lucky Trump supporter the chance to deck the halls with President Trump himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Santa's coming to town.


BASH: What might be under the tree, Santa Trump has a special gift.

TRUMP: A big, beautiful Christmas present in the form of a tremendous tax cut.

BASH: Of course, if it's too foggy for Air Force One, Santa has other options.

TRUMP: You know Rudolph you're so bright, won't you guide my freaking sleigh tonight?

BASH: Just remember, it is not Season's Greetings or Happy Holidays, it's Merry Christmas.

TRUMP: Rudolph, you're hired. Blitzen, you're fired.


BASH: And coming up, almost a year into the Trump presidency, why did Donald Trump win? Fareed Zakaria digs in, next.