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CNN TONIGHT

Bob Woodward Book; Trump Says Bob Woodward Has A Lot Of Credibility Problems; Nike Ad Features Colin Kaepernick; Celebrities Offer Support to Geoffrey Owens After Quitting Trader Joe's Job. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired September 4, 2018 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. A little past 11:00 here on the East Coast. Live with all the new developments for you tonight. We're talking about journalist Bob Woodward dropping a book which has the west wing in damage control right now. Sara Sanders, calls the book entitled "Fear," fabricated stories by a disgruntle employees, but Woodward, not only conducted hundreds of interviews, he says he recorded nearly all of them and what's been released so far, from the book shows that the President's inner circle, those in there, are worried that he is in danger to national security.

So let's discuss now. I want to bring in now, CNN Political Analyst, Carl Bernstein, CNN Global Affairs, Max Boot and CNN Presidential Historian, Timothy Naftali.

Good evening to all of you. it is going to be a very heavy call tonight, because as you know, Bernstein and Woodward, depending on who you're talking to, so Carl I've got to start with you because a couple of questions, no one knows hi, better, his work better than you. Many administration officials are being quoted in this book, right, and here's what he said tonight. He gave an interview. He said, he told the Daily Caller, it's just another bad book --

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The President.

LEMON: The President said this, yes. He is a lot of credibility. The President says, not Bob. He has a lot of credibility problems. And he is speculating that his statement could have come from -- where they came from is just as disgruntled employees just made it up. It could just be made up by the author. Talk to me about how Woodward works, his methodology. I know you want to talk about that.

BERNSTEIN: Well, the methodology actually goes back to the Watergate reporting, particularly to the final days of the book he we wrote about Nixon's last year, in office. In which we went to literally 100, 200 people, tape recorded all our interview, the major participants, those closest to the President. And what emerges and what's so important about this book is that it's not about using the word idiot. It's not about a phrase here or there. This is a disturbing narrative scene after scene after scene of those closest to the President of the United States in his White House and administration saying we must save the country from the President of the United States.

LEMON: What about --

BERNSTEIN: Don, that is nonsense. It's not a book about palace intrigue. This is a book about those closest and most intimate in the president's inner circle of governance. Saying their job as they see it, is to save the country from the President of the United States' from his recklessness, from his lying, from his ignorance.

And now to hear these denials knowing the methodology and knowing how Bob goes about his meticulous reporting and listening to the President talk about, well, maybe Bob is a Democratic operative. Look, Woodward has written books about Democratic Presidents that Democratic Presidents have hated. I've written a book about Hillary Clinton that Hillary Clinton has hated. The idea of reporters as Democratic operatives here, this is a book by the preeminent reporter in America using the methodology that has given us the history, Tim Naftali can tell you.

We know what we know about the Presidency's of the United States going back for 45 years, because of Bob Woodward. More than any other thing in these books have held up book after book after book is calls you such a great --

[23:05:05] LEMON: So, let me get into Timothy picture it here.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes, I will.

LEMON: So, let us get into -- tale a closer look at the book. OK, because the President's closest advisor describes him -- this is according to Woodward, the White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, idiot, unhinged. Defense Secretary, James Mattis, a fifth or sixth grader. Former Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, f-ing more, and the former Economic Adviser, Gary Cohn, a professional liar. Former personally attorney, John Dowd, an f-ing liar. How alarming is this?

NAFTALI: Two things, this is alarming. I just want to say, if you want to test the Woodward approach, I would like to say it was the Woodward and Bernstein approach, because you're sitting there, so, I had an occasion to do this, go and look at their interviews for the final days at the University of Texas and then you can say how they've built the book.

This is really damning because Woodward is moving the story beyond where Wolf and Whipple took it. And let me tell you where it's different, Mattis is in this story. To my mind, the biggest deal that I've read so far is we're hearing, if not from the Secretary of Defense because he is in awfully quiet, but from people close enough to him that Woodward is confident that he has a sense of what Mattis is thinking. Mattis is playing a role I believe in this administration similar to the role that Melvin Laird played in the Nixon administration.

He is slow walking things, he is calming down the national security state because the President cannot be relied on to make smart national security or defense decisions. So one of the big windows Woodward appears to have opened in this case is the window to the DOD, especially to Mattis.

BERNSTEIN: And Tillerson, and the assistant to the President, keep going through the list.

LEMON: Yes. Well, listen, let's talk more. Max, I want to bring you in. I mean, in the staff meeting, this is what the Chief of Staff John Kelly said in the book, again according to the book, he is an idiot. It is pointless to try to convince him of anything, he is gone off the rails. We're in crazy town. I don't even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I ever had. OK, so then Kelly released a statement saying the idea that I called the President an idiot is not true. Adding the claimed, it's another pathetic attempt to smear people close to the President Trump and distract from the administration's many successes. He only said, I didn't -- he said one part --

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean you have to parse those denials pretty closely. So, he denies calling him idiot, maybe he called him a moron like Rex Tillerson. I mean, clearly when you get into a battle of credibility between Bob Woodward and this White House Bob Woodward wins hands down. Because obviously going back to his base reporting with Carl Bernstein and I'm sure he learned everything that he knows from Carl, he has a 50-year track record of credibility of getting things right.

On the other hand you have President Trump, just today, "The Washington Post" came out with the latest fact checker that would determine that President Trump lies an average eight times a day. This is the most mendacious White House ever. They lie more than the Nixon White House did. They have negative credibility, less than zero credibility, so it's just hard to take on faith anything they say and denying anything in this book especially because it paints a consistent picture if you read like what Michael Wolff (ph) said or Omarosa said, it's very, very similar where people around Trump have contempt for him. They view him as an idiot, they view him as a liar. That is a very consistent picture that Bob Woodward is not making that up.

LEMON: But it is also different to, I mean, the credibility --

BOOT: Yes, right, you know, Woodward adds details.

LEMON: Can I ask you specific, because I think this is important, you said you were telling him to go down the line and name all these people. This one is from Gary Cohn and this is one that really illustrates a level, I think of distrust for President Trump. Where reports that Trump was about to sign a letter that would have ended a critical trade agreement with South Korea, and Gary Cohn thought that it was -- it could have jeopardize top secret program to detect North Korean missile launches. And here is what he said he did next.

He said, I stole it from his desk, I wouldn't let him see it. He is never going to see that document. I've got to protect the country. And according to Woodward, the former Staff Secretary Rob Porter also stole documents from the President, so he wouldn't see them. A third of my job, he says, was trying to react to some of the really dangerous ideas that he had and try to give him reasons to believe that maybe they weren't such good ideas. Have you ever heard of a situations like that?

BERNSTEIN: Only in the final days of the Nixon presidency when those around Richard Nixon were afraid of what me might do because of the pressure he was under, but what Gary Cohn concluded was that the President of the United States is a threat to the national security of the United States, that is what aide after aide, principal after principal in this administration is saying in his book and the people who would recognize the truth of this book better than any others are Republicans on Capitol Hill. Because they have been sources for Bob Woodward in previous books.

[23:10:07] They know that Bob Woodward doesn't make these things up. So the question now is are some of the Republicans on Capitol Hill going to finally put national interest above partisan interest and call General Kelly in there for an executive session or Kelly resign and have some principle and say I need to tell the Congress of the United States in executive session what it is that this President has done, what he hasn't done, whether or not he is a threat to the national security of the United States. Because that, if you read this book it is very clear that Kelly believes that the President of the United States is a threat to the national security of the United States.

LEMON: Well, that was my question.

BERNSTEIN: So enough of this nonsense from Sarah Sanders. Let's get down to what this is really about.

LEMON: That was my question. Why do they continue to do this and standby --

NAFTALI: Because of what's happening in the Senate today. I am convinced that a lot of this is a bargain -- is to bargain. What they're doing, these Republicans that who have decided not to tell the truth about --

LEMON: Or not to have a backbone.

NAFTALI: Here's the thing, Republicans used to believe in free trade. And the Cohn anecdotes are so powerful, because they're showing that there were people in the White House, Republicans were trying to stand up for Republican values and the President has no interest in those, but here's what I think is going on, they have made a fustian bargain. They have decided, we want Kavanaugh, we want as many Conservatives on the court. We are going to do this for a long term and if we have to put up with short-term crazy town, we will do it for the long term. I think that is what is going on.

LEMON: I got a lot sure ahead of me, but I hate it when people come on and say, whoa his supporters won't matter as if that makes a difference, you know if someone is lying and incompetent. Most supporters don't matter. Well, a lot of people who support people who do the wrong thing.

BOOT: Right, I mean there's no question that Trump has done a pretty clever job of inoculating his supporters against believing the very credible reporting coming out about the craziness in the White House, because he is attacked the fake news media, he has painted the media as the liars, and yes he maintains 78 percent support among Republicans which is also part of the reason why Republicans on Capitol Hill are too cowardly to turn on him, but let's remember that Republicans are only about 26 percent of the country and in the country at large people have woken up to what's going on.

Where you had the Washington Post, ABC News poll last week, which showed that Trump had a 60 percent negative rating. More people approved of impeaching him than approved of his job performance. So, you know, he is with this nonstop stream of falsehoods and attacks on the media, he is managing to keep his base together, but he is not convincing the rest of the country. And if that trend holds in November, he is going to pay a big price in the midterm election.

LEMON: That has got to be the last word. Thank you gentlemen, I appreciate it. When we come back. Another shocking revelation from Bob Woodward's book. Why President Trump called his speech denouncing white supremacists after Charlottesville, the biggest mistake he is made.

[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking news, a bombshell revelation of President Trump's cleanup after his explosive both sides remark on the Charlottesville attacks. According to Bob Woodward's new book, Trump called his revised comments on the white supremacist rally the biggest effing mistake I've made. And to remind everyone here's what the President originally said after the attacks in Charlottesville.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK and here is that cleanup speech President Trump was so reportedly was so upset about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its names are criminals and thugs including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, I guess it's no surprise that just one day later the President backtracked saying this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think there's blame on both sides. You had a group on one side that was very bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I will say it right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Notice the difference between the first one when he was reading. And the second one where he was really saying what he meant, just rolled off the tongue? Let us discuss now. Adam Serwer, the senior editor for "The Atlantic," also CNN Political Commentators, Steve Cortes and Amanda Carpenter. Steve is a former Trump campaign adviser and Amanda is a former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz and the author of a book, "Gaslighting America: Why We Love It when Trump Lies to Us."

Must be a lot of love going around Amanda, so, -- good evening, everyone. I hope you guys had a great restful Labor Day weekend. So Adam, Woodward reports that President Trump called his revised statement on the Charlottesville rally the biggest effing mistake I've ever made, you never make those concessions, you never apologize. I didn't do anything wrong in the first place. Why look weak? OK, those were his words. I mean that is a stunning window in to what was going on in Trump's mind during that time, right?

ADAM SERWER, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE ATLANTIC": Yes, I mean, what we're talking about here is terrorist attack. The President thought it was a mistake to condemn a white supremacist terrorist attack because he was worried about how it would play among his base. In fact when the President came back and repudiated his own statement, you know, the white nationalists, including Richard Spencer said they were proud of him. They were proud of him for drawing a false equivalents between the people who came carrying the banner of white nationalism. And that is just a disgrace.

[23:20:12] LEMON: Yes. Amanda, Woodward reports that Trump went onto say this. I can't believe I got forced to do that. That is the worst speech I've ever given. I'm never going to do anything like that again. And he writes this was a turning point for a Trump White House, for many of his advisers in the Trump White House.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN COMMENTATOR: You know, I think more than anything this shows that Donald Trump isn't a team player even when he is leading the team. You know, his team tried to convince him to do the right thing. They marched him to the podium, gave it their best shot, gave him a script, he read it and it's like they're trying to stuff the genie into the bottle. And he gets back out and he just blurts out what he is saying. And it is just really hard position to be in his staff and a lot of people when these incidents come up say, well, why do they stay?

And I think you need to reflect on the title of that book, fear. Someone like John Kelly, you know, a lot of senior people have been quoted calling the President an idiot and yet they stay. Because I think they are fearful of what happens when they leave and there is not people like them trying to run into the gap to try to get him to do the right thing. And so this is a really tough position, because let's admit it, the President has leverage over them, over us, over the whole country.

And someone needs to occasionally try to get him to do the right thing knowing full well that he'll probably undo it days later. And this is just a vicious cycle that we're in. And frankly, I worry, you know, how many times we're going to go through this before 2020 and what this eventually unleashes.

LEMON: You seem like completely disinteresting. You don't have anything to say about this conversation. I'm kidding. So, I'm going to give you a quote because everything else got a quote. Bob Woodward also quotes President Trump taking more digs at his Attorney General Jeff Sessions and in one instance Trump said this guy is mentally retarded, he, again according to the book. He is this dumb southerner, adding he couldn't even be a one person country lawyer down in Alabama. So how do you explain that to folks in Alabama, Sessions' home state and the state that voted for Trump?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, I explain it pretty easily, by the way. And to quote my favorite politician of all-time, Ronald Reagan, there you go again. There you go again, Amanda, Don when here you go with this mantra that somehow this President has hoodwinked people --

LEMON: Hold on.

CARPENTER: I think he is telling us what he thinks all the time -- I don't think he is wood winking.

LEMON: he did not write the book, Steve -- so now you're blaming us for asking a question about book that was written about him?

CORTES: Amanda, you're saying General Kelly serves him because he is fearful of the consequences of not serving him.

CARPENTER: Yes, I think he has a higher cause and he is trying to help America. And that painful events with the president. Yes, I totally believe that.

CORTES: And to that I say there you go again, because you know what, too, this is the attitude --

CARPENTER: Why don't you go to the White House Chief?

CORTES: -- of elitism that cost you the 2016 --

CARPENTER: Steve, really?

CORTES: Yes, that cost you the 2016 election and which will cost you the 2020 election.

LEMON: Amanda is a Republican, not a Democrat.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: I was not working for Hillary Clinton. I found on the air -- from an honest place and you think --

You don't know where I live, you don't know what I do. You have no basis for that. I have never tried to grim off the table there.

(CROSSTALK)

CORTES: Where you live nothing has to do with elitism. Elitism is a frame of mind.

LEMON: Steve, listen. I love having you on, but you're very good at sidetracking us and the panel into something that we're not talking about, because you can't really defend what's happening. So, can we stick to --

CORTES: Yes, I can.

LEMON: OK. So let us talk about the question that I ask --

CORTES: Let us talk with facts.

LEMON: OK. Go on, so respond to what I asked you.

CORTES: Let's talk facts, I don't believe any of this book. And you know why I don't believe him, because I know John Kelly and General Kelly is an American hero. And if he says that this is bunch of B.S., which is his exact phrase, then I believe it's a bunch of B.S. And I will take his word over the word of a pseudo journalist any day.

CARPENTER: Oh, come on.

LEMON: Who's a pseudo journalist? Bob Woodward is a pseudo journalist? Steve?

CORTES: Yes.

LEMON: Did you think Bob Woodward was a pseudo journalist when he reported on Nixon?

CORTES: The reality is whenever he says it doesn't matter, quit the facts are --

SERWER: Well, your alternative is General Kelly is (inaudible).

CORTES: No, I understand you have to repeat whatever dear leader says. That is the reality is you have to repeat it. I get it.

LEMON: So hold on, so what is unusual -- hold on Adam.

CORTES: You're sitting here saying oh, it's B.S, but you have no evidence that it's B.S. you're just saying whatever Trump wants you to say. It is how all of you act. It's like something out of North Korea.

[23:25:00] SERWER: No, no, I'm an American who loves what he is doing for this country. I don't work for this President.

CORTES: What does that have to do with the point? What does that have to do with anything?

(CROSSTALK)

SERWER: You just said I have to --

LEMON: Listen, guys, hold on both of you.

SERWER: You just said that I have a duty --

LEMON: Steve, please, please, Steve. OK. So listen, you're saying that General Kelly is lying. We've heard General Kelly lie. Remember he lied on Congresswoman Wilson when he lied about what she said?

CORTES: No, I am saying he is not lying.

LEMON: He is not above lying. He has lied before. We've caught him in lies. There's a tape to show his lies, so why would he not lie about this? Why would he possibly not be lying about this?

CORTES: I'm saying that when I look at General Kelly, a man who has served this country immeasurably, far beyond the way I have, the way any of us have --

LEMON: People who serve the country, Steve, lie as well. It doesn't diminish his service to the country. You can serve the country and you can also be a liar. You can serve the country, you can also be complicit. You can serve the country, you can also be power hungry. You can serve the country and also be a bigot. You can serve the country and be a lot of things. But that doesn't conclude you of lying. I'm giving you examples. Hold on, but answer my question. You can be a liar and you can also serve the country. You don't think he can do both? You think he is capable of both?

CORTES: Don, you are choosing because of your prism and because of your bias you are choosing --

LEMON: No, because -- no, no, stop. Because I sit here every night and because I'm not stupid and because I don't let someone hoodwink me, because I interviewed Donald Trump at least six or eight times, because I know the man Donald Trump from New York City, because I know when he lies, because there's a record of his lying, there is a record of his bigotry, there is no prism that you're talking about. This is about truth and this is about reality. So don't sit here and say because of the prism of my own bias.

CORTES: Not because of your prism and your bias.

LEMON: Truth is perception. Truth is truth. Fact is fact, lies are lies.

CORTES: That is your perception. What I know is the truth in America right now is a country that is exploding with optimism, with growth and the I also know -- LEMON: And thank you to the former President for putting us back on

the right direction and so Donald Trump did not inherit a bad economy. Donald Trump inherited a country that was positive. So I mean, you know, it's not just because of that.

CORTES: Take a look at any small business survey and see the way --

LEMON: What does that have to do with the subject that we're talking about right now?

CORTES: Here's what it has to do --

SERWER: It has nothing to do with it. It doesn't.

LEMON: It doesn't. We just got sidetracked again by something that has nothing to do with what we are talking about.

CORTES: I am the first to admit -- no, here's what it has to do with it, Don. Here is the point. I'm the first to admit my bias. I am pro-Trump and I love what he is doing for this country and for growth. That is part of the reason I agree with General Kelly, you will not admit your bias.

LEMON: Because I'm not bias.

CORTES: It is bias as I am.

LEMON: I am not bias.

CORTES: Yes, you are.

LEMON: No, I am not, I am not bias.

CORTES: because you are.

LEMON: I am not bias. I am not a political operative.

CORTES: You believe any lie about him.

LEMON: I'm sorry if the truth or facts or reality are not on the side of this administration, but that does not mean that I'm biased. You may see it that way but that is your own bias.

CORTES: You are extremely bias, so do I, I admit, and you don't.

LEMON: Well, speak for yourself. You called yourself biased, I am not biased. So, speak for yourself.

CORTES: I am biased.

LEMON: OK. I am not.

CORTES: Yes, you are.

LEMON: Thank you. We will be right back.

[23:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Nike is making Colin Kaepernick one of the faces of the new ad campaign on the 30th anniversary of their iconic Just Do It slogan. There's the ad campaign right there. Kaepernick has been a frequent target of President Trump. And now, the president is responding to a new ad, and here is what he told the Daily Caller. He said, "I think it's a terrible message that they are sending and the purpose of them doing it. Maybe there's a reason for them doing it. But I think, as far as sending a message, I think it's a terrible message and message that shouldn't be sent. I guess he didn't like the message. There's no reason for it.

Joining me now to discuss is Mark Leibovich. He is the chief national correspondent for "The New York Times" magazine and the author of "Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times." Hold it up. Yeah, it's a fascinating book and I've seen some of your interviews and I thank you for coming on.

MARK LEIBOVICH, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": My pleasure, Don.

LEMON: Give me -- give me your reaction to Colin Kaepernick and Nike. What do you think?

LEIBOVICH: Well, first of all, I think that they're doing a great job trying to sell my book, which I know is there initial intent here. No, I mean, this issue of the national anthem and the protest is something the NFL just can't get in front of. They cannot resolve it. And they've had five, six years of just either self-inflicted wounds or self-exacerbating wounds. And football is like often -- I mean the season is starting in two days. This isn't going to be resolved. You know this is going to go back and forth. I'm surprised it took the president as long as he did to weigh in on this. And he loves the issue, you know, who knows if he'll ever get around to paying attention about football.

LEMON: I want to talk more specifically about Colin. But what did the NFL just said? Listen. "We don't tell people what to do. It's un-American to do that. If people want to stand, they're going to stand. If they want to sit, they -- you know, they want to kneel, they want to kneel.

LEIBOVICH: Right.

LEMON: That's their business. What do you think would happen?

LEIBOVICH: You know, it would burn out I think. I mean the president would pipe up periodically. I mean, essentially, that's what they did last year. They didn't slap any kind of draconian new rules on them. The commissioner -- people I talked to last year when I was finishing up the reporting of this book got a fair amount of praise from players and some of the owners for just sort of riding it out.

He stood down Donald Trump and Jerry Jones, a little more, you know, conservative owners who wanted him to do something more definitive. And the thing was basically dealt with and then they sort of did this kind of haphazard, all right, everyone stand in the locker room thing in May. And it flared up again. The president was activated and the players union was upset and a lot of the owners were just thrown off guard. And now, we're just like -- we're just holding pattern.

[23:34:58] LEMON: You say in this book that Kaepernick was a -- in this issue -- a Trumpian villain straight out of the Central Casting- big fro, swarthy skin and a San Francisco jersey. If Kaepernick did not exist, some ingenious Russian troll-bot would invent him. I mean you've already seen people burning the sneakers, cutting the Nike logo off their clothes, what do you think is the root of this fight?

LEIBOVICH: Well, I mean, as far as President Trump goes, I mean this guy has a really, really strong nose for a strong sort of cultural foil and Colin Kaepernick is sort of tailor made like - he's like the vegan quarterback who is red meat for the base, right? He is just someone that the president seized upon and you just know that 60 percent of the population or a probably majority of the population is going to be behind him on this. So Kaepernick is a perfect Donald Trump foil, and he's done it, and he become like a culture war issue.

LEMON: Yeah. You've talked about how the NFL should -- do you think -- if they responded, what would happen? But this is more from your book. You say, "Commissioner Goodell always seems to be presiding over some self-inflicted mess. Under his watch, the NFL has gone from being one of the most unifying institutions in America to the country's most polarizing sports brand. What exactly do you think the NFL has become? Why do you think it has become such a political flash?

LEIBOVICH: Well, I mean, look where we are, right? I mean, you look at these Super Bowls, like -- I mean like the first Super Bowl after Donald Trump was inaugurated, about two weeks in, the Patriots were seen as Trump's team because he was always dropping the name of Tom Brady and Robert Kraft and Bill Belichik and Atlanta was like the heart of the resistance. Rise up was their slogan. And you would have like, OK, Atlanta, seven, Trump, nothing. I mean I remember being on Twitter on the first half of that game and it was -- look, that's sort of where we are as a country.

I mean I asked the commissioner about this. At the very end of my reporting, I said, "How did this game get so polarizing and do you bear the responsibility?" And he said, "I think it's more of a product of the times we're living through. I think everything is politicized." And look, I mean he was obviously not taking any responsibility, but I think he's right also. I mean it's pretty hard to escape politics these days.

LEMON: So, let's talk about the inside because always, as I was just talking about to the other -- just the inside, the people who know Trump, the people who know how he acted in business, how he conducted himself, which wasn't honorable in many instances.

LEIBOVICH: A lot of these people did have experience with him.

LEMON: OK. So, you know what I'm talking about How much of this antagonism towards the NFL had to do with them blocking him from several times -- LEIBOVICH: Right.

LEMON: -- as recently as 2014 from owning or buying an NFL team. He tried to buy the Buffalo Bills.

LEIBOVICH: Most recently he tried to buy the Buffalo Bills, but he's been trying to get into this sort of exclusive billionaire boys club for four decades, right? I mean he tried to buy a number of teams over the years. He's always been thwarted by the owners. It's It's sort of a classic case of Donald Trump's nose being pressed up against a glass, and the ultimate club doesn't get to have him as a member.

And now, instead of getting to be in the club, it gets to be in their heads because, you know, I've listed to tapes of owners' meetings of meetings between owners and players and you just hear the degree to which they're all just obsessed with how do we not trigger the next tweet, how do we avoid not having Donald be angry at us. These are -- I mean these are people who have given a lot of money, who he's known for years. And you just sort of pick a sense he just loves being the person manipulating this huge entertainment industry. These are like the two biggest reality shows we have going in America right now.

LEMON: I just can't believe the owners are that afraid because -- how do you stand up to a bully? You stand up to him. You say no. You punch him in the nose. You say, "Listen. You're not going to tell us how to conduct our business." And you move on and then I think you're right in the --

(CROSSTALK)

LEIBOVICH: But that doesn't happen once. It just doesn't happen once.

LEMON: You won't do it. The book is called, "Big Game - The NFL in Dangerous Times." Mark, thank you. See you soon.

LEIBOVICH: Thank you, Don. Good to be here. Anytime.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The reaction to Nike's new ad featuring Colin Kaepernick has been swift on both sides. Joining me to discuss, Senior Political Commentator, Bakari Sellers, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, James Gagliano, a retired FBI supervisor special agent. Good evening, gentlemen. Thank you for coming on. James, beautiful tie by the way. America --

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I thought about you when I put it on. I know you like the stripes.

LEMON: Yeah, nice tie there, Bakari. So listen, James, here's what you wrote on Twitter. You said, "Dear Nike, a hardy Bronx cheer for your selection for Colin Kaepernick as the face of the 30th anniversary of your iconic Just Do It campaign. Will his new fall line include these sock -- these sock beauties? Be advised. Cops buy sneakers, too. Respectfully, Law Enforcement -- Respectfully, Law Enforcement."

So, Kaepernick has made some missteps. But isn't his cause more important than socks?

GAGLIANO: Don, great question. Let me put this in context first. My family goes all the way back to the civil war and fought for the union. I come from a long military history and lineage where we believe in first amendment rights, we believe in going after the oppressor, and listen, I don't -- I don't think that Colin Kaepernick should not have a right to protest. I don't think he should have right to do it on company time. It's like me coming on tonight and saying, "I'd like one minute just now for fallen law enforcement officers." I'm not going to say anything. And you're going to say, "Yeah. But you can't do it, not on company time."

It's not a first amendment issue. It's not a civil rights issue. The issues I had with Mr. Kaepernick are these. You're not a great poster child for your cause when you wear a pair of socks that are defamatory like that. You're not a great poster child when you wear shirts with Marxist revolutionaries on them. And you're not a great poster child when you send out birthday shut outs to Assata Shakur, another name for was JoAnne Chesimard, who's in Cuba right now, who killed a police officer in 1973. She is a cop killer. Those things are visceral for us cops. And we struggle to deal with respecting him and his views and his feeling that he is feeling oppressed. And yet, the way they had --

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[23:45:11] LEMON: -- condense time. Go ahead, Bakari. Sorry.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First, I want to acknowledge the fact that I have on Nike shorts while I'm on TV right here, Don. So, I did come dressed for the show tonight.

But there's so much wrong with that statement. Let me address it as you laid it out. First the audacity to say that Colin Kaepernick cannot protest on company time. You know, protest is made to make people feel uncomfortable. That's simply like saying Rosa Park should have just chosen one of the open seats she had. Just because a protest makes you feel uncomfortable, it doesn't mean that somehow it's incorrect. No, Colin Kaepernick may not be the perfect spokesman, as you say, and yes, even I had a problem with the socks. Even more importantly, I had a problem with the fact that Colin Kaepernick didn't vote in the last election. But his message is much larger than that.

I think that the audacity for someone to have this level of outrage without having this level outrage about the injustice Colin Kaepernick is protesting is exactly the problem. I think I would want to see you and everyone else stand up with me when we're talking about young African-American kids who are unarmed who are being swain (ph) in these streets night in and night out.

I want to be very, very clear. I'm not saying every officer in this country is a bad officer. But what I'm saying is far too many bad apples as we want to call them are killing too many in this country.

LEMON: Guys I'm out of time. I got to go. I'm sorry, James. I'm sorry, Bakari. Thank you both. We'll be right back.

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LEMON: Celebrities coming to a TV actor's defense after he was job shamed online, Geoffrey Owens, best known for the role on the Cosby Show in the 1980s and 1990s. But now, he is making headlines for these photos showing him working as a cashier at Trader Joe's grocery store. So, why the uproar? Well, let's discuss with him now. Geoffrey Owens joins me.

That was -- you said those photos were photo shopped.

GEOFFREY OWENS, FORMER COSBY SHOW ACTOR: They were photo shopped. Yes.

LEMON: You were just back from the gym and with --

OWENS: Oh, yes. Absolutely. In fact, they call it -- you know, they call it hair brushing. When they make you look worse, it's called hair brushing.

LEMON: It's such a pleasure to meet you.

OWENS: A pleasure to meet you.

LEMON: You know, I've been -- I grew up with Cosby and I knew he was Elvin and I watched you. What's going on? What's happening?

OWENS: What's going on? I took a -- I took a regular job so I could support myself and my family and it all went crazy. I never had in a million years would imagine I would be in this position. It's kind of surreal.

LEMON: It's weird to me this became such an issue because -- well, I think you are a great actor and I loved that -- you were so animated on the Cosby Show, right? But I see actors all the time working -- taking other jobs and doing things between gigs. It's not unusual. It's not unheard of. Is it?

OWENS: No the at all.

LEMON: So, then why the big deal about this?

OWENS: Because I was on the Cosby Show, Don. Because it was the Cosby Show, which at the height of its popularity was one of the most famous shows ever viewed by over 55 million people at a time. It was iconic. And I was member of that family. And so, it's one thing if the average actor has another job and 98 percent of them do. But you know, for some people seeing someone who is on that show working in the local grocery store -- however insulted grocery store that might be -- is kind of jarring. I kind of imagined -- and I can understand. Imagine, if I went into a store and saw Al Pacino working there, you know what I mean? LEMON: Right. Right.

OWENS: Now, I'd be sensitive and nice about it, but it would be shocking. And I think that's what it's kind of like for some people. So, it just doesn't make sense.

LEMON: One would think -- OK. You're on the Cosby Show, lucrative show. As you said, it was one of the biggest sitcoms in the TV history.

OWENS: It was 26 years go.

LEMON: That it was -- is it because the show was taken off, are you no longer getting residuals, like what happened?

OWENS: Well, I mean the show ended 26 years ago. People don't realize that because they were watching reruns and we didn't (ph) know how long until it ended. For the past 26 years, I have been -- since that job ended, I haven't had a job that lasted more than 10 weeks at a time. Most of the jobs are theater jobs, which pay a lot less than TV and film. So, there is that impression that -- because the reruns you see me on TV all the time that I'm still making that kind of money. Residuals dwindle away and sometimes they don't -- I only did a certain amount of the shows. People have a very false erroneous impression of the kind of income I make being on that show.

LEMON: When I introduced you I said you were shamed. That's being said on the Internet. Do you think that you were shamed by the people who put those photos out or by news organizations?

OWENS: Well, both. I think they both conspired to kind of exploit a kind of shamed situation. The people who saw me in the store I think tried basically to take advantage of me, but I blamed the news organizations more. I mean I understand the impulse to try to maybe take advantage of a situation.

LEMON: Specifically how?

OWENS: Well, because they -- I think they've seen someone in my position, recognized me, and they know that there is a taste -- unfortunately, there is a little bit of (inaudible) taste and all of us that have a little curiosity -- a little negative curiosity about seeing the exalted fallen.

LEMON: And people offered you jobs now?

OWENS: I have gotten some offers. None of them have been substantiated or worked out.

LEMON: Why do you say you're not comfortable taking a job now?

[23:55:00] OWENS: Well, you know what? And by the way, if you note what I said, I didn't actually say that I wouldn't take a job. I said I would be uncomfortable. I just want to make that distinction. But no, I'm a kind of person who I've always have been this way. It's very strange. You know, when I was in -- when I was in school, I was offered a scholarship once and I felt like for some reason I wasn't worthy of it because of -- it's hard to explain.

I don't like -- I don't like getting anything that I feel like I haven't earned. That makes me more uncomfortable I think than not getting something that I should have earned strangely enough. So, that was the impulse behind what I said. If it leads -- if this situation leads to work, I would be very grateful, but I certainly don't expect it.

LEMON: We can put up the Tyler Perry tweet. Tyler said, you know, OWN's number one drama that they're shooting now. And also it's people like Terry Crews have come out and said, ""I swept floors after the NFL. If I had to do that, I would do that again." Chris Rankins said, "I worked in Wetherspoon's kitchen after being -- and I told you what I would do after I leave here.

OWENS: Yes, you mentioned the Home Depot.

LEMON: I'm going to work in a home and garden department of Home Depot. I'm serious. I get such a zen when I go there. And there's no shame -- every -- I agree with you. Every job is -- has value.

OWENS: Yes, has nobility.

LEMON: It's different. They may be different jobs, but none is better than the other. Thank you, sir.

OWENS: Thank you, sir.

LEMON: It was a pleasure. Thank you. Good luck. I hope you get many, many jobs.

OWENS: I appreciate that.

LEMON: Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.

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