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CNN TONIGHT

Anonymous Trump Official In "New York Times" Op-Ed: I Am Part Of The Resistance; Kavanaugh: No One Is Above the Law; Kavanaugh Questioned on Investigating President; Nike Ad Featuring Colin Kaepernick Set to be Seen on NFL Opener. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired September 5, 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. It is a little pass 11:00 here on the East Coast live will all the new developments for you tonight. The White House under siege after a senior top official had an explosive op-ed in "The New York Times" questioning the President's basic fitness for office.

The unnamed senior staffer criticizes Trump as amoral and impulsive. They are taking rare step of agreeing not to reveal authors name so that not jeopardize his or her job. Yet, this op-ed corroborates details from Bob Woodward's meticulously sourced upcoming book called "Fear." A lot to discuss.

I want to bring in now CNN Political Analyst, Ryan Lizza, CNN Political Commentator, April Ryan and Republican Strategist, Rick Wilson, the author of "Everything Trump Touches Dies."

Good evening to all of you. Ryan, I almost called you April again.

You and April. I always do that. I don't know how I do that.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I look a lot like April.

(LAUGHTER)

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Chris Cuomo, how is it going?

LEMON: That hurts more than anything. Let's get to this, Ryan. We now have more confirmation that people inside Trump's own administration is so fearful about his impact on the country, they are acting to protect the country from him and this anonymous "New York Times" op-ed writer says meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails.

He engages in repetitive rants and his impulsiveness results in half bake ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back. How shocking to you is it that a senior member of the Trump administration would write this and on top of that, there are multiple suspects?

LIZZA: I think it's shocking, but not surprising. What he is laid out here, I think all of us have heard versions of, this right? It's rarely been laid out as clearly and in as much detail as an op-ed. It comes in bits of leaks into the newspaper and some of the longer accounts like Woodward's book and the question raises for me is, if you have this view and you are truly a senior official in the Trump administration, what are your options? Why do you do it this way? And you know, I'm not really someone who thinks that this person is some kind of hero.

LEMON: I'm hearing a lot of that. Tell me why.

LIZZA: Because I think that one, I know why he did it --

LEMON: Or she.

LIZZA: Or she. I think "The Times" used -- he. But maybe they are using it as a generic, you know, he or she. I think that this person has the same relationship with the Trump administration that Republicans in Congress have and that is, you know what, we privately think he is a threat to national security. We privately think that he is undermining norms of democracy. We probably think he is unstable and maybe shouldn't be President, but if we can get tax cuts, judges and deregulation, we'll tolerate a lot of that B.S.

And this person is doing an administrative version of the same thing. He is saying, you know what, I'm a conservative for the tax cuts, but in here thwarting all the stuff that I don't think is good for the country. The reason I think he is doing it, is because Congress has completely advocated their role as a check on the administration. So, I dint really see this personas a hero. He has these views, come out and tell us publicly and get Congress to do something about it.

LEMON: All right. Go ahead.

[23:05:00] STEWART: Don, on top of that, look, we all knew when before Donald Trump even ran he was impulsive, he was irrational and he was disrespectful. That is not a news story. That is not flashing news for a "New York Times" op-ed. The question I had is why would you take a job with someone that you know has that kind of personality? I agree with the guy's policies, but you don't work for someone like that and once you get in there and you are availing yourselves of the lack of the luxury of the White House and Air Force One, don't flatter yourself that you are going to save the world from Donald Trump. Get out of there, go home and work it from the outside.

LEMON: But Alice, what you're saying is true, about his impulsive and all of that, but also this is to do with competency, right? For the job and do you remember everyone kept saying, OK. Surely once this man becomes President of the United States, he will realize the gravity of this position and his role in the present and in history and he will correct his actions. That has not happened.

STEWART: I was one of those that thought he would grow into the job and realize --

LEMON: Has that happened? STEWART: This is a serious job in my view. It has not happened. He

is the Donald Trump that ran for office and to that point, with regard to this of op-ed on the heels of what we are hearing of the Bob Woodward book, I look at this as personnel as policy. When you have personnel that engages like this and you as the President of the United States cannot distinguish between friend and foe in your White House, how can you distinguish between friend and foe on the world stage and that is where we have the question of the competency of this president to do the job.

LEMON: OK. I want everyone to get in here. Rick, can I just read something from someone who I respect a lot. Here is s thought for you, everyone is making a big deal, it is kind of what Ryan says. Everyone is making a big deal about this anonymous op-ed and it is, but the last poll was 85 percent approval rating among Republicans.

The Party is way behind just the base, way beyond just the base like what Trump is doing, they like what Trump is doing. They love the tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. The love the ideological shift to the right of the court. The sad thing is this senior White House official is an out liar in his own Party, because the rest are blind to what he and most on the left see. What do you say to that?

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There is a shrunken Republican Party that loves Donald Trump with the fire of 1,000 suns. Now the person inside the White House who sees that Trump's erratic behavior, who credits himself for being able to steer the ship and block things they don't think are good for the country, I'm sorry, you know, that person is not -- this whole narrative this person is a hero is mistaken. This person needs to get out the hell out of there right now and call B.S. on this situation.

Those temporary gains from regulatory tweaking and executive orders and all the things, this is a Gorsuch defense writ large. This person understands that this man has control of nuclear weapons and is erratic, unstable and right now is up rage watching Fox News with his chin covered in KFC gravy, angry at the world and ready to have a morning tweet storm that is going to set the entire country on fire.

They have a moral responsibility not to just say I am going to make the trains run on time for the crazy authoritarian lunatic in charge. They have a responsibility to come forward and do it publicly and say this is not going to work, the walls are crumbling, this this is going to fall apart. I got to take public action. I got to identify the people that are enabling this man. And I got to take public stand. That is the moral position to have. But I get it, Donald Trump is not attracting people with the strongest moral compass in the world.

LEMON: OK. Alice, you're saying again that you knew it was impulsive. The official gave the instability, many witnessed there were early whispers within the cabinet, invoking the 25th amendment which could start a complex process removing the President, but no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So what should they have done, Alice?

STEWART: Well, in my view, first of all, they should have come public. They should go to the members of Congress and have them take a look at this, and look further into it, but at the end of the day, people out there, Trump's base, the voters out there that elected him, they are not disturbed by this. This is all white (inaudible).

LEMON: Isn't that sad? Come on. That is not an excuse Alice, I mean, that is sad. They should be highly disturbed. Let me say this. I'll let you finish. Because if this happened in the Obama administration, in an Obama White House, Conservatives would be saying this person should be given a medal for saving the republic that oh my gosh, we knew he wasn't suited for office. He was not fit for office. He didn't have enough experience. He should have been a Senator longer. Thank you very much for coming out and exposing this and saving the republic, but we don't have that right now. Go on, please finish, sorry.

[23:10:03] STEWART: Well, we don't have that because the will of the people is for Donald Trump to be the President. He won the presidency and he still has their support because --

LEMON: The will of the people in 2016. Not necessarily right now. There is only 30 -- the high 30s for approval, but go on.

STEWART: True. It is a four-year term. But look, as long as he can continue, the tax cuts are popular with his base and those who continue to support him. Strengthening of our military is popular with his base. Deregulation is popular and if he can continue those policies that he promised --

LEMON: It hurts them. The tax cuts don't help his base. Deregulation doesn't help his base. They think it helps. He tells them that it does. You know who it helps, it helps rich people. It helps people who make lots of money. It doesn't help his base. They think it does, but it doesn't. Stopping people from getting health care or taking away the individual mandate doesn't help his base. It hurts them. They won't have health care. Can't they not see that?

STEWART: No, because he is telling them that these policies are good for them and many of them are. The tax cuts overall are good for the economy, unfortunately you take two steps back with the tariffs that he is imposing, but the reality is, they are not listening -- they are listening to President Trump's tweets. They are listening to another network that talks all wine and roses and that is the message that they are getting and anything they hear to the alternative is fake news and anyone that calls out the President is gutless and that is what his base is hearing and when he goes out on the campaign trail tomorrow night, that is exactly what he is going to say and that is what they will hear.

LEMON: I think she is right, Ryan and what does that say?

LIZZA: I think, this is the problem with what this person did is it doesn't really persuade anyone, right? I mean, bragging that you are part of an inside cabal that is exercising what Woodward has called an administrative coup, I am not really sure it helps anyone, right? It doesn't help people in Congress whose job is oversight and I think what we need, if what this person says in its op-ed is true, what we need are witnesses to come forward and explain what they witnessed in the last two years of the Trump administration. Maybe that would convince some Trump supporters that things aren't as you know, rosy as they are seeing.

That seems to me a lot, you know, that would make this person a true whistle blower. I mean, people call this person a whistle blower today, they aren't blowing any whistle, they are just sort of, you know stroking their own ego and I think it just -- it makes people more cynical about government, it plays into this narrative that Trump has developed about how people inside are out to get him and his supporters will just be completely turned off by this.

LEMON: You-all --

WILSON: Don --

LEMON: Fascinating. Rick, quickly. Because I got to get to the break. What do you want to say?

WILSON: Yes. The first person that comes out and breaks the cone of silence around Trump, their value as someone who help save this country from his craziness is extraordinary. First prize Cadillac, El Dorado. Second price, set of steak knives, third prize, your fired. The first person that moves wins, the rest are going to be rough and stained forever.

LEMON: The first person could become the next President of the United States for all we know. That could be the prize, right there. Thank you-all.

When we come back, the President's latest Supreme Court pick tonight dodging pointed questions about whether a President must respond to a subpoena. Robert Bennett, the attorney who defended President Clinton through the Lewinski scandal says, Brett Kavanaugh is the right man for the job. He explains why next.

[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing ran well into the night tonight. The nominee sticking to his talking points and refusing to say whether President Trump could pardon himself.

So, joining me now is Attorney Robert Bennett, who has known Kavanaugh since the 1990s when they were on the opposite sides of the biggest case in Washington, Bennett representing President Clinton against Paula Jones and Kavanaugh working for the Independent Counsel Kenneth Star, but in a letter written just last week to the chairs of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Bennett wrote this, he said, Brett's integrity quickly won me over and we became close friends despite our differences and the differences between the presidents we serve.

I am forgetting to know him well over many years, I have learned that his outstanding reputation from the Star years on wards is if anything under stated. Brett is an all-star in both his professional and his personal life. Quite a statement there, Mr. Bennett. Thank you for joining us. You're a Democrat. Why are you supporting Brett Kavanaugh for a lifetime position on the court?

ROBERT BENNETT, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT CLINTON AGAINST PAULA JONES: Because, I believe that we have so totally distorted the process now that it is important for someone like myself to speak up. The President of the United States has the right and privilege to nominate who he wants to the Supreme Court and if they are within the main stream and if they are qualified, that should be the end of the discussion, but unfortunately, and shame on both houses, I think what was done to Merrick Garland was outrageous. He was one of the best judges in the country, and I think that Brett Kavanaugh like-wise is one of the best judges.

LEMON: It sounds like you're saying when it comes to both parties, two wrongs don't make it right. So, if what Republicans did with Merrick Garland was wrong, but Democrats should not try to get back on them or try to make it up with this Kavanaugh nomination, right?

BENNETT: Right. This is just getting even. They are both excellent judges and Kavanaugh is more conservative than Garland. No question.

[23:20:03] LEMON: But there is no merit to this whole thing about we didn't get -- we got so many documents, it was a dump. We had never had a chance to read it.

BENNETT: Well, I think that is --

LEMON: Do you think that is the strategy?

BENNETT: I think that is a sham. I mean, and I'll tell you why. Brett Kavanaugh is on the bench for, what, 10, 12 years. He has written hundreds of opinions.

LEMON: is it 12 years over 300 opinions.

BENNETT: That is what you read. That is what he tells you about various issues. So, whoever the staffer was that did this data dump, a day or two ago should be admonished, because it gave the Democrats an argument that they have to read everything and they didn't see it. So, you know and I know they are not going to read any of it.

LEMON: Kavanaugh, talking about him, though, he says he is going to be independent jurist and not fall to political pressures from the president. Democrats in the committee are skeptical. Should we believe him? Should they believe him?

BENNETT: I think they should believe him. I've known this man for a long, long time. I think you can take at face value exactly what he says. He is not a politician.

LEMON: Yes. You know, he was pressed today on all kinds of questions relating to executive power and President Trump. He refuses to answer whether he believes a sitting President can be required to respond to a subpoena and he wouldn't comment on whether a President could pardon himself. If those issues came before the Supreme Court concerning Trump, are you concerned about how he would rule? BENNETT: No, I'm not. And I would be much more concerned if he gave

the country a preview before he heard all of the nuances and facts of the cases. And he did exactly what every nominee does. They say this could come before the court. I can't give you an answer to that question, and what drives me crazy is when the shoe is on the other foot, the Democrats think that is a perfectly rational approach to take for their nominee and when the Republican shoe is on the other foot, the Republicans say well, he is not answering the questions. I mean, this is just blank hypocrisy.

LEMON: Not to jump in on everything, but I just want to get this before we run out of time. This is about Roe v Wade. A lot of couple of times today, here is Kavanaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT KAVANAUGH, NOMINATED AS UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: One of the important things to keep in mind about Roe v Wade is that it has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years. I don't live in a bubble, I understand -- I live in the real world. I understand the importance of the issue. Planned Parenthood versus Casey reaffirmed Roe and did so by considering the factors, so Casey now becomes a President on President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So listen, women who support Roe v Wade are concerned that Kavanaugh could be the deciding vote to weaken or overturn it. How do you read his answer?

BENNETT: Well, I take him at face value. And if he says what he said, I believe him. I do believe that there could be other issues that are generally related to Roe v Wade such as restrictions put on by states and things. You know, I think there could be a cause for a concern.

LEMON: Robert Bennett, we appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.

BENNETT: Thank you, Don, always nice to see you.

LEMON: You, as well.

LEMON: And when we come back, Judge Kavanaugh won't commit to recusing himself in matters involving President Trump. We are going to dig further into how he handled very specific questions related to the president's legal issues and how those answers could have impacted Robert Mueller's investigation.

[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump's latest nominee for Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh wrapping up a full day of grilling on Capitol Hill, they spent trying not to talk about politics or how he would act in cases involving the man who nominated him to the Supreme Court.

So, let's bring in our CNN Legal Analyst, Jennifer Rodgers and Jack Quinn. Good evening to both of you. Good to have you on.

JACK QUINN, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Good evening.

LEMON: Jack, I am going to start with you. At today's hearing Kavanaugh said he wouldn't commit to recusing himself from any case involving criminal or civil liability for the President. Is that just the answer the President wants to hear?

QUINN: Well, you know, look, it's very hard to get any of these nominees admittedly to be pinned down on any of these points, but to precisely the point you raise, namely his views on executive power and the extent to which it can be questioned is really troubling.

Now look, I know Brett. I like him personally, but you know, I was there on the other side when he prosecuted president Clinton vigorously, along with Ken Star, years later and by the way as a judge, he wrote a law review article which I found frankly breathtaking in which he said that Presidents while sitting in office should be excused from some of the ordinary responsibilities of citizenship and that is specifically they shouldn't be subject to civil liability. They shouldn't be subject to criminal liability, they shouldn't even be bothered with investigations. They should -- the only recourse, he said that should be available in the case of potential wrongdoing by a president, is impeachment.

Well, by the way, I don't know how you can impeach somebody if you're handcuffed when it comes to investigating them. But anyway, I do -- again, I like him. I just find this whole thing so troubling particularly in a context in which the legislative branch of government is completely missing in action in terms of providing a check and balance on president with power.

LEMON: I see your point. Listen, we like a lot of people. It doesn't mean they should be a Supreme Court justice or it doesn't mean that they should be president of the United States or an attorney or whatever. So, I see your point though. Let's drill in more, Jennifer, because Kavanaugh was asked whether it was constitutional to investigate a sitting president and here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I've said what I've repeated many times here on investigation and indictment of a sitting president, number one, I've never taken a position on it. And number two, it's important to underscore the Justice Department for 45 years -- this is the Justice Department, not me -- the Justice Department for 45 years has taken the position in written opinions that a sitting president may not be indicted while in office, but it has to be deferred, not immunity but a deferral.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Jennifer, he says he hasn't taken a position on it. I mean, but do his words match the writings on this issue?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he's being very careful, right? And if you carefully parse what he wrote in the law review article, what he says really is that it's a constitutional question as to whether the president can even be prosecuted at all. So, he doesn't come out and say the way that he answers that constitutional question, but this is the way that President Trump --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Is that another non-answer?

RODGERS: From him, yes. Exactly. So, that's the way Trump supporters are talking. They're saying, oh, this is a serious constitutional question here. The president has essentially unfettered powers pursuant to Article Two of the constitution. And so, that's the way that they speak. So, he is not defining the question but saying no real questions here, which is essentially saying, I don't think the president should be prosecuted while in office.

QUINN: If I may just add to that, I mean, remember, both John Dowd and Rudy Giuliani have essentially already laid out the argument that a president should not be prosecuted and a president should not be impeached for carrying out functions that are constitutionally within his power even if he carries them out in a corrupt manner.

RODGERS: Right. Well -- and they are advocates, right. Judge Kavanaugh is being more careful about that than they are --

QUINN: He is definitely more careful, but he -- that law review article cleaned up a lot of past history in terms of his view about prosecuting presidents.

LEMON: But so let's -- again, Senator Amy Klobuchar asked whether he, Kavanaugh, believes such investigations are only acceptable in impeachment proceedings. His reply again, "I did not take a position on that constitutionally, period." He used that response a number of times. Cop out, Jennifer?

RODGERS: Yeah, I think so. I mean, you know, look, he's -- we don't learn anything in these confirmation hearings anymore. All he's trying to do is kind of, you know, push things, push things back so that he doesn't have to answer anything. He just, you know, oh, it's a hypothetical or I haven't exactly taken that position. It's very frustrating to go to these hearings where they're not learning anything.

You know what they really need to be pushing him on here is his record, I think. And the votes are not going to be about what happens when a case comes before the court some day in terms of the president. It ought to be about the record on abortion and gun control and healthcare and other things.

LEMON: So, Jack, Democratic Senator Patrick Lee asked Kavanaugh, President Trump claims he has an absolute right to pardon himself. Does he or Kavanaugh said since the question is hypothetical, he can't begin to answer in this context as a sitting judge and nominee to the Supreme Court? What do you think of that? QUINN: I think it's one of the craziest things I've heard. I mean

first of all the etymology of the word pardon conveys the notion this is something one person grants to another. You grant somebody a pardon. You can't grant that thing to yourself. No man, as it's said, shall be the judge in his own case. If one could excuse oneself from a criminal prosecution, you would be the judge in your own case and that's totally contrary to everything that this constitution stands for.

LEMON: You know I'm laughing because if you stub your toe or slam your finger, you don't go, ouch, pardon me, me. I crack myself up. OK. Both of stay with me. When we come back, an anonymous senior Trump administration official revealing why cabinet members considered invoking the 25th amendment to remove President Trump from office.

[23:35:06] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So one of the biggest revelations from today's bombshell op-ed from an anonymous senior administration official that they were, quote, "Early whisperers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment." Back with me now, Jennifer Rodgers and Jack Quinn. So, talk to me, Jennifer, about the 25th Amendment. Other than impeachment, it's really lengthy -- a legal, I should say, mechanism by which power can be taken away from a sitting president. How would this go into motion? First, the vice president would have to say and cabinet members have to say, OK, he's not fit.

[23:40:02] RODGERS: Yes. So, the amendment really is mostly about just transferring power if the president becomes incapacitated. So, if the president is undergoing an operation or something happens, has a heart attack or shot, you know, it's basically just who is going to take over. You need to have a clear way for someone to take over the powers.

And as they drafted this in the wake of President Kennedy's assassination, it became clear they also should have a provision in the event that the president himself couldn't transfer power, you know, like if the president has a stroke or something. And so, they came up with this mechanism in Section 4 by which the president -- the vice president and the majority of the cabinet have to write to Congress to say that the president is incapacitated in some way and then transferred its -- power gets transferred to the vice president but only permanently if within 21 days, two-thirds of both Houses of Congress also agree to that. So, it's a very onerous way to take power away from the president, much onerous --

LEMON: It's never been tested.

RODGERS: It's never been done. And it's much harder road than impeachment. So, I think folks out there saying, hey, you know, maybe the 25th Amendment is a way to get rid of President Trump, not going to happen.

LEMON: Yes, I -- thank you for saying that. And it is different. Explain the difference between this and impeachment, Jack -- I mean because you do -- for impeachment, you need two-thirds of the Senate as well, but go on.

QUINN: Yeah, but in the case of the 25th Amendment, the driving force, as Jennifer said, is really the vice president and the cabinet. So, it's the people closest to the president, not the Congress, which is acting against him. I totally agree that the likelihood of this -- of course, we said many times in the short course of this administration that the likelihood of something happening is, you know, non-exist and lo and behold it happens.

But you know, what worries me, frankly, about the discussion of this is that I worry that the president will start looking around at the cabinet and wonder who is on his team and whether he needs to purge people who don't appear to be loyalist. It would not surprise me if those thoughts didn't run through his head and that's really worrisome.

LEMON: Why it is -- why it is that worry you that he is going to purge him? I mean there's been so much turnover in this administration.

QUINN: I know, but we need -- we need for the core officials of the cabinet to be a stable operating group for many reasons many were reading about and thinking about and talking with others about after reading that "New York Times" --

LEMON: But don't you think in a way they are enabling them -- they're enabling someone who -- and this is them. They are saying it -- someone who they believe is not fit for office. It doesn't have, as we said during the campaign, the temperament to be president of the United States?

QUINN: You mean, whoever wrote that?

LEMON: Whoever is in office, the people who they think are saving the republic but maybe just enablers?

QUINN: I think there's something to that. I must say, look, I found that thing so surprising. I don't want to sound crazy her, but part of me thought, you know, this is just going to inflame the Trump base. And you know, I even wondered whether this was sort of put out there as some kind of faint. I hope not. But yeah, I don't -- I don't know. But clearly, from the reaction we have heard about on CNN and read about in the followup reporting, you know, the president's reaction to that anonymous op-ed was just over the top, but you know it wouldn't surprise me if he didn't start looking for heads to roll.

LEMON: Well, his reaction is -- proves and his tweets and what came out of his mouth when he gave that impromptu, we just talked about it there proves what these folks are saying that his you know -- it's erratic, his behavior.

RODGERS: Yes, of course. I mean I don't think anyone read that op-ed and said, wow, that's a surprise. We don't think that --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Thank you very much. I read it and I was surprised at it. I was like, wow, I can't believe someone came forward and put this on.

RODGERS: True.

LEMON: It would have been better if they had done it, you know, and identified themselves. But when you read -- I'm not surprised by that. We've been saying that all along.

(CROSSTALK)

RODGERS: No one is surprised, which is why it kind of makes you think, what was the point of that? If you really want to make a point, do it in public, resign and go out and talk about it. This is just kind of like we've heard all of this before.

LEMON: Yeah.

QUINN: And Don't you think they will be identified relatively soon?

LEMON: Yes. But how long did the take for deep throat (ph)? Decades, jack Quinn, decades.

QUINN: That was a long time ago.

LEMON: Yeah. That was before Twitter.

QUINN: Exactly.

LEMON: Yeah. That's when we had CB"s Breaker 19. Maybe we'll find out that way. Thank you all. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

[23:45:07] When we come back, Nike's ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, well, it's coming out today and the president predictively is responding by attacking the brand and NFL. Former NFL Warrick Dun weighs in on that. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump continues to rail against the NFL and now Nike for its new campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. Here is part of ad that's set to release tomorrow night during the first NFL game of the season.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN KAEPERNICK, AMERICAN FOOTBALL QUARTERBACK: Don't become the best basketball player on the planet. Be bigger than basketball. Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:49:55] LEMON: Joining me now to discuss, Warrick Dunn, a former NFL player and minority owner of the Atlanta Falcons. Falcons -- Warren, Atlanta Falcons play in the first game tomorrow night against the Super Bowl champion, Philadelphia Eagles. Good evening to you, sir. Thank you for joining us.

WARRICK DUNN, MINORITY OWNER, ATLANTA FALCONS: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: What do you make of Nike's decision to use Colin Kaepernick as their spokesperson?

DUNN: I think it's brilliant. They just raised his profile. And because Kaepernick over the years -- over the last couple of years has been the face of this movement of social justice and to be the first guy to come out and really talk about the issues that black kids and black men are being shot and killed, I commend him. And he is if first guy that stepped out. And I think Nike, you know, they set a precedence that a company have come out and they support him and they're going to raise his profile. So, I think it's a brilliant campaign.

LEMON: Do you think it's a financial or you think it's a moral decision?

DUNN: It's a moral decision. It can't be about financial -- finances. Just think overall they understand the issues. You have to think too that a lot of their athletes or athlete spokesmen are African- American. So, they have a lot of that demographic. So, I think it's important that they really go after the issues and not necessarily things that are financial.

LEMON: President Trump is responding to this new campaign -- Nike campaign. Here is what he posted on Twitter earlier today. He said, "Just like the NFL whose ratings have gone way down, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that that it would be this way. As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch and always will until they stand for the flag.

Why do you think the president is continuing his attacks on the NFL? Do you think that he's going to keep it? Yes, of course, he is going to keep it throughout the season.

DUNN: Well, yeah. He's definitely going to keep it up. But I mean it's just a deflection. I mean he is just trying to change the subject. And he's not really focused on the issues. I mean these are, in my opinion, are not disrespecting the flag. They are patriots because I looked up the definition of patriotism and it's about love for or to defend your country. And these guys, they love their country. They love their community. And they wanted us to be a better America. So, I think he was just going to use us as a distraction.

LEMON: He was back in August the president tweeted that he thought NFL players were, quote, "Unable to define what exactly they were protesting." I mean from your conversations with players around the league, do you think that's the case?

DUNN: No, sir. That's not even close. Right now, he is not willing to come to the table and really talk about the issues to see, you know, their point of view. I mean you have to be open minded and willing to listen to the other side. You got to remember -- I mean this guy has probably had a spoon -- silver spoon in his mouth his whole life. He's never been in the communities a lot of these guys have grown up in. So, he can't relate to them. I don't think he really understands them. And of course, who is going to use this to his benefit? And that's what he is going with every issue in his life so far.

LEMON: Yes. Let's talk about how the league has struggling to come up with some consistency or consistent policy regarding the anthem. Earlier in the year, they adopted a policy that requires players to stand for the anthem or just remain in the locker room. And then they backed down from that after a challenge from the players union. How would you like to see the league handle protest this season? Would you like to see them just say, listen, we don't tell people what to do. You mind your business and we'll mind our own?

DUNN: Well, I think what the league did is put it on that situation because they got a lot of flack. But I think at the same time as players and being ex-player, if you really want to talk about the issues, what are you doing on Tuesdays, how can you prove to all of the fans, all the owners that you care about your community, that you're going out every Tuesday and giving back and then tighten your community. If those guys are doing that, then they have a right to say things.

I think so far I have a lot of guys that are going back, getting involved, doing police rights, you know, talking to kids who was really trying to impact their community. So, I think they are moving in the right direction, but they need to continue the conversation but also have action -- have an action plan to go out and definitely give back and affect their community in a positive way.

LEMON: I'm glad you mentioned police because the viewers should, Warrick, that you really bring a different perspective to this topic because you're a former NFL player, you're a member of the black community. Tragically, your mother, who was a police officer, was murdered in 1993 while she was off duty. How did all of the different hats that you have worn shape your views on players' protests?

DUNN: Well, I can understand it but also understand what police officers go through. My mom had been a police officer. She lost her life in the line of duty and she sacrificed and put her life on the line everyday for her community. But at the same time, my mom got to know the people in her community that she was serving.

[23:55:05] And I would advise other police officers across the country to get to know your constituents, get to know the citizens in your community that you're serving because that can help bridge the gap. But at the same time, as players, they are looking at -- we have black kids, black men that are being shot and killed and there's no justice at the end. It's like we have issues with that. You know, there are great -- there are good cops and there are also bad cops, but I do understand the players issue and I side with them.

LEMON: Thank you, Warrick Dunn.

DUNN: I appreciate it. Thank you.

LEMON: I appreciate your time. DUNN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.

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