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SCOTUS Pick Calls Trump's Attacks on Judges 'Demoralizing'; Senate Confirms Jeff Sessions as Attorney General; Trump: Nordstrom Treating Ivanka 'So Unfairly'; First Lady Melania Trump's Lawsuit; Fact-Checking the President; Collision of Comedy and Politics. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 8, 2017 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: President Trump's Supreme Court nominee breaking with the president. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Neil Gorsuch telling senators, who will decide if he gets a lifetime position on the high court, that he finds Trump's attacks on the judiciary demoralizing and disheartening. But the president not letting up his criticism of the judges who will decide the challenges to his travel ban.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I listened to a bunch of stuff last night on television that was disgraceful. It was disgraceful.


LEMON: And the president blasting Nordstrom for dropping his daughter's fashion line. Can he really do that? We'll discuss all that. Lot to get through tonight. I want to bring in now CNN's chief White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, I guess he can do that because he actually did it. So, Jeff, President Trump's own Supreme Court pick is slamming his comments on the judiciary. What's going on?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, this is really coming at the end of an extraordinary daylong series of comments from the president that started out with some really sharp and harsh words this morning when he was speaking to law enforcement officials. It continued, of course, throughout the day.

And the president has been going after judges really for a long time. It's been a hallmark of his life when he's been filing lawsuit after lawsuit. But as president, it takes on such a different tone.

Well, his nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, who just eight days ago was right here at the White House being nominated, he said that he is disheartened by this. He said he's dispirited by these comments here and he's certainly echoing the feeling of federal judges everywhere and other judges here. So, he made those comments in a meeting with the Democratic senators as he's making his way through Capitol Hill. Now, there might be some strategy here at play as well because you can be sure when those confirmation hearings begin, either later this month or early next month, he is going to be asked about those comments. So, he's already putting some distance between himself and the president, at least on those incendiary comments.

LEMON: And, Jeff, tonight the Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions to be the next Attorney General of the United States, capping off a really bitter fight over his nomination. How did that all go down tonight?

ZELENY: It was an incredibly bitter fight and he is going to be sworn in tomorrow here at the Oval Office at 10:30 in the morning. It's on the president's schedule for tomorrow. That is a sign of how invested the president is in this.

But, Don, this was a bitter hearing. And just 24 days or so ago - 24 hours or so ago, excuse me, Senator Elizabeth Warren, as we all know, was not allowed to continue to speak on this. So, she kept her platform going all day long as she was railing against Senator Sessions' record and background and against Republicans.

And she continued it this evening after he was confirmed. She was sending out a flurry of messages. Let's look at a couple of them. She said this. She said, "If Jeff sessions turns a blind eye while Donald Trump violates the Constitution or breaks the law, he'll hear from all of us."

She went on to say, "And you better believe every senator who voted to put Jeff Sessions' radical hatred into the Justice Department will hear from all of us too." So, she was putting Republicans there on notice as well.

But also, Senator Sessions was delivering a final speech to the Senate. So, he thanked everyone, even senators who didn't vote for him in his confirmation. And he said he will do his best at the Justice Department. But, Don, this is certainly getting him off on a rocky start to his new position starting tomorrow as Attorney General.

LEMON: To say the least. Thank you, Jeff Zeleny. I want to bring in now CNN's chief legal analyst, another Jeff, Jeffrey Toobin; also legal analyst, Laura Coates; senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson; and defense attorney, Alan Dershowitz, the author of Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for Unaroused Voters. I always like saying that.

So, Jeffrey, the president's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch says the president's attack on the judiciary, he said it was demoralizing and disheartening. Your reaction?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think Judge Gorsuch was artful. And I think true to his personality, in that he is a sort of restrained person, he registered discontent, but in a mild way and politically, I think, helped himself by separating himself a little from the president and proving - or trying to prove that he will be independent, not a rubberstamp.

LEMON: A strategy you think, though?

TOOBIN: I think there's an element of strategy there, but I also think it's sincere. A lot of judges are very upset by this kind of criticism. Frankly, I think President Trump is entirely entitled to criticize judges.

We have this idea that judges can't be criticized. I don't think there's anything that they are exempt from criticism. The problem is he's using these sort of infantile, juvenile things like calling them so-called judges, which is ridiculous.

[22:05:05] LEMON: Or it doesn't help your case if you have cases in front of these so-called judges.

TOOBIN: I don't know if it's that. I just think it's just not very persuasive criticism.

LEMON: Nia-Malika Henderson, what do you think the - how do you think the president is going to react or is reacting to Judge Gorsuch's comments?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: In some ways, he's probably been prepped on this, A, because he's seen this before with nominees that have come before Congress and have had to separate themselves from this president on any number of issues, like NATO, like Russia, like sanctions, and torture, for instance.

So, he has seen that. And it seems like he's taking it OK. I imagine as well that he's probably been prepped for this by people around him. They, obviously, knew that they were going to get this question, this question about judicial independence from the White House because of all of these issues that have come up around this case.

So, I imagine that he'll be OK with it. And remember, this is probably the one bright spot over this last almost three weeks for this president. You ask Republicans, they think that this rollout was flawless and they also like this candidate. So, I think he wants to make this work.

So, I can't imagine that even though this president has exhibited that he can be thin-skinned when criticized, I think on this, he's smart enough to know that this is in some ways a strategy and this is what it's going to take to get this nominee off through the process.

LEMON: So, you don't think he's going to go, 'oh, no, now I choose the other guy.'

HENDERSON: No, I don't think so. That would be weird. We've seen some odd things out of this White House -

LEMON: Do you think it's strategy as I asked Jeffrey that maybe it will get some Democrats on board and they both know it?

HENDERSON: Yes. I do think it's strategy and I think it's how he feels as well. And I think, again, he was prepped for this. I talked to some folks who were kind of around the prepping for him. So, he knew that this question was going to come up. And so, he had that answer thing.

I think it will do him some good politically with those Democrats because, of course, Democrats are saying that they're going to need to - that Trump is going to need 60 votes to get this through.

LEMON: All right. Laura, still there's no decision on the Ninth Circuit. They haven't made a decision on this travel ban. But the president is still bashing the hearings. I heard some things on television last night that - I'll let him finish. Here he is.


TRUMP: I listened to a bunch of stuff last night on television that was disgraceful. I don't ever want to call a court biased. So, I won't call it biased. And we haven't had a decision yet. But courts seem to be so political. And it would be so great for our justice system if they would be able to read a statement and do what's right.


LEMON: So, you heard Mr. Toobin saying judges are not beyond reproach, but is he undermining the judiciary system?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think he fails to understand their role at this time. The one comment that he got right is they have not made a decision yet. Remember, the Ninth Circuit's role in this case is to figure out whether or not they should reinstate a ban that has been suspended.

And they want the government to say, tell me why you're harmed if we return to the status quo if we had our vetting measures in place already for these seven countries. If you can't tell us that, then we're not going to go back and flip-flop into a chaotic time again.

So, I think what he fails to understand is that we haven't reached the merits of the case, the constitutionality of it. Then criticize if you don't believe their opinion is right and valid. But, right now, he's criticizing the process, which really undermines his own credibility.

LEMON: Now, to Alan Dershowitz. Jeff Zeleny reported that the lawyers at the White House and the Justice Department are cringing at the president's attacks. Will his comments have an impact on this case, Alan?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR, "HARVARD LAW SCHOOL": I don't think so. Judges are usually above that. Jeffrey Toobin is right that we all criticize judges. That's how we make a living as law professors.

I wrote a book called Supreme Injustice where I attacked viciously the five justices who instituted the stay in Bush v. Gore. And I used some pretty strong language. And I remember meeting Justice Scalia afterward and he was upset at the language, but we remained on very cordial terms.

I think, of course, what he should have been upset at, President Trump, listening to the argument, is that his lawyer didn't do a very good job. His lawyer really didn't present the best case for the government. They could've presented a much stronger case.

He started on the wrong foot by getting right to the policy issues, which invited the court to start talking about whether the president really had the authority or whether the authority could be taken over by other people instead of getting to the standing and other stronger issues that would help justify, I think, the Trump approach.

So, he is legitimately angry, but taking it out on the judges individually, calling them so-called, calling him a so-called judge is not going to enamor him to the judges or the justices. But I don't really think, in the end, it's going to have a big impact.

And, of course, judges are political. Best proof of that is what President Trump did. He appointed Gorsuch instead of the person who had previously been appointed. That was a political judgment, a political decision, to put somebody on the Supreme Court who reflects his politics closer than Merrick Garland would have reflected his politics.

LEMON: It's all about politics. When you're criticizing the judges, Alan and Jeffrey, you didn't use the - it is like when we say, I respect my colleague here, then you know it's coming. When he uses the low tones like, I heard something -

DERSHOWITZ: I actually called - I actually called the justices hypocritical.


DERSHOWITZ: I said that they had failed to follow their earlier precedents and they had voted their politics in Bush v. Gore rather than the law. I was pretty darn tough.

One - other interesting point. I was actually indicted in Italy about 10 years ago for attacking a judge who had freed terrorists. I said the judge had rendered a decision -

LEMON: Verbally, not physically.

DERSHOWITZ: No, I was sitting in Cambridge in my office being interviewed by La Stampa newspaper and I said that the Judge Ritten (ph) a Magna Carta for terrorism. The next thing I knew, she had charged me with criminal defamation. And I presented myself in Italy with my hands like this. And I said, please, let's have a trial. I want to defend myself. Of course, they never brought me to trial.

LEMON: Oh, my gosh!

DERSHOWITZ: But in many countries, you can be arrested for criticizing judges.

LEMON: Yes, that's a story you tell over a beer, Alan. Thank you. I wish I had a beer. It was an interesting story.

So, Nia, this is the president's first run-in with the US government's checks and balances system. How difficult do you think it's going to be for former real estate mogul, used to calling all the shots, to have to deal with this and other issues, especially considering business and so on and so on?

HENDERSON: Yes. I think this is new for him, right? If you think about the Trump organization, a pretty tiny organization, 22,000 employees or so compared to the federal government, and him as head of this federal government with so much bureaucracy, so many different agencies and so many different relationships that he's trying to have with different countries.

And he has, obviously, presented himself as someone who can take those skills of being a businessman and transfer them to the White House, and we'll see, right?

If that old - you look at Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan thought - he, obviously, was good at basketball, didn't work out so well at baseball. And I think in some of these early exchanges and engagements he's had in trying to be that tough negotiator, it's not clear that those same skills are going to work to his benefit in the White House.

LEMON: But even in the presentation of that question, perhaps it was - we're sort of presenting this - the president as some naive person, new boy like, shouldn't he have known.

If you're going to run for president of the United States, shouldn't you know that you're going to have to answer to the American people, that you're no longer a CEO of your own company, you actually work for the American people and you're going to have to do things that go with that job?

TOOBIN: Well - but I think the fascinating thing in the 20 days of the Trump presidency is that he is not changing. He said he's not going to start - we spent the entire campaign saying, oh, the pivot to the presidential demeanors is coming.

LEMON: Never happened.

TOOBIN: It's never happened, it's never going to happen.

LEMON: He's going to keep tweeting. We will be talking about it for the next four years. He's not going to change.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. And we will see how that goes.

DERSHOWITZ: And many of the people love that. Many people love that. They think he's authentic.

HENDERSON: Yes. I think that's right.

COATES: Democracy will force him to change. He has now two different checks on himself he didn't have when he was - DERSHOWITZ: Well, and he doesn't realize that in our country, we're the only country in the world where the judiciary has as much power, theoretically at least, as the presidency, and he's not used to that. And he just doesn't understand that judges can actually constrain him from doing what he wants to do. This is a learning curve.

LEMON: It's a very good point that it will force him. You said that what will -

COATES: Democracy will force him.

LEMON: Democracy will force him. Interesting. Everybody, stay with me. Nia-Malika, stay with me. Everybody else, thank you very much.

Up next, President Trump slams Nordstrom for dropping his daughter's - his daughter Ivanka's fashion line. But tonight, the retailer is fighting back.


[22:17:53] LEMON: President Trump calling out Nordstrom for dropping his daughter Ivanka's fashion line. Here to discuss now, Timothy O'Brien, Executive Editor at "Bloomberg View" and author of Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald, CNN's senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, Shannon Coulter, co-founder of "#GrabYourWallet" campaign, and Richard Painter who was chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush.

Hello all of you. Nia, welcome back.

Richard, first to you. Today, President Trump slammed Nordstrom for discontinuing his daughter's fashion line. He tweeted this. He said, "My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She is a great person. Always pushing me to do the right thing. Terrible!

Is this an abuse of power from the president?

RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, it is. A company should not be subjected to this type of attack by the president of the United States simply because the company refused or decided to stop doing business with the president's daughter.

He should be using his position as president for the good of the American people.

LEMON: Richard, can you please standby. Can you guys standby because I can't hear a word of what you're saying. I need to hear what you're saying. So, we'll take a break. I'll get my earpiece fixed. And then, we'll be right back after this.


[22:23:03] LEMON: All right. And we're back. Gang's all here, do we have him? Everybody? Can you hear me now?

HENDERSON: We are here.

LEMON: You can hear me, but I couldn't hear you. I can hear everybody. OK.

So, Richard, I'm going to re-ask the question. Today, the president slammed Nordstrom for discontinuing his daughter's fashion line. Here's what he tweeted. He said, "My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She is a great person. Always pushing me to do the right thing. Terrible!"

Same question, is this an abuse of power from the president?

PAINTER: Yes, it is an abuse of power. This just isn't right. The president should not use the power of his office to attack a company for declining to do business with a member of the president's family. He is there to serve the American people, not to use his office for private gain.

And furthermore, Nordstrom, in every situation that arises between Nordstrom and this administration, any part of the administration, there is always going to be a question, in any controversy, of whether Nordstrom is persona non grata not only in the White House, but in the Trump administration because it refused to do business with President Trump's daughter or stopped doing business with her.

And this isn't right. That company has every right of every other company in the United States to be treated fairly by the president and by his administration. And he did not reflect that in his actions today.

LEMON: Yes. As we are told from the store that it wasn't doing well, so they were simply doing what they had to do in order to make a profit, to do business.

And, Nia, beyond that, the president's tweet about Nordstrom was retweeted by the official POTUS account. This is generally reserved for government issues. How do you see this use of Twitter while in office? And is it helping or hurting him?

HENDERSON: Well, his use of Twitter in office is basically the same as it was when he wasn't in office. And there really is no distinction, I don't think, in terms of his Twitter account and the POTUS Twitter account, right?

[22:25:00] When he tweets, he is tweeting as POTUS and he's using the office of the presidency. And in this case, in a way to criticize a private business. I think, in some ways, we can see that Trump still has a great support among Republicans. He's at 90 percent among Republicans. So, in that way, I think Twitter doesn't necessarily hurt him with that constituency.

I think it definitely hurts in the sense that - it makes his people who have to go out there and talk about all these extraneous issues - Sean Spicer, for instance, today had to go out and talk about this issue with Nordstrom. You have people on our air, Jason Chaffetz. You have to answer to what the president is doing on Twitter. I think it's sort of Donald Trump's at his most emotional, at his most unguarded. And in many ways, his followers, the people who voted for him, like that. I'm not sure that it does much good in terms of governing, in terms of helping him stay on -

LEMON: But even if the people who follow him, they should know, we should not be talking about Donald Trump and his business practices. That is a clear conflict of interest regardless if you support him or you don't.

Nordstrom released a statement tonight defending their decision to drop Ivanka Trump's line. And it says in part, "We made this decision based on performance." That's what every business does. "Over the past year and particularly in the last half of 2016, sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn't make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now."

And again, that's what most businesses do. If it doesn't make good business sense, you get rid of the product or you tamp it down a little bit. The White House says it was personal. Here is the Press Secretary Sean Spicer earlier today.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think this was less about his family business and an attack on his daughter. And for someone to take out their concern with his policies on a family member of his is just not acceptable and the president has every right as a father to stand up for them.


LEMON: His daughter is a businesswoman and is a grown woman who's had a business. Is this an attack on his daughter? She's not 12 years old.

TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "BLOOMBERG VIEW": This was a business decision. Once again, Sean Spicer is misrepresenting what occurred. Nordstrom made a decision, I think, in January to end the relationship. Ivanka Trump, I believe, knew about it back in January.

LEMON: But even before that, the Ivanka Trump brand, the line has been declining since he ran for president. There were issues with people not wanting to buy it and it wasn't selling as well. That's again part of the process. If you run for public office, that's something that could happen and they should have thought about it.

O'BRIEN: Well, and this White House should be figuring out what messages they want. And what they're having to deal with is that Donald Trump - one, the family doesn't have any clear boundaries around conflicts of interest. He's completely mingling policymaking with deal-making.

And then secondarily, they personalize everything. And you have Sean Spicer essentially propagandizing again today.

LEMON: He shouldn't be talking about Ivanka Trump's businesses at all. That has nothing to do with -

O'BRIEN: Supposedly, she moved away from these businesses. They said that she had parted from both the Trump organization and her private brands. So, presumably, she shouldn't be even operating those.

LEMON: And, Shannon, when I said that her business hasn't been doing as well as it was for a long time now, you wanted to weigh in on that.

SHANNON COULTER, CO-FOUNDER, "#GRABYOURWALLET": Yes. There was an early Fortune poll that got published by Morning Consult, so this was long before the election that showed that less than one in four women would purchase an Ivanka Trump product at that point. And that was well before a lot of the events that have unfolded since had taken place.

And I think what we have to really look at here is Ivanka's business decisions as a businesswoman, to align herself with a man who questioned the nationality of our country's first black president, with a man who has now instituted a Muslim ban, I've seen a huge spike in interest and activity around the boycott since that happened.

Those are business decisions and those are brand level decisions and these are the repercussions of those decisions.

LEMON: Yes. Shannon, I have to tell people that you started this hashtag. It's #GrabYourWallet on Twitter. You started it this fall. It's a boycott of Trump businesses that now has more than 230,000 tweets. Do you see this decision as a win for your cause, from Nordstrom and others?

COULTER: Absolutely. So, I think that Nordstrom was number one on our boycott list precisely because of how beloved the brand is and how much consumers wanted to return to shopping Nordstrom.

We had a vote and tried to sort of prioritize the most boycottable brands of all the companies on the list, and there were over 50, and Nordstrom I think was number one because there's a sincere desire to do business with them again.

And since they made this announcement that they're phasing out Ivanka Trump, I've seen a huge flood of love and desire to return to shopping and it's really nice to see.

LEMON: Richard, I have to ask you, there's also Melania Trump's lawsuit over a report in a British paper. The suit says that the report hurt her chance to establish "multimillion dollar business relationships" during the years in which she would be "one of the most photographed women in the world."

[22:30:11] What's your reaction to the first lady's case here?

PAINTER: Well, she has every right to try to make money on her own. But she should not be trying to make money off of being first lady. And the complaint filed in New York state court specifically said that she was going to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity during a multi-year term - we all know what that means - to make a lot of money and that means making money off being first lady.

That is not right. And now, they've retracted that and said that's not true. So, the lawyers have filed a complaint with the judge in New York, that is false. That complaint needs to be revised. This is the type of controversy we just don't need.

And this is not a Democrat/Republican thing. I'm a free market Republican, but I don't think that department stores should be bullied into selling merchandise for the president's daughter, by the White House, and I don't think that the White House should be used, the position of first lady should be used to merchandise.

There's a free market and that's wonderful. There's also a government and the government should be staying out of the business world and stop trying to steer money and business deals toward the Trump family or anybody else.

LEMON: And it's only been, what, about 20 days. So, thanks, panel. I appreciate it. Sorry about the little technical difficulty there. I wish we had more time.

Coming up. Is Donald Trump's White House the home of the whopper? We're going to talk about falsehoods put forward by the president next.


[22:35:34] LEMON: Today, the president said that terrorism is a far bigger threat than any of us can understand, but given his track record of alternative facts, can we trust that he's telling us the truth about that?

Let's discuss now with Jennifer Steinhauer. She's a congressional reporter for "The New York Times". And "New York Times" columnist Frank Bruni. Together, they are the authors of A Meatloaf in Every Oven: Two Chatty Cooks and Dozens of Recipes - from Mom's to Mario Batali's. And I found one my chair today when I got into the office. So, thank you very much.

FRANK BRUNI, "NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST: A meatloaf or the book?




LEMON: Both. It was both. No, the book was there and I can't wait to read it.

First to you, thank you. And welcome to the show. Thank you for coming back. Frank, President Donald Trump says a lot of things that just aren't true. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You've seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe, it's happening. It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it.

The murder rate is at the highest it's been in, I guess, from 45 to 47 years.

The field was - it looked like 1 million, 1.5 million people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there. And they said Donald Trump did not draw well. I said it was almost raining. The rain should have scarred them away. But God looked down and he said, we're not going to let it rain on your speech.


LEMON: That is just - that's been since election day. For anyone who is looking to pivot, it never came. How can he - how long can he keep saying things like this?

BRUNI: Well, forever, because he enjoys it. But when you listen to it in a sequence like that, you realize that he is such a narcissist. He has to convince himself of his own greatness. So, all the circumstances around him have to be scaled to the sense of his own greatness.

Every crowd has to be the biggest. Terrorism has to be way worse than you think and he's going to protect you from it. It's all about creating a set of circumstances that enlarge him.

LEMON: So, I guess, a lot of people liked that and enough to make him president of the United States. What does that say about America?

BRUNI: Well, I think people voted for him for a whole lot of reasons. And some of them, I think, look at this and laugh. But when you put everything under the umbrella of disruption, I'm different and I'm going to disrupt, you've bought yourself forgiveness on a lot of different fronts.

Because if you're saying I mean to be a different kind of cat, sometimes that cat is more attractive than other times, but this is all part of me being a shock to the system. I think he gets away with a lot with certain of his followers because it all falls under that rubric.

LEMON: Basically, many times when you listen to the administration, they'll say they are - a cat will be standing there saying, I'm an alternative dog, which is not -

JENNIFER STEINHAUER, "NEW YORK TIMES" REPORTER: Well, that is the amazing thing, is many of these alternative facts can be resolved with a quick Google.

The thing that I find most disturbing and interesting are the small things, like the rain. Rain, we were there. We know whether there was rain or not on Inauguration Day. It was on camera. We saw it. It happened five minutes ago and suddenly there was rain and there wasn't rain.

These small little things that are not policy-based, they are there for the human eye to see. That's the part that I find the most strange.

LEMON: Yes. And for the people who were there, at the inauguration, like me, who actually saw the crowds and who were there for the other inaugurations, and there was a big difference.

You wrote - there was an article, I should say. You didn't write this article. There's an article fact-checking the president's lies in Slate today.

And it says this, Jennifer. Repeating a falsehood, even as part of a meticulously researched article that debunks it, actually reinforces the falsehood. The human brain seems to experience fact-checking as a statement followed by a bunch of Charlie Brown teacher noises, like whaa-whaa whaa-whaa-whaa. Do you agree with that? When we refute a lie, does it reinforce the lie?

STEINHAUER: In some degree. I think the problem that we're in right now in this country where people are absorbing the truth that they want - they want to be their truth, the truth that reinforces the truth that they've already thought was the truth.

And in terms of these fact-checks, I'm not even sure that people are necessarily seeing them, right? People are in these silos of where they get their information and they're not necessarily even receiving those fact-checks?

LEMON: So, what do we do? Do we give up fact-checking the president and the administration?

STEINHAUER: No, I don't think so. I don't think we give up our civic responsibility, our duties and what's malleable, frankly.

BRUNI: But you're 100 percent right. The problem is the fact-checks are great, but the fact-checks are being read by the people who doubted the facts in the first place. And we are all in such different information delivery systems.

And Donald Trump has convinced the people who love him best that anyone who comes along and is a naysayer is somebody who's working in a rigged system, is somebody who's got - who's out from - he tweeted something the other day that was quite extraordinary and the thing is he tweets so many bizarre things that certain individual tweets that would be news for a month for someone else get lost in the mess and the white noise of it all.

[22:40:16] But he tweeted like any negative polls you see about his immigration ban, don't believe them, right? So, his version of the truth is if it's not flattering to me, it's untrue. If it's flattering to me, you can trust it. That's a - LEMON: Could that just be the reality that he lives in - that he lives in?

BRUNI: I think that's a glimpse into his own mind. Yes.

LEMON: Here he is speaking to law enforcement officers earlier today.


TRUMP: Terrorists, a tremendous threat, far greater than people in our country understand. Believe me, I've learned a lot in the last two weeks and terrorism is a far greater threat than the people of our country understand.


LEMON: So, we probably should be listening to him about this. But the question is, does he undermine his own credibility with all of these other mistruths?

BRUNI: This is the same man who, during the campaign, said he knew more than the generals before he was getting any briefings. This is the same man who was skipping briefings during his transition period. Now, all of a sudden, he wants to tell us that because he's been so well briefed, he knows things he can't share with us and he knows so much more.

His narrative changes all the time. You remember these things, right?

STEINHAUER: I do. But I think there's something more almost foundationally nefarious about this, which is to say we don't know about terrorism, which is to suggest that he has - that's because there hasn't been reporting on terrorism, that the media is hiding terrorism from you, that there have been all sorts of acts of terrorism that you somehow don't know about until I, the president, has learned about them in security briefings or -

BRUNI: I've been hallucinating for several years because, every time I turn on the TV, I see lots of terrorism reporting.

STEINHAUER: That is the one thing the media has covered.

LEMON: So, look, we've been talking about this stuff. But let's get to something that's - other stuff that's at least as important. And as you collaborated on this new book, which really I did find on my chair today, it's a A Meatloaf in Every Oven, which you call the definitive guide to an American classic.

Why meatloaf? Why now? And immediately, it did make me hungry, I have to say. And it made me think of America, not kidding. The meatloaf is pretty darn American, so why meatloaf and why now?

STEINHAUER: It is very American. It has the foundations in sort of our post-war cooking, which was an important time in American cooking because it taught Americans how to use what they have on hand and then it kind of went away. It almost became kind of the joke, the meatloaf.

And it's sort of rebounding, in our view, where we are dressing up meatloaf, different kinds of meats, things that aren't even meat, poultry and fish and so forth, to be able to take American classic and put a new culinary spin on it, which is (INAUDIBLE).

BRUNI: It's also fun because as soon as you bring up meatloaf, everybody has a family meatloaf, everybody has a personal favorite, and so the book almost became a journey of going to people and getting their meatloaves.

And so - and this included the halls of Congress. We have meatloaves in this book from Nancy Pelosi, from Paul Ryan, from Susan Collins, the Republican Senator from Maine, and from Chuck Schumer. It is a bipartisan project.

LEMON: So, the book went from - I went through - went from tortilla chips to tuna, but where was - there was no TRUMP meatloaf. What happened?

BRUNI: Well, Trump - first of all, the book was finished before it was clear he was going to be president. It turns out he does have a meatloaf on the - he had a meatloaf on the menu of some of his restaurants.


BRUNI: And he has a favorite meatloaf. And like the man himself, it's very blunt and unnuanced.

But I kind of think these days, like a Trump meatloaf would have to be mainly baloney. Baloney, right? And I think because he's got such a special feeling for all of you at CNN, it might be flavored with like some sauteed Don Lemon heart and some parboiled Jim Acosta liver or something like that.

LEMON: Wow! That sounds like Silence of the Lambs.

BRUNI: Yes, Hannibal Trump. Yes.

LEMON: OK, thank you.

STEINHAUER: I don't want that in my cookbook. Thank you very much. Thank you for sharing.

LEMON: Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you, Frank.

Straight ahead, Saturday Night Live to the late-night comedians taking on Trump. Is comedy the real winner of the 2016 election? Kamau Bell joins me next.


[22:48:04] LEMON: Throughout the 2016 election, Saturday Night Live has had a field day with the president and the person running for president before he became president. The comedy show is now taking on the rest of Trump's team and I want to discuss that with W. Kamau Bell, host of CNN's "United Shades of America".


LEMON: I thought I got rid of you. What happened? You're back?

BELL: You got rid of me, got that Emmy nomination, a couple of Image Award nominations. I'm black, baby.

LEMON: We love having you here. So, let's talk about comedy now because you know we're doing a history of comedy.

Let's talk about comedy and drama because there was drama on the Senate floor and it's playing out now in the Senate with Elizabeth Warren, remember? Now, she was sanctioned. She couldn't speak out. She was reading a letter from Coretta Scott King. What do you think of how this all played out?

BELL: I thought it was amazing that Mitch McConnell was able to insult two women in one spot, Coretta Scott King and Elizabeth Warren. And just when all the women who had sort of packed up and went back to Washington DC were like, all right, we did our march thing, he basically gave them all the fuel they need to go back out into the streets, except this time we're bringing the black ladies too.

LEMON: Coretta Scott King, she's been recognized more and more lately.

BELL: Yes, yes. All the blacks are coming back - her, Frederick Douglass. All our old school blacks are making a comeback.

LEMON: Stephen Colbert, the Late Show has been taking on the Trump administration really head on now. John Oliver was his guest last night. And Colbert asked him if he was worried about getting tossed out of America. Watch this.


JOHN OLIVER, HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER: But who knows what's enough? Having a green card used to be enough. And yet, what we saw with that executive order on immigration, that debacle, no, things are not what they were supposed to be.

We held up translators, Afghan and Iraqi translators at the border, who have bled for a country they've never visited, have sacrificed family members for this country. This president has done neither of those things, so it's a little hard to swallow, him telling people whether they should be a benefit to America or not.


LEMON: Yes. I think he's still on a green card. Correct me if I'm wrong. I was not very sure. But what do you think of those words as a comedian?

BELL: Let's just be clear, when rich white guys, one of them British - Stephen Colbert, John Oliver - are worried about immigration, it's a problem. These are guys - I think he's on a green card, but he's pretty safe and even these guys are worried about immigration.

And I do think, as a comedian, you do feel like maybe that Lenny Bruce getting arrested for what you say thing might be coming back.

LEMON: Yes. Oh, gosh! Lenny Bruce, you went way - you went all the way back.

BELL: Well, "History of Comedy" is coming (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: So, Colbert, he has no trouble now expressing how he feels about the Trump administration. And for the first time, in total viewers, his Late Night Show has been ahead of Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show with this election.

What do you think this White House or this election has done to comedy?

BELL: Well, I have a lot of friends out in the Bay Area and a lot of my friends wished they had lived through the 60s. And I'm like, well, here's your chance. The 60s are back. And so, we get to find out who's serious about this.

And in some sense, people think it's the best of times to be a comedian, but it's actually the worst of times because everybody's funny now. Everybody's mom is funny because of Trump, everybody's cousins, everybody on Twitter is funny. I'm just retweeting people.

As a comedian, you sit down and write a joke, but the jokes are coming so fast because there's so much material.

LEMON: Do you think it's easy? Because -

BELL: It's easy for everybody, it's hard for professionals.

LEMON: I was sitting there with a friend and we were watching SNL and he said that's exactly what you do in a show. You just talk about the president. You just talk about the administration. And that's all you really have to do because it just writes itself.

BELL: I was talking to Lewis Black and he said, comedians who aren't political now get to be political because they just go on stage and read Trump tweets. That's the fastest path to political comedy, is just reading what the president tweeted.

LEMON: Speaking of SNL, watch this.


MIKEY DAY, ACTOR, PORTRAYING STEVE BANNON AS GRIM REAPER: Okay, Donald. That's enough fun for tonight. Can I have my desk back?

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR, PORTRAYING DONALD TRUMP: Yes, of course, Mr. President. I'll go sit in my desk, yes.

MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTRESS, PORTRAYING SEAN SPICER: Because I'm not here to be your buddy. I'm here to swallow gum and I'm here to take names.


BELL: Melissa McCarthy is a national hero. Next year, her birthday should be a holiday.

LEMON: Amazing!

BELL: Yes. That's amazing!

LEMON: And the thing is, is that people will say, oh, my gosh, it's just coastal elites making fun of Trump people or Trump. Bill Clinton was my favorite when it was Darrell Hammond when he was -

BELL: Yes, yes, yes.

LEMON: Right. They made fun of everybody. Gerald Ford, Carter -

BELL: Yes. Makes fun of everybody in office. Some people are just easier targets than others. And because Trump is not a serious person, he becomes a much easier target to make fun of.

LEMON: Why can't he just laugh at it?

BELL: Because he's so thin skinned. You wouldn't cover everything in gold if you had good self-esteem. If you're a billionaire and yet you need everything covered in gold because you have low self-esteem, yes, it's easy striking out - that's the thing why (INAUDIBLE) right now because we know we can actually hurt the president's feelings.

LEMON: All right.


LEMON: That made me feel bad.

BELL: Well, it makes me feel good. It makes me feel employed for the next four to eight years to infinity unless he wants to be emperor.

LEMON: So, tell me about CNN's "History of Comedy". You're featured along with other legendary comedians. How does it feel to be a part of this group? Because I watch it - it brings me back to my childhood.

BELL: First of all, I was happy to be in it because I'm the only comedian that CNN employs full-time on purpose. So, I felt like I had to be a part of it.

And also, it really puts comedy in its proper place as one of America's greatest art forms. Stand-up comedy is one of America's greatest art forms. Stand-up comedy started here.

And I think when you watch it, you think it's just going to be funny, but you really hear how much comedy has influenced culture and how much comedy has also predicted the future.

LEMON: It's interesting, I think - do you think comedy is a comeback, like standup comedy?

BELL: Yes, standup comedy is as healthy as it's been since the 80s right now.

LEMON: Because I find myself, if I - like, sometimes I'll take trips, I'll go away on the weekend, I'll take a long car ride. And I find myself listening to, on whatever app that I have, standup comedians because everything has been so serious and it's been so toxic lately that I need to laugh. A lot of people are doing that, don't you think?

BELL: I've been doing a lot of college shows. I'll be at Rutgers tomorrow. And I think - the thing is that students are coming out because they need to figure out how do I process what's going on in the world right now.

And, right now, you have to go to comedy to escape or comedy to clean it up and explain it to you.

LEMON: Yes. W, how's Berkeley these days?

BELL: It's good. It's on fire.

LEMON: You've got rich white kids rioting, what's happening?

BELL: We send those because they won't get arrested.


BELL: Too soon? Too soon?

LEMON: I love you. All right, thank you - you didn't say you love me back. Did you see that? Anyway, don't miss the premier of - where are you playing by the way?

BELL: Rutgers, tomorrow night.

LEMON: Don't miss the premier of "History of Comedy" right here on CNN tomorrow night at 10 Eastern, including some of the funniest bits of all time, like George Carlin's infamous routine about the seven words you can't say on television.