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Wiretapping Allegations to a Predecessor; No Regrets on Allegations; Dividing President's Voters over Repeal and Replace Plan. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 7, 2017 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: President Trump's advisers in spin mode over those wiretapping accusations while the president himself is in sales mode on his replacement for Obamacare.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

President Trump says he's proud to back the GOP plan for replacing Obamacare. Conservative republicans blasting their own party's plan. Is it DOA, dead on arrival? And will dismantling Obamacare hurt President Trump's own voters? It is a surprise the president not backing down from his stunning wiretapping accusations against former President Obama but also not offering the slightest bit of evidence.

That's as republican intelligence chairman in the House and Senate admit they've seen nothing to back the president's claims.

Let's get right to CNN's political analysis, Mr. Mark Preston, political commentator, Mr. Ryan Lizza, senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, and legal analyst, Laura Coates.

Good evening to all of you. Thank you so much for joining us. Jim, I want to go to you at the White House now. President Trump still under fire for those accusations of wiretapping that he made against the former president. But no word from him on that today. He didn't talk about it. Instead, he was out touting the House plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Let's take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives and encouraged by members of both parties. I think really that we're going to have something that's going to be much more understood and much more popular than people can even imagine.

This is the plan. And we're going to have a tremendous -- I think we'll have a tremendous success. It's a complicated process but actually it's very simple. It's called good health care.


LEMON: So, Jim, complicated but simple. He says it's going to be more popular than people can even imagine, but it certainly not starting out that way, is it?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. I think the president's going to find out that repealing and replacing Obamacare will be as difficult as passing and signing Obamacare into law, that President Obama dealt with when he was in office.

This is a messy, complicated stuff and I think the House republican plan that came out today while it had the approval of the president, and he had a bunch of House republicans over here to talk about it today, and you heard the president there saying it's going to be a better health care law in the end.

You had a lot of conservative republicans up on Capitol Hill, it was almost the return, the revenge of the tea party you might say on Capitol Hill today, they were essentially saying this was dead on arrival. And to put it mildly, there were a few lawmakers up on Capitol Hill calling it Obamacare lite.

That is not a good start for this process. On the republican side of the equation and on the democratic side you have the House Minority Leader like Nancy Pelosi saying that, you know, where's the score from the Congressional Budget Office?

Don, this piece of legislation has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office. We don't know how much it's going to add to the national deficit. We don't know how many millions of Americans are going to lose their health insurance as a result of Obamacare being repealed and replaced, and until those numbers are known, really, this was sort of an exercise in some political posturing today on all sides. When we get those numbers, then we're going to really see where things stand in this town.

LEMON: As they say, governing isn't easy.


LEMON: I know. It's not grammatically correctbut that's what they say. That's what they are. So, Jim the president didn't talk about Russia, but you asked about it today in the White House press briefing and it was interesting to witness. Let's look at it.



ACOSTA: Where's the evidence? Where's the proof that President Obama bugged President Trump?

SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I answered this question yesterday on camera on your air so just so we're cleared. I know this is now being twice. But I think I made it clear yesterday...


ACOSTA: Since yesterday, since yesterday you... SPICER: Nothing has changed, no. And it's not a question of -- it's not a question of new proof or less proof or whatever. The answer is the same. And I think that -- which is that, I think that there is a concern about what happened in the 2016 election, the House and Senate intelligence committees have the staff and capabilities and the processes in place to look at this in a way that's objective.

ACOSTA: Will the president withdraw the accusation? Does he have any -- any...


SPICER: Why would he withdraw it until, I mean, until it's adjudicated? That what we're asking is for them to look at this and see if there is...


ACOSTA: No regrets from him for raising these accusations?

SPICER: No, absolutely not.


LEMON: No regrets, Jim. No proof. Are you -- it seems like they're doing their best to try to wriggle out of this by spinning I have no idea what he said, what he meant.

ACOSTA: No regrets, no proof, no kidding. That was essentially what we heard over at the White House today. Don, this is a problem that is going to follow this president just like, you know, the voter fraud claim that he made at the beginning of this administration.

Like the inaugural crowd size claim that he made on the first day of his administration. He keeps making these claims, these unsubstantiated, baseless claims that just are not in any kind of line with the facts.

[22:04:57] And so, when you have the president going out and saying that the former President Barack Obama broke the law, somehow bugged Trump Tower and got away with it, and now all of a sudden the president has this information, nobody else has the information, the White House press secretary doesn't have it. The chief of staff doesn't. Nobody has it inside the White House. Nobody's willing to share it with us.

You just are in this position right now where the White House has to make the best of a really bad situation which is every few days, perhaps once a week, they have to come out and explain something that's inexplicable that the president says.

And I mean, you heard what White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer there said. He said that they don't have any proof. They don't have any evidence of what the president was talking about. But he also said that while we don't want to really talk about it anymore. Well, as long as the question is hanging out there, the question is going to get asked. There's an on camera briefing tomorrow and I would imagine, Don, the question is going to be asked again.

LEMON: Yes, I don't want to talk about it. That works well in marriages, by the way. I don't want to talk about it anymore. Thank you, Jim. I appreciate it. Jim has to get off the White House lawn. I want to bring in now Mark Preston and Ryan Lizza and the rest of the panel. He doesn't want to talk about it anymore. It's simple. I keep, I was just wondering, why have an investigation, spend the taxpayer dollars, have everybody focused on it.


LEMON: Wasting time. When all he has to do is he can -- he can show the proof himself.

PRESTON: Yes. You know...

LEMON: Very simple.

PRESTON: You know, I tried I don't want to talk about it anymore line the other night before travel.

LEMON: How was the couch?


PRESTON: It didn't go very well. No. It didn't go very well. You know, the bottom line is that Donald Trump, President Donald Trump has put his staff into a very bad position to have to go out and try to explain, as Jim said the inexpiable -- the unexplainable. He has put Senate and House republican leaders in a very bad position. Because they can't explain it.

He has put the intelligence community in a very bad position because they can't explain it. At some point, you have to wonder is when is the American public or at least the 45 or 46 percent that are supporting him, Don, when are they going to come out and say we want you to explain it?

LEMON: But why -- I mean, there's been -- but why? That's the thing. Why does it not matter to them?

PRESTON: There's a difference -- there's a difference between going out and saying three million people came to my inauguration and whatever number he had thrown out there.

LEMON: By the way, we'll talk about that because the pictures are out.

PRESTON: Right, right, right.


PRESTON: OK. So, it's one thing to say that which was ridiculous, right? It's another thing to go out and besmirch someone else's character and really level in unbelievable charge, someone say a treasonous charge in some ways against the former president. LEMON: Yes.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, there's just follow up on that point, there's a fairly respected constitutional scholar, Noah Feldman who writes for Bloomberg View who argued today that -- I'm not endorsing this but I was surprised that someone of his -- at his level understands the Constitution argued that this is a potentially impeachable offense to accuse a former president of this. So, it's, you know, without commenting on whether he is right or not, it is at that level of seriousness in terms of accusations.

LEMON: That's why we don't want to talk about it.

LIZZA: And...



LIZZA: And you know what, look. We were joking before like, men, this is the third day we're still talking about Trump's tweet. But as journalists, I think it's really important to keep asking and keep pushing...


LIZZA: ... and talk, you know, to get evidence of the truth of that statement or the White House says, sorry. He was wrong. It's not true. But what they want is just for it to go away. Right? For it not to be talked about anymore.

LEMON: And to pretend that there's an investigation that's even warranted. It's not -- there's -- do you think there just should be an investigation? Laura, I'll bring you in in a second. But I want you to -- do you think there should -- we should just go ahead and allow the investigation or should the president just come out and say I have no proof? They will never do that obviously.

PRESTON: No, no, they'll never do that. And you know, and I'll just throw out there, you know, casually and say, fine. I mean, if the House and the Senate intelligence committees want to investigate, who are we that they should or shouldn't do. But you want to go back a week ago where Donald Trump said the biggest thing that we needed to know was the fact that there was leaking within the government. Or...


PRESTON: Which, by the way, he would then be releasing information because somehow it was leaked to him and then he decided to tweet it out on Saturday morning which is very bizarre.

LEMON: Yes. When I said why, why don't -- you know, why supporters not care, many of them? I'm sure some of them do. And why does he keep saying that there's been no investigation into crowd sizes. Except for the park service released the photos today. There's been no investigation into the three million people as he promised three million people who are going to vote.

There's been really he has not provided any proof to how -- why President Obama wasn't born in the United States. He's just never shown any proof for that.


LEMON: And he's never really answered for that. So, you know, we talked about impeachable, at least you brought it up impeachment. You know that there were other people who said that, Laura. Senator Al Franken, though, believes as it concerns Russia that Attorney General Jeff Sessions committed perjury. There's a perjury word now during his confirmation hearing when he didn't disclose his meetings with the Russian ambassador. Here's what he told Jake Tapper.


[22:09:58] AL FRANKEN, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: It's hard to come to any other conclusion that he -- that he just perjured himself.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So you think he perjured himself. What do you think the penalty should be, do you think he should resign?

FRANKEN: I think he should come before the committee and explain this. Of course, no one asked him about the Russian ambassador. He's the one who volunteered that information that he didn't speak to anybody and it turned out he had met twice with the Russian ambassador.

Once, a private meeting. And he had seven weeks to just notify us. This is about the Russian government hijacking our election. And this is about whether there was any collusion in that interference by the Trump campaign.


LEMON: All right, Laura. As we know, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself. Is he out of hot water or not? And what about the potential deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein who was in the hot seat today for his confirmation hearing?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Jeff Sessions is certainly not out of hot water and as if he's asking us all to see the forest for the trees here but he's got one heck of a mighty sequoia standing in front on him, and that is although this may be about whether or not his comments with the Russian ambassador was ultimately wrongful.

The big picture right now, the big issue is that he not only answered a question falsely in front of the Senate committee hearing, he also did it in writing. Everyone's focusing on what he said to Senator Al Franken. Patrick Leahy he also gave him a question that was far more pointed as well, and in response it was the same response.

So, Sessions can't hide behind contextual clues or having been lost in translation. It is a serious thing to be able to -- to have testified falsely under oath. I mean, prosecutors salivate a case as far less consequential than this one.

And then, in terms of the deputy attorney general. Look. The next person in line to oversee the Russian investigation that now that Sessions has recused himself is in a very precarious position. What they're asking him at a confirmation hearing that is signed to say, whether you're going to be objective and not come and try to enforce the laws with some type of political agenda, they're asking him right now to guarantee how he will rule or how he will try to enforce a particular case now.

Not having seen the evidence, not having seen the investigation. And this particular person is very, very interesting because he's not only got bipartisan support. he was who Eric Holder, the former A.G. called in just to come in and investigate when there was Iran cyber-attacks controversy.

He was with Kenneth Starr and Whitewater. This is somebody who's the longest running U.S. attorney, who has essentially guaranteed through his tenure that he will be objective. But the biggest question we have right now, for Jeff Sessions, is why would you -- why have you answered falsely, and why won't come forward to explain further? I think the reason for that is his words have come back to haunt him and they will continue to do so.

LEMON: Do you want to say something, Ryan?

LIZZA: Well, I was just going to say just to play devil's advocate on perjury, I've been around Washington long enough to know that factually inaccurate testimony, partisans on both side when they see an opponent...

LEMON: Right. Exactly.

LIZZA: ... say something incorrect often scream perjury. It is extremely difficult to proof. You have to proof. And you know, Laura, you know about the law much better than I do, but you have to prove intent.

I remember when Hillary Clinton testified in the Benghazi committee and she made some statements that were not 100 percent accurate. And there was a whole culture that wanted to haul her into jail for perjuring herself. Most lawyers who look at it said, no. That's not perjury. Maybe she was not 100 percent accurate but she wasn't intentionally lying there.

So to prove -- you know, if Franken is right that this is a serious perjury case, you have to prove intent. It's a high bar.

LEMON: All right.

COATES: It is. And Ryan, you are absolutely right. I mean, perjury is something that you have to find that intent. It's certainly the contextual lost in translation response is one way to get out of claiming that you had done anything intentionally...

LIZZA: Yes. COATES: ... which is exactly what he did in his letter in response to their questioning and not with Leahy, but the letter he responded which made Franken so upset today, you know, that's what he was trying to do. But you still have to understand that the attorney general, while he is certainly a great lawyer, is a figurehead for the Department of Justice.

And the Department of justice relies on the credibility of its organization that they are objective and can wield the hammer of justice with the blindfold on. And so if there is any presumption or any perception that there is something, that there is some smoke or there is some screen or smoke and mirrors being given then you have to understand that the Department of Justice has an obligation to try to hold on to its credibility with both hands.

And this does not look good from the perspective of the figurehead, the person running the show, to be in this position.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, panel. I appreciate that. When we come right back, one top republican after another saying that they've seen no evidence for President Trump's wiretapping accusations, so can we trust what this president says? That's next.


LEMON: We have breaking news we want to show you. The lights are out at the Statue of Liberty. The statue plunged in to darkness in the middle of New York Harbor. You can just about see it there. You see the base right in the middle of your screen. You can see the flashing lights there. The bottom and then right in the middle should be the Statue of Liberty which is usually lighted right now.

No word yet on whether or not this is a power failure but we will continue to update you on that. Of course, that iconic statue there the lights are always on.

Now I want to turn now to the White House doubling down on President Trump's accusation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during last year's campaign. And the Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying the president has absolutely no regrets about making the unsubstantiated claim.

I want bring in now CNN's senior political commentator, David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama, and historian Jon Meacham, the author of "Destiny and Power." Thank you, gentlemen. Good evening to you. Let's see.


LEMON: David, I'm going to start with you. Tonight, multiple top republicans say that they have seen no evidence that the former President, Barack Obama, wiretapped President Trump. Listen to this.


RICHARD BURR, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: We don't have anything today that would send us in that direction but that's not to say that we might not find something.

JOHN CORNYN, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I don't know -- I don't know what the basis of his statement is. So, I really can't comment on that.

[22:20:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you seen any evidence of that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Leader -- Senator.


DEVIN NUNES, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I have not. I mean, I have not seen that evidence. As you know, I think a lot of that was maybe a little bit -- the multiple tweets were perhaps a little bit strung together.


LEMON: So, but the White House is not backing down from their claim that they want an investigation. An investigation based on what, though?

AXELROD: Yes. Well, look. I think both things can be true. I think they can have no regrets and there can be no evidence and we've seen that before. Your panel mentioned earlier the comments he made over Twitter about the three to five million people who voted illegally, and at that time the same pattern took place.

The White House said, you know, well, you know, there's no evidence that it didn't happen. So, someone ought to examine it. And this has been an ongoing thing with this president. He has no filter and gets on twitter, and you know, most of us have a thought box and then we have thoughts that we express publicly.

He has no filter. And he just goes right to -- and if he's read a conspiracy theory, apparently that was the provocation here. He takes it right to Twitter if it suits his mood and then it leaves everybody else scrambling.

I would think as a former White House staffer that it would be the most miserable job on the planet right now to try and be a spokesperson for the president because you have to justify the unjustifiable. It's very tough for the people on the Hill, republicans who want his signature on their legislation and, therefore, they want to play along.

The republicans are still supportive of him. Their constituents they want to play along but it really strains frugality to have to answer these questions all the time. And I suspect that this is a pattern that's not going to change.

And let me just finish by saying, Don, we're one week out from when the president gave what I thought was a very effective speech to the Congress and one of the takeaway lines was the time for trivial fights are over. And boy, does that seem like a distant memory, doesn't it?



LEMON: I had practically forgotten about it considering what happened. Jon Meacham, I don't know if you are laughing. That laugh was out loud. You gave there.


LEMON: But I just want to -- to the point that David just made, can we put up, these are the inauguration pictures? We went back and forth about this. And everyone knew. I mean, everyone knew exactly what was happening here. The National Park service released these series photos. They showed the crowds during the last three inaugurations in response to the Freedom of Information Act request from various media outlets. The White House knew these photos would not back up their claims.


LEMON: So the question is, you know, there's no proof about wiretapping. There's no proof to the crowd size. Why lie?

MEACHAM: I have a new theory. Which I laugh because David was right saying that -- imagine being to -- imagine having to defend this. It's just an amazing thing. It seems to me that Trump actually, President Trump is not actually speaking to us anymore. He's speaking I think to the 44 or so percent of people who approve of his performance.

By the way, Richard Nixon had slightly better numbers on the day in April of '73 when Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman resigned. And so, for people who are charting this historically, that's kind of where the numbers are.

I think that he's now and perhaps always has been simply speaking to his base. He's made -- he's made no...


LEMON: Was that 44 percent -- pardon the interruption.


LEMON: They believe when he says mistruths? Are you saying that they believe that?

MEACHAM: I think that enough of them do or he wouldn't be doing it.


MEACHAM: I really do. I think that he puts this out there and people who don't follow this as obsessively as the rest of us who in other parts of their life are probably healthier therefore. But I think it just, it becomes part of a kind of catastrophic news environment where people believe that, well, wait. Didn't Obama wiretap him? You know? Did we never saw that birth certificate? I mean, it's just this continual post truth stories that at a certain

point have a corrosive effect on the public trust.


MEACHAM: And I think that for those of us who -- and I was -- we were talking last Tuesday. We're -- those of us who think that he's trying to lend -- now trying to lead the whole country, it's like Lucy and the football. And every time we go, he pulls it away.

LEMON: Yes. Hey, David, I have something. Speaking of we were talking about the wiretapping thing, this is from Wall Street Journal, I want to get your response to that.

They're saying that the former president is livid. President Obama livid over the Trump allegations. He said but he was livid. This was a quote from the Wall Street Journal.

[22:25:05] "He was livid or the accusation that he bugged the republican campaign offices believing that Mr. Trump was questioning both the integrity of the Office of the President and Mr. Obama himself and people familiar with his thinking said. What is your response to that?

AXELROD: Well, I don't have a response to it. Just knowing him as I do, I'm sure he was livid. And less livid about himself. I don't think anybody believes Barack -- I mean, it may be that Jon is right. That there is a core of President Trump supporters who may believe it, but I think the broader public doesn't that.

If anybody knows anything about how all of this works, it's impossible to believe this scenario. But there is -- the point Jon makes is the most important one and this is been my concern about this president. You know, elections come and go and policies change and you may not like the way the policies change but that's the nature of democracy.

But this constant drum beat of attack against institutions whether it's the former president, the courts, the media, sort of the fundamental pillars of our democracy, that has a potentially long term corrosive effect that may in his view serve his short-term politics but in the long-term it's very unhealthy for our country.

LEMON: I don't think people -- I think people may want to believe it but I think, you know, rational -- rationally thinking person cannot come to the conclusion that this is true, especially considering, Jon, President Trump's wiretapping accusation is not the -- it's not the only unsubstantiated claim that he is currently pushing.

Look at today. This is what he tweeted today. He said "122 vicious prisoners released by the Obama administration from Gitmo have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision."

But if you look at the numbers and if you look at the facts, 113 of the prisoners were released during President George W. Bush's administration.


LEMON: So -- can we believe what the president says?


LEMON: Why does he still have a phone for Twitter? That's a -- but go on.

MEACHAM: Well, no. We can't. And my point is that this is part of a concerted propagandistic effort that's an anathema to the kind of database truth in our politics that is characterized us since the Philadelphia and the late 1780s. I really believe this.

And I mean, you all may say that people don't believe this, but I think there's this snow machine that he just -- he turns on and it complicates, it fills the air. I've been watching the captions on your network all day and saying about wiretapping and Obama and Trump Tower.

And I think it creates an ambient atmosphere of distrust. And I believe that insofar as there is a method to this madness, that's what the President of the United States is doing because, guess what, how the hell did he get there but by creating an ambient sense of distrust about the very legitimacy of the birth and citizenship of the 44th President of the United States? It has worked before. And I think we are being naive if we think that somehow or another our reason based, our analysis will make it go away.

LEMON: Imagine that. He was rewarded for conspiracy theories by becoming...


MEACHAM: Yes. Yes, he was.

LEMON: ... the President of the United States.

MEACHAM: Yes. He is the President of the United States. And he took out -- David, David was one of the main people on the planet who helped elect Barack Obama and I'd ask him. And I'd ask him, I mean, do you think that the birth certificate propaganda hurt the president and helped Trump?

AXELROD: Well, there's no doubt it was an impediment and it stoked up the base and it certainly helped in the midterm elections. I mean, President Obama won two very solid victories in his election and his re-election. And he retired with a very high approval rating which I sometimes think it also bothers the incumbent.


AXELROD: When he looks at his own numbers. But clearly, it took up a lot of time. It created a lot of grit. You know, it threw a lot of sand in the works. And I think that was the point.

Look. Donald Trump is a marketer. He's a brander. He is a reader of audiences. He thinks this sells to his base. And it may sell to his base. The question is, how do you govern this way? And ultimately, where does it all lead? And I'm not sure he has a concept of that.

LEMON: Yes. We're going to talk about Obamacare and who would actually affects some of the voters and many of the voters who people who voted for this president would be affected if Obamacare went away. We'll discuss that. We'll be right back


[22:30:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: President Trump today publicly supporting the republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Back with me now, David Axelrod and Jon Meacham. I mean, to be honest with you, David, when you listen to, you know, what they proposed, it sounds like Obamacare or the ACA lite. I mean, they rolled out this plan to dismantle the president's signature health care law. Some republicans are calling it lite. As I said, but what's your reaction to that as a man that was by President Obama's side as he -- as he crafted this law?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look. I think that what you're seeing here is the collision of politics and the reality of governing. It's been a good strategy of republicans for last three cycles to run against Obamacare, to run against the Affordable Care Act. To say we're going to repeal and replace it with something better.

And then as I've said before they were the dogs that caught the car and now they have to produce. And what they're finding is the president has said, we're going -- we're going to eliminate all those things you don't like about this Affordable Care Act and we're going to keep all the good things.

Well, it's very hard to do both. And they're caught in this game of twister and so they're right wing or I should say their republican conservative base is unhappy because it doesn't completely abolish government support for people who need health care.

[22:35:04] Moderate republicans are very upset because it will ultimately decimate Medicaid and a lot of the republican governors understand that and are concerned about that. It's going to mean 10 million or 15 million people will lose their health coverage.

And the interesting thing about it, Don, is the people most likely to be hurt by this are low, middle income workers who have benefited from this program. Older people who are going to have to pay more under the -- if this were the plan that was to pass.

LEMON: Right.

AXELROD: And rural communities that are very subject to losing their hospitals because of what is going to happen now and because they're going to be overrun by unpaid for expenses for people who lose their insurance. So, all of this hits the very base that elected Donald Trump president. So it's a big, hot mess. Whether they could get it through the Congress I think is a very, very big question right now.

LEMON: Yes. It's interesting because many of the people who supported this president as I said before the break, and who voted for this president are going to be the ones who are affected if it is repealed and not replaced by anything or even if it's repealed and replaced and it's not perfect they're going to be the ones that suffer.

I mean, Jon Meacham, you wrote the foreword to this new book of and it's titled "We do Our Part toward a Fair and More Equal America" by legendary journalist and editors, Charles Peters. Peters is a well- known liberal he's now criticized in the Democratic Party for catering to the professional class at the expense of blue collar voters. Does he think democrats can turn things around now?

JON MEACHAM, HISTORIAN & AUTHOR: Charlie is eternally an optimist; he's a West Virginian who ran for the state legislature group during the Depression. He ran JFK's campaign in the biggest county in West Virginia.

And one of the things that struck him as he was working on this book which is about really kind of recreating the ethos of the new deal, the spirit of generosity that help us defeat the Depression, win World War II, become the dominant power in the world was that people overcame their prejudice against the first Catholic president.

That was an incredibly difficult sell to make in 1960. And so, he has seen the country change in great ways as he's 90 years old. I mean, it's been a remarkable thing. But a lot of those folks who were voting for Jack Kennedy voted for Donald Trump.

And Charlie was a West Virginia democrat and it's been an incredibly difficult journey as David knows for those kinds of white voters but what Charlie wants us to do and what I think, I think all of us want regardless of partisanship is what was it about the country and the 1930s and '40s that enabled us to take on monumental problems, sacrifice a little bit for the common good and build a world that won a war, that created civil rights.

This is the anniversary of the march in Selma. You know? It took too long to get the kind of social progress we needed but we got it and how do we get that back?

LEMON: Maybe we weren't so spoiled back then. Well, I wasn't around but maybe the country wasn't so spoiled back then. Who knows?

MEACHAM: Well, it -- a lot of it is about...



MEACHAM: A lot of it is about the economy. You're right. A lot of it is about a lot of us are very affluent and a lot of us as Charlie likes to say, we pull up the ladder.

LEMON: Yes. MEACHAM: And we forget about where we came from and we can't do that.

LEMON: David, I'm out of time but quick last word to you.

AXELROD: Listen. Yes. I know. Look, I think that the Democratic Party failed in the last election to speak to the entire country and have an economic message but I will say this. Donald Trump has made lavish promises to these people who voted for him. In the short run, I think they're going to be very supportive. In the long run they say has my life really been improved or not? Has he kept those promises? I think that's a big hurdle for him to clear.

LEMON: David, Jon, thank you so much. I appreciate our time tonight. Thanks.

AXELROD: Thanks.

LEMON: When we come right back, repealing and replacing Obamacare was one of President Trump's top campaign promise, but will his own voters be the ones to really pay the price?


LEMON: And we're back now. The Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying today the president has no regrets about is wiretapping accusations against the former President Barack Obama.

Here's to discuss, Charles Blow, op-ed columnist for the New York Times, CNN contributor Salena Zito, and J.D. Vance, author of "Hillbilly Elegy, a Memoir of a Family in Culture and Crisis."

Good evening, everyone. J.D. you're first out.

J.D. VANCE, "HILLBILLY ELEGY" AUTHOR: How are you doing?

LEMON: I'm doing great. Thank you.

Let's talk about President Trump's wiretapping claims. This has happened before where he presents these conspiracy theories or a conspiracy theory with little or no facts to back it up.

He said Barack Obama faked his birth certificate because he was born in Africa. That's false. We know that. He said thousands of New Jersey Muslims were on TV celebrating 9/11, false. Ted Cruz's father had something to do with Lee Harvey Oswald, false.

Let's not forget the inaugural crowd size, three to five million illegal voters, and the list goes on and on. There are some Americans who simply cannot trust President Trump because he is a serial liar. Do you think this time that should be different given how severe this charge is?

VANCE: Well, I don't know if it's different or not. It's certainly a pretty severe charge but I think you get to a point with President Trump where to take a phrase that Salena coined, you start to take him not literally anymore. And that's something obviously Devin Nunes say today during a press

conference, which is a pretty striking admission from a republican leader of Congress to say that these half-truths or lies get to such a point and they're uttered so frequently that you stop actually taking the president literally. That's a pretty striking thing for a guy like Devin to say.

LEMON: Well, it's a pretty striking thing if people actually believe it. Because Salena, I know you coined this. But it makes no sense. When you're the president of the United States that people can't actually believe the words that come out of your mouth.

[22:45:01] And I know, to many Trump voters that that doesn't matter. But that's not the entirety of the country and it's not the majority of the country. People want to be able to believe what their president says and many people cannot. No one can. Because it's actually not true, it's not backed up by the evidence.



LEMON: Or facts.

ZITO: Yes, I mean, the hallmark of the presidency is to sort of stand there and be for truth and justice. Right? So, it's a very difficult thing to sort of sort out in your head.

Today, I spent the day going down the Ohio River from Weir, West Virginia to Steubenville, Mingo Junction just talking to people that voted for him.

And they were -- almost to a tee everyone that I talked to they were also all democrats and I asked them about -- I asked them several things but one of the things we talked about is, you know, his loose use of words.

And this one woman who described herself as a staunch liberal, he said, look. He is not a politician. That's how he talks. He talks like a salesman. There's this expectation of hyperbole and -- and it's part of what we wanted. We wanted someone that was going to not only just blow up the system but just not talk like a perfectly measured politician and that's what they got.

LEMON: With all due respect to that woman, that is divorced from reality. This man's the leader of...


ZITO: But you know, we've been...

LEMON: If you don't live -- what are you saying? That she doesn't live in reality?

ZITO: No. But what I'm saying is what have we done over the past 30 years in American politics that we have pushed people to feel this way?


LEMON: But Salena, that is true, we haven't pushed anyone to feel that way. That may be true that she wants...


ZITO: Not us, but...

LEMON: Well, I mean the country. No one should be pushed to ever believe something that's not true. If someone is telling you the truth, it's backed up by facts and by research.

ZITO: Right.

LEMON: And so you are a person who is not divorced from reality and you have all your wits about you, that you need to believe the truth. Basically we are making excuses for people who are divorced from reality. I know that's hard to hear, but it's the truth. Charles?

ZITO: Well, I mean, it's not how I feel, but I'm just telling you, you know...


LEMON: But maybe you should tell them. Maybe you should present the facts to them when they say those things. I have people all the time who would tell me. And I listen, that's simply not true what you're saying.

ZITO: Right.

LEMON: It's not -- and they keep believing it because he is the president and it comes out of his mouth and he's lying to them. Charles, go ahead.

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, don't say anything about this we thing. We didn't do this. Donald Trump is lying. Donald Trump did this on his own and people who have, you know -- partisanship is pushing people to want to believe because they are being attacked by people who they do not like and they do not align with politically, and they -- they see the attack as being partisan and therefore, they want to believe what he is saying is true.

Because the alternative is to know that you have made an enormous mistake and that you are having -- there's an assault on truth and honesty itself and that is not the position that anyone really, really, really wants to be in. And that is where we are now.

And I think it is incumbent upon us in particular, people who appear on national television to always guard the truth because that is -- you know, that is what we do. We traffic actual information that is provable.

And if the president is going to lie and be a pathological liar on top of that, that is a problem because many other people have pointed this out. He's lying and not even in a crisis. There comes a time in a country where you need -- the president has to come on television and explain something that has happened in a country.

You know the market has crashed. There's an attack of some sort. We are engaged in some sort of warfare. There is a natural disaster. You, in those moments, accrued credibility matters. And if you have destroyed that over time, you have destroyed American credibility.


BLOW: That's enormous.

LEMON: And another reality check to come for the president is a lot of folks who voted for him will be affected if Obamacare went away in its current form even if they try to replace it. We'll discuss that next.


LEMON: Repealing Obamacare will come at a cost for a lot of Americans.

Back with me now, Charles Blow, Salena Zito, and J.D. Vance. Welcome back. Salena, you know, this red state governor, let's talk about red states because you go out and you talk to folks a lot. But red state governors and senators have been warning that the White House -- that they need to protect the needs of voters in their states who have gained health care under Obamacare.

Because while they may hate the man who passed it, but they do like the benefits that they get from it.

ZITO: Right.

LEMON: And I know you spent the day on the road, as you said, speaking to Trump supporters. What are they telling you?

ZITO: Well, you know, it's sort of a mixed reaction. They do admit that, you know a lot of them have, you know, their benefits that they have from before Obamacare was put into place and have increased and it's more cost effective.

Having said that, they all see impacts in their communities. It has a harder impact on smaller businesses. A lot of smaller businesses can't afford to pay their employees, so they cut the hours back, so that makes, you know, businesses either close or, you know, they don't employ enough people in the community.

So it is sort of a debate among people. You now, part of the problem with Obamacare is -- for people who didn't like it was that they felt that there was too much government involvement. But now how do you get sort of the tooth paste back in the tube, right?

I mean, once you have this, it's very difficult thing to sort of undo. As far as Obamacare goes in the way that it's going to proceed going forward, you know, the sausage making in getting Obamacare made -- I suspect it's going to be the same way in getting it undone.


ZITO: This is not going to be a pretty process.

LEMON: So, J.D. the president, many of the president staunchest supporters heavily rely on Obamacare and its current form. And I know that you think that this new plan is risky and it might hurt them.

[22:55:02] And just to give you -- these are just raw numbers. And I'm not digging into them on the service. Eleven and a half million Americans are insured under Obamacare, 6.3 are from republican congressional districts.

And that doesn't include the governors who, you know, took the Medicare or the expansion of Medicaid as you'd say for low income people and so on, and so on. The majority of the people who are on Obamacare are from red districts and many of them were supporters. So, you say that this new replacement plan is risky for them. You don't like this plan.

VANCE: No, I don't love the plan at all, in fact. We have to keep in mind, right, that there's both a short-term political answer to this question and I think a long-term political and more substantive question about who is helped and who is hurt by this repeal and replace plan.

I mean, I think that folks may, and when I say congressmen and congresswomen may actually benefit from the repeal. Because that means they keep the campaign promise, right. These folks have running on repealing and replacing Obamacare for eight years now. So they may get a short-term jolt when they actually do it.

The problem is that a lot of the benefits that exist in Obamacare just generally speaking people having health insurance, that's popular. And if you actually move forward with this particular repeal and replace package, it clearly is going to leave a few Americans uninsured and it's probably going to continue to raise premiums for a lot of the folks who have coverage right now.

So, I think that over the long-term when people see the consequences of this particular replacement provision, it's not going to -- it's not going to end well for the republicans who vote for it.

LEMON: The president tweeted today, Charles, he said "Our wonderful new health care bill is now out for review and negotiation." It doesn't show that he knows that this can -- this can backfire with his base?

BLOW: Not only with his base. I just, I think with the American people. You know, there's going to be a real reckoning because there are people who have been born -- children have been born with real severe illnesses, parents would have hit a life-time limit a long time ago with those severe illnesses. Those kids are alive today because they have coverage. There are people with other very severe illnesses who have medication

coverage and are under care and alive because of this health care law. The idea that you could move millions of people out of those roles of being registered -- being enrolled under health care or severely limit the structure of the coverage they have and not expect people to actually die and not have neighbors to understand that this has happened and this person is no longer with us.

This will have a real concrete effect. People will show up at those town halls. People will show up to vote. This is not a good situation for them.

LEMON: Charles, J.D., Salena, thank you so much. We'll be right back.