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Interview with Rep. Matt Gaetz; Discussion of Trump Reaction to Attempted Bombings; James Clapper Talks about Bombing Investigation. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 25, 2018 - 21:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

This has become a two-prong search, one for the person or people responsible for the bombs, and we have new information coming on how some of the devices were sent. The other, which is arguably just as important, the search for the leadership necessary to change our toxic political dynamic. Now, on that front, the president meant what he said last night, about what he would do to make things better, which was not one damn thing.

And sure enough, starting soon after the bombs were discovered and growing by the hour since, he and his Fox proxies, mouthpieces and patsies, they have all ratcheted up the rhetoric. Yes, this president still hasn't said a word about or to the former presidents who were targeted, other lawmakers, and, of course, CNN.

His pals are spinning B.S. conspiracies that the whole thing was a hoax. The FBI says it's being investigated as domestic terrorism. And yet POTUS' patsies are demonizing the media for causing all the negativity all by themselves.

Now, on the forensic investigation, law enforcement says there are now 10 devices recovered. They say expect more. But they also say the manhunt is intensifying as video surfaces that we'll show you. And there's plenty to get through.

So, what do you say? Let's get after it.


CUOMO: All right. We now all know that bombs were sent out across the nation. It is a moment that's given some pause to consider just what the hell we're doing to ourselves for political gain. But the president seems to see it differently, as a time to double down on divisiveness.

Last night, he refused to own any responsibility for what's been going on. Instead, he blamed the media, which had just been targeted by a bomb. The best he could do was haltingly read prepared remarks that we need more unity.

This morning, he tweeted what unity seems to mean to him. Here's what it was: A very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the mainstream media that I refer to as fake news. It's gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream media must clean up its act fast.

Then came Sarah Sanders who came at the media as well, and said it is we who need to change, not the president.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly the media has a role to play in this process, when 90 percent of the coverage about this president is negative, despite the historic successes, when the ideas are perpetuated and continued of negativity, that's not helpful for the American discourse.


CUOMO: Is it helpful for the American discourse for her to not recognize a single attribute or contribution of the president to this dynamic? How is she supposed to have credibility let alone be helpful in this situation if she can't admit what is so obvious to everyone else?

The president isn't helpful to American discourse, the most lies, the most insults, the ugly descriptions of others, the most we've seen in a generation of leadership. It is his defining characteristic, what he himself calls his winning edge.

And then Sanders went even further.


SANDERS: The president I think could not have been more presidential yesterday when he spoke directly to the American people. He condemned this violence. Let's not get lost in who is responsible for this heinous act.


CUOMO: They sit on the couch and listen and nod, not here.

Presidential? Sarah, you keep using that word. As Inigo Montoya said, you keep on using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means. First one to tweet me the movie and scene gets a hat or a mug or shirt. Your choice.

Now, I inject some levity. Of course, why? Because we have to take a breath. Otherwise, we'll be consumed by the pathetic nature of it all.

A president who sets a standard for ugly talk, who sees himself as a victim when the people he calls his enemies get bombs sent to them. And he's the victim.

But why won the he think that, when he's surrounded by those who nod and echo his hypocrisy? Sarah Sanders there with a stunningly straight face, calling his shirking of any role or responsibility presidential. And then comes the backup, those doing the dance of twisted facts and false step narratives that I call the Fox trot.

Take this tweet from Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, suggesting this morning without evidence that it's all just fake news and fake bombs.

Fake? Again, the FBI is investigating it as a domestic terror event. There's no basis for the cynical assumption. And by the way, doing that? That's fake.

And then comes the Trump trinity.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: The president condemned these acts and was immediately rebuked by the Democratic party for condemning the acts, not quite enough.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: The media, the left, Democrats, all trying to score cheap political points and a political victory on this.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: The fingers pointing at Trump all day long on the other networks, which I found disgusting.


HANNITY: Look at my boy here, on his show. Put up a chyron, he couldn't even name CNN. Are we really in this place?

And to think, I was heartened by their reporting yesterday, and their conciliatory tone, fake civility I guess. Let me ask my friends there, if it were you who had been targeted by a bomber in a thinly veiled attempt to support the left, God forbid, I'll tell you what, I wouldn't blame you for it. God forbid that happens, I hope you and your families are safe.

A bomb is no mere harassment or threat. And again, I would be there if it were any of you, because that is wrong and you've got to condemn the efforts. You've got to do it quickly, and you've got to do it consistently.

It's not legal, it's not right, and neither is when we see media figures or political figures chased out of private establishments. It's not right. It's not legal. There's a better way to get your message across.

And yet they can turn a blind eye to the media that they claim to be a part of, when it is attacked. I just don't get it. Did you need the bomb to go off? Would that have mattered?

We covered what happened to Congressman Scalise, you saw him there on the Fox show, for what it was, a national tragedy. Thank god he made it. This nation was pulling for him, and rightly so. The man who did it was delusional and a grace and he needed to be

called out as such and he was, and he wasn't given attention. We didn't do a deep dive into him any more than necessary, so that no one would think there was any gain in that.

If you can't see this the same way as if it were you, and if the president can't rise above his worst traits, even now, the question that all this confronts us with, are we just doomed to politics that are an ever accelerating race to the bottom? That's a tough question, but we got to deal with it, and we're going to do it here tonight.

One of the president's biggest supporters in Congress is here. He's got a lot on his mind. Republican Matt Gaetz, next.


CUOMO: Got to be honest, I didn't see it coming. I did not think that the level of rhetoric would get worse after the bombs were sent. And it raises the question, well, what will it take?

Instead of unity, conservative media delivers blame and conspiracies.

Our guest tonight is a Florida congressman. He's trusted as a supporter for the president. He's a regular over at Fox. I think he's been on there like 100 times in the last year, so he knows all the players.

He is Congressman Matt Gaetz.

Good to have you here as always.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: Good to be with you,

Chris. Let me start by saying, there is no place for political violence in this country. And we're so lucky we have brave first responders that are out there, tracking things down, keeping folks safe. And for your colleagues there at CNN, the Obamas, the Clintons, George Soros, Robert de Niro, my colleague, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, it's terrible they've had to endure this.

You know, look, the brave people who step forward in public service know that we put ourselves in the limelight, but this is really something we shouldn't have going on in the country. And I think it needs to be denounced for what it is, a scare tactic. And if that's where the investigation leads, I hope those that are responsible are severely punished.

CUOMO: Two things. Well said and thank you.

Why couldn't the president say the same?

GAETZ: I think the president was more thematic in his remarks, he was precise that we want to end this climate of political discourse, and this notion that we're morally better than our opponents, if you threw a rock on main street in my hometown, you would hit someone that would just as likely be more of a moral person than I am as they would be less of a moral person than I am.

And too often in politics, we try to create this sense of evil in the opposition when --

CUOMO: Right.

GAETZ: -- the reality is, most of us want to get to the same place. I mean, Republicans, Democrats, independents, we want safe communities, good schools. And we have a different way to get there.

CUOMO: I believe you.

GAETZ: That doesn't make the other side bad.

CUOMO: I believe you, but he didn't say any of that either. He said in prepared remarks, who knows who wrote them, that in general, things have to get better, we should have unity. The crowd was quiet, he was mailing it in.

He never mentioned himself, he never mentioned his responsibility, he never mentioned the former presidents. Any of the targets, of course, he wasn't going to mention us, that would have been expecting too much. But why couldn't he say any of those things in a moment like that, it came to you instinctively, Matt, as a young leader --

GAETZ: Well --

CUOMO: -- I'm going to say I'm sorry for these people, it shouldn't happen. He couldn't. Why not?

GAETZ: I think that there's nothing the president could have said that would have been enough.

CUOMO: He could have said that.

GAETZ: Look, I think he did in his own way.

CUOMO: No, not in his own way, Matt. The people who were targeted were targeted.

GAETZ: What does that matter, Chris?


CUOMO: It matters a lot when the bomb gets sent to you. It means a lot to hear the president say, CNN or Eric Holder or Presidents Obama or Clinton, I got your back. We may disagree, I may not like what you say, in fact I don't. Anybody that does this to you, they have to deal with me.

And I know I have pitched it up to a level that is too much for people, I'll think about that. And all of you should, the media, the left, we all should.

How hard was that?

GAETZ: Well, I think that thematically that was the message he delivered.


CUOMO: What does that mean thematically? You either say it or you don't.

GAETZ: He was saying it was wrong to do these things to these people. And in our country, we condemn political violence. I think that is appropriate, because look at the end of the day, you know, we don't know right now as we sit here, as investigators are combing through the evidence whether this in fact was a desire to kill people, scare people.

I don't know that we can rule out it was some sort of false flag. I don't think that's what happened. But I think it's false for us to prejudge that.

CUOMO: I think you're right, 100 percent.

GAETZ: We've got to let the investigators do that and regardless --

CUOMO: A hundred percent. I'm just saying it doesn't matter, Matt. I'm saying if the guy is a rabid righty, if he's a rabid lefty, if he wanted to kill us, if he wanted to scare us, if he wanted to distract us from the caravan, whatever he or she or they wanted to do, we're in the same place.

It was scary, it seems politically motivated, and it was an opportunity to take a pause and say, wow! This has gotten out of hand. The president didn't take that chance. Because you have to address the influences and he's the biggest one.

GAETZ: There's a certain element of hypocrisy there though. When Steve Scalise was shot --


GAETZ: -- the country did not rush to blame Bernie Sanders for that death even though this person --


CUOMO: We covered it on "NEW DAY" that morning in real time, with the help of -- and we called it the national tragedy it was. We said how wrong it was, we prayed and pulled for Steve Scalise. And he made an amazing recovery. We called out the man who did it, as a deranged individual who deserved no attention. It was different --


GAETZ: The difference is, you blamed the individual who engaged in the conduct rather than the political figure that they follow. Your network all day has drawn the links that these people who were targeted are frequent critics of the president. That's a reasonable inference to draw. But that doesn't mean the preside is responsible for the conduct. CUOMO: Right.

GAETZ: I think that's where you -- when you criticize the things he says and the way he says them, at times you have to understand there's an authenticity to President Trump that the American people crave and desire. And he is a show man. And there are times when he should not be taken quite so literally.

And that is kind of why he gets tens of thousands of people to show up to his rallies, like look, tens of thousands of people are not showing up to see Mike Pence, they're showing up to see here Donald Trump, because there's a certain authenticity and entertainment factor that he brings. And that's been very effective in helping him win an election and also move an agenda that's been very good for the American people. And I think we don't want to erode that.

CUOMO: I just said similar things. While not wanting to erode it, that's a partisan perspective, and you should have one. I'll give you half of that.

It is what makes him entertaining, and I think that's a judgment for his supporters to make. But this is what I'm saying -- the president shouldn't be blamed for the bombs. He has to include himself in the responsibility for the negativity that creates an environment, an atmosphere that lends itself to some whacko or some bad person wanting to do what was done yesterday, and the response to the bombs.

He calls us out for being the problem with negativity. He never mentions himself.


GAETZ: Do you think the media bears -- let me grant the premise for the sake of the argument. If that's true, do you think the media and their 90 percent plus negative coverage of the president in some way could be so demoralizing to his supporters, looked -- viewed as so unfair, that it may cause someone that's deranged and on the edges to take an inappropriate and illegal and immoral action?

I mean, look, I don't think -- if you're going to say the president has some responsibility, I think he's largely a symptom of what we've seen, and in some ways, he's been victimized by negative coverage. Now, you know, I think he's a big guy and can take care of himself, and can sling back. We don't want our politics to become so antiseptic that that we miss out on what's important. You know, I mean, we've had those kind of candidates before.

CUOMO: Hold on a second, Matt, antiseptic, it's become incredibly septic, it's toxic, it's poisonous.


GAETZ: And that's on both sides. You can see that's on both sides.

CUOMO: Yes is the answer to your question. The media should think about what it does and that should be called out. (CROSSTALK)

GAETZ: -- when Maxine Waters, promotes a mob, when Hilary Clinton --


CUOMO: And that should be called out. But it's not --

GAETZ: That's not helpful either.

CUOMO: It's not bombs sent to my place of work and to where people live.


GAETZ: Well, it was the guy at work was getting shot.

CUOMO: Yes, and we covered it that way.


GAETZ: In both parties.

CUOMO: We covered it that way.

GAETZ: The difference is that here, you're impugning the blame to the president in a way that is unfair.


CUOMO: No, I'm not. Matt, that's the second you said it. I'll deny it a second time. He's got to own his role in the dynamic, and to after the fact blame the actual victim, the actual entity that was sent the bomb and say nothing about the presidents, nothing about the other targets, I don't see how that is presidential.


GAETZ: Look, I think that's a distinction without a difference. If he had named them, it would have been something else.

CUOMO: No, no it wouldn't have. It would have been, he named them. He showed a decency in doing that.

GAETZ: Then it would have been --


CUOMO: Look, is it going to ring hollow no matter what he does? Of course it would have rung hollow, Matt. If I had insulted you nine times out of ten conversations, and in tenth time I said, you know, you're a pretty good guy, you would have been skeptical. Obviously, we're in that mood as well, but at least he would have said the right thing this time.

And if you're going to cast blame, look what happened today. Lou Dobbs saying it's fake bombs, fake news, he doesn't know what he's talking about. The chorus over at Fox attacking the media for this, a media they say they're a part of.

What kind of response is that the day after the bombs were sent? I just don't get it. I don't get how we could have gotten worse.

GAETZ: I just think we don't really know if this was a sincere act of terrorism, if it was a false flag. So I'm not going to prejudge and I don't think anyone should prejudge the motives or the tactics of this particular individual.

CUOMO: They are prejudging it, though.

GAETZ: But what's far more important, Chris, is that -- I think we need more Republicans and Democrats to stand out and say, we don't want any harm to come to the people that we disagree with.

Yesterday, I had breakfast in Ft. Lauderdale with a Democrat state representative and people kept coming up to our table surprised that a Republican and Democrat would even have breakfast together. What is going on in our country where whether or not someone is a Republican or a Democrat, matters more than whether or not they're a good person?

I'll tell you, we got good people on both sides. And we got bad people on both sides, and I just don't think that the identity of your political party or your conservatism or liberalism is the most important thing about you. And too often in cable news, we make that the case.

And that's why I love your show, it's not just a two minute segment where we sit here and throw a few bombs, and see if a few of them land. We can actually have more adult discussion, and we need more of that in the country.

The reason I wanted to come on tonight is to say I have friends who are Democrats. I go out on dates with people who are Democrats, and I just think that if we were a little more honest about that, and willing to acknowledge it, we would be more likely to diffuse some of this anger and anxiety that leads to violence.

CUOMO: Listen, I don't disagree with any of that. What I'm saying is, I think what you're saying exists behind the lines needs to be brought in front of the lines.


CUOMO: What happens is, you may be friends with them, but then, especially when it's on Fox, because, look, fox is what it is. All right? And they are certainly putting the president first with their coverage, especially in prime time.

GAETZ: They also put ratings first. Right now, there are more people watching Fox than watching us. That's the reality.

CUOMO: If that's what they want to make what they're all about, then fine, they'll make that choice, and then they'll have to deal with it down the line, because journalism is more than success and ratings. And that's okay, everybody makes their own choice. I believe it. I struggle with it every night.

What I'm saying is this -- you have friends that are Democrats, that's great. You go on Fox and you guys are tossing around theories that are half baked but work with the base, that's part of the problem. When the president refuses to talk about his influence and the negativity that is unyielding is part of the problem, and reflects the coverage.

The coverage is going to be negative, because he's constantly putting out things that are lies.


GAETZ: Do you see the irony in that? You're 90 percent negative about the president and then you blame him for negativity before you even know the motive of the person who sent you these packages?

CUOMO: Who's putting out the things that we cover.

GAETZ: It's a prejudgment.

CUOMO: No, it's not a prejudgment. It's a post-judgment. He says things that are false --

GAETZ: He condemned political violence. If you wanted to do good for the country, why don't you guys do more to highlight what the president said to condemn political violence?

CUOMO: We did say it, but he --


GAETZ: And you want to be critical of it and you want to say it's never enough.

CUOMO: Matt, you want to say irony. Here's the irony. You guys all say he was presidential. Look, he said, condemn it, we have to be more civil. The next day, the next morning, he trashes us. The next chance he gets.

GAETZ: Well, sure, and you trash him. You trash him almost all the time on your network. And you know what? That's okay. It's okay for us to have disagreements and to be critical of each other's policies, and even at times.

CUOMO: But how you disagree matters, Matt. You and I don't talk to each other that way.

GAETZ: It does. It very much does.

CUOMO: You've never said a personal thing about me. I've never said a personal thing about you. We argue the facts. We argue different arguments.

I come at you, you like it, you don't like it, we go back and forth. That's fair.

GAETZ: Sure. And it's good.

CUOMO: But that's not what he does.

GAETZ: But that's not what happens everywhere else in the world, right? Like if we become so antiseptic that you can't say anything that's politically incorrect, or could potentially raise someone's blood pressure, we become like the rest of the world where you don't have the type of vibrant discourse that can sand the rough edges of public policy --

CUOMO: You don't have to call migrants monsters in order to have vibrant discourse.

GAETZ: Hey, look, some of the people coming across the border are monsters.

CUOMO: Some are, but not all.


GAETZ: Some of them kill Americans. Some are special interest aliens.

If you deny the fact that that is a reality, you start to whitewash the fact that this caravan could be very dangerous to the American people.

CUOMO: No, I call out the fact that it's not the majority, and even the president. I mean, this almost made my hairpiece fall off, when the president said there's no proof, there's no proof that there's a big bunch of Middle Easterners moving through. I've never heard him say anything like that. But he did.

GAETZ: Listen, we know there are Middle Easterners that move across that border and use that vulnerability to take advantage of us. And the sad thing is, like, OK, if 99 percent of them are wonderful people who are desperate, and 1 percent of them are going to commit some heinous act of violence, that's still a reason to stop the caravan.

CUOMO: That's why you have a process.

GAETZ: It's still a reason to secure our border and to build a wall. And you're right, but that process should be visited upon the American people exclusively. It's why I think the president was wise to work with Mexico to make asylum determinations in Mexico and Central America. And then people who president at our ports of entry that have legitimate asylum claims will get greater equity before those courts because it won't be clogged with a bunch of people who are gaming the system.

CUOMO: It's going to be clogged anyway, because we're understaffed and overburdened at the border already. And imagine how much smoother things would have gone if he hadn't demonizing Mexico for the last year and a half. That's what I'm talking about, how you talk about things, how you do your politics --


GAETZ: -- talking tough got them to the table. Look, Mexico functioned as a turnstile for Central America --

CUOMO: It still does.

GAETZ: -- during the entire Obama presidency.

CUOMO: It still does.

GAETZ: And if we could get them -- yes, if we could get them to create a physical barrier, work with Guatemala and Honduras where I think we've got --

CUOMO: What's their incentive to work with us?

GAETZ: Well, one, aid, and two, the governments in Honduras and Guatemala want strong borders, because when they don't have strong borders, then the cartels and international drug organizations have more permissible environment to operate in. So, they want to work with us.

And frankly, my call to the president would be -- let's do more to engage and work with the governments of Honduras and Guatemala, they are not our enemy, they want strong borders. And I think we have to solve more of those problems there so that we don't have a massive migration of people to our country that we're not prepared for, and that frankly could cause a real security problem.

CUOMO: That's 100 percent true. Let me know how that call goes, because he's the one threatening to cut off the same aid that creates better conditions for them at home.

GAETZ: Sometimes tough talk works. It's worked at some other places.

CUOMO: Sometimes it gets bombs sent.

Congressman Matt Gaetz, thank you for making the argument.

GAETZ: Let's hope no more. Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: God willing.

GAETZ: And hey, my thoughts and prayers with everyone at CNN. You've got some great folks that work there. They and their family members didn't deserve to go through all of this.

CUOMO: Matt Gaetz, appreciate you being on the show. I'll see you again.

GAETZ: Thank you.

CUOMO: Congressman from Florida. All right. Now, look, the gist of what we see here is Trump blames the media for the bomb sent to the media by someone who targeted all the same people that he targets. Now, that's not even reasonable let alone presidential. Why is the press secretary saying, he could not have been more presidential?

That is the making of a great debate. We will have it, next.


CUOMO: So, after this terrible bombing attempt of CNN, two former presidents, several lawmakers and one celebrity, the president did not really try to bring the country together. Not really. Instead, he chose to blame the victims of what he calls fake news.

Is the president upholding his duty to keep America safe?

Let's ask our great debaters, Angela Rye and Amy Kremer.

Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.

Angela, what do you got?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A lot. I think, first of all, you know, I walked into the building tonight, Chris, and every time I walk into the building, we have a board up that says facts are still facts. And I think about the importance of journalism, the importance of telling the truth in news, the importance of doing that, even when you have someone who has a tremendous bully pulpit at the 1600 Pennsylvania where the White House is.

And the bottom line is, the president has a real responsibility to not only stop saying fake news, because it enrages and rallies his base. But it enrages and rallies them with false information. That is exactly why facts are still facts.

This president has an obligation to stop picking on reporters. I think about Jim Acosta, who is, of course, our colleague, who he -- they are regularly targeting at the White House. So much so, that at Trump events at his rallies, there are supporters who are now targeting Jim. We can go on and on and on about the numbers of examples where he's not only used a bully pulpit, but he's actually been a bully.

And his press team follows suit. They go in back and forth. I think about what's happened with April, right, where Donald Trump asked April if she wanted to set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, because they were her friends, forgetting that she is, in fact, a journalist. The president has a massive problem with people who tell the truth, when that truth is not favorable so him. But alas, Chris, facts are still facts.

CUOMO: Amy, are you surprised that in the wake of these packages being sent out that the president came after the media again this morning? AMY KREMER, CO-FOUNDER, WOMEN FOR TRUMP: Chris, you know, I think the

president was very presidential yesterday in what he said, and then what do you know, you turn around and he's being attacked again. Everything Angela just said was an attack on the president.

RYE: It was true.

KREMER: Tell me one nice thing about the president --

CUOMO: Was any of it untrue?

KREMER: The thing is, it doesn't matter if it's untrue or not.

CUOMO: Doesn't?

KREMER: Part of it is subjective. I don't agree with everything she said, and so yes, I do think that some of it is untrue.

And what you're missing, what everybody is missing is that this isn't just about the president. Every time you attack the president, you're attacking the people that voted for him, the 63 million Americans that voted for him. They support him.

And when 92 percent of the media coverage about the president is negative, that's not a hallmark of objective journalism. That's not. And the people want the facts.

Facts matter, Angela's right, I have to agree with her, facts matter. And you're not reporting facts. What is happening is, a lot of the stuff being reported is opinion and editorial, and it's not facts. That's fine if you want to be --


KREMER: If you want to be, I'm not calling names, OK? Let me finish.

CUOMO: I am.

KREMER: Let me finish. If you want to talk about opinion and editorial, that's fine. Don't claim to be a journalist just because --

CUOMO: But you guys, but you guys have decided that what you don't like is fake. I asked you what did Angela say that's not true. You said I don't agree with some of it. That's a different standard.

KREMER: But, Chris --

CUOMO: And what I'm saying is, I can get that the president's supporters are upset. You forget who I am, Amy. I grew up at the knee of a politician, I didn't like the people who came after him, I don't like the people who threw things at our house. I don't like the people that come after me now, sometimes.

I get it. I get animosity.

KREMER: Right.

CUOMO: But what I'm saying is, if you say something to your supporters that winds up being part of the atmosphere, and then I get attacked, don't you feel a responsibility to say, hey, hey, hey, don't do that? Whatever I said that made you think that that's okay, I take it back. I'm going to think about what I say, because I do not want this. He didn't say that.

KREMER: Chris, I think we all have a responsibility. Not just the cable news networks, and the big networks. And the administration, but even Angela and I, and other commentators that --

CUOMO: You haven't mentioned the president, though. When you say the president is in there.

KREMER: The president does too. We all --

CUOMO: There you go.

KREMER: -- do, because we are all part of the conversation. And I think number one, we should live by the golden rule, treat others the way that you want to be treated. You know, it used to be --

RYE: That's a good idea.

KREMER: -- you could come on, we would have these conversations, we would go back and forth with each other on the air, and we get off the air and, you know, we hug each other, sometimes we'd get a drink, go to dinner, whatever. I mean, a lot of that has even changed.

CUOMO: Not here.

KREMER: And it's said. It's sad.

CUOMO: Not here. That's what this show is all about, is disagreeing --

KREMER: No, I'm not saying -- right, no, I agree with you, and somebody asked me today, somebody here at the building at CNN in Atlanta asked me, how do I like going on Cuomo's show? I said, I actually love it, because you know what? We all get to say what we think, he doesn't cut you off, he gives you the time and he respects what you -- your opinion is.

And I appreciate that. And I think there's a lot to be said for that.

CUOMO: All right.

KREMER: It doesn't happen a lot. And I appreciate it.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you for saying that.

So, Angela, listen, this is where we're left, OK? I thought yesterday was a watershed moment, I really did. Because even if -- I don't care if the person who did it is a lefty or a righty, it's a he or a she, it's a me or a we, whatever it is, it was scary enough for a moment of pause, and today, it's worse. Today it's worse. The Fox people are attacking us.

RYE: Yes.

CUOMO: The president is attacking us. Sarah Sanders is saying that he was as presidential as he can be, couldn't have been more presidential. I just don't get how we get any better.

What do you got? You're an optimist.

RYE: Well, I'm also a realist. That's why I stated facts. I used examples, concrete examples and quote straight from the president's mouth. I'm sorry that Amy doesn't like what I said. But unfortunately, I don't like that I had to say it, right?

I think the reality of the situation is, Donald Trump had a presidential moment on prompter last night, and as soon as the prompter was gone, he forgot what it meant to be president, as we see him do regularly on Twitter. If you want to see his base get riled up and do ugly things this is what happens, if you gin up your base, right?

I have a base too, it's not as large as the president's, but I can go out and say some things to get them hot. That's not what I want to do in this life, because I don't want to see -- violence beget violence. I don't want to see people's words become more ugly.

What I will not stand for is being called a liar or saying I said something dishonest. Me talking about the president and his rhetoric is truthful. The truth hurts, that doesn't make it wrong, right?

This is the same president who chained saying, he could go on Fifth Street and shoot someone and he would still have his supportive base. That's a problem. That is a major problem.

I have a mentor who received one of these threats, that's Congresswoman Maxine Waters. I need him to stop attacking her. That's why she was a subject of one of these bomb threats.

KREMER: Angela, but what about what Maxine Waters said?

RYE: No, but that's a red herring.


KREMER: It's not a red herring.


RYE: Yes, it is.

KREMER: No, it's not. She said, anyone who sees this administration or anybody in the administration, out and a about, that you need to go and confront them, in a restaurant, at a gas station, wherever.

How is that taken out of context? That is not.

RYE: Because normally, you are --


CUOMO: Answer that, Angela, and then I have to go.

RYE: That's not what happened. So, no, she said to confront them, because we have every right to understand why they are making life more difficult for the most vulnerable populations among us.

KREMER: No, no.

CUOMO: Angela, Amy, I appreciate it.

This is an ongoing discussion and we'll always be able to have it here. I believe in it, I know it's got to be part of the right way to discuss the things that matter. Thanks to both of you.

So, what do we know about the investigation? The package bombs that were sent to Trump critics are really just his targets. They have led investigators to a postal facility in Florida. Why? Well, they believe several of the devices may have been processed there. What does that mean? How big a piece of the puzzle is it? What other pieces are there?

We have a great mind for you on this. The former head of U.S. intelligence, James Clapper, is with us next.


CUOMO: All right. So, right now, there are ten suspicious packages, all targeting people that the president doesn't like, no coincidence there. And it includes CNN.

Now, the FBI warns us tonight, there may be more packages, why? A number of reasons. They haven't found the people who have done this. They don't know how much of the mail was processed. They don't know how much of it was put in place that would be immediately discovered.

But they had a break. There is new information that led them to a postal facility in South Florida.

Let's get perspective. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper joins us now.

It's good to have you sir, as always.


CUOMO: All right. So, they were telling us yesterday, a lot to work with here, the stamps, the return addresses, the packaging, the couriers that may have been used and other than the Soros device, I believe, and maybe one other, they had most of them intact.

Are you surprised that they have found their way to a depot this quickly? CLAPPER: Actually, no. I'm not, because of the number of these

devices, and the number of potential clues that each one of them gives and then collectively, and the fact that they were in tact I think it's quite significant that they already have honed in on a postal facility near Miami. So, somehow they've come up with forensic signature that has elicited the interest in that facility, and I think it's quite significant and also when you think about it, pretty impressive.

CUOMO: Yes, I mean, I definitely see the impressive part. How do you think it fits into the puzzle? What does this kind of peace mean in the ultimate detection?

CLAPPER: Well, I think the obvious conclusion or inference I would draw is that someone in Florida, perhaps used this facility or mailed things in Florida -- mailed these devices in Florida that passed through this facility, or at least some of them did.

So, that would, to me indicate that they are focusing on Florida right now. And as well, they may be able to -- I'm just speculating here, I don't know, but may be able to run a trail on where these devices might have gone, when they left this facility in Miami.

CUOMO: You know --

CLAPPER: They know where they ended up. If they emanated from that facility, then they've got the beginnings of drawing a trail.

CUOMO: You know, we saw the pictures yesterday. We had on the show last night an early look at some of the X-ray pictures of the devices. You know, I've seen a lot of bogus munitions and devices. There was work put into these.

You know, there was substance inside the plastic PVC pipes. The caps were sealed. There was wiring, alarm clocks worked. Switches, yes and no. I don't have good reporting on that yet.

But that's a lot of sophistication for a fake, isn't it?

CLAPPER: Well, it is to me. I don't think -- I don't buy the notion these were fake at all. And, you know, when it comes to whether or not this was domestic terrorism or not, I personally think it is. You have to think about, what was the impact here, and the purpose of terrorism is to incite fear and intimidation, with a political overtone or political motivation.

Well, that's what's happened here. Whether or not they were fake or whether or not they would operate or not is an important but secondary consideration. For me, the important thing is the impact.

CUOMO: I do know that today they reported that the substance at least in the CNN package that was actually addressed to your friend, former CIA Director Brennan, that the substance was inert. It wasn't like an anthrax or anything like that that we had to worry about, God forbid. But that's a weird mismatch also, you know? So, they put a powder in there that wasn't worth anything. But they put explosive ordnance and other things and other craftsmanship into the device. That's an odd match there, isn't it?

CLAPPER: It is. I don't know whether the powder was a distraction, perhaps. I don't know. And I guess we won't know until the perpetrators are caught. Perpetrator or perpetrators are caught, and, you know, there's some explanation for it, there is not one that's readily evident to me.

CUOMO: And, you know, there's still so much urgency. It's hard to get information out of the investigators right now and those close to the investigation, because until they have the person or persons responsible, they could be putting out more packages, and if they were getting close to being able to make them work, or these were able to make them work. And now they know people are chasing them, maybe they'll up the ante.

So, God forbid that happens. We'll take the information as it comes. And I'll come back to you, Mr. Clapper, to help me process it. Thank you so much.

CLAPPER: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Be well.

There's another big story coming out of the media world today. You may never see Megyn Kelly on NBC again after the news division's highest paid star actually defended blackface. Now, she apologized but apparently it wasn't enough. Next.


CUOMO: All right. After her offensive remarks defending blackface costumes on Halloween, Megyn Kelly offered this apology.


MEGYN KELLY, HOST, "MEGYN KELLY TODAY": I defended the idea, saying as long as it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, it seemed okay. Well, I was wrong, and I am sorry. I learned that given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country, it is not okay for that to be part of any costume. Halloween or otherwise.


CUOMO: Did you think it was genuine? Did you think it was redeeming?

NBC apparently didn't. This morning, Kelly didn't host her show. The network replaced her live broadcast with a prerecorded episode.

And now, sources tell CNN she's negotiating an exit from NBC.

Let's bring in D. Lemon here. Look, I thought that you were very persuasive and truthful in why this

was wrong and why she needed somebody in that moment to correct what obviously she wasn't aware of. But if it is, why she's losing her job, you and I are both hearing reporting there's a longer story here, what do you make of the move?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": Of the move of her losing her job?


LEMON: Listen, I mean, for anybody, I hate for anybody to lose their job and not to pile on to Megyn, a lot of people are piling onto her. I mean, she made some mistakes and now she's suffering the consequences of those mistakes.

But I also think that it is partially the fault of the people who hired her because Megyn's record, how she feels about things, she says she's not PC. It's all there. All you have to do is do a Google search. She's very outspoken in her views and how she feels about things.

They knew exactly what they were getting when they hired Megyn Kelly. Now, that said, it doesn't make up for the fact that she was unaware of the situation, and what she did was insensitive. I never said that it was racist. I won't go that far. But she was just -- she's unaware of the history own she said as much as that.

So I think the management has to take some responsibility in it. She has to take some responsibility in it. And I say that because -- and also her representatives have to take some responsibility in it. You know and I know that in this business, it's really hard to change and have the audience see you in a different way.

She was a hard-hitting political journalist over at Fox News for a very long time, where she took a stand on things and she was very adamant about it. And then to go from that to a lovable morning show anchor is -- she just wasn't seen that way. The audience likes authenticity.

If you're going to be -- I'm not saying she is -- I'm just saying if you're going to be a jerk on television, then do that. If you're going to be a nice person on television, do that. A sweetheart. If you're going to be a mean or B, whatever it is, you want to call it, then you need to stick to your personality and the audience will come along with you.

I don't -- I think her representatives and I think management also did her wrong because they put her in a position that was not necessarily suited to her skill set.

CUOMO: Not an easy position for management here, either, because they're going to have to eat a lot of money. She was their highest paid person. She's one of the highest paid I've ever heard of.

LEMON: Sixty-nine million dollars. CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: That is a lot of money, especially to the -- I don't know if she's going to get $69 million, she's going to get a ton of money to be sitting around doing nothing. But, again, she said something that she should not have said.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: I said, we do this -- you know, you and I are live. You say one stupid thing, all right, fine. One thing that you shouldn't be doing or shouldn't have said, usually people will forgive you. But if it is a pattern and you don't seem to understand what you're doing wrong or what you're saying is wrong, then that becomes a problem.

CUOMO: D. Lemon, thank you very much for the perspective as always.

LEMON: I can't wait to talk to you at the top of the hour. I have something to talk to you about.

CUOMO: I love the suspense.

LEMON: Yes. See you in a few minutes.

CUOMO: All right. I have a surprise for you in the closing argument. Another guarantee. It's not going to be all bad. It's going to remind us of some things that matter as well. I don't want to give it away. I'll see you in a second.


CUOMO: Closing argument -- our politics is ugly, and it didn't get any better today. Wait, wait. That's not all this is about.

We are more than that, more than just our ugly politics. We're not just our worst efforts. We are more. Much more.

America ha un buon cuore, my grandmother used to say, America has a good heart. She was right then and now.



CROWD (singing): Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, dear James, happy birthday to you --


CUOMO: I want to play this three times for you guys. It just fills my heart. This is who we are, too. That's Hickerson Elementary School in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

The man you saw, James Anthony, overjoyed. He's a hearing-impaired custodian. He's been at the school 15 years. Two kindergarten classes with their teachers. You know what? Go ahead, Mel, run it again while I talk. They don't

need to see me. I'd rather them see that.

Their teachers were Alyssa Hartsfield (ph) and Amy Hirschman (ph). They learned to sign happy birthday. They taught the kindergarten kids for Anthony's 60th birthday. God bless them all.

When is the last time you laughed like that? When is the last time you felt that kind of joy? What a gift to him.

So, we are our teachers, Alyssa, and Amy, all those like them across the country who kill themselves to put things, good things in our kids' heads and hearts, where those kids who look at the world for what it can be and jump at the chance to make a man smile and laugh out loud. We are those who step up with money and more after a hurricane when the need is great. So are we.

We're all spending more time making good memories and telling the people that we love them and holding them close, even if it's just a hurried kiss on the way out the door. We're all doing more of that than making enemies.

The point is simple, but it is also something that you need to remember. We are more than what happens when we are at our worst. And I'll tell you why that matters. It's not saccharin. It's not Pollyannaish.

When you remember what matters most, it puts things into perspective. And when you remember that the ugly things that we're seeing too much of and that, yes, I may focus on too much, that's not all that we are. And it's not all you should want to watch. It's not all you should reward with your time.

So, if you apply this very simply, how do we get this situation to change? This is what I've been thinking about. You reward those who do it right. And you punish those who do it wrong.

If the leadership at the top doesn't want to change, then you make it bubble up from the bottom. You do it with whom you vote for. What you watch. The ratings are all yours as well.

That is how you can do it because, remember, when you look at who we are, we are much more what we just watched with those kids and in that classroom than we are what we see too often on the rally stage.

Thank you for watching.

"CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON" starts right now.