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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Discussion of Attempted Bombings; Presidential Rhetoric Examined; James Clapper Interviewed. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired October 26, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you, my friend. Have a good weekend.
I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.
The bombs were not a hoax. Not fake. They were real, improvised devices that might have hurt people, so says the head of the FBI picked by Donald Trump.
The Democrats did not do this. A rabid Trump fan allegedly did, targeting those who Trump told him and the legion of fans at rallies he attended that those were the people worthy of his hate -- a Trump supporter who showed up at MAGA rallies. Say it twice, it is doubly true. He went around in a rolling Trump propaganda machine.
We're going to tell you all we've learned so far about the man in custody and on your screen right now and the amazing police work that tracked him down. But the big challenge remains, how do we get better?
We have a couple examples of the wrong way. You hear that? That's the sound of those patriots over at Fox not apologizing for the false comments, and the fake bomb B.S. that they and their cohorts on the extreme right were peddling since the bombs showed up. It was never true and they knew it.
And tonight, even though the president now knows it was one of his fans who targeted the people who said were the enemy and worthy of the worst, the president stood before another crowd and wait until you hear what he said and did not say.
It's Friday night. Time to fight the good fight. Let's get after it.
CUOMO: We learned a lot today. Like I said, the bombs are real. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Though we're still analyzing the devices in the laboratory, these are not hoax devices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Why do I keep saying and it playing it if I made the point? So many had been lying about it and the danger is real and is still on going.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WRAY: Today's arrest doesn't mean we're all out of the woods. There may be other packages in transit now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right, so anything you hear, maybe it's a false flag or just a left to distract, it's all B.S. Dismiss it. That is Trump's own FBI director and he couldn't be more clear.
So, all of that nonsense about fake this and fake that and conservatives just don't do this thing? Enough. Somebody could have been killed here. Nobody's playing games, not the FBI, not the Secret Service, not the countless first responders who did what they do so often and bust their hump to keep people safe.
The suspect, a really rabid Trump fan. Clearly thought he was doing the right thing here and he couldn't have been more wrong.
Would the president man up and own what he said and what he has done and how it affected this misguided Trumper?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Does it bother you at all?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not at all. No, there is no blame. There's no anything.
If you look at what happened to Steve Scalise, that was from a supporter of a different party. Well, I think I have been toned done, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up, because as you know, the media has been extremely unfair to me. But with all of that being said, we're winning. So, I like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Who is winning this environment? Think about it. When somebody sends bombs after feeding what you put out at your rallies and in your tweets, that's winning?
Now, this is the loser who did it, the guy in custody, Cesar Sayoc. His van tells you all you need to know about him. He's the guy with a scary criminal record. He's been arrested at least nine times, including a threat to bomb in Miami. And he was feeding on the hate fuel from Trump and his proxies. His van echoed all the noise coming out of the Trump trio over on Fox.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, FBN HOST: The FBI won't say that. They won't say that there was an explosive.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: All these little dumb people on television leveraging the moment to make scripted partisan points or boost their cable news ratings as they invariably do. CNN blamed Trump for, quote, inciting a serial bomber.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: And it's outrageous for those folks to even imply that somehow these dastardly acts were provoked by our commander in chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: We keep hearing this mess spilling out beyond Fox. It's spreading. It's amplified in the conservative echo chamber where folks like Rush Limbaugh, tell, you know, oh, this van, this van, you know, it's too perfect. Must be fake.
Listen to this noise.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The thing to notice, there are three total windows in the van. There is it no way anybody could see in or out. Look how evenly proportioned every sticker is. Look, nothing is off line. There isn't any overlap. This screams notice me. This would be defaced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: He is screaming notice me. He should be defaced for what he says. Well, how silly, the side windows of the van are covered.
The guy looks out the front window when he drives, Rush. Get behind the wheel more often. Cesar Sayoc, if he is guilty, he alone deserves the blame for what he did, and he will pay a price if they can make the case. But there's the problem -- there are plenty of people like him susceptible to irresponsible rhetoric and those who believe that disagreeing is not enough. The other side must be the enemy. Any critic is bad, evil, and if that sounds like Trump, that's because that's what he does most of the time and he seems to get that it's a problem the least.
Like when he suggested the devices were contrived to detract from the GOP midterm momentum and called the attacks bomb stuff. The irony is, Trump complains about the media putting him in a negative light, but it was one of his most devoted fans who put him in the worst light of all.
Now, again, there's an important distinction, the president is not responsible for the crimes. He didn't do it. He didn't direct the man to do it. But, he has to own some responsibility for the flammable dialogue that he puts out that people like this may be feeding off. All our leader must, but he is the biggest.
Will team Trump own the reality? Time to test.
CUOMO: As President Trump took to the stage in Charlotte, North Carolina, he was first heard urging unity and civility. But it didn't take long to turn to what he likes to do best.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In all sincerity, the media's constant, unfair coverage, deep hostility and negative attacks, you know that, only serve to drive people apart and to under mine healthy debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: So a guy who was at rallies just like that one sends bombs to people like me, and he blames us for the dynamic and nothing for himself.
What does team Trump have to say about this one?
Corey Lewandowski, former Trump campaign manager and co-author of a new book, 'Trump's Enemies' has a surprising message for the president. He joins us to discuss.
Corey, thank you for joining us.
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Thank you for having me.
CUOMO: I appreciate it.
Let's see if we can agree on some things. According to the FBI, not a hoax, not a Democrat stunt. Something that needed to be taken seriously and was what it appears to be. Agree?
LEWANDOWSKI: A hundred percent agree.
CUOMO: All right. So, do you believe that as part of moving forward, the people who called it a hoax, who said this is the Democrats, fake bombs, fake news, should they correct the record and should they back off in order to set us in somewhat of a better course?
LEWANDOWSKI: Yes, look, Chris, I think that anybody who didn't think that this was a serious event should rethink that. I think anybody who thought that this was politically okay to do is disgusting. I think that we should as a country unite so that our elected officials, whether current or past, should have an opportunity to have a safe environment that they're in every single day and that's where we should be as a country and everyone that I know is united in one thing.
If this is at perpetrator that the FBI has now found, is going to hold accountable, we need to make sure it never happens again. And I praise the law enforcement for their work in this particular incident.
CUOMO: Well, one of the few things we can do, lone wolves, as you know, are very difficult to stop in advance. They're tough to track. They can pop we don't know where. But the atmosphere they exist can be controlled and that's what I want to talk about. And the reason I asked about calling it a hoax, assuming it wasn't what it appeared to be, the president did that in a tweet. He had said Republicans were doing so well in early voting and at
polls and now this bomb stuff happens. And the momentum greatly slows, news, not talking politics, very unfortunate what is going on. He made it sound like this is a contrivance. It isn't.
Do you think that this is something that he should clean up and say, you know, I was wrong to say that?
LEWANDOWSKI: I think the president from the get-go, from the first bomb that was detected, said that he was going use the full weight of the federal government to find this perpetrator or perpetrators and to bring them to justice. Now, look --
CUOMO: He was assuming it was a lefty plan, that this could have been a contrivance?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, I don't know about that. But what I do know is that unfortunately, you know, we have problems on both sides of the aisle who think that violence is a solution when it's not. Look, I think of the individual who shot Steve Scalise and the other staff members and the Capitol police whose goal was to kill as many Republicans as possible in that baseball field. That is unacceptable.
CUOMO: You mentioned what happened with Scalise, terrible, national tragedy. The person who did it, even if they were deranged, was bad and they committed an evil act. But I don't get the apples to apples comparison on this in terms of our responsibility for tone. That man was a Bernie Sanders supporter, he says. But Bernie never told people, hey, you know what, those lawmakers, those Republicans, they are the enemy. They are bad -- they're bad people, I don't like them. They are no good.
Bernie Sanders never talks about that about Republicans but the president talks like that about us and he talks about that, like that about his opponents. Do you think that is something he should stop?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Chris, what I think is on both sides of the aisle, whether it's Eric Holder or Hillary Clinton or other people on the left, Maxine Waters, whoever it is, and the president included here, we need to tone this down before someone really gets hurt. Steve Scalise almost lost his life over this. We've now seen many people who I disagree with politically receiving these bombs that didn't go off.
But we've also seen it on the right. We have seen Donald Trump Jr.'s wife be exposed. We have seen Eric Trump be exposed.
There is no places -- this needs to tone down. We've got an election in just under a week and a half and what we need to do is we need to unite the country, whether the Republicans or Democrats win the House of Representatives, to me, is a secondary issue. What is more important to me is that everybody can go to sleep at time knowing that they are safe and secure in the greatest country in the world.
And if we allow individuals like this, like this deranged person who's been accused of this crime and now been arrested, to continue to perpetrate, then we are doing ourselves and our country a disservice.
CUOMO: The president has said that America must be unified. He said nothing about what he would do to make that happen. Shouldn't he?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, of course. Look, this is the president --
CUOMO: But he hasn't.
LEWANDOWSKI: This is the president whose primary job is to keep citizens safe regardless of political affiliation, party affiliation --
CUOMO: So, maybe he should stop saying the media is the enemy and that his opponents are bad people, and that you're right to be angry about them and hostile toward them.
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I do think we have to remember, look, this individual who's been accused of this crime and now been arrested for it was a man who's living in his car. He was thrown out of his mother's house. He seems to have a lengthy record of arrests in the past.
He clearly has potentially some mental problem.
CUOMO: So did the man who shot Steve Scalise.
LEWANDOWSKI: That's exactly right and we have --
CUOMO: Except, guys pick their facts on these things, right? You don't talk about Steve Scalise that way, and you say it should be seen as an equal thing. But when it comes to guy who shot up people with a Trump van, now he is damaged and we have to look at it that way.
LEWANDOWSKI: No, that's right. And, look, I don't know if they ever found the perpetrator who sent a white powder substance to Vanessa Trump. She wrote about that incident, and said it was the worst two weeks of her life when she opened that package and ends up with white powder on her face --
CUOMO: And the media on the right said the bombs, because they didn't go off and because they weren't like the highest great explosives, that it wasn't a big deal. But it's okay for Vanessa Trump to do what she did, which is her honest and truthful feeling about abject fear, having to be on drugs for two weeks. Maybe it didn't turn out to be anything, but it doesn't mean she wasn't afraid and yet the right in the media, while they want people to know about her story, they trashed CNN and the other targets of these bomb by saying, oh, they are not real explosives, oh, it's not a big deal, don't be a snowflake. What a double standard.
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, Chris, and I don't agree with any of that to be fair. Anybody who is perpetuating this violence against somebody else seems to be held accountable and I think all of us, and you and I have talked about this. We can disagree on a lot of things but the one thing you and I can absolutely agree on, is violence has no place in this society. There is no place to disagree with someone and cause violence to that person based on their political beliefs.
You and I can fundamentally agree on that. I think all Americans can agree on that, except these lunatics who want to do something and need to be held accountable.
CUOMO: A hundred percent and we do our part. We don't always agree. I test you, maybe you like it, maybe you don't, but we never attack each other. We always leave and part as people who are amicable.
The president has a lot more responsibility than you and I do. And there is one of him. He's the powerful leader and he's the highest elected leader in the land. He has taken the single opportunity to talk about himself and what he'll do to make things better.
He did say today, I have toned down if you want to know the truth. I can really tune it up.
The morning after the bomb arrived at CNN, he blamed us for and he said the negativity is our problem. Tonight at the rally in Charlotte, they were chanting "CNN sucks" and they were whipped up by one of the organizers of the rally.
Do you think the president should say to his supporters, stop saying that? Don't treat the free press an enemy? I know I may have sounded that way, I'm not going to do that anymore, neither should you?
LEWANDOWSKI: You know, Chris, I am concerned about the rhetoric that comes up, but CNN has a large microphone as well. And the statement that was put out by the CNN spokesman --
CUOMO: We're not the president.
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, look, it's a worldwide entertainment organization, it has a massive reach around the world and to go out and accuse not only the president but the press secretary of the White House that they had something to do, potentially something to do with these bombing, I think --
CUOMO: No, they don't understand the power of their words, Corey, and now, they should, because a guy sent a bomb to our office because he believes in the president and what the president says.
LEWANDOWSKI: You know, Chris, I'll tell you this, with this election right around the corner, I think everybody is amped up. Democrats feel they want to take back the House. Republicans are fighting to keep the House. I think that has led to some of these hyper-partisan discussion, and clearly over the top rhetoric we have seen, and unfortunately, it's individuals like this person who want to take it to the next step, which is completely unacceptable.
We need to get through this election, we need to unite the country. You know, look, when Barack Obama was elected, I didn't vote for him, but I wanted him to be successful because I want my country to be successful.
What we need to do is we need to get back to a place where Republicans and Democrats can put aside partisan politics and this is me saying this, and work together on issues that they can agree on, but more importantly to have a civil tone so that when you disagree, it is not disagreeable. When you disagree with someone, it is in a professional manner, and you can finish the day and move on it.
And that's what we need to get back to, because we have lost that unfortunately.
CUOMO: A hundred percent. The tone starts at the top. Let's see what happens next.
Corey Lewandoski, thank you.
LEWANDOWSKI: Thank you.
CUOMO: Was I surprised of that? Yes, in a good way. However the last statement, and this is me taking, he said, and that's the limitation. The president says none of that. And if the president means what he says when he pays lip service from prepared remarks that America must unify, doesn't he need to say how he would help do that? Doesn't he need to lead that initiative? Isn't that what presidents do?
You know what that sounds like, a provocative premise for a great debate, next.
CUOMO: The president's words have meaning. We all know that and they have tremendous power as well, especially during times of crisis. We have seen presidents inspire nationwide sentiments of unification. But they can also inflect deeper political entrenchment among us.
Now that a suspect is under arrest and the mail bomb attacks, we can ask ourselves, what did the president do in this moment? What is he saying now? And more importantly, why?
Let's get after that in the great debate. We've got Jennifer Granholm and Niger Innis.
Thanks to both of you for being in here on a Friday night. So, the president said we must unify, this is no good.
Was that enough for you, Jennifer Granholm?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, if he had stopped there, it would have been amazing and great. Although, he did look like he was reading a script from a hostage video. But after he did that, unfortunately, he went right back to it.
So, it's not -- you know, I mean, it's a teleprompter versus rally Trump and it's rally Trump that's been feeding so much the division we have seen. So, it's such a low bar, Chris. I mean, it's such a low bar for him to jump over.
He would get so many people, you know, who would be giving him a second look at the election if he were to say, you know what, everybody has got to take a breath including myself. I am going to dial it back. We should be unified. Not just when he's reading a teleprompter, but when he is standing in a rally, when he stops people who are chanting "lock her up" or "lock him up".
But he doesn't do any of that and it's so easy to lead in the right way and instead, he is chosen to lead in a divisive way. Very disconcerting.
CUOMO: Niger, why didn't he have a McCain moment today? Remember when the woman at the town hall, the debate, I think it was town hall, said, I don't trust Obama, I think he's a Muslim or whatever stupid things she said, and he said, no, no, no, he's a good man. I disagree with him on things but he is a good man.
Trump had several moments do that since this bombing. I disagree with these people. I don't hate these people, and if you think you are supporting me by hating them, you're not and you are doing a disservice to this country. That's all he had to say. Won't say it.
NIGER INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: Look, the president is a street fighter.
CUOMO: No, he isn't.
INNIS: That is the method --
CUOMO: He grew up with money -- he grew up getting anything he wants.
INNIS: No, I'm talking rhetorically. He and that attitude is what led him to win the nomination, to win the presidency against all odds and to have a smashingly, frankly, successful presidency. But he also learned from Republicans --
CUOMO: In terms of how he deals with the people?
INNIS: -- so-called Republican civility has gotten Republicans in the past.
You mentioned John McCain and God rest his soul in heaven. I think he was a decent man but what did John McCain's decency get him in 2008?
CUOMO: You think he lost because he was decent?
INNIS: It got him a "New York Times" story calling him an adulterer. What did Mitt Romney's decency and civility and being such a gentleman get him? It got him called a tax cheat by Harry Reid who was never called on it by the media, and when asked about it, he said, well, it worked, didn't it?
What did this civility? And these are the things -- I'm not saying the president shouldn't rise about it.
CUOMO: Wait, you don't believe civility in politics? You don't believe in civility in politics?
INNIS: No, actually, Chris, you know -- Chris, you know I come from a civil rights tradition --
CUOMO: I know.
INNIS: -- that believes in nonviolent protest and civility. I actually do.
CUOMO: Your father wasn't a cheap shot artist.
INNIS: I -- he was absolutely not. But my father, if you took a shot at him, he'd take a shot at you.
CUOMO: Yes, but that's not the metric with the president. He takes shots because he doesn't like what you do. Not because you took a shot at him. It's not like someone said in the media, I'm not stupid and he says, I'm not stupid. You're stupid.
It's we in the media say, you are wrong when you say that you are created the good economy and he says, oh, that's fake news. That's not the same thing as being a counterpuncher. It's being a cheap shot artist.
INNIS: I don't buy that. I think it is --
GRANHOLM: In addition to that, can I just jump in?
CUOMO: Go ahead. Jennifer, get in here.
GRANHOLM: I just -- yes, I mean, it's just really disturbing what you are saying, Niger, because what you are saying is that it's only through this that the Republicans can win, and through the fist. That is just so not what unifies this country.
I mean, all of the other previous Republican presidents, no one has been as utterly divisive and a partisan way as this president. I don't feel like he even wants me or anybody who thinks like me to be on his team. He is so utterly partisan that he only wants to be president for half or less, a third of America. That is not presidential
CUOMO: A question for you, Jennifer. A question for you.
Where are the Democrats filling the void on this? I know they are not in power. You beat me down on this before. I understand the leverage of power and them being the out-party. But I don't hear the Democrats and their leaders and those who want to be their leaders jumping into the void here about what this means.
GRANHOLM: Are you kidding? Everybody is saying it today! We have to unify. This is --
CUOMO: But what are they going to do to unify us? I know everybody says that we need to unify. What are they going to do?
GRANHOLM: Well, when you say what are they going to do?
CUOMO: What are they going to do? How are they going to reach across?
GRANHOLM: They're going to get elected.
CUOMO: How are they going to make it better?
GRANHOLM: Well, so, what Democrats need to do is continue to reach across the aisle. Yes, the ones who are in power, the ones who are going to be in power. You see all of the Democrats who are running for office now, the vast majority of them are not attacking Trump. They are talking about the things that people, Democrats and Republicans, care about in their districts. It has to be focused on that.
But this president, unfortunately, I wish he wanted all of us to come together. I wish he reached out to people like -- who think they like I do and say, you know what, I'm president for all of us.
The Democrats who are running are saying that, especially those who are running in states that are purple states, they're saying, we all have to come together. I'm not just a leader for the Democrats. I'm a leader for my district. I'm a leader for my state, Democrats and Republicans.
This president had never said that. He has never reached across the aisle, as you have noted throughout this is that leadership --
INNIS: We must be in alternative -- we must be in alternative universes, Jennifer, because I recall a guy named, Attorney General -- former Attorney General Eric Holder, the top law enforcement official, saying you kick Republicans when they go low, OK? I remember --
GRANHOLM: Right, and then Michelle Obama came back and said that's not right.
INNIS: -- the first lady, former first lady and former secretary of state -- former secretary of state, former first lady, former nominee of the Democratic Party got the most votes in the history of our country other than Obama who says --
GRANHOLM: Former first lady said no.
INNIS: -- there will be no -- there will be no civility until Democrats regain power.
CUOMO: Let's say you're right. On your own facts, Niger, why don't you ever call that out about the president? Call him a counterpuncher and a street fighter?
INNIS: I have done it -- I have not only done it, I have done it on your show, Chris, and said that the president was wrong.
CUOMO: Don't you think he should have said something --
INNIS: But I've given you an analysis of his personality and his persona and know that is not going to change.
CUOMO: I know, but it's like you kind of are excusing it that way. That is just who he is. He can't be any better. He's the president.
INNIS: Here's what's unfair. It's unfair that Republican folk who was serving in the administration, patriotic Americans can't go out and have a dinner without being harassed. Sarah Sanders can't go to the restaurant without the owner of the restaurant saying, you got to leave this restaurant because we disagree with you politically --
CUOMO: Right, and somebody sent a bomb to where I work. So, obviously, there are problems on both sides. I'm saying --
INNIS: No, there's a difference between that crazy man -- there is a difference of a crazy man sending in faulty pipe bombs and the gentleman who -- not gentleman, the crazy man that almost skilled Scalise and the same people going into a restaurant, the owner of the restaurant went to Sarah Sanders and felt righteous to say, you have to leave this restaurant because I disagree with your boss. That's not -- that restaurant owner was not crazy.
INNIS: Niger, would you agree --
CUOMO: I hear you, Niger.
Jennifer, last point.
GRANHOLM: I'm just saying, Niger, it sounds like you are saying, would you -- can you and I end this conversation agreeing that it's important for leadership and especially the leader who has the biggest microphone to bring people together, to unify and to not be divisive, and stalked division at every rally? Can we agree on all leaders should be taking down the temperature and making America more safe rather than less safe. Can we agree on that?
INNIS: I agree --
INNIS: -- that the president of the United States --
GRANHOLM: OK, stop. CUOMO: Let him answer, let him answer, Jennifer.
GRANHOLM: No, just kidding.
INNIS: -- should be concerned about the safety of the American people and that's why I applaud his Justice Department and his FBI for catching this lunatic who's going to be spending 50 years with a guy named Bubba as his roommate.
CUOMO: And they got to make the case and we can all agree on this. It was Trump's choice for the FBI, Christopher Wray who said not a hoax, not a false flag. Not done by Democrats. Not done to deter during the midterms. It was a Trump supporter.
So, all you out there saying differently, a lot of silence from you tonight on the apologetic side. That doesn't help us get better either.
Jennifer, Niger, thank you for giving me your Friday night.
GRANHOLM: You bet.
INNIS: Thank you.
CUOMO: Still a lot to come. Still a lot that we don't know.
But what we do know is that one of the 14 packages that went sent went to James Clapper, you know him, a CNN family, addressed to the building that we're in right now. That one was found today.
The nation's former intel chief with his perspective on what it's like to be targeted and how we get out of this mess.
CUOMO: These bombs are not hoax devices -- those words ringing loud and clear from FBI Director Christopher Wray today after the suspect accused of sending more than a dozen bombs across the country was apprehended.
The name: Cesar Sayoc. He now faces charges with five federal crimes, could spend up to 48 years in prison after terror spread across the country by his hand. Home, work spaces, former presidents, congressional leaders, those of us who are in the CNN New York office, all affected.
Joining us now is another person who got a package, or there was one addressed to him, former director of national intelligence, James Clapper.
So that makes 14 explosive devices. The authorities say there may be more. So, we'll keep an eye out for that.
It is good to see you. I am glad that the package wound up being irrelevant to your continued existence.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Yes, so am I.
CUOMO: You got to give me a sense on this, Jim, of -- you know, you have been through a lot in your life. When you heard that you were one of the people that this guy had eyes on, what did it mean to you?
CLAPPER: Well, first of all, it wasn't a big surprise to me, Chris. I find of figured that, you know, this guy send out enough --
CUOMO: I hope that's a friend --
CLAPPER: I hope so too.
CLAPPER: Fireworks or something.
Anyway, when John Brennan got one, I figured if he -- if the perpetrator sent out enough, I probably got one too. So, it wasn't a huge surprise. But I have to confess that I turned on the TV this morning, CNN, of course, and I see a pipe bomb with my name on it, it was a little disconcerting.
CUOMO: Look, in the intelligence business, you deal a tone with propaganda, political rhetoric, what is effective, what is not effective. What is your sense of how -- what needs to change and who needs to make changes in order for political discourse to become more about decency than disruption?
CLAPPER: Well, I think a lot of people have to think about, you know, the current situation, what they as individuals need to do about it. And at the individual level this is something that I saw during the 2016 election campaign with what the Russians were doing particularly their manipulation of voter opinion because of their very broad gauge and sophisticated use of social media.
So one thing I wish individuals would do is not to accept everything they see, hear or read on the Internet. So, at the individual level.
As far as overall discourse in this country -- yes, everyone needs to tone down the rhetoric, both supporters and critics of President Trump. But the leadership for that can only come from one place. And that is the White House, the Oval Office.
The president of the United States occupies the most powerful pulpit not only in this country, but in the world. And it is who first can set the tone. And others will follow suit. And so far, he's been, shall I say, uneven in doing that.
Now, it's interesting. One of the guys I used to work with, you told me that, you know, the reason that the Russians and controls parrot a lot of the stuff that Trump says, it's not because like they like Trump, is that it's effective. That negative propaganda and attacking oppositions and calling out divisions in American culture is very effective, that a diversified society, a heterogeneous society like ours is very susceptible to those type of attacks.
And isn't that why Trump does it? Trump does it and the reason Trump doesn't say he's wrong or Trump doesn't say he's going to change, it's because he thinks this works for him and that's what he cares about.
CLAPPER: Well, it does. I mean, he -- he almost revels in and enjoys amplifying the polarization and divisiveness that kind of already exist in this country. And, of course, the Russians love that because that's a way they can exploit a weakness in our country and because we are so polarized and so divisiveness, that serves their purpose undermining our fundamental society and the fundamental underpinnings of our government.
And so, the sort of complimentary relationship, maybe not intentional between the president's rhetoric, his incendiary rhetoric that he exhibits at rallies and, by the way, I much prefer teleprompter President Trump than rally Trump as Jennifer Granholm mentioned. And it's -- people need to be aware of it and the sensitive to it.
And again, regardless to your station in life, I think people need to think about the toning down that incendiary rhetoric.
CUOMO: James Clapper, I'm glad you're okay and I'm grateful to have you on the show. I hope you have a great weekend.
CLAPPER: Thank you. Thank you, Chris. Thanks for having me.
CUOMO: All right. I want to bring in someone else who was once threatened by this bombing suspect in custody. He is one of my close friends. You know him well. He's the big star here at CNN. His story, next.
CUOMO: Cesar Sayoc's van is ugly. His media, his social media is even worse. It's littered with conspiracy theories, fringe memes and articles. He frequently threatened and harassed members of the media, including several folks here at CNN, specifically Don Lemon. So, let's bring him in.
I saw you on there, I think it was you and April Ryan that he had in one of his tweets. And on top of it, there was an obvious reference to people who should be part of the carnage, as the president had called it.
What did it mean to you, pal?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": I didn't know about it, Chris, until -- I mean, and that was -- it was done, not within the last couple weeks. But it's been out there. It makes me wonder who is monitoring these things. Am I in more immediate danger than I realized? And all of us.
So, it was -- you know, it's sad. It's not -- surprisingly, it's not a shock anymore. I mean, you go on social media. You see it.
And so, I just -- someone should be out monitoring those things and anytime someone -- anytime people start putting posts online like that, I think it's incumbent upon that institution or that group or that platform to be monitored and taken down. I mean, it said that Don Lemon and April Ryan are next. What does that mean when someone says you're next?
CUOMO: Well, what does it mean when a guy like this says it more directly, right? Most people are just -- who is speaking that way, they are foolish, they're hyperbolic. They're being keyboard warriors.
But this guy was a bad dude. I mean, this guy, you know, had shown an ability to hurt before. In his past, he was unstable he said vicious things. He gobbled up the ugliest stuff that Trump could offer up and he was still looking for more.
Now, that's the kind of guy that you got to watch for, because we saw what he did. I mean, according to authorities, he's the guy who sent the bombs.
LEMON: He's there front and center at the rallies. And the folks at those rallies --
CUOMO: Oh, yes, holding up the signs --
LEMON: Holding up the signs and the folks at rally saw him and I would imagine encouraged him and that behavior and those signs. And let me be honest with you, if you go -- I haven't been to -- since he has taken office, I haven't been at the rally. But I was at convention, and you go to some of those rallies in the periphery. I had never been inside of one.
You see them selling that paraphernalia with the most -- saying the most vile things about Hillary Clinton. The most -- the ugliest racist images about the former President Barack Obama and any other Democrats on and on, and CNN as well.
And so, it's -- the Trump folks have to take responsibility for that. They probably won't. I'm not holding by breath. But they should. I should say they should take responsibility for that about the worst among them. I'm not talking about all of them.
LEMON: But they go to those rallies and they cheer "lock her up". They chant "lock her up". "CNN sucks". It's just the most vile, disgusting base behavior that I don't understand why anyone would want to be involved or within ten miles of it. I don't want to be -- it's gross. I would never want to be in the middle of that.
But getting back to the platform, Twitter, these things have been posted on Twitter. I have a young lady coming on. He threatened her, Sayoc. She reported it to Twitter. They said it didn't meet their guidelines for threatening behavior, and they just let it all go and kept his Twitter feed up and the posts.
CUOMO: That is an important perspective. Tonight, they have so start stepping up. They've got a free ride too long. The only thing that they really put full energy into monitoring these big shot tech companies is how they make fun off of our accounts.
You know, you and I talked online about something that's happening with our boats, all of a sudden, we're getting ads about boats: But they can't monitor people and making sure they're checking themselves in terms of how they deal with decency and community standards. They know they can do better.
D. Lemon --
LEMON: Hey, can you ask you something?
CUOMO: Yes, of course, you can.
LEMON: Do you -- listen, do you worry? Are you concerned? I'm always looking over my shoulder now. Do you worry about --
CUOMO: I do it with a clear conscience. Whatever is going to happen, happens. I live with the belief that there's very little that I can control about what other people decide to do.
But I'll tell you what. I'm often impressed by your bravery. You're an outspoken guy. You're a black guy. You're a gay guy, and you speak truth to power, and there's so many people out there who want to come out after you just because of what you represent to them without knowing anything about you.
LEMON: I know. Thank you for that. It's just funny hearing that come out of your mouth. I'm like, you don't say, Chris.
CUOMO: In case you didn't know, don, you're black and gay. I don't know why you decided that you had to be both.
LEMON: I know. Better-looking and smarter than you, though.
But I appreciate that sentiment. Yes, but you know what? Because of everything that I've had to deal with, I'm just as American as everyone else.
CUOMO: Maybe more.
LEMON: Yes, and maybe more. If you want to say that, you can say that. I won't say that. I'll take the maybe more. But I think I'm just as American --
CUOMO: Look at your tie.
LEMON: Look at that, I know. It's red, white, and blue. Listen, many of my family members have served this country. My
ancestors didn't want to come over, but they came over. And I think I made -- did a pretty good job, right, of making something of myself. I think I did OK.
But, yes, and I'm the only one who looks like me in this whole territory that we have right now, in this game.
CUOMO: All right.
LEMON: And so, you know --
CUOMO: As soon as you go to your looks, I cut you off.
LEMON: No, I have to step up in this moment, and that's why I'm not afraid. That's it. I see you at the top of the hour.
CUOMO: You're a brave man. I'll see you soon.
LEMON: They've been wrapping up for ten minutes.
CUOMO: I know. Truth to power!
CUOMO: All right. So, the president, does he care about what we're talking about? I know people are quick to say no, but I want to look at it objectively. I want to make a case about opportunities that he's had, what he's had to confront about this situation, and what he's done. That's the way to analyze it.
And then I got a couple of obvious points that I think need to be made, next.
CUOMO: So, now, we know the bombs were real, but how do we stop the next guy like this if we don't address the toxic atmosphere that has to bear some responsibility for the extreme behavior that's out there?
First, leaders on the left -- fill the void. If the party in power wants to play mute or continue the hate parade, show you can be better.
And you in the GOP, if you want to step up, do it. Call out Trump for what he says. Show you can work with the other side. And as for leadership from the top, prayers continue to go unanswered.
First came the easy question for the president. Would he own that it was one of his fans and dissuade others from doing the same? It turns out not such an easy question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I heard he was a person that preferred me over others. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Preferred you over others? You were his one and only love, Mr. President.
Here he is at the rallies. Here's his Twitter feed. His family and co-workers say he was all about Trumpy toxic positions. Here's the van.
And if there were any question as to whether Trump were ducking the obvious here, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDOE CLIP)
REPORTER: Did you see your face on that van?
TRUMP: I did not. I did not see my face on the van.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Did you see the van? How could you miss this?
Show a picture. And this. I'll keep saying it. And this.
He's all over the van. He is the van. The only way he could miss himself is if he looked at the van with his eyes closed.
So, it's crystal clear that the president has certainly closed his eyes to the reality of what he's doing and what it means to others.
More proof. Here's his response about the bombs that targeted the same people that he does.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There's no blame. There's no anything. If you look at what happened to Steve Scalise, that was from a supporter of a different party. If you look at what happened numerous of these incidents, they were supporters of others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Point by point, there is blame. The toxic talk feeds the fire of guys like this bomber -- less of that, less of this.
Let's look at Scalise. Now, with the bombings, you want the guy who did it dismissed as a wacko, so there should be no tie to you. But the man who shot Scalise should be tied to Bernie Sanders even though that shooter sizes up very similarly to the profile of a deranged man as does the bomber. Hypocritical.
But the bigger point is, Trump does not size up well against Bernie in this situation. Bernie never told his supporters to treat opponents as the enemy and it was okay to see them as bad people, as evil and constantly bathing them in talk of violence as righteous retribution the way the president does. And the best proof came just tonight. After the arrest of one of his
base and his saying that America must unify and that he had taken down his tone, he had not a world about his role in all of this. Not a word about what he would do to help unify.
And as for taking down his tone --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The media has a major role to play whether they want to or not.
CROWD: CNN sucks! CNN sucks! CNN sucks!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Bashes us, says nothing about himself. They chant "CNN sucks," he says nothing. Just after -- just the same way as after the Saudis killed the journalist, Trump says, oh, it's wrong to do that. Then he praises that guy, Gianforte, as his guy, bragging about how he body-slammed a journalist.
Now, tonight, he said we need to stop the negative rhetoric and that he's taking it down. Then he pauses to listen to the nasty CNN chant. He says nothing except to blame us.
And why? Because we expose the false and hateful rhetoric that he spews too often, and that will never stop.
So, a few obvious points. Trump won't change. Why? He wants praise, and the crowd roars when they hear him say this. But, Mr. President, what does it tell you that you can't get even half the country behind you despite a robust economy? Maybe if you can show people that you can be better for them, you may do better with them.
Thanks for watching.
"CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON" starts right now.