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CNN TONIGHT

Iran Shot Down U.S. Drone; Joe Biden And Cory Booker Patch Up But No Apologies; Recent Drone Incident Adding More Tension; New Testimony In The War Crimes Trial Of Navy SEAL; Judiciary Committee Releases Transcripts From Its Behind-Closed-Doors Questioning Of Hope Hicks. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 20, 2019 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Now, I don't know if you got a chance to see, Don, but we had Greg Meeks on, you know, the congressman, longtime congressman and, you know, him, the woman who is at the head of the CBC, the Congressional Black Caucus, Clyburn, who is, of course, the Democratic leader in the House, they all say Biden doesn't have a problem, that they know him. They know his record.

And it kind of shifts the onus to Cory Booker, who we had a great interview with last night. Is he just trying to play to advantage to try to get some wattage in that race?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Who -- OK. Here's -- so, here's the thing. I understood what he was saying that he was trying to get --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Which one?

LEMON: I understood what senator, well, former senator, the Vice President Joe Biden was trying to say. I understand it. He did it in artfully, and many times in conversations we do that. I did it the other night with you when we were talking about the whole, you know, who you give a platform to and when you look back in history, who do you want -- I brought in Hitler.

I didn't mean to compare Hitler to the president, but it was inartful. I was trying to talk -- trying to speak about people who give misinformation and propaganda. And you tried to help me out. You're like, that's an extreme example. So that was inartful.

I didn't mean in it that way and I think we have to -- sometimes people say things in a conversation and you get what I'm trying to say, but people turn it into something else.

And I think I get what Joe Biden was trying to say in the same vein. And what he did was inartful by saying boy, right? So, if he didn't say boy, I think it would have landed differently. What he was saying was I can work with these people who were terrible. They were, you know, beyond racist, right? They were beyond what we have in the Senate and in the Congress right now, and if I can work with them then I can definitely work with the folks there. So, I think that, you know, as we said the other night, you and I, got

to give people a little bit more leeway. We should be nicer. We should be kinder and figure that out. And if you say something that was inartful and something that comes out of your mouth that's stupid which happens when you're live. You know that all the time, probably me more than you. Then you say that's not what I meant to say. Here's what --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Yes. But that's one of the people that people -- one of the reasons that your audience loves you.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: You will own what you say.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And sometimes you'll stick to it if it's just that people don't like the opinion. And if you decide that you didn't say it the right way, you didn't mean it, you own it, most people don't.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But you're also existing in a got you culture, my brother.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And that's a problem for us, too. People will take what they say. They know where you were going with it.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But you've given them a chance and they --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Given them the ammo. But here's the thing I'm going to say. And I always I use mine, I don't know if you use your mom, who by the way, I love so much.

But I use my mom as a barometer. My mom is -- is one of those moderate Democrats, votes in every single election, is passionate about how she feels, and I said -- I called her up and I said, mom, what did you think? She said, I knew what Joe Biden was saying. He said it a little crazy, but I knew what he was saying.

It's a tempest in a tea pot and what she says Democrats have to stop it because they're going be so woke, they are going to wake up the day after election day and the person that they don't want in the White House is going to be in the White House.

Now, that's her. And those are the people who make up the bulk of the Democratic Party who show up at every single election are people like my mom and others who I spoke to, and they say the same thing. This election is not going to be had on Twitter and who is going to be

the wokest. And your concerns about Joe Biden and him using boy, that was inartful, he should not have used that word, but your concerns about that, that's not the biggest issue that we face.

Joe Biden may end up not being the nominee, but to kneecap someone because you disagree with one word or one thing that they said I think is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Look at the totality of someone's record. Realize who your actual allies are, and your allies aren't always right and perfect, but the person who has your back most of the time is your ally. The person who doesn't give a damn about you and calls you names and doesn't really care about your issues, that's not your ally.

CUOMO: True.

LEMON: Try to work with your ally and.

CUOMO: True. But you have some practicalities at play here. There is a reason that Booker and Harris and Beto and Bernie said it in a way that you're not hearing from Meeks and Clyburn and others because they're not running --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Because they're not running.

CUOMO: -- for president. And those people are --

LEMON: Those people --

CUOMO: -- they're playing to advantage.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But I do have to say they have to be careful.

CUOMO: And Biden is not their ally, he's their opponent. They can call him their friend all they want.

LEMON: Listen, I thought it was a great - I listen, I respect everyone who is running, all the people who are running for, you know, 2020. Great interview with Cory Booker. I respect him a lot. He's done some great work. But they all have to be careful not to come off as opportunists.

Because there is a reason that Kamala Harris gets the respect that she gets, because of the work that she's done. There is a reason Cory Booker gets the respect that he gets because of the work that he's done. And there is a reason that Joe Biden gets the respect that he gets because of the work and his record that he has done.

[22:05:02] And I don't think that there is any black person in America, especially in the voting public, who thinks that Joe Biden is an actual racist and who is putting a segregationist over someone else.

That's just real talk. I know that people are going to be mad at me. The woke Twitter culture is going to come after me, but it doesn't matter, I'm speaking the truth to them. Republicans fall in line. None of the Republicans up on that stage with Donald Trump in 2016 liked him from the beginning.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Right. They said it then.

LEMON: They all hit him hard and said he was terrible. He didn't deserve to be in the White House.

CUOMO: Not now.

LEMON: He's an awful person. And guess what? When he became the nominee, they all fell in line.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: At the convention they were screening Trump, Trump, Trump, build the wall. At the Democratic convention, there were hordes of people screaming Bernie, Bernie, Bernie, and then we were like what is going on here? That is the difference. Democrats have a litmus and a purity test for their candidates. Republicans say this is the best person we have to carry our agenda forward.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: And we are going to fall in line --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And the interesting thing that happens, if you want to put this into a category of political correctness and how they play out differently in the two parties.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I easily see this president using the attacks of Cory Booker against Joe Biden if Biden gets the ticket.

LEMON: Absolutely.

CUOMO: I know people are saying, what are you talking about? It would be so hypocritical. No, the right will attack the left for political correctness. Look what they're doing with AOC about her description of things. They don't like them. They do have a good fight on sensitivity, so they'll attack her. They'll never attack their own that way.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: Never.

LEMON: Never, ever.

CUOMO: But they will attack you. So, if the left motivates those same attacks, they will wind up, as you say, risk kneecapping one of their own who makes it to the next level, especially if it's Joe Biden.

LEMON: Yes, well, they got big decisions to make. I'm just going to report it and give it, you know, and tell it like a -- call it like I see it. Thank you so much -- by the way, I have some news. I know they want us to go on.

So, listen, I spoke to some folks about the phone call. They said Booker was right -- this is a source with the Biden campaign. They said the phone call was sincere. It was heartfelt. Again, there were no apologies.

And also, I think you can expect to see the former vice president say he misspoke. Because as we -- as we talked about it, he has told the story numerous times, but used -- he didn't used boy. He said he called me son because he didn't respect me as a senator.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Instead of senator.

LEMON: As a senator. And so, I think he -- I think you can look to, especially when he's in South Carolina this weekend, doing interviews and so on. I know he's got an interview with Reverend Sharpton what have you, to say that he spoke.

CUOMO: You know, I got to tell you one other thing.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: It's so funny that no apologies, no apologies.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Apologies are seen as weakness now and I think it's such a mistake.

LEMON: No.

CUOMO: Somebody said to me about something I had tweeted. And I was like hey, I don't think we should talk about what happened during the Holocaust this way. And they were like, but that words used all the time. You know, I said well, look, I apologize if you took it the wrong way.

And they, like, looked at me. Now, I knew I'd still get savaged for having said it. But that's this toxic Twitter culture. And it is what it is.

LEMON: It is.

CUOMO: But in real life it's starting to bleed through and people see apologizes as weakness. And I think they're almost always -- (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It's not. It's not. And I remember when I first started this show, a producer -- a producer told me something and usually they were afraid maybe that someone would take it the wrong way. I said, you know what, you're absolutely right, I'm sorry. And they looked at me like I had three heads. Who are you?

CUOMO: Listen --

LEMON: But that's -- that's what grown people do.

CUOMO: That's right.

LEMON: You admit you're wrong and you move on. And guess what? I got to move on now.

CUOMO: Go ahead, brother.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Because they've been yelling at me for the past five minutes.

CUOMO: I'll be watching the show. You've got a guest on tonight with one of the best names I've ever heard, by the way.

LEMON: Wait until you meet Marijuana Pepsi. Yes. But, no, not tonight. She's coming on, she's going to be on a different night.

CUOMO: She's a different night?

LEMON: She's going to be on a different night. But maybe you're talking about John Kasich.

CUOMO: The alien?

LEMON: The alien. Bye, Chris. I'll see you this weekend.

CUOMO: See you later.

LEMON: I'm off tomorrow so I'll see you on Saturday.

CUOMO: I'll see you, buddy.

LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

We have lots to talk about. The United States may now be closer to military conflict with Iran than at any time since President Trump took office two and a half years ago.

This development after Iran shot down a U.S. navy drone with a missile. The Pentagon releasing this -- it's a grainy video. There it is right there. Of the drone falling on to the Strait of Hormuz. But here's the catch. And I want to show this to you on a map.

Take a look at this map. Iran calls the drone -- claims, excuse me, the drone violated Iranian airspace and was spying over Iranian territory. U.S. military officials call the claim categorically false, insisting the drone was operating over the Strait of Hormuz and fell into international waters.

At the White House today, President Trump saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Iran made a big mistake. This drone was in international waters, clearly. We have it all documented. It's documented scientifically, not just words. And they made a very bad mistake. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How will you respond, Mr. President, how will you respond?

TRUMP: You'll find out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you willing to go to war with Iran?

[22:10:00] TRUMP: You'll find out. You'll find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But then cryptically the president looked like he was walking back his threat to take action. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I have a feeling that it was a mistake made by somebody that shouldn't have been doing what they did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who do you think did it?

TRUMP: I think they made a mistake. I'm not just talking the country made a mistake, I think somebody under the command of that country made a big mistake.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you still --

TRUMP: I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth. I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Look, we don't know what to believe when it comes to this president, quite frankly, and what he says. He's lost credibility with the American people. Telling almost 11,000 false or misleading claims since he took office. That's according to "The Washington Post" fact checker.

Remember when he said that he'll build a wall and Mexico will pay for it? It's not and they aren't. Three to five million illegal votes cost him the popular vote. They didn't. His inaugural crowd was bigger than President Obama's. It wasn't. Windmills cause cancer. They don't. President Obama wiretapped him. He did not.

The American people need to be able to believe their leader when crisis flares up. Overseas. That's why the truth is so important. Because as we have said, if you lie about everything, you'll lie about anything. Or if you lie about anything, you'll lie about everything. It can be said both ways.

The administration may be telling the truth, but their record on that is about as bad as it could be. And the president also has squandered his credibility with many American allies around the world and -- not much credibility.

When it comes to Iran he is standing alone. He unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal and tightened sanctions on Iran. Really ticking off European allies.

Nicolas Kristof of "The New York Times" who will join us in just a little bit says it is sad how distrustful allies have become about the U.S., including its approach towards Iran. But that's not all.

Trump has questioned the viability of NATO, angering allies but not doubt putting a giant smile on Vladimir Putin's face. He despises NATO.

And speaking of, they're not happy with the way Trump has cozied up to Russia's strongman president and allies are perplexed at Trump's moves to have a friendship with North Korea's horrible dictator Kim Jong-un.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Then we fell in love, OK? No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: America's longtime allies want to feel some of that love from Trump. Instead, he usually slaps them around. When General James Mattis stepped down as defense secretary at the end of last year, his resignation letter was a rebuke to Trump's approach to America's allies.

Reading in part, "While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies."

He went on to say, "We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, our prosperity and values and we are strengthened in the effort by the solidarity of our alliances."

We have a lot more tonight on the growing danger and the dangerous situation with Iran. Also tonight, a big development in the controversy surrounding Joe

Biden and the remarks he made about how well he worked in the Senate with avid segregationists when he was a young senator in the 1970s.

Senator Cory Booker, a rival for the Democratic nomination, called Biden out for his comments and the two got into a verbal scuffle last night. Well, it turns out Biden later called booker, an aide to Booker saying that the call was direct and respectful. But no apologies were exchanged.

Is this incident a stumble for Joe Biden? One of his campaign themes is how well he can work with people. People he disagrees with. And he was describing his relationship with former Mississippi Senator James O. Eastland, who was not only a segregationist, but a major opponent of Civil Rights.

Saying this. "I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me boy. He always called me son. Well guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today you look at the other side and you're the enemy. Not the opposition. The enemy. We don't talk to each other anymore."

Booker immediately rebuke Biden saying this. "You don't joke about calling black men boys. Men like James O. Eastland used words like that and the racist policies that accompanied them to perpetuate white supremacy and strip black Americans of our very humanity." And calling on Biden to apologize. Biden reacted like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to apologize?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Thanks, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like Cory Booker has called for.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Apologize for what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cory Booker has called for it.

BIDEN: Cory should apologize. He knows better. There's not a racist bone in my body. I've been involved in Civil Rights my whole career.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:15:05] LEMON: Well, here in studio with me last night, Booker responded this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was raised to speak truth to power. And that I will never apologize for doing that. And Vice President Biden shouldn't need this lesson.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So that phone call, by the way, came after that interview here last night. I have to ask, and we're going to get some answers to these questions tonight. Biden no doubt means well, but he now has to deal with how primary voters view these comments. Is he out of step with the Democratic Party of 2019?

There's a lot to talk about tonight. The Biden incident. The escalating tensions with Iran and President Trump's surprising response when asked if he needs to expand his base going into 2020, the 2020 election.

Ohio's former Republican Governor John Kasich joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The U.S. on the verge of a major conflict or even war with Iran. That is the question many are asking tonight. Is it? Well, are we?

Iran shot down an American surveillance drone saying it was in its airspace, but the U.S. disputes that claim. Now the world is waiting to see how America is going to respond.

I want to discuss now with former Ohio Governor John Kasich. Governor, thank you so much. I appreciate it. I know this is a very serious situation.

(CROSSTALK)

[22:20:01] FMR. GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH): Don, look, no, it is. But before we get to that serious subject. I want you to know I'm not an alien, although you can beam me up here from Columbus, Ohio, you and Cuomo. All right. Let's talk about Iran.

LEMON: All right. You got it.

KASICH: Hey, Don, here's the problem --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Hey, listen, let me ask you. Let me just give you a little.

KASICH: Yes.

LEMON: You sat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee for 18 years. That's why I want to know how you feel about this escalation, a possible escalation.

KASICH: Sure.

LEMON: Are you concerned?

KASICH: Yes, I'm very concerned and I'm concerned, though, that we have missed an opportunity. On the debate stage, I was the one that said if Iran had not violated the agreement, we shouldn't tear it up. And everybody else on the stage said we should. Then we ended up tearing it up, but we tore it up and Iran was not

violating the agreement. There were deep flaws with the agreement, but our allies in Europe, the ones you just spoke about, they thought that if we could stay in the agreement and keep Iran from breaking out with a nuclear weapon that we could address legitimate issues like their development of ballistic missiles, which is very serious, and their support of militant groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

So, when we walked away, we lost the ability to further the discussions and the negotiations to get Iran in a better place.

Where are we today? Well, I mean, here you have Iran shooting down our drone. Should the United States respond? We should. It should be proportional. It should not endanger, it should not take lives from the Iranians, but at the same time, we've got to figure out how to have some conversation.

And, you know, I watched the president today. It was interesting what he said, well, maybe they made a mistake. Look, I think Abe from Japan actually went to Iran to deliver a message that maybe there should be some talk.

So, we're going to have to take some action. It should be proportionate, but at the end, we want to -- we want to figure out a way to get everybody back to the table. To keep them from getting a nuke and to prevent us from having to go to some kind of a war.

LEMON: Got it. Got it. I want to talk about Joe Biden now, OK? This fallout from his remarks about working with segregationist senators. Biden called Senator Cory Booker after Booker came on my show, on this show last night. Here's what Senator Booker told me last night. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOOKER: For his posture to be to me, I've done nothing wrong, you should apologize, I'm not a racist is so insulting and so missing the larger point that he should not have to have explained to him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Governor, Senator Booker's team issued a statement today maintaining Biden should apologize. Should he? What do you think of this?

KASICH: I think he's going to say something to kind of walk it back, but, look, here's the problem with Joe Biden right now. He wants to talk about how he's worked with people years ago. What he should start talking about is what he's going to do.

Everybody knows that he gets along with everybody. Everybody knows that he can work with Democrats that don't agree with him or Republicans who just don't like Democrats at all. Everybody knows that.

It's time for Biden to talk about what he's going to do, not about the fact that he needs 18 million examples and he picked a really dumb one to talk about because he's worked with everybody.

And so, do I think he's going to walk this back? Well, in some way he will, but I think he doesn't want to get in the position -- he changed his position on the Hyde Amendment. He's got to apologize here. He's got to be -- he's got to be a little bit more careful. Don, I tell you, when you get confident sometimes you can get overconfident.

LEMON: Yes.

KASICH: And you cannot watch yourself as closely as you ought to. We all do. You've done it. I've done it. But it's important that you have some internal discipline when you communicate.

LEMON: Amen, brother. Now, that is probably the only thing that I ever dis -- that I ever agree with you on. So -- I want to talk more about 2020 now. The president's new interview with Time magazine he was asked whether he should reach out to swing voters.

KASICH: Why do you read those interviews?

LEMON: But this is what he said. He said "I think my base is so strong, I'm not sure that I have to do that."

Listen, you're -- you're from the battleground state of Ohio. Do you think that his campaign, you know, and this president really think that they can win without, you know, those Obama/Trump voters that were so key last time?

KASICH: No, I think, you know, Ohio has become more red, Don. We've talked about this before, but if you look at Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, of course they're going to have to reach out, of course in Ohio they're going to have to be able to get some of those voters who have traditionally voted Democrat.

To say I'm going to rely on my base, well, you know, that's why Republicans are getting increasingly nervous about Donald Trump and his re-election efforts. They are. They're not saying much of it, but they are increasingly nervous, because, frankly, he's becoming very vulnerable.

LEMON: Yes.

[22:24:58] KASICH: And these suburban women, Republican women, I mean, they don't like all these criticisms and the alienation and name-calling. Yes, he has a lot of work to do.

LEMON: Yes. So, look, there is a new poll out on the president. And here's what it says. Among GOP, GOP-leaning voters, 59 percent say President Trump's statements often -- sometimes make them feel concerned. Fifty-three percent embarrassed. Forty-seven, confused. Forty-one, exhausted.

KASICH: Yes.

LEMON: Thirty-seven percent angry, 32 percent insulted, 22 percent frightened. Geez. Do you also feel this way? KASICH: Well, let me put it to you this way. If those were poll

numbers that related to me, I would -- my wife would force me to sleep out on the porch until I got a reality check and started acting like a leader. That's what would happen to me.

LEMON: Yes.

KASICH: I mean, look, I'm very concerned about this president. I don't like so much of what he's done, his rhetoric, and I'm going to tell you, I don't like a lot of his policies. Many Republicans say, well, look at what he's done. OK, the economy's improved. They've deregulated a lot of things. I think that's been right.

But his policies on how he treats our allies, our policies towards immigration, our policies on trade, they're dead wrong.

LEMON: Yes.

KASICH: They're just dead wrong. And Republicans, maybe some of them are beginning to wake up but I don't know.

LEMON: As you were speaking there, there was some good news --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: I still have people come to me, Don, and say, how come you didn't go to convention?

LEMON: I got to say --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: Are you kidding me?

LEMON: Look, you've talked about that. I got to tell you, there is some good news, a sizeable majority, we had it up there, they're entertained by -- they're entertained by his remarks. They're hopeful, they're informed, they're happy, they're proud, they're excited and they said that they feel respected. So that's all above 70 percent. Sixty-seven percent are inspired. So, there you go. Thank you, governor.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: We want them all -- we want everybody to feel respected. OK, Don. And, remember, I am not an alien.

LEMON: Well, I don't know about that. I'll be the judge of that. Say what?

KASICH: I'll see you. See you soon.

LEMON: Yes, but you do have a great name. Thank you. See you soon. We'll be right back.

KASICH: Thank you, Don. See you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: You know this drone incident has escalated an already volatile situation between the U.S. and Iran. Here's where Iran says the drone was shot down in their airspace. And this is where the U.S. says the drone was flying when it was shot down by Iran. That's 17 nautical miles from Iran's shoreline, and then this is where two oil tankers were attacked last week in the Gulf of Oman, which the U.S. blames on Iran.

So what's going to happen next? Let's discuss now with former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Nicholas Burns, along with the Former Supreme Allied Commander for NATO forces, and that is General Wesley Clark.

General, thank you so much. So good evening, everyone, both of you, how should the United States respond to the downing of this drone?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), U.S. ARMED FORCES MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTOR: I think you got to go first to your allies. You got to try to bring your allies back on board, because a simple tit-for-tat process is going to lead to an escalation. That escalation doesn't have a logical ending point. We don't want to end up in a war. We don't want to end up wrecking commerce in the Gulf.

And Iran knows this. And they know they've got President Trump and the United States of America over a barrel by this creeping escalation process.

LEMON: But General, do you understand why it took so long for the United States to release the coordinates of where the U.S. says the drone was shot down hours after Iran released their version?

CLARK: Sure, because all of this stuff is highly sensitive. It's classified. It's compartmented on the process. This is a stealth vehicle. Apparently, it has some stealth characteristics. And so, yeah, there is a process that it has to go through.

LEMON: Yeah. Ambassador Burns, I want to bring you in now because a senior White House official laid it out this way. He said there is a Bolton versus Trump debate, with Trump not wanting conflict. Pompeo, Pence, and incoming Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper are "swing votes." If the president is so wary about another foreign conflict, why is he surrounding himself with people like Bolton or Pompeo?

NICHOLAS BURNS, NATO FORMER AMBASSADOR: Well, first of all, Don, I would say this. This is a real threat by Iran in the Gulf. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards, they've been a problem for the United States for three decades, this is dangerous and provocative behavior to fire at an American drone and take it down. To fire at these and attack these two commercial vessels last week, the global economy depends still on the flow of oil and gas in the Persian Gulf.

So there is a national security imperative here. Keep the Gulf open. And that's to warn the Iranians not to do this again. But I agree with General Clark. There is no reason to go to war. We've been containing Iranian power for 30 years. President Reagan faced a crisis somewhat similar to this 30 years ago. We can handle this if we're steady. And I hope that the so-called moderates in the Trump administration will be able to win the day.

LEMON: General Clark, I want you to take a look at this map. We'll put it up. It's a map of the number of active-duty U.S. troops in the Middle East. About 14,000 in Afghanistan, 10,000 in Qatar, 5,200 in Iraq, and the levels go down from there. There are also numerous U.S. military bases in the region. Here's my question. What would war with Iran -- what would it look like?

CLARK: Well, it wouldn't just be these people that are in the region right now. You would see a build-up. We would bring assets in from the United States. You would see a series -- a massive series of air strikes that would take out Iran's air defense, its naval power in the Gulf. So it can't block shipping. This might go on for four days. It might go on for four weeks.

It depends on exactly how good Iran's technology is. And then we would go after other key assets in the process. Probably have to land some troops. Have to go in and really dig out the nuclear installations, because I think that -- I think if you're going to go in there, you're going to go after the nuclear stuff. But here's the point. You can do this just like we got to Baghdad in three weeks.

People said, oh gee, it's going to be too tough. No, we've got a really great Army and Navy and Air Force and Marines. But the question is what is the end state of the war. If you don't have something that follows it, some new government that can actually take control of the country, what you've done is created a very dangerous failed state.

[22:35:00] And this is what we did in Iraq. It's what's actually happened in Libya. And I don't hear any discussion of the end state. What I see is a discussion of tit-for-tat escalation. And because Iran can't match us in that escalation in the Gulf, they would probably do what's called horizontal escalation.

LEMON: Right.

CLARK: Which is do strikes elsewhere.

LEMON: Got it.

CLARK: And this is not a prescription for good policy.

LEMON: Yeah.

CLARK: There is no clear articulation of what the United States really wants out of its pressure campaign against Iran.

LEMON: Yeah. Before we run out of time, I have to get Ambassador Burns back in. Listen, Ambassador, the president says that he was -- he has a feeling shooting down the drone may have been a mistake. But that's not what Iran is saying. Is President Trump trying to give Iran or himself an out?

BURNS: He may be because the Iranians -- this was purposeful on the part of the Iranians. They knew what they were doing. And frankly, I think President Trump would be right to back off a little bit. Warn the Iranians privately, a stiff warning. Get the allies behind us. Keep the Gulf open. Contain Iranian power. There is no reason to go to war with them.

And the law of unintended consequences can come back to bite you pretty quickly, as we found out in Iraq in 2003.

LEMON: Are those the diplomatic options you were saying for de- escalation that you just mentioned there?

BURNS: They are. I mean, we have a way to talk to the Iranians. And frankly, we should be. President Obama opened up a continuous channel with the Iranians, which was smart. President Trump has closed it down. We ought to be talking, frankly, to the Iranians right now and warning them. That's the best way to keep the peace. And again, Don, we've been containing Iran for 30 years. There's no reason for us to change that policy now.

We've got a lot going on in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The Syria situation has blown up. And so the United States has to be careful here. But it's the Iranians who provoked this. And therefore, the rest of the world, the Europeans, the Gulf Arabs, and others ought to be in lockstep behind us. That's not the case right now, because there's not very much trust in President Donald Trump.

LEMON: Ambassador Burns, General Clark, thank you so much. I appreciate your time. We'll be right back.

BURNS: Thank you.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Former Vice President Joe Biden called Senator Cory Booker last night after Booker said on this show that Biden's recent comments about working with segregationist senators were insulting. Booker had called on Biden to apologize, but a source says no apologies where exchanged. But what do Biden's comments say about his 2020 strategy?

Here to discuss now with the great Sam Donaldson, Sam, good to have you on, good evening to you. You know, Biden is under fire for praising the civility of his time working with segregationist in the Senate. His ability to reach across the aisle has actually been, you know, a major theme of his campaign, you know, so far. He wants to be the candidate of compromise. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've worked across the aisle to reach consensus, to help make government work in the past. I can do that again with your help. For me, for me, to me, our principles must never be compromised, but compromise itself is not a dirty word. The Republicans are my opponents. They're not my enemy. They're not my enemy.

And there are people who say that you can't work with the other side. Well, if that's the case, prepare your children for a totally different U.S., totally different world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So Sam, listen. For three years for now, you know, Republicans on Capitol Hill have been in lockstep with President Trump. For eight years before that, they worked to stymie virtually everything Barack Obama did, along with Joe Biden. So, you know, is this what Democrats want to hear?

SAM DONALDSON, JOURNALIST: I don't know. But it's what I want to hear. Biden's right. You got to work with somebody else if you have a common interest. And the fact that you don't agree with him or her on some other interest is not the point. So Biden is right to say I can do that. What mother of gaffe to two use segregationist senators as an example.

Where is he living? He wants to be president of the United States in 2021. So he goes back to 1970. So look there. That's wrong. And I think he knows it now, because he could have done two things. He could have done nothing and let the storm roll over him. It will go away, or he could have apologized directly and been fully apologetic.

Instead, he doubles down on Cory Booker. This is terrific. You should apologize to me, he says. And he throws kerosene on his own bonfire and energizes his opponents.

LEMON: It's very Trumpian.

DONALDSON: Joe, if you want to be president, you've got to change your tactics.

LEMON: It is very Trumpian, don't you think, to double down?

DONALDSON: Well, yes, but is he going to copy Donald J. Trump and beat Donald J.? You can't beat Trump at his own game. You can beat Trump on a game of honesty, of truth, of matters, of facts. And that's the game Joe Biden is capable of carrying.

LEMON: One of the big 2020 issues for Democrats has been reparations for slavery. Yesterday, there was a hearing in the House about that. Do you think the conversation is moving in the right direction?

DONALDSON: I do. I think it's the right direction. None of us were alive when we did this as a nation. We -- bondage of human beings, a terrible sin against humanity, and blood on our record, but we can do something about it now from the standpoint of not only saying to ourselves and the people in this country we're sorry. We're going to make amends. But to the world, the United States is that beacon of humanity's hope.

And if we let down our standards, well, we're ruined and the world is poorer for it. If we stole our standards and say, look what we're doing, we want to make amends. I think it does us all a good. The problem, Don, figuring out the structure for reparations, you can't just throw a bunch of money at everybody and say, here, take some money.

LEMON: How do you do it?

[22:45:04] DONALDSON: It's got to be a structure that makes sense. If I were that smart, I would run for president. But I think there are people out there who are working on it.

LEMON: I want to talk to you about Iran. You know, you spent decades covering the White House and heard a lot of Pentagon briefings. Is the American public getting the information it needs about what's going on with Iran?

DONALDSON: I think it's getting some information. Of course, we can't hear everything that's happening. But the problem was, and I heard your previous guests and they pinpointed. We had an agreement with Iran, which would curtail Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon, maybe for 10 years. International inspectors were telling the world Iran is abiding by the agreement.

Trump comes in and blows it up. Well, what happened after that? Here we are. Here we are, tit-for-tat. And Nicholas Burns is right. And the General is right.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: General Clark, yeah.

DONALDSON: Yeah, General Clark. If we do that, what happens next? Well, we went into North Vietnam. What happened next? We went into Baghdad, yes. What happens next? And people now say, oh, we can strike Iran. Are you kidding? What happens next?

LEMON: You know, people think that the briefings are fiery now. They should have been watching them when you were in that briefing room as a reporter. Now, that was fire.

DONALDSON: I am just an old broken down soldier who is fading away.

LEMON: We appreciate your...

(CROSSTALK)

DONALDSON: Old reporters never die. Thank you, Douglas.

LEMON: We appreciate your service.

DONALDSON: Can I just say one thing now? I know you're pressed for time.

LEMON: Sure.

DONALDSON: John Kasich, you were -- had a good record in Congress. You had a good record as a popular governor, two terms in Ohio. You're a moderate Republican conservative. You're one of the last people to stand up against Donald J. Trump in 2016. And you tell us, well, I can't run for president. Are you -- what's wrong with you? John, don't be a wuss.

You're going to leave it to, who, the former Massachusetts Governor William Weld to take him on? Get in there, John. Lightning could strike. You'd make a pretty good president.

LEMON: I expect my phone to ring shortly, very shortly after this from John Kasich.

DONALDSON: Mine too.

LEMON: Thank you, Sam. I appreciate it.

DONALDSON: Always a pleasure, Don Bro.

LEMON: Yeah. We'll be right back.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Bombshell testimony today in the war crimes trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher. Another SEAL testifying under a grant of immunity claims he was the one who killed an ISIS prisoner in 2017, not Gallagher. Here's CNN's Alex Marquardt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is he a war hero or a war criminal? That's the question at the center of a high profile military trial underway in San Diego. Involving decorated Navy SEAL, Eddie Gallagher, accused of murdering an ISIS prisoner in Iraq in 2017. But today in court came a bombshell.

TIMOTHY PARLATORE, CHIEF EDWARD GALLAGHER'S LAWYER: The best defense for Chief Gallagher is the truth, and today the truth started to come out.

MARQUARDT: In a stunning twist, witness, a Navy SEAL medic in Gallagher's deployment, testified that he's the one who actually killed the prisoner. Special Warfare Operator First Class Corey Scott, who was granted immunity for his testimony, said he saw Gallagher pull out a knife and stab the prisoner underneath the collarbone at least once, something other witnesses backed up.

But Scott told the court he froze. Not knowing what to do, he killed the prisoner. Because he knew he was going to die anyway, saying, I suffocated him. I held my thumb over his trachea tube until he asphyxiated. The admission seemed to outrage Navy Prosecutor, Lieutenant Brian John, who reacted, saying, you can stand up there.

And you can lie about how you killed the ISIS prisoner, so Chief Gallagher does not have to go to jail. Scott's response, he's got a wife and family. I don't think he should spend the rest of his life in prison. Chief Special Warfare Operator Gallagher is on trial for the stabbing death of that ISIS prisoner in Iraq in 2017. Gallagher's also accused of shooting civilians and taking a photo with

a corpse that he sent to friends, something Gallagher's lawyer described as a joke just for fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how do you explain the text that he sent, the message he sent to people, like this one with my hunting knife. I got my knife skills on. How do you explain that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a joke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a joke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A funny joke?

PARLATORE: Two guys on the SEAL teams, yeah, it's dark humor.

MARQUARDT: But it appears that so-called dark humor didn't go over so well with Gallagher's own platoon members who turned him in.

PARLATORE: This entire process for him has been difficult, hearing people say things that aren't true. People that he thought were his brothers, people that he thought he could trust.

MARQUARDT: Scott said he didn't previously admit his actions in interviews with the NCIS or the progression and was only admitting it now because he was granted immunity.

PARLATORE: Today for the first time, somebody went to one of these witnesses and actually asked the real question. What is the cause of death?

MARQUARDT: But it doesn't appear that Scott's testimony will put an end to this case. In a statement tonight, the Navy says the government will not be dropping premeditated murder charges against Chief Petty Officer Gallagher, despite Petty Officer Scott's. The creditability of a witness is for the jury to decide. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right, Alex, thank you very much. Let's discuss now with Greg Rinckey. He is a former JAG attorney, Greg, so good to have you on, thank you so much. So this medic, Corey Scott, changed his story only after getting immunity. Is there nothing prosecutors can do?

[22:55:02] GREG RINCKEY, FORMER JAG ATTORNEY: Well, I mean as far as what he testified today, not very much that they can do about his testimony. I mean he could potentially be charged later with perjury if they believe that he lied. I mean now the government is treating him as a hostile witness. So they have more leeway in cross- examination of him. But he has immunity.

LEMON: Prosecutors say that they're not dropping the premeditated murder charges. But is their case in jeopardy now? RINCKEY: I think their case has some problems now. I mean, I think

that when you have someone who comes forward and says I am the one that actually killed this ISIS prisoner. There's doubt. And the military panel is, you know, going to take that into consideration. So I think the government has some problems with its case. The government still has other witnesses, though, that testified that they saw Chief Gallagher, you know, stab this ISIS prisoner a few times in the neck.

So the government still has enough here that they could eke out a conviction for premeditated murder, but there's problems with the case now.

LEMON: Greg Rinckey, former JAG lawyer, thank you so much. I appreciate your time. The Judiciary Committee releasing transcripts from its behind closed doors questioning of Hope Hicks. We're going to tell you what she described as, "odd" that the president did.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)