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First Televised Impeachment Hearings In An Internet Era Premieres Wednesday; Joe Biden's Poll Numbers In Iowa Shrinks; Julian Castro Said Give Other States A Chance; Castro Swipes At Iowa, New Hampshire; Don Jr. Heckled Off Stage By Supporters Of President Trump; CNN Town Hall With Joe Biden. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 11, 2019 - 23:00   ET





There's a lot going on tonight and we're going to catch you up on all of the big headlines.

Transcripts from the closed-door testimony in the impeachment inquiry show Ukraine officials were aware earlier than has been publicly reported that the White House froze military aide and they were alarmed by it.

And we're less that be two days out from the first televised public hearings in the impeachment investigation. Millions of people will be watching across the country. So, what can Americans expect to see? I'm going to ask legendary journalist Sam Donaldson.

And as we count down to 2020, Democratic candidate Julian Castro says Iowa, the first state to hold caucuses, and New Hampshire, the first to hold the primary, don't reflect the diversity of America or the Democratic Party. Does he have a point? We'll talk about that just ahead.

Also, a new poll shows Joe Biden holds narrow load in New Hampshire as he took center stage tonight at CNN's town hall.

Plus, the president's number one son, Don Junior and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle booed off the stage on a college campus in Los Angeles while promoting his book. But the booing was by far-right supporters of the president who chanted America first. Angry that Don Jr. wouldn't take their questions.


DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: It's OK, listen. Hey, guys, it's still America. It's OK. We're willing to hear them. They're usually not willing to hear us.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, DONALD TRUMP, JR.'S GIRLFRIEND: You're not making your parents proud by being rude and disruptive and discourteous. We are happy to answer a question. Respect the people around you so that they can hear.


LEMON: That was interesting. All of that ahead in this hour. But I want to start with a big week in the impeachment inquiry.

And joining me now, Kaitlan Collins, Frank Bruni, Jennifer Rodgers. Thank you so much. Good to see you. I see you smiling, we'll take later. Alabama alum. LSU alum here.

Frank, I'm going to start with you. The stakes couldn't be higher this week. Millions will likely watch these public hearings. How big of a moment do you think it's for the Trump presidency?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, it could be huge. Because I think seeing this live testimony as opposed to reading transcript which a lot of voters won't do is a big deal. I think it's hard for us to know just how big a deal though because a lot has changed in the world since the Watergate moment. You know?

I mean, many people watch many more different things on TV. We don't know how big the audience will be. I think we have a partisan landscape that's different where a lot of people have made up their mind and they're intractable. So, I don't know that we can leap to the conclusion that we're going to see public opinions polls change significantly in the aftermath of this. But it is a possibility.

LEMON: Pentagon official Laura Cooper testified that Kurt Volker told Ukrainian officials that were alarmed in August. Right? That the aide was being held up. That's more evidence that undercuts the president's defense from him and from the people who were supporting him as well, Kaitlan.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They have been making this argument that the Ukrainians didn't know that the aide was being withheld therefore it couldn't have been this essential ransom that the president was doing.

This testimony would undermine that argument because not only is she's saying that this date happened on August 20th. And that top aides, top Ukrainian aides knew about it.

She's also talking about the fact that it was essentially leverage from White House officials over the Ukrainians potentially people like Rudy Giuliani and others who were conducting this foreign policy.

But another interesting thing that was revealed in her testimony. She said that the Pentagon had decided that Ukraine was actually making progress on its anti-corruption efforts and that there were no reviews of it from July, August or September. So, it raised the question if the White House has been insisting this is all about corruption how come there were no reviews conducted by the Pentagon during that time.

LEMON: Cooper also said that the national security officials were concerned, Jennifer, that withholding aid from Ukraine was illegal. And that was back in July. Could the president have broken the law? JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think we know

the president has broken the law in many ways here. I mean, you know, putting aside that particular question. This really is a bribery and extortion scheme that he and Rudy Giuliani and others were engaged in.

So, but it's not -- it's not breaking the law as you refer to it in the sense of criminal law. It's that, you know, the law sets out requirements that have to happen for aide to go over and the president is not allowed to interfere with congressionally authorized aid and they have to do things if they want to hold that up.

There are requirements that have to be met. When they're met, he can't mess around with it. So, you know, yes, he broke the law that governs those things, also criminalize within the --

LEMON: Cooper testified that Volker was trying to get the aide released by having the Ukrainians deliver a public statement they would launch investigations. But Volker said that this in his testimony as he said.

He says, "I don't believe, in fact, I am quite sure at least that I, Secretary Pompeo, the official representative of the U.S. never communicated to the Ukrainians that it is being held for a reason. We never had a reason."

That's in direct conflict with Cooper's testimony, Frank.


BRUNI: It's in totally direct conflict. And I don't think it passes the smell test at all. You know, I mean, when you look at this it was very clear to Ukraine that there was a reason it was being held up. And I don't think it was hard to introduce what that reason was even if it wasn't being directly communicated.

And I think what's so interesting about Cooper's testimony isn't just these particulars but one witness after another. We have now a pretty high head count are all saying versions of the same thing. And they're all giving us vantage points, different vantage points to the same picture. Which is that aide was being held up contingent on the demand being met and that is the definition of a quid pro quo.

And not everybody has the whole picture of the whole puzzle but everyone is giving a piece that goes to the same type of -- no one is contradicting anybody else. No one is saying what I saw from here. There was nothing of this. We're hearing time and again that what people saw was this kind of transaction.

LEMON: And let's bring in the chief of staff here, Mick Mulvaney. Because Cooper said also, she said Mick Mulvaney told her the concerns about the aide Ukraine came directly from the president himself. Is Mick Mulvaney, I mean, is he tying -- he's the key figure here -- is he tying the president directly into the scandal?

COLLINS: Well, and that's being the big question. Because Mick Mulvaney made pretty clear when he came out in front of the reporters in front of the cameras and talked about this. He has talked about the conversations he had with the president about this.

And now the president brought up that conspiracy theory that his own former homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, told him wasn't real, which is that he believes Ukraine interfered in the elections instead of Russia.

And so, there are so many questions about Russia -- excuse me -- about Mulvaney that these lawmakers have. That's why it's so notable that Mulvaney is now embroiled in this drama over whether or not he's going to answer this subpoena.

And now even though he played a role in that White House letter that said, hey, you don't have to comply with any of the requests. Now he's asking a court to make that decision for him because he's not even willing to rely on the advice that he gave those staffers in part.

LEMON: Go ahead, Frank.

BRUNI: No. I mean, this asking a court is absolutely baffling. And I don't think it's real. I mean, I think he is not going to have to testify. Because they've said they're not going to enforce these subpoenas. The clock will run out. So, I mean, I can't figure out. I'd love if he had a theory. Why is he doing this for the court? What sort of public signal is he trying to send and to whom? It's absolutely baffling.

COLLINS: Well, potentially, the thinking is that it can drag this out and that it could go passed what Democrats are willing to wait for, but that's still something that's not completely decided.

LEMON: Anything they can do to run out the clock. Would that be the legal strategy here as the legal personal --


RODGERS: That's the strategy, you know, legal, political, any way you want to frame it. Absolutely. And you know, he's hoping and he's very differently placed than Kupperman and Bolton who are no longer with the government. And who aren't necessarily 100 percent on team Trump right now. Mulvaney is.

So, the notion that he's this neutral person all he needs is a court to tell him what to do. I mean, he hasn't even said that he'll comply with the judge's order if in fact the judges orders him to testify.


RODGERS: So, this is all nonsense.

LEMON: More about Mick Mulvaney here. because State Department official Catherine Croft, Frank, testified that Mulvaney held up plans to send Ukraine javelins anti-tank missiles. This was back in late 2017 because Russia might not -- might not like it. Right?

Part of the testimony. In a briefing, -- this is what Croft said. In a briefing with Mr. Mulvaney the question centered around the Russian reaction. Question, "What was the concern about the Russian reaction?" Croft, "The Russia -- that Russia would react negatively to the provision of javelins to Ukraine."

Once again, Frank, the Trump administration is more concerned about what Russia thinks here. What gives?

BRUNI: Well, I mean, I think this is one of the most underappreciated aspects of this or one of the ones we don't discuss often enough, which is when you're holding up aid to Ukraine, when you are not helping out Ukraine, you are helping Russia. Because what's that military aid for? It's aid to help them fight back Russian incursions. And that's a kind of overarching part of this that we don't discuss so much that this got to and I thought it was fascinating.

LEMON: You worked, to Jennifer, with Daniel Goldman. He's going to be doing the questioning for Democrats. Right? You've worked with him before. What do you think he's going to be looking at to get to these witnesses?

RODGERS: Well, so he's heard from all these witnesses before. Right? So, this is their public testimony. So, I think what Dan is going to do is stay very focused. He's going to want to get to the basics because this is really for the American people.

When did they learn about the extortion scheme, how did they learn about it, and what was their reaction and why? So that will get out all of these things about. You know, this actually was contrary to U.S. foreign policy. This actually was against U.S. national security what they were trying to do here. All of that should come out and I think Dan is going to do it in a very focused, concise, and hopefully clear and organize way so that people can hear it.

LEMON: Kaitlan, the president tweeting it a lie, really suggesting that House Democrats are releasing doctored transcripts. Now one Republican, single Republican is saying this. Is he grasping at straws?

COLLINS: He hinted last week that he was going to use this. And today we saw him employ it twice. His own allies are in that room. Several Republicans that are very close to the president, they have not disputed the validity of these transcripts. We don't expect them to. These witnesses have gone back and some of them reviewed these transcripts for 10 hours.

I think what you see in the president's tweet and we reported this last week, there's a sense of apprehension in the White House ahead of these public hearings.


And they are 48 hours out less than that now and they're still struggling with what it is they're going to say to push back against these officials. And that's really what you're saying. And it's not just something from the president. It's also from the aides inside the White House that we've heard from as they've really been frustrated by not knowing how to push back against this in an effective manner. BRUNI: There's an enormous tension here. Because Trump is saying none

of this is true. And the rest of the Republican messaging seems to be he did it but it's not so bad Trump. Trump says perfect phone call. Everyone else says imperfect but not impeachable. Right.

COLLINS: And he hates that.

BRUNI: Yes. And I mean I think they're looking like fools.

LEMON: Yes. And Jim Acosta got a talking point today which is, you know, don't say that. One of them was included in the --


COLLINS: His tweet.


COLLINS: He basically tweeted that today after Mac Thornberry said it yesterday on the Sunday shows.

LEMON: So, thank you, all. How are you doing, Kaitlan?

COLLINS: I'm good. I'm good. I'm recovering slightly.

LEMON: Kaitlan was at the game.


COLLINS: From a heartbreak --

LEMON: Did you think of me when you won?


LEMON: You thought you --


COLLINS: Not good thoughts. I can't believe you have this 10.

LEMON: (Inaudible) LSU 10. Thank you. We appreciate it.

We're counting down to the first public impeachment hearings with millions of Americans watching on live TV. And nobody knows more about how to cover a momentous event like this than the legendary journalist, Sam Donaldson. He's here, next.



LEMON: We're less than two days away from the start of the public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill. A huge moment in the Trump presidency and in American history. With so much on the line, how should the media be preparing to cover the impeachment process? Let's discuss now with former ABC News anchors, Mr. Sam Donaldson.

Thank you so much, Sam. Good to see you.


LEMON: So much at stake in these televised hearings. It will be momentous. What do reporters need to be on the lookout for?

DONALDSON: Well, you know, the televised hearings, Don, are going to be hearing in which people for the first time really see the people who have been talking to the committees about this.

John Dean when he made that appearance in the Watergate committee hearings on Capitol Hill the summer of '73, I covered that. There are millions of people watching. Now there were three networks then. There was no VCR. There was no internet. They got their news by watching television.

The newspapers helped of course, and the daily Monday through Friday evening news broadcast helped. And it took over two years to get the public to the point where yes, they thought maybe this guy was a crook. Richard Nixon. And yes, maybe he should leave office one way or the other.

Now the Democrats this time have what, a couple of weeks. And with coming up on the season and Christmas shopping and all of this. They got to hope that people will be riveted to these hearings to see the actual players, not just read about it in the newspapers how you and I talked about it.

And if those people who watch become convinced that there is something really here. This is something that's terrible. Then that figure you see about the public wants the president out rises. And if it rises, those people in the Senate, those wonderful Republicans who now stick with him will begin to shed him. They will say I never knew Him. We've been conned by a con man. Really.

LEMON: We saw Republicans trying to distract from the impeachment hearings by storming the SCIF during the deposition. We almost certainly see more of those kinds of stunts. You think?

DONALDSON: I do. And I think about this thing about the whistleblower. I mean, hey, let's suppose that the Albuquerque 9/11 line gets a call one night. Some guy I'm not going to give you my name but if you go to a dumpster on Montgomery and Wyoming, you'll find a dead body. And the police go. There's a dead body. They find a gun. They find witnesses say I say this guy running.

They've found the suspect because the prints are on the gun. And they bring him forward to the lineup. The witnesses say that's him. That's him. That's him.

Great evidence. They're going to bring him in trial. And his defense attorney says not until you find the guy who called in the tip. That's the important thing. He may have hated my client. No. The important thing is the quality of the evidence on guilt or

innocence not who called in the tip. The whistleblower was important because he called in the tip. But he's not important from the standpoint of whether this man should be found guilty in the United States Senate and removed from office.

LEMON: And I'm sure in your scenario the police, the investigators may know who he is but it doesn't need that person needs to be outed or publicly testified because they called in the tip. Right?

DONALDSON: Well, we have a whistleblower's law. Very weak of course because these things get out. But the Republicans and members of the president's own family have said they want to know this man's name. They wanted -- and we think he's now a man.

And if harm comes to that man, because he's been publicly outed in a way that is not the essential to the quality of the whether Donald J. Trump is going to be removed or not. If harm comes to him, I think millions of Americans will never forgive them and I think millions of Americans will see to it that they're punished for that kind of crime because it is a crime.

LEMON: These are going to be the first impeachment hearings in the age of social media. Right? You mention that there was no social media back during Watergate. There were VCRs or DVRs. Right?

You know, Trump is a master of that medium. We haven't dealt with that ever before in history.

DONALDSON: Well, yes. But the medium is the message as McGlue (Ph) once told us. And I think he's right. People will be watching these people testify. Their credibility, the witnesses will be brought forward in televised hearings will be important.

And I get to make up my mind. You get to make up your mind. Your audience gets to makes up its mind. This person telling the truth, how do I know. Well, the quality of what he says. His background and how he dovetails with other people.


My concern to some extent is there's not enough time. There was over two and a half years, about two years and about two and a half months between the time of the burglary at the Watergate and the time Richard Nixon said sayonara, good-bye.

And it took a building. It took Nixon to help by firing having fired the special prosecutor who is investigating. That massacre on the 20th of October 1973 was key. You can just see the public change.

On every day Donald J. Trump gives us not a massacre of a prosecutor but the massacre of the English language, the massacre of our foreign policy, the massacre of our domestic policy and cruelty toward people.

And you know, he comes into this already in the mind of so many Americans a bad guy. Or as Nixon had shed the tricky dick a little bit. And he came into it with a massive reelection victory. So, Trump goes behind the eight-ball to begin with and every day adds to the fact that people don't like him.

LEMON: Well, --

DONALDSON: And if they don't like him that's one reason to want him out.

LEMON: I think you say something that's very important. The credibility of the witnesses -- the credibility matters. Right? And that's why the president and his supporters are trying to undermine the credibility of the witnesses. Because these people are really credible.

DONALDSON: I was dozing there for a moment.

LEMON: That's OK. But these are people who have served their country for some of them for decades.

Sam Donaldson, thank you. I appreciate your time.

DONALDSON: Always. See you, Don.

LEMON: See you.

Julian Castro says Iowa and New Hampshire shouldn't be first in the nation anymore. He's arguing that they don't represent the true demographics of voters in this country. Is he right?



LEMON: Julian Castro says Iowa and New Hampshire shouldn't be, should not be first in the nation anymore. He argues the states aren't diverse enough to reflect the country and the Democratic Party. Iowa of course holds its caucuses first. New Hampshire holds the first primary.


JULIAN CASTRO (D), FORMER HUD SECRETARY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Demographically, it's not reflective of the United States as a whole. Certainly not reflective of the Democratic Party and I believe that other states should have their chance.

So yes, of course, we need to find other states and that doesn't mean Iowa and New Hampshire can't still play an important role.


CASTRO: But I don't believe that forever we should be married to Iowa and New Hampshire going first.


LEMON: Very interesting. Let's discuss. David Swerdlick is here and Ron Brownstein. Gentlemen, hello. Thank you.



LEMON: David, you think Julian Castro has a really good point here?

SWERDLICK: Yes, of course he has a good point. Look, it's always a good thing for politicians to remember that voters don't care about whether or not the rules are favorable to a particular candidate.

Any Democrat should go into this thinking even if the rules are stacked against me, I've got to try and win by the rules that are in place this election year. That being said, of course he's right. It's not just as he said that Iowa and New Hampshire are less diverse states than the country as a whole.

Take diversity and take demographics aside. It's just a basic thing of fairness. Why do these two states get to go first every single election every four years? It would be very easy if these states if the parties were interested in fairness to implement a system where you broke up the 50 states and the territories like Puerto Rico into regions and they took turns year after year. And any kid can tell you that. you've got to take turns.

LEMON: Ron, what's your reaction to that? Why did you -- why are reacting that way?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I think Julian Castro has a point. To a point. I mean, he's absolutely right. Over 90 percent of the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are white. And about 40 percent or maybe even more than 40 percent of the total Democratic primary voters this year will be non-white. Som they are obviously not representative of where the party is.

On the other hand, voters there do take the job very seriously. The problem I think is not so much that Iowa and New Hampshire are guaranteed to pick the winners this year. There are only two Democratic nominees who didn't win Iowa or New Hampshire which is Clinton in '92 and (Inaudible).

It could be different this year. Because there's a possibility that those diverse voters in the later states will make different choices and the predominantly white electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The problem is, is if all of the diverse candidates in the field, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker are effectively marginalized and weeded out after those first two contests.

Then those diverse voters will probably not get a chance to resuscitate their campaigns and I think that is this disproportionate and influence for two states that don't really reflect what the Democratic Party is today.

LEMON: Listen, I'm not sure if this is a fair question but I'll ask. Because still it's not like Castro is at the top of the polls in the more diverse states that make up the later contest. In South Carolina Castro polls at 1 percent. The most recent polls in Nevada Castro doesn't even register. So, take a stab at that, David. Does that matter?

SWERDLICK: Of course, it matters. He is in a position where he can say this because he doesn't have as much to lose. It's pretty clear at this point that Castro is not going to be in the top tier. it's not looking like he is really going to be a big contender as we head into 2020.

So, he has less to lose by saying this. I agree with every piece of Ron's analysis. But let me push back on one tiny bit of that, Ron. And that's -- that line that you hear often from New Hampshire and Iowa from people in those states and politicians in those states where they say, well, our voters take this seriously.


They take it seriously because they're first. If Oregon and Tennessee --


SWERDLICK: -- were first, Oregon and Tennessee would take it more seriously, too.

As you said, you know, by the time you get to some of these later states, people have a more sort of even-keeled attitude toward it. They're not going to diner. They're not going to the state fair because the field has narrowed and the dye is sort of cast in the race, at least in presidential year.

LEMON: Also -- Ron, also that -- don't you think that's insulting to a lot of people around the country who don't happen to live in the Midwest when you -- because those voters are often referred to as these are real Americans? Well, all Americans are real Americans --

BROWNSTEIN: Right. In fact --

LEMON: -- whether you live in the coast or the south, north, east, west. We're all Americans and should have equal access to the election process.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. Look, I have often said that, you know, it is diverse metro info age America that is more representative of what America is becoming in the 21st century. And rural, predominantly white --


BROWNSTEIN: -- Christian states that, you know, are often described by conservatives as real America, that is more -- that is more of a bubble. But having said that --

LEMON: Say that again.

BROWNSTEIN: You know --

LEMON: I always said that. I always said who actually lives in the bubble. And I think it's actually those voters more so than metro areas.

BROWNSTEIN: The bubble -- the bubble -- the bubble. Yeah. Look, only 40 percent of the country now is white Christians. The majority of our public school students are kids of color. The economy is increasingly defined by info age, digital employment, which is centered in large metros. That is what America is becoming.

The bubble is the places in which none of that is present, which is the heart of Trump county and the Trump coalition. You know, it always infuriates me when people say, well, the coasts are the bubble. The coasts or the big metro areas are the bubble. That is what America is becoming.

To go back to your question real quick, I do think that there's no question that if the diverse candidates are all effectively marginalized by Iowa and New Hampshire despite the democratic effort to introduce more diversity by moving up Nevada and South Carolina, there is going to be debate after this year.

But the argument is somewhat undercut by the fact that it's not only Castro who is failing to ignite Hispanic voters in Nevada and other later states, but that Booker and Harris are struggling among African Americans voters in South Carolina.

The case that Iowa and New Hampshire are exerting disproportionate influence would be stronger if these diverse candidates were showing more strength among voters from their community in later states.

But I do think either way, if all of these candidates are effectively pushed to the sidelines -- we have four white candidates left, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg and Biden, also, by the way, the top four in the fundraising -- all of this does raise issues about whether Democrats are kind of stuck in strange time warp in which the coalition is more diverse than ever, the general electorate will be more diverse than ever, and yet they are left choosing among a series of white frontrunners.

SWERDLICK: Yeah, Ron has spot on. I mean, President Trump has scrambled things this year because some of these constituencies that would naturally line up in other election years, people are looking at the candidates and saying, maybe we only think that a white male, let's say, can be a successful general election candidate against Trump.

And so that's throwing some of the geographic and ethnic or demographic group alignments out of whack that they wouldn't be in --


LEMON: OK. I got to run. I got to run, guys.

BROWNSTEIN: Real quick -- LEMON: I can't. I've already gone over.


LEMON: All right. Thank you, gentlemen. See you next time. We'll be right back.

SWERDLICK: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Don Jr., next.




LEMON: So not a very warm reception for the president's son, Don Jr., his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, in the campus of UCLA. They were booed off the stage while promoting his new book, but not by the people you might think. It was far-right supporters of his father who were angry that he wouldn't take their questions. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The reason oftentimes it doesn't make sense to do the Q&A is not because we're not willing to talk about the questions, because we do. No. It's because people hijack it with nonsense looking to go for some sort of sound bite. You have people spreading nonsense, spreading hate, trying to take over the room --

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: No. It's because you're not making your parents proud by being rude and disruptive and discourteous. We are happy to answer a question! Respect the people around you so that they can hear.

You don't play -- you don't play by the same rules. Let me tell you something. I bet you engage and go on online dating because you're impressing no one here to get a date in person.




LEMON: Awkward. Was there a mirror in the back of the room? Because it sounds like what people say about the Trump apologists who come on television and defend him no matter what and spin conspiracy theories and then throw shiny objects out. It is like they were saying the same thing. They should be talking to those people and maybe themselves.

Let's discuss. CNN Political Commentator Catherine Rampell is here and Andrew Gumbel as well. He is a reporter for The Guardian. OK, that was interesting. Good evening to both of you. [23:39:59]

LEMON: Andrew, you were at the event where Don Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle spoke. Listen, it seemed to go well. For a while, it did. For about 20 minutes. So, what happened? What changed?

ANDREW GUMBEL, AUTHOR, REPORTER FOR THE GUARDIAN: It go very nasty, very fast actually is what happened. Right at the beginning of the event, there was an announcement that there would be no question and answer session because of time constraint. It was the official excuse.

Immediately, half of the room erupted in fury, screaming USA, USA, which turned into Q&A, Q&A. And they didn't let up for the entire time. And so, as you saw -- what you saw on camera, the climax, if that's the right word, of this chaotic scene, after which Don Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle fled. I think it is probably the best way to describe it. There was no goodbye. There was no this is the end. They just left.

LEMON: Yeah.

GUMBEL: I was towards the back of the room. And some of this I saw it right away and some I had to piece together after because it was so loud in there. I only heard about half of what you just heard in that video. What I understood was the people at the front, the people who have been in line for five, six hours before the event began, were members of this fringe group of far-right activists who were furious, not so much with Trump --

LEMON: It's a group called America First.

GUMBEL: That's what the name of the YouTube channel of their 21-year- old leader, Nicholas Fuentes. That's right.

LEMON: So you said they were so upset with --

GUMBEL: They misappropriated the label. But they got into the room early. They are at the front with the video cameras and they were determined to shut it down because they have a beef with the person you saw in the middle who did not have a mic, who was technically a co-presenter of the event, Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, which is a student organization connected to the Republican Party, to Trump, big supporters.

They've been very much in the forefront of bringing conservative voices to liberal campuses, stirring up outrage, and trying to trigger people as the title of Don Jr.'s book has it. And suddenly the tactic backfired. The people in the room used the same guerrilla god fly (ph) attempt to get attention for themselves at the expense of the establishment. And the establishment in this case was the Trump family.

LEMON: Interesting. Catherine, the irony is a main point of Don Jr.'s book. As he said, as Andrew said, it triggered. But, you know, they've been calling out the left for what he calls intolerance, dissenting voices. But, I mean, he didn't want to hear dissenting voices possibly.


LEMON: They said it was time constraint but it turns out, we don't do it because you waste our time. But go on.

RAMPELL: Yeah, there were few ironies here. One is that Don Jr. is not clearly the brave truth teller that he holds himself out to be. He was unwilling to take questions from an audience of sympathetic 19 year-olds because of time constraint or what have you.

So, there's that, you know, for all of his claims that the left is intolerant of speech or is unwilling to engage. Clearly, he was not willing to engage with people on his own side.

And then the other irony here, of course, is that the Republican Party for a while now has sort of made criticizing, calling out the political elites a virtue in and of itself, you know, however, meritorious those criticisms may be.

And now the Trumps are the political elite, right? The Trumps are the establishment, right? They have their guy in the White House, Don Jr's father, of course, and the presumed leader of the people who are fans -- who are at this event.

And now that same ethos of attacking the political elite that brought Trump into the White House is now being used against the Trump family in and of itself. We have seen this sort of splintering within fringe factions before both on the left and the right throughout history.

LEMON: Tea party.

RAMPELL: Tea Party, yeah. Tea Party is a great example of this, right. That the Tea Party had, you know, sort of had this fissure or created this fissure within the Republican Party which then led to eventually Trump inheriting that movement, and now that movement has sort of been turned against Trump.

LEMON: So, how does this bode for 2020? Does it at all because you don't usually see stuff like that? You see like to call out the left and say, well, you know, it's the left that comes and screams. But it was actually his own people.

RAMPELL: It was his own people. And I will say that as much as there is a stereotype of the left on campuses storming speaking events and calling triggered warnings and censorship and things like that, this is actually not a completely new phenomenon.

There have been censorship and book burnings, for example. There was recently one, I think, at Georgia College. So this is not entirely new. I don't know that this tells us something in particular about 2020, but it does suggest that there has been some sort of schism at least in the fringe of the Republican Party.

LEMON: The question is who are the real snowflakes?

RAMPELL: Exactly. Excellent question.

LEMON: Thank you, Andrew. Thank you, Catherine. I appreciate it. Joe Biden is taking the stage at CNN's town hall tonight. He is calling out President Trump and his democratic opponents. We got the big moments, next.



LEMON: Joe Biden fielding questions tonight from Iowa voters in CNN's town hall. The former vice president was asked about a wide range of topics, everything from health care to impeachment to overcoming personal tragedy. Joining me now to discuss, Joe Trippi, Angela Rye. Good evening.


LEMON: Joe, tonight was an important night for the former vice president. A town hall right here on CNN. How did he do?


JOE TRIPPI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Look, I think it was a good format for him. I think it was the best performance he's had in any -- through any of the debates or anything, any of the moments I've watched him. He was really good tonight. I think he did himself a lot of good.

I think the reason, though, is the long format where he can actually tell a story, connect with people, show the decent side of himself and the empathy that he has. It just contrasts so much with Donald Trump and sort of -- I think people -- I think the longer they watched tonight, the more refreshing he seemed to be for a guy who, you know, everybody is talking like, you know, gaffes, over the hill. Tonight he did very well, I thought.

LEMON: OK. So, listen, Angela, Biden was asked about how he's dealt with the many tragedies he's suffered throughout his life. Listen to his answer.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, I have -- a lot of people have suffered more than I have with loss. And I've been really -- it sounds bizarre to say it -- lucky in the sense that I've had an incredible family.

But I promise you, and you know it happens to me hundreds of times on the trail. People just want to know, can I make it? Can I make it? Am I gonna be OK? And there will come a time, if any of you are going through it, where the thought of the person you lost will bring a smile to your lip before it brings a tear to your eye. That's when you know you're going to be able to make it.


LEMON: This is a moment -- at least one of the moments that Joe was just talking about, Angela. Biden really empathizes with people, especially on this level. You think it's going to help separate him from the Democrats and from President Trump?

RYE: I think he better hope so. And one of the things I have to say is that I applaud Erin for asking that question. One of the most important things with a crowded field that we see in the democratic primary right now is humanizing these candidates.

There are significant policy differences, and yet there are still a lot of places where they intersect, where they agree, and so the things that are going to separate one candidate from another are how they can relate to everyday humans.

The next part of that answer, Joe Biden goes on to say, how many of you all have lost someone close to you to cancer? You see so many hands go up in that room. And that is just it, right? In spite of everything that he's been through, losing a wife and a daughter, losing his son, you know, right when people are considering whether or not he should be running for the presidency in 2016.

He suffers this tremendous loss and this is one of those moments where Joe Biden can say, look at everything I've been through, I'm still here, I still went on to accomplish quite a bit, you all can do it, too. He said, one of the greatest things that you can have in this life when you experience trauma and tragedy is finding purpose.

And I think that's something that's so relatable and so important. So whether it's Joe Biden or the next candidate, you have to find ways, in spite of the policy differences, to relate to everyday humans.

LEMON: Yeah. Joe, Biden was also asked about his recent war of words between him and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Watch this.


BIDEN: Let's get something straight. She attacked me. She went out and said, Biden -- she didn't use my name any more than I used hers -- she said, Biden is a coward. Biden -- Biden is, in fact, in the pocket of. Biden is -- and she went down the list of saying that I should be in a republican primary.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: She did say you were in the wrong party?

BIDEN: Yeah, right. Now, what do you call that? What do you call that? So I responded by saying -- no, no, here's what I said. It's not about her. It's about the attitude that exists right now. If you disagree with me, you must be bad. There must be -- they question motive.

Look, we can disagree. I respect your view. I really do. That's the only point. It's not about her. It's about the attitude that's out there. And imagine if I said to her, well, you should be in a republican -- you should be in a socialist primary. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Hmm, how is that answer playing with Democrats, Joe?

TRIPPI: Look, I think he's been much more comfortable the last week or so going directly at Warren particularly on "Medicare for All," and I think he understands that he's got to push off her. I thought this was more effective for him in many of his attempts. Again, I think what's going on here is in the debates, he doesn't have this kind of time, right? There's like 30 seconds --

LEMON: Right.

TRIPPI: -- and then somebody else --

LEMON: And we've talked about that before. It's very difficult. The presidency is not run in 30-second sound bites. Angela, before I go, literally, I have 10 seconds. I want to get you in.


LEMON: How do you think that answer will play?

RYE: I don't think it was strong at all. I actually think this is one of his worst moments, and the reason for that is Joe Biden could have just answered this question without talking about, you're better than me and it's elitist if you think that you know what's best for me.



RYE: That's not really fair. We're talking about a country that had to pass the Civil Rights Act with opposition. We're talking about a Voting Rights Act that had to pass with opposition.

LEMON: Out of time.

RYE: People didn't think that was in their best interest.

LEMON: Angela, Joe, thank you. I appreciate it. See you next time. And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.