Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Holds Campaign Rally In North Carolina; President Trump Attacking Election Eight Weeks Before Votes Are Cast; President Trump Says We Will Build Up Our Military One Day; Top Vaccine Maker Pauses Coronavirus Vaccine Trials; President Trump Trying To Stoke Fears Ahead Of Election; The Department Of Justice Wants To Defend President Trump In E. Jean Carroll Defamation Lawsuit. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 8, 2020 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00]

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: But in spite of the coronavirus pandemic and a mask requirement in North Carolina, very few people in the crowd wore masks and there was practically no social distancing. Trump trying to stoke fear among his base claiming Democrats are out to destroy America's suburbs and blaming the pandemic for a tough re-election bid. Every once in a while the mask he refuses to wear slips.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I got to tell you, I was sailing to an easy election. This was going to be so easy I probably would have not been here tonight. I would have said no we don't have to bother. This is going to be -- now we have to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The president and his top aides falsely claim that voting by mail leads to massive fraud. The example they give to back up their false claims, well, they just don't check out.

They do that because of the pandemic knowing millions of Americans are planning to mail in their ballots this year and since it will take time to count all those ballots there is a very good chance we won't know the winner of the election on election night. So, we are going to take a look at what may happen here in this hour ahead for you. So, make sure you stay tuned.

Joining me now CNN White House Correspondent, John Harwood and also Marc Caputo, senior political reporter for Politico, Florida. Good evening to both of you gentlemen. So happy to have you on. I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend. John, let's see, let's start with you. We have seen clashes between Trump supporters and protesters recently and tonight as the campaign really kicks off now here's what the president is saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Watch those ballots. I don't like it. You know you have a Democrat Governor, you have all these Democrats watching that stuff. I don't like it. Watch it. Be poll watchers when you go there. Watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do. Because this is important. We win North Carolina we win --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So this is not -- it's not really hard to see how this could get volatile here and create an atmosphere of intimidation at a time there is already a ton of concern about voter suppression. What do you think, John?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I agree with you, Don. Look, you can hear in the president's tone of voice that he was acting. That was performance art schtick that he was doing for the crowd.

But all of that schtick has gotten increasingly raw both in terms of protests in the cities talking about anarchists and people who are going to, you know, threaten your physical safety, talking about suburbs getting demolished, talking about thieving and robbing at polling places.

You could see just as he has encouraged that sort of vigilante activity in the streets that we saw cost the lives of two people in Kenosha and cost the lives of one of the vigilantes and then later the person who shot him in Oregon, you could see that kind of disorder occurring on Election Day.

And together with the president's suggestion that people who have already sent in absentee ballots going to their polling places to see if their ballots have been cast and of course in some cases the ballots would not have been recorded.

Because they may not have been received and marked in the poll book when people show up you could see him setting the stage for real chaos at polling places that's consistent with his statements that, well, it is going to be a rigged election and that is the only way I can lose trying to cast doubt over the legitimacy of the electoral process and also perhaps the administration of the electoral process.

LEMON: Marc, let's bring you in. I'm going to put up this new poll out today shows Trump and Biden tied in the battleground state of Florida. You say this race is much closer than people think. What are you hearing from Florida voters?

MARC CAPUTO, FLORIDA PLAYBOOK CO-AUTHOR, POLITICO: Well, probably hearing what your poll or what the Marist poll what you are featuring is showing. It kind of depends on who you talk to. This kind of state where you can go and let's say southwest Florida which is kind of blood red Republican country and you would ever wonder why Joe Biden would have a chance.

But then you could wind up in Broward County and wonder how on earth it could be that President Trump would get any votes in Florida. We're pretty evenly divided states, certainly on this question. For some time, Biden has been leading marginally, that is within the margin of error on the polls but they appear to be tightening up, they kind a feel to be tightening up.

And Florida is one of those states that you kind of flip a coin and it can wind up on its edge. That is usually how close our elections come. You know, in 2018 we had two top of the ticket races. Actually three top of the ticket races that were decided by half a point or less. I'd be really surprised if anyone either Biden or Trump won by two points or more here.

LEMON: My goodness. Let's talk more about this poll. It shows Trump is leading among Latino voters in Florida with 50 percent support. Biden has 46 percent. But in 2016 in the exit polls it showed that Hillary Clinton had 62 percent support of Latino voters in Florida. How worried should the Biden campaign be about this, Marc?

[23:05:15]

CAPUTO: Well, they shouldn't be that worried about that poll when it comes to Latino voters. Understand about 17 percent of the registered voters in the state are Hispanic. About 15 percent of the actual votes probably going to be cast by people who classify themselves as Hispanic. You know, that poll there has fewer than 150, 180 Latino respondents.

The margin of error is going to be all over the place. A pretty big sample size poll out last week by (inaudible) research (inaudible) lab showed Joe Biden up by about 17 points. That is pretty good. It sounds pretty good. But it's probably not good enough if he wants to win the state and it is still worse than Hillary Clinton did.

That having been said, while Joe Biden appears to be under performing with Hispanic voters relative to Hillary Clinton. He is over performing with non-Hispanic white voters that is still the super majority in the state.

Now, so for every let's say presumptive of the Hispanic vote he loses, quote-unquote, and Joe Biden picks up with white voters, he is kind of making up a net of about four votes. So that is a pretty good deal he's got so far.

Now, I would just urge everyone to understand these are polls. They're snapshots in time. They have margins of error. The smartest and dumbest thing said in politics is it's all about turnout and we are going to see what happens on Election Day.

It could be so close it might take a few extra hours or even a few extra days to declare the winner, but Florida will have probably at least 75 percent of the vote in before Election Day both cast by absentee ballots in the mail or in-person early votes.

We are going to probably have a pretty good idea who the leader is but it could be so close that people are going to have to be a little patient and we in the news media have to be pretty cautious about declaring who the winner is on election night.

LEMON: That sound you're hearing, people are going no. It's everybody watching the show who is -- they don't want that to happen. Marc, we thank you. John, we'll see you soon. Both of you thanks so much.

I want to get to now, General Wesley Clark the former NATO supreme allied commander. General thank you so much, I appreciate you joining us here this evening. President Trump is claiming that he rebuilt the U.S. military at his rally tonight.

Well, he did it at a rally tonight, claiming that he rebuilt the military. It is one of his go to campaign lines but very different from what we heard from him, this was just yesterday. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm not saying the military is in love with me. The soldiers are. The top people in the Pentagon probably aren't because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That's got to be galling to leaders who have dedicated their lives to protecting this country. Why is he saying that?

WESLEY CLARK, RET. GEN. FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, he is saying it as, just to attack an elite that he considers -- he is trying to reach beyond the commanders and get to the level of the soldiers and the Jr. Leaders I guess.

But it's also part of the incoherence that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth. Maybe he thinks if he were a general what he'd be worried about is how to make money as a general. He doesn't understand the first thing about the ethics of the United States armed forces.

The ethics of the armed forces are about accepting responsibility, being competent, caring for others. He doesn't do any of that as a leader, and Don, I will tell you that he's making a big mistake saying that he rebuilt the armed forces, because they were there before he was elected and the people who were in it are highly offended and I'm not talking about top brass. I'm talking about people in the middle. People near the bottom who came in under Obama.

They worked. They went to war. They suffered. Donald Trump didn't change that. The Pentagon always is looking to have more money for research and development and so forth. Because we are now reordering against China and Russia but he didn't transform the military and they are deeply offended that he says that.

I will tell you that some of the middle range officers, they see him for what he is. They know he doesn't represent their values. He is the antithesis of everything they stand for. And rather than duty, honor, country they say he stands for lie, brag, and blame.

LEMON: Wow.

CLARK: And that's his methodology. He's got it exactly wrong. He's treated with respect by the senior generals around whom he works and who give him policy proposals. They may not like it but further down I think he's really lost the respect of the men and women in uniform down the rank.

LEMON: Let's talk about this a bit more, because the president, general, he can claim the reporting first detail in the Atlantic is fake. He can do that all he wants, but the tape doesn't lie. Just listen to candidate Trump talking about military leaders announcing their intention to attack ISIS.

[23:10:09]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Whatever happened to the element of surprise? The element of surprise. What a group of losers we have. We have a bunch of babies running our country, folks. We have a bunch of losers. They're losers. They're babies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And so, you know, when you hear that and you hear the president say I've never called anybody a loser. I haven't done that and then he is doing it on tape, clearly criticizing leadership then. Didn't stick, right, in 2016. But this time he called those killed in action losers and suckers. The people who were killed in action. Will this time be different?

CLARK: Well, I don't know. I mean, I think that in 2016 he still had a certain aura he brought in from TV. I think now he owns it. You know when you're a company commander in the United States army, you get a couple weeks, maybe 30 days, and then everything in that unit belongs to you. When you're the president of the United States if they're looking at you and four years later you're still blaming your predecessor. It's your problem.

They know he treats people this way. They know he says these things. People in the middle, this has gone through the armed forces. The Jeff Goldberg story, that came out because it was widely talked about by many people in the armed forces that he had insulted those who had served and suffered and died.

LEMON: You had heard that before the reporting?

CLARK: Yes. I mean, this is something that's been going through the ranks I'm told and people have -- this is what happens when a man has the characteristics of the entertainer that Donald Trump has and he shoots off his mouth and says a million things and says things in public and in private.

Look, if you're president of the United States you owe the deepest respect and gratitude for these men and women in uniform. They're putting their lives on the line and they're trusting and their families are trusting you to make those decisions.

And that is the way it's been since we fought the revolutionary war. And it's been tough. And some of the decisions that are made aren't good. It is a sacred duty of the president to respect these people and their sacrifices and he hasn't done it and they know it. And it's going to get worse and he is going to lose more and more respect as this election campaign continues.

LEMON: Well, that's his big concern here, and it was just mind boggling to me to hear him say, only an animal would say something like that, and then someone plays a tape of him saying the exact same sort of thing in the next breath. Unbelievable. General as always thank you for your service and thank you for appearing. I appreciate it.

CLARK: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. Millions of students across the country going back to school today but a whole lot of them will only be learning online. Coronavirus and the administration's handling of the crisis will be a huge issue this fall. Where America stands on that as the campaign heats up. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:15:00]

LEMON: The president has been out in the field talking about a possible coronavirus vaccine before the election. Well, tonight we got the news that a drug company AstraZeneca is pausing its coronavirus vaccine trial due to an unexplained illness in a participant. Its vaccine is one of the three in late stage phase three trials in the U.S. That as kids across the country face a whole new reality in the era of the coronavirus. Here is CNN's Nick Watt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Millions of students back in school today but most aren't actually in school. They're online only.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALERGY AND INFECTOUS DISEASE: If you are in the red zone you really have to be very careful before you bring the children back because you don't want to create a situation where you have a hyper spreading event as you might have in the school.

WATT: Hartford, Connecticut planned a hybrid model but a cyber-attack just forced a delay.

MAYOR LUKE BRONIN (D), MAYOR OF HARTFORD, CT: As difficult as that was in this year when so much work has gone into preparing for the first day of school.

WATT: Tens of thousands of confirmed cases now at colleges. West Virginia University just suspended nearly all in-person teaching at one campus for two weeks. Friday night a COVID positive frat member told to isolate went to a party anyway. Nationally case counts are still headed in the right direction for now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we are beginning to do things we haven't done since the start of the pandemic.

WATT: Like opening some schools and colleges and moving indoors in colder weather. In New York, sheriff's deputies will now stop buses arriving from a staggering 33 states and territories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will be pulling over buses before they arrive and they'll be giving out those traveler health forms to get people right away to sign up so we can make sure they quarantine.

WATT: Eleven states are right now seeing a rise in average case counts. Arizona and Florida, success stories of the late summer ticking up again.

FAUCI: We need to hang in there together. This will end. And it will end even sooner if we continue to go by the public health measures that have begun for so many months.

WATT: A new study of cell phone data suggests people staying home in the spring did slow the spread of this virus. They saved lives. But the president thinks shutdowns are ridiculous, claims Democrats are using them just to hurt him.

FAUCI: We've got to regain the trust of the community.

[23:20:03]

WATT: So the CEOs of nine pharma companies racing to produce a vaccine just signed a pledge that they won't submit too soon for approval, suggesting they won't bow to any political pressure. They hope to help ensure public confidence in the rigorous, scientific and regulatory process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is you are right, it is unprecedented moment and it's a historic pledge. We saw it was critical to come out and reiterate our commitment that we will develop our products, our vaccines using the highest ethical standards.

WATT: Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: That's Nick Watt. I want to bring in now Tom Bollyky, Director of the Global Health Program at the Council of Foreign Relations. Also the author of Plagues and the paradox of progress. Tom, good to have you here. Let's start with this new development tonight, AstraZeneca pausing all of its global vaccine trials after a British volunteer got sick. What does this mean for this vaccine and others going forward?

TOM BOLLYKY, DIRECTOR OF THE GLOBAL HEALTH PROGRAM, COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, for this particular vaccine we don't know. It means delay for certain. There will be an investigation to identify whether this severe, adverse event was related to the vaccine or just something that happens when you have 30,000 people that you're watching.

So that will be delayed. What it does suggest is the risks that are inherent to vaccine development and the importance of conducting these trials to their conclusion.

LEMON: The president is pushing the timeline for a vaccine again tonight. Let's listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're producing a vaccine in record time. This is a vaccine that we are going to have very soon, very, very soon. By the end of the year but much sooner than that, perhaps.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But this was just this afternoon. This is Dr. Anthony Fauci, what he said about a vaccine before Election Day. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: I think that's unlikely. I mean, the only way you can see that scenario come true is that there are so many infections in the clinical trial sites that you get an efficacy answer sooner than you would have projected. Like I said, it is not impossible, duly, but it is unlikely that we'll have a definitive answer at that time. More likely by the end of the year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Tom, the question is, what does this do to the confidence in the vaccine when you hear the president pushing for it and the cautions, you know, the cautious warnings from his own advisers?

BOLLYKY: So the president's pushing isn't helping. To be a success, a vaccine needs to be proven safe and effective. But it also needs to be trusted.

It's possible as Dr. Fauci said that with the Pfizer Moderna vaccine the clinical trial recruitment has gone fast enough, it is possible that they could demonstrate enough evidence if they're really highly effective and there are a lot of infections among the trial subjects that they could have enough to overcome the hurdle for an emergency use authorization from the FDA.

However, the question is, will the public trust it? Particularly after we have had bad results with convalescent plasma, with the authorization of that, and hydroxychloroquine. So what you saw today from the nine pharmaceutical companies putting out a statement was trying to reassure the public that they get it. That public trust, that they're willing to earn the public trust through the development of this trial.

Pfizer's CEO actually went further later in the day where they said they will not seek authorization prior to the conclusion of the phase three clinical trial. I just wish the president would express similar caution.

LEMON: Tom, always a pleasure. Thank you sir.

BOLLYKY: My pleasure.

LEMON: Fear and division. We are going to go inside the president's playbook in his attempts to stay in office.

Plus, how the Justice Department could be skewing norms to protect the president again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:25:00]

LEMON: The president playing hard to his base as the election draws closer trying to stoke fears about violence in America's streets and falsely claiming Democrats would destroy the suburbs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They want to destroy your suburbs. You know, the rule, the regulation that I just terminated, they want to build low income projects in the suburbs. They've been doing it. They've been destroying suburbs. If the left gains power they will demolish the suburbs. The suburbs are next. If you elected this guy the suburbs would be overwhelmed with violence and crime. If they win, the mobs win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Joining me now to discuss, CNN's Political Analyst, Toluse Olorunnipa, and CNN Political Commentators, Tara Setmayer and Amanda Carpenter. OK. It's just -- anyway. I'll let you guys discuss this. Hi. How are you? It's just so ridiculous. He is pretending now that he isn't president and I -- whatever.

Toluse, so talking about low income housing, violence and crime coming to the suburbs. It is not even a dog whistle, it is a bull horn. Is this going to win back any suburban voters?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALSYT, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Right. There is not a lot of nuance in this argument from the president. He is essentially saying that poor people means crime and that means that your suburbs are going to be destroyed essentially trying to equate, you know, the idea of poor people and for the president that's code for minorities coming into the lily white suburbs and destroying these bedroom communities.

[23:30:03]

Obviously, it's not quite like that in reality, but that's the argument that he's making. It is a very purely political argument and has not worked for him in the past.

The reason he is being so blatant about trying to win back the suburbs is because he has seen what's happened since 2016 and 2018. The suburbs were the strongest sort of pushback against his presidency as Republicans and moderates in suburbs went against his campaigning. They essentially sided with Democrats. They ousted a bunch of House Republicans and put in new Democrats in gubernatorial seats all across the country.

The president sees that. He sees the writing on the wall. Now, he is trying to scare these suburban voters into coming back to his camp. There are not a lot of indications that it's working, but he is not slowing down on his efforts to scare suburban voters back into his camp.

LEMON: Amanda, I think it is interesting because I've had very similar thoughts. That this was -- you say that this is a caravan 2.0, right? Remember the caravan coming across the border in 2018? This is what -- this is the 2020 version of that.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR AND SPEECHWRITER FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: Yeah. In 2018, he wanted suburban voters to be afraid of illegal immigrants coming over in a caravan, and his messaging was very direct. The Democrats are going to let MS-13 into the suburbs. They're going to go after your children, et cetera.

A lot of Republicans followed that messaging, including in Virginia where Democrats had big wins and took over the state. And so he saw it didn't work. But Donald Trump doesn't really have any new tricks. He is just swapping racist tendencies toward Hispanics or racist tendencies toward Blacks, right?

It is not the Hispanic caravan you have to be afraid of this time. It is the black mob that is coming to your house. And now, the McCloskeys in St. Louis are heroes for waving guns at those people, right?

So it is the same playbook. Toluse is absolutely right. It didn't work for Trump in 2018. The Democrats flipped the House. They took 41 republican seats with the biggest voting margin win, I think, since Watergate.

And so they're just swapping out different things to be afraid of. This will be a fear election. I have no doubt. But the ultimate decision will be -- who are voters more afraid of, Joe Biden or Donald Trump? I think the polling is showing us who they fear and who they would, you know, think to replace him with.

LEMON: Hi, Tara Setmayer. So, the president also went after Senator Kamala Harris at his rally tonight. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know what? People don't like her. Nobody likes her. She could never be the first woman president. She could never be.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: That would be an insult to our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Again, he is denigrating a woman, this time a black woman, as an insult to the country? What does that mean?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know this is what Donald Trump does. He otherizes everyone in order to gin up this us versus them. He does it all the time. And we see that he is using a modern day southern strategy, I would say.

This is straight out of the playbook of the 60s where Richard Nixon ran on the idea of law and order because of the riots that were going on in the 60s in various cities and that helped propel Nixon into office.

So Donald Trump, remember, is surrounded by people who were part of that Nixon era like Roger Stone, and not anymore, but Roger Ailes was also part of that. So he is seeing -- he saw what that did and how that worked then.

I just don't -- I just wonder whether that five percent to seven percent of people who are undecided are looking at Donald Trump's America and saying that this is what they want. This is either a changed election or do you want it to stay the same?

And the right track/wrong track that we see right now shows that people think that 70 percent of Americans think this country is on the wrong track. That is never a good thing. So Donald trump using racist issues and cultural division is a very narrow path to re-election.

But what does concern me, where it could work, is where you continue to see the looting and rioting in certain places like Portland and others, of people who may be agitators, but it doesn't matter because perception is reality.

If people continue to see that this is out of control, it could work for Trump. They have to stop these violent looting and rioting, rallies in places like this, because all it is doing is fueling Trump's campaign. He'd have nothing if it weren't for that.

LEMON: Toluse, the president has been using his Twitter feed to boost images of violence across the country, to Tara's point, saying that Biden would mean more violence.

[23:35:02]

LEMON: He is acting like he is not the one in office right now, as I said, and it is not like Americans can forget who's been president for the last three and a half years or more.

OLORUNNIPA: Yeah, we keep hearing this from the president in his campaign. You will not be safe in Joe Biden's America. Obviously, the Biden campaign has hit back and said this is Donald Trump's America.

Everything that's happening, whether the president and his allies say this is happening only in Democrats' cities, this is all happening under the president's watch. So, it is a hard argument for him to make and say that this is all about Joe Biden's America.

But to Tara's point, it is all about sort of otherizing the opponent, calling Kamala Harris incompetent, saying that she would be an insult to the country.

It is sort of this idea that, you know, Kamala Harris, someone who was elected statewide multiple times in California, a senator from the largest state, the fact that she is not, you know, competent enough to be president, this argument of sort of us versus them. This is Democrat cities versus the rest of the country.

The president is trying to draw a clear line and divide the country to try to slice up the votes that he thinks that he will need to get to 270 electoral votes. It is a very sort of cynical strategy. He seems to think it worked for him in 2016. He is trying to run that playbook again.

But as Amanda said, the electorate has changed significantly. It will be very interesting to see if the president can do the same thing in 2020 when we are facing so many different challenges than we faced in 2016.

LEMON: Thank you. Listen. If we had more buy-in from the American public, I might have again gone to spend Tara's wedding anniversary with her again this year. But we couldn't, Tara.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: So, happy anniversary. I am sorry I didn't get to see you guys.

SETMAYER: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

SETMAYER: That's OK. Thank you.

LEMON: It was a tradition for a moment and then, you know.

SETMAYER: It was.

LEMON: COVID. Thank you.

SETMAYER: Yeah.

LEMON: When people say the United States justice department is acting like the president's personal lawyer, well, listen to this next story about how they're now seeking to defend the president in a defamation case he faces over a sex assault accusation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking news tonight. The justice department is seeking to take over President Trump's defense in a defamation lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Trump of sexual assault.

Let's discuss with CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, a former prosecutor. Elie, good to see you. Thank you so much.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hey, Don.

LEMON: Let's talk about this justice department. Does the justice department now defend President Trump in the personal legal cases he faces?

HONIG: They are trying to, Don. Look, this is sheer lunacy. Here is the way it is supposed to work. If you're a federal official and you get sued for something you did on the job, for example, if the president got sued because he issued an executive order or signed a law, then the justice department properly represents you.

But if it relates to something that you did in your personal capacity, a car accident, a contract dispute, then the justice department has no business.

Look what's happening here. The president got accused of rape. He called the accuser a liar. Now, he is getting sued for defamation. Bill Barr and Donald Trump say, just another day at the office of the presidency. I mean, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln must be spinning in their graves.

LEMON: Is there -- have you ever seen the justice department get involved in such matters, a president's personal affairs or personal legal affairs or personal business affairs?

HONIG: No. This is a new low. I mean, every time you think Bill Barr has gone as far as he can possibly go to turn DOJ into the president's own private law firm to politicize DOJ, he goes a little lower.

And Don, by the way, added bonus here. Guess who is picking up the tab for this one? Don Lemon and Elie Honig and everyone else --

LEMON: Wow.

HONIG: -- who pays their taxes. DOJ is picking up this representation, and we are all paying for it.

LEMON: Mm-hmm. Wow. So it's free. I don't know. He's getting free advice or free legal -- I guess legal work from the taxpayers, right? It is a --

HONIG: Yeah. Free to him, not free to the taxpayers.

LEMON: Yeah.

HONIG: Sure. Look, this is the opposite of what the justice department is supposed to do. The justice department is supposed to be dispassionate, non-political, and independent.

I don't know how much clearer it could possibly be. What Bill Barr is all about, what he has turned the justice department into and how he has really debased the justice department to just do whatever is necessary to get the president's back no matter how outrageous.

LEMON: The term I was searching for then would be legal welfare is what the president --

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: -- is on. People complaining about what they call welfare. The president is getting legal welfare right now.

HONIG: Yeah.

LEMON: So, we watched the attorney general distort the facts and the law regarding the Mueller report, Ukraine, the firing of Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and mail- in ballot fraud. Is that happening here? Is that -- what is going on?

HONIG: Yeah, Don. This is part of a pattern. This is nothing new for William Barr. This is what he has done through his entire tenure. This guy has no bottom. He will twist the facts. He will twist the law. He will make up garbage like this, what it takes to defend the president.

It is no different than the way, like you said, he spun the Mueller report, he tried to squash the Ukraine whistleblower complaint, he jumped into the Flynn and Stone cases, and he tried to fire the boss of my old office, the SDNY.

[23:45:00]

HONIG: I mean there is no end to this. I want people to understand, William Barr is different not just in degree but in kind from any A.G. who came before him. I served under three Republican AGs, one democratic-appointed A.G., none of them came anywhere near William Barr's level of corruption and abuse of power.

LEMON: Here is what an attorney for Miss Carroll statement there released says. "Trump's effort to wield the power of the U.S. government to evade responsibility for his private misconduct is without precedent, and shows even more starkly how far he is willing to go to prevent the truth from coming out." Is there any precedent for this, Elie?

HONIG: No. I mean, if you look at Bill Clinton versus Paula Jones case, which is probably the closest factual scenario, a civil suit, DOJ did not handle Bill Clinton's personal representation in that case. They filed briefs in the case, but Bill Clinton had his own private lawyers. He paid for his own lawyers.

Look, I think the attorney for Jean Carroll is right. It tells you something when one party here, E. Jean Carroll, is desperate to get a DNA sample, and the other party is desperate to avoid giving a DNA sample. I mean, those arguments in themselves, I think, tell you something about who is situated where in this case.

LEMON: And once again, as you said, I think loudly for the people in the back, taxpayers picking up the tab to defend the president in this suit.

HONIG: It's on you. It's on me. None of this is normal. None of this is acceptable. LEMON: Elie Honig, everyone. Elie, thank you. Good to see you. Appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Don. You, too.

LEMON: Election experts warning a clear winner on election tonight isn't likely, and considering the president's attacks on mail-in voting, what comes after that could get ugly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump tonight launching another baseless attack on mail-in voting, an attack on the election, encouraging supporters in North Carolina to become poll watchers, falsely claiming Democrats will attempt to commit fraud at polling locations.

More on the election from CNN's Pamela Brown.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the final sprint to Election Day is on.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

BROWN (voice-over): But this year, it's not just campaigning that looks different. Already, the incumbent in the White House is laying the groundwork almost daily for chaos, even encouraging voting twice, which is illegal.

TRUMP: So, let them send it in and let them go vote. And if their system is as good as they say it is, then obviously, they won't be able to vote.

BROWN: That prompted strong resistance from even Republican election officials.

FRANK LAROSE, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: Don't test our boards of elections. They're good at this. Go ahead and submit your ballot once.

BROWN (voice-over): On Monday, Trump once again railed on mail-in ballots.

TRUMP: Just sending 80 million ballots all over the country, 80 million ballots, not requested.

BROWN (voice-over): Trump is referring to the nine states, plus Washington, D.C., that will soon be mailing out ballots to every registered voter, a change this year in some places in response to the pandemic.

The president is undermining mail-in ballot voting in states where it could hurt him and encouraging it in states where it could help him. Earlier this year, he admitted why.

TRUMP (voice-over): The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you'd ever agreed to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again.

BROWN (voice-over): While the president and his allies claim, without evidence, the inquiries in mail ballots will lead to widespread voter fraud, there is evidence of widespread rejection of mail-in ballots because of human error.

In this year's primary, more than half a million ballots were reportedly thrown out for simple mistakes, such as signatures not matching the state's records, a missing signature, envelope problems, and ballots arriving after the deadline.

NILS GILMAN, BERGGRUEN INSTITUTE: You have to go through a process to verify that the ballot is legitimate. And of course, you know, human beings, being human, sometimes make mistakes.

BROWN (voice-over): Election experts say one likely scenario is what is known as the blue shift. With Trump ahead, winning on election night in the rural states, where he has more supporters, and Biden pulling in front, winning after election night, through mail-in ballots.

Counting of those ballots does not begin in key battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania until Election Day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama, 47 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Donald Trump wins the presidency.

BROWN (voice-over): Meaning a declared winner on election night is highly unlikely.

GILMAN: In some swing states, Trump is plus 40 among voters who plan on voting on Election Day and whose votes will be counted election night, and minus 60 among voters who are planning on voting absentee or by mail.

BROWN (voice-over): The transition integrity center, who has played out these scenarios in mock elections, says if the election count is close, every scenario it has gamed out shows a political crisis and street violence will ensue.

GILMAN: You have two totally different narratives being promoted by different media ecosystems, and people are living with really different factual understandings of what took place on Election Day.

BROWN (on camera): And, Don, even though the election is November 3rd, voters in North Carolina can already send in their vote through mail- in ballots. And early voting starts soon in several states, including the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Now, election experts say you should plan to vote just like you would plan to go to the grocery store during the pandemic. And they say if you are voting by mail, to read the instructions carefully to make sure your ballot counts. Don?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[23:55:02]

LEMON: All right. Pamela Brown. Thank you so much. I appreciate that.

The president's former lawyer warning he'll do anything to win. Make sure you tune in for more from Michael Cohen right here on this show at 10:00 p.m.

And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)