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President Trump Pressures Georgia Officials; President Trump Holds Rally In Georgia Tonight; Election 2020 Not An Easy One To Forget; President Trump's Action An Impeachable One?; Former Defense Officials Warn Americans. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 4, 2021 - 22:00   ET



STACEY ABRAMS (D), FMR. GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Those are communities that wouldn't normally show up, but they understand how critical this election is and we think that they are excellent harbingers of what can happen tomorrow if every voter shows up and if every voter believes that their vote matters.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Stacey Abrams, well-argued and thank you. We'll be watching.

ABRAMS: Thank you so much, Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you all for watching every time. Thank you very much for watching. "CNN TONIGHT," the big show with the big man, D. Lemon right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I'm all hopped up on energy drink that I stole from your office when you were on air.

CUOMO: What?

LEMON: You left it on your desk so I went in to take your present --

CUOMO: It wasn't my office.

LEMON: Yes, it was your office.

CUOMO: Al right.


CUOMO: Are you sure it was energy drink? Sometimes I just put things in those.

LEMON: Let me see. Do you recognize this? Yes, thank you, sir.

CUOMO: Does it smell like tequila?

LEMON: Cristofero, how are you?

CUOMO: Cristofero. Mi amigo, Don Lemon, how do you say --

LEMON: Stop talking -- don't get in trouble. Stop it. We cannot get in trouble on the first night.

CUOMO: We got to joke about the absurd because it allows us to focus on the realities that matter.

LEMON: It's true. But I got to tell you, I've been, I've been sitting there, and I usually don't do this, but I had to here because there was so much going on after that ridiculous phone call last night. And you did it right.

I'm going to take my engagement band on and I'm going to put it on here and I'm going to sit there and say, hey, hey. It's criminal what you're doing. Everybody is going to hate you. Everyone hates you. You should -- you got to look into it. They're changing the machines on the inside. They're burning ballots. They're destroying ballots. Don't you know? No, Mr. President, none of that --


CUOMO: Your problem is the data. Look, that was a gutsy thing --

LEMON: Chris, let me tell you.

CUOMO: -- for that secretary of state to say to the president of the United States.

LEMON: It was very gutsy, but it's the truth. And you know what? He is a man of faith and I learned about it tonight as I was watching CNN that he is a man of faith, that he is relying on his faith. That's why he can sit there and just very stoically say, I'm sorry, Mr. President, you're wrong. Our data shows that you did not win Georgia.

And I have to tell you, I dial out on the weekends. I didn't find out about this tape until late in the evening yesterday as I was on my way to the grocery store because I needed to -- you know we get to, us southerners have to get those meals in for New Year's. You got to get -- you got to get the black-eyed peas, the cornbread and the cabbage in with a little ham. Right? So, all that stuff.

So, I was on my way on my way to the supermarket. And I just, I couldn't stop listening to the entire tape.


CUOMO: People really should hear the full hour.

LEMON: Over and over again.

CUOMO: It's one of the rare examples where the clips don't do it justice.


CUOMO: Because you see in the entire hour he is just going from desperation to desperation. He never offers one legitimate piece of proof for the secretary of state to act on.

LEMON: Not one.

CUOMO: And he gets more and more threatening. By the way, he had some real hitters with him on that call. I don't know what his lawyer was thinking. I saw the statement from the firm. I don't know why she didn't leave the room.

LEMON: Well, here's the thing. No one listens to the real evidence, right? I mean, at least on that side. And it's not just the president. He is -- he's sitting there trying to coerce, co-opt, cajole, convince, how many c's can I do, right?

CUOMO: A lot going on.

LEMON: That's a lot going on, right, just the c's and there are other ones to trying to al -- to the secretary of state to bring him over to his side. In the meantime, acting like a mob boss, a legit con man, someone who is delusional who seems manic.

I just have to be honest. It was the craziest thing I ever heard. And if you've ever heard desperation in anyone's voice, it was that. But it's not just him. It's a self-feeding loop. It's the people in that room who are feeding him B.S. who are going along with it. Someone needs to be like the secretary of state and say, Mr. President, I'm sorry, you are wrong. The information you have is wrong. The data you have is wrong. This has already been investigated.

So for you Trump people who are out there, supporters on the fence, whatever, if you're watching now, if you're going to watch this on social media, the president said nothing on that call last night -- none of it was true except for the fact where he said, this is Trump media.

And there you go, it's a self-fulfilling loop, a self-fulfilling prophecy that's happening in Georgia. That's another story, a feedback loop that just keeps going around with just disinformation, disinformation, disinformation.

CUOMO: I think you -- I think you nail what we have to focus on also. Look, Trump, I believe, will be remembered as the worst.


CUOMO: We've never seen anybody abuse the office the way he has. Not in our lifetime. But the people, those who remain, the Kevin McCarthy's, the people in the House --

LEMON: Embarrassing, embarrassing.

CUOMO: The people in the Senate who are enabling this, who are complicit in it. The man he called lying Ted, the man he called little Marco.


LEMON: Little Marco. CUOMO: You know, Mr. you know, bible boy. He's got a bible quote for

every moment. He just never speaks truth to power or acts on any of it in the interest of his own state or of this country. They remain, and they all know what they're doing is bogus. They know what they're doing on the 6th is bogus.

Think about it. They say they have to do this, Don --

LEMON: They don't.

CUOMO: -- because the irregularities demand it. But the irregularities on that tape don't?

LEMON: It's not true. But Chris, here's -- this is the thing that gets me that is so ridiculous. You said one of them. His loss is not legitimate, but their win is legitimate on the same ballot?

CUOMO: On the same ballot.

LEMON: That makes no sense. But the other thing is that we have, we must do this because we have millions and millions of voters who believe this election was illegitimate and it was stolen. Why do they believe that? Because you have been telling them that. Of course, they're going to believe it.


LEMON: If you would stop telling them that and start telling them the truth, then maybe they would believe the truth, that the election was not stolen and that it was a clean election according to everyone who has investigated, most of them Republicans.

So, stop saying that we must respect Trump supporters who believe bullshit because it is bullshit that you have been feeding them. The president and you have been feeding them the B.S. and now that they believe it, all of a sudden, again, another self-fulfilling prophecy and feedback loop.

I can't believe that. My constituents believe it so I must go on -- well, and yet I've told them that this is -- it's all B.S. And it's all made up. And guess what? As I said when Trump was in office for, you know, in the middle of this -- karma is a you know what because there will come a time when Democrats will have control and if they start doing the same thing that you have been doing for the last couple of years, you are going to be pissed off. And guess what? It has happened. Sorry. Go on.

CUOMO: Well, the Democrats should get stepped on also if they do that. People can't be abusing this power anymore. It's not about them. They've got to put their focus back on the people's business. But I hope the 6th, you know, and I want be to make sure people understand this. I hope it goes bad, and not because I want any more drama. God knows we don't need it. But I want you to see the names. I want you to see the faces and I want you to remember.

LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: Who stands up when they know it's wrong and says that they're

doing what's right. They will be lying to you. And you must remember them because these men and women are only doing this because they think they have a shot at the top. That's why they're playing this game.

LEMON: Never going to get it, never going to get it --

CUOMO: And you have to remember them.

LEMON: -- never going to get it. Josh Hawley, come on. Ted Cruz, lying Ted, come on. Not as long as Trump has breath in his body will he ever allow anyone any oxygen in that party to become president besides him. Mark my words.

CUOMO: I'll mark them.


CUOMO: I'm being told enough.

LEMON: Thank you, Cristofero. I know, get to Chris.

CUOMO: Chris, you have to get it right. Cristofero.

LEMON: Cristofero.

CUOMO: Cristofero. How do you say Don Lemon?

LEMON: Shut up. Good night.

CUOMO: Good night. I love you, Don Lemon.

LEMON: I love you, too. Happy New Year to you.

CUOMO: Happy new Year.

LEMON: Happy New year.

CUOMO: We're right back where we were.

LEMON (on camera): This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Listen, I got to say, OK, so, stop saying -- this is, think about this when Trump won. You have to stop using this excuse, people, it makes no sense. OK. When Trump won, you have to respect the Trump voter. You have to listen. There were so many Trump voter panels and people going to Trump country and they listen to that.

And now that Trump lost, you have to respect the Trump voter, you have to listen to them. When do you listen to the non-Trump voter? When do you listen to the people -- the majority of the people in this country, non-Trump voters?

So, stop saying, we must listen and we must respect. You lost. You lost. People listened to you for the last four years, and guess what, they didn't buy the whatever it is that you were selling. OK? So, stop it. Why must people listen to the loser? This is no time to stand on the side lines, people. You stand up for democracy and you do it now, or you live with that failure forever. No do-over. There's no do-over. There's no next time.

In our breaking news, the current president doubling down on his election delusion tonight.




TRUMP: For rigged -- that was a rigged election. But we're still fighting it and you'll see what's going to happen. We'll talk about it and I just want to thank you. This is some crowd. You know, Biden was here today also. They had 14 people in three cars.


TRUMP: No, there was no way. And I just want to thank you. You know, I've had two elections. I won both of them. It's amazing.


LEMON (on camera): One adviser is telling CNN his actions are those of a dictator who wants to burn the presidency to the ground on his way out.


Quote, "an arsonist will always light the match." Well, the match is lit. Who is going to put it out? We know who the enablers are. We know who -- who are the defenders is the question. Are you listening to the president? Can you listen to him commentate trying to steal votes in Georgia, sounding like a gangster? Not a gangsta, a gangster. Leaning on the secretary of state to just recalculate the votes, translation, find me enough votes to win.


TRUMP: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find, 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.


LEMON (on camera): That on the eve of another election, one that will decide the balance of power in the Senate.


TRUMP: We have won this election in Georgia based on all of this. And there's nothing wrong with, with saying that, Brad. You know, I mean, having -- having a correct -- the people of Georgia are angry, and these numbers are going to be repeated on Monday night along with others that we're going to have by that time, which are much more substantial even. And the people of Georgia are angry. The people of the country are angry. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you've recalculated.


LEMON (on camera): Recalculated. That's a new one. I'm going to have to use that one, there's nothing wrong with saying, hey, boss, I need some more money. Recalculate it, you should give me more. That's my new thing, recalculated. You guys can have it. I took it from the president, so.

The secretary of state Brad Raffensperger refusing to recalculate, standing up to the president, telling him his data is wrong and going on to say this today.


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: For the last two months we've been fighting the rumor whack-a-mole. And it's very obvious very early on that we debunked every one of those theories that have been out there, but the President Trump continues to believe them. We debunked the one about I guess the state farm arena. We continue to debunk this. We believe that truth matters.


LEMON (on camera): The truth does matter. But not to the president. I know people hate this language, but it's the truth. He wants a coup. I said it, a coup. Repeat it over and over on state TV and conservative media. That's what he wants, a coup, with himself at the top where he thinks he belongs. That's what he thinks. State election official Gabe Sherling (Ph) -- Sterling, excuse me, today delivering a blistering take-down of the president's election lies, pretty much all of them.


GABRIEL STERLING, GEORGIA VOTING SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION MANAGER: The reason I'm having to stand here today is because there are people in positions of authority and respect who have said their votes didn't count and it's not true. The president's legal team had the entire tape. They watched the entire tape.

And then from our point of view, intentionally misled the state Senate, voters of the people of the United States about this. They say that there's 243,000 people who voted without being registered. Let's be clear about this, you can't do it.

Then there's the claim that 66,248 people below the age of 18 voted. The actual number is zero. Four thousand nine hundred twenty-six voter passed the league of registration deadline. Again, it's zero. There is no shredding of ballots going on, that's not real, it's not happening.

A potential hacking of Dominion equipment during a Senate hearing last week, that did not happen either. Secretary Raffensperger does not have a brother named Ron Raffensperger. That is also not real. The president tweeted that out as well.

We've seen nothing in our investigations of any of these data claims that shows there's nearly enough ballots to change the outcome. This is all easily provably false, yet the president persists.


LEMON (on camera): Because none of it -- not a word is true. Not a word. I guess if you're going to lie, go big.

Gabe Sterling and Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans -- though that really should not matter -- standing up for the truth. This is a line in the sand, and far too many Republicans -- far too many -- are on the wrong side.

This attempted coup -- just make sure I pronounce it for when they repeat it on state TV and others -- this attempted coup is the real fraud here, a fraud perpetrated on the American people. And now is the time for Republican senators to make a choice. But too many of them are making the wrong choice.

Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy quietly supporting the attack on the Electoral College, quietly. You know what? Your actions and your cowardice speak loud and clear.


And how about Vice President Mike Pence? What's he says for himself?


MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I promise you, come this Wednesday we'll have our day in Congress.


LEMON (on camera): The ultimate sycophant. It's time for choosing, Mike Pence. What will you do? Will you choose the Constitution? Or will you trample on it in service of an unworthy man? We're all watching. It's not enough for them to try to steal the election in Georgia. Now the president wants his vice president to steal it in Congress.


TRUMP: And I hope Mike Pence comes through for us. I have to tell you.


TRUMP: I hope that our great vice president -- our great vice president comes through for us. He's a great guy. Plus, if he doesn't come through, I won't like him quite as much.


LEMON (on camera): Sure, some Republicans are speaking out. Some of them, saying that this is wrong. But is it too little too late? Former Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, putting out a statement -- a statement, a strongly worded statement -- objecting to the attack on the Electoral College after however many Trump tweets that he claimed not to have seen. Remember when he was asked, I haven't seen that tweet. I don't know about that. Always never seeing it.

After sitting silently on the board of state TV, i.e., Fox News, while they spread the president's false narratives. And then there is Congressman Thomas Massie, maybe being a little more honest than he intended putting out a statement admitting that without the Electoral College -- this is what everybody knows, but Republicans won't say it out loud, but he did. Without the Electoral College, Republicans couldn't win elections.

And let's remember. The president's not the only one leaning on Georgia's election officials to do his bidding. I want you to listen to what Reverend Raphael Warnock who is running against Kelly Loeffler says today.


RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA), U.S. SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: But don't just focus on the man on the phone behind the orange curtain. Because he's a part of an ongoing issue, because just a few weeks ago there was another politician in South Carolina who called the secretary of state in Georgia, and he said essentially the same thing. They both said the same thing. Can't you find 11,000 votes? Isn't that interesting?


LEMON (on camera): You know who he's talking about. Top Trump enabler, Lindsey Graham. And Raffensperger's team backs him up on that. One adviser telling Politico, and I quote here, Lindsey Graham asked us to throw out legally cast ballots. So yes, after that call we decided maybe we should do this.

And if what we're hearing from the president sounds familiar, it should. His, so serious concern about election integrity now that he's lost, is the new concern about Ukraine. Remember when the president was so concerned about corruption in Ukraine that he held up aid military aid just hours after his infamous so-called perfect call with Ukraine's president?

Here we go again. Another perfect call, and you heard it. Another attempt to lean on a public official to get what he wants. And the return of minion number one, Rudy Giuliani. These are the people in his ear. Rudy Giuliani, with one bogus conspiracy theory after another. Remember when Senator Susan Collins try to defend her decision to vote to acquit the president in his impeachment trial? I'll remind you.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I believe that the president has learned from this case.

NORAH O'DONNELL, ANCHOR, CBS NEWS: What do you believe the president has learned?

COLLINS: The president has been impeached. That's a pretty big lesson. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.


LEMON (on camera): Come on. Really? He sure did learn his lesson, didn't he? And the lesson he learned is that he can do anything he wants. That he can trample all over our democracy and get away with it because people are just -- are just deeply concerned.


How do you feel now, Susan Collins? What lesson did he learn? That is exactly what he was impeached for. Remember when Fiona Hill testified, John Bolton refused to get involved in the drug deal that was their quote, "drug deal" the president's men were cooking up?


FIONA HILL, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE & RUSSIA, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: You tell Eisenberg Ambassador Bolton told me, I am not part of this, whatever drug deal that Mulvaney and Sunland are cooking up.


LEMON (on camera): Rudy Giuliani and President Trump. Rudy Giuliani and President Trump are cooking up this whole deal again this time. Remember, Fiona Hill blasting the fictional narrative that Ukraine interfered in our election.


HILL: Some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps somehow for some reason Ukraine did.

This is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves. The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our Democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies, confirmed in bipartisan congressional reports. It is beyond dispute.


LEMON (on camera): This is another fictional narrative. That means it did not happen. It is the same playbook, different game, though. Another trip down memory lane. Remember when diplomat George Kent testified about Giuliani's campaign of lies against former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch?


GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS: What I can say is that Giuliani's smear campaign was ubiquitous in the spring of 2019 on Fox News and on the internet and Twitter sphere.


LEMON: Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it? A smear campaign. Ubiquitous on Fox News and Twitter. Rudy Giuliani in the middle of a scheme by the president. A guy who very much knows what is happening, a very capable guy. That's what he said. Remember when the president said he wanted a favor from Ukraine? Like I said, this is exactly the kind of thing he was impeached for.


TRUMP: So, what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.


LEMON (on camera): I mean, you have to listen to the whole thing. Wow. The president knew all along what was at stake. He knew Joe Biden was his toughest competitor. So, he tried to take him out then. Aha. We told you that. That's what the reporting was, didn't believe it. So, he knew it, and guess what? He lost. So maybe he did know something.

And the president was right. Biden was his toughest competitor. Biden won. So, Trump is trying to take him out now. But there will be a new president, and this is what he says tonight. Joe Biden tweeting. In America, politicians can't assert take or seize power. It has to be given by the American people. We can't ever give that up. The will of the people must always prevail. And it will. Just watch. Keep calm and carry on.

It's going to be a little crazy for the next couple days, maybe the next few weeks. Fasten your seat belts. But make sure you wear them.

Like I said, the current president is doubling down on his election delusions, but will his scheme continue even after Georgia officials dropped a truth bomb on him?



LEMON (on camera): Polls open in Georgia in just a few hours. The results of two key runoff elections will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate that as the president and his Republican supporters continue to attempt to steal the presidential election.

Let's bring in now CNN White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, senior commentator, John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio, and CNN's senior contributor John Dean, the former White House counsel for president Nixon, also the author of "Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers."

Good evening to one and all. Happy New Year to one and all. Kaitlan, you first. Dark days, a delusional president as he speaks

there in Georgia tonight, probably wrapping up. We are learning much, much more about the attempted coup and where the president's plot goes next. What do you know?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it was the first thing the president brought up as he was on stage here tonight saying he did not lose that election. Though, of course, we know that the president did. He's basically been insisting what we've seen him say privately and publicly as well here tonight on stage.

And of course, this is supposed to be about Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and their race tomorrow. But the president has just as much, Don, made it about his election loss. And he's even going after some of the Republican lawmakers he brought with him, including Utah Senator Mike Lee who has said that he will object to those results on Wednesday.

And the president brought that up repeatedly tonight, saying he was a little bit mad at him, and then just again, referencing a few minutes ago. So, clearly, you can see, Don, the president is trying to take this pressure campaign against those Republicans who have not come out on his side.

Yet we should not he did invite Kelly Loeffler to the stage. She is one who said she will object on Wednesday. She previously had not said that, even as recently as yesterday. And now she said she will. Of course, that comes as the president is here campaigning on her behalf.

LEMON: All right. John Kasich, let's talk about some of the things I talked about in the opening of the show. Some Republicans are speaking out, some, not as many as are supporting the attempted coup. What do their actions say to you, Mr. Kasich?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Don, the problem is this is really undermining democracy in our country. I mean, it has to -- you know, to have a good solid democracy, you have to have consent of the people, and we got 30 percent of the people thinking the election was stolen. And you have to have faith in our basic institutions, which include the elections.


So, Don, we can look at this in the short term, but this is another blow to the most important Democratic institutions that our founders created. And it's undermining so much in our country and it's -- I'm just so sad that -- I'll tell you another thing, Don. It's all about selfishness, me, too. These politicians down there, over half the House Republicans and 13 of them in the Senate, it's all about themselves. It's not about the country.

You start to worry that people are just so willing to just take care of themselves and it doesn't matter what happens to the country. And it's just a -- this is not some simple light kind of dismissal that will occur on Wednesday. It is another severe blow to the things that we believe in in terms of our great country, America, and a democracy. This undermines so much and it's terrible.


KASICH: And I'm worried about it.

LEMON: Yes. And everyone should be worried about it, and people are believing that this election was fraudulent or that it was stolen, or that there were -- there was massive voter fraud because that's what they're being told by the very people who are going to do what they're doing on Wednesday to undermine our democracy. Number one, the President of the United States.

So, if you tell people that and they have your trust, they trust you, of course, they're going to believe you even when it is false information.

John Dean, you're calling President Trump's Georgia call a shakedown. President Trump was impeached one year ago. Is this an impeachable offense? Should they do that or is there not enough time left? What do you think?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Don, it clearly is an impeachable offense. And as the governor knows, anything that the House says is impeachable is. I certainly think this would hit all the historical precedents and what have you.

It's not going to happen, though. It's not going to happen because, one, there's no time. Secondly, the Senate would not go along with anything. What the remedy could be, if there was impeachment, would be to disqualify him for future office. That would be the sanction at this point.

I think what the Congress should be doing is looking at a censure, where they convene next -- when the new Congress convenes particularly if Georgia delivers the Senate to the Democrats, and they have a congressional control in the Democratic hands, I think they ought to put together a joint committee to investigate all these abuses of office and think about a resolution of censure.

Only one president has ever really been cleanly censured. That was Andrew Jackson. He hated it. His supporters later took and expunged it from the record, although history never did. And it can -- it can put shame where a president who doesn't want to accept it gets it officially regardless of his own feelings.

LEMON: Listen, I have to apologize to all of you because our time is short because I went a little bit long in the top. You know, you've been here before. We'll have you again. So, thank you all. I will see you soon. I appreciate it. Happy New Year to you.

A Trump adviser admitting Trump's call was a mistake, but was it legal? OK. This is, you have to watch this next segment because my next guest has won dozens of cases against the Trump campaign when it comes to this election. You don't want to miss what he has to say. That's next.



LEMON (on camera): So, President Trump facing potential legal jeopardy after pursuing Georgia's secretary of state to find thousands -- pressuring, I should say, to find thousands of votes to reserve his -- reverse, excuse me, his loss in the state. The president implying Brad Raffensperger could face legal consequence if they didn't come up with the votes.


TRUMP: It's more illegal for you than it is for them because you know what they did and you're not reporting it. That's -- you know, that's a criminal -- that's a criminal offense. And you know, you can't let that happen. That's a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. It's going to be very costly in many ways.


LEMON (on camera): What does all of this mean? So, what does it mean? Sit down and listen to this next segment. Democratic voting rights attorney and founder of Democracy Docket, Marc Elias is here. Marc, thank you so much. Happy New Year. I'm so happy that you're here. Let's get right into it.


LEMON: So, you won a bunch of cases. You know this back and forth like the back of your hand. You say this call is outright criminal. What do you think is the most damning that Trump said that's criminal?

ELIAS: Well, I think two things. I think number one, you know, he is clearly trying to pressure a state official to falsely change the results of the election. And that is so deeply, deeply troubling and legally problematic that it's almost -- if you didn't hear it on tape, you wouldn't believe it was true.

LEMON: I mean, just outright on tape, right? Who was it that said -- someone said today that they couldn't believe that they would ever hear the President of the United States committing a crime on tape.

The president and his team have failed disastrously in the courts. You have them at 61 losses and just one win. And tonight, Trump is complaining about the Supreme Court. Listen to this.


TRUMP: And I'm not happy with the Supreme Court. They are not stepping up to the plate. They're not stepping up.


TRUMP: How about that? We don't have -- look at the Supreme Court. President of the United States, I want to file suit. I want to do -- and they say, sir, you can't, you really can't do that. Why? So, they have legal reasons, complex legal reasons, it's wrong. If you're the President of the United States, and you get defrauded out of an election, you should be able to file a suit. But we can't do that.


LEMON: What is he talking about? It sounds like he doesn't understand why the Supreme Court rejected his bid to overturn the election. What is he talking about?

ELIAS: I have no idea. One of the tells of Donald Trump is that when he is lying normally, you'd, it's kind of like in his normal cadence. When he's lying exceptionally, he goes into his sir business. I promise you one thing. There is no justice on the Supreme Court who said, sir, you can't file a case, OK.

He couldn't file a case-- his cases that he filed were in state courts, were in federal courts, elected judges, appointed judges, judges he appointed himself. And in all 61 of those cases they were dismissed. Sometimes they were dismissed because they were procedurally improper. Other times they were dismissed because the judges said there was no evidence supporting his claims.


So, I have no idea what delusion he's living under right now.

LEMON: Gees.

ELIAS: But it is, it is simply not true that the courts have denied him and his legal team an opportunity to have their case heard. Remember when Rudy Giuliani went to court in Pennsylvania and that was going to be the big case?

LEMON: Right.

ELIAS: Well, you know, we all saw what happened there.

LEMON: Do you -- when you're listening to this -- before I let you go. When you're listening to this in real-time when you're first hearing it, is your head popping? Like, what are you thinking? I was just stunned. What are you thinking when you -- what did you think when you heard this tape?

ELIAS: Honestly, what I thought is it doesn't surprise me that this is what Donald Trump is doing, but it's really profoundly sad that over 100 Republican members of Congress and 11-plus United States senators are going along with this charade and this, this political nonsense.

And Joe Biden is going to be elected -- is going to be sworn in on January 20th, but the damage that Ted Cruz and -- and his, and his colleagues in the Senate are doing and the Republicans are doing in the House, we will be living with for years and years to come.

LEMON: Marc, it's a pleasure having you. Thank you, sir. Happy New Year to you.

ELIAS: Happy New Year.

LEMON: Stay sane. It's a tall order these days.

ELIAS: Everyone go vote in Georgia tomorrow.

LEMON: Yes. Amen. Amen. I'm glad you reminded folks to that. I'll see you soon.

A warning from all, all 10, all of them, 10 living former defense secretaries. Their concerns about the transition of power. We're going to break it down with the former secretary of defense, and that is William Cohen, and he is next.



LEMON (on camera): The president caught on tape trying to steal votes. An effort enabled by a dozen GOP senators and over 100 Republican House members.

That, as all 10 living former defense secretaries pen an open letter warning, and I quote here, "an effort to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous unlawful and unconstitutional territory."

So, joining me now is one of the signers, the former defense secretary, William Cohen. Good evening, sir. Good to see you. Thank you so much for joining.

So, you heard the president's calm who is desperate, threatening, pleading for help from Georgia's secretary of state to steal the election. What did you think and how far do you think he'll go with this?

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, we're seeing the persistence of his corruption. This is not something new. This is how he has operated during most of his lifetime. If you listen to his niece and read her book, if you listen to his own sister, this is consistent with what Donald Trump has done and continues to do.

In that sense it's not surprising, as stunning as it may be, that he can be so blatant, I think, in criminality. I know people are saying, well, did he have the requisite criminal intent to violate the law? Well, I think he did, but I'm just giving my supposition. But if he didn't, what does that say about him?

If he didn't have the requisite intent and he's just doing it because he believes it, that in itself tells you he's not qualified to be in office. There is something fundamentally wrong.

And you go back through the law, you say, well, what's the defense of -- criminal defense of insanity, couldn't tell right from wrong. Well, that may be the case. Or you have an irresistible impulse, and couldn't resist it and therefore committed the act. But we're now looking at a man, the president of the United States,

engaging in overt act of criminal misconduct and it shouldn't be surprising. He's done it before. But we have to remember, this also is a man who, think about this, when the National Guard was called out in El Paso because they needed the guard to help move mobile morgue, he was jumping in his golf course to go play golf.

That's an image that I can never remove from my mind. And I hope all of his supporters and those who are not his supporters, think about that. The commander in chief leaving people to move mobile morgues while he's out playing golf. That tells you what he thinks about other people other than himself.

So, George Schultz, a great Republican public servant, just turned 100, and he talked about the lessons he has learned over those 100 years. He said, without truth there can be no trust. And if you don't have trust, there can be no society. So, you have to have truth in the home. You have to have truth in the classroom, truth in the locker room, truth in the board room, and truth in the military.

When that happens, good things take place when you have trust and truth in those cases. Good things happen. And when there's no trust and no truth, bad things happen, and everything else is simply details.

So, we are now looking at a situation where the president and his supporters have so saturated the airwaves with lies, misinformation, disinformation, rumor, speculation that people are having trouble understanding what is true and what is false.

And in that particular era, we have been in it now for four years, but now this bodes not well for the United States because we're standing on the abyss of the destruction of our democracy. And so, we have to come back to the key principles. You have to have truth in every facet of our lives. And when you don't, you will not have the trust of the people.

LEMON: I know that you said people are having trouble -- I just don't -- I guess they are. I just don't understand it, like, I don't understand how people can believe so many lies and just can be coned and conned, and conned continually. At some point you would think rational adults would have to wake up and say, OK, look, this man is lying. This is, none of this is true.


I don't -- I don't know when that happens, but it seems like it should have happened by now. But listen, that's another, that's a whole another show, as they say.

You joined with defense secretaries from five different administrations on this letter that I mentioned as I was introducing you, it is not a small thing to have Mattis, Esper, Rumsfeld, and Cheney - Cheney. All of you come together. How did it come, how did this come about and what brought all -- what brought all of you together on this? COHEN: Well, first, let's come back to Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney is a

responsible conservative. He's a true conservative in the best sense of the word. And his daughter now is playing out on Capitol Hill as well. They're speaking the truth from a conservative point of view.

Donald Trump is not a conservative. He's not an ideologue. He is an opportunist. So when you have Dick Cheney, you have Don Rumsfeld, the two of them met in pair over the years, and then you have Bob Gates, and then got to Jim Mattis, and Mark Esper, and others. But all of us came to the same conclusion that we are in danger. That we have a commander in chief who is not above trying to use the military in order to achieve a political objective.

And so, this is before he gave that interview that we've been listening to all day. We didn't know about that recording. But that tape recording only confirms what we have been seeing for the past four years, whether it was President Zelensky, whether it was locking up his political opponents. And this is something we have to think about.

We talk about the rule of law, and people have to understand. If there is no rule of law, if people are allowed to abuse it and misuse it, then all of us are in danger. No one is safe. So, you can pardon all of your friends, whether it's Flynn, whether it's Stone, whether it's any of the others he's pardoning. And then you try and lock up the people that are his political opponents.

Michael Cohen went to jail for doing what? For doing what the president wanted him to do.

LEMON: Wanted him to do. Yes.

COHEN: And he has been telling in his book all of the stories, what happened with private -- when Donald Trump in his private life carried over to his public life --


COHEN: -- and we have been injured as a result of it.

LEMON: Well, I've got to run. I'm out of time. But secretary, it's always a pleasure to have you on. Happy New Year to you and the lovely missus. And I hope she's watching. Thank you so much.

COHEN: To you as well.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you so much.

The president's call it is shocking. There's no other way to put it. You can try to make excuses for it, but you know you're just making excuse. You know, it's shocking. It's not the first time that he's been caught on tape. Next, I'm going to explain how we learned everything we needed to know from the very first tape that came out.



LEMON (on camera): So, take this. The tape of the president's phone call with Georgia election officials, begging for votes to steal the -- to steal the state.


TRUMP: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.


LEMON (on camera): OK, so in September, we heard the president on another tape previously unreleased when he told Bob Woodward that he purposely down downplayed the coronavirus threat. And now over more than 353,000 people are dead.


TRUMP: Well, I think, Bob, really to be honest with you --

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, RAGE: Sure. I want you to be.

TRUMP: -- I wanted to -- I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.


TRUMP: Because I don't want to create a panic.


LEMON (on camera): And who could forget the tape of all tapes. One that came to light just days before the 2016 election. The tape when then-reality TV star Donald Trump brags about sexual assault.


TRUMP: you know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. You just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the (mute). You can do anything.


LEMON (on camera): That was the most revealing tape of all. And here's why. It was so appalling, so egregious, so unpresidential. It seemed like it would end his campaign. Republicans spoke out against him. But then the hack of Hillary Clinton's campaign e-mail dropped, the president brazened it out, and before you knew it, Trump had bent the decency of Republicans to his will where it remains to this day.

Tonight, Trump isn't conceding, speaking at a rally in Georgia, making all sorts of baseless claims and putting the pressure on his party to support him.

Stay with us.