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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  January 8, 2018 7:30pm-8:00pm PST

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michael wolff defending his
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bomb shell book about president trump insisting and bringing now christopher ruddy, personal friend of the president, you saw the president over the holidays, right. >> quite a few times. >> and it's always fiery when you come. >> and he remembered my face. remembered who i was. it's like a fantasy world. he's a psychiatrist, michael wolff, i call him now dr. michael wolff. >> you're being sarcastic. >> don, you have to ask yourself, what is his expertise to declare the president's psychologically unfit? there is probably 100 high-powered journalists that cover the white house, talked to all the same sources he supposedly talked to, no one has ever reported the president psychologically unfit. >> i'm not here to defend michael wolff, what i will tell you -- >> you're going to promote it. >> i'm not here to promote -- >> you just gave him a half hour
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on your show. >> i gave him 18 minutes as a matter of fact. and i think it's very news-worthy. most journalists and most people don't get that much access to an administration, especially a president to write a book. and so -- >> so i think this cuts really to the heart of michael wolff's, dr. wolff's credibility, here's a guy that claimed he interviewed the president. he's been asked that point-blank. he did not interview him ever for this book. i am told that the longest conversation he had was in a phone call with the president, michael says it was a half hour, the phone logs obviously said -- the phone logs show it was 12 minutes. something like 12 minutes. he had a brief meeting with the president to pitch the book, the president said, why should i do a book with you? there's other authors that want to do the book. it's a brief meeting that was no questions asked about policy. he did an interview during the campaign for the hollywood reporter. so there was no real interview. so why does he keep claiming, i
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interviewed the ex-president? i think that cuts to the very heart of not only his credibility, but where he's embellishing things. i think it's perfectly -- i've been on your show. i've criticized the president on policies i disagree with, that's perfectly fine, but to make up staff. >> he says he interviewed the president, he doesn't realize the president raelszs it was an interview. >> there's no record of it. >> and if -- >> i would love -- >> hold on, chris, if you listen to the interview, held said the president told people to cooperate, gave him access along with steve bannon, along with others, along -- along with -- >> don, i hear there is an e-mail train between people in the white house and dr. wolff that show that he never got access and he was begging for the last minute to have that interview. so he's never if i believely interviewed the president. meanwhile, he's making -- he's claiming 100% of the people around the president, he conducted 200 interviews, all say he's crazy. he just said to you --
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>> i don't think he said crazy -- >> unfit for office. he's not sane, mentally -- he said he's mentally unqualified for the job. he's mentally unfit. >> yeah. >> he's directly questioning the president's sanity. look, donald trump's a different type of guy. i mean, he operates differently. and i think that difference has made him very successful in business, and entertainment where he had a hit show and he talked about this. and then become president after against all of those odds, you can disagree with donald trump, but to say that he's crazy because you don't like his -- remember -- >> you keep saying crazy. let me say this. and i'm not saying that either way for the president, i don't know, i haven't spoken to him since the last interview i did i think it was in '16 or what have you, the presidency is a very tough job. a very demanding job. >> absolutely. >> there were presidents and people who started jobs who have been, who have done well, ronald reagan as an example, and then left of the office, not at their best. so he could have started the
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campaign being fine, the weight of the office could be, it could be weighing on him. >> i think the weight of the office does weigh on donald trump just like it does every other -- >> not sleeping. even in this job if i'm not sleeping, working too much, i'm not at my best. >> i think he has adjusted to this position. look, i think he's very serious. like michael will claim, he doesn't care about people. he's only interested in himself. i've talked to this president, he's just totally obsessed and devoted about figuring out the economy and getting jobs into the rust belt states. he's worried about korea. i think korea keeps him up at night. it's not like he's worried about what people think i think about the job -- he's worried about the country. he's worried about the millions of lives that are at stake. >> let me get quick answers from you. does he repeat stories? >> sure. >> he repeats stories. >> he repeats things -- let me finish, if he gives a speech, you will see him repeat things throughout the speech.
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why? because donald trump believes that this is this is an effect. it's a very powerful effect in communications. so, i don't believe, like michael's saying in ten minutes he's repeating -- >> why do you need to do that when your staffers are people -- >> it's a ridiculous claim what he's claiming. i was with the president in early december, he invited me in the residence, there was a small group of about seven people, we talked for well over an hour. there was a very respected medical doctor sitting there. he never repeated anything in that it was a great coherent conversation -- >> i get your point -- >> i know it's frustrating for you when i tell you something that goes against the narrative -- >> you're saying that you believe -- >> but where is dr. wolff getting this stuff? >> chris, i only just to get as much covered as possible. >> okay. >> my agenda is to get as much covered as possible -- >> but any time interrupt and we'll make a subject. >> you think the president is fine. i get your point. you don't have to give me a long story. you think he's fine. listen the white house is
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pushing back about wolff having access. sebastian gorker wrote an opinion piece to push back against fire and fury. here's when he says, when i met michael wolff in reince priebus's office where i was told to also speak to him for my book. my attitude was polite, but firm, thanks, but no thanks. that backs up what wolff just said, he had access and people told them -- >> he had very limited access. barely spoke to the president. >> who is this that he cooperated with? >> i'm told that the whole cooperation was jason miller asked someone in the white house what should i talk to the guy and somebody sent back a note saying, hey, you should say nice things and talk about the president's accomplishments. and that was the only thing that was communicated to staff. it was never a blanket discussion, i am told that people should cooperate. >> you said there were hundreds of journalists who were at the white house who were reporting
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and that they don't report these things. there are also many journalists who can confirm, michael wolff had unprecedented access and he became a fixture around this white house. >> i don't think he did, and if you look at the fan it's a call stories that he's telling, for instance, he says his own children hate him. so i've known the president, i first met him 20 years ago. i know him very well -- there was nothing -- >> he's made these comments that he's not close, he wasn't a good father. all of this stuff. >> not the only one to say that. >> so i've seen him interact with his family for many years. usually people like yourself that don't know the family -- >> no, no, no, no, no. nope, nope, there are people very close to him who said, who told me, personally -- >> not that close then. >> yes. very close. he had very little to do with the children's upbringing. >> i don't believe that. i think that he had a lot of interaction, even as a businessman would be seeing the kids -- remember, they were divorced and separated at the
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time. but i think he really loves the kids -- >> have you read his ex-wife's book, maybe you should read it. >> i haven't. >> she wrote it. >> look, i've seen up close for many years the relationship and it's very close and loving. when i see these stories putting up a he's not a good father and i see his relationship with barron. i mean, he loves that kid. he'll change his schedule for that kid to be around. >> that's great, and he should. >> that story -- that's not the perception that cnn's putting out about him as a father. >> cnn didn't write the book. >> the reagan kids, i know mike reagan well -- >> i know michael reagan. >> every one of the kids has difficulty with the dad. >> yeah. >> you know, these stories we look back at different presidents -- >> that's okay. a lot of people have difficulties with their dad, but i've never heard michael wolff -- but i did not read in the book that -- >> he's been saying this. he's been saying this. and it's not good. and he keeps lying about the president's -- you can say you disagree with the policy or you disagree you think his temple
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temperament should be different, i think that's all fine criticism, but to say he's mentally unfit and 100% of the people believe that when it's clearly not true, don't you think that that's going like a bridge too far? >> please quickly because we're running out of time here. you don't think it's okay to question the mental and physical health for the free world? >> certainly fair, but when you're insinuating like dr. wolff is that he's psychologically unfit that you don't have a medical credential, that's overboard. >> i get your point. how has the president acted privately? >> i think he's frustrating and unhappy with what he's seeing coming out in the press. i think he's disappointed in steve bannon as well because he thought steve had been pretty loyal to him and was supportive and to hear the things coming out. that's disappointing. at the end of the day, he has an incredible accomplishments going on with the economy, even around the world, i was just reading that the former head of the british army said that donald trump had accomplished in a few
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months what barack obama took eight years -- >> did you speak to him. how do you know it's true he said it? >> i read it a speech that he gave. >> same thing -- i've been saying about the interview i did with michael wolff. he's writing these things. >> oh, i see. well, i'll be nice to you from now on. >> quickly because we have to go. it is claimed by michael wolff that the white house cancelled a 60 minute interview in september, did it with sean hannity, they say sean hannity gave the questions, sean has denied that, that's neither here nor there, if he is, knows everything he's talking about, doing okay, why won't he do interviews with outlets that are, you know, who just won't possibly -- >> i don't talk to him on every subject. i personally think he should engage with cnn, i think it's a mistake. i think his approval numbers are lower because you guys beat up on him all the time. i think the more people hear from him and i think he talks
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about his accomplishments, which you guys don't to want talk about -- >> i do. >> obviously that's why i have a short interview. >> this is a long interview, chris, we've gone almost ten minutes. >> michael got a half hour to question every part of -- >> when you write a book like michael wolff -- you're here all the time. >> if i was writing a book like michael, i should retire because he's going to become so rich. >> i have to say, you did -- didn't you set up the interview with him and the "new york times," the president and the "new york times." >> michael schmitt. >> the president should do that. >> and michael -- and the president recognized who he was even though he didn't know who he was going to be here. michael, i don't want to put words in his mouth, thinking he was the same person after speaking for almost 45 minutes. >> i think the president should do more interviews -- >> with you? with you. you would be nice to him. >> well, i would -- >> you wouldn't share the questions, but -- >> i would be fair. it's not my job to be nice. you and i go back and forth, i'm always nice. >> you've interviewed him. >> eight or nine times.
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>> i'll work on him. >> thank you, sir. always a pleasure. >> good to be here. republican leaders seem to be warming up to president trump lately, but could michael wolff's book damage the president's relationship with his own party. at whole foods market, we believe in food that's naturally beautiful, fresh and nutritious. so there are no artificial colors, no artificial flavors, no artificial preservatives in any of the food we sell. we believe in real food. whole foods market.
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republican leaders say trump administration officials rallying around the president insisting he is fit for office. here to discuss, scott jennings and anna navarro and rick wilson. hello everyone, happy new year. good to be back, good to have you on. >> i'm sure you love being in new york, you just came from a week in florida. that's got to have been so, so, so tough. >> it was a little chillfully florida, when i look back at five degrees -- >> it was so cold, iguanas are falling from the trees. that's how cold it was. >> i still went to the pool. since the publication of michael wolff's book, president's advisors have been defending his mental fitness, you saw chris ruddy moments ago, watch this. >> no one questions the stability of the president. >> i've never questioned his mental fitness. i have no reason to question his mental fitness. >> president trump is capable of
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leading us. >> i've enjoyed working with him, i don't think he's crazy. i think he's had a very successful 2017. >> the reality is, is the president is a political genius. >> all right. so anna, republicans seem closer to the president than ever now. and they keep saying crazy, i read the book and never heard crazy in the book, but what kind of mess an do you think this sends? >> the message is very clear. he's unfit. he's a kook, but he's our kook, therefore we're going to work with him, if we can get agenda items through, we will. look, the fact that we are all talking about about his fitness, and to me, i can't even begin talking about his mental fitness. i think he's unfit character wise. i don't think he's got the character to be president. >> that's not how we judge presidents by their character -- >> we should, why not? >> bill clinton was impeached, he would have been pushed out of office instead of doing another term. zble had had to pay a high price for the things he disease did.
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this path has to. >> this is from lindsey graham on the view, watch this. >> so do you think he's like really smart and a stable genius? >> i think this, if he doesn't call himself a genius, nobody else will. so -- [ applause ] the first thing that i want to tell you, he he ran against 17 republicans and crushed us all. he ran against a clinton machine and won. in my view he is my president and is doing a really good job on multiple fronts. >> by the way, you're not seeing things. that was ana co-hosting the view. but this is scott. he makes fun of him and then he flips. >> i think the republicans are rallying around the president because in the last couple of months of last year we saw what happens when the republicans get together on stuff.
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they show the country that, hey, we can govern and do the things we ran on. and i think what the republican party is doing at large is if we're going to stave off the democratic wave is we have to be unified and work together. and if that means the lindsey grahams are on the same page, that'll be good for them. there's no way to do that with division. unity is the path. >> republicans are sticking together, if there's any truth, i'm not saying there is, to what is in this book, is it the right thing for them to do, stick together to get things done or be honest about the president's fitness? >> look, i think in terms of wanting to pass the tax cut, they would have tolerated donald trump walking around the white house naked and in a pair of flip-flops if they could pass the tax cut. that was the number one, two, three agenda item of senator mcconnell and speaker ryan's
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agenda. and no matter what they wanted to push that through. that was the absolutely -- that was the pinnacle of the agenda for them. look, wolf hasn't characterized the president in a way that many, many other reporters haven't noted, that his aides characterize him as. but i think the biggest part -- anna touched on. this is man with a very shallow intellectual grasp of issues and policy. he's not a guy particularly granular in his thinking about these things and republicans have seen an opportunity on the hill to say we're going to drive our agenda through. he was a passenger on this train. this was an army of lobbyist who pilled this tax bill off. if they can use this sort of very narrow intellectual grasp of things to their benefit they're certainly going to do that. but i do think there will be a point where the pez's character
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and the difficulties he has in actually maintaining agenda items starts to have a negative impact on republicans in the country. >> everyone. i want you to stick with me. when we come back a new report about the list of president trump's daily duties getting shorter. whoooo.
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tonight the white house pushing back on a report about president trump's work schedule. axios reporting his official day has been shrinking. he now gets to the oval office around 11:00 a.m. the report says he has executive time in the office every day from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00. but the reality is he spends that time in his residence watching tv, making phone calls and tweeting. so rick, let's talk about executive time. why does president trump need so much executive time to tweet and watch television if these reports are true? >> well, look, i mean executive time is the worst possible euphemism for what donald trump
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is doing, which rage tweeting and watching three screens of television. i know americans signed up for trump to make america great again, but apparently it's donald trump obsessively watching the anews to see which network mentions him favorably or unfavorably so he can tweet about it. it's disturbing and ought to be a concern. look, george bush was in the office roughly 6:30, 6:45 every morning. and barack obama a little later, but still pretty consistent in the day. every day that passes is one more day you're not president any longer. and so you need to focus on these things and get to work and get up at the crack of dawn. and maybe he doesn't like do doing that. maybe that's not his work style. but it strikes me the engagement and constant presence is sort of what you sign-on for a president to be when you're president. >> the white house is pushing back in the statement saying the
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time in the morning is a mix, but he always has calls with staff members during this time. the president is one of the hardest workers i've seen, and he puts in long hours and long days nearly every day of the week all yearlong. it has been noted by reporters many times that they wish he would slow down because they sometimes have trouble keeping up with him. but when you look at the president's public appearances and tweets, does that seem to be the case here? >> i can tell you i've personally spoken to united states congressmen and senators who have told me personally donald trump is on the phone with them and their colleagues all the time. weekday, weeknight, weekend. so it does fit the phrase that the president is working the phones all the time. what's happening is he's a voracious consumer of news and information. now, he's not reading it necessarily in clips that are being handed to him, but he's
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watching it. and we know he is watching it because he is commenting on it from time to time as has been noted. i don't really have a problem with the president engaging with the news and talking with other government officials on the phones. if that's what he's doing, fine with me. >> the less time he's in the oval office the safer this with country and world is. i think he should put a bumper sticker on the back of the beast saying i'd rather be golfing, and i'd rather be in the oval office five minutes a day. and that might be his re-election slogan. look, he's not on the weeds in policy, not a guy who's in ideology, not a party guy. he's 70 plus years old. it's very hard to change a man after he's finished teething. god knows, i've tried. his work habits are not much
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work habits from all these years in new york and in the real estate business and in the private sector. this is who donald trump is. and i think that's part of the reason why you see so many republicans still sticking with him. because they're taking advantage of the fact that haz not into the details, that he's not into the policy and that they can fill in the blanks whereby they can fill in the agenda, they can work with john kelly, they can work with the cabinet secretaries. >> can that last for all four years? >> yes. i mean, maybe not. let's ask bob mueller who's got all sorts of interviews coming up with him. but you think donald trump is going to be working 15 hour days at 72, 73 years of age? >> i think all of us would want our president to be well-read and to know policy and know what's going on. >> you know


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