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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  January 17, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

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and that is it it for us. "cnn tonight" with don lemon starts next. shock waves on capitol hill and all around the world after president obama's surprise commutation of the sentence of chelsea manning, convicting of stealing military intelligence. i'm don lemon in washington. surprise move coming in final hours of presidency. hear from him tomorrow but meanwhile inaugural celebration beginning, donald trump talking up new administration. >> i'm very proud of everybody, i team we'll put together, likes of which no one has ever assembled before. >> begin with evan perez,
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president obama decided to commute chelsea manning's sentence, gave sensitive documents to wikileaks. what can you tell us? >> announcement came as shock to intelligence and national security apparatus of the united states. lot of consternation about this because of the recent history with wikileaks. as you know chelsea manning's leaks of documents really launched wikileaks into what it is. and given election, obama administration made a big deal that wikileaks served as arm of the russian intelligence services which stole documents from democrats and released them through wikileaks to harm the campaign of hillary clinton. lot of people surprised by this decision to shorten the sentence.
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supposed to serve 35 years, deemed harsh sentence, served under seven years of that. reaction from the national security officials i've talked to have been a little bit of consternation and disappointment and hear from republican critics of the president who used terms like treason, stab in the back to the troops, shameful. there's a lot of reaction to the president's announcement. >> last week wikileaks tweeted this out, if obama grants manning clemency assange will agree to extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of doj case what are they saying now? >> not so fast. i think even wikileaks is surprised. declaring victory, one of the things they defeated tonight but assange is saying they want to
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know what the justice department intention is. not been any public charges against assange, stuck in the ecuadorian embassy since 2012. repeatedly said one reason he's there, believes united states wants to extradite him to be on trial in the united states. he's there partly because he's facing these unrelated sexual assault charges in sweden. tonight hearing from assange's lawyers they want to know what justice department intends to do? decided to drop the case? want to bring charges? that's what they want. clarity from the justice department and united states government. >> appreciate it. bring in david axelrod, gloria borger, mark preston, abby philip and david gergen. good evening to all of you.
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david this decision is upsetting lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. what do you make of this? why do this? >> we'll know shortly because he'll address the country tomorrow. fact they released it today done with knowledge they have a press conference tomorrow. he clearly expects to get this question first and i think he'll explain it. i think part of the answer will be that chelsea manning acknowledged the crime and served seven years, longer than would be normal under these circumstances. and certainly the 35 years was harsh. but beyond that, i don't know what his thinking was on this. i think it's positive that this didn't come at midnight on thursday night so he can explain his decision to the country and the world. >> which has happened before. we have to keep in mind it is commutation, not a pardon. what david was saying.
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but you have new reporting. >> and little bit of insight from people familiar with the president's thinking about why he did this. they do believe as david was pointing out, fundamental difference between snowden and chelsea manning. snowden dodged blame, fled the country, et cetera. manning fessed up, served time, was tried and sentenced. and another part of their thinking, manning had served. and the term of 35 years was without historical precedent, quite extreme. and another factor in this was that manning is a transgender in a male prison and there's a humanitarian side to all of this. you might ask as i did why didn't you move chelsea manning to another prison then? i think we'll get the answer on that tomorrow. we know that intelligence community aghast at this.
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we know that lots of people at highest levels of the defense department were agauft at this because believe it sets a bad precedent. white house says it doesn't set a precedent if you consider the distinction between the two men material which they say is. snowden and manning need to be considered separately in their point of view. controversial and hard case. >> talk about the political ramifications. democrats and republicans are reacting. >> more so republicans. haven't heard outcry from democrats yet because in difficult position. don't want to look seympathetic to somebody many consider a traitor. but down the road, republicans outraged by this, and it's fine, think it's fine to be outraged
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and angry, but they've got to be careful what they say right now. wikiweaks is the same organization that helped undermine according to intelligence community the democratic national committee, that came in and tried to tinker with and certainly influence our election. >> which leads to russia and -- >> to russia and the idea many republicans have passively expressed outrage over the interference of russia in the election, i think got to be a little careful. >> and wikileaks is claiming victory. wonder what this means for the president-elect. spoke favor believe them, pointing to stolen clinton campaign documents they posted. >> and trump has seemed to express this idea that wikileaks is on our side as long as they're revealing information helpful to the public to evaluate their situation or political choices.
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that's a tricky place to be because wikileaks, we don't know who is behind it. we know assange is behind wikileaks, some implications that julian assange also has connections to russia but we don't know the people behind the twitter account and various websites and trump's determination that they are on our side as long as revealing information about hillary clinton is only works so long as wikileaks isn't coming after him or other republicans. >> what is good for the goose. >> he will tell you it's good because helped him out. david want you to weigh in but talk about this if you can. president barack obama also pardoned james cartwright for -- pringing clemencies to 1597. outpacing predecessors. what do you make of that? >> as important as action on
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manning is fact how many people he's commuted or pardoned, nonviolent drug offenders. remarkable number. didn't go as far as his proponents would have gone but established a marker here. more commutations and pardons than reagan, clinton and the two bushes combined. used clemency power enormously. i do think at the same time, 35 years too harsh, when you cut to 1/5 of that, many people will think that's too lenient. she was in the eyes of many americans a traitor. there was -- there was contempt to what she and snowden have done at defense department and national security people because it damaged national security. >> both of you reacted when is
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he ed nonviolent offenders. why was this? >> this is a strong statement that people nonviolent offenders shouldn't be filling our prisons. be better off as matter of policy to divert them and work with them to get on with their lives. and some served sentences disproportionate to the crime they committed. so this was a policy statement on the part of the president and he's used commutation power to make that statement. >> and that by the way is bipartisan opinion that there needs to be something done about the sentences which for a long time were disproportionately affecting people of color. >> rand paul. >> and other nonlibertarian republicans are ready to move forward with stuff like this. think tank community in washington there's a huge movement to do away with the large prison population, in part
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because it's extremely expensive. >> unites the koch brothers and the left. >> not sure donald trump is in there. >> chelsea manning in a way gave way to wikileaks and this is going to be difficult for the president to explain to the american people. we'll hear the constitutional lawyer tomorrow explain this about how the person who essentially gave birth to wikileaks is somebody who should get seven years out of 35 year sentence and snowden needs to be where he is. and we understand the differences between them, but a traitor is a traitor. and i think that the president is going to have to explain that to the american public. >> and some believe he -- she put the troops' life in danger and some died because of the information she leaked. >> and of course the president
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thought about this. >> first 15 minutes of the press conference. donald trump is days away from the office but american allies are nervous. talk about that next. america's beverage companies have come together to bring you more ways to help reduce calories from sugar. with more great tasting beverages with less sugar or no sugar at all, smaller portion sizes, clear calorie labels, and signs reminding everyone to think balance before choosing their beverages. we know you care about reducing the sugar in your family's diet,
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donald trump is not president just yet but a new world order already taking shape as we come live from washington tonight. back with our panel. welcome back. i want to ask you about these things. donald trump doesn't like poll numbers. coming in lowest poll numbers. 40% for trump, 61% for bush. are you surprised? >> what is surprising is that bush in 2001 after bush/gore and contested election that went on 36 days and decided by supreme court still had 61%. and donald trump has said he doesn't trust those numbers. if i were donald trump i think i would say the same thing given what happened in the election but when you look at other numbers in our poll.
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>> jobs numbers. >> people may not think the transition is going well but do have high expectations for him. 71% believe he's going to create better jobs for people who need those jobs. 61% say he's going to negotiate great trade deals. so he does have those high expectations. >> would he argue those numbers? >> no. didn't tweet about that. but those numbers mean that like many presidents, you remember from president obama, had such high expectations when he came into office. >> when i saw your 84% or something coming in. >> a lot to live up to those expectations. >> i know he's celebrating as he should be but we should make the point that the polls were actually not wrong. the fact is polls predicted that hillary clinton would win nationally in the range that she won.
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some of the state polling was wrong. but we shouldn't propagate this notion that polling was wrong. >> i've been saying that since the election. glad you said that. look at national numbers and popular vote, polling pretty close. >> and just acknowledge too that donald trump is the most transparent candidate in the sense if he doesn't like it, terrible poll. if it's good, he like it's. glorious point about good numbers out of the polls. cnn poll matches ever other poll we've seen come out. four or five and there's a number that totally surprised me out of that. nearly 9 out of 10 republicans have a favorable view right now of donald trump. to me that's shocking. >> do you remember the polling before? fairly low right? >> he was higher when he got elected than today.
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go back to david's point. when obama came in, almost double this level of support and there was enormous sense of good will and because he seems more powerful, got things done early on. don't you think this will be harder to govern? >> up on the screen is donald trump boarding a flight at reagan airport heading to new york city attending chairman's global dinner not far from the white house, first of the inaugural celebrations. >> going to see that. >> on his plane by the way. >> he's going to have to live here. washington is a great place to live. >> someone who lives in new york, yes, going to have to live here. stop with the traffic.
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>> wanted to ask about the prospects of governing at 40%. >> difficult but does have control of both chambers. doesn't have the margins in the senate that obama had but rules have changed as well. gives him more latitude. most important point to make here is he could have used this transition period to reach out beyond his base. instead he speaks to his base repeatedly and so he -- he has a base of about in the 40% range. if he wants to grow as a president and grow his authority, he needs to find a way to reach beyond those people who already support him. >> can we talk about the new world order beyond base in the united states? here is what the "new york times" how they put it. germans are angry, chinese are furious, leaders of nato nervous, counterparts at
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european union are alarmed. no one knows exactly where he's headed except the one country he's not criticizing is russia and its president vladimir putin. >> i think the word order -- there's a new world. there's a question whether there's going to be order. this is incredible because haven't even reached presidency yet. this is a lot of work to have done in the transition to royle the waters. >> this is undistilled, unmodified donald trump. during the campaign he said he wanted to end the trade deals. >> drain the swamp? >> change immigration. >> didn't like nato. what has been surprising to people is the fact that he has given barack obama any space to finish his term. started criticizing foreign
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leaders from afar before he enters the oval office. and i think just people abroad are wondering what is he going to do next? and does he understand the impact of his words? >> one final question, what do you think, as president-elect decided to insert himself into the world stage, world affairs before elected. >> i don't think we should be surprised. i think we should be shocked. i don't think any president-elect in my memory has done as much damage to american policy in the expectations of other countries as he has. this is serious stuff. when you go after angela merkel, best friend and strongest ally in europe, make cozy with the populist movements trying to destabilize europe, crossways with britain and chinese
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furious. two friends, putin and netanyahu, it's hard to find anybody else. it's been really important week and symbolically to make a last point, symbolically really interesting how president xi of china stepped forward into the vacuum today at forum in daf oes to assert no longer is america the leader or europe, but china under his leadership, champion for free trade and climate change. that's remarkable. >> and we'll be hear telling it to the world, recording it for history. 9:00 p.m. tomorrow cnn is airing new documentary, called "the end" inside the last days of the obama white house. press secretary josh ernest opening up about the days
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following the election. >> this is the white house where reporters are gathered. >> all waiting to find out what will be said publicly. >> the first couple of days immediately after the election, other than the statement that the president delivered in the rose garden, i was basically the only democrat in the country who was out publicly answering questions. that's the nature of the job. but all of the questions centered on the painful outcome of the election. >> it's been less than 24 hours but obviously the trump message resonated with majority of the voters. what happened last night? >> does the president feel that the results were some sort of rejection of him? >> this is now real. surely the president must have some real concerns right now. >> i want to be real clear about this. the election's over. >> those briefings were difrl for me and my staff.
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this isn't just a job, 9:00 to 5:00 gig to pay the mortgage. lot of this work is work people feel called to do. >> policy over the last five years. >> be interesting to see what the incoming administration's relationship with the press will be like. cnn films presents "the end: inside the last days of the obama white house" on cnn tomorrow. grilling donald trump's cabinet picks. [burke] at farmers, we've seen almost everything,
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three days to go until donald trump becomes president. some of the cabinet nominees facing tough confirmation hearings. douglas brinkley, jon meacham and richard payner are here. douglas, what is your reaction to commuting the sentence of chelsea manning? >> surprised.
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came out of nowhere. she's seen as one of the master minds of wikileaks and timing with wikileaks in the news so much didn't seem like something he would do but president obama is careful and articulate, looked at case and decided to do i was looking to see if do something more like leonard peltier native american activist everyone in the left wanted pardoned from clinton. but mark rich when bush pardoned him created havoc. >> still time. be more? >> whether a high profile -- this will dominate the press conference. >> john do you think we'll see more? >> not sure. he wants to go out with grace
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and decorum so dropping something at very last minute that runs into thursday and friday is probably unlikely. just a guess. >> surprised by this one? >> i was. and i agree with doug, i think this was kind of the opening shot in what has become the -- this new reality for us. and -- of leaks, e-mails, backing part of the public sphere, almost instantaneously but as doug says, president obviously thinks these things through and wanted to do it. >> let's move on now to talk about the incoming administration, fate of some of donald trump's biggest cabinet picks such as tom price and betsy devos up in the air. do you think anyone in danger of not being confirmed? >> of with aing from afar looks
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like perhaps questions about the secretary of state and the question of whether will come out of committee, depending on what senator rubio does. i noticed today that secretary of education nominee had a rough hearing with senator franken and obviously the questions about price are probably the most dramatic. >> and you mentioned betsy devos. trump's pick for education secretary, grilled at her confirmation hearing earlier today. listen to this. >> my question is, and i don't mean to be rude, but do you think if you were not a multibillionaire, if your family not made hundreds of millions of dollars of contributions to the republican party that you would be sitting here today? >> as matter of fact i do think would be that possibility, i've worked very hard on behalf of
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parents and children for the last almost 30 years. >> richard bernie sanders pulling now punches there. admitting the donations to the republicans over the years. does this look bad in light of promise to drain the swamp? >> looks like a lot of very rich people going into this administration. they've given a lot of money to politicians, they're very influential people. do they reflect america? the people who voted for donald trump? i don't think so. concern here is whether we have a secretary of education who knows much at all about public education and needs of public schools in america. whether just focus on private and for-profit education in which she may have a financial interest. need to look very carefully at her financial conflicts of interest going forward.
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same with all the other cabinet nominees. billionaire nominated for secretary of commerce, going to have conflicts of interest going into the job. ethics agreement released today reflects that. and congressman price apparently stock jobbing while serving on key congressional committees. i think very serious concerns about his stock trades that need to be addressed by the senate before they confirm him. i'm very concerned about quite of few of these nominees. >> you said tom price shows extreme lack of judgment. why do you say that? douglas first. >> price is -- looking like he's in trouble right now. if he can't escape this ethical issue that he has, might be the one that the democrats hone in
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on. after all trying to repeal the affordable care act is what is getting under the skin of sanders and others. i think that's the only one that might still be controversial at this point. >> richard, you wanted to weigh in, extreme lack of judgment as well? >> it's criminal offense, insider trading, if you perfect or sell securities while in possession of tell nonpublic information that you learned from your job, whether the united states government, on wall street or anywhere else. congress emphasized that again in the stock act years ago. amazed have congressman buying and selling stocks while introducing bills by the same company and excuse i'm hearing is broker bought it without him knowing. if that's the story, wondering why he's doing that while he's
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introducing legislation affecting health care companies. it looks terrible to have this kind of thing going on by member of congress, much less a cabinet nominee. >> doug? >> democrats need to get one of trump's picks and looks like circling on price right now. >> speaking of that, chuck schumer today. >> this is very, very troubling. no, sir no, sir some broad legislation, cut all medicare and affects some large company like johnson and johnson. this is a narrow specific company that dealt with implants, hip and knee. and legislation specifically affects implants. he puts it in a week after he buys the stock? that cries out for an investigation. >> by the house ethics committee? >> or who knows? if he knew about it, it could
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very well be a violation of the law. >> jon meacham, if plays like like schumer is saying, doesn't sound good. your reaction? >> as we were saying, democrats would like to get some scalp here. if congressman price is that, that would give them something in what is otherwise the most dismal of weeks for them in a dark season. but it's very rare for a nominee to go all the way to the floor and lose. 1989 john tower did. usually make the political choice and pull them beforehand. but interesting test too. i think this is in some ways even more interesting, of trump's tolerance, his capacity to read the political patterns and react to them. or does he stubbornly insist
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this is his nominee and pushes forward? >> all right. everyone stay with me. up next, trump's twitter storms, are we looking forward to four years of tweeting from the next president of the united states?
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it's life care. donald trump has held one press conference as president-elect. but he's tweeting up a storm. are we looking at twitter presidency? back with me now, douglas brinkley, jon meacham and richard painter. i think the initial yes is probably yes but don't know. had the first press conference last week as president-elect. first in 167 days. we all know he spends lots of time holed up in trump tower and reaches millions of people through the constant flow of tweets. is this the new way the white house is going to community with the public? >> i have no idea what they were going to do. but didn't call it a press
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conference, reporters just chewed out for asking questions. if that's the way it's going to be, that's the way president trump wants to do business. tweet out there, call a press conference, give the media a lecture and send them home. but bottom line is american people will expect a president who addresses their concerns and willing to answer tough questions. will be a lot of tough questions facing him as president. this is not a partisan issue. we do not want people coming into government simply to enrich themselves, shouldn't have members of congress engaging in insider trading, i don't care if democrats or republicans and need a president feel of conflicts of interest. and if president is going to be on twitter, office of ethics should be on twitter as well and hauling head of the office of --
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hauling in and chewing out for his opinion about the divestiture. it's not my favorite form of communication but if that's the way it is. it's the substance that counts. >> this is how ashley park errand philip rucker write in "washington post," trump seems most comfortable communicating at slight remove, with a stage or screen, television, twitter phone, intermediary, undiluted with little risk. >> i agree to a agree but i think there's a risk every time donald trump gets in front of a microphone. you really can't know what to expect and i think we're seeing the death of the press conference as we know it. that's been a sacred bit in american presidential history in
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the 20th and 21st century. i think donald trump add people to the conference, movement to the side and try to beat up on the establishment press and use twit are and retweets to get message across. >> to richard's point, didn't see it as press conference but him beating up on the press. so aggressive with people. says he says it like he means it but he won't take a tough question. gets upset with a tough question. >> i don't know the origins of it but he may have been -- he uses press when it works in his advantage, acidiously. whenever you interview him, has every magazine cover of every time donald trump's been everywhere, he worships press coverage when it's positive and turns a little bit negative he wants to eviscerate people. but i think it's being almost dictatorial in trying to browbeat journalism into the
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ground. we see that in third world countries, just not used to it in the united states. >> jon meacham listen to this recent interview donald trump talking about use of twitter. >> i don't like tweeting, i have other things i could be doing. but i get very dishonest media and press, it's my only way to counteract. close to 50 million people, including facebook and instagram and different things, close to 50 million people. when people misrepresent me because the press is unbelievably dishonest. when people misrepresent merks i have at least a way of saying it's a false statement. now if the press were honest, which it's not, i would absolutely not use twitter. i wouldn't have to. >> it's interesting because he's sitting in interview with the press, john, to get that message out there. what he means is that the press
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puts his words out and i guess we -- it's dishonest the way we do it, play his own words back on television. he says he doesn't like to tweet. do you think he'll continue to tweet? >> i suspect so. if i were betting. one of the things we've learned in the transition and throughout the campaign, if you're donald trump and all these unconventional things you're doing has led you to first win the nomination, then become president, you're not going to change. so there's nothing we all complain and worry about what -- when he goes beyond the bounds, the buoys in tweeting, whether attacking congressman lewis or deciding to weigh in on arnold schwarzenegger but to some extent conversations like ours like the charlie brown tv specials, we're the grown-ups
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whose voices nobody can understand while everyone else is talking. >> wah wah. >> we're doing that and trump is talking to this remarkable base of support that he has. every great political leader has mastered the means of communication of their time. jefferson and lincoln wrote well and quickly. roosevelt and -- understood the radio, reagan understand television, bill clinton understood cable television early on. and one of the reasons donald trump is going to become the 45th president of the united states in three days is because he mastered social media and reality television. that's where a lot of the country is. >> here's food for thought to the break here. barack obama held 16 press conferences as president-elect to announce nominees. bill clinton, 17. george w. bush, 14 and donald
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manning, former soldier convicted of stealing and leaking classified documents. discuss with author of "audacity: how huma abedin defied hitds critics and created a legacy that will stay". >> he's running through the finish line, going to use every last minute to enact as much change as he can. and president has done a lot in eight years as president. we can focus on it day to day but almost have to pull back to recommend how much he's done in the two terms. it's a lot. >> you said a legacy that will prevail. as you know now many in washington trying to dismantle his signature legislation, affordable care act. your book always supposed to come out tonight but be honest,
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how much did you have to change on november 9th? >> i added material. didn't have to change that much. i know everyone jumped to the conclusion that donald trump was going to wipe away what barack obama did, but reason they jumped to that conclusion is they made the mistake i wrote the book to correct. thought he didn't get that much done so would be easy for trump to stop it. he got a lot done, change was broad and deep and will be hard for trump to uproot it. seeing with affordable care act. demonstrations on its behalf. republicans don't have a plan to replace it. afraid of the chaos, people depend on it, patients who get the care and people who sell it to them. republicans don't know what to do with the law. >> tomorrow is the president's last press conference. what do you think he's going to talk about? and what do you think are his
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biggest achievements? >> economic rescue, stimulus, bank rescue plab and auto bailout which saved the midwest. obamacare, climate paris climate accord first international agreement. dodd-frank which restructured wall street. raising taxes on the rich and cutting for the middle and bottom are the headline ones. there's plenty more as well. >> why do you think a misreading and misrepresentation of obama's achievements helped lay the groundwork for donald trump's win? >> i think liberals have a little bit of a hard time being in power. i'm a liberal. we tend to get excited when things are taken away. rallying for the affordable care act now but not when seemed to be in control. don't like to rally behind a
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leader. that's more of a conservative thing. liberals have complained about every democratic president. going back to roosevelt. even people who liked him, not getting things down, not speaking out enough or republicans are blocking him. that's the misrepresentation i want to correct. >> what's your advice to democrats? >> i think should use barack obama as model for successful presidency. embrace the way the republicans did to reagan, not to the cult-like extremes they sometimes took it but say this is a president who got it right, changed country for the better. listen to his voice and defend his achievements. >> why do you think president obama in unique position once he leaves office? >> haven't had a president like this, young, popular, hasn't had a scandal, doesn't have a successor protecting his legacy, isn't dead. he's young, he's there. and person who is succeeding him
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is trying to get rid of his achievements but he's much more popular than the person coming after him. not had anyone like him. even bill clinton, still popular but disgraced by scandal and everyone wanted him to go away. ronald reagan was old and others not that popular. barack obama has unique chance to speak out on important issues. >> jonathan, appreciated it. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> still ahead, president obama's stunning decision commuting sentence of chelsea manning, convicted of leaking thousands of pages of secret government documents.
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just hours left in his presidency, barack obama making a stunning decision, this is "cnn tonight," i'm don lemon in washington. president barack obama granting clemency a clemency commuting the sentence for chelsea manning serving a 35 year prison sentence for leaking documents. begin with cnn's justice correspondent evan perez. tell


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