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A Busy Week for President Trump; CIA With a New Director; Lawsuit Filed Against Trump; Ongoing Investigations with Russia; Trump Keeping His Campaign Promises. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 23, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: ...org. They clearly need a lot of help there right now. That does it for us, thanks for watching. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Day four in the Trump administration, and the president is getting down to business.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
We have breaking news to tell you about, Mike Pompeo confirmed by the Senate as CIA Director and sworn in by Vice President Pence. Plus, the president signs executive orders on trade, abortion and a federal hiring freeze. Meets with congressional leaders and CEO's at the White House.
And apparently it turns a page on those so called "alternative facts" about the size of the crowd for Friday's inauguration. Press Secretary Sean Spicer promising, quote, "Our intention is never to lie to you."
Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating pre-inaugural phone calls between the Russian ambassador and Trump national security adviser, Mike Flynn. Spicer saying the president hasn't ordered intelligence agencies to hold an investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES PRESS SECRETARY: He's not made any indication that he would stop an investigation of any sort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, let's begin with our breaking news, shall we? CNN's Jim Sciutto and Jim Acosta with the breaking news for us. Good evening, gentlemen.
Jim Acosta, you first. CNN is learning more about President Trump's meeting with congressional leaders today, where he continues to make false claims about why he lost the popular vote in the 2016 election by almost three million, what's he saying?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Don, just when you thought the White House had turned the page from "alternative facts." Donald Trump was presenting one when he was talking with congressional leaders over here at the White House earlier this evening.
It's not an "alternative fact," it's just a falsehood according to sources who have spoken with CNN about what went on inside that reception. The new president said that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for these millions of what he calls illegal votes.
And now this is something that he had said shortly after the November election, he said in a tweet that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for these illegal ballots which is essentially a swipe at undocumented people in this country accusing them of voting, which is something that they can't do. It's against the law.
But once again, just when you thought that they were turning the page, they had these photo opportunities all day long, showing the president looking very presidential, meeting with advisers, meeting with business leaders and so on.
They've gotten themselves back into a controversy here, and not only that, but Steny Hoyer, a top democrat who was at that reception earlier this evening, Don, said that Donald Trump was once again talking about this inauguration crowd size issue. So, it seems he can't move on from some of these petty grievances he has about the election.
LEMON: Yes. Jim Sciutto, I want to talk about something also, because he also when he met with Congress talked about 3 to 5 million illegals voting, in his terms illegals voting during the election, and that's why he lost the popular vote. That's just not true.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No, it's not true. Listen, it's not the -- it's the only untruth uttered by the administration today, in the last couple of days, I mean, keep in mind he went to the CIA and be going talking about crowd size there, let's set that aside massively unimportant.
He talked about, for instance, how the media supposedly have manufactured the dispute with the intelligence community when in fact, Donald Trump in many public comments, which still exist out there i tweets and video statements, had undermined the intelligence community, questioned their loyalty really, questioned their lack of bias.
So that was one, and that was one that Sean Spicer had a chance today to knock down, and did not knock down. So you have these, you know, these lies really of import, right? These matter whether it's about the election and how it worked and these falsified, you know, fake voters about his dispute with the intelligence community and undermining the intelligence community. This matter, this matter and the administration continues to propagate them.
LEMON: And it's tough, because you know, as I was sitting here getting ready to report this story, Jim and Jim, it's -- you know, you want to -- you must respect the office of the presidency, it's hard to say that, you know, the president is lying so you say falsehood.
Then you, and you know, and Jim, you said it. It's true. When you -- when you say things that aren't true, these are just lies. So, Jim Sciutto, what about the people who are around him, the people who are advising him, why can't they just come out and say, Mr. President you should not be saying these things, because they're flat out lies?
SCIUTTO: Well, the truth is we don't know, it's early in the administration, but if we could look at the campaign and the period between the election and the inauguration, I mean, you see some patterns here.
I think to some degree there is a belief inside the administration, the president, his advisers, that they're not getting a fair shake, right? And I think you see this in some of the public comments of the president himself.
The people -- and he said this in so many words. That the media, others, democrats whoever is trying to delegitimize his victory.
[22:05:00] So, these issues, whether it's Russian hacking of the election, election related hacking, or the popular vote, or crowd size at the inauguration they get in that space, what seems to be a sensitive space for Trump and the administration.
Now, they can make an argument that they're not getting a fair shake or that there's a bias against them. They can make that argument, but on the facts they can't argue the facts, right?
SCIUTTO: Whether it's the crowd size at the inauguration or the fact that there is no substantiation of even a dozen illegal voters, let alone, 3 to 5 million. Those just as journalists, as Americans, as citizens, as members of Congress, right, you can't let those hang out there unchallenged.
LEMON: Yes. But the weird thing is, Jim Acosta, is that the media didn't bring up Russia, it was the intelligence agency. The media didn't bring up the popular vote, it was Donald Trump. The media didn't bring up the crowd sizes. That was all the president's own doing. That came out of his own mouth.
LEMON: And you asked Sean Spicer about that today, didn't you, especially the crowd sizes and not getting a fair shake?
ACOSTA: I did, that's right. I mean, it was -- it was notable that during this press briefing today with Sean Spicer, they were really trying to move forward, and move past what was a pretty ugly episode that we saw on Saturday, when Sean Spicer came out into that briefing room and just went after the news media.
During this briefing today, he was much more cool, calm and collected, answered a number of questions from various different reporters at one point said, to one reporter that he has no intention to lie in that briefing room, lie to the press.
And then at one point, toward the end of the briefing, I asked Sean Spicer, why is it that the president is focused on things, doesn't he have bigger fish to fry? And here's what he had to say to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Isn't that just part of the conversation that happens in Washington?
SPICER: No, it's not. I think...
ACOSTA: Being president of the United States and looking at the White House...
SPICER: No. Look, I've been doing this a long time, you've been doing this too. I've never seen it like this, it's a little demoralizing. Because when you are sitting there and you're looking out, and you're in awe at just how awesome that view is, and how many people are there, and you go back and you turn on the television, and you see shots of comparing this and that.
And it's frustrating for not just him, but I think so many of us that are trying to work to get this message out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Jim, he says demoralizing, which is interesting.
LEMON: Because, I mean, this is -- this is Washington, D.C. This is the highest office in the land. There's a lot of scrutiny that goes along with it, this is only day four, and this -- our reporting or the media's reporting does not happen in a vacuum, has he forgotten how Donald Trump conducted himself on the campaign trail which warranted some very tough coverage because of the words that came out of his own mouth?
ACOSTA: I think that's right, Don. And there are going to be demoralizing days at this White House. And they're going to have to deal with much bigger issues than inauguration crowd size.
But what Sean Spicer was trying to do is get to this point that they feel like there's this automatic default setting for negative news coverage when it comes to this president. And he does garner a lot of negative news coverage.
But as you said, Don, primarily this is because of things that have come out of Donald Trump's mouth. And so, when you take, or today, for example, when he's signing these executive orders in the Oval Office. When he's meeting with business leaders and so on, and he has this opportunity to turn the page, as press secretary goes out in the briefing room and has a fairly successful news briefing. At the very end of the day, when they could just tie a ribbon around the whole thing and go home and crack open a cold one when they go home. He has to go and ignite this controversy that just seems to be pulled out of thin air.
Millions of people -- millions of undocumented voters did not cast ballots in this election. That is a falsehood. Full stop. Now I asked Sean Spicer during this briefing today, did the president force you to go out there and make these statements on Saturday? He didn't answer that question.
So, he didn't want to get into private conversations with the president. But I have to tell you, Don, talking to people here they were feeling very good after that press briefing. Now tomorrow's press briefing is going to be dominated by questions about this claim that he made tonight.
LEMON: Yes. Yes, because you know, I watched the press briefing today and I thought that Sean Spicer conducted himself with dignity. It was a much better press briefing than the one that he held on the first day. And I thought this is a pretty good day. And then at the end of the day, this happens.
LEMON: Jim Sciutto, you know, the president and his team are trying to get back on track. But you have some new reporting for us on U.S. intelligence investigation into the president's national security adviser, what can you tell us?
SCIUTTO: That's exactly right. Law enforcement and intelligence officials tell me and my colleague, Evan Perez that there is a continuing investigation of phone calls in late December between the national security adviser, General Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the U.S.
[22:10:07] A couple key points about this, one still being investigated and two, it's not just that the phone calls themselves took place, but apparently, some of the content of those phone calls, some things that were said in those phone calls raised potential concerns which has led to this continuing investigation.
I should make it clear that there has been no wrongdoing established by Michael Flynn in this investigation so far. I should also make it clear that these phone calls were monitored as part of the routine counter intelligence gathering of U.S. intelligence agencies targeting not General Michael Flynn but foreign officials, Russian official here particularly those in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Just as foreign intelligence agencies would monitor the conversations of U.S. officials operating in those countries. But it was in monitoring of those conversations of the Russian ambassador that they picked up these conversations with General Michael Flynn.
And one final note here, Don, the timing of one of those calls is material, because it was December 29th, that's the same day that the Obama administration was still in charge, then was imposing new sanctions on Russia, and in fact, expelling 35 Russian diplomats, so that timing has raised questions as well.
LEMON: Jim and Jim, I appreciate it. Thank you so much. When we come back, President Trump delivering on a major campaign promise today. He says that it is a great thing for American workers but also a great thing for China maybe?
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: It's the very early days for the Trump administration only day four. But the 45th president is already signaling some major changes in the world order.
Let's discuss now. Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's -- CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS. Fareed, thank you so much for joining us. Let's talk about this Trans-Pacific partnership and trade agreement that he did deliver on a major campaign promise. Because he promised to get us out of it, today he withdrew.
He said it's a great thing for the American worker, but so, and I have to tell both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton opposed TPP. It was discussed while being on the campaign trail. I remember being in a debate, and discussing it in Flynn as well. What is the bottom line, what does this mean for the American people and the American worker?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: It's a very good deal and it's a very bad and sad day. Because -- so, let's start with fact that Asia is the fastest part of the world. Remember, 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside of America. Asia is, you know, about half of the world economy at this point. I think 40 percent of the world economy was part of TPP.
We already have a pretty open economy. So, what the Trans-Pacific partnership did, was it opened up the other economies that were signatories to it, Japan, Vietnam, you know, countries like that, and huge reductions adopt. So, American companies, American workers could have sold more into those countries.
We're already open, so the concessions were mostly made by countries like Vietnam, Japan, for a country that -- you know, Donald Trump has been railing against Japan's closed markets since the 1980s, well, TPP for the first time significantly opened Japan's markets.
So, for the American worker, whatever the rhetoric, this is actually a bad deal. The second point is, from a strategic point of view, today is the day that the United States essentially handed over a share on a platter to China.
Because there was a battle for influence in Asia, it was essentially around trade, the United States had told all these countries, ally with us and we'll band together, you know, to protect you against China.
We backed away, and the Chinese have already proposed an alternative, Australia, which was part of our grouping initially, has already said it's going to join the Chinese one now.
Prime Minister in New Zealand had a great line. He said, look, we would prefer to sign up with America, but if America is walking away, we will sign up with China.
LEMON: So, what does that mean? Because even Mexico now is saying that they are, they want to do something else. Besides they don't want to be so reliant on imports from the United States in the U.S. So, what does this mean, we have turned inward, are we shrinking instead of expanding? Is that...
ZAKARIA: Yes, we're building walls while the Chinese are going out and doing deals for a trade deals that benefit them.
And the Mexico's piece part of this, you're absolutely right to highlight. Because here's the bizarre irony. Mexico is part of the TPP as is Canada. The TPP is basically the countries bordering the Pacific. So, Mexico, because it borders the Pacific. Canada because it's also part of it.
There are a lot of things that people have wished we could do with NAFTA, right? Or renegotiate NAFTA. And there were something, there were problems in NAFTA, well, guess what. The TPP actually fixed those problems, it got the Mexicans to make the concessions on labor standards on environmental issues, that we had always wanted ever since NAFTA.
But they're gone now, because we walked away from the TPP. Now maybe the Mexicans will make those same concessions in a bilateral negotiation with Trump. But they kind of made them in the context of a 12 nation...
LEMON: We're already there.
ZAKARIA: Right. And they made them in the context of access to 12 countries, 40 percent of, you know, the world's GDP. It's not clear to me that we'll get them, but the irony is, we had them. We already had the concession, we had the renegotiation of NAFTA that Trump has been talking about, all he had to do was sign it.
LEMON: So, if, again, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were opposed as well.
ZAKARIA: Hillary could be clear. It was actually part of the negotiation of this, called it the gold standard of trade agreements.
LEMON: Right. But then changed.
ZAKARIA: She was right there, in the campaign she flip-flopped.
ZAKARIA: Because she thought she would lose union votes.
ZAKARIA: In my opinion one good example don't flip-flop on principle, because by the way, it's the wrong thing to do, and you never get those votes anyway.
LEMON: But also on this one, because there are many campaign promises that happen that people don't keep. Or you evolve or sort of renegotiate, is this one that Donald Trump should have done that? Should the president have done that?
ZAKARIA: I think so. I think that if he had frankly, if he had read the details of the -- if he had been briefed on it, he would have understood a, Mexico makes all those concessions that he wants. This is seeding ground to China in a big way.
And most importantly, it's the other countries that are making these concessions, we already have an open market. Tariffs in the United States are about 3 percent.
[22:19:59] LEMON: So, how would you have advised
ZAKARIA: I would have said go, you know, go to these countries and say to them, guys, I need a couple of concessions so that I can go back and say we have a better deal. Get those concessions...
LEMON: A better trade deal.
ZAKARIA: ... and say, TPP was bad, but I got these three very important changes and guess what, now we can sign it. And by way, we're going to sign it so that China doesn't dominate the world economy. The U.S. continues to and you can sell your goods into Japan, and you can sell your goods into Vietnam.
LEMON: Speaking of China, the White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer held his real press conference where he took questions today. He talked about China's claims over islands in the South China Sea, here's what he said about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: I think areas in the South China Sea that are part of international waters and international activities, I think the U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there.
So, it's a question of, if those islands are in fact, in international waters and not part of China proper, then, yes, we are going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: When he said defend, does that mean military action? ZAKARIA: Well, presumably it does. And the U.S. has always said it
will protect freedom of navigation around the world. You know, I don't have a problem with that at all. We should be -- we should be protecting the freedom of navigation as we have done.
The issue is, however, in Asia, trade is the game. China is not going to be so stupid as to try to go around invading countries. What China's trying to do is dominate them economically.
Look at what China did last week or two weeks ago now in Latin America. Xi Jinping, the President of China, while Trump is talking about protectionism and tariffs and literally walling ourselves off from our southern neighbors, Xi Jinping went to Lati America. Third trip in four years. He promised $250 billion of investment, signed 40 deals in a five-day trip, I think.
What he's saying to these Latin American countries is, you can't rely on the U.S., they're closing down. They're turning inward, rely on us, we will be your engine of growth and investment, that's the game. Talking about, you know, islands in the South China Sea, fine. You defend them, while China's dominating the world economy.
LEMON: I want to get there is a Russia and a Syrian piece that I want to get in. Because Sean Spicer today indicated that the Trump administration may be willing to work with Russia to fight ISIS. Also saying that he didn't rule out -- he didn't rule out working with Bashar al-Assad in Syria as well. Is this dangerous?
ZAKARIA: Well, what is dangerous about it is just the illusion. I mean, if you can get the Russians to do it, fine. The truth is, Russia has done almost nothing against ISIS, it's very important to understand this.
Russia has mainly been supporting the Assad government against what have been a rag tag bunch of free Syrian armies, insurgence, but it has not really attacked ISIS. And that has been part of Assad's strategy, to let ISIS flourish. So that Syria, the world is face with a choice.
You either pick me or you pick ISIS. So, the idea that Russia is all of a sudden going to change that strategy and go after ISIS, when it hasn't for five years. You know, more probably, I think they'll do something cosmetic, because I think it will be a win for Trump and it would chose a certain amount of cooperation. But it seems very unlikely.
If we want to, you know, go after ISIS, the people fighting ISIS actually are Iran. I mean, that's the irony here. The Trump administration doesn't seem to understand who is really fighting ISIS. It's the United States, Iraq, the Iraqi government and Iran.
LEMON: I'm always smarter after you leave the room.
ZAKARIA: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Fareed. ZAKARIA: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come right back, a lawsuit filed against President Trump today saying he has been violating the Constitution since day one. He says it's totally without merit. But is there a case there? I'm going to ask our experts.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: A lawsuit filed in New York today, claims that President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting money from foreign governments through his family's businesses.
Let's discuss now. Richard Painter is here, he is the chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, and one of the lawyers bringing the lawsuit, Noah Bookbinder, executive director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, CREW, the nonprofit watchdog group behind the case. And Edwin Williamson, a former State Department legal adviser.
Gentlemen, it's so good to have you here and I can't wait to hear what you have to say about this. Noah, I'm going to start with you. Your organization as I said filed this lawsuit saying that Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by allowing Trump hotels and other businesses that take payments from foreign governments.
Here's how President Trump responded to your lawsuit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, reaction to the lawsuit today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. You better walk out the side door, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, guys.
TRUMP: Without merit. Totally without merit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Noah, what do you say to that?
NOAH BOOKBINDER, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON (CREW) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Well, we think it has tremendous merit. The lawsuit, we're represented in this lawsuit by the top ethics adviser for President Obama and President Bush that top by partisan experts, by some of the top legal scholars and constitutional scholars in the country.
These people wouldn't have brought the lawsuit we wouldn't have brought the lawsuit if we didn't think it had significant merit. You've got a president who is, which had an opportunity to sell his businesses, to separate himself from his businesses, he wouldn't have these problems if he had done that, but he didn't.
And so, you now have a situation where he is on a day to day basis accepting payments from foreign countries which the Constitution prohibits and which really puts you in danger of having him make decisions that are -- that benefit his business interests. That benefits these foreign countries. Instead of being made in the best interest of the American people.
LEMON: Ed, Senator Bernie Sanders spoke about the lawsuit on CNN earlier tonight. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE SANDERS, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: We want a president who is going to make decisions based on the needs of the American people. Not based on foreign investments and the people who own his debt. And I think this is an issue that has to be looked at very, very thoroughly, and I do have serious concerns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[22:30:00] LEMON: Do you share his concerns or do you agree with President Trump that the suit has no merit?
EDWIN WILLIAMSON, FORMER LEGAL ADVISER OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE: Well, let's talk about the suit, the complaint I think is -- has no merit. The interpretation of the Emolument Clause that the complaint serves up has -- there's no -- there's not a single court decision or opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel of the Justice Department that supports their interpretation.
Another thing, it's just interesting, just the, you know, brief comments, introductory comments that you made, and that Noah Bookbinder made, the complaint also very much conflates the question of the Emolument Clause and Senator Sanders comments reflect this too.
And the issue of the conflict of interest laws of the U.S. there is a very specific conflict of interest law. And it very specifically excludes the president and vice president from its coverage.
So, I think as we go through this discussion we need to keep in mind which it is that we're talking about. You know, again, if you want to talk about alternative facts, Noah Bookbinder's comment that Trump could have disposed of his assets is just not true. His assets are tremendously complicated.
LEMON: Noah, you want to respond?
WILLIAMSON: And he couldn't have done it.
NOAH BOOKBINDER, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON (CREW) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Sure. I'm happy to respond. What he should have done is to turn over his companies to a trustee, and give the difficult job of figuring out how to dispose them to that trustee, that kind of thing has been done.
It's been done for other officials; it's a kind of thing that is doable. It would have been difficult. But it wouldn't have been his problem, it would have been the trustee's problem.
And respectfully, while there are separate laws for conflicts and for these foreign payments that are addressed in the Constitution, the principle is the same. The principle is that you want the President of the United States or any American official making decisions based on what is in the best interest of the American people and of the country.
BOOKBNDER: Not based on personal or financial interests. And so, the principle is the same.
LEMON: Richard, you sat by patiently. Because I want Richard to get in. We have a very limited time. Richard, you know, we're talking about the Emoluments Clause and it hinders on this. It wishes that the government office holder can benefit financially from a foreign state.
But earlier this month, Donald Trump's lawyer said that the Emoluments Clause doesn't apply here, watch this, and then we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEN A. DILLON, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: No one would have thought when the Constitution was written that paying your hotel bill was an emolument. Instead, it would have been thought of as a value for value exchange 37. Not a gift, not a title, and not an emolument.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Correct me if I'm wrong. She's making a very similar claim as Ed here. Ed, are they right? Is she right, is Ed right?
RICHARD PAINTER, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: No. That's not right. And the oldest conflict of interest laws in the United States are in the Constitution, and they're focused on foreign governments, the founders are very worried about foreign governments. So worried they insisted the president be a natural born citizen.
We certainly heard a lot about that from Mr. Trump over many years. But this provision is far more important. It's the requirement that nobody holding a position of trust with the United States government can be receiving presents or emoluments. An emolument that comes from a Latin term emolumentum, you know, it refers to benefits from foreign governments.
And if someone is buying and selling merchandise or leasing hotel rooms to foreign governments, that's fine. But that person cannot hold a position of trust with the United States government. And that's what the founders intended.
And Mr. Trump knew this when he was running for president. Now he's President Trump. He cannot be making profits and other benefits from business transactions with foreign governments. And many of these transactions we don't even know about. It's not just hotel rooms, it's financing, bank loans from the Bank of China. Loans that may be coming into all of his businesses.
We don't know what the debt is on his businesses? It's not disclosed in his financial disclosure form. It could have be from all over the world. And that is exactly the type of thing the founders did not want happening. They knew that European powers, other powers would want to interfere in our political system. Great Britain, France..
PAINTER: ... Austria, Hungary and Russia, and that's what's going on right now, and we're not going to put up with it.
LEMON: Ed, I'm sure you want to respond.
WILLIAMSON: I don't -- I don't know where to start. I mean, I guess I would start just asking Richard, where in the complaint is there a court decision or an OLC opinion cited that supports that interpretation.
[22:35:00] And to the contrary, I think if you look at the white paper that the Trump lawyers put together, they cite several. You know, in addition, I mean, if you do things such as look at the Federalist papers of which, you know, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote to explain the Constitution to the people.
They make a dozen or so references to emoluments. And the emolument is used a couple times in the Constitution, and no interpretation that they give comes close to what Richard just outlined. An emolument is essentially a payment in respect of service performed in an office.
LEMON: OK. So listen, this has never been litigated before, am I...
PAINTER: It has not.
WILLIAMSON: That's true.
LEMON: Go ahead, Richard.
PAINTER: That's not the limit of emolument. That is the type of emolument. It does not limit it to an office. Holding an office in the United States...
WILLIAMSON: Let me give you...
PAINTER: ... at the same time as holding an office in a foreign country that is not the emolument that they were speaking of. They were talking about benefits, earned from foreign government, that will meet through a business transaction...
LEMON: So, let me -- Richard, let me ask you this, so let's just say that I stay at Trump international the hotel in D.C. And then I pay $491 for a room. And let's say a person in the next room who is a diplomat from maybe Bahrain or something like that and she pays $491 for her room. Why is my hotel bill a business transaction and her hotel bill a violation of the Constitution, Richard?
PAINTER: Well, both her business transactions, the point is that a person holding a position of trust with the United States government should not be making money on business transactions with foreign governments.
PAINTER: There's too much of a potential for corruption there. The founders were very worried about that, they weren't going to say you can't take bribes from foreign governments, quid pro quo, they can't prove that. They wanted to have a profile active provision there in the Constitution that you do not receive emoluments benefits, the Latin term that is a...
LEMON: And you're saying not a certain kind of emoluments. You mean all emoluments.
PAINTER: ... that is a transaction business. Yes.
LEMON: All right. Listen, I got to get a break in. So, stand by.
PAINTER: Well, yes.
LEMON: We'll continue to talk about. But also we're going to discuss this. When we come right back, could this lawsuit force the president to release his tax returns?
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway says people don't care if Donald Trump ever releases his tax returns. Well, that's not what the polls are showing.
back with me now, Richard Painter, Noah Bookbinder, and Edwin Williamson. Gentlemen, welcome back. Noah, you know, Chris has write out front that you plan to use this lawsuit to force President Trump to release his tax returns. Is that really what this case is all about?
BOOKBINDER: It's not really what this case is all about. This case is really about ensuring that he complies with the Constitution, and ensuring he makes decisions for the right reasons.
However, if we're going to be successful, if we're going to establish what foreign payments he is taking and if a court is going to be able to make a decision and tell him he needs to stop taking those illegal payments, then we're going to have to know what they are.
And right now, we don't have a comprehensive account of what Donald Trump's business interests are. A very good way to get a much more comprehensive account is going to be to look at his taxes. So, that will be clearly be one of the things we're going to be asking for, because otherwise, we can't get where we need to go in this case.
But I also did want to mention that Richard Painter and his counterpart Norman Eisen and Professor Laurence Tribe have written up a comprehensive account of the Emoluments Clause examining the law, and have found tremendous legal support for the position we're taking. It's never been resolved by a court, because we've never had a president who has put us in this position.
BOOKBINDER: But we're eager to get into a board and get results.
LEMON: But what will the taxes show?
BOOKBINDER: Well, among other things, the taxes will give us a lot more information about what precisely his business interests are, and where they are, and how they work. We know about some of the foreign payments that he's getting.
We certainly have no way of knowing whether we know about all of them or even a substantial portion of him -- of them. And his taxes can give us a whole lot more information about that.
LEMON: Richard, and then I'm going to get Ed in, quickly. Richard, Kellyanne Conway also said that people didn't care if Trump releases his tax returns. And we know that's she's wrong about that. This is an ABC/Washington news -- ABC News/Washington Post poll released last week. Seventy four percent say that Trump should release his tax returns, including 49 percent of his very own supporters.
PAINTER: Look, Kellyanne Conway has been talking about a lot of so- called "alternative facts" recently. And I think the White House better get the message very quickly, that "alternative facts" are not going to fly with the American people.
And Donald Trump promised to release the tax returns, many, many times he promised to release the tax returns as soon as this audit was done. And I think the American people are going to hold him accountable for that promise.
That's not what this lawsuit is about, this lawsuit is about the emoluments, the unconstitutional payments to the president, the tax returns it might very well tell us what those payments are.
LEMON: Yes. PAINTER: There are other ways to get that information. But the real facts are the American people were promised those tax returns and they're entitled to them, and he ought to live up to his promises.
LEMON: And Ed, if the IRS is auditing President Trump's taxes, as he and his people continue to claim, they have shown no evidence to that effect. And President Trump is in charge of the IRS now, is that a conflict?
WILLIAMSON: Sure, I would think that that would be a, you know, a specific party, particular matter for Trump to weigh-in on the IRS with respect to an audit, and he should recuse himself from anything like that.
But you know, I'm not sure I understand exactly the position. Noah says that the suit is about the tax returns, Richard says it isn't done.
[22:45:02] But I think maybe -- I mean, I'd like to -- if I could go back to just one provision and the complaint...
LEMON: I've got 30 seconds, if you could do it then I would appreciate it.
WILLIAMSON: OK. They make a claim that the Trump is in violation of what's referred to as the domestic Emoluments Clause, which basically prohibits the president from being compensated by the federal government or a state -- or a state government in excess of his set salary.
And if their interpretation is correct. President Obama was in violation of it for receiving interest on treasury securities that he owned.
WILLIAMSON: That is just an example of the quality of this complaint.
LEMON: All right. I've got to...
PAINTER: No, we're not claiming that at all.
PAINTER: And we're not claiming that with respect of foreign government bonds. This is about business deals, this is about the security and...
WILLIAMSON: Look at paragraph 15 which is...
PAINTER: This is about securities you buy on an open market.
WILLIAMSON: Look at paragraph 15 of the complaint.
LEMON: AL right. I've got to go. Thank you, gentlemen.
PAINTER: This is about business transactions.
LEMON: When we come right back, a wealthy businessman, reality TV star runs for office, does that sound familiar? Wait until you see who it is, next.
LEMON: You probably know my next guest as a rich business tycoon and a reality TV star. No, he's not Donald Trump.
[22:50:00] He is Kevin O'Leary from Shark Tank. And he just made a big announcement. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN O'LEARY, BUSINESSMAN: I'm an international business investor. I've traveled everywhere around the world. I'm a proud Canadian citizen. I brought with me this, my Canadian passport.
Nowhere in this document does it say that I have to settle or in Constitution for mediocrity, for incompetence, and in some cases, stupidity. Let's change all that. We need a leader that can actually deal with Trump, we need a leader in the Conservative Party that can beat Trudeau, and that means I have to expand the base of the Conservative Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, joining me now is Kevin O'Leary. Kevin, thank you for joining us.
O'LEARY: Great to be here. Thank you.
LEMON: So, after much speculation, last week you formally announced your candidacy for the conservative leader in Canada. You are known as a celebrity businessman, a reality TV star. You are on the hit show Shark tank that we watch, you have little political experience. Are you the Trump of Canada?
O'LEARY: There's been that analogy. But I tell you why it's not a good, I mean, obviously, Trump and I have gotten some notoriety on reality television. But here's where the, you know, this is all different. I'm actually an immigrant. I'm half Lebanese, half Irish.
If Canada was building walls I wouldn't exist. Canada is a very inclusive country. It's a unique society, it got two languages, France, Anglaise, it's French and English, it's different than the United States.
But we're the largest trading partner of the U.S., we've had a relationship with the U.S. for over 100 years. Thirty eight states represent the largest trading partner that they have as Canada, and so we have a really interesting dynamic together.
We share the largest border, we've been friends forever, in every way, militarily, from society. But at the same time everything changed. What happened in Canada, which happened in a lot of other countries, is everybody got Trump wrong.
So, up in Canada, the current prime minister has been raising taxes, adding regulations, adding a national carbon tax. The country that's all natural resources which is huge shock to every, and Promising to plunge the country into $1.5 billion of debt, which was the final straw for me.
O'LEARY: And all of a sudden, Trump gets elected and he is way out of sync with our number one trading partner. And Canadians are very concerned now. And I'm one of them.
LEMON: You're talking about Justin Trudeau, the current Prime Minister, since you mentioned trading, let's talk about NAFTA. Donald Trump has said he is going to dismantle NAFTA. You saw what he did with TPP today, he withdrew. Are you concerned about the impact that that would have on your country, what should he do as it concerns Canada?
O'LEARY: Very concerned. He specifically, I listened to all of the data coming out of the White House today, because I'm obviously an investor globally. And NAFTA is a big deal for me.
What I heard the president say true as press secretary was I'm willing to negotiate within the confines of the agreement with Canada and Mexico, that if I don't like that outcome, I'm tearing up that agreement too. So, he is looking at leverage.
But you know, our country should be working together. Let me give you an example. Energy independence as you know, Canada is one of the richest countries on earth in natural resources. That XL pipeline that we tried to build with Obama cost shareholders up in Canada $3.2 billion of failed initiatives for eight years. Basically we got screwed around.
I'm not happy about that. But I would be happy to sit down with Trump and renegotiate, because I know he wants ownership and royalties, but that pipeline should allow the energy that's going to flow through it, which gives security to every American.
And we're in partners on this thing; we don't want to pay taxes on that. That should be a tax free pipeline because it's a natural interest to supply North America with energy. That's the kind of deal that I'm worried about now that NAFTA is getting organize this way.
Softwood lumber, another big deal for us. Military procurement, we spend billions of dollars buying weaponry because we're partnership militarily. We need to keep our relationship open, and we're good for 9 million American jobs in 38 states.
LEMON: Is this -- is this why you said that we -- we, meaning Canada need a leader who can actually deal with Trump?
O'LEARY: I think globally, not just in the U.S. or Canada, but look at Britain and Colombia and South America. The body politic has decided that they would like people to have some executional experience, executional excellence as it were.
Business leaders that make goals, set goals, get things done. And that's what you do in business. That's how you define success. And all of a sudden, the traditional politician is not the favorite outcome in many situations. And I think that's going to happen in Canada too.
O'LEARY: I can't believe my country of Canada, with the boundless resources it has, has to plunge itself into $1.5 trillion of debt. I've have two kids. One is 20, one is 23. There's not a chance in hell I'm going to let Justin Trudeau do that.
LEMON: All right.
O'LEARY: That's not going to happen. And there are millions of Canadians that are looking at me saying, yes, we can't let that happen.
[22:54:59] LEMON: Yes, but he's very popular in Canada, I mean, do you think you can beat him in 2019.
O'LEARY: You know, there is such an amazing thing when you fall in love, particularly in politics. The first year is euphoria, then reality strikes. I don't know if you've been watching lately, probably not. But the Canadian polls for Justin Trudeau are falling like a rock. Because all of a sudden, many people are starting to realize that he's not getting stuff done he promised.
He promised a $10 billion deficit, and he would clear it up in 2019, we're now over 38 billion, we're getting nervous, we're not happy with the performance metrics, and that's what the same thing that happened stateside. All of a sudden, Americans said I want somebody in here, all the flaws he's got, that can get stuff done and wow!
O'LEARY: In this 24 hour cycle, you have to admit, Trump has really gotten into his agenda. This is -- I've never seen this kind of speed.
LEMON: Yes. What did you think about, he's had a rocky start in his first full day, but you said he's gotten into an agenda, he's done a lot? Quickly, what do you think, how is he doing?
O'LEARY: I think you have to leave the whole style thing alone, and just measure the performance. I mean, Trump is an unusual candidate, there's no doubt about it. Like everybody else was amazed at what happened. But I think you've got to give him his 100 days and see what happens. And I think he's going to perform well which makes me nervous for Canada, because we need to sit down. I understand we're going to start negotiating with him next week. Think about that.
LEMON: But that performing well, that's good for the U.S. But listen, if you do win, or when you run, I mean, during the 2019, come back to us and if you win, make us your first stop. Thank you.
O'LEARY: Thank you.
LEMON: All right. When we come right back, millions of people around the world marched against President Trump this weekend. But is it a moment or a movement. And what will they do next?
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)