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CNN TONIGHT

Silence in a Chaotic Administration; New Upcoming Bombshell. Aired 10-10:30p ET

Aired June 2, 2017 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Not a good week to be president.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

All quiet at the White House tonight, though, at the end of what can only be described as another week of chaos. A president under fire from leaders around the world for quitting the Paris climate accord. His own staff refusing to say whether he still thinks climate change is a hoax.

Meanwhile, there is Vladimir Putin's winking suggestion that patriotic Russians just may have hacked our election. But we see nothing yet.

The big event next week, James Comey's Senate testimony. The White House though, not looking forward to that. They're considering whether to muzzle the fired FBI director.

A lot to discuss tonight. And here to help us, Dan Rather, host of AXS TV's The Big Interview. Good evening, Sir Rather.

DAN RATHER, HOST, AXS TV: Good evening.

LEMON: It is going to be huge next week, with the FBI. The former FBI Director, James Comey testifying before a senate intelligence committee. He was asked whether he felt the president pressured him to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn. He's going to be asked that. So how do you think this showdown is going to go?

RATHER: I think it is going to be one of the most explosive moments of the Trump presidency so far. And that's saying a whole lot. One cautionary note, it is possible this will be postponed. The White House is working, as you know, trying to claim executive privilege to stop him.

And then also, the special prosecutor, Mr. Mueller, his investigation is metastasizing so quickly. I can see a possibility that one of two things happens. He asks the former FBI director to delay his testimony or to truncate what he may otherwise be saying. So, that is just something to look at between now and next week, either of those two things happening.

LEMON: This all can and probably will change by the time the day comes that he is to testify, you think. Do you think it is going to be -- since you mentioned the president asking for executive privilege, is it better to block him or just let him do it? Because if the optics of blocking him may be worse than him actually testifying.

RATHER: No good answer to that question for President Trump. Either way he goes, it is going to trouble, big trouble. Look, it doesn't take anybody out of elementary school to realize that President Trump's presidency is as thousand chair have say it in a heap of trouble.

Today, these bombshell revelations keep cascading. It's been what, 24 hours at most since the president said he isn't going to abide by the Paris Accord. And then today, you had these development stories, the special prosecutor is widening his investigation. The Russian banker close to Putin who met with the president's son-in-law tells one story about what the meeting was about. The son-in-law tells another story.

One of these two people is not telling the truth. And so it just keeps going. You know, the difference between now and Watergate, during the time of the mid-70s and Richard Nixon, and we thought things were moving fast then.

If we had one big bombshell development in a week, maybe 10 days, things were moving quickly. That rolled out over, what, a two-year period. This is all rolling out in just a matter of days. Every day, there's not one but two or three new developments.

LEMON: Yes.

RATHER: That tells you inside the White House that no matter what the appearance on the outside looking in it, there's chaos inside. And there's also big split, different people with different views of what the president could do, should do in order to get out of it.

LEMON: Let's talk about that. Because you know, they're putting on a good face or not talking about it. Sean Spicer saying, you have to talk to the president's lawyer. But Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, who has interviewed the president a number of times, says she thinks the president is looking forward to the spectacle of it, the show of it, so to speak. What do you make of that, and do you believe that?

RATHER: Well, this person has a lot of experience so I listen carefully when that kind of talk gets out. I think on the one hand, because he is a showman, a great showman, he loves a spectacle, he loves a show, he loves a kind of television circus atmosphere.

I can see why he'd say, boy, that's great. Trump's name is up there. On the other side, what the former FBI director has to say cannot be good news for him.

LEMON: Yes. Maybe do you ever wonder if he understands that maybe there is no collusion, that he -- that he thinks of, in the way that he thinks of collusion.

RATHER: Right.

LEMON: But it's often the cover-up of -- or not being forthcoming with thing. RATHER: At this level, at the president's level, it is almost always

the cover-up.

LEMON: Yes.

RATHER: And if President Trump gets in much deeper trouble -- and that is an if. We don't have the facts. One of the things we really need are the facts.

LEMON: Facts. Exactly.

RATHER: But if it turns out that he didn't know or it wasn't outright collusion, then everything pivots around that. That's not the way to vet it. Because when you have this many people doing this many things in secret, telling this many different stories, you've got to believe that there has been law breaking.

[22:05:01] LEMON: And you don't what everybody. You don't know other people's actions because you don't know what they said.

RATHER: Exactly.

LEMON: You can't be for sure.

RATHER: No, you can't be for sure.

LEMON: Yes, right.

RATHER: And you have on top of this is business with the Paris Accord, the president pulling out, which only happened hours ago, really. It got pushed back on the second page. But this is momentous. This is--

LEMON: Can we talk a little more about hacking? Because Vladimir Putin weighing in today on intelligence reports that say Russia meddled in the U.S. election. Listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): A girl, a 3-year-old, can perpetrate such an attack. And they presented like this, they can pass it off like this. And the specialists can invent anything and then they will blame someone else. These are not proofs. These are trying to shirk responsibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, I mean, just yesterday, Putin said that so-called patriotic hackers, remember, could have meddled in the election. And many people are saying this is the closest that he will ever come to admitting that there was some sort of interfering in U.S. elections. What's your reaction?

RATHER: Well, I think that is a widespread belief. Second, I want to make clear, this is not necessarily my opinion, but I am convinced many Americans think Vladimir Putin is about as trustworthy as a dog with a roast beef sandwich and they are going to believe anything he has to say.

But you know, if the special prosecutor is left alone to do his job for long enough, we'll eventually find out.

LEMON: And as you said, we need to find out the facts. Right now, yes.

RATHER: Well, exactly. Because, you know, there are so many different stories being told. That's why I think that -- talk about obstruction of justice, perjury. Somewhere in this mess, you have to believe there is some of that.

Because you have too many people telling too many different stories. And that raises the question, well, what is it that the Trump administration has to hide?

LEMON: Yes.

RATHER: If you didn't have anything to hide, he'd be coming on and saying, listen, I want all these people to come out publicly and talk about the meetings. I'll tell you what I know about it. That's not what he's doing.

LEMON: Yes. And that's not what anyone at the White House is doing. Can we talk -- now let's talk climate change and I want to talk about that and the Paris Accords.

RATHER: All right.

LEMON: And this is something that you wrote. And of course, he visited Europe last week. And then he had the announcement yesterday. You wrote on Facebook that you think while President Trump cozies up to Vladimir Putin and Rodrigo Duterte, he is creating a void on the international stage with his America first policy. Explain that.

RATHER: Well, I think it's very clear. When, first of all, when your only alliance, the people standing with you against the Paris Accords are Syria and Nicaragua.

LEMON: Nicaragua who wanted more actually.

RATHER: They wanted more. They say because--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: More restricted.

RATHER: they wanted more. And what President Trump is at risk of doing with himself as a person, with his presidency and with our beloved United States of America, is appearing to be yesterday's man and yesterday's country, like some of the people who still like disco.

They're stuck back in the '70s. Or those men who wears the belt and slacks or one around in jackets. It's yesterday's stuff. The United States of America has always been seen as going forward, progressing, always moving forward. Now, under President Trump and with this sole act, he sort of said to the world, you know what? We're yesterday's country and I'm yesterday's man.

LEMON: Yes. You took this up because I'm wearing beltless slacks right now. Just listening to disco on my run earlier today.

RATHER: This folk (Inaudible).

LEMON: But they're not double knit. So, I think -- I think I'm good.

But I want to ask you, here's something you wrote on this Facebook page, calling it a reckless and intemperate action. Why do say that this a blow to America's standing on the world stage again?

RATHER: Well, because so many--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Because we set the example.

RATHER: Not only world opinion, American public opinion favors the Paris Accords. I do think it was reckless. That flows into a whole other conversation about what's going on in the White House with President Trump himself.

I think by pulling out of the Paris Accords, it was a matter of anger on his part. I think he's bewildered, I think he's enraged, and this happens to presidents when kind of pressure gets on that Trump has. You can argue no president has ever had that kind of pressure.

But again, to use Richard Nixon, when Richard Nixon when things began to press in on him, when he got the feeling I'm angry, I'm outraged, I can't control things, Richard Nixon got mean as a wolverine. There's some of that in President Trump happening now.

I think it is one of the reasons he pulled out of the Paris Accord. He doesn't like what the leader of Germany says, he doesn't like what the leader of France says. He thinks these Europeans are slightly elite, and he is angry about it.

Angry, enraged, bewildered president running a chaotic White House is not just bad for his presidency, it's really bad for the country.

LEMON: And bad for the world in this case, pulling out.

RATHER: Amen.

LEMON: Thank you.

RATHER: Thank you.

LEMON: Always a pleasure. Good to see you, Mr. Rather.

[22:10:00] When we come back, did the Trump administration try to drop sanctions against Russia?

And Vladimir Putin gets testy when pressed about hacking. We'll bring that to you next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All of Washington waiting for James Comey -- James -- James Comey's testimony next week, the former FBI director who was fired by President Trump testifies in front of the Senate on Thursday about the Russia investigation. No doubt the Kremlin will be watching, too.

I want to bring in CNN global affairs analyst Kimberly Dozier and Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News. Good evening, everyone. It's Friday. So let's see if my mouth will work during the segment.

Kim, let's start with you. President Trump's Russia problems are growing. I want to play something that we heard from Russian President Vladimir Putin today on accusations that Russia meddled in the U.S. election. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PUTIN (through translator): It's easy to say it's not our fault. It's the Russians. They intervened. They interfered. It's like anti- Semitism. The Jews are no blame. You are an idiot because the Jews are to blame.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So Kim, what do you make of that strange comparison and Putin's continued denial that his government was involved?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: Well, you know, this is one of those cases where the joke has gone a little too far. It was funny in the beginning. Moscow was enjoying the discomfort of the Trump administration and the democrats versus the republicans.

[22:14:58] But now, it's starting to really have blowback on them. They had hoped, at least, since Trump won, that they would see a warming of relations. But now, they're looking ahead to possibly four years of this administration under investigation, defending itself with very little chance of some of the warmth and cooperation they were hoping for.

So is he getting annoyed? Well, he is getting a little taste of what Sean Spicer and Trump officials have been getting for the past several months. Well, it turned about it's fair play.

LEMON: Yes, absolutely. So Michael, I'm glad you're here because your reporting, as I understand, for Yahoo News, that there was a behind the scenes effort, they were ultimately unsuccessful, to drop the sanctions against Russia.

The State Department official you first spoke with was on CNN earlier today. Let's take a look at.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL FRIED, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPE: I think sanctions without the Russians doing anything as a free gift struck me, strikes me now as a bad, bad idea.

My colleagues were concerned about this and so was I at the time. What I was reacting to was simply a rumor that some people in the new -- in the incoming administration were going to make a very bad decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Michael, he also told CNN off camera that he heard something was in the works about relaxing sanctions but didn't know if it was true. What can you tell us about this administration's efforts to ease sanctions with Russia?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: What we know is that in those first couple of weeks, there were tasking to State Department officials to develop proposals for easing of tensions with Russia in exchange for its cooperation in fighting against ISIS in Syria.

And that the steps that were called for, in terms of easing tensions, would include or at least would be considered for inclusion the lifting of sanctions, the easing of sanctions and possibly the return of those diplomatic compounds that had been shut down by President Obama in its last couple weeks.

LEMON: Kim, our correspondent in Russia, Matthew Chance, confronted the Russian bank chairman, Sergey Gorkov, with questions about why he had a secret meeting with the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Here's how that went.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Mr. Gorkov, quick question, what did you really speak to Jared Kushner about in New York when you met him in December?

SERGEY GORKOV, FORMER RUSSIAN BANKER: No comments.

CHANCE: Did you talk about sanctions? Excuse me.

GORKOV: No comments.

CHANCE: What was discussed? The White House says it was a diplomatic meeting. That Kushner met you as part of the transition team. Your bank says it was a business meeting.

GORKOV: I'm Sorry.

CHANCE: Were you a conduit, were you a conduit to the Kremlin, Mr. Gorkov?

GORKOV: No comment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So no comment, Kim, why can't just we get a straight answer about what was discussed at that meeting? DOZIER: Because it probably veered all over the map. Maybe it was a

little bit about Jared Kushner's business dealings in Russia. Maybe it was a little bit about what would happen with the upcoming White House, hopes for the future.

You know, the more we watch this play out, this drama that keeps unfolding, the more I think the worst thing that could happen for all sides is if there's no evidence of either wrongdoing or nothing that can exonerate either side.

So what is not clear is, why was the Trump administration, its campaign members, more comfortable with Moscow than almost anybody else, at least on the foreign side of things? Possibly it was because they felt embattled. They'd already been doing business with some Russian businessmen. So it was just a natural fit.

But at this point, we don't have anything that says collusion, but we don't also have a really good explanation of where was this loyalty here? Why were they leaning so far forward into this relationship?

LEMON: Another development, Michael, we all know the House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes by this point. Everybody knows who he is. He's concerned about the unmasking of Americans in classified reports.

While the Washington Post is reporting that his committee engaged really in the same practice late last year, and it's something that President Trump has accused the Obama administration of abusing. I mean it seems like there is a whole lot of -- or at least some hypocrisy here.

ISIKOFF: Yes. I mean, look, the whole unmasking issue is quite murky, or at least what is driving Nunes and some of the other republicans on this. Because as we know from everybody we've spoken to, current and former administrations, republicans and democrats, it is not all that unusual for senior intelligence officials, foreign policy officials, to request unmasking, to understand who what U.S. persons are having conversations with people that are under -- that are being monitored by the U.S. government.

[22:20:12] LEMON: But as it relates to the Russia investigation, can we just call it for what it is, a deflection? Maybe there is investigating that needs to be done for unmasking. When it comes to this, it's not the same thing.

ISIKOFF: Right. Look, the point is, unmasking in and of itself, there's nothing wrong with it. It is perfectly permissible. What would be wrong is if somebody after -- requests an unmasking for political reasons and then discloses the identity of Americans.

Now, it is conceivable that that did happen here. After all, Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador were disclosed. His identity was disclosed. Somebody may ultimately be charged with a crime for leaking that. But we have no evidence that anybody senior in the Obama administration, anybody who has been accused of doing this unmasking was party to that. We just have to reserve judgment. Let the FBI do whatever investigation is doing and we'll see.

LEMON: My point is though, and you're right, that could have indeed happened, but can't they keep the two investigations separate as to not to murky -- murk up the waters when it comes to this?

ISIKOFF: Sure. They should have. They should. But there are some people on -- you know, on the house intelligence committee who believe this is a legitimate issue. And you know, if there was unmasking for political purposes and leaking, that would be wrong. It is a totally legitimate thing to investigate, but it doesn't in any way take away from the severity of the issues being investigated in terms of Russia and potential collusion.

LEMON: I always appreciate your time, especially on a Friday night. Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Kimberly. See you soon.

ISIKOFF: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come right back, more on James Comey's Senate testimony next week. Will the president try to shut him down, and would it even work?

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The former FBI Director James Comey set to testify before a Senate committee next week about the Russia investigation. But the big question, will President Trump try to stop him? Today, White House aides dodged a direct answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the White House going to invoke executive privilege to prevent James Comey from testifying before the Senate intelligence panel next week?

SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That committee hearing was just noticed and, obviously, it's got to be reviewed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not a no?

SPICER: No, I'm just saying I don't -- that literally, my understanding is the date for that hearing was just set. I've not spoken to counsel yet.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is not going to invoke his executive privilege.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: The president will make that decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Here to discuss, CNN legal analyst, Laura Coates and Michael Zeldin, and Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer.

Good evening to all of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening.

LEMON: There's a lot of reading between the lines when it comes to the spokespeople for this particular administration. But Laura, let's start with you. Let's talk about Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer. They won't rule out that President Trump would invoke executive privilege to block Comey from testifying. Explain how executive privilege works and what it covers, please.

LAURA COATES, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, they should rule out. Because it's not an absolute privilege. There's no actually constitutional right to having it. What it expected to do is says, listen, we want the advisers and people who work for the president to be able to be candid. Therefore we're going to preserve the secrecy about their conversations and hold it to be things that you cannot reveal to other branches of government or other people.

However, it's not an absolute privilege. And frankly, it doesn't apply when there is any type of hint of government misconduct. And more importantly, it has no teeth to it, Don, if you are a private citizen and no longer a subordinate of the executive branch.

Meaning Comey, who no longer works for the federal government, is a private citizen, cannot have a threat to be fired for insubordination if he violates it. All you really got there essentially a toothless threat that cannot really be evoked.

LEMON: So, but he has a right to invoke executive privilege -- go ahead, who wanted to get in there? Who was that?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: So, I think he still can evoke executive privilege with respect with communication with former employees of the executive branch which was Comey. I think he fails in this case probably because he waived privilege with his interviews and with his tweets.

But I don't think the fact that Comey, who probably has a First Amendment right to testify, is no longer with the administration, forecloses the president from asserting the privilege. The privilege goes to the president, not to the -- no to Comey.

COATES: Well, that's--

(CROSSTALK)

ZELDIN: But I don't disagree with Laura. In principle, I think in the end, they lose probably in Congress and they certainly lose with respect to Mueller if he wants the same testimony, because of the law enforcement override.

COATES: And I absolutely agree. One other thing about the executive privilege, Don, is this, look, it applies to things that usually refer to your constitutional duties as president of the United States. Arguably, we're talking about things that happened before he even took

office. Therefore, it's a question whether executive privilege can actually even apply in this circumstance at all.

ZELDIN: And if you look historically, President Obama tried to assert executive privilege with fast and furious investigation. He essentially lost. President Bush tried to assert it with respect to the firing of the U.S. attorneys. He essentially lost.

You'll lose these things because that overriding interest in the right of people to know and when there is law enforcement interest, generally, no pun intended, Trumps the president's desire to keep things secret.

LEMON: Richard, I want you to get in here. Because from a political perspective, what outcome is worse for the president, Comey delivering damaging testimony before Congress or perpetuating the appearance of a cover-up by blocking it?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: Well, he is not going to block it. I mean, this is absurd. That he could talk about Director Comey with a Russian ambassador, and say all sorts of things about Comey to the Russian ambassador, but somehow he could prevent Mr. Comey from testifying in front of the United States Congress about what the president said to him, that's absolutely absurd.

[22:30:08] The president has been giving interviews on this, he's been tweeting on it. There's no executive privilege on any of this.

And furthermore, the fact Mr. Comey is a former employee is very relevant. Because he's going to go in there and say what he wants to say. I don't think the president is going to be able to get a federal judge to enjoin director, former Director Comey from testifying.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You're sure he's not going to block it? You said -- you said he's not going to block it. Why are you sure about that?

PAINTER: I don't see how he could do it. I don't see how he can do it. He can try to persuade the chairman of the committee to disallow that line of questioning. And that's just going to be a political disaster for the Republican Party if the chairman of the committee goes along with that.

So I do not see as a practical matter how the president could block it. And once again, he's been talking to the Russians about Comey. And to tell Comey that he can't talk to the United States Congress about what happened, what those conversations were, about Russian espionage, the investigation and whether the president was trying to block the investigation, that's something the Congress has the right to know.

And there's no executive privilege for cover-ups, and certainly no executive privilege for cover-ups of collaboration with foreign spies. This makes absolutely no sense. LEMON: Laura, let's talk a little more about this. Thousands of

tweets. Michael mentioned the tweets, President Trump's Twitter page. Tweets that include the president saying former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn should seek immunity, and the president threatening James Comey after he was fired. How important will those tweets be to Robert Mueller's investigation?

COATES: They'll be very important. Because when they go to is essentially your motive, your content. It gives contextual clues to the investigation, to say what was the motive or the intention you had behind the acts that you took?

Remember, we hardly had any cases of low hanging fruit. What you had a smoking gun and someone says, this is what I did, this is why I did it, here is my nefarious intent and the reasons behind it and I was trying to do a bad thing.

No, instead what you have are contextual clues that say, they give you an indication that that was what was behind the actual motivation. So it will be used against him, I sure in the investigation, to either further the investigation along. It may ultimately be used against him if he does have a hearing about it. It'll come into play.

So it's one of those situations where perhaps being silent would have been the most proactive and prudent thing to have done.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Right. In addition to that, Laura, the point of this all is that it shows the specific intent that the prosecutor has to prove.

The president has to have an intent to obstruct the due administration of justice. And all these peripheral comments that he makes proves his state of mind, so a prosecutor would argue. And that gives the context that Laura is raising.

LEMON: Yes. Michael, I have to ask you, because this is important. The Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel, he tells the A.P. in an interview that he would recuse himself from any oversight of Mueller's probe if he became a subject of the investigation.

He says, "I've talked with Director Mueller about this. He is going to make the appropriate decisions. And if anything that I did winds up being relevant to his investigation, then as Director Mueller and I discussed, if there is a need from me to recuse, I will." How do you think this is going to play out?

ZELDIN: Well, I don't know that he ever is going to be a subject of the investigation, but I do think he is clearly going to be a witness to the investigation if there is, in fact, an obstruction investigation.

Because it was the Rosenstein memo that first gave cover and sort of the excuse for the firing of Comey. Then the president went on Lester Holt's interview show and said otherwise. Then Rosenstein has to talk about why it was that he wrote that memo and what Sessions was doing there when supposedly recusing himself.

So all of that stuff I think is going to make Rosenstein a witness. And when you're a witness in a case, you really shouldn't have oversight responsibilities for the same case.

LEMON: Michael, Richard, and Laura, thank you. I appreciate it.

COATES: Thank you.

PAINTER: My pleasure.

LEMON: When we come back, the White House won't say if the president believes in climate change. Should be a simple question, but nothing in this White House is simple.

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump spoke for more than 27 minutes in the Rose Garden explaining why he is dropping out of the Paris Accord, but he never quite got around to saying whether he still believes climate change is a hoax.

Let's discuss now. CNN contributor Jason Kander is here. And CNN political commentator Jason Miller is here, as well. I got to be careful with my Jasons tonight.

Good evening. Jason Miller, President Trump facing plenty of blow back for his decision to pull out of the -- pull the United States out of this from the Paris Accord. But he's also being heralded by his supporters for keeping a campaign promise. Why won't the White House say though whether President Trump still believes climate change is a hoax?

JASON MILLER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, Don I think what you're seeing from the media and many on the left right now is yesterday, it didn't work to go and attack the president for withdrawing from the Paris Accord. And so today, they're trying to get this artificial argument going of, does he fit neatly into one box or the other?

Look, I've had number of conversations with the president on the issues -- on the issue of environment, cleaning up our air, our water, everything. And he's very supportive of this. But look, if he were to come out today and say, you know what, I think that the way that you define climate change is a hoax, then he'd be attacked as being a heretic.

If he came out and said, you know what, actually, I do believe in your definition of climate change, then he'd be a flip-flopper. You know what? Right now, he's keeping it perfectly focused where he needs to, which is on jobs, the economy and the whole reasons why he went--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Jason, that was a great pivot, that was a great answer but you did not answer my-- (CROSSTALK)

MILLER: But Don, it's the truth.

LEMON: Listen, he should try us again. He should try the American public and say how he feels about climate change. So if you've spoken to him on these issues, do you believe the president thinks climate change is a hoax?

[22:39:57] MILLER: I think what the president believes -- and again, I have not asked him the direct question on this and these were conversations from back during the campaign -- what I think is that the president probably has a lot of questions about the junk science reports that have come out.

I think it's clear that people have obviously had an impact on the environment and what we're seeing with climate change issues. But I think there is also a lot of hysteria around it. And I think getting back to the Paris Accord for a moment here, I mean, look, this thing was a really, really bad deal. There's one thing the president knows, is how to--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: OK. We'll talk about that. That's good. But if you answer my question, Jason, and with all due respect.

MILLER: I answered your question.

LEMON: No, you didn't. My first question was exactly, why can't the White House say whether the president is -- believes that in climate change or if he thinks it as a hoax. And you said he is keeping it to where it should be. You didn't answer the question--

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: I started by saying--

LEMON: And the second question was, do you believe because you said you've had multiple conversations with him. I'm just asking two very straightforward questions. You could say yes or no or I don't know.

MILLER: I believe that the president is very strongly supportive of the environment and making sure we have clean air and clean water. I think the media wants to have these tight definitions for what counts as climate change and what doesn't count as climate change. And I think he's smartly staying away from getting typecast by folks who ultimately want to take him down.

LEMON: I understand. I understand that people are -- listen, there may be folks out there who want to trip him up. But the reason I'm asking is because of what he said before previously about climate change.

That, in fact, it was a hoax. But then in 2009, he wrote the letter. He signed the letter along with every member of his family now who is in the White House, running his businesses, saying -- asking President Obama to sign on to green jobs.

And so I'm just trying to get some clarity on whether he believes it or not, the way he put it before, as he believed before. That's it. Jason Kander, go ahead.

JASON KANDER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I mean, it is not a hard question, right? Do you believe the 97 percent of scientists, or do you belief the 3 percent of scientists? It's pretty easy question.

What bothers me probably most about this is that even if we got an answer, I don't know how much good it would do us because it would change again depending on who he talked to last. And what bothers me about him pulling out of the Paris Accord is that this is just him continuing to decide that it's not important that America be a leader in the world.

And I happen to think, whether you're talking about climate change or anything else, that the world and America, it's a safer place when America is in a position of leadership.

MILLER: And I couldn't agree more and that's why I think the U.S. needs to be leading on the economy. And again, smart leaders, strong leaders don't enter into deals like this, where China doesn't have to reduce any of their carbon emissions until 2013. Where the U.S. is going to have to reduce it by 26 percent to 28 percent over the next eight few years. That would be -- that's not being a leader, that's being a fool.

KANDER: Two things here. First of all, it's not a deal. It is an agreement of the entire world entered into to say, here's what we're able to do. It was everybody being a team player and saying, let's all tackle this together. Kind of a momentous thing.

So, in terms of leading on the economy or anything else, Nicaragua, Syria, the United States. Those are the three countries now that are not part of this agreement. Nicaragua is not part of it because they didn't think it went far enough. So leadership from this president is doing the same thing as Syria.

And as far as leading on the economy, Jason, this is -- I mean, the next frontier of jobs is going to be alternative energy. It's going to be renewable energies. So just like we're allowing China to pour steel in and dump steel into our economy, now, we're apparently going to do is allow them is to dump solar panels into our economy. So we will again be behind because of this decision.

MILLER: And, you know, Jason, I think you make a great point about our need to be very tough and very strong with China. Look, you're on the democratic side. You've run for office. You're very talented and skilled politician.

I mean, I think one of the things you can probably speak to is the fact that even large swaths of the democratic base right now are divided on this issue. This is part of the reason why President Trump did so well with democrats, particularly union members this past year, because so many on the left, so many democrats want to completely wipe out coal jobs. They want to move everything into unsustainable, free energy jobs.

LEMON: Can I jump in here? Can I jump in here?

MILLER: Yes.

LEMON: Because here's a question -- and listen, I'm not speaking as a democrat or republican, just an inquisitive American. When you think of the number of coal jobs that exist now, and you think about, there are more real estate agents in the country. There are more people who work in retail. There are more people who work in technology.

Why is so much emphasis placed on -- of course, we want people who work in coal country to have jobs, but why is the emphasis placed on an industry that really is not a giant industry in this country, it doesn't account for the bulk of jobs?

MILLER: Excellent question. I think coal miners and people involved in the coal industry, a lot of this goes back to the forgotten men and women that President Trump was speaking to when he ran for office last year. We talk about people who have lost their jobs because of NAFTA, these other trade deals that have gone bad.

[22:44:58] This is symbolic of, you know, the U.S. is really the Saudi Arabia of coal. I mean, we're the coal leaders when it comes to this. But so many people who completely misjudge this election and think the coal industry is terrible and don't think that it really matters, they want to completely wipe out a lot of these jobs.

And I think many people, even if they're not directly involved in the coal industry themselves, they look at this and say, you know what--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: OK.

MILLER: -- this is being--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I'm being pressed for time, Jason. I don't mean to cut you off. I'm being pressed for time. But I want Jason Kander to respond, quickly if you can. Do you want to wipe out coal jobs? Do democrats want to wipe out coal jobs?

KANDER: No. Look, this is--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Quickly, please.

KANDER: This is the same thing as when President Trump -- yes, when President Trump said that he was going to bring all these jobs back at Carrier. It turned out that didn't happen. He is a salesman, he's not a leader. He just keeps selling. That's all this is. LEMON: We'll have to continue this conversation. Thank you,

gentlemen. I appreciate it. Good to see you both.

When we come back, LeBron James says racism is just part of America after his home was vandalized by racist graffiti. We're going to ask Star Jones what she thinks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: LeBron James, Tiger Woods, even Hillary Clinton. There's a lot to talk about. Star Jones is here. She is the president of professional diversity network. Thank you so much for joining us. Daytime Divas. We're going to talk about that. You're the executive producer of this new show on VH 1. I can't -- I already have the DVR. It wasn't on the DVR yet. And so I'm waiting so that I can set it.

[22:50:05] STAR JONES, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL WOMEN: Yes.

LEMON: I'm ready for it.

JONES: Yes. Definitely.

LEMON: So let's talk. Let's get to our hot topics. And you should that from you, right.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Yes, I can do it.

LEMON: So let's talk Hillary Clinton. She's saying she talked about her loss. She blamed several aspects, she said on the DNC's communications, their internet.

JONES: She also took responsibility for whatever--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And James Comey.

JONES: -- role that she played. I mean, I think that Secretary Clinton has every right to sort of look back and dissect or do an autopsy on the campaign. I saw her just recently just about a week ago and she's ready to move forward, but I think she's ready to step right back in to the political discourse.

LEMON: Why do people want to silence her?

JONES: They've always wanted to silence Hillary. This is not something new. Secretary Clinton is still one of the most brilliant voices and a voice of change. I think it's important for us to listen to.

LEMON: I'm not. I don't believe in silencing people. I don't believe in boycotting.

JONES: Neither do I.

LEMON: I said that's what America is about. About freedom of speech. But the thing is that people are wondering whether it's politically, you know, good for the democrats that she is speaking out.

JONES: Right now I think that it is politically good for the democrats to have anybody with a real voice speak out.

LEMON: Let's talk about LeBron James. Racial slur on the gate of his house in L.A. written on that.

JONES: I think racism has reared its ugly head and come out and said hello to people. What people once only thought and was afraid to say I think with this president making it OK to come out from underneath your hood, that's what we're going to get.

LEMON: You think the president made it OK?

JONES: Absolutely. I mean, you know it. Excuse me, I didn't stutter when I said that. I think when the President of the United States sort of appeals to a white nationalist agenda and embraces people who were fearful of the browning of America and for all practical purposes clung with their dying fingers to white male privilege, yes, he made it OK.

LEMON: There was a press conference today in today's White House briefing. Sean Spicer was asked by reporter April Ryan about LeBron James as well as some other racial incidents. Let's listen in and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are numbers of reports (Inaudible) have been found at the museum that the president toured of African-American history and culture museum. And also there was a very negative word (Inaudible) spray painted on LeBron James home. What is the president saying about this? Specifically people are saying over the last 130 plus days people are feeling that there has been a divide that has perpetuated from this White House.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I would respectfully disagree with the premise of that. I think we need to denounce hate in any form in any act. And this president made it clear from election night to his inauguration that he wants to unite this country and move it forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: From election night to the inauguration. Do you think the president is handling these issues, addressing these issues?

JONES: I don't think it even crosses his mind. That's one other thing I did discuss with Secretary Clinton. That some of these issues that were on her front burner have not only been put on the black back burner. They've been taken off the stove. I don't think addressing racism is a big issue to him in the least

tiny bit. I don't even think it even crosses his mind. Sean Spicer looked it as if Jose lord, why are you asking me about these black people, I really don't want to talk to talk about because it's not something that we discuss with the president on a regular basis.

LEMON: Do you think it's a matter of you don't know what you don't know and if you don't know maybe you just don't care about it?

JONES: It's not his experience.

LEMON: Yes.

JONES: I don't think it's his experience. What is -- what is probably more bothersome for the President of the United States is he's not intellectual curious enough to find out other people who are not like him what their experience is.

And that is what I think LeBron was trying to say. No matter how much money you have, how much influence, where you come from, where you are, you're still black.

LEMON: Let's talk more about LeBron. You mention Jason Whitlock Fox Sports 1 had another take on the LeBron James incident. Here's what he had to say about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON WHITLOCK, COMMENTATOR, FOX SPORTS: He allegedly had the n word spray painted on his $20 million Brentwood home. He wasn't there. His family wasn't there. He heard about it. Racism is an issue in America. But it is primarily an issue for the poor. It's not LeBron James' issue.

LeBron James, whether he likes it or not or whether people close to him are telling him or not, he has removed himself from the damages and the ravages of real racism. He may have an occasional disrespectful interaction with someone, a disrespectful inconvenience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:54:59] JONES: Hate much? Give me a break. His $20 million home? You don't get to tell somebody else what their racism experience is.

LEMON: Money does not inoculate you from racism.

JONES: Money nor position. Ask the president of the United States, the 44th President of the United States what it felt like to have people around our country speak about him in such racist terms over the course of eight years. It does not matter. You can be the leader of the free world and still be subject.

LEMON: What's the difference when you're the first lady of the United States and you're Michelle Obama, people will call you a monkey or an ape. But when you're Melania Trump I've never heard anyone called Melania Trump a monkey or an ape. (CROSSTALK)

JONES: Absolutely not. And it would be inappropriate to speak that way about the first lady but it wasn't inappropriate to speak about our elegant most beautiful first lady Michelle Obama.

LEMON: There's a difference between I think Jason is not getting it, between classism, social structure in society and racism. There is a difference there. Maybe he has money. Maybe he has some privilege in the sense that he has money, but it definitely does not inoculate you from racism.

JONES: One hundred percent. If somebody ever tells you there's two buses, the black over there and the white folk over there, no matter how much money you are, they will put you on the other bus.

LEMON: Let's talk about Daytime Divas.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Yes. Let's lighten the mood.

LEMON: So it starts VH1. She's so gorgeous. Vanessa Williams.

JONES: I know.

LEMON: She plays Maxine who is one of the hosts of the long running women's talk show. So tell me about Daytime Divas. Is it The View?

JONES: No. It is not The View. You ask the same question that everybody in America is asking right now.

LEMON: Who is Barbara Walters. Who is Star Jones? Who is Lisa Ling? It wasn't Lisa in the first season. It was--

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: But remember now they have 25 years of experience in daytime and in news television. I've been in every green room and makeup room in the New York area, so I've heard and seen a lot.

LEMON: Yes.

JONES: I've got to pull from all of these experiences, so it's inspired by lots of different people. I can tell you there's a completely fictional account on the behind the scenes work of a daytime talk show and Maxine, an homage to Max Robinson, our colleague.

I know. Doesn't it just make you well that I ever say that?

LEMON: I've wrote -- I write in my book how he inspired me. I love Max Robinson in Chicago. Peter Jennings I think was in London and New York and then it was Frank Reynolds or vice versa.

JONES: Yes. LEMON: I still love watching them. I'm showing my age now. But I do have to say you sat your butt on The View today and I was like, there it is, that's The View. It felt like old times. When you And Meredith did it, remember you guys did when he said April Fools?

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Absolutely.

LEMON: I forgot what it was.

JONES: We were doing like a throwback Thursday which was wonderful. And I have to tell you all the women have been very supportive of Daytime Divas. But it's tag, you're it, Vanessa as you're going to take it to rains and grand (Ph) with us.

LEMON: Never been better the view. I can't wait for Daytime Divas. Monday, June 5th. It premiers on VH1. Make sure you watch.

Star, always a please. Have a good weekend.

JONES: Nice to see you again.

LEMON: God to see you, as well. We'll be right back.

[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)