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Jeff Sessions Testifies Russia Probe; Dashing Praise for the Boss; Daughter Shocked of Heavy Criticisms. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 12, 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] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Attorney General Jeff Sessions now just hours away from testifying in public before a Senate committee investigating Russia's meddling in the election.
It will be the first time he testifies in Congress since recusing himself from the Justice Department's Russia probe. But will he invoke executive privilege to answering some questions? You're going to see what the White House is saying now.
Dashing praise for the boss. Today's meeting President Trump's full cabinet giving new meaning to the phrase, hail to the chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: This is a great privilege you've given me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for getting this country moving again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda and the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I want to begin tonight with CNN's senior political analyst Mark Preston, CNN senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin, Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and political correspondent analyst Abbey Phillip, White House reporter for the Washington Post.
Good evening. And I want to start by all -- telling all of you how happy and extremely proud that I am in your in my presence to have you all on this show this evening, especially you, Mark Preston. Another week in the Russia investigation continues to be front and center.
President Trump apparently weighing whether to terminate special counsel Robert Mueller from the Russia investigation, and that's according to President Trump's writing Chris Ruddy. We're going to speak with Chris in a moment, by the way.
Politically speaking, and I think Chris -- I think Chris Ruddy believes this as well. This is a mistake. This would be a mistake of epic proportions. MARK PRESTON, POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR, CNN: Yes. No doubt. In fact,
let me read you a comment from Senator Lindsey Graham yesterday on CBS' Face The Nation. Speaking of President Trump, he said, "you may be the first president in history to go down because you can't stop inappropriately talking about an investigation that if you just were quiet would clear you."
Now, that is Senator Lindsey Graham talking about Trump just tweeting and being involved in an investigation when he should just be quiet.
Now, could you imagine if he actually fired the investigator that is investigating him and his campaign and his administration right now for possible Russian ties? It might actually be the final straw that would break the camel's back and put republicans into the corner where they would have to actually be more aggressive in their investigation of Donald Trump.
LEMON: As a matter of fact, I can't imagine it. Nothing surprises me now. I mean, you know, I was talking to Jeffrey Toobin, by the way, next question for you, but when we came on, I said, can you believe it? How would this even work?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, it would, to answer that specifically, the regulation that -- of the appointment of the special counsel, it's not the president who can fire him, it's the attorney general. And that would be, the president would order the Attorney General...
LEMON: Who is under scrutiny?
TOOBIN: ... presumably who is recused.
TOOBON: And then it would be up to Rob Rosenstein to decide whether he would fire him or he would quit the way Elliott Richardson and then William Ruckelshaus quit when Pres. Richard Nixon told him -- told them to fire Archibald Cox in the Saturday night massacre. So the question would be, would anyone in the Justice Department actually follow the orders or would they resign?
I mean, I have to say, I am less convinced that the Republican Party would abandon Donald Trump if he did this. I mean, you mean, the Republican Party here, you know, they are completely unified.
You know, every once in a while, John McCain says, I'm very concerned though.
LEMON: And then the next day.
TOOBIN: And then, you know, he's still voting with them down the line on everything. So I mean, I think this is an intensely loyal agenda- driven Republican Party, and if he fired Comey, I think it would be very bad politically, but I'm not sure the republicans would really turn on him.
LEMON: I have a reason why to believe that's happening. I think it's fairly obvious but, you know, let's move on. Abby, a source close to the president telling Jim Acosta that the president is being counsel, should steer clear of doing something like this, but at the end of the day, the president listens to his gut. Anything could happen.
ABBY PHILIP, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Right. And when people tell him what to do, he tends to react, oftentimes by doing the opposite. So we're in kind of a weird space right now where you have a lot of people trying to gently prod him not to do something that Chris Ruddy apparently thinks he's thinking about pretty seriously.
And with this president you never really know. I think what's really clear, though, is that there are a lot of people in the White House who are increasingly concerned about this. One of the reasons -- you know, I think there is a lot of reason to believe the republicans are nervous about backing away from Trump.
But I do think that one of the reasons this would be a last straw is because it is the only hope to get this investigation off of their backs. There is no other option but to allow the special investigator to have this investigation run its course.
If they lose that, it really opens them up in a profound way that they have not been opened up to before. Many of these members are going to be up for reelection in a very short amount of time.
[22:05:02] We're talking less than 12 months here. I think many republicans just want Rob Rosenstein to do what he's going to do and quiet.
LEMON: Abby, when you're saying beyond the investigation, whether the investigation turns up anything or not, there could be nothing there. But politically it's bad for republicans if that does happen and bad for this president.
PHILIP: Yes. I mean, even if the investigation turns up absolutely nothing, just the idea of having someone over in a corner who you can say, this guy is handling this investigation, a lot of republicans need that idea, they need to be able to say that to their constituents so they can move past this.
LEMON: Let's talk more about the Republican Party. One in particular and that is the former House Speaker, Michael, Newt Gingrich. He said "Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring? Check FEC reports. Time to rethink."
But then this is what he tweeted just a month ago, to Jeffrey Toobin's point. Robert Mueller is a superb point to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. The media should now calm down. OK, so which is which? What's changed? Which one should we believe? MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS:
Remarkable the way things change. I do want to say, Don, I think on this show about six weeks ago when Mueller was appointed, I raised the possibility that the president might fire him, and I think you kind of dismissed it and said it was impossible, so I just want to state that for the record...
LEMON: I was wrong.
ISIKOFF: ... that it's in the mix.
LEMON: If I was there, I would pat you on the back. But OK.
ISIKOFF: Right, right.
LEMON: Go ahead.
ISIKOFF: But look, I mean, it is -- I can see a scenario where Trump does do this.
ISIKOFF: He says there's nothing to this investigation, it's a waste of time, it's a waste of money, they've spent months, they haven't come up with any evidence of collusion, and it's a distraction from my agenda, and he would make his case to the American people, and if the Congress doesn't like it, they can impeach me.
You know, I don't know that he will do that. It is still highly risky. Rod Rosenstein would almost certainly have to resign and that would leave him, President Trump, with almost nobody at the Justice Department. There's only, like, three confirmed, Trump-confirmed appointees at the Justice Department right now. If Rosenstein left in the deputy's office.
And one can surmise that his entire staff would resign with him that you'd have a Justice Department completely depleted unable to implement his agenda. So it's certainly high risk, but I don't think it's completely out of the question.
LEMON: You're right. But the way it felt like six weeks ago, but it was less than a month ago. In this world it just feels like a long, long time when it hasn't been.
TOOBIN: Well, it is true. It feels like Donald Trump has been president for three years.
LEMON: Yes. But, Jeff, let's move on. Let's talk, because you know, we've been talking about -- you were saying that Jeff Sessions would have to become involved if he wants to remove the special counselor, but Jeff Sessions is testifying tomorrow. What are you looking for?
TOOBIN: Well, no. I mean, I don't think Sessions would be involved if he wanted to remove him. (CROSSTALK)
LEMON: If he acted.
TOOBIN: It would be Rod Rosenstein.
LEMON: Rod Rosenstein, yes.
TOOBIN: You know what I look for is for Sessions not to answer a lot of questions. I think either -- he will either cite executive privilege or infect cite executive privilege.
You know, the Congress does not have a lot of options with witnesses who refuse to answer questions. You know, theoretically they could find someone in contempt and then go to court, but you can't do that the day of the testimony.
So they really are at the mercy of Sessions. Sessions is certainly going to have to answer questions about why he didn't tell the full truth about his meetings with Russians. I mean, he's acknowledged that he didn't disclose those.
But he'll have some explanation that it was an oversight or it was in his senatorial duties. But in terms of his conversations with the president about the firing of Comey, I anticipate that there will be pretty much a total stone wall. Maybe others disagree with me.
LEMON: Now I want to ask Mark about that because we saw it with Coats and Rogers in their appearance. They didn't answer a lot of questions. And Jeffrey Toobin is saying he's probably going to invoke executive privilege. Do you think we're going to learn much from Sessions tomorrow, Mark?
PRESTON: Well, a couple of things. We did see Rogers up on Capitol Hill today. He did testify or at least meet with the intelligence committee behind closed doors. We don't know what happened. He wouldn't talk when he left the room nor were the members talking.
But I do think Jeff is correct. I think there are areas where Jeff Sessions will absolutely not go into tomorrow. I don't think he will try to use the word executive privilege if he can get away without using it. Much like we saw from the two intelligence chiefs when they were on Capitol Hill.
But I think when push comes to shove, he will, in fact, invoke executive privilege. But I also think that one thing to look for tomorrow, is that there has been a lot of speculation that Donald Trump was very upset at Jeff Sessions.
[22:09:58] And in fact, was so angry at him that Sessions in turn offered his resignation, which not accepted. Tomorrow will we see Jeff Sessions, while appearing to be loyal, also try to salvage his reputation which has now been dragged through the gutter a little bit.
So that's something I think that you really got to look at tomorrow, and then you can start to see if those who are really on the inner circle, are the knives turning inward on Trump at all.
LEMON: Thank you, all. Michael Isikoff, again, you were right. I appreciate it.
Stick with, everyone. When we come right back, a pretty strange cabinet meeting. Today President Trump first boasting about his term so far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will say that never has there been a president, with few exceptions -- in the case of FDR, he had a major depression to handle -- who has passed more legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Is that true? And then he invited his cabinet members to do the same. We're going to show you what they said, next.
LEMON: The president holding his first full cabinet meeting today. Cabinet members going around the table offering Mr. Trump gushing praise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILLERSON: Mr. President, thank you for the honor to serve the country. It's a great privilege you've given me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I'm honored to be on the team.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to thank you for getting this country moving again and also working again.
[22:15:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't thank you enough for the privilege you've given me and the kinship that you've shown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to thank you for keeping your commitment to the American workers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been an honor to be able to serve you.
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: On behalf of the senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda and the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TOOBIN: Don't laugh, Don, I've seen you with your staff. That's exactly what it's like around the Don Lemon show.
LEMON: I mean, it also -- I know I feel bad. Come on, seriously. Jeff. TOOBIN: It looked like North Korea. The way, you know, the dear leader. Didn't it seem like North Korea to you?
LEMON: It just seems really odd. I've worked for a lot of bosses, and never have I've been put or seen any group of people or team put in a position like that. It just strikes me as weird. And I don't know -- I mean, listen, Michael, what do you think?
ISIKOFF: Well, first of all, it's such an honor and privilege to be on your show, Don, that I can't thank you enough. I mean, look, it's bizarre, but obviously the president feels like he's not getting the appreciation he deserves, and so if he can't get it from Congress or the news media, he's getting it from his immediate staff. But beyond that, I don't know what to make of it.
LEMON: Here's what one cabinet member, he took a different route. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Mr. President, it's an honor to represent the men and women of the Department of Defense, and we are grateful for the sacrifices our people are making in order to strengthen our military so our diplomatic can always negotiate from a position of strength.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Mark Preston, that was probably a better route, right, choosing to go praise the troops?
PRESTON: Yet again, General Mattis has shown that he really is the grown-up in the room, certainly in the administration when he was being floated, his name was being floated for that position to oversee the Department of Defense, there was a big sigh of relief on Capitol Hill and I also think throughout Washington, you know, throughout the country.
Somebody who understands what his mission is and really was always known as a soldier's general, somebody who looked out for them. But Don, I mean, just to the point of what we saw there from President Trump, in many ways, and we haven't said this yet, it seems like it's humiliating, because those people around that table were all very accomplished people, whether in private life in business or whether in politics, and to sit there and to affirm President Trump just seems it's just outrageous.
LEMON: More accomplished than the man who is actually president. That's why I said it just seemed really sad. Abby, one person who consistently praises President Trump is the vice president. He does it a lot. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it's the greatest honor of my life to stand shoulder to shoulder with Donald Trump.
Today, thanks to the perseverance, the determination and the leadership of President Donald Trump.
The greatest honor of my life is to serve as Vice President to the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.
What you saw just two days ago is what I see every single day. A leader with broad shoulders and a big heart. A believer.
Greatest privilege of my life is to serve as vice president to a president who is keeping his word to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Abby, is this just a job of vice president? Do all vice presidents do that?
PHILIP: To a certain extent, but Mike Pence is like a Jedi master at praising President Trump. He's really, really good at it and that's one of the reasons why he has the job that he has.
One of the funny things I thought about that whole moment earlier today, was that Mike Pence actually kicked off that whole tableful of celebration of Trump, so anybody who came after Mike Pence, it would have been really hard to sort of got a different route with it when Pence, you know, starts off by saying it's the greatest privilege of my life. Everybody else has to kind of follow suit.
But, you know, this is one of the reasons that people who know Mike Pence, his loyalty to Trump, his willingness to defer to Trump at all costs is one of the reasons why he remains in the room, one of the reasons why they actually are pretty close, and despite many, many difficult moments in this administration, Mike Pence has always been pretty consistent in saying the things that he said today and pretty much every other day of the week.
TOOBIN: You know, Don, because I have no life, I actually watched the whole thing. You know, and you cannot believe how long it goes on. I mean, that's the thing, we just showed bits and pieces here. But this festival of praise, it just goes on and on. I mean, it's much more bizarre when you see it all together.
LEMON: So, much so you sort of don't believe it, right?
[22:24:58] TOOBIN: It looks like a parody of something.
LEMON: Can we just speaking of parody, this is chuck Schumer. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I want to thank everybody for coming. I just thought we would go around the room. Lucy, how did we do on the Sunday show yesterday? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your tone was perfect. You were right on
SCHUMER: Michelle, how did my hair look coming out of the gym this morning?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have great hair. Nobody has better hair than you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before we go further, I just want to say thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The only difference there, Abby, seriously is that they laughed at the end. There is no difference if you play both of the videos back to back. It's just that the Schumer group laughed.
PHILIP: Yes. Isn't it amazing? This is -- this is the leader of the Democratic Party in the Senate making -- essentially making fun of the President of the United States. That's a really amazing thing that we're just sort of sitting here and observing as if it's a normal Monday.
But I just feel like it's so unusual where we are right now, where this is the kind of relationship that leaders in Washington have with one another. It tells you a lot about where we are.
TOOBIN: It is a normal Monday.
LEMON: Yes. It's Monday again.
PHILIP: It is a normal monday in the Trump administration.
LEMON: I've got to go back on TV and talk about the Trump administration, no.
ISIKOFF: Hey, Don, it is...
LEMON: So, hey, Michael, I want to get your response to this because I want to talk about this whole loyalty thing, right, you know, the whole loyalty with Comey.
LEMON: But this is something President Trump told Charlie Rose about loyalty back in 1992. Of course, this was Donald Trump the businessman before he was president. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would have wiped the floor with the guys that weren't loyal, which I will now do, which is great. You know, I love getting even with people. But I will... (CROSSTALK)
CHARLIE ROSE, HOST, PBS: You love getting even with people.
TRUMP: Absolutely. You don't believe in that? Yes, you do.
TRUMP: I know you well enough, I think you do. But anyway.
ROSE: But tell me, you're going to get even with some people because they...
TRUMP: Yes. If given the opportunity, I will get even with some people that were disloyal to me. I mean, I had a group of people that were disloyal.
ROSE: But how do you define disloyalty?
TRUMP: They didn't come to my aid. They didn't do small...
ROSE: Well, what did they do, did they turn their back on you?
TRUMP: No, but they didn't do small things that would have helped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Michael, what do you think about that, considering the whole thing, what the cabinet just did, Comey saying he wanted -- sort of gave him this loyalty test, the former FBI director?
ISIKOFF: No, exactly. I mean, that's very revealing, and you know, just to bring this around to something serious, I mean, Comey didn't show that kind of loyalty, he explicitly did not, didn't show that sort of lavish praise that Trump that he wants from his subordinates and he got fired.
I should also point out that there was some pretty interesting comments yesterday by Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in New York who was fired by Trump as well, and you know, he talks about getting two phone calls by Trump in which he's sounding him out, wants to shoot the breeze. Clearly was looking for that same level of approbation, didn't get it.
And I should point out, because this could come up tomorrow. He gets another, a third phone call from Trump, doesn't take the call, reports it to the Justice Department to Sessions' chief of staff, and then is fired the next day along with all the other U.S. attorneys.
So one question for Sessions tomorrow is, you know, did that, did Bharara's phone call refusal to take that phone call get reported to him and was then reported to the White House, and was there a connection there if you don't -- if you didn't take the president's phone call you were going to get fired?
LEMON: OK. Hey, just quickly, I know that we need to -- I want to play this -- can we play the president touting his accomplishments today quickly, please?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I will say never has there been a president with few exceptions. In the case of FDR, he had major depression to handle. Who has passed more legislation, who has done more things than what we've done. Between the executive orders and the job-killing regulations that have been terminated, many bills, I guess over 34 bills and Congress signed, a Supreme Court justice who is going to be a great one. Going to be a great Supreme Court justice and many other things. We've achieved tremendous success.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Abby, he has signed more bills, but as the fact checkers have pointed out, they don't have any teeth. Other presidents, most presidents have had bigger legislative successes than this president. So that didn't quite pan out to what he's saying.
PHILIP: Yes. I mean, some of them were naming a post office. So I don't think the sheer number of bills is really what's important here. I mean, we could even go back eight years when we were in the middle of an enormous recession.
Congress had to pass legislation. The stimulus bill. So there has been a lot that prior presidents have done. This White House is really grasping for things to do in part because health care and tax reform still aren't happening.
[22:25:02] So this is a little bit of projection on his part.
LEMON: And they want to change -- and they want to change the Russian narrative.
LEMON: Thank you all. When we come back, Ivanka Trump saying this about the media coverage of her father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: There is a level of viciousness that I was not expecting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: But should she be so surprised?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Welcome back. She has been out of the spotlight for a while, but in a rare interview this morning, first daughter Ivanka Trump had an interesting take on the media's coverage of her father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
I. TRUMP: There is a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience. But this isn't supposed to be easy.
My father and his administration intends to be transformative and we want to do big, bold things, and we're looking to change the status quo. So I didn't expect it to be easy. I think some of the distractions and some of the veracity I was a little blind-sided by on a personal level.
[22:30:05] But for me I'm trying to keep my head down, not listen to the noise and just work really hard to make a positive impact in the lives of...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: That was good advice to her father. Let's discuss this now. CNN contributor Emily Jane Fox, presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, author of "Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America," and Sally Quinn, Washington Post contributor.
Perhaps I didn't say that clearly enough. Her father maybe should take her advice, put his head down and do the work, don't listen to the noise. But I actually think, Emily, she was talking about all of it, beyond the media. We just had the media up there.
But Washington, D.C. she said she was surprised at the viciousness directed at the Trump family. What gives here? I mean, had she met -- I'd like to introduce her to her father. Like, I mean, seriously.
EMILY JANE FOX, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: This is the thing. I do not think that the Trump family in general sees themselves clearly. I think that they are so insular and that they spend so much time together and very little time with people outside of their family that I don't think that they're able to accurately view themselves as other people view them.
So when you only surround yourself with a small circle that is mostly other family members, of course you're not going to have a clear view of the way that other people think and see and view you, and everything is going to feel like an attack from you because everything is coming from the outside.
LEMON: But also, you know, if you go into -- the president did this or Donald Trump did this willingly. He wanted to run for president. The family didn't have to do that, but they went along willingly. I mean, they put themselves out there. They became spokespeople for him.
FOX: Not only they are spokespeople. They are, Ivanka Trump is one of the senior advisers in his administration.
LEMON: Right, in his administration.
FOX: So is the son-in-law. These are not people who are young children or even adult children who are just along for the ride when their father decided to run for president. Ivanka Trump introduced him when he first decided to run for president. She introduced him when he was given the nomination at the Republican National Convention, and now she's serving as a senior member of his staff.
So the idea that this is just his family, they're along for the ride went out the window when she decided to do all those things and then accept a formal position within his White House.
LEMON: yes, Douglas Brinkley, because people are so nice in the real estate world. I mean, I know, I've experienced it. You say Ivanka Trump clearly wasn't paying attention to her father during the campaign. You said her father is quote, "the godfather of viciousness." That's what you say. Was this a blunder for her to say?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, CNN: The word viciousness was an absolute blunder. Donald Trump has just beat up on everybody. That's what we know him as, the commander in chief who does insults all the time.
Just this weekend he had to rub in do another one on Comey, calling him cowardly. So if you go back to 2016 Ivanka Trump never had a problem with Ted Cruz's father being part of the Kennedy assassination, or Donald Trump not knowing about David Duke or about the lock her up with Hillary Clinton, on and on.
I mean, Donald Trump has made it to the White House by hitting the low road harder than anybody and being as vicious wolverine and fierce and mean as can be Donald Trump, and she doesn't have any room or nobody can forgive her or feel sorry for her lament there.
LEMON: Sally, let's take a trip down memory lane at some of the things that Donald Trump has said. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rosie O'Donnell is disgusting, I mean, both inside and out. I don't know what I said, I don't remember.
I view a person who is flat-chested as very hard to be a 10. We are led by very, very stupid people. This guy Ted Cruz is the single biggest liar I've ever dealt with in my life.
But its political bull (muted), do you understand? I call him little Marco, little Marco. OK, forget you. Just forget it.
Let's defeat her. Megyn Kelly is a lightweight. This is a lightweight. This is not a reporter. So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap
out of them, would you? Seriously. OK. Just knock the hell -- I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees, I promise.
I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were at a place like this? They would be carried out on a stretcher, folks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SALLY QUINN, CONTRIBUTOR, WASHINGTON POST: Well, first, Don, let me say what an honor and privilege it is to be on your show tonight. I'm so grateful and truly blessed.
LEMON: Thank you.
QUINN: But Doug is right. I mean, the President of the United States sets the tone for the rhetoric in this town, and he started 16 months ago. And the idea that Ivanka would go on television and talk about hostility was so appalling to me.
[22:35:06] It's like, what planet did she come from? She has been the famous Saturday night live ad -- perfume ad complicit, but she has been complicit with all of this. And you know, mocking that journalist who was disabled and the Muslim family whose son was killed and calling Comey a nut job.
I mean, that's just -- you know, it's just in one week you could add them all up. The hostility and the meanness, the press, we are all enemies of the people.
So I can't understand what she's thinking when she talks about she wasn't prepared for the level of hostility when she has been living with this level of hostility the entire campaign. And you notice all the way through when she was talking about the administration and what they had accomplished, they want to do big things, it was always we.
And so, you can't have it both ways. She can't have it both ways. She can't say, you know, I'm the liberal influence and I'm the one who tried to get him to stay in the Paris agreement, and I'm trying to make sure that, you know, there's parental leave for people who have children, which is going to cost billions of dollars and probably take away from the wall, building the wall.
But -- and then turn around and say, we are doing this and we are doing great things, and we're shaking things up, and we want to do grand things and everybody else is being so vicious.
QUINN: I mean, she is just two faced.
LEMON: Listen, she is an accomplished woman, she's very smart. Is this really, Emily, is this about brand -- is she trying to save her brand here? What's going on?
QUINN: Well, yes, I think she is.
LEMON: Emily. Yes, Emily.
QUINN: OK, Emily, you're up.
LEMON: Go ahead.
FOX: I think...
LEMON: Your simple answer was?
FOX: I think it is without a doubt interesting to see Ivanka Trump stay silent on just about everything. She doesn't talk about the Russia investigation until she was kind of obliquely asked about it this morning. She doesn't talk about the women's march on Washington. She doesn't talk about Planned Parenthood losing funding.
She doesn't talk about any negative issue that would negatively impact her brand. On that she says, my influence is better used silently and then personal with my father. I don't need to talk about my opinion with the public. My voice is best use when it's...
LEMON: Have you seen her influence anywhere?
FOX: When she goes on air to talk about the things that are positive that would be attached to her brand. So, workforce development week in the White House, that would serve someone who would want to go back into the real estate sector very well. Maybe the other thing she doesn't want to be publicly attached to. So Ivanka Trump is a master brander and I think we're seeing a master at work.
LEMON: OK. Let's move on. I want to talk about they say over at the White House, Jeff Zeleny, sources are telling -- our Jeff Zeleny, I should say, Douglas, that the White House is urgently trying to change the subject this week. The source says that we can't turn off the Russia noise, but we need to do a better job filling the atmosphere with an alternative. And that plan includes Ivanka Trump in the mix as a distracter. Is that a smart strategy?
BRINKLEY: I don't think it's smart. I mean, Ivanka Trump, you know, I'm not sure where she gets these high approval ratings. She seemed to be interesting because she had power, that she was going to be the one that controlled Donald Trump's Twitter, that she was going to be the hostess of the White House. But as Sally just mentioned, by her staying mute, she's now become
kind of an irrelevant person, hence, she's turned to Fox & Friends morning show and is going to play to a hard right audience and try to be a darling with that crowd. So she's now just another person in the Trump choir.
LEMON: Yes, in an interview with Fox News, Donald Trump, Jr. seems to corroborate James Comey's version of events in the Michael Flynn matter. Remember President Trump says unequivocally he never told Comey or even suggested for him to drop the Flynn probe. Here's Donald Trump, Jr., though.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: You and I have both known my father a long time. When he tells you to do something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TRUMP JR.: Guess what? There is no ambiguity in it. There's no, hey, I'm hoping. You and I are friends. Hey, I hope this happens but you got to do your job. That's what he told Comey. And for this guy, as a politician, to then go back and write a memo, he felt so threatened, but he didn't do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Sally, the only problem with that is he seems to confirm, at least Comey's testimony. That's not what his father said. His father said he didn't do it. He didn't have that conversation.
QUINN: He didn't seem to confirm, he confirmed it. He said, that is what my father said. And did you notice the terror in his eyes when he talked about, when my father says do something, do something? It looks like he's been there before.
QUINN: But what I thought was interesting is when Ivanka said, well, you know, the wonderful thing about Comey was that he vindicated my father. Well, I don't know what that vindication was since the brother already said that the father said what the father didn't say.
[22:40:00] So, I mean -- and then the other thing was that supposedly the president had been told by Comey that he was not under investigation. Three times Comey admitted that. But that doesn't mean that he will never be under investigation. That just means at that particular moment he was not under investigation.
QUINN: So I don't see that there's any vindication here at all, and I think Donald Trump, Jr. just blew that one away.
LEMON: Emily, you say the issue -- I think you believe that those sons are just not in the loop. Are they in the -- they're supposed to be running his businesses, anyway.
FOX: Well, I'll give you a perfect example. So back in April, Eric Trump did an interview with an overseas paper saying, my sister was the one who convince my father to launch the sir strikes on Syria. I was in Berlin with Ivanka at the end of April and she told a group of reporters that that absolutely not the CNN and that her brother was mistaken.
So I think that the issue the sons, her brother are out of the loop. They're not talking to their father every day and yet they're still doing interviews with the press every week. And so they're making statements that are just not true based on the fact that they don't know what's going on and that's causing them to make some pretty big slip-ups.
LEMON: All right. Stay with me, everyone. Melania and Barron have finally made the move into the White House. How their presence could change Trump's presidency. That's next.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: It's a good day for the Trump family, the first lady, Melania and her Barron joining the president in the White House. And the first family is finally under roof.
So back now with my panel. I think that's a good thing. Hopefully, she's -- it's been nearly five months of the presidency, Emily. I think it's a good thing. Maybe they'll have a calming effect. It will center him in the White House. What are your sources telling you?
FOX: I think that's a really hopeful, optimistic way of looking at things. Here's the thing. There are a number of people close to the first family who say that the first lady does have a calming influence on the president, and we saw that when they were together for nine days straight on the foreign trip, the president didn't really step out of turn.
At least he wasn't tweeting crazy things. The issue is that she is there when he does some of his more outlandish things. She was there yesterday evening when he was tweeting up a storm. So I don't think that anyone is a moderating influence on the president.
If we learned anything in these first 150 days, Ivanka Trump is not a moderating influence, Jared Kushner isn't a moderating influence. The president is an almost 71-year-old billionaire. He is who he is and I don't think his wife, or his daughter or son-in-law can change that.
LEMON: And what about Barron. I mean, by the way, who is my favorite Trump? I think he's a cool kid.
FOX: Well, I don't know if it's fair it's my favorite.
LEMON: He's a cool, come on, he's like normal. I love that. I love that he's just a kid with his fidget spinner and he's like I'm going to move to the...
FOX: That was actually the defining moment of fidget spinners, I think.
LEMON: Yes. Every kid like from 4 to 14 or even I love them.
LEMON: So Douglas, back on a more serious note some people wanted that the first lady were, if they were going to move down to D.C. You say you're amazed by the lack of fun President Trump is having as president, and you hope Melania can change that. Explain.
BRINKLEY: Look, Melania Trump is an asset for Donald Trump, particularly right now. He's under siege. Every day is just a raining kind of a terror on him, and he needs to kind of break the paradigm that he's always in a defensive crouch.
And so by having her in the White House, by having his son there with him, he may be able to go out around Washington, D.C., be able to socialize, visit people's houses. Ronald Reagan used to pop in on conservatives' homes in Georgetown in Capitol Hill, have a quiet meal.
And it might be able to be Trump's Washington. Right now it's not. He seems like an outsider in D.C. He seems more comfortable when he was in Europe and when he was in Mar-a-Lago than he does in the White House.
LEMON: Interesting. Sally, this is already a White House full of rivalries and reportedly feuds. And now you have another Trump entering five months later who clearly has her own opinion about the people in her husband's administration. Talk to us about that.
QUINN: I would like to first say to Doug, I don't think this is going to be Trump's Washington, and I don't think he's going to be going out to Georgetown parties or any other private...
LEMON: Why not?
QUINN: Well, he doesn't like to do that. I mean, he was well known in New York for not going out to dinner parties. That's not -- he's much more comfortable in his own home and Mar-a-Lago and the White House and New Jersey than he is outside in other people's territory, or in the Trump hotel. But he likes to be in control of his own environment, so I don't see him going out around the town or being part of Washington in any way.
LEMON: But at least his family will be with him if he's you know, if he has to be in the White House, if he's more comfortable there, he'll have his wife and child with him.
QUINN: But I don't think she's going to be a softening influence on them -- on him. I think that she moved down here because she was more and more doing various things in the White House and doing activities and participating in governors' meetings or dinners, and I was at the children's hospital recently for the opening of the healing garden, and she came there.
So that meant that she had to leave New York and leave Barron to come down and do these events. And she's been doing more and more of them, so my feeling is that she felt it would probably be better for her and Barron to come down to Washington so that they could be together and he could go to school and she could spend more time with him.
And I suspect that her pants will move in the White House as well and that will be a comforting influence on her and on Barron.
LEMON: It is interesting when you, Emily, when you think about the different administrations who are in Washington. I think with the Reagans it was much more of a festive party, classy and elegant. During the Bush years, President Bush didn't like to go out, so Washington, D.C. was much quieter, the Obama's got out a little bit more.
[22:49:56] And then I'm not a Washingtonian, I'm only there in and out, but I hear what people say when I'm there. The Trump hotel may be one of the biggest attractions there as far as night life.
FOX: Interesting. I actually spent a night at the Trump hotel two days before the election. And I was one of three people staying in the 270 something room hotel. It was one of the eeriest nights of my entire life.
FOX: Bu how things have changed now it is packed every night. The bar is completely full. I was truly one of two people sitting at the bar two nights before the election. So if there is one thing that Trump has done for Washington his...
LEMON: His own hotel.
FOX: ... he's created a hot spot.
QUINN: I've actually I think...
LEMON: In his own image.
QUINN: That he's done for himself.
FOX: Of course.
LEMON: yes, yes. When we come back, marking one year to the day of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Memorials going on throughout the night. We'll remember the victims.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: People in Orlando, Florida, pausing today to remember the victims of the massacre at Pulse nightclub. One year ago, a gunman murdered 49 people and wounded dozens more in the worse terror attack on American soil since 9/11. The day-long vigil began overnight. Forty-nine people dressed as angels descended on the club.
[22:54:58] People stopped by all day long to pay tribute to the victims whose names were read aloud.
The owner of the club saying that everyone gathered in the name of love. Orlando's mayor saying the sun also rises and the light always triumphs the darkness. The vigils continuing tonight, and the chorus is on hand to serenade with songs of love and hope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
LEMON: Breaking news, President Trump considering whether to fire special counsel, Robert Mueller.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
That word coming tonight from Christopher Ruddy, a friend of President Trump's. I'm going to speak with him in just a few moments.
The countdown is on, in just a few hours, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify in public on Capitol Hill before a Senate committee investigating Russia's meddling in the election. The White House hinting that Sessions may invoke executive privilege depending on the scope of the questions.
Remember when the president tweeted, "you see in court, after an early defeat of a travel ban?" I think he said "I'll see you in court." It looks like he meant it. An appeals court dealing another blow to the White House, affirming a Hawaii's judge ruling that blocked the first version, of the revised version of that ban.
[23:00:00] we'll discuss all of this. But I want to begin this hour ahead with the former U.S. Attorney Michael -- Matthew Whitaker, also the former federal prosecutor John Flannery, and former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter, and political analyst, April Ryan.
Thank you all for joining me this evening.