Return to Transcripts main page
No Collusion, No Interview; House Republicans Exits Before Midterm Elections; Border Wall is Non-negotiable. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 10, 2018 - 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, HOST, CNN: Top of the hour, this is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
I want you to listen carefully to what the president of the United States said today when he was asked whether he would be willing to meet with Robert Mueller as part of the Russia investigation. Here's what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing an election that frankly, the democrats should have won, because they have such a tremendous advantage in the Electoral College. So it was brought up for that reason. But it has been determined that there was no collusion, and by virtually everybody. So we'll see what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But would you be open to...
TRUMP: We'll see what happens. I mean, I'll see what happened. But when they have no collusion and nobody's found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Did he say no collusion? I think he said no collusion. Did you catch that? The president says it is unlikely that you would even have an interview. Backing away, way off of his own statements seven months ago in the Rose Garden, that he was 100 percent willing to testify under oath.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of these events?
TRUMP: One hundred percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And there's more. The president falsely claiming it is been determined there is no collusion. He said it a lot between his campaign and the Russians. No, Mr. President, that has not been determined. Not only are you wrong in what you're saying, but you and your allies that collusion is not a legal term.
And you must know that there are other legal charges that could come from this investigation, which is not over. And it is not true that the investigation is some kind of politically motivated hoax. It doesn't matter how many times you and your allies say it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I will say this, there is collusion, but it's with the democrats and the Russians far more so than the republicans and the Russians. So the witch hunt continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And again, this is not about the democrats. This is not a witch hunt. And the fact is there that out. We're going to talk about all of it. I want to bring in CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, legal and national analyst Asha Rangappa, and legal analyst Michael Zeldin, Robert Mueller's former assistant at the Justice Department.
Good evening. Welcome to the program. Thank you all for joining us. Juliette, I'm going to start with you. When it comes to this Russia investigation the president keeps saying no collusion, no collusion. The reality is, collusion is being examined, is being examined and the scope of the investigations go far beyond that.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: Absolutely. What we learned today that maybe about two months ago, Bob Mueller's team hired a cyber-security expert. Someone who's looking into potential cybercrimes, so if anything, at least the tea leaves coming out of the Mueller camp is that this investigation may have what you call multiple theories of the case, right? So it's not just collusion.
And certainly collusion has not been disproved at this stage, and so, you know, basically he's just -- he's just throwing out words there, to try to convince some part of the public or his base that this legal case is not occurring. And what people have to remember is two of his close associates have pleaded guilty and two are under indictment.
KAYYEM: So that's like nothing at this stage.
LEMON: So the reason I talked about the collusion part of it, and that sort of being a talking point for the administration and his allies and for the president, Michael, is because another factor here is collusion may not be a crime. The crime could be anything from money laundering, it could be obstruction of justice, it could be a number of things. I'm not saying that they will be charged with that or the president did it, that's just a possibility.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Right. So there are three broad work streams I think that Mueller has under inquiry. One is what called financial crimes, that may be the activities that relate to the Donald Trump/Kushner ecosystem of business and they're dealings with Russian oligarchs and organized crime.
The second is conspiracy. We call it collusion but it's really conspiracy to defraud the Federal Elections Commission or to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act or receiving stolen property styled offences. And the last is obstruction of justice.
So those are the three work streams I think in broad terms that Mueller has ongoing. And so the mantra of no collusion is of no relevance to any of those three work streams. So he can say it all he wants, but it doesn't mean anything in the end.
LEMON: Asha, I want to bring you in now. How do you see this ultimately playing out?
ASHA RANGAPPA, LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: I think that there is a little bit of a Jedi mind trick happening.
RANGAPPA: Because, you know, like, as you said, Don, collusion doesn't have any legal meanings, so you can throw it out there. And I guess in some vague way that it's true. But as Juliette mentioned, we have two people who have pleaded guilty.
[22:05:07] One of them has basically admitted that he was having -- this is Michael Flynn, the national security adviser, somebody who is very high up in the campaign who is basically having secret conversations with an ambassador about sanctions and then lying about it.
We have somebody else who was the foreign policy adviser, who was having very sketchy meetings with a Russian professor who was linked to Russian intelligence. We have a 12-count indictment against his former campaign manager who is paid by Russian sources and laundering money and also failed to register as a foreign agent.
I mean, none of these things have the title collusion written on top of them. But it's smoke to say the least, in terms of some kind of coordination between individual members of his campaign, whether it extended to him remains to be seen. But I think it is a far cry from saying that there is no collusion or no signal of collusion at all.
LEMON: So, Asha, can Mueller compel President Trump to testify or can the president avoid it?
RANGAPPA: Well, he can definitely issue a grand jury subpoena, and I think that would look very bad for the president. Because then basically, you have someone being compelled to testify.
You know, I think that most legal scholars would say that the president would have to comply with that, but of course at this point. We know that the president is willing to make some arguments that have never been made before, and we could wander into a constitutional thicket on whether Mueller could drag him in. I think the president would lose that argument, but he could still make it.
LEMON: I like that word, thicket. So, listen, Juliette, I have to ask you, as I mentioned earlier, what is so interesting here, is that last June he said that he 100 percent, he would 100 percent be willing to testify under oath. Why do you think he walked that back today? Did someone have a talk with him saying, you should not be saying that, that is the last thing you want?
KAYYEM: Yes, or he may be saying it to himself at this stage. I mean, his consistency across the explanation of what happened during the campaign is let's just say is been wanting at this stage.
Remember, we began this with the campaign had no contact with the Russians, right? And now we've got the son and the son-in-law in a room with the Russians. So it maybe he sort of heard of he absorbed what his lawyers were telling him that this would be a quick case, it will be over by Thanksgiving. The investigation would be over by Christmas. Now it's mid-January and things are going on and on.
And I just, you know, for reporters asking this question, this is what I would beg of reporters. Stop leaving the impression that he has a choice if there is a subpoena. I mean, in other words he may challenge it, but the idea that, will you or won't you is optional is sort of ridiculous.
The question is, if Mueller gets to the subpoena stage will you essentially violate it? I think that's the question now, and Trump is suggesting yes.
LEMON: So what happens then -- what happens then if you say...
KAYYEM: I think -- I think we get to the thicket that we...
LEMON: The thicket or the constitutional crisis, right, the thicket.
KAYYEM: Right. Right, and so, we went from -- yes.
ZELDIN: Well, they -- no, I'd like to say they go to district court to enforce it, it's not complicated.
LEMON: Michael, you're saying he doesn't have a choice?
ZELDIN: Well, the way it works out I think, Don, is this, that Mueller says to the White House we want to interview your client. They say, let's talk about terms and conditions, and there's some case law, there's a series of Nixon cases. There's In Re sealed case which is the Espy independent council case. There's Paula Jones versus Clinton.
They give the president some wiggle room to try and negotiate scope, time, place, but not much. LEMON: Right.
ZELDIN: And once they figure out what it is that those cases give the president some wiggle room with respect to. Then the interview takes place, so they can't avoid the interview, there's no question about that Mueller has the authority to do it, it's just, you know, on the -- you know, sort of perimeter of it, and if he refuses then we're in court to enforce it, that's why...
LEMON: And Michael...
ZELDIN: That's what Nixon did.
ZELDIN: He refused to comply with the grand jury subpoena for the tapes. And they went to court and he lost. And that's what will happen here.
LEMON: That's an interesting point.
KAYYEM: And I think -- I think...
LEMON: Go ahead. Go ahead, Asha. I'm sorry, Juliette.
KAYYEM: I think that's what Trump is suggesting now. I think that's what Trump is suggesting. I mean, I think that's how I interpreted what he said, is that he will refuse a subpoena, that he is at that moment now, and he obviously is not going to do it voluntarily any more, he's just -- you know, today was significant in terms of what he believes will be his legal strategy going forward.
ZELDIN: The difference here...
LEMON: But here's what he's saying. Michael, before you weigh in, he's saying that the president's argument is that because there's no collusion, therefore, it would be unlikely that he would even need to be interviewed. Does that make sense?
ZELDIN: No, because there are, as I said there are the three work streams. The one is this financial crime thing.
[22:09:58] ZELDIN: That has nothing to do with collusion per se. That's money laundering and other illegal activities, a la Manafort. Then there's obstruction. That has nothing to do with collusion either. That's -- did you intend to obstruct the investigation. Then third is this conspiracy charge where he may have some latitude about what the parameters of it is, but he can't avoid it.
RANGAPPA: And Don?
RANGAPPA: Just to point out from an investigatory perspective, the FBI and Mueller have to make sure that every stone is uncovered before they wrap up the investigation. So, interviewing him doesn't necessarily mean that they think, you know, he's guilty or it doesn't mean anything. But they have to uncover it as a legal matter because...
LEMON: But Asha, it also makes sense, but it's his campaign that is under investigation, it didn't seem out of the question or out of ordinary.
LEMON: I wasn't surprised when they said they wanted to interview the president. Of course the president would be interviewed.
RANGAPPA: Of course. Because he is the one who is overseeing all these people.
RANGAPPA: And here is something that maybe is an angle that most people haven't considered. He may have exculpatory evidence about some of the people that they're investigating. And this, and Mueller doesn't want that to come out, you know, randomly when after he has concluded this investigation. The president is a key person in all aspects of this investigation whether or not he is a, you know, a target or anything he is somebody that Mueller will undoubtedly without question want to interview.
LEMON: I want to play this, because President Trump also mentioned Hillary Clinton on the show before this, Chris, I think White House representative said, they never talk about Hillary Clinton, but this is the president, watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And when you talk about interviews, Hillary Clinton had an interview, where she wasn't sworn in, she wasn't given the oath. They didn't take notes, they didn't record. And it was done on the 4th of July weekend. That's perhaps ridiculous, and a lot of people looked upon that as being a very serious breach. And it really was. But again, I will speak to attorneys. I can only say this, there was absolutely no collusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Again there was absolutely no collusion. So, Juliette, the
president is referring -- is referencing Hillary Clinton's interview with the FBI, regarding the investigation into her private e-mail server. The FBI did later released their notes to the public and the bottom is, is it a crime to lie to the FBI? No matter what?
KAYYEM: Yes, so the oath issue is just a red herring and the July 4th was because she was on the campaign trail. I mean, it's all this silliness that he just...
LEMON: It's all this mental jujitsu. It's really, it's unbelievable.
KAYYEM: Yes, it's a diversion. And what, you know, what we have -- Donald Trump, just to remind everyone, fired Jim Comey.
KAYYEM: I mean, this is -- this is how -- this is where it all begins, right? He fired the guy who was both investigating the Hillary Clinton campaign but also his campaign. So we talked about does he need to be interviewed. Yes, it has to do with the campaign whether there's collusion or not, whether it's the financial stuff and all the willing and dealing going on in Russia.
But also it has to do with firing of Jim Comey under some fictitious explanation he gave at the time about, you know, he was upset for Hillary. But really having to do with whether the FBI was investigating him and he wanted to obstruct that investigation.
So ultimately, he needs to explain have a solid or at least a truthful explanation on why he did that. Because we heard eight or nine different explanations from his lawyers, his White House lawyers.
KAYYEM: The DOH folks and of course, him.
LEMON: I'm sure you guys heard. I want to get to this. Michael, this is to you. I'm sure you heard the president talking about changing the libel laws, because they're really bad. First of all, you can't change the libel laws. You got to, it's constitutional, you have to get Congress, it's a big deal. What's your take on this threat?
ZELDIN: Well, he -- it's like, be careful what you wish for, because he has said more things that are potentially libelous than has been said against him. So, you know, watch out there. But you know, it's been settled law since New York Times v. Sullivan, and like 1964, that the First Amendment protects people in these situations when those people are public officials or public figures.
And so, the likelihood that he's going to change 40 years of jurisprudence to make it more like the U.K. system is just laughable. And many of these defamation actions are brought under state law, of which he has no control.
ZELDIN: So I think it's sort of a threat in the same way that the lawsuit by his attorney Cohen against BuzzFeed is sort of a threat. Not real law, but just trying to silence critics.
LEMON: Yes, well, you don't know what you don't know. And, you know, what the book said is that he doesn't like to read. I mean, you can figure all these things out if you read the policy.
LEMON: Thank you all.
ZELDIN: Well, also if he read history, he would realize that Hillary Clinton has spent more time in a grand jury testifying under oath than any probably, any first lady or senator in the United States history. To say that she's gotten off scot-free is laughable.
[22:15:10] LEMON: Thank you all, appreciate it. Fascinating conversation, see you soon.
RANGAPPA: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, Congressman Darrell Issa announcing today he will not seek re-election adding to a record number of House republicans heading for the exit before the midterms. We're going to talk to Congressman Charlie Dent about why he is retiring and how the political landscape has changed with the rise of Trump.
LEMON: With the midterms looming, a stunning 32 House republicans are either retiring or running for other offices. So far that's happening and making it a real possibility that democrats could take the 24 seats they need to win control of the House. And reminding some people of the legendary midterm thumping of President George W. Bush and his party, that was back in 2006.
So, is the turmoil of President Trump's White House making it hard for members of his own party to stay in office? Let's ask one of them now.
Joining me now, Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. He's one of the republicans calling it quits. So good to have you on. Thank you for joining us. How are you doing?
CHARLIE DENT, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: I'm doing great, Don. Great to be on tonight.
LEMON: Good. Good. Thank you so much. So once again today, representative, President Trump was very forceful that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians, he also said that since there has been no collusion, it seems unlikely that there would be an interview with Robert Mueller's special council? So you the president should be interviewed by Mueller? And as he's said in the past he's 100 percent willing to do.
[22:20:04] DENT: Well, look, I've been one of the people saying, let Director Mueller do his work, let him find what he will, I'm not going to prejudge anything, I don't want to speculate whether or not there was collusion. Other than that, I trust Director Mueller and his team or thorough professionals, people of integrity to do the job.
Again, the president said he would, you know, I guess testify, I believe that's what he stated publicly, I think he should honor that request, but that's not my call.
LEMON: Yes, he said he would do it under oath. And before we get to the other stuff today in immigration, for those, for people who are watching and may not be involved in politics every single day as much as we are. Explain to the viewer why you -- why you're not going to run again?
DENT: Sure. Look, I've been in elected office now for nearly 28 years. I've run for office 13 times. On 13 I know I don't want to spoil a perfect record. I've really enjoyed my time in public life. But I'm young enough and healthy enough to other things.
LEMON: Does it have anything to do with what's going on with Washington, does it have anything to do with President Trump?
DENT: Yes. I mean, that is a factor.
LEMON: How so?
DENT: Well, look, the most basic fundamental task of governing have become painfully to accomplish any more. Simple things like passing the continuing resolution to fund the government, or preventing the country from defaulting on its obligations, passing budgets and budget agreements. These issues become overly dramatic, very time-consuming and frankly, it's utterly unnecessary.
There's so much polarization that it leads to a paralysis that can be very crippling to the legislative process, and frankly to the country. And I think that's a bit of my frustration, to be sure.
LEMON: OK. Well, that's a perfect segue for my next question then, because that bipartisan meeting on immigration that was held yesterday. The president said that he would sign the bill, whatever bill that was brought to him today, he says there must be a wall. Is there room for compromise here? And what's your message? But first of all, is there room for compromise. And then I'll ask you the second part of the question.
DENT: Room for compromise on immigration?
LEMON: On immigration. Yes.
LEMON: Because he's saying that there has to be a wall. He didn't say that yesterday. But members of your party are saying, there's got to be a wall component. His opponent are saying there's going to be a wall component. People like Dianne Feinstein want a clean bill without a wall component. Can there -- is there room for compromise here?
DENT: Absolutely. In fact, there's a consensus that we need to take care of these DREAMers, children who came here no fault on their own. We can accommodate them, get them on the path to a green card and ultimately the citizenship and provide for a border security component.
I think it's unfortunate when the president uses the term wall because I think that confuses people. No one is seriously talking about a 2,000 mile concrete barrier on the southern border. No one is talking about that.
LEMON: But that's how -- I mean, I don't mean to cut you off.
LEMON: But that's how it was portrayed and explained by the president and promised by the president a big, beautiful wall. A wall with a big, beautiful door in the middle. So his supporters they may not know the topography there. They may not know what it's like down there. They think there's going to be a wall across the southern border, and that's what they want.
DENT: No. I was in Congress in 2005 and 2006 when we passed the Secure Fence Act when the Congress and the president in a bipartisan basis authorized 700 miles of vehicular and pedestrian barriers on the southern border. Mostly double layer fence and that's what we felt we needed on the southern border.
But it also deals with drone technology, sensors interior reinforcement. We need to fix the legal system of immigration obviously. But the bottom line is, we do need barriers in certain areas, but nobody wants concrete barriers, certainly the border patrol doesn't want. They want transparent barriers so they can see through them. And you may need retaining walls for flood mitigation in the Rio Grande and that serves as a dual purpose there.
So I think it's unfortunate when this term wall gets thrown out there. We're really talking about establishing operational control of the border.
LEMON: But congressman, with all due respect, but that is what, you know, more reasonable people said, hey, listen, this is not going to happen, he's promising you something that is not possible. And now -- and now they seem -- he seems to be back peddling and saying, well, it involved some fence and it may involve that. And it seems like that's what you're saying, but that's not what people are expecting there. DENT: Yes. Look, I tell everybody this. Most people with whom I speak
they recognize it's not necessary to establish a 2,000 mile concrete barrier. I mean...
LEMON: But nobody was saying build that barrier, build that fence, they were saying build that wall. That was the mantra.
DENT: Yes. I thought it was very unfortunate rhetoric, it might have gotten applause at that time but it was not a practical solution.
And by the way, Canada is going to visa free travel with Mexico. I mean, so Mexicans could fly to Canada, and come across the Canadian border legally if they really wanted to. Does anybody talk about a 4,000 mile...
LEMON: Thank you very much.
DENT: ... long...
LEMON: People said that during the campaign as well. Listen, I want to get -- because I got a lot to get in here and I don't want to waste your time here.
LEMON: You explained why you are retiring, and why do you think so many, so many veteran republicans, 32 as of now, why are they heading for the exits?
[22:25:00] DENT: Well, for my sake I had no serious threat from the left, I had no credible opponent on the right. I really wasn't worried about my own re-election. It was the right time for me.
But a midterm election like this it's very clear to me that, you know, based on history the party of the president usually is going to experience losses, particularly when one party has total control. I believe that 2018 will be a year that would be analogous to 1994, 2006, and 2010.
DENT: Again, one party control. Now there will be a head wind, in the face of my party, the Republican Party, there will be a headwind. The only question is, how strong of a wind will it be? Will it be a hurricane or gale-force wind or it will be a just gentle breeze in our face? I would probably choose the former, that's going to be a very strong wind. And my advice to my colleagues is that you better prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.
LEMON: You just took my question. I was going to ask you, what advice would you give to the folks who are staying, and to this administration. DENT: My advice to the guy staying, this election -- this midterm
election will be a referendum on the president of the United States, and his conduct in office. That's a given. The Republican Party and the president are going to be judged. That is the issue.
So, if you're running for re-election, you had better develop your own brand and sell yourself, and if you're in a district that Hillary Clinton won, if you're a republican in the district that Hillary Clinton won or one that she nearly won or Trump barely won. Then you better -- you better be able to show how you're different maybe from the top of the ticket and show that there's some separation between you and the president. You may have to do that.
Now if, if you're in a safe republican seat, of course, there's no need to do that.
DENT: You're not going to be a target at seat. But this is going to be a very rough election cycle. I think my colleagues know that. We have I think 23 members, House republicans who represent districts that Hillary Clinton won. And several others that were, you know, fairly close.
LEMON: Yes. It's always a pleasure, will you come back?
DENT: Absolutely, Don. This has been great fun.
LEMON: Thank you, sir. Always a pleasure.
DENT: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, just how many lies do you think President Trump has uttered since taking office. Literally thousands of them, we're going to break them down, that's next.
[22:30:00] DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: The president responding to questions today about Robert Mueller by attacking Hillary Clinton and the democrats.
Let's discuss now, Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review is here, it's so good to have you on.
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Don, thanks for having me.
LEMON: Would you consider this enemy territory?
LOWRY: Well, let's see, let's see how you treat me. All of you, right?
LEMON: All of you. Because he was more a conservative network before and we're glad to have you here, and I want to get your perspective.
So, the president today, he said that this was the Russia investigation was a democratic hoax. He talked about Hillary Clinton winning the election, why does he keep returning to that? He won fair and square?
LOWRY: Right. Well, one, I think he would just love to have Hillary Clinton as a foil for the rest of his political career. Because she was probably the only democrat that would have lost to him in 2016. It was uniquely flawed so he likes to keep her in the public eye.
And two, I just think objectively, you look at the FBI investigation into Hillary's e-mail case. They gave her every possible consideration, every possible break. And James Comey just did not want to recommend...
LEMON: You really believe that?
LEMON: Even days before the election, he was like, we're reopening the investigation. Do you think that was a break?
LOWRY: What he did, he said, I'm not going to recommend a prosecution because Loretta Lynch has met with Bill Clinton and there's a shadow of this whole thing now I'm going to talk about it publicly. And that's why he never should have done. I think he just should have played it by the book, recommended the prosecution up to Loretta -- to Attorney General Lynch. Let her take the heat. And not say anything the way you're supposed to.
LEMON: So then, what do you think ten, Rich, about him not saying that the Trump campaign was being investigated. He didn't tell people that before the election?
LOWRY: Right, well, he never should have talked about the Hillary case, and never should have talked about Trump being under investigation. And one of the main reasons I think he was fired, you know, obviously this is being investigated now. Because I just think Trump was irritated that he knew that he himself was not under FBI investigation at that time. Comey told him that repeatedly, and Comey wouldn't say it publicly.
LEMON: This comes after the fact, though?
LEMON: Right. But you were saying that somehow that Hillary Clinton got special treatment that he didn't, Comey didn't...
LOWRY: Read my colleague, Andrew -- Andy McCarthy.
LEMON: OK. LOWRY: He has chapter and verse on this, on they gave her every sort of consideration and every break to get to a place where they could say she didn't violate the law, even though I think she did violate the black and white letter of the law, and then if you're -- Trump's perspective, and you're maintaining your innocence, and you actually for all we know, he may be completely innocent. You see that investigation, and then you see the special counsel who appears to be out for blood. I mean, we don't know that for a fact. He went very aggressive against Paul Manafort and others.
LEMON: What evidence do you think that he's out for blood? Because he...
LOWRY: Well, look at the predawn raid on Paul Manafort, right? And so, usually it's the kind of thing you do to drug dealer.
LEMON: Come on, are you going to call someone and say, hey, we're going to come over tonight and...
LOWRY: A white collar case of this sort, yes.
LEMON: They thought he wasn't cooperating, and they were hiding information.
LOWRY: I think wasn't he about to go or just been just to talk to the Senate? I mean, I don't think he was seriously a flight risk or he was burning things in his fireplace that we're aware of. So, it's just -- and he's hired a lot of really aggressive prosecutors.
So if you're Trump and you think you're innocent and maybe you actually are innocent, again, for all we know he is. This is extremely disturbing and two, Don, you have to admit that there are a lot of people...
LEMON: Why is it disturbing to him, though? I mean, listen, the thing that you said, you said but you don't know.
LEMON: You said that it appears that he's out for blood. But you don't know. I'm not surprised that someone's house was raided if they have credible evidence against them.
LOWRY: A pre-dawn raid in a case of this nature?
LEMON: So are they supposed to do it between 9 and 5?
LOWRY: Well, it's just not the usual practice. And it shows you're being very aggressive.
LEMON: OK. All right. Let's talk about now.
[22:34:55] LEMON: I want to ask you about -- because, you know, we always say facts matter. This is according to the Washington Post. This president has made over 2,000 false or misleading statements since becoming president. Is that concerning to you when you hear that?
LOWRY: Well, I have not studied this list closely because I have a day job, I have a family, I have hobbies. I have other things to do with my life.
LEMON: But you're concern...
LOWRY: The list itself is exaggerated. I mean, I count flip-flops as lies. Flip-flops are bad, you shouldn't do them unless circumstances really change but they're not lies. They slice this very thin where they ding him for talking about the nominal corporate tax rate, rather than the effective corporate tax rate. That's arguable, that's not a lie. All that said, yes, he exaggerates all the time. And there's this concept in the real estate world of puffery. He's lived that epic for about 40 or 50 years.
LEMON: You think it's fabulous that he makes things up?
LOWRY: Yes. Everything for him, it's not good enough unless it's exaggerated by about 25 or 30 percent.
LEMON: Is that OK with you?
LEMON: No. OK. So let's talk about DACA.
LEMON: Because you wrote a column today about DACA. You saw the meeting yesterday that went on.
LEMON: And they -- and the cameras in there. The president had to be corrected by republican lawmakers by saying, let's be precise.
LEMON: We're not -- you're not really going to sign a clean bill that excludes a wall.
LEMON: So what do you think? Do you think that there was a real possibility of compromise and that something could get done?
LOWRY: Well, first of all, just tonally if that's only the demeanor people saw from Donald Trump. This kind of boosterish, optimistic, let's all get along spirit, he would be in a much better place. But he's also done this repeatedly. It happened in the campaign. He loses track of his own brief on immigration and his own actual policy positions.
So that he said I will sign anything Congress sends me. You could literally hear people pulling their hair out.
LEMON: What did you -- were you like?
LOWRY: Yes. It's just, you're giving away every ounce of leverage you have. And I knew immediately they were going to pull him back. And of course, today they did.
LEMON: They pulled him back. But then, you know, the original transcript, they scrubbed the line where he said, yes, I'll sign anything, and then they put it back in. I mean...
LOWRY: Well, I mean, they may have been deleted but...
LEMON: There is it. It is up on the screen.
LOWRY: If they're trying -- if they're trying to hide that when there are reporters in the room, and it was broadcast live.
LEMON: Do you think -- will feel, well, maybe not republicans, I'm not sure if all republicans, but his core supporters who are screaming build that wall and what have you.
LEMON: Do you think they would be upset or feel betrayed if that -- if there's a compromise with democrats?
LOWRY: I think it's the single most important promise, and I think he's just desperate to have anything he can call a wall or the beginning of a wall. So if I were democrats and I was acting a little bit cynically I'd say, you know what, here's $5 billion for a wall. Go to it. Because it's not going to be built in a year.
LEMON: That could be -- that's not going to be wall, it's going to be fencing.
LEMON: It's not going to be the wall in the...
(CROSSTALK) LOWRY: And then if you take Congress, you know, in 2018, you can pull it back. So the thing is, the amnesty it will happen immediately, and it will never -- once it's written into law. It will never be taken away. But a wall, it's like a 10-year project.
LOWRY: In the Secure Fence Act passed in 2006 plus it will be 600 miles of double layer fencing, it didn't happen.
LEMON: I've to run. I'm sorry, I'm suffering a terrible cold.
LOWRY: No problem.
LEMON: I didn't read your column. What was the crux of your column today?
LOWRY: Well, it was very compelling, Don. So I recommend you read it dispute your debilitated state. It was in Politico, and I just -- I argue at greater length, the point I just made, that democrats want to get this deal, give them something on the wall.
LEMON: Thank you, Rich Lowry. I won't shake your hand because I don't want you get whatever...
LOWRY: I appreciate it. Great seeing you.
LEMON: Good seeing you. Thanks for coming on.
When we come back, much more on the president's plan for immigration overall. Yesterday he said he'd signed any deal. But today there's a caveat. Any deal has to include a border wall, will he actually get it?
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The president doing an about face on immigration. Yesterday he said that he'd sign any deal lawmakers brought him. Today he's doubling down on his key issue, the wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's got to include the wall. We need the wall for security, we need the wall for safety, we need the wall for stopping the drugs from pouring in.
I would imagine that the people in the room both democrat and republican -- I really believe they're going to come up with a solution to the DACA problem which has been going on for a long time. And maybe beyond that, immigration as a whole. But any solution has to include the wall because without the wall, it all doesn't work. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I want to bring in two CNN political commentators, Jack Kingston is a former republican congressman and a former senior adviser to the Trump campaign. You know who he is, you've seen him all the time. Steve Israel is a former democratic congressman. You know who he is too, you see him here all the time.
Thank you, gentlemen for coming on. Mr. Kingston, you first. In President Trump's meeting on immigration, he sounded flexible saying, I think my position is going to be what the people in this room come up with. But then today he is saying the bill has to include the wall. I mean, will it be a win if the wall only covers a short distance of the border if it's a fence in some places? Will the base buy that?
JACK KINGSTON, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I think they will, but I think it will take the president selling it to them, that hey, we got the bricks and mortar and the parts where bricks and mortar works, in parts where you just need other types of security, we got that. Essentially we got the wall, plus, we plug the hole on the job magnets by using e-Verify, and we stop chain migration. I think if he get...
LEMON: So you admit though, that's not, he's not fulfilling the full -- a full promise here?
KINGSTON: I would admit that it is not a complete bricks and mortar wall which people I do believe envision who attended his rally, so.
LEMON: Right. I'm glad you said that, because that was my point with Congressman Dent when he was n earlier. I mean, when people were saying build that wall, they weren't saying, build that fence or put that drone in the air. They were expecting a wall. And he did say, Jack, you have to admit.
LEMON: He said he's going to build a wall, a giant wall, with a big beautiful door and no one knows how to do it like him. And bring it in under budget and make Mexico pay for it.
KINGSTON: Yes. And then you know, and I will say one thing that he did say in the meeting, that open camera meeting that he said, look, guys, we can do this for less than the, you know, seven years, it will take less time than that and it will take less money, and so.
[22:45:01] You know, he was a little bit in terms of showing some flexibility on it. But I do think that the base republicans want to make sure that there is a real serious border security arrangement.
LEMON: OK. I got to get -- I got to get Steve in here for time purposes. Steve, is that -- is he backtracking on a promise here?
STEVE ISRAEL, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, of course he is, I mean, I don't know whether, Don, whether this is strategic ambivalence or an incoherent strategy. You know, what we've seen over the last 24 hours, is democrats negotiating with republicans, republicans negotiating with democrats. The House is going to negotiate with the Senate, and Donald Trump negotiating with Donald Trump.
He said something one day and reversed himself the next day. And finally, I have to say, this fascinates me. I sat through all these focus groups when I was in Congress and Donald Trump was running, and the one thing people said about him was, I may not agree with him on everything. But he means what he says.
And what we're seeing now is a president who not only does he means what he say -- or what he says -- but I don't think he understands what he's trying to say, so you've got a president who's not leading, but kind of dancing around this issue.
LEMON: Well, the question was on the -- even from republicans, before he was the a nominee, they would say, well, he's not a real republican, right? He's a rhino, he's a republican in name only. Does what happened yesterday show he may not have any real convictions, Steve?
ISRAEL: This is a president who says he has convictions, and he tweets his convictions. But with respect to immigration, with respect to the wall, he has two sets of convictions. He had the set of convictions yesterday and a really wonderful meeting, a heartening meeting, a hopeful meeting. Where he said, I'm open to compromise. I'm willing to work with you, and then a few hours later he had a separate set of convictions, where he said, there's got to be a wall.
So it's very difficult. I think even Jack would agree with this. It's very difficult to understand where the president stands and where he separates what he says with really what he means.
LEMON: We'll have to see if Jack agrees on the other side of the break. So stand by, both of you.
When we come back, this is what the president chose to focus on today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Hillary, my opponent. Hillary. Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Yes. So I want to ask both of you, why is it still talking about Hillary Clinton?
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump still taking swipes at Hillary Clinton even though he's been in the White House for almost a year.
Back with me now, Jack Kingston and Steve Israel.
In his press conference today, President Trump kept bringing up Hillary Clinton. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When you talk about interviews, Hillary Clinton had an interview where she wasn't sworn in, she wasn't given the oath. They didn't take notes. They didn't record. And it was done on the Fourth of July weekend. That's perhaps ridiculous, and a lot of people looked upon that as being a very serious breach, and it really was.
Hillary was not for a strong military, and Hillary, my opponent, was for windmills. And she was for other types of energy that don't have the same capacities at this moment certainly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Just a little fact checking before I ask, they did take notes. They released the notes. They did it on the 4th of July weekend because there was a campaign going on. This election, though, Jack, has been over for more than a year. He's still calling her my opponent. What is the obsession? What's with this obsession?
KINGSTON: Well, I think there's a couple things. Number one, there is a belief, a base republican belief that Hillary Clinton did not get the same sort of scrutiny that Donald Trump and team are getting. And we can argue about, well, if that's true or not, I'm just saying there's a perception, and we have to agree that the republican base believes that.
So I think that if you're talking about the FBI and you want to discredit this investigation a little bit, the best place to go is to talk about how they gave Hillary a pass, particularly James Comey. But the other part of it is, Don...
LEMON: Hey, Jack, can I say something, though? Just because you say it, or people in the republican base believes it, it doesn't make it so. Shouldn't the president be speaking truth to his base and the American people? Isn't that best for an informed electorate?
KINGSTON: Well, I would say probably all of us in politics are guilty from time to time of fanning the flames of the base. So I think...
LEMON: But that doesn't make it right. I think that's what people hate.
KINGSTON: Well, you know, but I do think, you know, enter into the argument itself on if she got a pass or not, I think James Comey, as Rich Lowry pointed out, you know, in your interview with him, that James Comey bent over backwards to give her every consideration possible. But let me say the other thing...
LEMON: Except for saying that the investigation was open a few days before the election and not saying that the Trump campaign was under investigation a few days before the election...
KINGSTON: No, I think Comey is the responsible for the election of Donald Trump almost by himself in some ways.
KINGSTON: I think you could also have that discussion. But the other thing that I want to point out is Hillary has not...
LEMON: Steve, we'll get you in when Jack has finished talking. Go ahead, Jack.
KINGSTON: I just want to make the second point that Hillary hasn't gone away. She stayed in the public. And so that -- she's -- it's not that you have to remind people about her, she's out there, she's selling her book, she's giving speeches, and so forth. So, Steve, I apologize for going so long and I apologize to Don.
ISRAEL: No, Jack -- it's OK.
LEMON: So, Steve, when the president uses Hillary Clinton as a foil, is that still working, you think? Is that why he's doing it for all the reasons Jack said, even if it's not, maybe not the right thing to do? If that's what people hate about politics?
ISRAEL: I don't know if it's working politically. It may be working in the president's mind. Look, let's understand what's going on. Number one, it's deflection and distraction. This is a man who is desperate to deflect and distract from his own legal problems.
Number two, he hasn't gotten her out of his system. He won the election, but somehow for some reason, he thinks he lost. And number three, this is a president who needs a foil. And -- for a while it was the attorney general, then it was the FBI. This is a guy who has to have a foil. Which is why, Jack, my conspiracy theory is that this is a president who secretly wouldn't mind the democrats taking over the House of Representatives and the Senate because then he has something -- somebody to run against in 2020. He's a president who must have a foil.
[22:55:03] KINGSTON: That's why you are a creative and successful author because you can come up with these kinds of ideas.
LEMON: So, listen, I want to -- just Jack, and I get -- and I have the information in front of me now. This is about the president's claim. This is what factcheck.org says. Because the president says Hillary Clinton that she was interviewed in the e-mail investigation, he accused the FBI of not swearing her in.
"FBI policy does not require its agents to conduct interviews under oath, and it doesn't matter anyway because it is a crime to lie to the FBI regardless of whether an oath is taken or not." So, anyway, that was my only reason for saying that. It is important
to point out the correct facts to people. I don't have a political agenda here except for telling people -- so shouldn't the president be doing that?
KINGSTON: Well, I think that -- I think that, yes, the president should be telling people facts. But I think there's also this huge case that Hillary Clinton did violate laws that most Americans could not get away with.
And frankly, I think if it had been anybody else that Steve and I served with in Washington, they would have been behind bars, democrat or republican.
KINGSTON: That and -- and I mean, I think that...
LEMON: I got to go. I want to get Steve's response. Steve, quick response, I got to go.
ISRAEL: I fundamentally disagree. The president is trying to discredit the FBI investigation because he's afraid of it.
ISRAEL: And the Department of Justice investigation because he's afraid of it.
LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it.
When we come back, the president putting on a show at today's cabinet meeting today and praising his performance at yesterday's immigration meeting. Is the president getting back to his reality show roots?
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)