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Axios, Trump, Sessions Pressuring FBI Head To Fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; Porn Star Makes First Public Appearance Since Report; Congress Votes To Extend Government Funding For Three Weeks, Senate GOP Agrees To Consider DACA; President Trump, See You At The Negotiating Table; SNL Pokes Fun At President Trump; Aired 11-12a ET
Aired January 22, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:38] This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is "CNN tonight," I am Don Lemon it is 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast. Live with all the breaking news, including this. Axios is reporting tonight that the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has been pressuring the FBI Director, Christopher Wray, to Fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. That at the public urging of President Trump. We have lots to get tonight, we want to get to CNN's Pamela Brown, here with more. Pam, what is the White House saying about all of this?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: The White House did release a statement, let me read to it you here, Don. This is from Rod Shaw, White House press, principal deputy press secretary. As you see here, here what he said. "The President has enormous respect for thousands of rank and file FBI agents who make up the worlds most professional and talented law enforcement agency. He believes politically motivated senior leaders, including former FBI Director Comey and others he empowered, have tainted the agency's reputation for unbiased pursuit of justice. The President appointed Chris Wray because he is a man of true character and integrity and the right choice to clean up the misconduct at the highest levels of the FBI and give the rank and file confidence in their leadership. So there you see the statement, Don, clearly the White House isn't denying this reporting that Wray felt pressure, the FBI Director felt pressure from the Attorney General Sessions. And was upset about it.
The White House not denying that. It's unclear, parts of this unclear in terms of that he had -- he was the right choice to clean up the misconduct at the highest levels of the FBI. It seems as though they're talking about Andy McCabe, the deputy FBI Director who's expected to retire very soon. So I think that does tell you something there, Don.
LEMON: Yeah, it certainly does. If you can hear, Pamela, Pamela ran to a studio to get us to at the top show, we know you're out of breath. Let's just be transparent about it. Pamela thank you for getting here, this is new reporting that we want to get on the air, we wanted to put you in front of the camera and have you report it. Pamela, the White House, are they worried about the optics of the second FBI Director being fired in Trump's first year? Was that a big concern there?
BROWN: According to the Axios reporting, there was concern of pressuring Wray and concern that perhaps Wray would leave his job and the optics of two FBI Directors leaving within the same year. I think that the White House certainly was gun shy after James Comey was fired. The former FBI Director. And just sort of the media firestorm that caused. I think the White House doesn't want another one of those. And certainly the optics aren't good for the White House. The idea that the second FBI Director under President Trump's administration has felt political pressure is certainly not a good thing. When you think about the FBI Director is supposed to be independent from any politics, any political pressure. So certainly this is not the kind of story that the White House would want, given everything especially that happened with the former FBI Director, James Comey.
LEMON: Pamela, thank you for being a trouper, we appreciate you running in at the last moment, thank you so much. Let's discuss this now. CNN's breaking news, national security analyst Steve Hall, CNN legal analyst Page Pate, also former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti who is running for Attorney General in Illinois. Let's discuss. Interesting reporting here by Axios that Pamela just reported on. Steve the former FBI Director James Comey tweeted about this, he said, good to read reports of people standing up for what they believe in, the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." That is by obviously Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a quote there. What do you think the reaction would have been if Wray had resigned over the pressure to fire McCabe?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think it would have been catastrophic. I have a whole lot of respect for former Director Comey. He is saying the right thing in terms of individual people standing up. I have to say, this is a bigger issue.
[23:05:00] As I've said before on this program, I've served in a lot of developing democracies that are a lot younger and a lot less experienced than ours and this is extremely typical for autocrats who are still figuring out how democracies work. Here's how they don't work. When you become President, or become the Prime Minister or the chief executive, you don't get to pick and choose automatically without any oversight just based on your personal likes how you feel that day or what your politics are who you're going to keep, who you're going to fire. To do that in this country is extremely damaging to our democracy.
The FBI is a really complicated organization. It's unique, because it's not only the federal law enforcement, it's also the federal counter intelligence piece, which takes us to the whole question of the Russia investigation. Which is what this is really all about. We have a President who is doing everything he can to try to undermine anything that might call into question the election and the Russian involvement in that and the possible cooperation between he and his team. And this is just not the way things ought to work in this country.
LEMON: Page, you heard Raj Shah's statement from the White House that is not exactly a denial is it?
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It doesn't sound like a denial at all. I think it's very clear that Trump likely talked to Sessions and they pressured Chris Wray to remove Deputy Director McCabe. One thing about that, the constitution really allows a President to remove whomever he wants from the Justice Department. So we think about the FBI being an independent agency, and it certainly historically has been. But if we have a President who really wants to put his thumb in there, who wants to change the way investigations are taking place, he can do that under the constitution as long as he is not doing it with a corrupt intent. So if this is about Russia, if this is about something to protect himself or his businesses or his associates, then he has more of a problem. And I am certain that the special counsel's office is trying to find out about these discussions and what sort of pressure was brought to bear on Chris Wray.
LEMON: Renato Mariotti, President Trump's insistence that Andrew McCabe and his wife ran for office in Virginia and lost are allies of the Clintons and he believes that tainted the FBI investigation into the Clinton e-mails. This is what Trump tweeted back in July, why didn't Sessions replace acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of the Clinton investigation, but got big dollars, $700,000, for his wife's political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives, drain the swamp. Does President Trump have a legitimate gripe here? Should Andrew McCabe and his wife's political aspirations be kept separate?
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I have to say I think that he doesn't have a legitimate political gripe here. And more importantly, I just think what he is doing here is very irresponsible. That he is suggesting, and he said in that statement that you read that the reporter read out of breath just a minute ago was saying that the leadership of the FBI is politically motivated, that they're engaging in misconduct. A President of the United States should not make accusations against FBI leadership so casually like that. This is literally -- these are the independent watchdogs that watch to make sure that crimes aren't being committed by people in our government. And for the President of the United States to be going after them in this way, making accusations very irresponsibly, when he is also himself under investigation, regardless of whether or not it's obstruction of justice, and I know a moment ago we just discussed the corrupt intent that would be required for that. Regardless of that, the President of the United States should not be going after our law enforcement leadership. It's wrong. It's anti-Democratic. These are the people who are supposed to be watching out independently, watching the people in government to make sure that they are not committing crimes. So frankly, it's disappointing to me that it's become such a norm that people on both sides of the aisle aren't condemning that, it should be a nonpartisan issue.
LEMON: You're agreeing with that, Steve?
HALL: Yeah, absolutely. This is not -- nonpartisan issue, you can't say it enough. This is the United States of America. It is an American issue with regard to whether it's Russia or whether or not this President was somehow involved in -- those aren't partisan questions, those are questions with regard to America. To who we are. You can't -- let's not be naive. We're not going to say there's absolutely no politics involved in who's the Director of the FBI or who's the Director of the CIA. But really, I think you need to understand or to think about the idea what Donald Trump is doing is he is sounding a dog whistle to the base to say, ok, this is another deep state thing. When he said things like, it's the senior leadership of, fill in the blank, in this case the FBI. Or the CIA has a bunch of people who are associated with Nazis. What he is saying to his base is, you can't trust these people, I'm here to help you, but I've just got all these basically traitors, for lack of a better phrase, inside the FBI leadership, inside the intelligence community, who are fighting against me and who are trying to make the whole Russia -- I mean, it's ridiculous. But it's not funny. Because it's extremely damaging to some really important institutions of our democracy.
[23:10:17] LEMON: Page, if FBI Director Wray had left, he would have been the second FBI Director to be fired or leave his position in the first year. That would be pretty incredible.
PATE: I think it's unprecedented. And you know, it's really inconsistent with President Trump saying he appointed Chris Wray because he is this guy with a great reputation, he is going to rebuild the FBI. Then he doesn't trust him to do his job. He wants to interfere and tell Chris Wray who he ought to have as deputy Director, who he should fire and hire. If Chris Wray is who Trump thinks he is, and I believe he is, I've known Chris Wray's reputation, when he was a federal prosecutor on Atlanta, impeccable reputation. Let him do his job, let him run the FBI as he sees fit, don't interfere. It not just hurts your own credibility, the White House's credibility, but the agents who are doing the day-to-day job of enforcing the law in courts across this country, if the public doesn't respect the FBI, because of what the President is saying, it really makes it difficult for them to do their job.
LEMON: Thank you. I appreciate it. When we come back, a Washington watchdog group claims the six-figure payment to a porn star alleged to have had an affair with Donald Trump broke the law and is now asking a handful of federal agencies to investigate. Their lawyer will join me next to explain.
[23:15:41] LEMON: New developments tonight in the story of a porn star who allegedly had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006. Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, appearing in public at a strip club in South Carolina over the weekend. But there is more. Now the group common cause is lodging complaints alleging a reported $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels constitutes a campaign finance violation. Let's get to CNN's Brian Todd who has the latest. Good evening to you. Stormy Daniels isn't talking about her experience with Donald Trump, bus she is capitalizing on it, isn't she?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She certainly is Don. She appeared at a nightclub in an adult nightclub in Greenville, South Carolina, over the weekend. The trophy club. I spoke to the owner of that club, Jay Levy, who told me this was a record crowd that came to see her, he charged double the usual $20 cover charge. But not quite as much as he charges to book some other popular events. But he denies he is gouging his customers here. He said he was taking care of them. But we understand from him and from some others involved in booking this event that she is going to continue to capitalize on this. We're told that she has booked several other adult nightclubs throughout the country in places like Nashville, Oklahoma City that she could actually be booked through the month of June. Now from people who we talked to today who are in this industry, they say that is not unusual for a porn star to appear at these kinds of clubs. She as popular entity right now. There were a lot of journalists at that club Saturday wanting to speak to her about the alleged affair with Donald Trump. But of course she was pretty cagey about that. She refused to give details about the alleged affair. Just saying basically what her life has been like in the last week since all of this broke. She said her life has been kind of stressful, but amusing, she told reporters.
LEMON: Interesting assignment for any journalist, I would imagine. They were there working. I want to speak with a lawyer soon who's coming up next from common cause. They file complaints with the Department of Justice and the federal election commission alleging that payment of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels through an LLC constitutes campaign finance violation. I'll speak about the details of that story. Just remind us of what happened with John Edwards, remember when Rielle Hunter in 2008 Presidential campaign, there seems to be some possible similarities here.
TODD: There could be similarities, Don. John Edwards was prosecuted in 2012 for what happened in 2008. Prosecutors accusing him of getting almost $1 million in illegal campaign contributions to keep his mistress, Rielle Hunter, silent during the 2008 campaign. Edwards was prosecuted but he was not convicted. I believe the jury found him not guilty on one count and deadlocked on the other five counts. So proving that may be tough. But common cause is going to try to bring that case, trying to get the FDC to investigate whether this was an illegal campaign contribution since the payment was made in the weeks just before the 2016 election. Common cause arguing that it may not have been an illegal contribution if it was Donald Trump's own money, but there may have been a reporting violation since they apparently reported it to no one. So that could be part of the litigation as well.
LEMON: Let's talk about that. Brian Todd, thank you very much. I want to bring in Vice President of policy and litigation for common cause, Paul S. Ryan. Paul thank you so much for joining us on CNN. Did Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen break campaign finance laws by paying Stormy Daniels $130,000?
PAUL S. RYAN, VICE PRESIDENT OF POLICY AND LITIGATION COMMON CAUSE: It certainly looks like that happened. That there was a violation or multiple violations of the law. The law says that any money spent or paid by a candidate or an agent of a candidate for the purpose of influencing an election is both a contribution from the candidate to their own campaign that is an expenditure by the campaign, both of which have to be reported to the FEC, that didn't happen here. That is violation number one we're alleging. The second part is if the money didn't come from President Trump's own pocket, if it came from the Trump organization, for example, or from some other organization, that adds on another count. We're talking about an illegal contribution. Illegal corporate contribution to the campaign or if it was from an individual, an illegally excessive contribution in excess of the $2,700 limit. A few possible violations in play. We definitely think there is enough evidence to warrant investigation into all of them. We think it's highly likely at a minimum that there was a reporting violation.
[23:20:20] LEMON: OK. So Michael Cohen provided a statement to CNN tonight, Here is what he said - the common cause, he is the attorney that supposedly did the payment and set up the LLC, all of that. "The common cause complaint is baseless along with the allegation the President Trump filed a false report to the FEC." When my producer asked Cohen why it was baseless, he said he'd explain in due time. What do you think of that?
RYAN: He sure will. If he is continuing to represent the President in his capacity as his personal lawyer, or if he has any involvement with the President's campaign committee, yes, he'll be explaining himself, sounded a little nervous there to me.
LEMON: OK. Why do you think that sounds nervous?
RYAN: It sounds overly defensive, in my opinion. It's clear from "Wall Street Journal's" reporting he set up an LLC and that LLC made a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels' lawyer. So that much has been reported and confirmed by "The Wall Street Journal." he is declaring that seemingly that none of it happened?
LEMON: Paul, what do the DOJ and FEC, what do they have to prove, what evidence will they need to find?
RYAN: Well, they have different types of enforcement authority. FEC is in charge of civil enforcement authority. So they don't have to prove violations beyond a reasonable doubt, for example. Whereas the Department of Justice, they're in charge of criminal prosecutions. That would mean a criminal trial where they would have to prove violations of the law beyond a reasonable doubt. Burden of proof is different in both cases. What we're calling for at this stage is an investigation. That is the job of both of these agencies early on.
It looks like there was a violation here. There are a couple of differences, important differences in the factual scenarios between Donald Trump, Stormy Daniels, and John Edwards prosecution that was mentioned earlier in this segment. Namely that with respect to John Edwards, there was no evidence in the record there that Miss Hunter, John Edwards' girlfriend at issue in that matter, that she was about to talk to the press, that she was about to go public before an election.
John Edwards' lawyers made a big deal of that, they did so successfully, leading to a deadlocked hung jury. That is not the case here. Here we know that Stormy Daniels was talking to "Good Morning America," talking to "Slate." this was all coming also a week after the "Access Hollywood" tape had leaked. So we're talking about a Trump campaign that was reeling from that earlier scandal, right before the general election. So this certainly looks like a payment to influence the election.
LEMON: What if, and this is a what if, what if Donald Trump nor any campaign officials knew Michael Cohen set up this payment? As I ask you that, he was sort of a de facto campaign person because he was on television a lot, defending this President. But you get what I'm asking.
RYAN: Yes, yes. If Donald Trump, if neither Donald Trump nor any of his campaign staff knew anything about this, it becomes a much harder case to prove, a closer call in terms of whether there was a violation. Because it's only a violation if the candidate or the candidate's campaign or its agents arrange this sort of payment. And then it would get into the legal question of, was Michael Cohen acting as an agent of President Donald Trump as a candidate or as his campaign committee? That is a tougher call.
LEMON: If he is acting on his own, there's no there-there?
RYAN: It's a tougher case to argue, at least. You'd have to argue that he was a surrogate of the campaign, you'd have to get a little more than that, prove under the law that he was acting as an agent and within the scope of his agency doing this. Definitely a tougher case to make.
LEMON: What are the chances that he would be acting on behalf of the President as his attorney and making decisions for him and not telling him about those decisions?
RYAN: Incredibly low. That is why we think this looks like a violation. At the very least enough grounds for investigation. $130,000, he is the head lawyer at the Trump organization, he was Trump's personal lawyer, definitely enough for an investigation.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Paul S. Ryan, thank you so much I appreciate it.
LEMON: When we come back, much more on our breaking news tonight. The report that President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are pressuring the FBI, the Director of the FBI, to fire the deputy Director.
[23:28:30] LEMON: Here's our breaking news. Axios reporting tonight Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been pressuring the Director of the FBI to fire the deputy Director. I want to bring in Adam Serwer, senior editor at the Atlantic and CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio is here as well, and Michael is the author of "The truth about Trump." I am so glad to have both of you on. Thank you for coming on the program. Michael, you first, tonight Axios is reporting Attorney General Sessions at public urging of President Trump has been pressuring the FBI Director, Christopher Wray, to fire deputy Director Andrew McCabe, but Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed. Does this sound like a Donald Trump move to you?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, it's 100 percent a Donald Trump move. You know, he doesn't forget when people upset him. He associates Wray and others at the FBI with James Comey. You know, these were the fellows that Comey went back and shared the information about the meetings 3he had with the President. So there would be a contemporary record of what transpired. I think the reporting at Axios sounds very accurate. Jonathan Swann, the reporter, has done a lot of good reporting on this topic of the President's conflict with the people at the Justice Department. So sure, it does seem like something he is now pressuring Jeff Sessions to pull off.
LEMON: Adam, what's your reaction to this Axios reporting tonight?
ADAM SERWER, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: I think it speaks highly of Wray's character that he threaten to resign over this. We have been talking a lot about the independence of the FBI, but the Department of Justice is also...
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[23:30:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Adam, what's your reaction to this Axios reporting tonight?
ADAM SERWER, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: I think it speaks highly of W3ray's character that he threaten to resign over this. We have been talking a lot about the independence of the FBI, but the Department of Justice is also supposed to be independent. Jeff Sessions in his confirmation hearing last January said the Attorney General is someone who has to be able to tell the President no. I think it says something about Jeff Sessions and his own stewardship of the Justice Department that he would pressure the Director of the FBI to fire someone simply because the President of the United States has decided that this person is his political enemy.
LEMON: The other big story, of course, the government shutdown, Adam. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told us today's vote ending the shutdown and the lack of resolution on the dreamers is "one of the most crushing things that has happened to me in the senate, because we got such strong public support." did senate Democrats cave?
SERWER: Well, I think it's a matter of opinion as to whether they caved. I think it's very clear that immigration activists believe that they caved. And that is a risk for Democrats because what they want going into 2018 is a sense that, from their base that they're really going to stand up to Trump, that when they're voting for Democrats those Democrats are going to make a difference in the way that the country is run. I think for a lot of people today, particularly those aligned on the immigration issue, they're not going to be feeling that way.
LEMON: So do you think, then, that we'll have any clarity on DACA by February 8th? Because that is the deadline. Anything the DREAMERS can hang their hats on or count on right now?
SERWER: I don't think there's anything they can hang their hat on. The deal McConnell gave Democrats doesn't even state what the nature of a DACA bill that would be brought up would be. So there's almost nothing that they can say that they got out of this. LEMON: Michael, why do you think President Trump was on the sidelines
this weekend during the shutdown negotiations? We only saw pictures of him, we were told he was hanging out at the residence, didn't leave, supposed to go to Mar-a-Lago, didn't do that. Why do you think he was so quiet?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think he was waiting to see how the Senators would manage things without him. It's also in his nature to kind of confuse people. So he was at one point saying, you come together and I will sign whatever you produce. Then he was backing away from that position. He engaged with Senator Schumer and then backed away from that engagement. I think he was waiting for the end game so that he could declare victory no matter what happened. And that is one thing that you have to remember whenever you're assessing President Trump is, he is got the victory lap already planned. No matter what the outcome will be. And he is able to interpret events to suit himself.
LEMON: But explain -- I want you to explain to our viewers why you say President Trump showed his entrepreneur skills. Don't translate to government.
D'ANTONIO: Well, so when he was an entrepreneur in the '90s, he went through bankruptcies where all he had to do was manage the expectations of bankers, show them that they would be better off sticking with him than cutting him loose and taking pennies on the dollar. And then playing that leverage to rebuild his fortune. Later on, when he was negotiating with people to develop golf courses, it was one at a time. He never actually went back to any of these players to do business with them in subsequent deals. So in Washington, he is got to make deals with members of congress over and over and over again. And this is not what Trump the serial entrepreneur ever did. He was willing to burn people, not pay his bills, and force them to take him to court. This is not how Washington works. Washington remembers. So someone like Chuck Schumer I don't think is going to trust the President the next time they're in a room together.
LEMON: I thought this was a very wise tweet that you put out today, Adam. "Republicans fear their base, and Democrats fear the GOP base. But Democrats do not fear their base at all." In other words, things look bleak for the Democratic base going forward?
SERWER: I'm saying there's an ideological asymmetry in how the parties view their base. I think the conservative wing of the Republican Party has been very successful at premiering legislators who deviate from work. You do3n't really see that on the Democratic side. They're much less afraid of taking controversial votes like this one that are going to upset the base. The exception is the 2020 hopefuls. I think if you look at who voted for that bill today, you'll see that pretty much anyone thinking of running for President voted against it.
LEMON: The President is tweeting, I'm hearing. We'll talk about that, I guess. Thank you, gentlemen, I appreciate it. When we come back another state's electoral map ruled unconstitutional, because of gerrymandering.
[23:05:05] Could a new map boost Democrats' chances in Pennsylvania come the midterms?
LEMON: President Trump tweeting tonight, you knew he would, surprise, about the end of the government shutdown. I want to talk about this with CNN political commentator Tara Setmayer, Scott Jennings and Symone Sanders. Basically tweeting saying, see you at the negotiating table. What did he say, big win for the Republicans. Democrats caved on the shutdown. He wants a big win for Republicans and Democrats in DACA. Especially our great military. So Tara. Wait, let me ask Symone. I told you, Symone that you're Party would cave.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You did, you did.
LEMON: They always do.
SANDERS: I was hopeful. But first of all, Don, change has never come through the institutions. Real change comes from outside folks pushing and cornering the folks in the institutions.
LEMON: You're mad.
SANDERS: To do the right thing. I am mad. Progressives across this country are mad. I'm concerned about the thousands and thousands of folks out there, DREAMERS, whose lives literally sit currently in limbo.
[233:40:06] I'm concerned about the 15,000-plus folks that have already lost their protective status. They cannot work. Who don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. People can miss me with the B.S. about Dems struck a good deal. A good deal for who? I don't have any good faith that anything better is going to happen 17 days from now.
LEMON: Scott Jennings, you look like the cat who ate the canary, Scott, what's going on?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean this is amazing to me. Mitch McConnell offered Chuck Schumer this deal on Friday night.
TARA SETMAYER FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER: That is right.
JENNINGS: And they walked away from it. All they got, all they got was a weekend of pain and a sore knee when McConnell made Schumer bend a knee today in the U.S. Senate. Here's what's going to happen. Symone, it's going to be all right, the Republicans are going to fix DACA. They're going to get border security. They're going to do something the last two Presidents couldn't do under Donald Trump, and that is get comprehensive immigration reform, mark it down, it's going to happen. Believe it or not. The man who ran the most anti- immigration plat tomorrow in Presidential campaign history recently is going to do the biggest immigration reform we've had in a long time.
LEMON: That was a big eye roll, Tara.
SETMAYER: I'm not so -- I mean, I agree with Scott on what happened with the shutdown. And I was arguing with my Democrat friends who love me because of my stance on Trump, but then get mad at me when I call Democrats out for doing what they do. And it was the Schumer shutdown. And this is really Schumer's first big test as the minority leader in the senate, and he failed it miserably. But, you know, I don't know whether you're going to see this. I'm not as optimistic as Scott is, as far as getting a comprehensive --
LEMON: Comprehensive, right.
SETMAYER: Immigration done, because Trump needs to have a foil, he got to have a villain. In his entire existence in politics is about his tough stance on immigration and the wall, all of that. So if he gets that, then what happens? I don't know that he is going to get it the way that it is defined. When you have people like Stephen Miller who are almost irrational to the point of xenophobia on immigration in the White House, which is kind of how we got here in the first place. Because they were working toward something. The Stephen Millers of the world got ahold of Trump and Trump went, oh, I can't do that, the base is going to be upset with me. We'll get something. I think you'll get DACA. But after that, I am not so confident as Scott is.
LEMON: Don't you think the base would be upset -- the base doesn't really like DACA, they don't want DREAMERS be legalized.
SETMAYER: That is true but the overwhelming majority of the American people see that this needs to get done, and Trump can look like a hero in that respect, where he actually does something that the other two Presidents couldn't achieve. But then he can still push for the border security side of this. If he gives DACA without border security, then he is in trouble.
LEMON: So I didn't mean to throw water on your fire there, Symone. I know you're upset. You say that is why Democrats need to --
SANDERS: They should be upset. Yeah, I mean --
LEMON: Democrats have managed to accede to Republican demands, demoralize their energized base, give a disengaged President a win, and look like they had a meaningless three-day government shutdown all at once. Go, Symone.
SANDERS: A government shutdown that happened over the weekend, mind you. Ok. When will the Democratic Party -- this is what folks are asking. When will elected officials in the Democratic Party really listen to and care about and be moved by the base of the Democratic Party? Folks keep talking about 2018 and a lot of stories have cited that there was concern about 2018 and the momentum. There is no momentum. There is no blue wave without black and brown people. So what is going to happen when folks wake up and realize that, maybe this is the same Democratic Party that we had last go-round. These are folks that are not really willing to, you know, dig down deep in the dirt and get dirty and stay dirty for a little while. So I'm upset. I know phones out there are upset. I just hope that come tomorrow, there are folks outside the doors of all these people, all the senate Democrats that voted for this bill. I hope that there are people also outside --
LEMON: You think this kills the momentum?
SANDERS: I don't know if it all the way kills momentum but it throws salt on a wound. It makes -- we're having some very difficult interparty conversations right now. You cannot continuously say you stand with DREAMERS and every single opportunity that one has had over the last four months to legislatively demonstration that, you cave.
LEMON: I just want to -- I'm going to help you make your point, Symone. In January of 2017, this is not just the past four months, in January. President Trump said, we're going to take care of those kids, DACA kids. September 5th, he officially ended the DACA program. The 13th, he agreed to a deal with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to legalize DACA in exchange for border security, that didn't happen.
[23:45:09] December 7th, Democrats agreed to a two-week spending measure doesn't legalized DREAMERS giving congress time to compromise. December 20th, they agreed to another stopgap spending measure without DACA. January 9th of this year, televised meeting, the President said he would sign a clean DACA bill, whatever they brought, it wasn't his decision, blah, blah, blah. They shut the government down on the 18th. So Scott, what gives Democrats -- why would Chuck Schumer believe Republicans or the President that something would be done when they gave him opportunities, and that is just over the past year, mostly the past couple of months, and there was no movement of an intention to do something? Why would he cave like that? I don't understand it.
JENNINGS: Yes, I mean -- he caved because the politics writing was on the wall. When those red state Democrats on Friday night went with the Donald Trump-Mitch McConnell position, you knew where this was headed. When he couldn't hold those five red state Democrats, you knew Schumer really lost all his leverage. And his ability to hold on to this thing was rendered null and void. That is what happened Monday. The reason the congress hasn't acted on this yet is because they tend to govern best when there is an actual deadline. We're not up against any DACA deadline. We weren't Friday night, not today. They need this to get done before March.
LEMON: You've been under DACA deadlines, this is a new deadline, it's not --
JENNINGS: It's real now, we have a real deadline now of March. They need to get it done. I wholeheartedly believe the DREAMERS deserve and will get the legal certainty that they ought to have. The executive order didn't give it to them, a law will. They need it, they should get it, and I believe the Republicans are going to do it. They needed the deadline. Ultimately the President ending the executive order and putting a deadline on it is what is going to lead to them getting legal certainty, which I hope they get.
LEMON: All right. I need to take a break. Stay with me, everyone. When we come back, remember this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Two years later, and one year into his term, was President Trump right? Do any of his actions or words really matter to his base or will they blindly follow him? "Saturday Night Live" is asking the very same question, we are going to show you next.
[23:51:12] LEMON: "Saturday Night Live" back at it this weekend poking fun of President Trump. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to what even matters anymore, the show where I tell you something our President did or said and you have to tell me does it even matter anymore. The President of the United States refers to African countries as pooh-pooh holes and says all Haitians have aids. Does it even matter anymore?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is really bad. That has to matter, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, that does not matter. Zero consequences and everybody just moves on. The President has an extra marital affair with a porn star right after his wife gives birth to a son, and then pays the porn star to shut up.
Does it even matter to say his evangelical base?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course it matters if it's against everything they stand for.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think so, but no. They say he is just repented and they forgive him. And Mike Pence is like (inaudible) because something truly matters none of it matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That is -- she just channeled all of my progressive friends like, Don, does this matter? Why aren't you guys reporting on this? Like we do it every night. What are you talking about? The guys are back with me.
SETMAYER: She channeled people who warned about what a horrible character Donald Trump is and that he is unfit to be President, you know we've been sounding that alarm bell for a long time. But the American people voted for him. It didn't matter to them. I mean it's just the bottom line. After the "Access Hollywood," I mean there was a litany of things leading up to --
LEMON: Does that show you the hypocrisy --
LEMON: Is it just the almighty dollar?
SETMAYER: No, I think people have -- there was a lot of resentment after the Obama Presidency in the hard right. And people felt there was an assault on religion and an assault on the, you know, constitution. There were some legitimate grievances, but it went so far that they would allow someone, a carnival barker like Donald Trump to come in and dupe people into believing he is on their side. This is like I was married three times, cheated on two wives and apparently a third one and has all kind of character flaws, bragging about grabbing women by the you know what, and evangelicals say it is OK. I mean the hypocrisy was just unbelievable, they still defend him to this day.
LEMON: Scott, what do you think of that?
JENNINGS: I think a lot of the issues discussed in skits like this have already been priced into the Trump candidacy either in the past or the possible future re-election candidacy. So that is why you don't see his numbers move or will see his numbers move. There would have to be something extremely different from what we already seen. All that stuff we've seen comparable items in the past. So these things are priced in --
LEMON: The porn star was factored in? You said it's already been factored in? Nobody knew about the porn star during the election. It just seems that everything comes up, people just go, well, um, I don't know e-mails or --
JENNINGS: I think comparable type issues -- but I'll say one other thing. He is never held himself out to be pious the way some politicians are when they're caught doing the things they should not be doing. And I do think that gives him a little bit of a shield versus other people that pretends to be one thing and not something else.
LEMON: All right, it gives him a shield, but does that make it right for evangelicals who Judge just about everything everyone does, especially the last President, but there's no judging here, Symone.
[23:55:05] SANDERS: Look, I'll say this --
LEMON: Just say it, Symone. Don't --
SANDERS: I'll just say this, in his recent book, 38 years of power, he talks about the fact the real danger of the Trump presidency is the line has now moved. There are lots of folks out there who believes that you know countries in Africa are shithole countries and Haitians have aides, very few people are going to say that, but Donald Trump has demonstrated you can talk about sexually assaulting and violating women and you can degrade everybody from POW's to the disabled community and still win. And so now I think we're at a very dangerous place where I don't think whenever Donald Trump goes away things will go back to normal.
SETMAYER: Look at what Donald Trump has done, how low the bar is. I think that is damaging to the office of presidency. We should not accept it, it is not OK.
LEMON: When I hear from people on social media now and they're judging and you do this and you do that (inaudible). All right, see you tomorrow.