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CNN TONIGHT

Michigan Man Arrested After Calls Threatening To Kill CNN Employees; President Trump Calls The Press Enemy Of The People; Mueller's Office Spoke With Sessions, Comey In Russia Investigation. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired January 23, 2018 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:00:30] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon. 11:00 p.m. right here on the east coast live with new developments tonight. This is a Michigan man, arrested after he allegedly made numerous calls to CNN headquarters in Atlanta, threatening to kill this network's employees. His name is Brandon Greissmer. Allegedly made 22 calls to CNN on January 9th and 10th. Four of the calls which were recorded, contain threats according to the federal affidavit. And there is nothing random about this. Nothing. This is what happens when the President of the United States, Donald Trump, repeatedly attacks members of the press simply for reporting facts he does not like. The President just this morning blasting our very own Jim Acosta and calling CNN fake news. A charge he has leveled at the press not just CNN, over and over.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The media is rigged. You are be fake news. Yeah I think the media is the opposition Party in many ways.

The fake media is trying to silence us. But we will not let them.

A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people. And they are. They are the enemy of the people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, do you want people to come in from other parts of the world where there are people of the color.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Heard from a number of very credible sources from within the White House that you watch this show. You deny it all the time. But then you -- you know, you say something disparaging about me and the only way you would note is if you saw the show. So, Mr. President, I am going to speak directly to you. We are not the enemy. We are not trying to silence you. It is the job of the free press to report the facts. To ask questions. Tough questions ones you don't like. Even if you don't like the facts or those questions. No matter how many times you attack us as fake news we will continue to do our jobs. When you make that baseless and incendiary charge, be aware that people are listening to you, some very dangerous people according to a federal affidavit the caller who threatened to kill CNN employees made his threat using these words. Quote, "fake news." "I'm coming to gun you all down". Fake news. I wonder where he got that -- those words. And in the second call, quote, "I am on my way right now to gun the f- ing CNN cast down. I am coming to kill you." So I can only speak for myself. But I know my coworkers have also had threats at this network. Other networks, other news organizations. There is an open case in the NYPD right now someone threatening to kill me.

When you, Donald Trump, tweet the post of a train hitting CNN you might think it's funny. It's stupid. It's childish. My 10-year-old nephew wouldn't do something like that. When you tweet a doctored video of you, body slamming CNN. People are watching. What grade are you in? People take that message seriously. If one of us is hurt or good forebode some way or another because you don't understand the power of your words and/or you don't care, it won't be a fake injury or sadly a fake death. It will be real. And how will you answer those questions then? Not only from journalists but from our loved ones, because you're going to have to do it. Let's hope it doesn't happen. Let's hope you see the error of your ways as well. I want to bring in now CNN Contributor Frank Bruni. CNN political analyst April Ryan and Brian Karem. Thank you for joining us.

April.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALIST: Thank you Don.

LEMON: We got the news of the arrest threatening CNN broke overnight. Before 7:00 a.m. this morning. The President was tweeting about CNN fake news. I know -- I think that you have had some threats as well. I know some of your colleagues. What's your response?

BRIAN KAREM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, SENTINEL NEWSPAPER: Are you talking to April or me?

LEMON: April.

KAREM: Ok.

[23:05:00] RYAN: I have -- I have had death threats. The -- they primarily started at the beginning of this administration. I asked questions. I am covered by the founding fathers who wrote into the pillars of this nation, the first amendment, freedom of the press. And I have been asking the same questions of three other Presidents, as I am now. This is not political. This is just part of the fourth estate in in accountability piece that has been baked into our system. And the problem is, Don, I do believe that we are now going into our corners. We are becoming very tribal, meaning that us versus them. And you know, if you are not asking questions that are easy, that make the President or any President to look good, how dare you and you know, I think people will really think this is a game. It's a joke. It's a reality show. This is real life.

LEMON: Yes.

RYAN: And it's not fake. It's not a reality show. This is real.

LEMON: Go ahead, Brian.

KAREM: Well, I was -- some of what April says is very poignant and very true. This administration believes that everything is theater and words don't have meaning. Now, I've covered wars. I've been jailed four times. I've been beaten. I have had reporters beaten in front of me and photographers and everyone in this business knows you can actually die while trying to get the news. And we have died trying to get the news.

RYAN: Yes.

KAREM: This President does not only disrespect that, but by calling me the enemy of the people he misses the point. We are the people. He ran an ad that -- that we talked about yesterday where he called Democrats complicit in murder, because of immigration policy. If that is the case, Mr. President then listen carefully. You're complicit in any harm to any journalist anywhere in the United States by encouraging the violence that you encourage. I've been saying this for six months. It's not me. It's not April that I worry about. Although April was accosted on the north lawn by someone speaking for the President.

RYAN: I was.

KAREM: I've never seen that happen before. The problem.

RYAN: A black preacher on in an event.

KAREM: While we're celebrating MLK. But the real concern for me is the 25-year-old who is fresh on the job covering a county fair somewhere in Iowa or Montana and someone is going to be emboldened by the President's speech, takes it to heart and goes on hurts or kills that kid. That is the problem. That is what we have to worry about. That is what with we face ahead us. This President is not only unaware of the words that he speaks and the weight they carry but he does not care. And he has shown time and again despite what he told us in the press room that he doesn't care about the press.

RYAN: Don.

LEMON: Let me get Frank in. Frank I'm going to read you the CNN statement. I want to you respond. CNN released a statement on the threats. Sorry. It says we take -- we take any threat to CNN employees or workplaces around the world extremely seriously. This one is no exception. We have been in touch with local and federal law enforcement throughout. And have taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our people.

I hate to be a little emotional about this. But again it does hits close to home I know the precautions I have to take. I can only imagine what other people have to take. You work for "The New York Times." of course the President has called "The New York Times" fake news. When he says this, does he know the impact? What is the impact?

FRANK BRUNI, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: I don't think, you know, I don't think he cares about the impact. I really don't. He just frustrated because what he wants is a media that adores him. What he wants is a mirror held up that show as consistently flattering view of himself. If we don't do that and we shouldn't because we didn't did do it for other Presidents and it's not our job. When we don't do that for him he lashes out however he wants to with no sense of the meaning on the weight and the potential impact of his words. I think we need to be really clear here. Fake news is the least of it. He stood in Phoenix at a rally with the media there, thousands of supporters and he essential pointed at them and said these are sick people. They don't care about our country. Those are words that travel so far beyond what other Presidents said. Other Presidents had plenty of adversary relationship with the press. They criticizes all the time. They didn't say we were sick people or unpatriotic enemies of the state. Those are big words and what happened here with CNN suggests that big consequences.

LEMON: And what other administrations for some way we felt treat other journalist wrong. We stood up for them. Other journalist, other networks stood up for them, remember there was something with the Obama administration.

RYAN: Yes, we did.

LEMON: One of their reporters CNN stood up for that Fox reporter saying, no. He is -- he is a reporter. And he is just doing his job. But that doesn't seem to happen especially with what I call the Trump channel now which is what Fox News has been become. That doesn't happen.

[23:10:09] BRUNI: Well, April.

RYAN: But Don.

BRUNI: April used the right word before. Tribal. We have been so tribal in society and the media mirrors. The solidarity you wonder where did that go.

KAREM: I disagree with that a little bit.

LEMON: Go ahead, Brian.

KAREM: I'm going to disagree with that a little bit. Because, look -- at least for everyone in that room who is covering the President from that briefing room and that is Fox News and Breitbart and all of them they're just reporters trying to do their job and I've seen them stand up for pretty much everybody. And now what happens upstairs and outside that room I can't speak to. But I can tell you that as far as -- maybe it's just that we're being tribal and watching our own backs in the White House briefing room. But I have to tell you I have a healthy respect for pretty much everybody in there. And I think that when it happened to April when it happened to Jim there were people that came up and said, no this isn't right. There needs to be more of it.

LEMON: I have not seen those people on the air at the Trump channel. KAREM: I will tell you I haven't seen them on the air as much as I've

seen them in person. Now on the air is also the next step because honestly it encourages them, it emboldens these people if it isn't brought out on squelched.

LEMON: Go ahead, April, quickly.

RYAN: Don, let me say this. When my issues started happening and I started getting not just death threats, but the crazy, crazy, racist, hate-filled emails be it on websites, on phone calls, be it by email, text, whatever, you know, we keep -- my company, American radio network. Keeping a big file, we have the FBI and police on speed dial. Also at the same time I made and I'm sure some others have talked to the White House correspondents association -- I made them aware of this. And they are now also compiling lists and things. And I mean as a body they can't go out and fight like you know law enforcement. But they are very much involved. And in finding out these things. And I guess I'm not supposed to tell it but I am telling it, because this is real. You know.

BRUNI: Very real.

RYAN: We are human beings people may think you're not but we are human beings. Don I'm going back to August.

LEMON: Quickly because I'm running out of time.

RYAN: That campaign -- that campaign ad in August where we were supposed to be the people who were thwarting the President's agenda they put your face on there. I'm the only White House correspondent in that ad, the only one asking questions the rest of them are talk show hosting. They are putting targets on our heads that is not right at all. And words matter. Words reverberate in the air and there are crazy people out here who listen and think this is a call to action and it's not you can be jailed.

KAREM: It's not.

LEMON: Let me get this and I will let Frank I have to give you the last word because I have to go. This is the last week human rights watch released a report we can put it up for 2018. Human rights watch. The United Nations are concerned about freedom of the press in the United States. Did you ever think that would it would come to this?

KAREM: No, this used to be what we were worried about in other countries. In the same which the President is supposed to be a moral example for all of us, we are supposed to be an example to the world and we are not setting a good example right now.

LEMON: I know you guy haves a lot to talk about. We'll continue the discussion. Brian, thank you. Frank, April, I really appreciate your time. When we come back -- and be safe. When we come back big news on the Russia investigation. Including CNN exclusive a former member of the Trump campaign facing charges. A big name lawyer to his defense team. We'll talk about that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:17:16] LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, CNN learning exclusively that former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates has added a prominent white collar attorney to his defense team a sign he may be negotiating with Robert Mueller. Let's discuss now. Juliette Kayyem CNN national security analyst. Garrett Graff CNN Contributor and the author of the threat matrix inside Robert Mueller's FBI and the war on global tier. And Renato Mariotti a former federal prosecutor who is running for Attorney General of Illinois. So, because he has hired a white collar attorney, Juliette, does that give you any indication something is going on.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Certainly it's a hint. All these things are hints in terms of who is are the people surrounding themselves with. Who are the lawyers, remember couple months ago Jared Kushner hired a crisis communications team. Suggesting he was a little bit nervous about something? I would make something of this. But we don't know where Mueller's team is in terms of would they accept a plea? I have to say, though, if you are gates, why wouldn't you at this stage? I mean, if you're not a family member of Trumps or not a true believer and looking at serious time, even if it had -- even if the -- the indictment had nothing to do with the campaign, he was certainly very close to the campaign. He knew what was going on. He was close to Manafort. Stuck around after Manafort is gone. If you're his parents, right, you're advising him take the deal.

LEMON: Ok. So Garrett, Mueller played hard ball with Paul Manafort having his house raided in a predawn raid. Supporters of the President are so upset about that. Gates was his protege. Does that fit with Mueller's M.O. that he cut a deal with Gates? Maybe get him to flip against Manafort and others.

GARRETT GRAFT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. Part of that CNN reporting tonight shows there might be -- or may already be prepared superseding indictments against Rick Gates and Paul Manafort that could bring new or updated or sort of shifted sets of charges. Rick Gates has always been sort of a peripheral figure, at least so far in this investigation. And it was pretty clear even from that original indictment last fall that Mueller's team was sort of leaving the door open to make a deal with him either to help pressure Manafort or to help pressure other campaign officials we don't yet know are involved.

LEMON: I want to get you in on this Renato, again I just want to read the news so everybody knows what we're talking about.

[23:20:00] CNN reporting that breaking news tonight Rick Gates who pled not guilty to multiple counts of money laundering and acting as a foreign agent without registering may be negotiating with Robert Mueller. How significant is this.

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well it's very significant. I mean, first of all, I do think it's the smart move for Gates. He is facing very serious time potentially over ten years in prison. And an array of charges. And as was just pointed out he may be facing even additional charges. So at that point when you are a defense attorney -- and I've been on both sides of that both as a federal prosecutor and somebody on the other side, you know, representing clients, you know, unless you think you can beat those charges -- and I will tell you federal prosecutors get convictions well over 90 percent of the time in cases -- so unless you think can you beat all the charges, the smart thing to do is to cooperate. This is the right move for Gates. I think the question is, you know first of all obviously this is bad news for Paul Manafort. He already was looking at a very difficult case of his own. Now he has a cooperator against him. The questions what else can Gates give for Robert Mueller about the campaign, because he was involved in the campaign as well.

LEMON: Juliette, the "Washington Post" is reporting that shortly after President Trump fired Comey when he met with the acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He asked him, who did you vote for in the 2016 election to which McCabe responded he didn't vote which I think was a smart answer. You used to work for the FBI. Have you heard of anything like this happening before?

KAYYEM: Well a long time ago with DOJ, it is so outrageous and there is no excuse for Trump. He knew exactly what he was doing. Trump has shone as President that for him it is allegiance or versus un- American.

LEMON: He wants a loyalty pledge.

KAYYEM: Yes, a loyalty pledge. I actually thought in that story one of the most egregious things being in a professional family with a working husband as well, the sort of attacks on his wife on the McCabe's wife who ran for office at one stage, takes money as every candidate would, were not only -- they're humiliating for McCabe. But that is what Trump does. Trump -- it appears now that the Trump White House is very nervous at this stage. They are full court press against anyone affiliated with the FBI who may have been around or may be investigating this. And so this is just part of the humiliation doctrine that animates this White House rather than the truth or just some sense of decency.

LEMON: Garrett, this seems like it would breached the fire wall that is supposed to keep the executive branch separate from the judicial branch, right.

GRAFT: Absolutely. This is -- you normally have a very strict fire wall between the law enforcement components of the Department of Justice and the -- the White House. And when the President stays out of investigations, the FBI doesn't let the President sort of shift an investigation one way or another. And we have seen President Trump really attempt to blow past every one of those fire walls. I mean, we have seen him publicly berate individual, career, non-partisan, a political FBI officials like Andy McCabe. And then we have also seen him on twitter trying to direct investigations, sort of saying why isn't the FBI investigating this? Or they should be going after this. And that is incredibly undue and inappropriate pressure that past Presidents have gotten into sort of legal jeopardy on cases and have stayed very, very far away from him. LEMON: Renato I will get you on the other side. Every one stay with

me, when we comeback new information about Robert Mueller interviewing Jeff Sessions and James Comey and possibly the President himself. I want to you weigh in on what their testimony could mean for the investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:28:11] LEMON: A lot of major new developments tonight in the Russia investigation. Back with me Juliette Kayyem, Garrett Graft and Renato Mariotti. Renato, two sources telling CNN that special counsel Robert Mueller is looking to interview President Trump about his decision to fire both Michael Flynn and James Comey. What's your reaction to this news? What does it say to you about the focus on firing those two men?

MARIOTTI: Well, it's really interesting news, because typically prosecutors wait until late in the investigation to interview subjects which the president is a subject of the investigation at this point. And so what that tells me is that Mueller is very far along in the obstruction piece of the investigation. You know, we talk a lot of times about the Mueller investigation as if it's one big thing. But in reality it's a series of related investigations. You know, a minute ago we were talking about Gates and Manafort. And that is really not a directly related to the obstruction piece of the investigation which is not directly related to let's say the Trump tower piece. What this tells me is that the President is now, you know -- excuse me Mueller is now at the final stages of the obstruction investigation. And he is going to be asking the President, questions about why he fired James Comey, what his state of mind was, and you know that -- what he needs to prove is that the President fired James Comey, because he was interest trying to obstruct the investigation. Not because he thought James Comey was a bad guy or a bad FBI Director. And there is -- there is a lot of evidence out there on it. We've heard about that. And what the President's answers are to those questions will likely determine you know whether or not Mueller proceeds further in -- and whether the President faces any legal jeopardy.

LEMON: So, Juliette this may come as a shock to you, but the President tweeted something just short -- a moment ago. Saying where are the 50,000 important text messages between FBI lovers Lisa Page and Peter Strzok blaming Samsung? Do you think he is trying to distract the supporters with all of this news tonight?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You think? Yes. I think this White House seems from the outside so nervous. I don't know if it was the Sessions testimony. But sometimes you also can figure out what's going on with the case which what names aren't mentioned. I think it's interesting that Jared Kushner's name is not in any of these interviews or requests for interviews. And so it seems like a very nervous White House. I do want to say one thing which is the President of the United States is discussing Samsung. And he got the number wrong on the number of missing emails. The President did not tweet out about 215-year-old's killed in Kentucky. It gives you the sense of the President's priorities, as president of United States which is him. I think we should be shocked by that. I think it is right. However the investigation unfolds. And to be clear, the investigation may end up saying Trump did a lot of bad things, but there is no criminal liability. I think this resolves as a political issue which is not going to resolve with in congress. But might later in 2018. But we shouldn't stop being shocked.

LEMON: Garrett, I want to get you in. But Juliette, you can't let that go by where you said you are surprised that Jared is not mentioned in the - why?

KAYYEM: Look everyone we know of in this case has now touched Mueller in a serious way. Either been indicted, pled, or interviewed or being sought to be interviewed. And for the last couple of months -- I'm just assuming the reporting is accurate. And I'm assuming that we know everything that is going on in the investigation or a lot of what's going on in the investigation -- Jared Kushner, who is in every room, at the right time, is lead data guy in the campaign is responsible by every account for pushing Trump to fire Comey, nowhere in any of these stories. So is it the dog that didn't bite? Or maybe he is perfectly innocent. I just raise it as if you're him maybe you want to be called at this stage.

LEMON: Interesting. Garrett. We also learned today that Mueller interviewed Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week and former FBI come Director Comey sometimes last year does he it seem he could be getting closer to President Trump?

GARRETT GRAFT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It certainly seems that way. As Renato said, these are people you do not interview until you are relatively far along in the investigation. But I think also the Comey news and the Session news should remind us that one of the constants in this is that Bob Mueller has always known much more than we think he does. He has always been several steps ahead of where the public reporting has been. The leaks are not coming from his team. You know, he is able to conduct these interviews in secret. And they come out days or even weeks later. And are sort of surprising to us when we find out. This goes I think perhaps to some of those dark areas of the investigation that both Juliette and Renato mentioned. We know that there is significant evidence that exists that we don't know about.

LEMON: Hmm.

GRAFT: Remember George Papadopoulos traded something for his easy plea deal and Mike Flynn pleaded something in order to get his plea deal. That is at least two very significant pieces of information that have not yet been made public which I think is sort of again goes to the fact that Bob Mueller knows a lot that we don't know yet. And that in some ways should be the most significant take away from day after day of the revelations.

LEMON: Garrett, Renato, Juliette, thank you. Appreciate your time. See you soon.

KAYYEM: Thank you. LEMON: When we come back congressional dysfunction on full display as

lawmakers resort to another short term if fix for a bunch of long-term problems. How has the Speaker of the House managed to get through the drama (inaudible)? We'll look at Paul Ryan's role in all of this that is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:38:34] LEMON: Senate GOP leaders say they will open debate on immigration in the coming weeks. But house Republican leaders throwing cold water on that idea. Is Speaker Paul Ryan in the real road block in passing the immigration bill? That is an interesting question. Let's talk about it. Rich Lowry the editor of the national review. And CNN political commentator David Swerdlick, the assistant editor of "Washington Post". Senator Lindsey Graham is responding to the White House declaring that the Graham/Flake/Durbin immigration proposal is dead and arrival. He told our reporter tonight. He said this. One thing I would said say to the White House, you better start telling us what you're for rather than what you're against and in all honesty, the senate is moving. Does he have a point Rich Lowry?

RICH LOWRY, EDITOR OF NATIONAL REVIEW AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well yes, I think the White House needs to figure out how much is the value of the wall, which is an important political promise of the President and how much is the value of things I would consider more substantiate and important immigration policy going forward.

LEMON: Very important.

LOWRY: I would do the e-verify system before I build the wall. Where you have the employers have the ability -- make them confirm this their employees are legal which would help cut off the flow. And the changes on chain migration.

LEMON: You think there are other things that are more effective than the wall would be.

LOWRY: Yes. Like we loosely talk about border security. But if you know Louise Gutierrez, the liberal Democrat writes a border security bill with $20 billion in funding and Bob Goodlatte the conservative from Virginia writes a border funding bill with $20 billion in funding they can be totally different even though they look the same at the top line. The details on various authorities and legalities are important.

[23:40:20] LEMON: So here is the President tweeted tonight responding to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's statement that he is pulling the wall off the table. Here is what he said, he said, "crying Chuck Schumer fully understands especially after the humiliating defeat that if that there is no wall there is no DACA. We must have safety and security together with a strong military for our great people." Here we go again. It seems like we're going back right back through this.

LOWRY: Yes I think so. Look. I think Graham and Durbin their proposal is way out there. If you look at the numbers it probably could get up to amnesty for 5 million people. That would be almost twice the amnesty in 1986. I don't think most people realize that are focusing on that. There's not enough on the other side to justify a deal. I think it should be dead on arrival. And I hope the senate starts with a better proposal.

LEMON: You think DACA amnesty.

LOWRY: Definitely.

LEMON: You refer to it as amnesty.

LOWRY: DACA is a form of amnesty.

LEMON: That is how staunch conservatives see it.

LOWRY: I think that is the way reasonably people should see it.

LEMON: Most of the country is interested in would like to see DACA.

LOWRY: Most of the country would like amnesty for this population.

LEMON: David, Paul Walden writes in the "Washington Post". He said the fate of DREAMERS lies in Paul Ryan's hands adding that unfortunately there isn't much reason to believe he will do the right thing. That is because whatever the senate passes, would then have to pass the house.

LOWRY: Right.

LEMON: And the question is whether Paul Ryan would allow a vote on the bill. Will he, you think?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't know. I think that goes back to Senator Graham's statement. I think that President Trump has yet to take a firm position on what he wants to do and I think Speaker Ryan is waiting for President Trump. Look Speaker Ryan as a speaker has managed his caucus pretty well and managed this shutdown situation pretty well by staying out of the lime light as has President Trump. Republicans won the first round. Throughout his career before and after he is the speaker, Speaker Ryan mainly just is -- has served as a rubber stamp for Republican Presidents, whether it was Medicare part d, no child left behind, the Iraq war, tarp, every big government thing that George W. Bush wanted he was for. Same with President Trump now. The tax -- the tax cut that raised the deficit he was for that. I think he is waiting for President Trump to tell him which way they're going on immigration and he will go that way.

LEMON: What are you saying, David.

SWERDLICK: I'm saying that Speaker Ryan is -- he is no Sam Rayburn.

LEMON: Are you saying he has no spine?

SWERDLICK: He is not even Newt Gingrich. No, he has all the qualifications for what Republicans need at this time, Don.

LEMON: Ok. SWERDLICK: He is good at press conferences, he is of (inaudible). He

understands the issues, he manages internally his caucus.

LEMON: Is he is getting a pass.

SWERDLICK: He is not a leader in the sense he is going to drive the agenda. Keep his finger in the wind until President Trump tells him where they're going and he will do that.

LEMON: Is he getting a pass? I'll let you in Rich.

LOWRY: Sure.

SWERDLICK: I mean, he is not getting a pass, because they're playing the cards right now. I was on here with you on Friday night thinking that Senator Schumer had a better game plan than he did. It turns out that Republicans let Senator McConnell handle things. The President kept out of sight this weekend. Speaker Ryan kept out of sight for the most part. I don't call that a pass. They won this round against the Democrats. That doesn't mean the fight is over. But they were smart.

LEMON: Go ahead, Rich.

LOWRY: David is underestimating Paul Ryan's achievement the past year. This is someone who seriously thought about whether he wanted to be speaker or not because the house majority was so dysfunctional it was border line ungovernable. And basically everything he set out to do he has done. He passed the Obamacare repeal passed the tax reform. Passed the C.R. which as David appropriately says I think really helped put Chuck Schumer in a tough spot. Because if Republican hadn't got that on the house the whole thing would have been on them. Instead they put it on us and senate Democrats. I think immigration, look he would. Heart of hearts Paul Ryan is with Lindsey Graham not Donald Trump on this issue, but he realizes as a working politician that the center of gravity has shifted on immigration within the Party after Trump's victory.

LEMON: I've got to get this question in because I want to switch to another important subject the House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes has drafted a memo accusing the FBI of using surveillance tools against the President. Democrats say it's misrepresenting the truth. Nunes got access to classified information to write the memos with Paul Ryan's support. Is Ryan playing both sides of the fence here, Rich?

[23:45:21] LOWRY: Well, look, I'm in favor of disclosure and information. So maybe this memo is as alarming as a lot of Republicans say. Maybe it's as empty as Democrats say. Let's see it and have open debate. On the whole Russia think I want more facts more disclosure as much transparency as possible.

LEMON: David.

SWERDLICK: Yes, I think transparency is best. Let's see it and see if there is something to it or not either way, I don't think that this kind of effort is going to ultimately allow Republicans to distract or at least Congressman Nunes to distract from the main investigation going on about the President and his inner circle vis-a-vis Russia.

LEMON: David, Rich, thank you so much. We appreciate it. When we come back multiple reports of upheaval within the President's administration. With already record levels of turnover will we see more changes to the White House staff? Probably so.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The White House trying to knock down reports of tensions between the President and his chief of staff. I want to bring in now CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett. Also Sally Quinn, a contributor to "The Washington Post" who is the author of "Finding magic." when you find it, can you let me know and pass it along to me?

SALLY QUINN, WASHINGTON POST CONTRIBUTOR: I've found it, Baby.

LEMON: And Chris Whipple, author of "The gatekeepers, how the White House chief of staff define every presidency." Good to have you all on this evening. Thank you so much.

[23:50:00] Chris I am going to start with you. This President has clashed with many of his top adviser, high-level staff. But I think there was really trouble last week. Remember when Kelly went on TV saying the President had sort of evolved on immigration and the wall. And then the next morning the President denied that and then he tweeted. We can put the tweet up. Why is the President so irritated by this?

CHRIS WHIPPLE, AUTHOR, THE GATEKEEPERS, HOW THE WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF DEFINE EVERY PRESIDENCY: Well, you know, Kelly is in the doghouse obviously for suggesting that Trump didn't know what he was talking about when it came to the wall. On the one hand, it's clearly the chief's job to try to translate Trump's policies into reality. But you don't do it on Fox News. It reminded me on Don Reagan, Ronald Reagan's chief of staff who famously said his job was cleaning up after the elephants. That didn't endear him to Nancy Reagan. And that was the beginning of the end for Don Reagan. But of course in this White House, there is only one boss, and it's not Melania.

LEMON: Kate, listen, then this morning the President tweeted his support for Kelly. It started with a thank you to John Kelly. And then he went on and talked about his fantastic job and his staff and all of that. So then why the contradiction? Why tweet the first one and then go back and do this?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I mean, it's certainly hard to keep up, right? This is a White House in the west wing that seems to change every single day at the whim of the President. I think that is part of the reason why there was record-setting turnover in his first year in office. I mean 12 major west wing senior staffers left his administration very quickly, and most of them with a dramatic flourish. So, I think, again, this is a President that each day, as we all tune in and watch this and cover it, his staff is doing the same and it creates a good deal of tumult.

LEMON: Sally, the President also defended Reince Priebus and shortly afterwards Priebus was out. John Kelly was the new chief of staff. Can anyone in this White House do, you think that they can have confidence in their position day to day?

QUINN: Oh, of course not. How could they? And then they all know it too. Everyone is terrified because nobody is safe. And I mean, you might want to say that the President is hormonal, because one day he is up and one day he is down. One day he loves you and the next day it's off with your head. And they're all running scared. What fascinates me is why anyone would want to stay in a position like that. Because it is nothing, but daily humiliation for every one of them, starting with Kelly and McMaster and Gary Cohn and all of his cabinet.

LEMON: Well, "Vanity Fair" reported yesterday the President was definitely not pleased with General Kelly. In recent days, Trump has fumed to friends that Kelly acts like he is running the government while Trump tweets and watches television. I've got another nut job here who thinks he is running things, Trump told one friend, according to a Republican briefed on the call. A second source confirmed that Trump has vented about Kelly, mentioning one call in which Trump said this guy thinks he is running the show, Sally. So most people agree that the President needs strong people like Kelly to manage him. But is this what the -- is that what the President really wants? He doesn't want that.

QUINN: But the fact is that it's not possible. No one can manage him. And it would it seems to me after a year that it has been quite clear. I mean the only person who seems to have been able to have any influence and fly under the radar is General Mattis. And for some reason, he has not gotten himself in trouble, even though in that dear leader meeting at the White House with all the cabinet where they were talking about how grateful they were to be working for him, Mattis was the only one who said I'm grateful for the men and women who serve this country. He is the only one who hasn't been a sycophant and hasn't been kowtowing to the President. For some reason, the President seems to lay off him. And maybe it's because he is not a sycophant, and the rest of them are.

WHIPPLE: I want to amplify on what sally's saying, it's really true on the one hand Trump has tremendous respect for three and four-star generals. And yet he gets tired of people. This is somebody for whom familiarity --

LEMON: Sneezed.

WHIPPLE: -- breeds contempt. And he has been known to say in the oval office to no one in particular, you know, I'm not sure I trust these generals. I think they're maybe not America firsters. I think maybe they're a bunch of liberals. Is Mattis a liberal? Now Kelly, nobody would mistake Kelly for a liberal, and yet he has been there for six months. With Donald Trump, that is an eternity.

LEMON: That weird face is, I almost sneezed on camera. I've sneezed on TV before, but usually when someone else is up. Kate you were saying that is because he is not in the building? BENNETT: Mattis is not in the day to day role that most of the staff

members are. It leads me to think about Ivanka Trump who is a family member, maybe knows him best of all, and she may outlast everybody there is of course the rumors that she and Jared Kushner were going to leave Washington and move back to New York. And then they're rumors that they're looking for a more permanent house to stay and stick around. But again, this is someone he can't get sick of, right? This is his own daughter. She may outlast everybody as a top adviser. And, again, this is that tricky family administration role that she is this tightrope she has been walking this entire year.

[23:55:31] LEMON: You have reporting on Melania Trump and Davos. What can you tell us, Kate?

BENNETT: Melania Trump last week I was told by her spokesperson was going to Davos, mainly to support the President as he gives this big speech and be there. And this happened after the Stormy Daniels story broke. But then in the past few days, something changed. The White House told me last night that she is not going to Davos. She will not accompany him based on logistics and scheduling issues. And it seems just like awkward timing, I guess. And there is no real substance to that denial of why she is not going and it leaves America and everyone else to figure out why isn't she going.

LEMON: I think they said logistics. But wasn't it their anniversary yesterday? Don't you want to be with you your --

BENNETT: We're used to seeing Barack and Michelle tweet or Instagram. Even George and Laura Bush would send messages of happy anniversary. And there is nothing. You wouldn't know it was their anniversary unless you were like me and you follow these things there was not a sign of it. There wasn't any sort of acknowledgment. I asked the White House if there was a special dinner or date night. And no one return my calls. So, you know, this isn't a couple that marks these occasions, at least in a public way.

LEMON: Well, something tells me we haven't heard the end of Stormy Daniels yet. Thank you. Appreciate it. See you next time. That is us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.

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