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Trump Willing to Face Robert Mueller Under Oath; Steve Bannon Will Be Questioned by Mueller; Trump Said No Collusion with Russia; New Half-Cooked Promise to DACA Recipients. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 24, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: ... with Don Lemon, the man starts right now.
DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: Top of the hour, this is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
And we have big news on the Russia investigation to tell you about. And it comes straight from the president's mouth.
President Trump telling reporters tonight he is looking forward to talking to special counsel Robert Mueller. His lawyer is responding to that tonight. We're going to tell you what he says.
Remember, this is the president who in the Rose Garden back in June said he was 100 percent willing to talk to Mueller. Then just a few weeks ago he said there might not be an interview. So, definitely maybe.
The president also spoke about Hillary Clinton, his chief of staff John Kelly, and Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. And you'll hear all of it tonight.
We have more breaking news as well. CNN also learning that Robert Mueller has given the president's lawyers possible topics he wants to ask about as part of the interview with the president. That comes on the same day that sources tell CNN Mueller's team wants to question former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon about the firings of national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James Comey.
Sources also saying CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been interviewed by Mueller's team. And it may be no coincidence that with all of these developments in the Russia investigative conservative media is full of talk about a co-called secret society inside the FBI.
There's no evidence, no proof it actually exists, but the idea presumably is it would have been after the president in a nefarious way. Where do they get that idea? We'll have the fact check on all of that for you later, so stay tuned.
I want to bring in now and get to CNN's senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown, CNN legal commentator, Ken Cuccinelli, and former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti who is running for Illinois attorney general.
Good to have all of you on. Pamela, as I said I want to get straight to the news and that means you. President Trump giving a wide ranging interview to White House reporters today. He was asked about the possibility of him meeting with the special counsel. Here's what he had to say and then we'll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking forward to it, actually.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to.
TRUMP: Yes. Just so you understand, there's been no collusion whatsoever. There's no obstruction whatsoever, and I'm looking forward to it. I do worry, when I look at all of the things that you people don't report about, with what's happening.
If you take a look at, you know, the five months' worth of missing texts, that's a lot of missing texts. And as I said yesterday, that's primetime. So you do sort of look at that and say what's going on, you do look at certain texts where they talk about insurance policies or insurance. Where they say the kinds of things they're saying, you have to be concerned. But I would love to do that, and I'd like to do it as soon as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will you do, Mr. President?
TRUMP: Good luck, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date set?
TRUMP: So here's the story.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date set, Mr. President?
TRUMP: I don't know, no. I guess they're just talking about two or three weeks. But I would love to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In person?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you...
TRUMP: You know, again, I have to say, subject to my lawyers and all of that, but I would love to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Besides there were some factual errors in there, Pam, about the missing texts because it affected a lot of phones as they were changing over the phones. The president didn't talk about that, but someone should probably tell him the truth about it.
But you were in the room. I want you to talk about that and also the breaking news tonight about Mueller actually wanting to question the president. What does he want to question him about?
PAMELA BROWN, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, there was a lot that happened in that room in just short span of time that reporters talk to the president. He walked in unannounced, it was a surprise to the reporters as well as White House aides in the room.
And of course, the reporters wanted to talk to him about Robert Mueller, as he already said there, that he would love to sit down and talk to him. And he said he would do so under oath.
He changed his tune from just a few weeks ago, he sort of hedge in and didn't say that. He sort of said that -- kind of left it open. But today he was very straightforward and that he wants to sit down with him face to face.
Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer released a statement shortly after the president made those comments, Don, saying, "While Mr. Trump was speaking hurriedly before departing for Davos, he remained committed to continued complete cooperation with the office of special counsel and he's looking forward to speaking with Mr. Mueller."
I can tell you, Don, from sources tell me that the lawyers, the legal team who look at an in-person interview as a last resort, that is not something that they necessarily want. But also sources tell us, Don, that Robert Mueller's team does want to have an in-person interview with President Trump.
And the team has made that clear to the president's lawyers. Now what will happen, how it will take shape is unclear. But all the terms are being negotiated. I'm told they're still in the early stages of trying to work things out with a possible interview, Don.
LEMON: So, Renato, let me bring you in here. The president was also asked about whether any meeting with the special counsel would be under oath. I want you to take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:05:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you do it under oath, Mr. President?
TRUMP: You mean like Hillary did it -- who said that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said it.
TRUMP: You said it. You just say. You say a lot. Did Hillary do it under oath?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea. I'm not asking you.
TRUMP: I think you have an idea. Don't you have an idea? Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait, do you have an idea? You really not have an idea? I'll give you an idea, she didn't do it under oath. But I would do it under oath.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would?
TRUMP: Listen, but I would do it. And you know she didn't do it under oath.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. Again, Renato, more factual errors in that statement because he is fixated on this, he said that he said it before. Explain what happens when FBI, the FBI interviews -- during FBI interviews and whether or not you have to be under oath.
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So typically, the FBI interviews, no one is under oath. You don't need to be under oath because lying to an FBI agent is a crime whether you're under oath or not. So typically there's no court reporter present, there's no video cameras, no, you know, no one taping.
In an interview like this there's FBI agents sitting there, they're taking notes. There's a federal prosecutors in this case, Mr. Mueller and his team would be there. And then you would also obviously have defense attorneys there.
That's how that works, that's a pretty standard practice. So when he's talking about being under oath, he was off the reservation there from the perspective of what his attorneys I'm sure had in mind.
I can imagine Mr. Cobb was sitting back in the White House very concerned about potentially losing his leverage with Robert Mueller, I don't think he wants the president to be, you know, testifying in front of the grand jury. He wants it to be more informal, he wants to be present in that interview and he doesn't want it to be under oath.
LEMON: So, listen, in another big point the president also addressed to report that he asked the acting FBI director Andrew McCabe who he voted for, the president answered, Ken, by saying, he doesn't recall, answering or asking that question. Let's listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should McCabe go, Mr. President?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should McCabe go?
TRUMP: Well, McCabe got more than $500,000 from essentially Hillary Clinton, and is he investigating Hillary Clinton?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So should he go?
TRUMP: Do you remember, did anybody hear many of my speeches where I talked about McCabe. He was the star of my speech. This isn't now, and I said, a man who was more or less in charge of -- the wife got $500,000 from Terry. Now, Terry is Hillary. And yes, -- I mean...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you regret having him as your acting FBI director then?
TRUMP: You know what, I keep out of it, you'll find that hard to believe, I keep out of it that's the way it fell. He's been there. It's one of those things. But he was the star of many of my speeches. So he got from 5 to 700,000, whatever that number was. He got that money for the wife.
And in Virginia, in Virginia, it's very interesting...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ask him whom he voted for?
TRUMP: Wait. In Virginia, you don't have to spend the money, so I never checked as to whether or not they spent the money on the campaign. How much of the money did he spend on the campaign, you know? She. How much was, how much was -- wait, how much of the money was spent?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ask who he voted for?
TRUMP: Do you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So on the one hand, Ken, the president is saying that he doesn't remember asking McCabe who he voted for, and on the other he's saying it wouldn't matter if he did. And implies to reporters that's something that he might do. Is that a good defense?
KEN CUCCINELLI, LEGAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, it's a muddled one. Of course, what he's really doing is sort of dragging McCabe's political side into the spotlight. And here we are talking about it. Obviously, I'm in Virginia and what he was talking about there is that Terry McAuliffe gave his PAC, his political action committee gave over $500,000 to McCabe's wife to run as a democrat for the state Senate.
And actually, I think McCabe's mistake in that race was he appeared in political literature with his wife. Now it's his wife, and that's a response a lot of people have, but other people's response is, it's the FBI. So you've kind of given up your nonpartisan chops to that point, and the president is taking advantage of that with McCabe.
LEMON: Is he supposed to pretend though. CUCCINELLI: When it came to firing Comey...
LEMON: Listen, I'm just giving up anything. Is this -- is anyone, is he's supposed to pretend that he's not her husband? I mean, is, you know -- it would...
CUCCINELLI: Look, you flow, there's two ways that can go, but when they, as a couple made the decision that she was going to get in that race, so she decided to get in that race, it was going to have consequences for an FBI agent husband.
And -- but no one I think would have imagined the kinds of consequences we're talking about tonight. I mean, he's in the center spotlight, and it's a difficult position to be in. And there's really no shaking that partisan flavor for him.
[22:09:57] And the president is taking advantage of it from a messaging standpoint.
LEMON: I just don't see how you can pretend you're not married to someone and when you're -- and how that...
CUCCINELLI: I don't think anybody -- I think it's the opposite of what you're saying, Don.
LEMON: ... should -- why would that have to affect anybody's career.
I know, but how is he not going to appear, if there's pictures of him. And pictures of them as a couple, what the -- it doesn't make sense. I mean, the...
CUCCINELLI: Of course, it makes perfect sense.
LEMON: ... first lady appears in literature and..
CUCCINELLI: The way he did it.
LEMON: The first lady appears in literature, and in campaign ads with the president or with the candidate. I don't understand what difference it makes. If he actually went and asked the FBI, what's the protocol, and it seems that he did that. What difference does that make, and there's a paper trail of that.
(CROSSTALK) CUCCINELLI: Flip it around, let's say this...
LEMON: I am, I'm flipping it around. It wouldn't matter if it's a democrat or a republican.
CUCCINELLI: I just don't buy that, Don. I don't buy that.
CUCCINELLI: It matters because it's a club to hit the president with, but it's also for the president a club he can hit McCabe with. And look, for an FBI agent and in the culture of that organization that has been above and outside of politics forever, this is not above and outside of it. And so it's an exception.
LEMON: So for her to run, are they supposed to get a divorce, and they're not supposed to be pictured together?
CUCCINELLI: Of course not.
LEMON: Are they supposed to ask Google to remove all of the images of them as a couple off of the internet? What you're saying makes absolute no sense.
CUCCINELLI: No, no, no. You're going somewhere else. The political literature of his wife's campaign used those pictures, it wasn't that they existed, it was that they used them in the political campaign.
CUCCINELLI: They're married.
CUCCINELLI: That was funded in part by terry McAuliffe.
LEMON: They're married. Go ahead, Renato. Sorry.
MARIOTTI: No, that's fine. I mean, what I was going to say is I don't think any FBI agent could have imagined what Donald Trump is doing here. I think it's really outside of the normal bounds of what we've seen in the political process, yes, in prior occasions in this country, whether it was Nixon or Clinton. There have been some politicization of camp -- of investigations.
But no one has really seen an American president attack the FBI, attack the Justice Department in the way that president has. I mean, he ostensibly controls the Justice Department and the FBI. They're his appointees at the head of both agencies. And he's really gone after them in a way that I don't think anyone who has a career FBI agent could have anticipated.
So I'm sure Mr. McCabe when he was making those decisions with his wife, did not anticipate that the president of the United States was going to be tweeting insults at him, attacking him at campaign rallies and by making him a national figure of hatred and of scorn by a huge percentage of this country.
I don't think anyone could expect that. And frankly, FBI agent shouldn't have to expect this...
LEMON: But also, listen, if donating to a political campaign disqualifies anyone wouldn't be he be disqualified from criticizing Hillary Clinton because he donated money to Hillary Clinton as well and was a former supporter. I'm talking about the sitting president now? So he would be disqualified from criticizing her.
Thank you all. When we come back, Robert Mueller's team about to question Steve Bannon about the Flynn and Comey firings, and negotiating for the president himself to be interviewed. I'm going to ask a former director of national intelligence where he thinks the Russia investigation stands and where it's going.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Here's our breaking news tonight. President Trump telling reporters he is willing to be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller. In fact, he says he's looking forward to it, if his lawyers approve. That is we're learning tonight that Mueller's team has given Trump's lawyers possible topics they want to ask the president.
Joining me now to weigh in on this is CNN national security analyst, James Clapper, he's a former director of National Intelligence. Director Clapper, thank you for joining us.
The president says that he wants to talk to Mueller under oath, but says he'll listen to the advice from his lawyers. What do you make of that? He's giving himself some wiggle room here?
JAMES CLAPPER, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: Well, this is -- at least to me, stark contrast to what he said not too long ago, where he didn't see a need for an interview, because there's no collusion. So I wouldn't be surprised if, you know, at some future point he says, no, I'm not going to do an interview, so we'll just have to see. You know, one of the hallmarks of this presidency is not -- is not consistency.
LEMON: Well, it's just interesting when he says he is looking forward to it, because most people aren't even looking forward to jury duty. Why would you be looking forward to speaking to a special counsel that could possibly get you into some trouble especially with perjury or what have you? Even if maybe you didn't mean it.
CLAPPER: Yes, that's kind of -- it's actually it's kind of an amazing statement. Because I wouldn't be -- I wouldn't look forward to a circumstance like that, in any event, even if I had a good story to tell.
LEMON: Yes, absolutely. So, the president was asked about the Washington Post report that he asked then acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe who he voted for in the Oval Office, in an Oval Office meeting. I want you to listen carefully, the people at home, because the president's words and their implications are really important. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ask McCabe who he voted for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask him that?
TRUMP: I don't think so. No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't think you did.
TRUMP: No, I don't think I did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did not?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't?
TRUMP: I don't know what's the big deal with that. Because I would ask you, who did you vote for. I don't think it's a big deal. But I don't remember that, you know, I saw that this morning. I don't remember asking him that question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it possible you did?
TRUMP: I don't remember asking him the question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think you'll remember...
TRUMP: I think it's also a very unimportant question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
TRUMP: But I don't remember asking him that question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, remember, he did say, he had the greatest memory of all time. So, but he says he doesn't think so. But if he did, he doesn't think that it's a big deal.
Two questions for you. First, do you believe him, and do you think that he asked McCabe that question?
CLAPPER: Well, unfortunately, no I don't believe him, because I think this kind of fits a pattern, I think that the timing of this exchange with Andy, I think came right after the firing of Jim Comey. And as I understand it, that this was a get to know you kind of engagement, meeting between the two of them.
[22:19:55] And in my mind it is completely inappropriate to ask a federal employee, a career employee, any employee who did you vote for? That's just completely inappropriate. And the other thing is, just -- this is kind of typical, rather ambiguous tap dance answer that he gave. And so, and again, I'm pretty sure that Andy well, remembers and may
have recorded just as Jim Comey did his conversations with the president. So I think it's very regrettable.
LEMON: You know, we're at this very critical point in the Mueller investigation. Sources are telling CNN that Mueller is set to question Steve Bannon on Flynn and Comey, their firings, he wants to question the president.
He's already interviewed Comey, he's interviewed Sessions, we found out his team interviewed CIA Director Mike Pompeo. What's your assessment of where this investigation stands?
CLAPPER: Well, I think it's kind of in the final innings, it would appear to me. Because I think you know, running out of people to talk to, witnesses here. And this to me, this is reflective of Bob Mueller's careful methodical approach to this, and kind of moving from the outer circle to the inner circle, ending up ultimately with the president.
The interview with the president by the way could be kind of anti- climactic in a way because I think the conditions that will be placed on what can be asked and the length of time he can be interrogated and all this sort of thing.
So, I think it's important for frankly, for a form, I'm not sure much will come of it substantively particularly if his lawyers have any influence over what he says.
LEMON: Director Clapper, I want to ask you about this memo, the one that was drafted by Intel chairman Devin Nunes.
LEMON: Allegations of Justice Department wrongdoing over surveillance activities in the Russia investigation. Nunes won't let his counterpart on the Senate side chairman Richard Burr won't let his staff see it, won't let the FBI or the Justice Department see it. Democrats say the memo is misleading. What's going on here?
CLAPPER: Well, to me, it appears just a partisan attempt here to attack the FBI and the Department of Justice. I mean, this is really an irregular approach to doing this conventionally. If there is -- if the Congress finds or suspects wrongdoing, then typically what you do, and hopefully be on a bipartisan basis, and then do a referral to the inspector general of the Department of Justice.
The FBI does not have a separate inspector general, so you go to the I.G. who is Senate confirmed, independent and who has professionals on his staff and the resource wherewithal to do a thorough, methodical, credible investigation.
But the fact that this was not bipartisan and was not referred to the Department of Justice for validation of accuracy and all that, I -- it makes this very suspect. And I think very partisan.
LEMON: Director Clapper, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, a ton of news coming out of the president's impromptu press conference. How much did his staff know that he would say tonight? And are those off script moments helping or hurting his agenda.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Here's the breaking news. President Trump saying tonight that he looks forward to taking -- to talking under oath to special counsel Robert Mueller but only if his lawyers approve.
I want to bring in now CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod, the former senior adviser to President Obama. And Mark McKinnon, the former adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain, now executive producer of Showtime's "The Circus."
Good evening, gentlemen. Thank you for joining me.
DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Hi, Don.
LEMON: We miss the hat, Mark and the roaring fireplace.
MARK MCKINNON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, THE CIRCUS: Got to venture out in the big city occasionally.
LEMON: But we will process. We'll get through this. So, your reaction, David, to all of this news coming out from this impromptu session with report -- with reporters. Sources tell our Jim Acosta the staff didn't know he was going to stop in on Kelly's session with reporters?
AXELROD: I guess my first reaction is, whatever his lawyers are charging is not enough. For all of the headaches that he must and all the sleepless nights he must cause them.
But look, I mean, they've been very disciplined in their message for some time, since Cobb got over to the White House, the message has been we're cooperating, you know, it's been non-confrontational, and so on.
And then as with every other aspect to the White House operation, you know, the president's off to the races, and sort of charts his own course. I'm sure that they were not happy when he walked in there and said I'd be happy to do this under oath.
I'm sure they were somewhat relieved that he added that this claim being subject to, you know, advice from my lawyers. But I think they would probably prefer if he just kept his mouth shut, which may be more than anyone can hope for.
LEMON: So Mark McKinnon, President Trump was asked tonight how he defines collusion, here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You're going to define it for me, OK, but I can tell you there's no collusion. I couldn't have cared less about Russians having to do with my campaign. The fact is, you people won't say this, but I'll say it. I was a much better candidate than her. You always say she was a bad candidate. You never say I was a good candidate. I was one of the greatest candidates. Nobody else would have beaten the Clinton machine as crooked as it was. But I was a great candidate. Some day you're going to say that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, you know, it's interesting because in his mind Russians interfering in the election, had something to do with his win. He's mixing the two together he can't hold two separate thoughts at the same time.
[22:30:01] That maybe he was a good candidate. Maybe he was helped by the Russians or maybe the Russians did influence the campaign, the electoral process. Your -- what's your reaction to here and then protests that, you know, he couldn't care less about the Russians having anything to do with his campaign.
MARK MCKINNON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, THE CIRCUS: Well, I think it may be true. And I think in the end there may be no collusion, as he says. But it's just so interesting and revealing, it always comes back to -- it's about him and about the margin of victory. And did he win it successfully, and about his legitimacy.
I want to just read a paragraph from Michael Wolff's book "Fire and Fury." Some people question the accuracy of some of the -- some of the passages, I want to have you. But as he says and other says the big takeaways are pretty accurate.
And here's what he said about the White House staff in some of these issues. He said, "This was the peculiar in haunting consensus of the White House staff, not that Trump was guilty of all that he was accused of, but he was guilty of so much else. It was also -- it was all too possible that the hardly plausible would lead to the totally credible."
And I think that's ultimately where this is headed. There may be no collusion, but there's -- I mean, there's literally three public examples of what you could easily argue are be obstructions of justice.
I mean, he said it on Lester Holt, he said it to, you know, Russian audience at the White House, Sarah Sanders said it from the White House podium. And that's just the stuff we know about. So, and then there's the other instances of Trump saying, you know, draw a line, don't look anywhere else. Well, you say that to a prosecutor, they're going to look somewhere else.
LEMON: Well, and that's the thing. Because collusion is not a legal term. I mean, from collusion you can get, as you said, this is possible -- not that it's going to head there, but obstruction, money laundering, any number of crimes can come out of that, again, none of that may come out of it, but collusion again not a legal term. So, it's very easy to say there's no collusion, there is n collusion because you can never really be charged with collusion.
But David, you know, the...
DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Can I...
LEMON: Yes, go ahead.
AXELROD: Can I just make a somewhat related point to this, which is, this has been his thing from the beginning, which is somehow to acknowledge that the Russians did what everybody else acknowledges they did, which was interfere with our election, was denigrating his victory, and as such, he could not acknowledge it.
AXELROD: And he has not been able to acknowledge it, and that gets in the way of getting to the bottom of what the Russians actually did, which becomes a real national security issue and problem for the country. And the Congress itself has been weighed by people so eager to defend the president, that they're not trying to get to the bottom of what the Russians actually did, and it is dangerous.
LEMON: Abut also, David, I think what people don't realize here, it's an old but very effective marketing strategy, you know, by him saying there's no collusion. There's no collusion. He says it, we repeat the sound bite, other people say it, and then you get people to believe if you say something a number of times. People are going to believe that it's true.
So far, collusion has or has not been proven. But if he keeps saying it over and over and notice how much he says it, he keeps saying it and we keep saying it, there's a strategy behind this, I believe.
AXELROD: Well, there's no doubt about it, and I think that he wants to focus on collusion. It may be that the more serious concern he has is about the things he did to try and divert this investigation. He said there was no obstruction either.
But there are questions that he is going to have to answer. Like why did he ask Jim Comey to go easy on Flynn? What was his motivation behind that, and why did he fire Comey after Comey refused to do so. So, there are a lot of questions that he's going to have to answer.
I will say this, I give him credit, he won a kind of miraculous victory. I agree with him, and I was critical of Secretary Clinton as a candidate, when she ran and some aspects of her campaign. I will say this, there was at least one other campaign that beat the Clinton machine.
LEMON: It was Obama.
AXELROD: So it wasn't unprecedented.
LEMON: You took the words right out of my mouth. I was going to say, wait a minute, didn't Obama beat the Clinton machine before he did?
AXELROD: Yes, I remember that clearly.
MCKINNON: Well played, sir. Well played.
LEMON: Yes. So, Mark, you know, we've been talking about General Kelly, I want you to listen quickly to what the president said about him tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: hello, everybody. How is he doing, OK? Does he have control? I think by the way, he's doing great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TRUMP: He's doing great. Fake news yesterday or two days ago. I rarely put out a tweet praising somebody, only when they get a false story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So tension between the president's chief of staff rising over the past few weeks escalating with Vanity Fair article on Monday reporting that Ivanka Trump is looking for a replacement here, he praised Kelly, then held a 15-minute Q&A with reporters.
Could this have been the president's way of showing Kelly he is in charge?
MCKINNON: It's certainly a classic Trump brush back. And you know, we've seen this act play out a number of times over the last year.
[22:34:57] And I would -- I certainly read that as a sign of saying that Kelly's days are numbered, unfortunately I think he's doing a hell of a job under the circumstances.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. I always appreciate our conversation. I always enjoy it. Hopefully we'll all be in the same room one day and we can do the talking there.
MCKINNON: We can kick this on...
AXELROD: Without our hats, yes.
LEMON: Without our hats.
MCKINNON: No, I got to -- I'll bring the hat.
LEMON: He's not even wearing a necktie. He's too cool for school. Thank you.
AXELROD: I know, I know.
LEMON: When we come back, the president also telling DACA recipients they have nothing to worry about tonight. He also says he's considering giving DREAMers a path to citizenship. What happened to his hardline stance and how will his party react?
LEMON: President Trump had a lot to say to reporters tonight including expressing confidence that a bipartisan agreement on immigration will happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you're going to get a deal on immigration, Mr. President?
TRUMP: I think so. Yes. I think so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think it's going to look like?
TRUMP: We're going to get a wall. We're going to get great border security. In fact, I just wrote something out, you may talk about it, chief, if you want, otherwise we'll do it tomorrow. But I just wrote something out, what we're looking, we want great border security.
[22:40:00] We want to do a great job with DACA. I think it's our issue. I think it's better issue for the republicans and for the democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do yo want citizenship for the DREAMers?
TRUMP: But we're going to -- we're going to morph into it. It's going to happen, at some point in the future.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean? What is morph into it? What do you mean?
TRUMP: Over a period. Over a period of 10 to 12 years, somebody does a great job. They've worked hard. It gives incentive to do a great job but they've worked hard. They've done terrifically, whether they have a little company, or whether they work, or whatever they're doing if they do a great job. I think it's a nice thing to have the incentive, of after a period of years, being able to become a citizen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So the president going on to say he might be willing to extend the DACA deadline if there was no agreement. I want to talk about this with former republican Congressman David
Jolly, and CNN political commentators Jason Miller and Angela Rye. Good evening all, one and all. Thank you so much.
DAVID JOLLY, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Good evening.
LEMON: Angela, let's starts with you. President Trump gave an upbeat answer tonight about the possibility of reaching an agreement on immigration reform and the future of DREAMers. What's your reaction?
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: My reaction is I can't take the president's word worth a grain of salt. Like this is someone who regularly says one thing out of his mouth and says something very different.
I think the reality of it is when I was listening to those remarks, Don, I thought about the man who was recently deported, a husband and a wife and with kids, and he didn't do anything.
So I don't believe someone who built his campaign on calling Mexicans drug dealers and rapists, I don't believe a man who spent time and has spent time even just yesterday tweeting about a wall, and the importance of the wall, no wall, no deal.
I don't believe him today, because he doesn't have the compassion to make this type of policy decision.
LEMON: Representative Jolly, your former republican colleagues in the House are taking a very hardline on this, do you think they're going to see this the same way the president does?
JOLLY: No, absolutely not. Listen, republicans haven't been able to solve immigration reform in 30 years, and the irony here is, whatever passes the Senate, there's likely no possible way it would pass the House of Representatives.
What a bipartisan package would look like in the House simply couldn't pass -- or in the Senate, simply couldn't pass the House unless Paul Ryan is perhaps not going to run for re-election and decides to strike a deal with Nancy Pelosi.
Donald Trump doesn't know what he's talking about on these issues. We saw it a few weeks ago when he said I'll sign whatever you bring me. And Durbin and Graham brought it to him, and then the hardliners got to Trump and said no, sir, you can't sign this.
This is no easier in three weeks from now. I really think, really think Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell is going to pull the rug out from under Chuck Schumer on this one.
LEMON: You think you do?
JOLLY: Yes. Absolutely.
LEMON: Go on. Talk more about that. Why? JOLLY: Look, it's a false promise. You might get a vote on DACA. But
again, whatever can pass the Senate cannot pass the House, and the president won't sign it. This is going to set up like Charlie Brown and Lucy. Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.
Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, they're holding it, they're going to pull it out as soon as Chuck Schumer tries to kick it. It's not going to work. If this was easier to solve, more republicans would run on this issue. But Don, the deep red base throughout the country the moment you say DACA, they scream amnesty.
And the problem with no leadership from Donald Trump is this. The right wing media will lose their minds over this. And Donald Trump folds in a heartbeat under the heat of the right wing media. And if he's not going to lead the House towards DACA it's not going to happen.
LEMON: You set up, Representative Jolly, my question to Jason perfectly. Because I want you to check out this question, Jason. All of you can look at it obviously, you know, you can see as well.
This is Breitbart. And they write immigration shock, amnesty dance suggests citizenship for illegal aliens. Jason?
JASON MILLER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: So, as much as I respect the good congressman, I think he might be living in an alternative universe here. Here is the fact, is that President Trump is running circles...
LEMON: Didn't Breitbart just prove his point, though?
MILLER: Hold on. President Trump is running circles around the democrats right now. So first fall we had Chuck Schumer who absolutely face planted on his failed shutdown, so we know that the democrats aren't going to do that, and while the democrats have completely imploded on this, the...
LEMON: You're -- Jason, you're absolutely right about that, right on, they completely caved, I don't know why they shut the government down.
MILLER: Yes. So here's the genius thing...
LEMON: But what we're talking about -- hold on, no, no, answer the question, and then you can spin.
MILLER: I'm answering your question.
LEMON: Because we're talking about -- we're talking about the red -- the base as he said, the hardcore base and the right wing media.
MILLER: Exactly. And that's -- so let me get to that. And so what the president is doing now, is getting out there and setting markers, both on the border security, ending chain migration, getting rid of the visa lottery, getting rid of the DACA systems so we don't have this repeat over and over again.
And he is defining the terms in which we're going to go and secure our border and make sure that we don't have this problem pop back up again. That was the big problem with Reagan when he did this back in 1986, as they didn't go and have the appropriate enforcement mechanisms in place as part of a deal, and it came right back.
[22:44:57] So what the president is doing, is getting out and setting markers. And so now here is how much Schumer is stuck between a rock and a hard place, is because now that the president has put down these markers, that he might be open to coming up with some kind of deal.
Now Schumer's liberal base is saying, wait a minute, the president is willing to do this, you can't go and shut down the government, you need to give him, as we saw Luis Gutierrez even say he was with, give him the wall, let's end chain migration, let's end the visa lottery. The president is running circles around these democrats and they don't know what he's doing.
LEMON: But still you didn't answer the question about his...
RYE: No, he doesn't know what he's doing.
MILLER: No, I did. No.
LEMON: He can't answer that, Don.
MILLER: Conservatives know that this is a problem that we have to go and fix. We need long term solution and if we don't do it our way it's going to end up, the democrats are going to be the ones running it. So we're going to get border security...
LEMON: OK. Jason, hold that thought, we're going to talk more about immigration what Trump said about the wall, and you guys will get to respond what Jason said right after this.
LEMON: David Jolly, Jason Miller, and Angela Rye all back with me now. So, listen to this, Angela and I want you to respond. Because I think you took umbrage to something that Jason said. But this is what the president said about immigration tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Tell them not to be concerned, OK. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have nothing to...
TRUMP: tell them -- tell them not to worry. We're going to solve the problem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I just clarify one thing.
[22:50:00] TRUMP: No, it's up to the democrats but we -- they should ot be concerned.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we just clarify one thing?
TRUMP: We're going to put in a fund $25 billion in a fund.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you need all up front?
TRUMP: We have 25 billion for a wall. We have 5 billion for other security measures. After DACA is done we will look at the overall immigration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you still want chain migration and lottery as part of DACA?
TRUMP: We're putting in the initial, we're putting chain and negotiated chain. We're putting a replacement for lottery or an end to lottery. It could be a replacement. We bring people in from various countries that come in based on merit and various other reasons and we are going to build the wall. So, those primary things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So he said we're going to put in a fund, we're going to do. But is the money coming from Mexico for the fund? Like where is that.
RYE: Come on, Don.
LEMON: No. I'm serious. I don't know where the money is coming from. I mean...
RYE: He doesn't know either because it's coming from us.
LEMON: He said he wants $25 billion for the border wall. I don't know. Can you support that as a democrat? Is that the permanent solution for DREAMers?
RYE: Don, you know good and well -- no, I'm not supporting a wall. I never supported a wall from the moment he said it. I don't understand why nobody on Donald Trump's transition team, nobody on his campaign, nobody who he is affiliated with, no adviser told him that there was a process in place at one point called SBI net, the secure border initiative. It was partially a physical wall and an electronic wall. I worked on
the homeland security committee. I've watched this failed. There were hearing after hearing after hearing on why this particular wall didn't work. Cost the government millions of dollars.
Barack Obama pulled the plug on this project. Why would you go back and do the same thing? It doesn't work. The reality of what needs to happen in this country is there needs to be a different type of wall built. That wall needs to be built to bind us and release us from bigotry and ignorance. That's the wall that needs to be built.
We cannot create false borders, false systems to keep people out of this country when they're trying to come here to make a better life for themselves. That is the bottom line. I'm not saying that we don't need any type of immigration policy. What I am saying to you...
LEMON: We do need border security though.
RYE: We can have border security.
RYE: But it doesn't have to be in a way that is built upon hatred, that is built upon trying to make it harder for people who are trying to get.
MILLER: So we'll just let everyone in, right? We'll just let everyone in, right?
RYE: You know what, Jason, you know what, Jason, that's the same thing the indigenous people did for your folks. They just let you all right in, so yes, I'm fine with that.
MILLER: Well, it's the same...
RYE: Why you trying to be funny.
MILLER: That's the same liberal mindset that got us in the problem where we are today.
RYE: Go with it.
MILLER: So, look, President Trump is going to get the money for the wall. You heard him say that. He says he's going to end chain migration and going to shut down the visa lottery. We're actually going to go and come up with some things to actually fix the problem that we have here.
And here is the problem where Angela and my other friends on the left, the pickle that they're now in is they are getting pressure from the folks who legitimately out there working hard who want to make sure that the DREAMers have some kind of pathway to be able to stay in the United States because the president has said that he is willing to come up with some kind of deal.
And so look, President Trump is going to absolutely get the border security and he is coming up with a long-term solution. I said this before. Bush couldn't get it done. Obama couldn't get it done. President Trump is going to get it done. I'm going to be proven right once again.
LEMON: What is -- what is this, Davis, what is different about this than what Chuck Schumer offered last week?
JOLLY: Nothing except Donald Trump wants to make it look like he win, right. He has to be the winner in this. Look, Jason is more optimistic than I am on this. We've been trying to pass as republican's operational control of the border for years. We still haven't been able to get it done. Perhaps Donald Trump can get that done.
But this speaks to the much bigger problem, Don, of the body politic right now when we see it on every single issue. It's the reason people are so angry. Why we are seeing the emergence that democrats, republicans are looking for answers in the middle are looking for independence. It's because each party only speaks to one constituency, right.
The democrats right now their sole focus is DACA. And republican's sole focus is border securely. In health care democrats were looking at those who needed the additional assistance and additional coverage. Republicans were only looking to people who lost coverage and who failed under Obamacare.
The reason the American people are so angry right now is that no one party is looking to solve all of these problems on behalf of a broader constituency. And that's true on this issue. The fact that Donald Trump is using a DACA recipients to -- or beneficiaries to get a border wall is frankly immoral, if you will...
JOLLY: ... to put these people's lives in leverage for a political agenda. And the fact that democrats -- look, I give Gutierrez a lot of credit to come along and say yes, let's build the wall, let's do it border security if that means we get a comprehensive solution.
MILLER: But congressman, you are criticizing the president for what he is actually going and doing what you want to see done which is actually do something about border security and come up with a smart comprehensive solution for DACA.
RYE: But Jason...
MILLER: He is actually doing that.
RYE: No, but the problem is the narrative...
(CROSSTALK) [22:54:59] JOLLY: Well, first of all, he's not coming up with any solution.
RYE: ... the narrative -- the narrative that's been used to talk about...
MILLER: Yes he is.
LEMON: Angela. Angela and then the congressman. Angela first and then the congressman. Go ahead, Angela.
RYE: The issue -- the issue that I think that we really need to address here, Don, is the fact that policy cannot be divorced from people. You cannot talk about people, human beings the way in which the Republican Party led by Donald Trump have talked about undocumented people.
Illegal aliens, the terminology, again, drug dealers, rapists, all of that has to go. So if you want to talk about policy, Congressman Jolly, you're right. We do need to figure out where there's a potential middle ground. But what we cannot do is demonize human beings who trying to come to America or remain in America to build a better life for themselves.
LEMON: OK. I have 20 seconds, Congressman Jolly.
JOLLY: Look, I want to agree with Jason on something. Donald Trump is the first republican in a long time to talk about DACA. Now I believe when the right wingers come out and call it amnesty he'll fold on it. But he should get credit for at least being a republican willing to talk about DACA.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
MILLER: Getting border security, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, President Trump answering questions in an impromptu session with reporters tonight. What he says about speaking to Robert Mueller and whether he'll testify under oath.
Plus, new information about Mueller's negotiations with Trump -- with Trump lawyers to get that sit-down interview.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. A little past 11, well, it's already 11 o'clock...