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Trump Say He Wants To Talk To Mueller Under Oath. Trump Says He Wants To Talk To Mueller If His Lawyers Approve; President Trump On Immigration; POTUS Opens To Citizenship For DREAMERS In 10 To 12 Years; Why Some Evangelicals Are Giving POTUS A Pass. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired January 24, 2018 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:11] LEMON: This is CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon. A little past -- right at 11:00 on the east coast. Live with breaking news. President Trump is on air force one right now on his way to Davos. Before he left he had a lot to say to reporters which apparently came as a surprise to White House aides who say they didn't know the President was going to drop in on Chief of Staff John Kelly's Session with the reporters tonight. Trump's legal team may have also have been surprised when the President said he was looking forward to an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. An interview which he said would be under oath. His lawyer Ty cob reacting to that saying it's a quote from Ty Cob. While Mr. Trump was speaking hurriedly before departing to Davos, he remains committed to continue to complete cooperation with the OSC and looking forward to speaking with Mueller.

Let's bring in CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, Asha Rangappa a legal analyst, Michael Zeldin, Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Justice Department. Boy, do we have lots to talk about this hour high pressure let's get going. Hello everyone. Michael, a lot of breakdown from President Trump wide ranging interview with reporters tonight. This is a clip of him speaking about the possibility of sitting down with the special counsel.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking forward to it actually.


TRUMP: Just so you understand. There has been no collusion what so ever. There is no obstruction what so ever. 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 is a lot of missing texts. And as I said yesterday, that is 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 kind of things they're saying. You have to be concerned, but I would love to do that. I'd like to do it as soon as possible. Good luck. Everybody here is the story. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date set, Mr. President?

TRUMP: I don't know. I think, I guess they're talking about two or three weeks. But I would love to do it. I have to say subjects to my lawyers and all of that, but I would love to do it.


LEMON: So he is looking forward to speaking to Robert Mueller. I mean come on, let's be honest. Do you believe that Michael that he is looking forward to it? Because he gave a big caveat just because he said it, it doesn't mean he is doing it as eagerly as he said.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Goodness knows if I'm able to determine what the President is thinking in this respect. It surely is not that which Ty Cobb was hoping for a freewheeling explication of his desires to speak to Robert Mueller before the parameters of the negotiations about when and where and on what topics and for how long and what topics and the negotiation is determined between the lawyers. The President said it. He walks back from things all the time. He may walk back from this. He did create the caveat of subject to my lawyers' advice. But he has a hard time now. Because he has said repeatedly -- although he said it in different ways -- I am looking forward to doing this. Now when he says subject to my lawyers. If his lawyers say and we don't want you to do it. And he says to the American people. I really want to do it, but my lawyers won't let me. What's the explanation that have other than that if he speaks there is legal jeopardy. He said no collusion and no obstruction of justice this time. Why doesn't he just overrule his lawyers and say I'm in charge here, I'm going to speak, because that is what I want to do. Either way, it shakes out. I don't think it was great strategic move for him to speak to the press about this upcoming interview.

LEMON: Does he really have a choice though?

ZELDIN: No. He actually does not really have a choice. He has some negotiating room about where, when, and perhaps a little bit of scope. But Mueller has indicated that he wants an in-face interview, a sit- down in person. And if the President refuses that then he has a grand jury subpoena available to him where he can force the President's hand. And we know from the United States versus Nixon Supreme Court decision that in respect of the executive privilege and the desire of the President not to speak versus the grand jury's desire for need for evidence, the grand jury prevails. Mueller holds really all of the leverage here.

LEMON: Yes, and remember what he said, on his lawyer's advice he wasn't going to release his tax returns even though the IRS said there is no problem. Of course you can release tax returns even if they're under audit. We're not sure they're under audit. It's a convenient excuse here. Asha we learned earlier tonight that Robert Mueller and his team presented the president and his attorneys and the range of topics he wants to speak to the president about it, including firing of Flynn and James Comey. What does it that indicate to you?

[23:05:18] ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It indicates to me that he is probably towards the end of the obstruction of justice part of an investigation which is not the full investigation in Russian meddling. I think it's important to understand that that is a broader umbrella that, in my opinion, will be ongoing for some time. With regard to the firings of Comey and Flynn, what Mueller and his team right now have is a time line. And the time line is incredibly important. Because what the President knew about Flynn and Flynn's activities with regard to Russia when he fired him is relevant to what was in his mind when he fired Comey. And that is what Mueller is going to want to elicit from the President. He is going to want this in person, Don. I want to add this.

Because there is more you can get in an in-person interview, voluntary interview. He will probably have FBI agents with him seasoned in doing interviews, the main goal of an FBI agent in doing the interview is to elicit information and doing that any way they could. Being disarming, friendly, play dumb if you have to. You get the information that you want. A grand jury subpoena makes it more formal environment, a little bit more adversely. And I think is not ideal for Mueller and his team to get the kind of information that they're looking for.

LEMON: Juliette Kayyem, the President was also asked about whether he thinks Mueller will be fair to him. Take a listen.


TRUMP: We're going to find out. We're going to find out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned about it?

TRUMP: Here is what we'll say and everybody says. No collusion. There is no collusion.

Now they're saying oh, well did he fight back? Did he fight back?


TRUMP: Did he fight back.


It's obstruction. Here the think I hope so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you define collusion and Maggie asked this earlier during the briefing with Sarah.

TRUMP: You define it for me, ok. I can tell you there is 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. Someday you're going to say that.


LEMON: Wow! Wow! That is amazing by the way. Obama beat the Clinton machine. He still can't get past the 2016 election. What do you think he is getting at when he says if you fight back it is obstruction?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, Donald Trump clearly doesn't know what collusion is. He is going to defer -- he has asked a reporter what it was. And on the fighting back on obstruction of justice, Donald Trump sort of surrounds himself with this word, everybody wish he always says the worded everybody thinks this. Everybody believes this. And actually in reality you look the polling it is well against him and whether he should testify. And everybody is just Donald Trump. When he says should he fight back or not, you know, as I said last night, Donald Trump -- you can't psycho analyze him but your perception of the presidency is you either support Donald Trump, you don't question him or say bad things about him on Fox News as John Kelly did. You don't cross him. You don't do anything. Or somehow you're un-American. And that is how -- once you realize that Donald Trump's whole theory of his presidency makes sense. And so because Mueller sword of is going to question Donald Trump, not just on the collusion, but on the financials and of course obstruction of justice, he is somehow anti-American, Mueller is somehow anti-American. And that is how Trump sees the world. It's wrong. It's scary. It's you know, something is there, but it's certainly in his world it probably makes sense.

LEMON: Go ahead, Michael.

ZELDIN: May I add one thing to this? Which is that the fighting back line may be the beginnings of a defense to obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is a specific intent crime. That is the person who obstructs or tries to obstruct, because you don't have to succeed -- the person who obstructs or tries to obstruct has to do it with intention. He has to purposely try to obstruct. The President when he says fighting back may be saying, look, I wasn't intending to obstruct justice. I was just defending my good name. Or defending the office of the presidency. Or doing what I thought was my constitutional obligation to do. But I was not doing this with criminal intent. So it may be that is what we're beginning to see when he uses those words. Those may be words that his lawyers have begun to prep him with. And he blurted out here without completely understanding the context.

[23:10:23] LEMON: Because he is concerned about obstruction. The concern is obstruction here.


LEMON: Asha, he also said he couldn't care less about Russians having anything to do with the campaign. Isn't that a problem? Shouldn't he be concerned about that?

RANGAPPA: He should be very concerned about it. And it's actually astonishing that it's been a year and he still hasn't acknowledged fully that meddling into the campaign has happened. And I have to say he has been enabled by many members of congress who have jumped on the band wagon to, you know, look for conspiracies basically everywhere else except, you know, where the Russians were actually trying to attack the United States, which was in our election. We know that there were 31 contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, 19 meetings that took place, everyone to a person has lied about them. This is a big problem, especially since we know, as the intelligence community has repeatedly said, that Russia is continuing to try to influence American politics and the way that -- that Americans are going to approach their elections in the future.

LEMON: Yes. All right. Stand by. Everyone stick with me. We have a lot to talk about. Have you heard about the secret society? Secret society. It's holed up in the Justice Department. Some lawmakers are talking with about its existence as if it's real. There is no proof it even exists. We're going to give you the facts next.


[23:15:30] LEMON: Back to now with Juliette Kayyem. Asha Rangappa and Michael Zeldin. I want to share some facts first with all of you at home. Conservative media is full of talk about so-called secret society. The secret society inside the FBI and a whole lot of it is just that, just talk. There is no evidence. No proof that it actually exists. But the idea presumably is it would have been after the President in a nefarious way. Well here with the facts. Republican accusations, the accusations stems from text messages between two senior FBI officials named Peter Strzok and Lisa Page during and after the 2016 election. Strzok was a member of the FBI team investigators Hillary Clinton's email server and later a member of Robert Mueller's team. He was removed from that investigation after some of the text messages between him and Page showed a clear anti-Trump bias. Republicans and right winning media are having a field day with one line from one of the messages referring to a secret society. I want to listen to Ron Johnson on Fox News which is basically state run TV at this point.


SEN RON JOHNSON, (R) WISCONSIN: What this is all about is further evidence of corruption -- more than bias but corruption at the highest levels of the FBI. And that secret society we have -- we have an informant that is talking about a group were holding secret meetings off sight.


LEMON: Well tonight that full message was obtained by ABC news and according to ABC it is a standalone text, but not related to any others in a series of texts. This is what it says. Quote. Are you even going to give out your calendars in seems kind of depressing maybe it should be the first meeting of a secret society. People in state run TV are believing it. There is a secret society. It's a conspiracy. Standalone text, no mention of Trump. And you can't even really tell what it's about. Still, I want to you listen to what Republican Senator Ron Johnson told our Manu Raju about that.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Do you believe there is a secret society within the FBI plotting to take down the President?

JOHNSON: Listen all I said is when I read those texts that is Strzok and Pages term. We are protecting whistle blowers coming to us from across agencies. That candidate surprise me. I've heard from an individual that there were FBI agents or you know management at the FBI holding meetings off-site.

RAJU: Off-site to do what exactly.

JOHNSON: I don't know.


LEMON: He has heard. He has heard. So does he really believe there is a secret society inside the FBI? He doesn't know. And again he has heard from unnamed -- unnamed individual that some FBI agents were having meetings off-site. Why? He doesn't know. And then there is the question of the missing texts by Strzok and Page five months' worth not as the President keeps insisting 50,000. That is the number of texts between two -- between the two that the Justice Department has reviewed on FBI servers, an unknown number for approximately five months between December 2016 and May of 2017 were not retained by the FBI system. The DOJ says the texts are missing because of a technical glitch affecting roughly one in ten FBI phones not just those two people's phones. One in 10 FBI phones. That is a fact. There is no evidence of anything nefarious there. Are there questions that need to be answered? Absolutely. And there should be. That is what investigators are for. Investigations are for that. Finding the facts. So let's talk about without the hyperbole and the, oh my gosh, a secret society. And -- state run TV is out of control now. Asha what are your thoughts on the secret society business?

RANGAPPA: Well, Don, you know, there were groups of FBI agents who had meetings off-site all the time. It was called getting a beer after work. You know.


LEMON: I was going to say that but I'm glad you did.

RANGAPPA: Yeah, I -- look, I work at Yale University where there are actual secret societies.

{23:20:00] So I think one pro tip is when you're in a secret society you actually don't refer to it as a secret society. You know, there are so many things here that are ridiculous on its face. But to jump from those things to corruption at the highest levels of the FBI is such a serious allegation, so destructive to the -- the values, the rule of laws, the legitimacy that our institutions have and built up over time without, as you said, any substantiating evidence. And it's just -- it's rich in my opinion that they do this with no regard, while at the same time ignoring, injury, very important evidence that has come their way about serious threats to our country. LEMON: And it's interesting to watch. I call it Trump TV or the

Trump channel. Especially when -- I mean they're really going at it. It is during their -- the editorial hour, opinion hours. And people at home don't discern these are opinions and not necessarily facts. They're watching opinion. And so they take it as fact and run with it having all the conspiracy theories and talk about it to families and spread it around and think it's real. It's not. Michael let's take another look at the text that ABC news is reporting, they say they got ahold of it that Johnson says is to damning, he is a former agent Lisa Page texting Strzok. Are you giving out calendar being seems depressing. Maybe it should be the first meeting of the secret society. Does that implicate -- indicate to you they were plotting something against the President there? Or is it a cheeky text message.

ZELDIN: Well, that is right. I thought it was sarcastic. Tongue in cheek, sort of communication between her and her friend Strzok. I don't think it had anything to do with knights Templar or the elders of Zion or skull and cross.

LEMON: Near out to get the President and here is proof they're talking about the secret society. Look it is right there in these text messages. Don't believe it. It is the media, the anti-Trump media that is out to get you and here is the proof. And people at home are like oh, yeah. None of it's real. It's not real.

ZELDIN: Except -- except to Asha's point, what is real about this is the attack on the justice system. We heard Congressman talking about palace coup. And coup de tat and now we got secret societies all of which undermines the legitimacy of the FBI and the efforts they are trying to undertake. I think that is serious because there are FBI agents in the field who are risking lives doing what they're trained to do. And you have these congressmen and Senators now demeaning them. And I think it puts them at risk physically and I think it undermines their capacity to testify in court without subjecting themselves to cross-examination on these wild theories. I think it's very dangerous in a whole host of ways that these guys just don't seem to fully grasp.

LEMON: Juliette, when he found out about these damning text messages between the two, between Strzok and Page. What did Mueller do?

KAYYEM: He fired him. They're no longer working on the investigation. I do -- I do have a suspicion that Senator Johnson's source is Sean Hannity. Because they do think they spin themselves up. Sean Hannity says something, I will say I think there is a secret society. Asha is hiding things and we'll tell you all about it, but then we have to kill you, because that is how secret it is. This is so out of bounds right now. And so let me just add to your list of theories against Mueller that have fallen apart in 24 hours. This is why looking at it at 64,000 foot level I think the White House must be incredibly nervous about what's about to unfold in the next couple of weeks. The third piece -- right so they go after the lost texts. That is already undermined. They go after the secret society. We know that was a joke text. But the third piece is the crazy Nunes, Devin Nunes released the memo. Nunes speculation, his statement that he alone has the information to

expose the FBI and whatever and Hillary Clinton is somewhere in there. Right now Nunes won't share it with senate Republicans and the Assistant Attorney General for criminal I believe at the Department of Justice has essentially sort of publicly shamed Nunes to say if you release it you're going to -- first of all it is lies because it's only half a story. And secondly you are going to undermine sources and methods.

[23:25:00] LEMON: A Trump appointee from the DOJ, a Republican.

KAYYEM: Yes, yes, right.

LEMON: Go on.

RANGAPPA: It's a hot mess, Don.

KAYYEM: It's a hot mess as one would say. I have to say one thing that gives me hope about what's going on is a story that we kind of -- we just sort of -- it happened two days ago. Now it's old news. Which is that Wray someone let the FBI know that the Director Wray was willing to resign. How that happened was willing to resign because of the political pressure.

LEMON: Yes. I got to go Juliette.

KAYYEM: Some people criticized him for not being publicly against Trump. I think Wray was signaling to his people I have a bright line and I'm sticking to it that is a good thing for the FBI.

LEMON: Thank you. It's a deep state. It's a secret society. Release the memo. The memo written by a Republican who is not supposed to even be recused himself. Oh, my gosh. Wow. Chamomile tea. It helps. Thank you and turn off certain channels.

KAYYEM: Thank you.


LEMON: Say again are you going to teach me.

RANGAPPA: I'll teach you the secret handshake.

LEMON: All right. That is a promise thank you. When we come back a member of the House Intelligence Committee weighs in on this including the memo controversy represented Juaquin Castro joins me next.


[23:30:15] LEMON: Breaking news, President Trump saying tonight that he looks forward to talking under oath to special counsel Robert Mueller. But that he will listen to the advice of his lawyers. And sources telling CNN tonight that Mueller has provided the President's lawyers with a range of topics he wants to ask about as part of the ongoing negotiations regarding an interview with the President. Joining me now so representative Juaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat. Congressman thank you for joining me. The President says he is willing to talk to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Do you believe him?

REP JOAQUIN CASTRO, (D) TEXAS: Well, I hope that he is. And that is actually good news. I suspect that Robert Mueller wants to talk to him about a bunch of things that the American people want to also know about, issues about obstruction of justice, money laundering, collusion or conspiracy with the Russians who interfered with the 2016 elections, so I was heartened to hear today that the President is willing to speak to Bob Mueller.

LEMON: But he also said he is willing to speak but whatever -- he will do whatever his lawyers say. I mean that is not much of a commitment there.

CASTRO: No, you're right. And you know, it remains to be seen whether the President actually will speak voluntary or offer to speak, or whether he gets issued a subpoena to speak. But however it happens, I think the President should meet with Bob Mueller.

LEMON: Ok. The President was also asked about the DREAMERS deal and if he would intervene to protect them. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Telegraphed by March 5th are you protecting them extend the deadline.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. I might do that. I might I'm not guaranteeing, because I want to put a little bit of -- but I certainly have the right to do that if I want.

Chain migration, we are going to create a standard that is a good standard. So that not everybody can -- not everybody that you ever met can come into the country. But you'll have wives and husbands. And you'll have sons and daughters. And you will talk about parents, we'll talk about the parents, the parent is a tricky situation, because they came here illegally. You'll have that. But chain -- the lottery system is a broken system. They put people in a lottery. They're not putting their finest in that system. You would not be in that system.


LEMON: You are an outspoken advocate of DREAMERS. The President says he is confident he will get a deal on immigration reform. To you share the optimism.

CASTRO: I'm still hopeful that we can reach an agreement. We have to be hopeful. Because there are the futures of 700-800,000 young people on the line. Many of us are working very hard in congress to try to come up with some kind of agreement, compromise that will allow the DREAMERS to stay in the United States. And I think it's important to note that 83 percent of Americans say that they support the DREAMERS being able to stay in the United States. So it's not a matter of convincing the American people what's right. It's a matter of convincing other members of congress and in the house and the senate and also the President to listen to the American people and do the right thing.

LEMON: Do you think your Republican colleagues will go along with the President on this?

CASTRO: It's hard to say. Again, I think, you know, we just keep pressing. We just keep making the case. And negotiating. And you know making the argument on behalf of the DREAMERS and the American people like I said 83 percent of them support the DREAMERS being able to stay. But we have another February 8th deadline. And if we make it all the way to March that means that about 800,000 young DREAMERS, DACA recipients could become eligible for deportation at that point.

LEMON: Congressman Castro when the President was asked about trusting the FBI he said we'll see. He seems to find the bureau potentially adversarial to him and his administration. You're in the House Intelligence Committee. What's your take on that?

CASTRO: I've seen nothing, but professional behavior and conduct from the FBI and all those involved in this investigation. And the President even before he became President was continually attacking the intelligence community, the FBI, the CIA and others. And a lot of this I think has been meant to distract from the main issue at hand. A big part of which I mentioned some of the issues include obstruction of justice, collusion with anybody who interfered with the 2016 elections, and you know and a few other issues out there. Obstruction of justice, money laundering all of those things. It's going to be important that the FBI be able to continue their investigation without being subject to interference by the President or by chairman Nunes, or anyone else in congress.

LEMON: I want to ask you about -- you mentioned Nunes. Why did the house intelligence chairman Nunes draft this controversial memo that everyone is talking about. Who was the intended audience here do you think?

[23:35:05] CASTRO: You know it's no secret at this point that Republicans are having a bad year politically. And most folks expect a Democratic wave in 2018. Some people handle that differently than others. Many Republicans including many chairman have decided to retire rather than run for re-election. And others have tried to put up, I think what are major distractions and obstacles to getting to the truth about what happened with Russia and the 2016 election. And I include this memo situation and other tactics as well in that basket of things that they've been basically doing.

LEMON: He has previously raised concerns about the Russia investigation not being fair to the President. Schiff has called for Nunes to recuse himself from any investigation in the President's campaign and transition. You have the top house Republican and top Democrat on this committee sniping at each other for months. Schiff is now drafting -- competing memo. How is any of this getting -- how is anything getting done there?

CASTRO: Well, the investigation continues. We've basically accelerated the pace of receiving witnesses and documents and so the investigation fortunately is going on. And on the Republican side the person mostly in charge of that investigation is not Devin Nunes but it is Mike Conway from Texas. And he has remained professional has kept the investigation going along with Adam Schiff. But along the way unfortunately Devin Nunes is still chair of the whole committee. And he still has continued to insert himself in ways that have been very unhelpful.

LEMON: Thank you Congressman. I appreciate your time.

CASTRO: Thank you.

LEMON: And when we come back an alleged affair with a porn star leading to a recorded six-figure payout of hush money. Why are some evangelicals turning a blind eye to the President's behavior?


[23:40:54] LEMON: Is President Trump getting a pass from evangelicals and conservatives on the allegations about Stormy Daniels and other aspects of his behavior. I want to bring in CNN political analyst John Avlon. Political Commentator Margaret Hoover and Van Jones.

JOHN AVLON, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: I like that. That feels good.


LEMON: Usually we do the promo at the end but the new show.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is called the Van Jones show. Creative name.

LEMON: Interviewing some guy name Sean Carter.

JONES: Sean Carter, local rapper. Jay-z.

AVLON: A big future ahead of him.

JONES: Saturday 17 p.m., the debut of the show.

LEMON: Is he married no up and come artist.


Let's get to business. Because Margaret last night I had Franklin Graham on this show and I asked him about evangelical support of the President amid reports of an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. Here is what he had to say.


FRANKLIN GRAHAM, PRESIDENT, CEO, BILLY GRAHAM EVENGELISTIC ASSOCIATION: The alleged affairs alleged with Trump didn't happen while in office. This happened 11, 12, 13, 14 years ago. And so I think that there is a big difference. And not that we give anybody a pass. But we have to look at the time line. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Hmm. So.

HOOVER: Really?

LEMON: Details are that it happened four months after Melania gave birth and the payout to keep quiet -- it was salacious and unbelievable. The payout came in 2016.

JONES: Right before the election.

LEMON: Right before the election. Denying the affairs. But why aren't Graham and evangelicals outraged? I don't understand this.

HOOVER: There has never been a more stark or easy example of how evangelicals have made the deal with the devil based on one single issue. And it's the same issue that has motivated them as a political base since they joined the religious right joined the conservative coalition. It's abortion. It's abortion. Overturning Roe V Wade. 40 million lives that had been extinguished before having a chance to have their own say in it. That is what they're here for. About the Supreme Court and abortion. And they simply have made a deal with the person that they believe will be true to their deal. By the way they have every reason to believe he will be true to the deal because they got Gorsuch. By the way, to be clear, you know, I am explaining the circumstances. Why I'm not a member of the evangelical religious right -- I'm explaining that part of the Republican and conservative coalition.

AVLON: I think it's deeper than abortion it's not just like that Donald Trump is the world's worst messenger for pro-life politics no matter what he says. I think it exposes the fact that a lot of (inaudible) is really about culture war. It's not Christian values. It is not about family values. Imagine for a second if President Obama had impeccable record in office when it comes to character and personal scandals imagine anything like that you can't imagine because it's not on the menu. Or Bill Clinton, nothing, this would never been --

HOOVER: I can imagine with Bill Clinton. That was a terrible choice.

AVLON: It would have been an obsessional from the right but now they are given a pass. The fact that Donald Trump got a higher percentage of evangelical vote than George W. Bush and actually the evangelical I think also exposes a lot of in is simply about culture war politics. And that undercuts the claim to moral spirit unfortunately.

LEMON: It's just flat out hypocrisy.

AVLON: Sure, man.

LEMON: That is all it is. Because it -- well say you're a conservative Republican don't say you're evangelical. Don't say that it's god. Don't say it is religion or the bible. Just say that it's my political belief not my religious belief. Because there are issues that people find just as important as abortion who may be a conservative or Democrats. And they're not hypocritical about it.

JONES: When Donald Trump ran, there was really a lot of concern about what damage he was going to do to the Republican Party to the Republican Party brand, this guy you know is a terrible example of a Republican. He did tremendous damage to that.

[23:35:02] He is now pulling down the church. He is now pulling down the faith. He is now pulling down Christianity. Is there any end to the amount of damage that one person can do when they're willing to do anything to get in office and when they have no moral standards at all. I think honestly the country owes Barack Obama and Michelle Obama a big apology. Because we gave them heck over tan suits. We gave them.

LEMON: He did wear tan suits.

JONES: Obama wore a tan suit. And she wore sleeveless dress. My god, destroying the presidency with sleeveless dresses and tan suits.

AVLON: Respect for the office.

LEMON: Who wore a tan suit?

JONES: Ronald Reagan.

LEMON: I forgot. Sorry.

JONES: I just want to point out. Leadership -- Presidential leadership isn't just about the bills you sign. It's never just about that. It's about the example that you set. If you let somebody get in there who has no standards it doesn't just hurt that office or the Party or government. It starts to hurt society as a whole. What's happening is the economy is going up. But society is coming apart and our standards are going down.

AVLON: That is right.

JONES: That is a tragedy.

AVLON: It's the decline in trust in society especially between fellow citizens that is concerning in the way this President keeps trying to exacerbating those divides. For evangelicals who feel this is the best deal we can make, the comments of Franklin Graham and others and Tony Perkins really make it difficult to come back. Because you're not going to be able to after this presidency is over. Whenever that may be saying ok turn the page go with President Pence or somebody else. You're going to own the fact that you sold your soul.

LEMON: Why do you think?

JONES: The other thing you can do too you can say I am appalled, if this President did that he should not have done that. They could say that. And if he did it and then try to cover it up on the verge of taking this office. On the verge of winning an election. He tried to cover it up and did it in a sleazy way that is wrong. He needs counsel. Ministry. That is not what our faith requires. I want to talk to him pray for him. You can use it as a moment of moral clarity and to assert moral leadership against the state which is what.

LEMON: How are you going to say that?

HOOVER: Let's be fair. I'm sorry to interrupt. But I just think it's important especially for you know Evangelical Christians across the country. Because there are Evangelical Christians who are true in their faith and not hypocrites and we're saying he is bringing down the Church. What he is bringing down, Van, I will agree, is a politicized wing that call themselves Evangelical Christians that are actually political operators who have sort of rackets and businesses going on that don't necessarily represent the mass of Evangelical Christians. Individuals who know that this is morally indignant and are repulsed.

JONES: I'm a person of faith I'm appalled. I don't hear. . Maybe I'm missing it. Even from the non-politicized church I don't hear as much as you would expect. Let me just ask a question. Had it been President Obama with a porn star and a payoff, don't you think you would have heard a much louder human cry from?

LEMON: Got to get to the break.


JONES: Can you answer that answer that.

HOOVER: Yeah, Rick Warren.

LEMON: We'll be right back. We'll be right back.


[23:52:09] LEMON: Back now with John Avlon, Van Jones and Margaret Hoover. You were making a point, I cut you out. OK go.

HOOVER: I think there's a politicized wing of the evangelical church, not even the evangelical church, under the guise of religion, is really operationalized and politicized about what one single issue. And then there are a lot of bible churches around the country that are probably appalled by this kind of behavior.

JONES: Aren't we really --

HOOVER: There's no centralization. I mean, that is the thing, not like the Anglican Church or the Catholic Church, you have the pope today frankly speaking and directly answering --

LEMON: We can talk about this, we should do a delineation here. I don't hear black Christians or black evangelicals speaking this way. Isn't it white evangelicals continue to support, voted for this President, what does that say?

HOOVER: It is Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins, the same politicized group, like Rick Warren, there are many bible churches around the country where those leaders, they aren't part of the political soup.

LEMON: 61 percent of white evangelicals.

HOOVER: Support the President. Support the President.

JONES: Still support him.

HOOVER: That is personally. That doesn't mean they support this kind of behavior.

AVLON: Look, look, look, to put a pin in it, I think we need to recognize the fact faith is bigger in politics, it always is meant to be. We too often bought into an idea that, you know, that the bible and the American flag are the purveyors of one political Party, that is definitely not so. While the individual leaders I think sell their souls to defend whatever their President seems to do, even if it contradicts all their values, the faith community is bigger, it's more robust and it should transcend politics and the vast majority of folks it does.

LEMON: People have used scripture and the bible to sort of wrap themselves in hypocrisy.

JONES: Uh-huh.

LEMON: And bigotry forever.


LEMON: It's kind of -- it's sad because that is not what the bible is for. Let's -- I want to move on. I want to talk about this. I want to show you this photo, it caught my attention. This is Vice President Pence tweeting this out today. It says, "Great work by the fall 2017 page class who graduate this week and will return to their homes across the country. Spoke with them about their work on the hill, and what they plan to do to help the nation in the future. Inspiring group." So?

AVLON: Wow. That is -- that is a -- the most --

JONES: Diversity.

LEMON: So, listen, it's not about these kids, don't you think, like, the people in Washington, the folks, the Senators, shouldn't they be doing more about diversity? What -- I mean --

JONES: Are that -- those are all the pages?

LEMON: That is real. Yeah.

HOOVER: Republican and Democrat?

LEMON: Yeah. Look at it.


LEMON: There could be others who aren't in the picture. That is who's there. JONES: I think that is very bad. I'll tell you why. I got my start

in politics as an intern for a guy named Jim Naffy in the statehouse in Tennessee. Changed my life. Changed my life. That time all we were doing was photocopying stuff, no computers, physically staple stuff.

[23:55:07] I got a chance to be part of the process, I got a chance to see people making decisions that had huge consequences and literally changed my life. When you don't let people in the front door, then they don't get to the first floor, the second floor, the third floor, and the fourth. That is not a partisan thing. That is a bad think for America. That is what's going on.

LEMON: What you saying, that is a great opportunity for the -- we hope they do well. But this is also a great opportunity for diversity because, so -- I just want to get -- the senate website says about the page program, "today's senate pages come from all 50 states, still appointed and sponsored by a Senator. They must be high school juniors at least 16 years old and attend school." well, the senate, itself, is approximately 90 percent white.

AVLON: Uh-huh.

LEMON: So --

JONES: But the country's not. Here's the deal. All 50 state. That means you got somewhere out in America, 12 percent African-American, 14 percent Latino, 3 percent or 4 percent Asian, growing every day, Muslims, Sikhs. There's all kind of people. What you want those pages to do is actually interact with all kind of people from all over. It hurts the pages, it hurts the country.

AVLON: Of course.

LEMON: It's a striking photo.

JONES: I'm shocked to see this.

HOOVER: Professional staff is more diverse than that. Truly if you go on the hill and look at staff, the congress is more diverse, the house of representatives is more diverse.

LEMON: We hear young people complain about opportunities and diversity, criminal justice and all those things, maybe we should be paying attention.


JONES: Thank you for showing that.

LEMON: We're not done. Don't miss the premiere of the "Van Jones show" with special guest Jay-z.

JONES: Jay-z work jay-z, who is that?

AVLON: I don't know. LEMON: Saturday night at 7:00 Eastern right here on CNN. We will be

watching. Thank you, all.

HOOVER: Good night.

LEMON: Good night, I appreciate it.

AVLON: Congratulations.

JONES: Thank you.

LEMON: See you tomorrow.