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New Controversy Awaits Trump in the White House; Lawyers Prepares for Bob Mueller Possible Interview with Trump; Steve Wynn Follows Harvey Weinstein's Controversy; Trump Booed in Davos; Michael Wolff Fabricate Stories for a Living. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 26, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:30] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
We have new breaking news on the fallout from the blockbuster Russia investigation. President Trump wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. We're going to will bring you that tonight in this broadcast.
But first, who do you believe? The president lobbying his unusual lazy -- his usual, I should say, lazy fake news accusations every time he hears a story he doesn't like. An accusation with absolutely no evidence to back it up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you seek to fire Robert Mueller?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical New York Times, fake stories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Or do you believe the source that confirmed to CNN that President Trump tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller? The multiple news organizations that got similar confirmations of the story. And the New York Times which broke the story and spoke to four sources. Who do you believe?
Remember this, this is the White House that has denied over and over that there was any thought of firing Mueller, even though we now know the president tried to do exactly that back in June. Backing down only when his own White House lawyer Don McGahn threatened to quit.
And then two months later on August 6, Kellyanne Conway told ABC News this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: The president has not even discussed that. The president is not discussing firing Bob Mueller.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: And then August 8, Trump lawyer John Dowd told USA Today, that's never been on the table. Never. August 10, Trump himself said this to reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I haven't given it any thought. I mean, I've been reading about it from you people. You say I'm going to dismiss him. No, I'm not dismissing anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: October 16, the president was asked during a news conference if he is considering firing Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you considering firing Robert Mueller?
TRUMP: Not at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: October 30, White House lawyer Jay Sekulow told our Wolf Blitzer this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: The president is not -- is not interfering with the special counsel Mueller's position. He is not firing the special counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: December 16, White House attorney Ty Cobb told CNN "As a White House has constantly said for months, there's no consideration of firing the special counsel."
On December 21, the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: For the 1,000th time, we have no intentions of firing Bob Mueller.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And on and on. Denial after denial of what we know now went on behind the scenes. Now Mueller's team and Trump's lawyers are negotiating the terms of an interview with the president possibly in the next few weeks.
And Robert Mueller will he know President Trump tried to fire him. Will the president admit that or try to dance around it and stumble straight into a perjury trap? I want to bring in now Chris Cillizza, CNN politics executive --
politics editor at large, Kirsten Powers, CNN political analyst, and Matthew Rosenberg, CNN national security analyst. Chris, I'm trying to change your title. Sorry about that. But I will --
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: That's all right. Executive editor sounds good.
LEMON: Well, Mark Preston may not like that. Si, listen.
CILLIZZA: That's a good point.
LEMON: CNN is reporting that President Trump is upset with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and still fuming over the Russia investigation and has even considered firing him. One source said every time something blows up in the Mueller investigation, the president makes comments like let's fire him, let's get rid of him. Does the president not understand how bad that would be?
CILLIZZA: I think the answer to that is no, Don. I think the most enlightening thing in the New York Times report was the fact that Donald Trump ordered Bob Mueller to be fired a month after firing Jim Comey as FBI director who was heading up the Russia investigation before Mueller was named special counsel to head it up.
Don McGahn, the White House counsel steps in and says, I'm not going do this. And I think this would be hugely detrimental to your presidency. Trump winds up not doing it.
But the fact that Trump gave the OK, in fact ordered that firing take place, I think has to disrupt the idea that still holds in a lot of circles that Donald Trump is a political genius of unforeseen proportions. He is playing 37 dimensional chess while we in the media are just playing checkers.
I mean, the reality of the situation is that would have been a disastrous move in the same way that getting rid of Rod Rosenstein, getting rid of any, you know, other people involved in this orbit would be disastrous.
[22:04:59] The fact that Donald Trump didn't either didn't see it or didn't feel the need to compel what was clearly a frustrated decision, I think, is a good way to rebut the idea that we were -- we are dealing with the political genius of our time.
LEMON: OK. So, what do you see as a political fallout of all the leaks here, Kirsten?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, it depends on who you are thinking about I guess, right? For his supporters, I honestly don't think there's anything that's going to move them in any way, shape or form. They don't believe the media. They believe what he says that it's fake news. I do think it's worth pointing out and other people pointed this out
today that in June when this was all supposed to have been going down the way the New York Times described it, Chris Ruddy who is the close friend of the president went on TV and says the president was considering firing Mueller.
LEMON: He had just spoken with the president.
POWERS: So, yes, and he has come out and kind of done his victory lap today saying he was attacked by the White House and said it wasn't true. So, you know, I don't think it matters. I think that still Trump voters are going to say they don't care.
And in the end, it doesn't really matter what anybody thinks except for Bob Mueller.
POWERS: Because whether what he thinks about this, if he sees this as another example of him trying to obstruct justice. That's what matters.
LEMON: And Mueller is not listening to any of this. He doesn't care.
POWERS: Right. Yes. So, if this is true, it's going to be another piece of that puzzle that he says, wait, why does he keep trying to stop this investigation.
LEMON: Yes. This is a point, Matthew, this is where Mueller comes in. Because Mueller is not listening to the noise and all the day to day. He is just going about his investigation from what that's how people describe him to us, people who know him very well, that he is very focused and he won't be affected by the news.
But he is actually -- if in fact the president tried to fire him or suggested firing him, he is going to know about that and he's going to want to ask the president why.
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I suspect he might. I mean, I'd like to know if Bob Mueller read the newspapers of watches news on TV. He seems incredibly focused on this investigation. And from what we understand, his team, you know, they are blocking out the noise. They are looking what do we have here? Are there crimes here? What is the evidence that we can lay out?
They are fairly being methodical about it. And you know, in some ways this seems like a distraction, potentially probably more for us than them. I think they're pretty focused on this. I think it's also worth taking a step back and you think about President Trump.
This is a president who from the get go has denied the mere fact that there was any interference in the election, whether or not there was collusion or anything, just the idea that there was interference at all he's denied.
Despite the fact that the entire intelligence community every spy in this country who now works for him, you know, agree there was. And so when it comes to Russia, you got this incredibly thin skinned kind of view of that any talk at all is somehow an attack on the president. And I think we're going to probably see more of this.
LEMON: And Matthew, another question for you. Trump interviewed Mueller as possible interim FBI director after he fired Comey. Does it make sense to you that was what the president cited as a potential conflict of interest, to see him as fit to potentially shepherd the FBI but flawed to head the Russia investigation?
ROSENBERG: I mean, no, to me, it doesn't make sense. If you are looking for reasons that justify things, I think, you know, people in general can come up with reasons to justify whatever they want to do. And that sounds like one of them.
ROSENBERG: But no, it doesn't sound like a great reason. Ditto with some dispute at his golf club over fees. You know, this seem pretty thin.
LEMON: Yes. You know, Chris, we're just learning about this now that Trump considered firing Mueller back in the summer, it was back in June. And earlier you heard repeated denials from the administration. This is how --
LEMON: -- this is Lindsey Graham, he addressed the rumor back then. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency. Unless Mueller did something wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The beginning of the end, Chris, of the Trump presidency. Twenty four hours after the story broke and the only thing Graham is saying today is how great a job Trump is doing on immigration. Where is the outrage, where is the beginning of the end?
CILLIZZA: Well, Lindsey Graham wants to -- Lindsey Graham wants to get immigration done. There's a reason that Lindsey Graham played golf three times with Donald Trump after -- all you need type Lindsey Graham, Donald Trump republican primary 2016 into Google. See what you get. They both said some choice things about one another.
I think Lindsey Graham understands that this is a president that you attract with honey, that you be nice to him. And he will be nice to you. Lindsey Graham has essentially said as much. So that's why you're not seeing it. What frustrates me as a reporter is that this idea that because it was
in the New York Times that somehow it's not -- I just -- Donald Trump doesn't really think that. When Donald Trump wants to talk to a news outlet, he goes to the New York Times more than any other one with the exception of arrival cable network.
[22:09:59] But when he wants to go to a serious outlet, he doesn't believe that and by the way, Ty Cobb, the White House attorney, the White House itself, there has been no denial of the details of the story.
Donald Trump saying in Davos, fake news, fake news, it's the New York Times, fake news, that's not a no, I never called on Bob Mueller to -- I never ordered Bob Mueller to be fired. That's just saying words.
And I think it's important that we note that this story is now basically out there for 24 hours. And this story is not denied. It's been reported as though, Donald Trump denied the story. He didn't really -- what specific detail did he deny in the story?
LEMON: Yes. Well, and also that the White House denied the story. They just said that there was no comment on it.
CILLIZZA: They're not commenting.
LEMON: They're not commenting. That's not a deaf denial. That's not a push back.
CILLIZZA: Do you think they wouldn't comment, Don?
CILLIZZA: If he never did that, do you think -- they wouldn't.
CILLIZZA: Like, if you have been a reporter for more than six months, you know that if it is flat wrong, the entity comes out and says, that is 100 percent incorrect.
LEMON: Right. That hasn't happened.
CILLIZZA: I mean.
LEMON: Kirsten, we're going to get you on the other side of the break because I have to get to a break. So, stick around, everyone. This seems to happen every time the president has a foreign trip. He comes home to turmoil in his administration. This time it's his anger at the deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and his reportedly rocky relationship with his chief of staff John Kelly. More on that, next.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump returning to the White House tonight to an administration in turmoil in the wake of a bombshell revelation that the president wanted to fire Robert Mueller.
Plus, he is dodging questions about his reportedly rocky relationship with his chief of staff John Kelly.
Back with me now, Chris Cillizza, Kirsten Powers, and Matthew Rosenberg.
So, the president was not in Davos for very long but he is coming back to this bombshell story. Plus, he is coming back to reports that he has been displeased in some ways, Kirsten, with his Chief of Staff John Kelly. Is he just brushing Kelly back, or is there more going on here? Because you saw he just stood outside of Kelly's office and held a press conference and no one knew about it.
POWERS: Right. Well, so, apparent -- the reports are that Trump is upset because he believes that Kelly has seen himself as somebody who is protecting the country from Donald Trump. And you know, if in fact, that was true and Trump believes that that's true, then you know, you can't blame him for not liking him. Right? I mean, who would like that if your chief of staff was claiming they were protecting --
LEMON: Didn't he hire him?
POWERS: Well, he, OK. So then you are on to the next point I was going to make, which is he doesn't really seem like to like anybody that he hires. He has gone -- you know, he said during the campaign that he was going to -- he is this amazing businessman. He's going to hire the best people. He's going to run things.
And he had this historic turnover of staff. I mean, like nothing we have ever seen. And either people get fired or they end up in the dog house like Jeff Sessions, you know, where he -- because he is so angry at them, he tries to humiliate them into quitting. So, yes. There is a real problem that he seems to ultimately not like anybody who works for him.
LEMON: It's a, you know, Matthew, it's a little bit of paranoia. Because he has the folks in the Justice Department, the Department of Justice who he appointed, well, now all of a sudden they're out to get him. And there's a conspiracy. There are people he works -- you know, who he appointed in his office who are in the administration, they are out to get him. He doesn't like them.
I mean, it sort of smacks of paranoia that all of these people he put into position now are all of a sudden out to get him. And you see that even in conservative media as well. I don't -- I don't understand it.
ROSENBERG: I mean, I think we have to keep in mind that this is somebody with no experience in government. They ran a relatively small kind of family privately owned business. Everybody who worked for Donald Trump before worked for him.
The people who work for him work for the U.S. government. They serve in his pleasure. They don't work personally for him. And that's a big adjustment for somebody who is 70 years old, suddenly has an entire government full of people dealing with incredibly complex problems. There are no easy solutions to most of what's going on in fairness to the administration and everyone else.
And suddenly, you know, they are looking into things. There are rules, there are laws and they have to examine them. I think that's a very difficult transition to make for somebody who has no experience in this environment up until this point.
LEMON: No one sat him down and told him that before he decided to come down the escalator and say, hey, I want to be president. I mean, one thing we know for sure is when anyone besides the president is painted as being in charge, the president hates that.
Do you think General Kelly, the one time magazine cover -- you know, one Time magazine cover away from being out of a job?
ROSENBERG: I don't know -- it's hard to say with this administration because people are kind of one day they are out, one day they are in. I would certainly bristle if I were Donald Trump and people were out there saying, well, your chief of staff is protecting the country from you.
LEMON: Or calling him President Kelly.
LEMON: Or president -- what's his name? Miller. Co-president Miller.
ROSENBERG: Yes. It's tough. It's a really tough situation. Kelly is strong willed. He was presented as he is going to bring discipline, he is going to bring order. He is going to run the White House right. I think for President Trump, that's a very difficult persona to have around him. He seems to like to be in charge.
CILLIZZA: And --
LEMON: Go ahead, Chris.
CILLIZZA: Just to add to Matthew's point, I think he's right. I think we do always have to remember, Donald Trump touts the fact that he is the first person elected without political or military experience. But that means he is the first person elected without military or political experience.
He is just of, you know, I mean, he's falling into a lot of these things. And I do think some of it is learn on-the-job deal. The other thing is, he is someone who in the campaign -- 2016 campaign affirmed this. He believes himself to be his best spokesman, to be his best message guy, to be his best manager of himself, to be all of these things.
And so I think as a result, he rankles even more than otherwise because he has convinced himself over time that he is the smartest guy in every room and he is going to make sure people know that. I think that perfectly explains, John Kelly, I didn't realize you were talking to a bunch of reporters, let me pop in here.
CILLIZZA: I mean, because he wants to assert his sort of dominance over the situation because he believes that that's the best thing for him.
[22:19:59] LEMON: Isn't that always the case with people who don't know anything, they always tell more than they know? Because they are always the first to speak up and they're like, this person knows nothing. And they give themselves away. Thank you. See you soon.
ROSENBERG: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Have a great weekend.
When we come back, the president -- is the president facing serious legal trouble now that everyone knows he tried to fire Robert Mueller. Can he avoid the perjury trap? We're going to explain what that is and how it plays into the Russia investigation.
LEMON: New signs tonight of a growing legal entanglement for President Trump in the Russia investigation. He is just returning to the White House tonight as his attorneys are reportedly looking for ways to delay, limit or even avoid a sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller.
The moves where they are coming on the heels of the bomb shell revelation that Trump wanted to fire Mueller just one month after firing FBI Director James Comey.
I want to talk about this now with chief -- CNN's chief legal analyst Mr. Jeffrey Toobin, also a staff writer for the New Yorker, and Philip Lacovara. He is the former counsel to the special prosecutors investigating Watergate.
Good to have both of you, gentlemen here. On any night, but especially a Friday. Thank you for joining us.
[22:25:00] Jeff, you say the president certainly had the right to fire James Comey. That's not illegal. But he is on thin ice legally when it comes to intent. Explain that, please.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there are a lot of crimes, white collar crimes that are known as intent crimes. Like insider trading, it's completely legal to sell stock. But if you sell stock with improper knowledge of the -- of what's going on with the stock, that makes it a crime.
Same thing with obstruction of justice. In this context it's quite appropriate or allowable for the president to fire the head of the FBI or initiate the firing of the special counsel. But if he does it with corrupt intent -- and that's the word in the law, corrupt -- then it becomes a crime. And if you look at the accumulating evidence of Trump offering false
act -- you know, reasons for why he was firing, reasons that his own White House counsel apparently, according to the New York Times story, didn't buy, the evidence that he was engaged in a corrupt obstruction of justice is really starting to build here.
LEMON: OK. So, I had guests on last night, I heard several guests on, you know, cable news throughout the landscape today saying, well, Jeffrey, it doesn't matter. The president has a right to fire whomever he wants. Doesn't really matter what the intent is but he didn't do it.
TOOBIN: That's not true. I mean, that's not just what the law is. I mean, if -- just like here is a hypothetical example. If someone walked into the Oval Office and said, here is an attache case full of cash, fire the director of the FBI. And the direct -- and the president said, well, I will do it in return for this cash.
Does anyone in the world think that would not be an impeachable offense? Of course it would be. Their intent matters. The reasons you do things matter. Obstruction of justice was the basis for the -- one of the basis for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. It was one of the basis, as Phil Lacovara knows better than I for the impeachment proceedings in the House judiciary committee in 1974. I mean, presidents cannot obstruct justice. That's not one of the powers that the president has.
LEMON: Philip, you want to weigh in on that? I have another question if you're OK with what he said.
PHILIP LACOVARA, COUNSEL TO WATERGATE: You know, I think I fully agree with Jeff. And I think the key thing here to remember is that what's being investigated is whether the president's efforts to fob off the Russia investigation by firing Comey and doing other things, perhaps trying to fire Mueller, were designed to protect General Flynn, his friend, perhaps his close -- his family members who have been involved apparently in Russian contacts, and also perhaps to keep the prosecutors from getting at his own financial affairs.
And I think that's why Jeff is absolutely right that that sounds like a corrupt, meaning self-interested effort, to terminate an investigation.
LEMON: All right. So, Phil, let's think about, you know, how this all goes. Robert Mueller now knows from his witness -- from his witnesses that the president ordered Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller. So when they eventually do have an interview and then Mueller asks him, did you ask John McGahn to fire me, what does the president then say?
LACOVARA: That's why I think the president is in a no win situation now. We know that whether he is under oath or just speaking to federal investigators not under oath, he has to tell the truth or he is subject to prosecution for making false statements and that's a federal felony.
We also know that this president seems to be incapable of making statements that are consistent with what are known facts. He also doesn't know what evidence Mueller and his people have from other witnesses who are present at those conversations or heard about them from others or may have seen documents that relate to this.
So the president is going to be charging off going in some direction or another without knowing just how much trouble he is in with the statements he is likely to make. And I think that's why he is in a no win situation. But that's the situation he made for himself.
He has the -- he certainly has -- he can avoid a perjury trap as it's called by telling the truth. Whether he's capable of telling the truth is the real challenge.
LEMON: Jeff, I saw you make a face. I know you want to get in.
TOOBIN: Well, no. But actually in the brief press conference the president held earlier this week, I think you saw how he is going to handle that question. If in fact, he is -- he ever agrees to this interview. Where he said, you know, people call it obstruction of justice when all I'm doing was fighting back.
TOOBIN: And that phrase fight back, I think is going to be his defense which is, you know, I wasn't obstructing justice. I was the victim of the conspiracy of, you know, the permanent government, the deep state.
[22:30:06] Jim Comey, Robert Mueller. And I had to defend myself and so I fired James Comey. That's going to be his defense. I don't know if it's a good defense. And there are problems with it but I think that's what you are going to hear from him.
LEMON: I was robbing a bank but I needed the money. So, you know, it's I can rob -- go ahead, Phil.
LACOVARA: That's right. That defense -- that defense is not going to fly. He is fighting back, he is fighting back because he is trying to cut off an investigation into possible collusion with Russian agents and possible financial misdealing. So, the reason that he is fighting is what makes this potentially criminal, not an excuse.
LEMON: Yes. Jeffrey, Phillip, thank you. I appreciate the conversation. Have a great weekend, gentlemen.
TOOBIN: You got it.
LEMON: When we come back, RNC finance chairman and Vegas mogul Steve Wynn accused of sexual misconduct. Republican leaders are so far silent, though they had so much to say about Harvey Weinstein's DNC donations. We'll discuss that next.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Tonight, there are calls for republicans to return cash given by major donor casino magnate Steve Wynn who happens to be finance chairman of the RNC. That follows a report in the Wall Street Journal that details decades of sexual misconduct allegations who worked at Wynn's casinos.
Oddly enough, President Trump has liked the story on Twitter tonight. Maybe he was just trying to read it. And if he did, he would have seen some very salacious allegations.
CNN's national correspondent Miguel Marquez has more now.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Preposterous says Steve Wynn, the vegas hotel and casino billionaire, to charges that he ever assaulted any woman. The blistering statement from Wynn himself after a bombshell Wall Street Journal report that a manicurist in 2005 was forced to lie on a massage table naked while she claims Wynn raped her.
The Journal also reporting Wynn paid the manicurist $7.5 million in a settlement. Wynn in his statement said "The instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement."
Elaine Wynn's attorney told the Journal that's just not true.
Wynn, the latest high profile wealthy and politically connected man accused of sexual misconduct. The Wall Street Journal says it spoke to more than 150 employees and dozens reported a pattern of sexual abuse by Wynn.
One former employee a massage therapist telling the Wall Street Journal, Wynn forced her to masturbate him to climate when he asked her to perform oral sex on him, she refused the request says the Journal.
Wynn in his statement said, "We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations regardless of the truth and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation."
The allegations now reverberating in politics where despite a history of supporting both parties --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE WYNN, OWNER, WYNN HOTEL: I'm friendly with Bill and Hillary and I'm a friend of Donald Trump. I haven't given a dime to either one. I haven't decided who I'm going to vote for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Wynn is now closely tied to President Trump as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. Democrats are demanding the RNC return any campaign contributions from Wynn much the way republicans did with Harvey Weinstein. Allegations against Wynn are now being used to put pressure on the
Republican Party. The Democratic National Committee saying today, "The RNC have helped fund the campaign of an alleged child molester, blindly supported the GOP attack on women's health, supported a president who has been accused of sexual misconduct by over a dozen women and now they remain silent amid sexual assault allegations involving Steve Wynn, one of their party's most senior officials."
LEMON: Good report there. Miguel Marquez joins us now live. Miguel, these are pretty shocking details in this Wall Street Journal piece. How close have President Trump and Wynn been in recent months?
MARQUEZ: Well, pretty close. The president was meant to be in Mar-a- Lago last week but had to stay in D.C. because of the shutdown. He was supposed to attend a fund-raiser down there. And RNC Trump victory campaign fundraiser, the co-host, one of the co-host for that event, you guessed it, Steve Wynn.
The president instead sent a video to the event. CNN obtained audio of that video.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Steve Wynn, I want to thank you. I want to thank the whole group, the money raised, you're really special people. Thank you very much. We'll see you the next time.
(END VOICE CLIP)
MARQUEZ: So the president did name several people in that video that he sent down to Mar-a-Lago. But Steve Wynn was certainly among them. And incidentally, coincidentally, Steve Wynn turns 76 tomorrow. Don?
LEMON: Miguel, thank you very much for that.
I want to bring in CNN political commentators Maria Cardona and Alice Stewart. So here we go again with the allegations of sexual misconduct. Maria, you first. Steve Wynn is not only a mega donor but he is the finance chair the chief fund raiser for the Republican National Committee. Where's the outrage on the right, so far silence.
MARIA CARDONA, POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Yes. Exactly. And the silence is deafening, especially when the chairwoman of the RNC was very loud in her accusations of democrats in terms of not having said enough in her view or said something early enough about Harvey Weinstein. And so, I'm waiting for her statement. I'm waiting for the statement from the RNC.
[22:39:59] I'm waiting for them to give back the money the way that they demanded democrats do and the way that they did. I'm waiting for a statement from the White House in terms of Donald Trump's closeness with Steve Wynn.
I think it's kind of creepy that he likes the story. But you know, birds of a feather, I guess. So, I think that the Republican Party does need to respond to this, not that this is a partisan issue. Clearly, we know that it happens on both sides. But I think the Republican Party has historically been very silent when it comes to sexual allegation sexual harassment of people of their party.
You know, Roy Moore comes to mind. So, I think they do need to say something and say something pretty quickly and say something that underscores that do they care about these allegations and they take them seriously.
LEMON: Do you think it was different -- and Alice, I'll bring you in, but do you think it's different for democrats when a democrat is accused? You don't think democrats are sort of silent and then they try to figure out what their strategy is going to be? I mean --
CARDONA: Well, from what I've seen of democrats.
LEMON: -- when you look at --
CARDONA: -- from what I've seen of democrats is that, they actually come out and they have called for the resignation of their own.
CARDONA: I mean, we saw it with Al Franken, we have seen that with many members of Congress. And it's tough. That was not an easy thing as you know, Don. But they understand that the most important thing here is to stand up for women who have been sexually harassed, stand up for women who want to be heard.
LEMON: OK. So, Alice, I want to bring you in. Because within hours -- I mean, you know this. Of the Harvey Weinstein story, the RNC was denouncing all Weinstein back democrats who blasted them to return all the Weinstein money. They were showing pictures of democrats and Hillary Clinton with Harvey Weinstein at parties.
And according to the Daily Beast, a check of FEC records, Steve Wynn has donated more than $2 million to republican campaigns and the interest -- and interest groups since 2001 last week when he co-hosted the president's inauguration celebration at Mar-a-Lago. You saw that in Miguel's the report there. Do republicans need to cut ties with him? Do they need to speak out now?
ALICE STEWART, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I think in this day and age when we are in the midst of the Me Too movement and there's a heightened awareness on this type of activity I think they need to seriously take a look at it. Certainly, as you said, when all of this came about with Harvey Weinstein, republicans were screaming for democrats to distance themselves from him and return the money. And many of them did. And I commend them for doing so.
Because it goes to show that you shouldn't be standing with someone that is facing these types of allegations. Look --
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: Before you move on to your next thing, what do you mean,
seriously take a look at it? I mean, that seems like you're giving yourself some wiggle room here.
STEWART: No. I think clearly if there's this multi-million dollar payout, there is some there there. But I think it's important to take a look at it. And I do think with this going on, I think the republicans should separate from him. I think -- I don't think he should have a high profile position with the Republican Party.
And anyone who did accept money from him, if I were them -- I was referring information to them -- I would certainly suggest that they return the money and distance themselves from him.
The thing with Steve Wynn is everyone that runs for president or runs for high office, if you go through Las Vegas, you go through Steve Wynn's office and you kiss the ring. And many people have. Whether he gives money or not, a lot of people do go through that --
LEMON: That sounds like Harvey Weinstein.
STEWART: Yes. It's a similar thing. It goes both sides. You know, follow the money.
STEWART: And the money goes into Steve Wynn's office and a lot of people go here and asking for that. So, I think from a P.R. standpoint and just from a human decency standpoint, if I had a penny of his money, I would be writing a check tomorrow morning.
LEMON: OK. All right. Maria, let's turn now, I want to turn to the democrats. We talked a little bit about it, but with a different story.
CNN has learned today that Hillary Clinton decided not to fire senior adviser Burns Strider who had been accused of sexual harassment during her 2008 presidential campaign. Instead, he was sent to counseling, had his pay docked for several weeks. Was that sufficient? Do you think that was a sufficient response from the campaign at the time?
CARDONA: Well, I think obviously looking at it through today's lens, no. But things clearly are different in 26 -- in 2018 -- sorry, than they were in 2008. He was punished, right? He was -- his pay was docked for several weeks. The woman was moved from that job to another job.
And so, you know, looking at it from what we would have done today, clearly I think more would have been done had it happened today. Things definitely have evolved. And if you look at what Hillary Clinton just tweeted, she had a conversation with the young woman who went through this.
LEMON: Let me put it up. Let me put it up. CARDONA: Sure.
LEMON: Because this is a law firm that represented Clinton's 2000 -- I'm sorry. This is a new tweet. Sorry. Not that --
LEMON: Yes, there was a statement. But here is a new tweet.
[22:44:58] LEMON: It's says "A story appeared today about something that happened in 2008. I was dismayed when it occurred but was heartened the young woman came forward and was heard and had her concerns taken seriously and addressed. I called her today to tell her how proud I am of her and to make sure she knows what all women should, we deserve to be heard" she said. So, what do you make of that response?
CARDONA: Well, I was actually really happy to hear that before Hillary Clinton said anything publically as much as people, you know -- after the story broke, they were like, she needs to say something immediately.
She focused on the thing that matter the most, which was the woman who came forward with these allegations, the woman who was the victim. And to me I think that underscores --
CARDONA: -- that no matter what is in the public, her focus is on the woman who went through this.
CARDONA: And I think that's great.
STEWART: Don -- Don, I think this is another example of Hillary Clinton yet again being an enabler for a sexual harasser. Look, this guy got a mere slap on the wrist and stayed in his position. This poor girl had to be reassigned to another position. That's wrong.
And for Hillary Clinton to be advised by her campaign to let this person go and she stood by him and reassigned the woman, I think that's inappropriate. This is a lifelong history she has of looking the other way.
Look at all these women who accused her husband of sexual harassment and even rape. We are talking about Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Wiley, she silenced them after they accused them.
With regard to Jennifer Flowers, she called her trailer trash. With regard to Monica Lewinsky, she called her a narcissistic Looney Tunes. So here is a woman today saying that she wants these women to speak out, these women that accused her husband of this kind of conduct, she shamed them.
LEMON: That got to be the last word. I've got to go. Thank you, both. I appreciate it.
When we come back --
CARDONA: Thanks, Don.
STEWART: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: -- we're going to tell you why the president was booed while speaking in Davos.
[022:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The president preaching his America first gospel while meeting in Davos with political and business leaders from around the world but there were definitely a few hiccups.
Here to discuss is Jonathan Wachtel, he's a former director of communications for the United States mission to the U.N., and CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good evening, Don.
JONATHAN WACHTEL, FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, UNITED STATES MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Hi, Don.
LEMON: Where is your other half?
HOOVER: I know. Somebody has to take care of kids.
LEMON: Somebody has to take of the kids, someone has to have a night off.
So the president is back at the White House tonight after a whirlwind trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos where he told world leaders and global elites there was -- there has never been a better time to do business in America. But then there was this moment. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I've always really had a very good press and it wasn't until I became a politician that I realized how nasty and how mean, how vicious and how fake the press can be. As the cameras start going off in the background.
But overall, I mean, the bottom line somebody said well, they couldn't have been that bad because here we are we are president and I think we're doing a really great job with my team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Jonathan, the crowd do they boo in his the president there. WACHTEL: A little bit. You know, fake news. You got a lot of
journalists in that room. You have a, you now, quite a few people in there probably who aren't big fans of President Trump. You know, he came over there we all expected actually a lot more controversy from this trip. And it -- you know, is that it? The booing in the room that's about it.
HOOVER: They seem to be booing the fake news comment there, though. I mean, you have a lot of free societies and open societies there who actually take the fake news insults as a real affront to, you know, a basic tenet of open societies. And you also have autocrats and dictators who are using the fake news terminology themselves to justify clamping down on the press on their own countries.
Take Bashar al-Assad, Erdogan in Turkey. Many in the Philippines, I mean, many countries are actually parroting Trump's language as justification for their injustices to journalists.
LEMON: Yes, which is interesting. But I just -- I found it it's almost like Hillary Clinton he just can't quit the news. He can't quit the fake news.
HOOVER: I think he really needs to foil. We know Donald Trump needs a foil. What's actually been surprising tome though, actually the reception has been pretty warm --
HOOVER: -- in terms of all the reports that's coming from it. What I make of that is first he gave a speech that was -- you know he explained that America first didn't mean America alone. Probably the most memorable speech -- line from the entire speech. But also Trump is essentially -- what he is best at is sales and marketing. He was there in a room full of people who are his peers and he was doing an America sales and marketing job.
WACHTEL: He said it himself. He said I'm here to tell you that America is open for business. That's why he came over and he did it. And he did a good sales job. The remarkable thing also is that we were all bracing for something big. You know, just like the U.N. General Assembly speech, you know, back in September.
LEMON: The Davos really?
WACHTEL: People -- come on, there was so much talk that, Don --
HOOVER: You never know. You never know --
WACHTEL: Don -- Don, Davos -- how many people really knew what Davos really was until --
LEMON: Yes. WACHTEL: -- until this came around? He put Davos on the map in a way that, you know, everybody is going to know where this little Swiss alp town is.
LEMON: I doubt that people in Middle America, the president is at Davos. I think it probably, I mean, quite honestly, it went over people's head. I don't think people was expecting that -- because he is among his peers.
He is -- he is actually a global elite speaking to global -- other global elites.
Let's move on, though. I want to talk about other aspects of Davos. Just two weeks after the president's comments about African nations and Haiti being shithole countries. Trump met with Rwanda president and current head of the African Union Paul Kagame.
He touted a general great relationship and it was an honor with Africa. And said it was an honor to have Kagame as a friend. The president didn't address this though. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, all. Thank you, Catherine. Thanks, Donald. Thank you, Catherine. Thank you, Catherine.
LEMON: So he denied using the vulgar language. Do you think he -- you know, to address this controversy, do you think he missed an opportunity on a global stage?
HOOVER: Rule number one when you are spinning your misdeeds never repeat the misdeed. All right. So what he did is a actually it's a great photo-op for him, right? He is sitting down with the head of the African Union, 55 African countries and he's smiling saying we have a great relationship.
[22:54:59] That's exactly -- I mean, what anybody who does crisis management would say, this is exactly what you should do.
WACHTEL: The president is not known to be someone who runs around apologizing for things. And you know, that's a thing that was in the news for a long time. Why would he touch it again? And make noise over it again.
LEMON: Yes. I want to ask you, Margaret, about this. This -- Nikki Haley addressed the rumors about an affair with the president and Michael Wolff. It all stem from this. This was Michael Wolff on Bill Maher.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, TV HOST: Is it a woman thing?
MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, FIRE AND FURY: Well, I didn't have the blue dress.
WOLFF: Let's have to read between the lines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So then we know what happened. People jump to conclusions about it because Nikki Haley is with the president travels with him or what have you. But what do you think of it.
HOOVER: I think this is a really extremely -- especially in the context of this Me Too movement and supposedly we're really rethinking how women are perceived in women and predicts. B.S. What you see here is still there's this paradigm that the successful woman can only be the b word or the s word, right, a slut, I can say that on television.
HOOVER: And it's -- you know, Nikki Haley has said your credit -- her statement was very, very good. She said I have been hit all the way up the food chain as I have established myself as an independent thinker as a serious person and you know, there are always going to be people who sort of try to diminish you and say that you've gotten there by not playing by the rules or not doing.
LEMON: I have to say I read the entire book. And caveat, I met Nikki Haley. You don't need to meet her to know that she is one of the most respected women not only in the country but in the entire world now. And for someone to say something like that, listen, I don't know what people are saying. But the last person you would expect is Nikki Haley.
HOOVER: Right. Also, look. There was one article written about this. Mostly the times when there is one article written about it it's because somebody is trying to have that article say something to deflect from something else. There's something else --
LEMON: Or Michael Wolff is saying it to sell books.
LEMON: And there's that.
WACHTEL: There is definitely that. He left it innuendo. Read my book go to the section. You're right in there you'll find what you want to find in there.
HOOVER: There is nothing in that section.
WACHTEL: He led -- he is leading people to buy more books.
HOOVER: Let me spare.
WACHTEL: And Nikki said it right, said this is a disgusting thing and called it out.
LEMON: President Trump they're saying this because that they were having an affair because Wolff wrote in the book that by October of 2017 the president had been spending, quote, "a notable amount of private time with Haley on Air Force One." The only problem is that Haley says she has only been on Air Force One once in July. She also mentioned on two pages in the epilogue of Michael Wolff's book. So, you know.
WACHTEL: There is nothing there.
HOOVER: There is also basic fact checking missing throughout Michael Wolff's book.
HOOVER: So it's not a surprise. It's unfortunate because you know she deserves better. I mean, there is absolutely nothing that would suggest she doesn't merit total respect and benefit of the doubt.
LEMON: Yes. You have worked with -- were you a spokesperson.
LEMON: So, what do you think?
WACHTEL: She is a strong lady. Look what she did with this situation. She got, you know, hit by this weird conspiracy thing. By the way, mind you went around the world. That she is having a so-called affair with President Trump. It's preposterous. And she pushed back. She --
LEMON: Let's hear from her. Let's hear from her and I'll let you finish.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: At every point in my life I have noticed that if you speak your mind and you are strong about it and you say what you believe there is a small percentage of people that resent that. And the way they deal with it is to try and throw arrows, lies or not to diminish you. It is absolutely not true. It is highly offensive and it's disgusting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I don't even know think if you need to say anything. I think she said it all.
HOOVER: That's it.
WACHTEL: That's it.
LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it.
LEMON: When we come back lawyers who are at the heart of Watergate will join me. Both the White House counsel who flipped on Nixon and a House judiciary member who recommended articles of impeachment will weigh in on the Russia investigation. We'll be right back.