Return to Transcripts main page


The Russia Investigation; FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Steps Down Abruptly; GOP Votes To Release Partisan Secret Memo Alleging FBI Misconduct; President Trump Preparing For State Of the Union. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired January 29, 2018 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:20] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is CNN tonight, I am Don Lemon. 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast in Washington live tonight with huge and disturbing breaking news on the Russia investigation. Republicans on the house intel committee voting along Party lines to publicly release a controversial and one-sided memo written by chairman Devin Nunes, a political ally of this White House, and a member of the Trump transition team, with a record of making unsubstantiated claims about the Russia investigation.

Chairman Nunes has written a memo alleging FBI misconduct over a warrant to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. The DOJ warning the release of the memo is extraordinarily reckless, but that didn't stop the GOP from voting to release it, which is exactly what President Trump wanted, and they know that. It comes on the same day as a surprise resignation of FBI deputy Director Andre McCabe, who steps down in the wake of months of criticism from the President. We have a lot to cover in this hour here on CNN.

I want to bring in now CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider, first up, good evening. Two major breaking stories today. First on this controversial partisan memo alleging the FBI misconduct, the house GOP voted to release it. Now it's over at the White House with President Trump to review. What's the latest?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that is right. So the memo has made its way to the White House. And at that point it will be reviewed by the White House's counsel office, the national Security Council and possibly the broader national security community. This is really a five-day review window before the President must decide whether to declassify this and distribute it publicly. We reported it last week that the President is in fact inclined to make this public. But the White House says, look, don't expect any action before tomorrow night's state of the union.

So really, what is this memo? It's a four-page politically partisan memo that was drafted by Republican staffers at the behest of committee chair Devin Nunes. At the heart of it, it accuses of FBI of abusing surveillance laws when it relied on the Steele dossier in part for a warrant on former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Democrats are up in arms about this, top Democrat of the committee, Adam Schiff, he says the memo skews the intelligence, he tried to get his own memo released, but that failed in committee. Now Congressman Adam Schiff is speaking out about it. Take a listen.


ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: Sadly, we can fully expect that the President of the United States will not put the national interest over his own personal interest. But it is a sad day indeed when that is also true of our own committee. Because today this committee voted to put the President's personal interest, perhaps their own political interest, above the national interest. In denying themselves, even the ability to hear from the department and the FBI. And that is I think a deeply regrettable state of affairs. But it does show how, in my view, when you have a deeply flawed person in the oval office that flaw can infect the whole of government and today tragically it infected our committee.


SCHNEIDER: And Democrats there say that this doesn't only endanger sources and methods, but Democrats are saying that the President and the Republicans are using this memo overall to try to cast some doubt on the Russia investigation. And we have learned tonight that it is possible Don, when the President goes over this five-day review, when talking with the national security community, it is possible that instead of releasing the whole memo, he could choose to release it in heavily redacted form, that is one option here.

LEMON: Or pieces of it, release whatever he wants to declassify. So the other news is Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe unexpectedly out. What happened?

SCHNEIDER: He announced his departure this morning. In a meeting of senior executives. So at the meeting we know that he said it was his choice, however, some other sources are telling us that in fact he was pushed out. Director Wray wanted to get some of his own people in there. So a bit more details trickling out throughout the day. We know in an all-employee e-mail from the FBI Director, Christopher Wray, he shed a little bit more light here. In the e-mail, Christopher Wray hinted the inspector general's investigation into the FBI's handling of the Clinton e-mail server investigation that is been going on for many months now, that may have played a part in McCabe's unexpected exit. In that e-mail, Wray did not say exactly what was in the I.G.'s report. And he only said that he was not being swayed by politics. So that is the only information we're getting from Director Wray.

[23:05:03] But interestingly tonight, one of the first people coming to McCabe's defense, fired FBI Director James Comey. Tonight he tweeted this. He said, special agent Andrew McCabe stood tall over the last eight months when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on, he served with distinction for two decades, I wish Andy well, and I also wish continued strength for the rest of the FBI. America needs you. Some very strong, powerful words there from former FBI Director Jim Comey. And of course we've seen in recent weeks Jim Comey has become much more outspoken on social media, really speaking out about what he seems to view as some injustices here, Don.

LEMON: Jessica Schneider, much appreciated.

Now I want to bring in now Congressman Charlie Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican. Congressman, thank you so much. So what is going on? Let's talk about this controversial memo. What is going on with the House Intel Committee? Do they have any credibility left when it comes to the Russia investigation?

REP CHARLIE DENT, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: Well, early on this investigation seemed to get off track. Devin Nunes having to recuse himself early. It seemed the senate was on a much better trajectory to produce a bipartisan report and release findings I think that were going to be more acceptable. I think this is just further evidence that the house process is just not going as planned.

LEMON: Does this concern you, that this memo would be released without the source documents? The Justice Department warned it would be "extraordinarily reckless" for the House Intelligence Committee to release this without giving the FBI and Justice Department time to review it.

DENT: Well, I have a lot of reservations about releasing this four- page document. I was chair of the house ethics committee. Like the intelligence committee, we have to deal with very sensitive -- had to deal with very sensitive issues. This my case, we were dealing with personnel matters, in the case of intelligence committee, dealing with national security secrets. I can tell you, when you do these investigations, you have to do them in a bipartisan manner. It is better to do them behind closed doors, where you can have honest and open dialogue. When the cameras are on, you'll be more guarded in what you say. But in that setting you want to do this behind closed doors, because these are sensitive issues. I would be very hesitant to release this kind of information without inviting greater context. I have not read that memo yet, I'm planning to read it tomorrow. When you hear people like Director Clapper and General Hayden and others urge caution, I think we should. It sets a precedent. House of Representatives could flip next session, Democrats could take control. If the Democrats decide they want to issue their own memo, I suspect the administration would go aplitic over that.

LEMON: Dangerous precedent.

DENT: Yes.

LEMON: People at home, I don't know what the bulk -- I'd think the bulk of the country is thinking, if the Department of justice thinks this is dangerous and reckless, cool your jets, hold your horses. Not to say the memo shouldn't come out at some point, but everyone should get a chance to review it, to get their side in. Do they have to rush to do this? Why the rush?

DENT: I don't know what the rush is to be honest. I don't think there is a rush here. This can be more properly vetted. I'd like a full conference discussion about this among house Republican. We will have a conversation about this. LEMON: Do you understand why people at home would think this is to

protect the President, impede the investigation that it's propaganda in some way given what we've just discussed? How it was released?

DENT: The President and many others, myself included, have stated that we believe, I believe, Director Mueller is fair, thorough, and honest. We should let him do his work. The President has insisted that he has done nothing wrong. Well, then why interfere with this process? Leave it alone. If you're the President of the United States, he shouldn't be talking about this investigation, except to say he is innocent and that he looks forward to Director Mueller's findings. Instead of seeming to use allies and others to impede what's happening.

LEMON: You say that but as we talk about the FBI deputy Director Andrew McCabe surprisingly gone today.

DENT: Well he was leaving in March anyway, he is retiring.

LEMON: Comey is out, Trump ordered Mueller fired, ultimately backed down, because White House counsel threatened to quit. There are reports the President was angry when he found out DOJ was pushing back on not releasing this information. It's now directed at the -- towards his, his anger, toward Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. You say the President wants this to play out but are you concerned about the lines this President continues to cross?

[23:10:02] DENT: Yeah, in fact, not only concerned, but also bewildered. This is a Republican administration. Rod Rosenstein is an appointee of Donald Trump. As is Christopher Wray. As was Jeff Sessions. It just seems that the White House and the President seems at war with his own government. I really haven't seen this. Going back to Watergate, you mentioned McGahn, I think Don McGahn did the nation a service when he basically prevented a Saturday night massacre. Archibald Cox moment. He saved us from that. I think by doing so he helped the President.

LEMON: I think it was David Gergen saying it was a slow-motion Saturday night massacre? He is basically getting rid of everyone who is investigating him. He is at war with his own Party and the people he appointed. Why won't Republicans -- they voted on Party lines today to release that. Every single one of them. Why won't Republicans stand up for -- you heard Director Clapper, you heard General Hayden, saying the congress is there to keep checks on the President, and they have relinquished their power and authority to the President of the United States.

DENT: Sadly, we're supposed to have a system of checks and balances, where we -- it's supposed to be a separation of powers, not a separation of parties. This predates this President. I've seen parties protecting the President, instead of providing the robust oversight. This is concerning. If I were on that committee I would have certainly raised concerns about moving forward on information this sensitive, this quickly, and particularly knowing DOJ and the intelligence community more broadly has great reservations about releasing this document, because it could potentially reveal sources or methods. I think we ought to listen to them. I am surprised that this has occurred, I am disappointed that it's happened.

LEMON: Thank you for representing Pennsylvania. I used to live in Philadelphia. I love that City. I love Pennsylvania. Thank you for coming in.

DENT: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: When we come back. The White House today saying nothing improper has been done in regards to the Russia investigation, yet the President has fired or wanted to fire pretty much anyone in a position of power over that investigation. So who really has what the White House calls Russia fever?


[23:15:58] LEMON: It has been a crazy day in Washington, a big day ahead tomorrow, really a frightening day. I want to bring in now CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston, CNN political analysts April Ryan and Ryan Lizza, CNN legal analyst Laura Coates. God evening to all of you.


LEMON: We have so much to discuss here. The Trump administration announced today, not, not going to implement sanctions. For Russia- related sanctions. Why not? Here's what they say. They say the threat itself is acting as a deterrent.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the first thing that is bizarre is that congress passed these sanctions by overwhelming majorities, we are talking only single digits voted against them in the house and the senate. Normally the way it's supposed to work, if congress passes something, you have to veto it if you don't want to implement it. The first thing the administration wants to do is what is the legal 2justification for not abiding by the will of congress? The second thing is, given this President's vulnerability on this issue and the outstanding questions about what happened in the 2016 campaign, it's sort of surprising just politically they couldn't go forward. This raises the question of what this is relationship with Russia? Just another data point that there's something off about Trump's relationship with this country.

LEMON: You're at the White House pretty much every single day, April. Sanctions at the root of so many key points in this investigation. Don Jr.'s trip to Trump tower. The meeting with lies and misdirection's around that. Flynn's communications with Kislyak. He lied to the FBI. Lost his job over it. So why? Why the interest and not sanctioning Russia?

RYAN: The atmospherics don't look good. I mean, at some point we have to use common sense. And what the common sense says, with everything you listed plus other things, it doesn't look good. It makes you wonder if there is the smoke is billowing even more. Where there's smoke, there's fire. The problem is, as we're hearing about the sanctions and other things, and this McCabe issue where they created the atmosphere to force him, basically, out. The problem is, we have a President who said he was a law and order President. We have a President who said he was a law and order President, and he is shifting to get the pressure off of him. So -- or it doesn't look good, just does not look well.

LEMON: I got to ask you Mark, when you look at everything that has happened, he fired the FBI Director James Comey. He wanted to ouster the deputy Director of the FBI who was pushed out today, Andrew McCabe. He wanted to fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller. He wanted to fire the assistant Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller's Russia investigation. Do they have any credibility when they're wanting to fire or firing all these people, or having them pushed out, as it relates to this Russia investigation?

MARK PRESTON, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: You forgot one, he wanted to fire the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. To the point Jeff Sessions tendered his resignation and it wasn't accepted. I guess the one thing, we've talked about this in the past, and the one thing that really is striking to me is that I've moved beyond what President Trump does or doesn't do. It's just very chaotic. There's no semblance of order. What I have trouble, though, understanding is his supporters who are blindly following. Not that they can't support him, but no matter what he says, even if it is a lie, if it is a falsehood, call it what you will, they blindly follow him. You pointed out several different examples right there that would add gasoline to a fire that people would say, whoa, now there's a fire here, there's smoke, there's something here. We don't know what's there, if anything, or if he himself is involved. But the fact of the matter is, he still has that blind loyalty, astounding to me.

LEMON: It's unbelievable. I heard someone on I think our air, they were talking about over the weekend, talking about the Hillary Clinton investigation to the staffer, the sexual harassment. The Democrat who was on said, I cannot condone that, I cannot make excuses for that. That is absolutely wrong, I do not support her in that. Why don't Trump supporters do that?

[23:20:12] RYAN: Because they believe that we are against the press, is against them, and they've pledged blind loyalty. It's all or nothing. Once they said, ok, we're going to go with you, this former reality star, this billionaire. We're going to give you our trust blindly.

LEMON: To Mark's point, not that they can't support him, it doesn't mean that they have to support everything that he does and make excuses for every single thing that he does.

PRESTON: Let me just add, to what April's saying, we saw this last week from Tony Perkins, head of the family research council. A lot of social conservatives, a lot of hard-core conservatives, look at Donald Trump as the vessel. The vessel to get what they want done. And they will turn a blind eye to other things. We saw that happen --

RYAN: Marriage, anti-abortion, no taxes, all that kind of stuff.

LEMON: Right. So walk us through this. The President, Laura has five days to review the Nunes memo. So they repeatedly indicated they wanted the memo out. Where do we stand? This memo is probably going to be released.


LEMON: What's the impact?

COATES: The impact is that you have a situation, can you imagine as a federal prosecutor, you'd be able to write a memo to the jury and tell them why you think a defendant's guilty, not allow the defense to issue their side of it, not show the evidence to anybody, not review it yourself, then be able to say with a wink and a nod, trust me, believe whatever is in it. What you have here is the acceleration of hypocrisy. You have people saying, I'd like you to go by innuendo alone and condemn or support me, but do not do the same for the other side. Where we see this going right now is the idea that we're looking to vilify one of the main organs of the executive branch, the FBI. Looking to say this is an institution you cannot trust.

Let's follow to the logical conclusion. If you are to say, for the benefit of the doubt that there is no conviction, there is no indictment coming for the President of the United States. If you take all the time and energy in the world to say that you cannot trust the result of the investigation, then where do you stand if it were to exonerate the President of the United States? I mean, it's the quintessential cutting off one's nose to spite your face. It doesn't make sense to the American people and should not.

One of the things you're talking about, the idea of why is this blindly following? The responsibility of any Democratic voting member of our society is to question the things that do not make sense. And to call the attention of people and rely on congress to act in a way that is responsible. What we're seeing right now is a politicization of an otherwise criminal probe. It should be out of their purview.

LEMON: Laura, we learned Christopher Wray threatened to quit if Trump tried to fire Andrew McCabe. Yet today we're learning McCabe was pressured to leave because of Wray. What do we know of this inspector general's report that is supposed to come out? Or that they have. Are there some 2answers in there? Are we going to know about this? 2

COATES: All we know so far is that may have been one of the bases on which Wray used to suggest to Andy McCabe he should take administrative leave and retire a little early. What I find so troubling about this, as somebody who was a career official in the Department of justice, not a political appointee, is that the safety of the people who you expect to be nonpartisan, which is a career official in the Department of justice, able to outlive the tenure of any President, why? Because you rely, if you are the investigating body of DOJ, on the consistency of institutional knowledge. Not this at the whim and that every person transforms into a political appointee at the whim of the President. The I.G. report, most people do not know, perhaps Wray knows, what I do know although McCabe was probably already going to retire, what we're seeing is now you have career officials who were on the chopping block at the whim of the President that is a very dangerous precedent. Forget morale, think about all the other investigations the FBI is doing that have nothing to do with this that are also on the chopping block. LEMON: Right after this, I want to point this out. The FBI special

agent and CNN analyst tweeted this. Folks, remember that deep throat, the man who exposed Nixon's cover-up in Watergate, was the retired number two person at the FBI. And a short time later that former FBI Director, James Comey, tweeted this, saying special agent Andrew McCabe stood tall over the last eight months, when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on, he served with distinction for two decades, I wish Andy well, I also wish continued strength for the rest of the FBI, America needs you. Is this President picking a fight that he will eventually regret?

LIZZA: I don't know. Hi doesn't regret most of the fights. The common denominator in your comments is people with institutional knowledge in our 2government, in the intelligence services or the FBI, who are deeply troubled by the way that this President is politicizing the intelligence services and the FBI, that is the current running through all the commentators who are former government officials is that he is somehow debasing the institutions that we rely on to be nonpartisan and credible.

[23:25:22] And he is politicizing places that there's always a little bit of politics in these places, but he is taking it further than previous Presidents had. We're losing something in the process. That is my takeaway from all the government officials who have spoken on this. On the memo, I'm a journalist, if there's a secret memo out there, I want to see what's in it. I think our Republicans survived that memo becoming public. If it's -- whatever vetting needs to be done. If it's as politicized and B.S. as we think it is, then everyone can have that discussion. But as a journalist, I want to see what's in the memo.

LEMON: It's interesting, because people who have read the memo, at least on the Democratic side, and I have the -- Clapper and Hayden said they didn't think that the folks who were releasing this memo, that they understand the FISA process. If they did, they wouldn't be making a mountain out of a molehill.

LIZZA: Then that will be exposed. When we see this memo and understand it and it sees the light of day, if they look foolish by the arguments made in the memo, then we can have that conversation.

COATES: The problem is if it's out there, you have an interpretation without competition that becomes fact for the American people.

RYAN: Nunes recused himself. That is one thing --

LEMON: Right. He is supposed to be recused.

RYAN: That is what I'm saying.

LEMON: I appreciate it. When we come back, much more news, breaking news on the Russia investigation, house Republicans released their version of the memo which is right now being reviewed by the White House. I also want to talk about the battle over immigration. We'll ask a Democratic Congressman if he thinks the President will keep his promises to DREAMERS. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:30:57] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Our breaking news on the Russia investigation, house Republicans voting tonight to release a partisan secret memo alleging FBI abuse of surveillance powers against the advice of the Justice Department. I want to talk to Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez about that and about the immigration battle and whether President Trump will keep his promises. Congressman thank you so much for joining us. You know what the big news is. Republicans in the House Intel Committee voted to release that memo. The Justice Department warned them that it would be reckless, that it's dangerous, extremely reckless I believe were the words. What's the committee trying to accomplish here?

REP LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D) ILLINOIS: I think they're trying to continue the chaos. In the chaos, maybe they believe they can get away with recklessness. Somehow get away with the illegality. I'm a sponsor of a resolution of impeachment of the President of the United States of America. I believe that the moment that he fired Comey and brought -- what did he do, remember, he said to the Attorney General, why don't you get out of the room, I've got to talk to Comey. He told his vice President, you leave. After he told them to leave, we all know what Comey has told us on the public record.

LEMON: Can you let us go or whatever.

GUTIERREZ: Let this go, and then, I'm firing you. That is obstruction of justice, he is continued to do it, and since there's been the cover-up. I was in college during Watergate. I think we understand that we're seeing it all over again. That is what they're doing. They continue to care, what they want to do is say that you are fake news at CNN and "the Washington Post" and the "New York Times." so that they can debilitate a very important structure in our society, the news media, the press. A vibrant free press is what's important to maintain our democracy. So they destroy your credibility. Then they've destroyed the underpinning of our democracy.

LEMON: Here's the one good thing that I have to say about that. Is that the presidency comes with term limits. Journalism does not. CNN does not.

GUTIERREZ: The public will get another turn. That is why we have to prepare for the next election. I wish the Democrats had not folded in the senate. I wish they would have stood up for principle, stood up for the DREAMERS, not sent that message. Because negotiating from a point of weakness now --

LEMON: That is what I want to talk to you about immigration, as I was speaking to someone I know who as staunch progressive and Democrat, which was my mother, she said, I don't understand what he did when it comes to immigration. Because we all got here some sort of way. Whether we were slaves, which is not immigrants, brought here by force. Or if you migrated to this country. Then you had millions of people out Marching that weekend, behind you. You had all those people out Marching, you had the base who supported you. Why fold like a cheap suit is the question.

GUTIERREZ: It was because they're going to put the prospects of a majority in the senate, by the Democrats, they're going to put the Party ahead of the nation and ahead of principle.

LEMON: This is what the White House has released when it comes to immigration reform. Key points include a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million people. It ends a diversity lottery, extended family migration for new applicants. It allocates over $25 billion for President Trump's border wall and other security programs. I don't know why the wall is in there, Mexico is supposedly going to pay for the wall, right? What's your biggest issue with these points?

GUTIERREZ: Here is the biggest issue. It really isn't about the wall. If it were about the wall, the debate would have ended. Dick Durbin went in with Lindsey Graham and offered $1.6 billion as a down payment. On border security. Wall. Right? I met with the chief of staff of the President of the United States and I asked, can you define a wall for me?

[23:35:00] Here's what Kelley said. He said, it could be the terrain. It could be inhospitable, they don't have to build anything. One of the things he did say, he said, I've educated the President. He made these ill-informed decisions during the campaign about the wall. He said he is educated the President. I listened to that carefully. He said, it could be drones. He said, one thing it's not, it isn't a 50- foot cement wall from sea to shining sea. So I was like, OK they offered 1.6, I think the senators -- it was by a hundred thousand young kids who have a future in America. When you put their lives, you ask yourself -- what if they're deported. What if they're sent back? What if those ugly drug cartels, those human smugglers that are there, just waiting for them and you cannot risk that this administration, they know where they live, they know where they go to school.

LEMON: So then where do you think DACA is at this point? And is it worth making the deal then to help the folks that you say?

GUTIERREZ: Here's what I -- one of the things I love about these young people is they said, if it means hurting other people in order for us to be helped, don't take the deal. I will say this. Remember, they're coming after legal immigration. They're going to tell you that this is about building a wall to stop illegal immigrants. Then why are they going after the diversity visas? This is the first time black people can come to America as free men and women to this nation, right, with full dignity and full respect, and they want to stop it. That is diversity visas. The other is chain migration. That is about my mom and dad bringing me, bringing their brothers and sisters and family. They want to destroy the cornerstone of our democracy and our immigration system.

LEMON: Thank you, much appreciated.

GUTIERREZ: Come back more to D.C., good to see you.

LEMON: I will try, thank you so much. When we come back, Nancy Pelosi charging that house Republicans are

committing, this is what she says, a cover-up by voting to release their memo, but not the Democrats. So much for transparency.


[23:41:05] LEMON: Breaking news on the Russia investigation. House Republicans voting to release a partisan secret memo alleging FBI misconduct. The President theoretically has five days to decide whether to release the memo, but he is known to want it released. That on the same day the FBI deputy Director Andrew McCabe abruptly stepped down under pressure from the White House. Let us discuss now CNN Senior economic analyst Steven Moore, former adviser to Trump campaign. CNN political commentators Amanda Carpenter, Tara Setmayer and Maria Cardona, good evening to all of you. Thank you for being here. Amanda, let's talk about this memo, because the DOJ has said it would be extremely reckless to release it. What's your reaction? Why jump on it?

AMANDA CARPENTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: My first question is, do Republicans really want to stake their credibility on the Russia investigation based on something a staffer of Devin Nunes has written? I think that is a pretty risky proposition, given the representative's track record, he had this whole scandal he is trying to cover a few months ago saying there's illegal activities going on by the White House, he has a secret source, information and lo and behold his secret source with the White House, that is why he had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. I just doubt his staff is prepared to write a memo with such high-level information. Given the fact that they also seem unwilling to fact check themselves with the proper agencies, I think should give all Republicans pause before jumping on this bandwagon.

LEMON: Do you think he understands how the FISA process works?

CARPENTER: There are members of congress who have high degrees of credibility when it comes to national security matters. Devin Nunes is not among them.

LEMON: Not one of them, yes. I want to play this, the minority leader Nancy Pelosi, this is what she told Chris Cuomo earlier tonight.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I want to tell you something, let me say this. The Republican Party has, as I said, crossed over to cover-up. They're deadly afraid of the Russia investigation. We don't want the investigation to be anything, but based on the law and the facts and let the investigation proceed. That is the right thing to do for our country. We have to be respectful of law, we have to be respectful of intelligence --


(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Doesn't she have a point? How is it appropriate for the House

Intel Commission to operate this way on such an important issue?

STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, CNN: Well, look. I thought we were all for transparency and openness. And what I don't understand is why Nancy Pelosi is so nervous about this memo. I don't know what's in it, but seems to me the Democrats have reacted so negatively to this that they are worried there is some misconduct.

LEMON: Don't you think you're being a bit hypocritical? The Democrats wanted their side of this memo released and Republicans voted not to do it. That is not transparency.

MOORE: Ok, so I guess what can be divulged to the American people should be. Whether it's favorable or not. But let's get it out there, find out whether there was bias.

LEMON: You have no issue? It's not just Nancy Pelosi who was against this, it was the Department of Justice. The Republican Department of Justice, a Trump-appointee Department of Justice, who said this would be dangerously reckless to release this.

MOORE: Look, I would say that, look that this speaks about the competence of the Justice Department. So you could see why people at the Justice Department might not want that information about the FBI revealed.

TARA SETMAYER FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER: Maybe it's because they -- they're not using the source documents to back it up. And to Amanda's point, it's written by staff of the committee.

MOORE: If that is true, won't that come out?

LEMON: He hasn't read the source material, he is writing a book report on a book he hasn't read.

[23:45:00] MOORE: If that is the case, you may be right about that, if that is the case, then Republicans are going to look completely silly by putting it out.

LEMON: It's not just that. This is not a Republican or Democrat thing. Because it's a dangerous precedent to set. Because as Laura said, you cannot put the genie back in the bottle. If you release this information and somehow you release sources and methods or confidential information, it's already out there, you can't pull it back.

SETMAYER: Worse than that -- There's an inspector general investigation going on right now which is important for people to understand. Every single cabinet agency has an inspector general who is basically appointed, but they're independent investigators, like the internal affairs department of every cabinet agency, including the Justice Department. And the inspector general right now, he is doing his job. He is the reason why we know what was in those text messages and things like that. The inspector general, his report is going to come out and uncover any kind of misconduct that would potentially be going on here. Why do we need this politically motivated cover for the President coming from Devin Nunes and the Republicans? I just think this is irresponsible.

LEMON: Can you hold your thoughts to the other side of the break? You'll be the first to speak. I will let you speak the most next time.


LEMON: I want to hear what you want to hear tomorrow from the President, and also talk about the first lady and Stormy Daniels. We will be right back.


[23:50:47] LEMON: We're back. Stephen Moore is here, Amanda Carpenter, Tara Setmayer and Maria Cardona. Maria, what do you want to see tomorrow?

CARDONA: Tomorrow I would like to see which I know I'm not going to get, a straightforward credible President Trump that wants to be President for all of the United States and not just the 33 percent of his base. But the problem with that is that even if he reads from the teleprompter and doesn't slur his words and doesn't insult communities and doesn't insult countries and doesn't insult our allies and doesn't cozy up to our adversaries, he is benefitting from such incredibly low expectations. If he does just that, people will say look, he will be Presidential. That does not erase a whole year of chaos, divisiveness, cozying up to white supremacists. Completely insulting every community of color there is. Women, disabled people.

MOORE: It's going to be jobs, the economy, and the improvement. He is going to talk about companies coming back to the United States. And look, when it all comes down to it when you look at what Americans were most concerned about in 2006 and 2007 and 2008, it's all the economy. And he is going to talk about that. I saw the President today at the White House he gave a little preview of what he is talking about. It was all focus on. He didn't seem too concerned about -- he didn't sound like a man who felt like he was under the gun on this FBI investigation. He seemed very in a jubilant mood about what was going on.

LEMON: The President meeting with supporters today from around the country in the White House. I want to continue to talk about the state of the union. Jim Acosta is reporting the first lady Melania Trump is expected to attend the state of the union address tomorrow night. This comes after an explosive Wall Street Journal about report about Stormy Daniels being paid $130,000 remember before the 2016 election to keep quiet about an affair a decade earlier with Donald Trump. Sources are telling The New York Times that Melania Trump was blindsided by the reports of a payoff. All eyes are going to be on the first lady tomorrow night.

CARPENTER: Yes. That will make an interesting side story. About Stormy Daniels, two things are interesting. One Donald Trump legal threats in 2011 were successful in blocking them from publishing the story at the time. The second thing is how familiar his lawyer Michael Cohen is with setting up shell companies to hide a payment to keep a woman silent. That is very interesting to me and how deftly he navigated that matter. There was another story by Buzz Feed over the weekend that showed that one fifth of Donald Trump's properties are owned by all cash buyers set up through shell companies. These are two known markers for potential money laundering. These things put together with the Trump team's ability to hide payments and having such a large influx of investors and their properties who not saying they were engaged in money laundering, but the fact that they're signifiers is interesting to me.

LEMON: Is that whole deal with the investigation?

SETMAYER: Of course it is. Look, we've always said follow the money. There's a reason why Donald Trump would not release his tax returns. It's for reasons just like this. He has had to have foreign money prop him up since his fourth or fifth bankruptcy, including Russian money. Deutsche bank which is under Swiss investigation for questionable dealings and has had a lot of Russian money laundering go through there, Russian mob money, all these things are problematic for Donald Trump in his properties in the United States and overseas. That is why he said finances would be a red line in the Mueller investigation.

CARDONA: I have always thought that finances were where the bulk of it was going to be. We got into an argument about this, Steven. You were saying that he shouldn't be the finances shouldn't be on the table.

MOORE: That should not be part of 24 investigation.

CARDONA: That is exactly what's going to lead investigators to the nugget of why he feels beholden to Russian influence.

[23:55:00] MOORE: Then it becomes a witch hunt.

CARDONA: It's not a witch hunt. If the money is there and the connections are there and the financial connections are there, and it's not just Trump. I think it also has to do with his family.

SETMAYER: That is why I would explain why Donald Trump has been reluctant to implement Russian sanctions. Today they're not doing that. Why it seems as though they're not doing anything about the fact that Russia meddled in our elections. The money has an influence on his behavior.

LEMON: Last word.

CARPENTER: If you look at the transcript of when GPS founder testified before the house, he was practically begging congressional investigators to look into Donald Trump's finances particularly in New York and Florida. And they still should.

LEMON: That will not be addressed at the state of the union tomorrow night, but I think it is interesting that the Democrats have invited some of the DACA kids. I spoke to some of them who said congressional black caucus member who is said they won't show up. Others said they will show up. In their words, they want to stare racism right in the face and confront it. An interesting evening. Make sure you stay tuned. Thanks for watching. Don't miss our CNN special coverage of the state of the union beginning tomorrow night at 5 Eastern. I am Don Lemon live in Washington. I'll see you back here later on in the week. Good night.