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CNN TONIGHT

A Tale Of Two Cover-Ups; President Obama Official Portrait; White House Revolving Door; Undocumented Father Fight To Stay In This Country; Undocumented Immigrant Who Was Facing Deportation Granted One Year Stay On Humanitarian Grounds; Deportation Higher Under Obama than Trump; Obama's Portrait. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired February 12, 2018 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:00:30] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is "CNN tonight." I'm Don Lemon. It is 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast live with new developments. First a tale of two cover-ups. Does the White House really expect you to believe that nobody tried to cover for Rob Porter in the wake of domestic violence allegations against him? Why won't the President release a Democratic memo responding to GOP charges of anti-Trump bias in the Russia investigation? What doesn't he want you to see? Plus former President Barack Obama unveils his official portrait and he apparently had feedback for the artist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His initial impulse maybe in the work was to also elevate me and put me in these settings with partridges as and drones and Schiffer robes. Mounting me on horses. And I had to explain that I've got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon. We've got to bring it down just a touch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I want to bring in CNN contributor Frank Bruni a columnist for "The New York Times." Nicholas Kristof, also a "New York Times" columnist. Gentlemen good evening to you. Let's talk about all these problems at the White House. As we talk about all the problems there, the White House handling of the Porter story, there are big-picture implications here. This is in the "New York Times" tonight, a paper you both work for. It says, according to a report by Mr. Tenpass, Mr. Trump's 34 percent turnover rate is his first year, in his first year, is more than three times as high as President Barack Obama's in the same period, and twice as high as President Ronald Reagan's, which until now was the modern record holder. Of 12 positions deemed most central to the President, only five are filled by the same person as when Mr. Trump took office. That is very unsettling, Nick Kristof. We're only a year into this administration. And this administration is stymied. There are constant scandals. Is it no wonder there is such high turnover? What does it mean for the next three years?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: You know, I think actually it's even worse than those numbers suggest. LEMON: Really?

KRISTOF: My contacts at the White House say that General Kelley has been trying very, very hard to prevent more turnover for precisely that reason. And so that, you know, it would be even more otherwise than if General Kelley leaves, there may be more of an exodus. The other reason why it's worse than it might appear is you look at the caliber of some of these folks who have been hired. And partly -- especially maybe a national security policy. Because there have been so many people who would sign "never Trump" letters. So there were not that many people available. And even more broadly across the administration, you have people like this 24-year-old who is in a senior position in the office of drug control policy.

Across the board you seem to have people who have trouble getting their FBI clearances, who haven't been vetted thoroughly. And just are, you know, pretty unimpressive. I think that adds to the feeling among others that there is a real reputational risk of joining the White House, joining the administration, and that reaches a critical mass. It becomes harder and harder to get good people.

LEMON: Can you put that full screen back up? I apologize to Miss Tenpass. I knew something was wrong as I was reading it. I want to ask, look at this administration compared to others. It's not exactly an advertisement for the best and the brightest, is it?

FRANK BRUNI, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: No, not at all. I think Nick had things exactly right. There's a talent deficit in this administration that I don't think I've seen in a Presidential administration in my lifetime. Part of the problem, this is actually a small part of it, is that Donald Trump and his fiercest enablers are suspicious of outsiders. But more than that, there are any number of people who find this to be an ethically compromised administration to a degree that repels them. That don't feel Donald Trump is a stable President.

[23:05:00] They feel that nothing but bad will come from serving him. Some people have actually gone through great quandary, do I go into the administration and try to mitigate a bad situation? Do I stay away because it looks like such a train wreck? The result is, you don't have enough talented people for top positions. You have this extraordinary turnover rate. I think more and more you have an American public that feels no confidence toward this administration, because they can see this.

LEMON: I want people to know, this is a turnover rate that is 34 percent for Donald Trump, for Barack Obama, 9 percent. George W. Bush, 6 percent, Bill Clinton 11 percent. George H.W. Bush 7 percent. Ronald Reagan higher at 17 percent. I mean, you can't deny those numbers, Frank you just can't.

BRUNI: No you can't. You can't deny the amount of melodrama and chaos that also goes along with them. Those are just the numbers. But think about the way we've seen Sean Spicer come and go. Anthony Scaramucci come and go in ten days. Mike Flynn come and go in a matter of weeks. This is not just normal turnover. It's a degree of chaos, and frankly that chaos has been vividly manifest in the whole Rob Porter situation and the conflicting stories we've gotten from the White House.

And the sense that there were any number of people who had an inkling, at the very least that something was wrong with Rob Porter, that there was this thing in his past, his security clearance was held up, yet nothing was doing and nothing was done. Initially when the story started leaking out you had a vote of confidence from the administration that quickly was taken back. This is not an administration, a White House that behaves in a professional manner, we keep seeing that again and again.

LEMON: One more Frank before we get back to Nick. We know the President's history, when it comes to women, "Access Hollywood", defending Roy Moore, just recent examples that come to mind, given that history, do you think the White House might have minimized the Porter allegations on purpose when they first learned of them?

BRUNI: I think it's impossible not to wonder. If there isn't a culture in this White House that begins at the top that begins with Donald Trump. A culture that when people heard murmuring or just kind of saw their purple vision that maybe there is something on with Rob Porter that involved women that involved domestic violence, they just thought, that sounds like a private matter, that doesn't sound like anything serious. It's something very serious, but in the culture of this White House and the history of Donald Trump, you don't get the sense that the treatment and full respect for women is a paramount thing.

LEMON: Nick, Rob Porter's first wife wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" and she address Kellyanne Conway's appearance on CNN yesterday. She said, I was dismayed when Conway appearing on CNN state of the union went on to say she does not fear for White House communications Director Hope Hicks, who has reportedly been dating Porter. I've rarely met someone so strong with such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts. Borrowing Conway's words, I have no reason not to believe her when she says that Hicks is a strong woman, but her statement implies those who have been in abusive relationships are not strong. I beg to differ." Nick, you make the point domestic violence kills more people than terrorism and it has nothing to do with the strength of the victim, does it?

KRISTOF: Absolutely. You know, look, I don't think anybody begrudges President Trump or his aides feeling compassion for Rob Porter. But that compassion can't come at the cost of accusing his ex-wives of deception or of diminishing violence itself. Violence against women in the U.S. is something that sends 200,000 women to emergency rooms each year. Three women a day die of it. And our policies are systematically aligned to not treat it seriously. Then when you have a White House that responds in this way that seems to diminish that kind of violence that crime, then -- in the larger sense, here we have a President who has himself been accused of domestic violence, who has had himself accused of domestic violence who has had at least two aides who have had to leave office, because of allegations of domestic violence. They were overseen by a White House chief of staff who in the past seemed to himself diminish the seriousness of domestic violence. And so it's all a parade that seems to undercount one of the tragedies that is happening in so many homes across America.

LEMON: Nick, I want to talk about this. I know this is near and dear to you because you've been reporting on it. I'm going to talk to a father of five who was facing deportation, received a stay tonight. Again, I know this is a topic that you are tackling also. What does Trump's crackdown on immigrants look like in real life?

[23:10:04] KRISTOF: So, I mean there is such a hypocrisy here. President Trump sold his immigration crackdown as going after bad hombres, he is going out for murderers and rapist. What does it look like actually at the grassroots? It looks like a beloved chemistry professor in Kansas, Sayid Jamal, who's been in the U.S. for 30 years, who has three U.S. citizens as children, who ran for the school board, is a volunteer in the community, the local church describes him as the best neighbor the community could have. And so he is here on a work permit, a temporary work permit. He checked in with ICE earlier in January. Then all of a sudden ICE Officers show up as he is driving his daughter to school. They handcuff him. They tell his kids that if they hug him good-bye, they may be arrested. And so this created an uproar in the community. Local congregational church went all-out to support him. A lot of Trump voters there who indeed supported Trump on immigration in general, suddenly found themselves aghast that their pal, their friend, was subject to this. So just today, ICE sent professor Jamal on a special government plane headed back to Bangladesh. Who knows at what cost. A Judge ordered a stay as the plane was in the air. It is apparently landing in Hawaii and will refuel and carry him back. What a charade of inhumanity and incompetence. And a waste of federal resources.

LEMON: Thank you both. Keep following this story, let us know how it turns out. We appreciate having both of you on. Thank you Frank, thank you Nick.

Coming up the incredible story of a father of five brought here illegally by his mother when he was just a baby. He is going to tell me how his fight to stay in this country led him to seek sanctuary in a Phoenix church and what he thinks will happen now.

Plus, why is it the men accused of misconduct manage to get the President's sympathy, but the women? Not so much.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:16:00] LEMON: President Trump seems eager to defend former aide Rob Porter despite allegations against him of domestic violence. But when it comes to defending women making those allegations, a deafening silence. Let's discuss. CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio, author of "The truth about Trump." CNN political commentator Amanda Carpenter and CNN legal commentator Ken Cuccinelli. Thank you all for joining us this evening. Amanda I am going to start with you. The White House message on the whole Porter scandal has been astonishing. At a press briefing today the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders struggled to explain the President's sympathetic comments about Porter last week. Let us listen in and we will talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The

President and the entire administration take domestic violence very seriously and believe all allegations need to be investigated thoroughly. He certainly supports the victims of domestic violence above all else and believes that everyone should be treated fairly and with due process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there some --

HUCKABEE SANDERS: The President's simply saying there should be a due process that should be followed and looked at.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So the support of women, he is never said it himself, only Sarah Sanders was saying that. He simply believes in due process. Has he shown support in any way to these victims?

AMANDA CARPENTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, no, he hasn't. But I've just got to say, I think we're missing a bigger story here. I mean, we can go on and on about the way that Trump disrespects women. And I am there for it. I've spoken out about it many times. But Porter's problems, he was accused of criminal activity. It's low- hanging fruit. My issue right now is if the chief of staff and the legal counsel were willing to turn a blind eye to allegations of violence to protect their guy, what else are they probably also turning a blind eye to? I mean, the security clearance issue, there's a Russia investigation going on. You know, Jared Kushner was there for the Trump tower meeting, Jared Kushner was there setting up back channels with the Russians or at least talking about it. He still has an interim security clearance? There's so much potential for corruption, for financial conflicts, for romantic conflicts, as we saw between Hope Hicks and Rob Porter.

I mean, I think there's so much more going on. And of course this is a terrible issue, but I think it exposes many more potential problems that are probably going on there and need to be straightened out, and it's probably going to require some kind of congressional oversight or some kind of muscle to come in and smack Trump in the face and say, you have to get your house in order or your presidency is going to go up in flames.

LEMON: So Amanda, I'm going to say to you, I think you're absolutely right. And I'm here for it. Why don't we go there? So then how on earth do you do that? Seeing that the hypocrisy coming from the White House -- because Michael, all you have to do is go through the timeline. It's very simple. And then play back, as I did at the start of the show at 10:00 eastern, and play back the words and the timeline, and you see that they are obfuscating, they're not telling the truth about the exact timeline about what happened. So who does what Amanda says, who's going to put the house in order for a congress and a senate who don't seem to want to take on this President?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think we're in a bit of a trap here. We have a President who doesn't pay very much attention to public opinion when it's running against him. And a congress that isn't going to be inclined to impose any order on the situation. The only thing that I can imagine might move the White House is a steep decline in the public opinion polls that might move the President to have another shake-up. So, you know -- I think perhaps a truly professional chief of staff who's got Washington experience, who's maybe of the sort of person who wouldn't have worked in the White House in the past, but recognizes the crisis at hand, needs to be brought in. But, you know, this fellow, Donald Trump, doesn't have those instincts.

[23:20:09] His instinct, as he often says, is to punch back ten times harder. And I think in this case, we have yet another situation where more of a well-rounded personality is called for. Someone who has a heart and has the instinct to, for example, acknowledge women who are alleging serious crimes, rather than rush to the defense of his guy. So all of us, I think, as citizens of the United States, we're in a trap here.

LEMON: It shouldn't be very political or very partisan to support women who have been victims, alleged victims, however you want to stay it, of sexual or domestic abuse. It's not a stretch to support them in saying their stories need to be taken seriously. It's very easy for the President to say that. Let's talk a little bit more about the politics are at play here ken you can deny that. It seems to be a pattern where the President has no problem defending men who are accused of sexual misconduct, especially those whose political views align with his own. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We wish him well. He worked very hard. I found out about it recently and I was surprised by it. He said very strongly yesterday that he is innocent. So you'll have to talk to him about that. But we absolutely wish him well. Did a very good job while he was at the White House.

Look, he denies it. I mean, if you look at what is really going on, and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. He says it didn't happen. And you have to listen to him also.

He is been a friend of mine for a long time. And I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he is helped them. And even recently. And when they write books that are fairly recently released and they say wonderful things about him, and now all of a sudden they're saying these horrible things about him, it's very sad. Because he is a very good person. I've always found him to be just a very, very good person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Ok, so that said, he hasn't seemed quite as understanding in the past with other men, though. He criticized the former President Bill Clinton, and tweeted this about Al Franken, the Al Franken picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words, where do his hands go in the picture while she sleeps? Does this President have a double standard when it comes to who believes is innocent? And why would people who have to make excuses for this behavior in the past with this President, why would they want to take him on in some sort of oversight?

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: I think that in the same way that when the President sees weakness, like the Al Franken example, he attacks. I think he subjects himself to those attacks some as well. I'd like to talk about the solution, which also centers around some of the problem. And that is, I don't think there needs to be a change in the chief of staff. I think General Kelley made a mistake or made mistakes here, but I think he is the kind of person whose background, professional and otherwise, suggests that he is going to learn from those mistakes and he has brought the kind of order to the White House that Reince Priebus never could. I think that will include himself. I think the best shot for the President getting correct on this is going to come through General Kelley recognizing his own mistake or mistakes and helping the President put this back in order where it belongs and setting priorities correctly --

LEMON: Why do you think that would happen when he didn't apologize for the lazy statement, he didn't apologize for lying about Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson? Why do you think he is learned from his mistakes? He is never apologized, he is never said, oh, I got that wrong, never learned from his mistake? He never apologized for what he said about the gold star widow?

CUCCINELLI: As a Washington insider, basically to be a chief of staff, I think that is the last thing in the world that we need. And particularly with this President. Look, Washington insiders say all the right things and don't mean them. The transparency here, even in mistakes, is almost complete. And I think that General Kelley is in the best position to help right this part of the ship and to make sure it doesn't happen anymore, a personnel matter internally, and they've got to be more responsive to that. I think they know that now, even if the President wants to talk about due process and everything else. I think that is what you'll see going forward and it's going to emanate from the chief of staff.

LEMON: The chief of staff was there when the President tweeted this weekend, the chief of staff was there when the President was asked about this a number of times, didn't answer, had sympathy for the men.

[23:25:00] The chief of staff was there when all the statements that came from the podium, all the statements that came from the White House, all the people who went on television and got the messaging wrong, he was there. Don't you think he was part of it and crafted that message? Why do you think he would be the person to fix it when so far, he has done the exact opposite?

CUCCINELLI: Well, first of all, chief of staff has to go with whatever the President does. He doesn't -- the notion that he gets input and the President gets to decide. I think that he has the best chance to correct this directional error and to make sure it doesn't happen again. And that is pretty darn important going forward. They've got 2 1/2 more years just to this term. And presumably they want another one. And this doesn't help. LEMON: I'm out of time. Amanda, I know you want to get in, I want to

hear, because I think you make really good points, can you quickly respond?

CARPENTER: I would just say the problem that Trump presents is bigger than a chief of staff. And here's the thing. Republicans -- I fear that they are willing to just surrender than stand up to Trump. If you talk to Republicans, they fear doom coming in the 2018 midterm elections. And rather than confront that doom, try to stop it, I feel they are surrendering to Trump. So just out of self-interest, you've got to stand up and say, get the house in order. Get the house in order. Start with the security clearances.

LEMON: Love your conversation. Thank you all.

When we comeback. An undocumented dad facing deportation while his 5- year-old son is battling leukemia, but the breaking news tonight, ICE is granting him a one-year stay. He is going to join me live next. I'll ask him if he feels safe in this country now.

Plus, the Obamas back in the spotlight unveiling their official portraits. The former President clearly happy with his wife's.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman that I love.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:31:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Tonight, an undocumented immigrant who has been in America since he was a baby and was facing immediate deportation to Mexico has been given permission by immigration officials to stay the U.S. for one year on humanitarian grounds. That man is Jesus Berrones. He joins me along with his lawyer, Garrett Wilkes. Thank you so much for joining us. How are you doing?

GARRETT WILKES, LAWYER FOR JESUS BERRONES: We're doing good.

JESUS BERRONES, FATHER OF 5, GRANTED STAY OF DEPORTATION THREAT: I'm good, thanks.

LEMON: Jesus, at first I want to ask you about the news tonight that ICE has granted you a stay here in the U.S. As well as one-year work permit. How are you feeling about this tonight?

BERRONES: I feel happy. I feel happy because ICE, they approved my application for the stay.

LEMON: Do you feel that you can leave the sanctuary of the church that you're in tonight, the church where you are, and be able to stay here with your family? Do you feel comfortable that they're going to allow that for you?

BERRONES: Yes.

LEMON: You do?

BERRONES: Yes, I do.

LEMON: So let's talk about your family, Jesus. You and your wife, you have five children. Another one on the way. Your son is battling leukemia. How's he doing?

BERRONES: Right now he is doing good. He is happy because he knows I'll be able to go home now and be with my whole family at home.

LEMON: It's important for you to be with a child, especially a sick child.

BERRONES: Yes.

LEMON: I'm sure that will help in his recovery. So you were supposed to be deported today. You were forced to seek shelter in this church. Tell us why -- how did your situation get to this point, Jesus? How did you get here?

BERRONES: I got here because my attorney asked for help, who can help me in the church. And this church was the first one to answer back that they were open, they will open the doors for me and help me. So that was my next step, to come here and stay at this church.

LEMON: Garrett, how did this situation get to this point?

WILKES: It initially started back in December when he was supposed to have his regular check-in with ICE every six months. Coming out of the blue, ICE informed him he had 30 days to get his affairs in order, in order to be deported in January. So we filed what's known as an I- 246 stay of removal at the end of January. And on Thursday, this last Thursday, the 8th, ICE informed me it was being denied. We couldn't get any feedback as to why it was being denied. The only response we were getting was, no comment.

And so we started reaching out. I reached out to other immigration attorneys. And some other contacts. Eventually, we ended up getting in contact here at the sanctuary church where we're at right now. And through multiple communications with ICE, Mexican consulate was of great assistance to us, we were able to get some additional documentation to them which ultimately led in their reversal of their decision and granting the stay that we filed.

LEMON: Can you answer a question? I think it's important to people at home. Garrett, Jesus doesn't meet the requirements of a dreamer. Why is that?

[23:35:00] WILKES: The main reason is because of two removals that he has from the country. He has a removal from 2006 which was voluntary, it was a voluntary removal. And then he has a 2010 removal order that was expedited by ICE, so because of those two reasons, because it happened after he was 18, is when -- is essentially what bars him from being eligible under the dreamers or to become DACA eligible. Even though he is graduated from high school, lived here his whole life, those two removals keep him from benefiting from that.

LEMON: So Jesus, what do you want to say to Americans who want to do the right thing, but also may not agree with you staying in the U.S.? What do you say to them?

BERRONES: That they have to understand what I'm going through and my son is going through. And he, all my family, especially my son, that he does need my help, my support. And my wife needs my support so I can help her with my little son, with his pills. Right now she is not able to do that, so that is my job. We're about to have a baby, and she has four more months to go. So the pills say on the bottom, if you're pregnant you cannot give the pills to the son. So that is why I'm doing that.

LEMON: We appreciate you coming and telling your story. Garrett, thank you so much. Please keep us updated on what's going on about and we'll have you back on. Thank you.

WILKES: Thank you for the support.

LEMON: Good luck to your son, Jesus.

When we come back, this is what the President is saying about getting a deal done on DACA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If the Democrats want to make a deal, it's really up to them. I can tell you, speaking for the Republican Party, we would love to do DACA. We would love to get it done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Will a deal get done?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:41:15] LEMON: President Trump has proposed giving 1.8 million young undocumented young immigrants a pathway to citizenship in exchange for a $25 billion for his border wall. I want to bring in CNN political commentators Angela Rye and Tara Setmayer, Carlos Limon adviser for the national diversity coalition for Trump. Good evening. Thank you all for coming on. Tara, we just heard from Jesus Berrones, 5-year-old son battling leukemia, undergoing chemotherapy. He is the family's sole breadwinner. If not for this last minute stay he would have been deported. What benefit would that have been, do you think?

TARA SETMAYER FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER: You know -- this is such an emotional issue. And I worked on immigration for seven years when I worked on Capitol Hill. And it's so multi-faceted and complicated. And the emotional toll that it takes on both sides of the issue is really hard. In a case like this, when you see a gentleman who came here when he was a kid, then he got deported a couple of times, he came back on work permit, he is the sole breadwinner for his family, he is got American-born children. Is this really who we want to deport? He doesn't have a criminal record. I only heard part of the interview, as far as I know, no criminal record.

LEMON: Right.

SETMAYER: So you have prosecutorial discretion on issues like this. I just don't think that cases like this are the ones that the Trump administration should be focused on. This one, the case earlier today talked about the chemistry professor that was here for 30 years. I don't understand why they're focusing on that. I think what happened is the pendulum has swung so far the other way. Because under the Obama administration, ICE interior enforcement and deportations were down astronomically. Unfortunately. And people felt that things had gotten out of control. Now this administration with Trump's rhetoric and tough talk on immigration, the pendulum has swung the other way. I don't see how this is helping the debate in a pragmatic way.

LEMON: We know he was brought here when he was 1 1/2. Like many undocumented immigrants, he can't get a real license so he got arrested as a teenager for having a fake license. He was deported in 2006. He is been deported twice. Carlos, I want your take on this, what do you say?

CARLOS LIMON, ADVISER, NATIONAL DIVERSITY COALITION FOR TRUMP: First of all, I sympathize with Jesus story. It's very unfortunate, the situation that he is put himself in. And I'm very glad that he got that work permit for a year's stay. I believe the many Trump supporters would sympathize with him and would want to do the right thing. However, we cannot ignore the law. This is the greatest nation in the world, because of the law system and because of many, many other things. So he just experienced this nation's grace. And ICE decision of him staying. But again, we cannot base everything, all the law systems, so complex, into one particular case. I personally know a couple of people deported under the Obama administration, but it wasn't as loud as before. So it's very political. It's very emotional. I'm just very glad Jesus has his second chance. He is going to have to really reapply himself. I'm an immigrant myself from Mexico. 16 years ago. Still working on my English as you can tell. And working very hard. I have four kids myself. It's a lot on his plate.

LEMON: One difference is that President Obama didn't demonize immigrants. Whatever his government did under him, they called him the deporter in chief and he was criticized for that. Listen to this and I want to get your take on Angela.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[23:45:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President is enforcing the law. That is why a lot of advocates have been calling him deporter in chief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you deport 2 million people?

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going to --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems to me that you are deporter in chief -- OBAMA: You called me deporter in chief.

TRUMP: President Obama has deported millions and millions of people just the way it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I clearly remember the moniker of "deporter in chief."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Was he too tough on undocumented immigrants?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he was extremely tough on undocumented immigrants. And my reality is this was one of the frustrations I had with President Obama. Had I known where we would be now, which is in a space where folks who have violated a civil issue in this country, immigration is a civil violation. How they would be criminalized. I just would have really wanted him to understand that DACA was something that we would really need to protect. It's a program that they're really going to go after. It wasn't that Barack Obama didn't deport enough people to Republicans and some of the folks on the right, it's that he was other. He represented another that folks are very uncomfortable with in this country. The browning of America is one thing that Trump has played right into the hands of people who fear that concept the most. That is why this is surging. That is why it's doing so well. It is a very hate-filled rhetoric he is used since the campaign, since the first day of his campaign. That is where we are right now. So absolutely, Barack Obama used compassion in some instances to deal with immigration enforcement. And we are seeing the very opposite of that with Donald Trump.

SETMAYER: I just want to clear something up about the Obama administration and this idea of him being the deporter in chief. They fudged the numbers to make it look like he was being really, really tough on immigration. They changed their prosecutorial discretion to criminals, which was supposed to be the criminal aliens, then they gave a pass to everybody else for the most part. Interior enforcement and deportations were down. ICE deportations, it's a process that ICE goes through, through immigration Judges where you get a deportation order and you're removed from the country.

The Obama administration fudged the numbers and they took the border patrol arrests and people that they turned around at the border and combined that with what ICE was doing and that is how they got those numbers. That is the difference. There's also hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied minors that came over here, starting in 2013 or '14 --

LEMON: Why would they do that and then get the criticism for being called the deporter in chief?

SETMAYER: Because there was some enforcement. But it was not the kind of enforcement that people think it was. Especially since hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied minors were allowed to come and stay in this country, allowed to go with their illegal immigrant families in this country at taxpayer expense.

RYE: So undocumented people were deported at a higher number near the end of Obama, the Obama administration, than at the beginning. It was a critical priority for them. Again, it was one that I disagreed with. There was no fudging of the numbers, they used the same numbers throughout the duration of both terms of the Obama administration.

LEMON: I got to go. Let us put this up. Thank you, fella's I appreciate it. Let's show this. Do you like this? Does it look like them?

SETMAYER: I love it.

LEMON: Oh my gosh, everybody's like, oh, no. We'll talk about it, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:52:24] LEMON: Today, the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady, Michelle Obama, were unveiled. Back with me Angela Rye and Tara Setmayer. So let us take another look of the portraits. There's Michelle Obama, Barack Obama. A lot of mixed reactions. What do you all think?

SETMAYER: I'll go first because I know Angela has a lot more to say about it than I do. So, I don't love the Michelle Obama one. I don't think it looks like her. I think it looks like Kerry Washington a little bit. I'm not an art expert. My initial reaction was, I didn't love it as much. The President Obama one, the likeness is much better. And I was back and forth about the flowers thing going on there. The memes have been funny. I did appreciate the artist to explain how he incorporated the flowers from Kenya, Hawaii and Illinois in that. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's artistic. Presidents get to pick their artists. They knew what they were getting.

LEMON: I love the colors. If I didn't know who they were, I would hang them on my wall. I think it looks like the first lady.

RYE: If for no other reason, those biceps.

LEMON: What do you think, Angela?

RYE: I love these. I love the fact they commissioned two black artists and they were unveiled during black history month. It gives us another moment to reflect on the glory days. It just makes me happy.

LEMON: They did break tradition. Both artists, the first African Americans to paint portraits to the museum and both have dedicated their careers to people of color in different ways. Go ahead Angela.

RYE: The thing I like bout it is, he is always turned art on its head. He is used it to show folks who would be deemed urban in urban communities. And he is softened them with this floral pallet. It's very much a part of his brand. LEMON: Whatever you thought on the portraits, you weren't so hot on

it. The President hasn't lost his touch. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman that I love.

[23:55:00] Special shout out to my man, Joe Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He can form a sentence.

RYE: Baseline standard here.

SETMAYER: I'm not a fan of Barack Obama's policies. I was vehemently fighting against those tenure. I caught myself missing the Obamas after watching it today, because he can put a sentence together and have some humor. Like, those parts of it, I never thought I would say that about the Obamas. Yeah. I get it.

LEMON: You saw the Democrats talking about the Bush.

(LAUGHTER)

SETMAYER: Yes. Yes.

LEMON: Or Mitt Romney. Where is Mitt Romney when you need him?

RYE: But he sounds like he loves his wife. No shade but shade.

LEMON: That was shade.

RYE: It's true. It's late.

LEMON: I think they're beautiful.

RYE: He was going the come for you anyway whether I said that or not.

LEMON: Good night.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)