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Special Counsel Robert Mueller Asking About Jared Kushner's Business Discussion During Transition; Trump Jr. To Host Dinners With Condo Buyers in India. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired February 19, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:45] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is "CNN tonight." I am Don Lemon it is 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast live with exclusive developments tonight. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, asking questions about the President's son-in-law. It's not just Jared Kushner's Russia contacts. Sources telling CNN, while Kushner was working on the Presidential transition, he was also trying to get financing from his -- for his company from foreign investors, including the Chinese. Mueller's investigators have been asking questions about Kushner's conversations with those investors. More on that in just a moment.
Plus guess who is coming to dinner? Donald Trump Jr. hosting dinners in two cities, in India for buyers of Trump-branded apartments, raising questions of whether he is selling access for the price of a condo.
And the movie taking the country by storm in the holiday weekend, "Black Panther." What this superhero saga means in Donald Trump's America. We'll discuss all of that.
I want to get right to our CNN exclusive reporting on the Mueller investigation, joining me now CNN justice reporter Kara Scannell, part of the team that broke the story. Cara what's at the center of what Mueller's investigating now?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well Don, CNN had learned the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is asking questions about Jared Kushner's personal business dealings during the Presidential transition. We're told by people who are familiar with the investigation that Mueller's lawyers are asking about discussions Kushner had with potential Chinese and Qatari investors. This is the first indication Mueller wants to know about contacts the President's son-in-law had with foreigners outside of Russia.
This discussion evolved at around this building in Manhattan 666 Fifth Avenue, which Kushner's company owns. The financing on the building is in debt by over $1 billion. It's not clear what's behind Mueller's specific interests in the financing discussions. We're told the special counsel hasn't asked the Kushner companies for information, he also hasn't asked for interviews with other executives from the Kushner business. A spokesman for the special counsel has declined to comment, but we have a statement now from Jared Kushner's attorney responding to our story.
I'll quote, "another anonymous source with questionable motives now contradicts the facts. In all of Mr. Kushner's extensive cooperation with all inquiries there has not been a single question asked nor document sought on the 666 building or Kushner company deals, nor would there be any reason to question these regular business transactions." Now we had multiple sources for this story who told us these questions were being asked. Kushner himself may not have been quizzed on the company's dealings but multiple people familiar with the Mueller probe have told us investigators have been exploring these questions in interviews with people over the last two months.
LEMON: So what would Mueller be seeking, Kara, to figure out in asking these questions about Kushner?
SCANNELL: One thing we should be clear about is that we know these questions are being asked and we're not exactly sure how it fits into the Mueller matrix. There are a couple of different things that he could be looking at. At the time, Kushner was the main foreign -- the main contact with foreign contacts during the transition. He also was wearing the other hat of being a businessman as he was working to divest his interests. So Mueller's team could be looking to see if there was any potential leverage or what kind of conversations were taking place, what was discussed in those conversations, anything from a quid pro quo to something more mundane. There's no evidence that that occurred. This could also be Mueller's team looking to check the box. A lot of these meetings were reported in the press, so he could just be looking to make sure there's no there. I should also note that we don't believe and have no reason to believe that Kushner himself is a target of the investigation.
LEMON: Kara, thank you so much on our reporting, we appreciate it. I want to bring in now CNN legal analyst Laura Coates, national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, CNN contributor Garrett Graft, author of "The threat matrix." Good evening to all of you. Laura, you are up first, what do you think of -- is the biggest takeaway from this exclusive new reporting?
LAURA COATES, CNN INTERNATIONAL LEGAL ANALYST: Of course it's not the first time that Mueller's investigation has steered away from simply what's happening in Russia. You have Manafort and Gates with ties to the Ukraine that says that the team was actually interested in money laundering and things that would make them susceptible to bribery and other things or some avenue or vehicle which they would want to try to be susceptible to either influence or undue influence.
[23:05:11] Now you got with Kushner the same kind of thematic pattern that is emerging again, following a money trail to figure out if anything, if there's any reason why this person, was so close to the Donald Trump inner circle, the son-in-law, may have been vulnerable or may have had undue influence exerted on him. It may not lead to an actual indictment of any kind, but what it does show you is that Mueller's probe, because they already have this very big directive that says, please look into everything, whatever you may come across, you can look into that too. He is coming across continuously, time and again, financial transactions that raise an eyebrow and may suggest hints of impropriety. But Don, this is exactly the reason everyone was scolding the Trump administration initially, for not getting away from their businesses. From having obvious conflicts of interest. It promotes this sort of scrutiny.
LEMON: This is the first time Garret that China and Qatar had been mentioned in the special counsel's investigation. Kushner was the lead contact for foreign governments during the transition. And we know that the White House is upset Mueller has Trump transition records. Could this be why?
GARRETT GRAFT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. And that is been one of the open questions in this investigation is we know that there was a lot of sort of legal scuffling over the fact that the Trump White House had not understood that Mueller had these transition records until Mueller was basically questioning White House aides about them. And I think one of the things that we've wondered is, is there a relationship between Jared's contacts with foreign governments during the transition and also those transition records? This is a little bit of a hint of that. But remember, it's also consistent with some of the reporting that we've seen actually in the last couple of weeks from both "The Wall Street Journal" and also the "New Yorker." both pointing to some odd relationships and potentially troubling contacts between Jared and people linked to the Chinese government that the counter intelligence agents and counter intelligence officers of the FBI were concerned about and actually spoke with Jared Kushner about during the transition and during his first months at the White House.
LEMON: We're having an issue with Juliette's connection. I'll ask you another question, Garrett. I know you have taken a closer look at Friday's indictment. What stands out to you, how are the Russians reacting to the charges?
GRAFT: Well I think what stands out for me in the indictment is both the incredible level of detail, I mean, this is another sign of just how thorough Bob Mueller is being in this investigation. And it's also, if you or anyone else who is associated with this probe, you are reading this document and realizing just how almost omniscient Bob Mueller's team is turning out to be. I mean, he is quoting from internal internet research agency e-mails. Internal documents. Private Facebook messages. I mean, he has had access to a tremendous amount of information in this. And so if I'm someone else who's involved in this probe, I'm sitting there thinking nervously, remembering Bob Mueller knows a lot of information and that he is been pretty quick to prosecute people who were lying to him. So he is sending a message to a lot of different people with an indictment that is as comprehensive as this one is.
LEMON: So Laura, go ahead.
COATES: Let me add one thing. The idea of this being a talking indictment is apropos. Because it's very unlikely if not impossible he is going to be able to extradite any of the people that he has named in his indictment from a country we do not have an extradition treaty with. They travel to countries, we may actually have that. It's speaking volumes, because it shows you the categories of information that Mueller's investigative team is looking at. They're looking into money laundering, looking into the failure to register as a foreign agent, looking into issues about whether campaign finance or getting quid pro quo information. He is trying to single-handedly take away the anonymity factor from people who are hiding behind social media campaigns to try to be divisive. So he is thematically going through categories that should really make a lot of people's knees knock together that are close to the inner circle of Donald Trump.
LEMON: Juliette, let me as you. What does this tell you, let us go back to Jared Kushner, what does this tell you about where the Mueller investigation is going, where he could be going with this, looking at everything that is happened, the 13 Russians who are indicted last week, also now this new Kushner reporting?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So I think we are just seeing at this stage different pieces of various theories of the case, whether it's the financial, the collusion, or even obstruction of justice.
[23:10:03] I need to remind people, I lost you guys for a little bit, but obviously Jared Kushner has revised his security clearances a couple of dozen times. It means that Mueller -- that Jared Kushner did not disclose any or a lot of his foreign contacts over the course of the transition. Those have been updated over time. Mueller might very well be looking at what didn't we know at the time he came into the White House, which is now being disclosed? It's also worth remembering that these countries aren't dancing with the Kushner family for nothing. They obviously believed, as they should have, that the son-in-law of the President would have favored foreign policy, not just simply economics, foreign policy towards countries like China and India or wherever, Russia, in ways that would have benefited them in more geopolitical terms than just financial gain for the Kushner family. So this is just one of the many pieces. I've been long saying I don't think we have any idea what this mosaic looks like till the very end. We got hints of it last Friday with the indictment, but there's a lot more to come.
LEMON: So Juliette the "L.A. Times" is reporting former Trump aide Rick Gates is going to plead guilty and testify against Manafort. What type of pressure will that put on Manafort?
KAYYEM: I think incredible pressure. I think at some stage Manafort's going to have to decide, is what I know about -- as chairman of the Trump campaign more important than the idea of spending more time in jail? Because only Manafort knows what Gates knows. Gates' willingness to plea, as we understand from the "L.A. Times," has got to be because there is something worth pleading about, which is whether he has solely to do with Manafort or something bigger at this stage. Donald Trump spend the weekend, I honestly believe it was the closest to dereliction of duty of any President in America's history, given what we now know happened to this country in 2016. So there will be ways in which Donald Trump will try to isolate himself from even Manafort at this stage. But I think it's a really -- it's a really bad moment for Manafort. He is going to have to make a decision. And the prosecutors are going to have to determine whether Manafort, what he has is worth giving him a plea deal for if he is willing to take it.
LEMON: I have less than a minute, I want to get Laura and Garrett in. I want you to explain, Garrett, Manafort is in bigger trouble than we might think, you said, why do you say that?
GRAFT: Well, Gates can bring new pressure. But we also saw evidence on Friday that Bob Mueller's team said that they have evidence of new bank fraud that Paul Manafort might be involved in. This is a 68- year-old man. Even 10, 12, 15 years in federal prison could be a death sentence for him. And so there's nothing about Paul Manafort that we've seen that says to me that this is someone who wants to risk dying in federal prison.
LEMON: Laura, the White House says they're not worried because Gates is flipping against Manafort, should they be?
COATES: Yes. They should be. If there's reason to be. That is kind of the obnoxious way of putting it, but the results here is look. It may be that Manafort is the biggest fish in the category of money laundering, but if Rick Gates is able to give information -- remember, he outlasted Manafort in the campaign. Worked with the inaugural committee as well. If there's something that ties into the Trump administration, we're talking about a whole different kit and caboodle than we had with Manafort. But it could be two separate tracks. Gates flipping on Manafort may not mean Manafort will flip on Trump, but it will make Donald Trump's transition team and the inauguration team very nervous.
LEMON: Yes, I remember that Gates will be the third person to make a deal with Mueller. George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn being the other two. Thank you all, glad we got you back, Juliette, we needed to hear from you, thanks a lot.
KAYYEM: Thanks so much.
LEMON: When we come back. Would you pay to have dinner with Donald Trump Jr.? The President's son hosting dinners for the buyers of Trump-branded condos in India. Are they using the presidency to promote the Trump family business? We will talk about that.
[23:18:20] LEMON: The President lost a twitter tirade this weekend, taking aim at the Russia investigation while slamming everybody from former President Barack Obama to Oprah. Meanwhile his son, Donald Trump Jr., hosting dinners in two cities in India for buyers of Trump- branded apartments, which sounds an awful lot like selling access for the price of a condo. Let's discuss now. CNN Presidential historian Timothy Naftali, Contributor Michael D'Antonio is here as well. The author of "The truth about Trump." the contributor Walter Shaub, who quit as head of the office of government ethics in July. Good to have all of you on, thank you, gentlemen, good evening to you.
So Walter, Donald Trump Jr., expected to arrive in India for what's called an unofficial business trip. I want you to check out these ads in two of India's biggest newspapers. One offers readers a conversation and dinner with Trump Jr., if they reserve an apartment in Trump towers near New Delhi, and the ad reads, "Trump is here, are you invited? Join Mr. Donald Trump Jr. for conversation and dinner." Put $38,000 down on a home booking fee and you get invited to dinner with the President's son. Is this an ethics violation?
WALTER SHAUB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well it's not a legal violation, but it's a violation of every commonsense notion of ethics you could ever possibly have. I mean, this is the sickening sort of stuff that led me to leave my position as Director of the office of government ethics. You know, there's no rule that covers this, just as there's no rule covering the President with respect to conflicts of interest. But the fact that we don't have a rule on the books for this is, because we've never had such a deeply cynical individual whose sensibilities were so alien to basic notions of public service.
[23:20:05] George H.W. Bush, the senior Bush, famously sent a letter to his family asking them to avoid doing anything that would even appear to be trading on the presidency. But this isn't just the appearance of trading on the presidency, this is trading on the presidency. It is President Trump's condos that Don Jr. is selling. And you saw in that advertisement they didn't say "Don Jr." is here, they said "Trump is here." that is what they're selling, access to President Trump through his son, who is supposedly running his phony trust to resolve conflicts of interest, and who says he talks to the President all the time. And his mission there is to make as much money and sell as many condos as possible. And they've got to keep those condo buyers happy. So what's to keep Donald Jr. from promising to pass on a message from some foreign national who paid access to him, or worse, some foreign government that paid for access to him? The answer is, absolutely nothing.
LEMON: I have to ask you, Michael, and consider the rules. As you said, there's no legal application for this. But it goes against all decency and norms. Did we just think that we were going to -- in the history of America or in the future of America, that we would always nominate someone who was a decent person? Wouldn't trade on the presidency of the United States?
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well actually, we went through our period of naivete in the '70s. A whole bunch of new regulations were put in place to prevent people from misusing financing, campaign finance. It was campaign finance reform, it was an effort to prevent companies from buying Presidents. That is because up to that point, people didn't feel they had to do this. But they saw what Nixon did. And they said, we've got to reform the system. No one ever thought there would be a President who would maintain a business while being President. Most of our Presidents have -- they're not businessmen. So there never was this situation that could arise. What's amazing is that Trump is testing the American people's stomach for this kind of behavior. And so far, the American people have let him get away with it. He is said to all of us, there's no conflict of interest for President, and people bought it. That is the problem. There was a time this would have been viewed as corruption. Now Americans seem to accept it.
LEMON: Michael is this just the Trump family way of doing business? The lines were supposed to have been drawn when Trump took office but it seems to call that into question.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it always has been. So this is a family committed to not an ethic but a lack of ethics when it comes to public service. Because they have no experience with public service. I think both Tim and Walter have made excellent points here about this abnormal situation that we have with people who just aren't at all troubled by any of this. And there's a commitment to pushing the limits. I was reading up on Nixon's attitudes towards pushing the limits. And he told someone after he was out of office that he got addicted to the risk-taking that he experienced campaigning and discovering that he made progress the harder he pushed and the more boundaries he crossed.
And I think in the Trump family, there have been these -- this accumulation of great wealth and fame and power based on pushing the limits that other people observe. So there's nothing surprising in this for any of us. I think it's something we all recognized when candidate Trump didn't release his tax returns. We knew that there would be this kind of disturbing behavior. And really, as the President was taking office, his son Eric said, you know, there will be a wall of separation between the family business and the President, and then almost in the next breath he said, but I'll be talking to my father about business all the time. So this is what we got when he was sworn into office.
LEMON: I want to switch gears and talk about this two days of tweeting from President Trump, tweeted over 21 times, attacking everyone from the FBI, President Obama, Democrats, even Oprah. David Gergen said today that President Trump's tweetstorm resembles Richard Nixon when he became unplugged and paranoid. You said Nixon at least kept his unraveling private. Do you see any resemblance?
NAFTALI: Absolutely. Richard Nixon, after the Pentagon papers were released, initially he was pretty calm about it. Then he got intense when he couldn't stop "the Washington Post" and "New York Times" from publishing. He lost it. You can hear it on the tapes. You can only hear it on the tapes, he didn't lose it publicly. This is when he went -- wanted a list of all the Jewish-Americans working in the federal government.
[23:25:03] This is when he put together the plumbers, an investigative unit run out of the White House that ultimately would break into Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office. So he lost it. The thing that we have to watch now is we're seeing the tip of the iceberg with Trump. Is he doing Nixonian things underwater? Because what we didn't know in 1971, what Richard Nixon was doing, how he expressed his anger and frustration? If Donald Trump is doing what Nixon was doing, then he is misusing the agencies of government. And we don't know that, but that would be Nixonian.
LEMON: The President also attacked the FBI on twitter for their failure to stop last week's high school massacre in Florida, blaming them for spending too much time as he said trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, and that is a quote from him. We talk a lot about us what unprecedented with Donald Trump. But does the tension between the bureau and the White House seem to be reaching a whole new level here, Walter?
SHAUB: Well, there's a couple things that I took from that message. First of all, he was clearly using it as an opportunity to try to score political points. Shame on him for using the deaths of children and a teacher for political points. But he was also revealing a profound ignorance about how government runs. He is never run a large organization. And he doesn't -- on a daily basis, I see things that suggest he still thinks this is a small family company. So there may be some legitimate part of him that does not understand that the FBI is large and that the people, the few people from the FBI involved in this investigation of the Russia matter would never have been involved in chasing down a tip about somebody with a gun in some mental instability down in Florida.
So there's that. Then I think the third thing is, this man among other traditions and norms that he is violated has never appreciated or cared about the separation that is supposed to exist between the President and the criminal law enforcement apparatus of the state. And so he is constantly trying to give them backseat directions from the White House and telling DOJ and FBI to go investigate his political rival, for instance, or firing the head of the FBI. And I think this is just more of the same. I don't know how to read it in terms of whether it's worse or the same. But it's been pretty terrible all along.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen, appreciate your time.
When we come back the President seeking counsel about gun control policies. But the people he is asking have very little knowledge about it. We'll tell you the surprising group of people whose advice he wants.
[23:32:13] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: The President spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago 40 miles away from Parkland, Florida, where the massacre at Stoneman Douglas high school claimed 17 innocent lives. Sources say the President closes friends at the resort on what he should did do about the epidemic of gun violence. So let's discuss. CNN political commentator Angela Rye, Mike Shields, as well as Republican strategist Rick Wilson, good to have you on, thank you so much. Rick, the weekend after 17 innocent people were murdered in Parkland, Florida, the President spent his time at Mar-a-Lago asking guests about gun control. And I think you called it the world's most expensive and least representative focus group?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Pretty much. And look, a serious conversation about gun violence and about how we balance constitutional rights and public safety is really in order. But I don't think that the folks that are paying $200,000 a pop to be members of Donald Trump's Palm Beach golf and country club are really the folks you want to be asking specific questions about how we deploy a sort of policy direction in this country to handle this situation, handle this problem. It just seems a little bit -- the common Trump problem. He always listens to the last person in the room. So I just -- it's one of those things that demonstrates how out of touch this man is.
LEMON: One of the last people he spoke to, Fox News Geraldo Rivera, because he can convince --
WILSON: What could go wrong?
LEMON: Well he can convinced the President will do something about background checks soon. Here is what he tweeted out this afternoon, I believe the real Donald Trump will soon be tightening background checks for purchases of deadly weapons, especially absurd used in Parkland school shooting, I applaud this move and pray my friend at POTUS, also embrace his implementation of juvenile assault weapons ban, no purchase under age 21." So Mike, the country has been debating gun control bills for decades. Will Trump really make these changes? Is he going to be the one to get it done?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, first of all, to say that he is -- this is some kind of focus group is an attack on the President. I mean what this tells you is this is top of mind for him. If he was talking about something else or he wasn't asking anyone advice you would be criticizing him for saying, why isn't the President asking people about this? This is where he was this weekend, it's clearly the top of his mind that the people he sees, this is one of the first things he is asking about. It's not the only people he is talking to about this, he is seeking advice on it. He wants a path forward. He heard the kids from the school say, do something. He wants to do something. He has said that he wants to look at John Cornyn's bill in the senate to improve national background checks. That is a good step, but look, I think that we have to be -- the children of that school deserve us all to be honest with them. For some reason, do something is being translated as to more gun laws.
[23:35:03] We have 10,000 gun regulation laws. We need to be honest with them that a lot more needs to be done in society than just trying to pass something that goes -- that adds another gun law to address the kind of problems of mental health, video games, and cultural issues that contribute to something like this. Clearly the President's trying to get some input on it.
LEMON: Go ahead, Angela. You want to weigh in.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, you know, I would be interested to know who else Donald Trump is talking to. I think one of the biggest problems, not just for him as commander in chief of this country, but certainly through most of his professional adult life, is that he listens to a resounding amen corner, people that tell him he can do no wrong. And that is the reason why you see someone who is very grown throw tantrums on social media. I would love to know who he is talking to that thinks differently from him. I think it's great he is considering background checks, I think it's horrible that Sandy Hook wasn't enough for background checks to be passed in this country. So hopefully, because it's not Barack Obama this time, maybe folks will come together and realize that kids deserve to be protected, that people in their places of worship deserve to be protected, and have always deserved that protection. But it is a lie for us to say that there are so many gun regulations that there's not another single law that we can pass, another single bill that we can pass, that is just -- that is fundamentally inaccurate and it's absolutely untrue. We absolutely need to shore up our gun laws.
LEMON: Everybody I want you to stand by, because there is a new developments for you tonight on the Florida school shooting, Stoneman Douglas high school announcing what they're calling a phased reopening. Staff members will be back at school Friday morning. That is the staff members. And orientation for students and parents planned for Sunday afternoon. According to a news release, the goal is for classes to resume February 27th. We'll keep you updated. In the meantime, CNN is holding a live town hall on Wednesday night, it is called "Stand up, the students of Stoneman Douglas demand action." It will be hosted by my colleague Jake Tapper Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. When we come back, the President tweeting 21 times this weekend, blaming pretty much everyone for Russian interference in the election, except Russia.
[23:41:44] LEMON: What a difference an election makes. After some bad blood between the President and Mitt Romney, things seem to be getting patched up. Back now, Angela Rye, Mike Shields, and Rick Wilson. Mike, I have to get your reaction to this. The President tweeting tonight, this time about Mitt Romney and his newly announced run for senate. Mitt Romney has announced he is running for the senate from the wonderful state of Utah. He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to Orrin Hatch and has my full support and endorsement." What do you make of that endorsement?
SHIELDS: He knows Mitt Romney's going to win. And, look, Donald Trump at one point was talking to Mitt Romney about being his Secretary of State. And so I think it's a much more complex relationship then people might want to say on the surface between these two men. And they're going to -- Mitt Romney's going to wind up in the senate voting 99 percent of the time for the Trump agenda. So it doesn't surprise me the President would want a good Republican Senator from Utah.
LEMON: So Rick, for his part, Romney responded this. He said, thank you, Mr. President, for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah." do you think we could see Trump head to Utah to campaign for Romney? Would that help Romney?
WILSON: I'm not sure that would help Mitt Romney in Utah. But I think the second half of that tweet is a little more important than the first half. Because he is clearly going to focus on the state, he is clearly going to focus on doing this the right way as a candidate. I think there have been folks upset on both sides of the Trump and non-Trump Republican side of that -- of both those tweets. I think a lot of Trump supporters were freaked out a little bit that Trump said nice things about Mitt Romney, who they generally have some agitation about. I think a lot of folks who support Mitt Romney are like, wait, what? It's been a moment. But I think the second half of that tweet is the more important half of the tweet. He is going to -- thanks, Mr. President, moving back, focused on Utah again. I think that is what Mitt had in mind in that particular moment.
LEMON: I want to put this up for our viewers, Angela. This photo, remember this, Mitt Romney's dinner. This was at Trump tower.
RYE: That is so painful.
LEMON: Right across the street from here. I was trying to look out my office window. To see if I could see them. When he was interviewing him for Secretary of State. Romney looked less than thrilled. How do you think this is going to play out?
RYE: Well, I think, again, to the point, he is clearly having to focus on what's happening in Utah. Clearly has to remember who he has to serve. And part of that is because we've spent a lot of time Don, talking about the deconstruction of the Democratic Party and how much of an identity crisis Democrats are having. But the reality of it is, the same exists on the Republican side, it's just that their President is such a disaster, they spend time analyzing characters on twitter instead of really what's going on with the Party.
Their Party started experiencing this when they first issued that autopsy report after the 2016 election. Sorry, the 2012 election. So that is what I think is really at the heart of this. Yeah, Mitt Romney -- I don't know that he ever stood a chance, by the way, on the Secretary of State thing. I felt like that was just a show. It was like a very painful show for Mitt.
LEMON: From what you said, listen, they've had a rocky relationship, as you said.
[23:45:00] Trump tweeted out this. Back in March 2016. The relationship between them wasn't so great. He said, why did Mitt Romney beg me for my endorsement four years ago? To which Romney responded, if Trump said four years ago the things he said today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would not have accepted his endorsement.
RYE: That is how times have changed.
LEMON: What did change?
RYE: He is running for office right now. Convenient politics. Those darn things called convenient politics.
LEMON: So I'll ask you what changed. So the President also tweeting out about President Obama and about Oprah Winfrey. He said basically that Oprah Winfrey was insecure, he saw an interview with her and that, what did he say, he said very insecure Oprah, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on "60 minutes," the questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. I hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all the others." Is he upset because Oprah's probably richer than him in real life? I don't know what's going on. Why is this happening? Why is he going against Oprah, Rick?
WILSON: You know, it's one of those things, don't start a land war in Asia, and don't scrap with Oprah over being a celebrity. This is one of the most famous people in the world, arguably more famous than Donald Trump. I think in that weird celebrity brain of his, that lizard brain thing of it's always about the ratings, it's always about whose q score is higher, et cetera. This was a very odd moment. Then again, that whole series of tweets this weekend, it didn't seem like a coherent political strategy, but more like a cry for help. Fighting against Oprah is just one of those things that I just -- no President in history has ever done anything even comparable to that.
WILSON: Just bizarre.
LEMON: That is got to be the last word, I got to go, thank you all.
When we come back, the box office hit that could be a game changer for Hollywood. I'm going to talk about "Black Panther," the creator of "Oscars so white" joins me next. I'll ask her if she thinks the movie will make a difference.
[23:51:07] LEMON: The blockbuster movie "Black Panther" breaking records on its debut weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I waited my entire life for this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world's going to start over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to burn it all!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happens now determines what happens to the rest of the world.
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LEMON: "Black Panther" earning well over $200 million in movie theaters in North America alone, expected to make even more worldwide. Joining me to talk about the movie's breakout success is April Reign, who is a creator of "Oscar so white" campaign. It seems like yesterday we were talking about that. Thank you so much. This movie got a lot of great buzz. That was just a little peek at the blockbuster film there. It's a monster hit, smashing multiple box office records but features a predominantly black cast. Talk about how big a deal this is that it's gotten so much buzz and it's doing so well.
APRIL REIGN, CREATOR #OSCARSSOWHITE: It's an incredibly big deal and thank you Don for having me on today. It shows the possibilities. With Oscars so white, I've been talking for three years about the fact that representation matters and the fact that the more diverse a film is, the more money it makes and "Black Panther" is not the first example of this, we saw that with "Hidden Figures" and "Straight out of Compton" years ago, there is no denying that if Hollywood now continues not to have very inclusive cast and crews, because that is important who is behind the camera as well and Hollywood is leaving money on the table.
LEMON: So do think the success of Black Panther is going to give more work for black actors, directors more movies that are more inclusive as you say will be made?
REIGN: I hope that is true. And I hope it is not just black film makers but filmmakers from the direct communities. We still need to talk about we have the fantastic movie "Moonlight," which highlighted the LGBT community, where are the films after that? We have that animated film "Coco," which beat out "Justice League" three years in a row? Where are the films for the Latin community, the indigenous people, and the disabled community? That is what Oscars so white has always been about and that is what it will continue to be about until we can all see ourselves on screen.
LEMON: You said during the break we were talking you said this movie was transcendent. Why do you say that?
REIGN: Because it's like nothing we've ever seen before. Because Ryan Coogler is a genius. And has the opportunity to really Afro futurism, to show an un-colonized African nation which we have never seen before and to Nate Moore, the executive producer on the film of marvel, to his credit as well, he really gave Ryan the keys and allowed him to express so many things that perhaps the African- American community speaks of amongst each other, but we were able to see those things translated on to film and it was just fantastic.
LEMON: This is what the former first lady Michelle Obama said. "Congrats to the entire Black Panther team because a few young people will finally see young heroes who look like them on the big screen. I love the movie and I know who inspires people of all backgrounds and find a courage to be heroes on their own." There was one thing when someone ask me about, I was happy to see that kid -- when I grew up, I wanted to be superman but the superheroes didn't look like me. Now kids will see superheroes that look like them. That is important.
[23:55:06] REIGN: Not only is that important but young black and brown and other girls of color will be able to see strong, empowered women that look them. So it's not just a gender thing, it's not just a race thing, but let me make sure that I say that "black panther" has universal themes. Regardless of who you are, you can take something from this film.
LEMON: April, it's a pleasure. How many times have you seen it?
REIGN: Three and counting. I'm ready to go back.
LEMON: Oh my gosh, I think she didn't like the movie. She is only seen it three times. Thank you appreciate it.
That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I will see you right back here tomorrow.