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CNN TONIGHT

Republicans Refused to Consider Bill on Gun Ban; Florida Survivors Roaring with Anger; Another Trump Accuser Added to the List. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 20, 2018 - 22:00   ET

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


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[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it over to friend Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts right now.

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

And we're following multiple big stories tonight. We have breaking news on Jared Kushner. The president's son-in-law and a senior adviser reportedly fighting to keep his access to highly classified information against the wishes of the chief of staff, John Kelly. That is according to the New York Times. We're going to have more on that breaking news story in just a moment.

We also have major new developments on the Florida school shooting rampage to tell you about and what happened in the state's capitol today is quite frankly a disgrace.

It is a betrayal of 17 innocent students and teachers who were shot to death at Stoneman Douglas High School just six days ago.

The Florida House of Representatives refusing to even consider a bill that would ban AR-15 rifles and other assault weapons. The motion failed 36 to 71.

That means 71 state representatives who actually had a chance today to do something to protect the people of their state from the next mass shooting refused to even debate the measure. And that is a disgrace.

The parents, siblings, classmates and community members of those 17 dead people are being told the status quo is just fine. We're going to give you the facts tonight about those legislators and what they did and why. And we're going to talk about the surviving students, two surviving students from Stoneman Douglas, who are arriving by busload tonight in Tallahassee.

But first, news on a story that President Trump has tried again and again to sweep under the rug. At least 15 women who have accused Donald Trump of behavior ranging from sexual harassment and sexual assault to lewd behavior around women.

One of those women is Rachel Crooks. The president tried to silence her, tweeting today, quote, "A woman I don't know and to the best of my knowledge never met is on the front page of the fake news Washington Post saying I kissed her for two minutes yet in the lobby of Trump tower two years ago. Never happened. Who would do this in a public space with live security cameras running? Another false accusation. Why doesn't the Washington Post report the story of the women taking money to make up these -- make up stories about me? One had her mortgage paid off. Only Fox News reported. It doesn't fit the mainstream media narrative."

Not only is Rachel Crooks not backing down, she is running for the Ohio state legislature as a democrat. She's here tonight to tell her story.

Joining me now in her first national television interview since she announced her run for state office is Rachel Crooks. Rachel, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

RACHEL CROOKS, TRUMP ACCUSER: Thank you for having me, Don.

LEMON: Rachel, you were among the first of at least 15 women who came forward with accusations of President Trump that he forcibly kissed you back in 2006, accusations which the president has repeatedly denied. First, tell us your story. What happened?

CROOKS: Sure. So, in 2006, as a young receptionist in Trump tower, I saw Mr. Trump quite often outside the residential elevator bank outside of Bay Rock Group, the company I worked for. And on one occasion when I introduced myself to him, he kissed me repeatedly on my cheeks and ultimately on my lips, which was totally shocking and inappropriate.

LEMON: Your concern, Rachel, was your story wasn't getting enough attention. And today you were on the front page of the Washington Post. the president could not help himself. He tweeted this. I'll put that up. Calling you a liar, in essence. What's your response to that?

CROOKS: I'm not surprised that he called me a liar. I mean, that's not the first time. It is the first time, I guess, he's attacked my personally on Twitter. But his whole approach to this has been to deny the allegations of myself and, like you said, almost 20 women who have come forward.

So it's not surprising, but I would think, as our president, he would have more important things to do than to tweet at me and try to discredit my story. I know -- I know what's true. He knows what's true. And I think he should be afraid of that.

LEMON: Well, here's what you said. You're clearly not backing down and you tweeted today at the president. You said, "Please, by all means, share the footage from the hallway outside the 24th residential elevator bank on the morning of January 11th, 2006. Let's clear this up for everyone. It's liars like you and politics that have prompted me to run for office myself."

I mean, how -- this is the man that you allege assaulted you. He's now the President of the United States. It's got to be tough to take on the president in that way. Is it? [22:05:00] CROOKS: I suppose, a little bit. But when the truth is on

your side, it doesn't feel as bad. And I feel like I have a license to say what I feel about him, given what he did to me.

LEMON: Well, he also said the same thing, you remember, with Comey, when Comey, you know, said -- talked about the loyalty pledge. He said, well, you know, I hope that, you know, Comey had better hope that there aren't any tapes. Do you think it's the same kind of situation. And then he never produced any tapes.

CROOKS: Right.

LEMON: And then he said he was going to sue all of the women who, you know, accused him after the election. He would sue them. None of that has happened. Do you think this is just bluster?

CROOKS: Of course. Yes. I mean, and the same thing that James Comey said. Lordy, I hope there are tapes. We all hope that that would be some kind of evidence to vindicate us. And I would welcome that as well. And of course he's not going to sue us.

We -- he would have to disclose so much about his past and he knows how much inappropriate behavior is there so I don't fear for that. And again, I feel like with the truth on my side, I am willing to weather whatever storm comes my way.

LEMON: And, of course, you know, we all heard the president. This is in his own words, bragging about groping women in that infamous Access Hollywood clip. Watch this.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. I just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: You know, the way you tell your story, Rachel, about him repeatedly kissing you, it sounds just like what he said, doesn't it?

CROOKS: Absolutely, yes. I mean, it was -- it was the weirdest experience, I think, you know, that I've encountered. Someone who just saw me as so insignificant and of so little value where he could just accost me in that way. And it was -- definitely didn't sit well with me for many years.

LEMON: I want to move on and talk about you running for state legislature. But let me ask you, why do you think that so many women voted for this president, didn't believe the women? Some of them say they don't believe it, some of them don't believe your story, and many of them don't. Why do you think that is? What's going on here?

CROOKS: That's a good question. I do have a hard time understanding the thought process there. You know, I think there is strength in sisterhood and I'm not sure I do fully grasp why women would automatically side with a man, especially someone who had boasted about this behavior and has been caught lying in so many ways.

But I think politics are strange these days and are very divisive. I think people hold their political identity very close. And to some people, voting republican was more important than, you know, what this particular man had done. So I think it's a complicated issue. But, that's, I guess, the best that I've been able to grasp it in my own head.

LEMON: Well, let's talk more about politics. Because this month, you announced that you're running for a seat in the Ohio state legislature. You say it's time for real change and honest leaders. Talk to me about that, Rachel.

CROOKS: Yes. I mean, I've heard a good quote recently about sort of the financial stage in healing is to be able to use your experience to help others. And that's exactly what I want to do. You know, I've been given sort of this platform that I didn't expect or anticipate and I want to take on that responsibility and be a voice for people who feel neglected by politicians.

I mean, ironically, Trump, you know, won, because of that. You know, he was anti-establishment. And people gravitated towards that. But he's a con artist. He's not doing anything to help the people that he said he would. He's only trying to benefit himself and wealthy, you know, friends and family of his. So, I think people really do want honest, good leaders in politics who are going to work on behalf of them. That's that I want to do.

LEMON: So one of the biggest issues right now is gun legislation. And we see so many young students, so many of them young ladies who are involved in this, are very articulate, very active. And we've been talking about gun violence and gun control lately.

You know, the legislature in Florida voted today not to do what most students wanted when it comes to assault weapons, assault rifles. What do you believe needs to be done to crack down on gun violence?

CROOKS: I think these students who have come forward amidst this tragedy are so inspiring and I think that's exactly what needs to happen, right? We need more people to continue to fight and talk about this.

[22:10:01] And I'm, you know, traveling on a bus to the Florida legislature to demand this action. And still not being heard is sad. And I think we need to vote politicians into office who are going to actually take action.

And obviously, looking at the donors who are giving to these politicians and seeing that a lot of these folks are just catering to their donors and not making policies that actually impact the people they serve. So that's what needs to change.

LEMON: Rachel, thank you for coming on. Again, your first interview since you announced that you're running for office. And thanks for talking about something that you have spoken about so much.

But it's so important you keep telling your story, because you want things to change when it comes to women and you want things to change when it comes to legislation, gun legislation, and other issues. And that's why you're running and we appreciate you coming on. Thank you so much.

CROOKS: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: And when we come back, busloads of students from Stoneman Douglas High School arriving in the state capital tonight after lawmakers refused to stand up for them and vote for a ban on assault weapons. I'm going to talk to some of those students. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:14:56] LEMON: Students from Stoneman Douglas High School arriving by the busload tonight at the state capital to demand that their representatives do something to protect them from gun violence, like the rampage that killed 17 of their classmates and teachers less than a week ago.

And what did those representatives do? Nothing. Members of the Florida statehouse refused to even consider a ban on assault weapons today, voting down a motion to bring the bill to the floor, 36-71. An insult to the memories of the people who lost their lives and to the surviving students as well.

We told you that 71 members of the Florida statehouse, all of them republicans, refused to vote for an assault weapons ban today, just six days after 17 students and their teachers lost their lives at Stoneman Douglas High School.

That is disgraceful and that is a fact.

Here's more of what we have learned today about today's vote. Florida does not require that PACs like the NRA, political victory fund, disclose who they are spending -- who they are spending in support of or against. So what's alarming here, there's no way to follow the money and find out how many -- find out how many NRA dollars went to any of these lawmakers.

But here's what we do know. All but a handful of those who refused to vote for the assault weapons ban today have an a or an a-plus rating from the NRA. Two have no rating and one has a d. But every other one that has the NRA's full seal of approval. And these are the lawmakers you see all their names up there they're just on the screen moments ago who today refused to do something to stand up for the innocent victims of gun violence.

So let's bring in now Ryan Deitsch, he's a student at Stoneman Douglas. Ryan, we appreciate you joining us so much. RYAN DEITSCH, STUDENT, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Thank you so

much.

LEMON: First of all, what do you think of how the Florida house voted today?

DEITSCH: Well, I've heard about the statehouse vote from other people around me and it's just -- it's definitely a disappointment. But it is nowhere near the last step in this battle. It is just one little stepping stone that we have to overcome, we have to just get passed that little hurdle and make it through. We have to show them that we are not just some online presence, we are real people fighting a real fight.

LEMON: What do you want to say to those representatives tonight? You have a lot of Americans listening to you and you have the microphone.

DEITSCH: Well, I want to say that I've always found the Florida legislation to be a bit odd. I mean, in my own home county of Broward, it is unlawful to sing in a bathing suit in public. I just find that I cannot trust any of their word, if they say that they're going to vote down something in committee, that's just ridiculous to see that it would not even make the floor. They would not even discuss it further. They want to throw it away, they want to sweep it under the rug.

We're here saying that you can't sweep anything under the rug anymore. We're here to fight you and we're here to show you that we are here for the people and we are here to make sure that innocent lives are no longer lost.

LEMON: So there was one setback today, but what will you do tomorrow?

Well, tomorrow we are going to the state capitol building to speak to those very state senators and state congressman that have spoken out against what we are trying to push, trying to stop us, but we will continue to speak to them and we will meet face-to-face in small groups with various state senators and say, congressman, just to speak our minds and hopefully come to some sort of an agreement.

LEMON: There are people saying now, a lot of folks in consensus here, that this time it's different they believe because of you and your classmates. Why do you think this time is different? Do you think it's different?

DEITSCH: I will tell you that I find it odd that it has to be different. I find it odd that people have to constantly say, why are you different from Columbine? Why are you different from Las Vegas? Why are you different from the Orlando shooting? And we should not have to be different. This should not continually come up.

There should not be statistics that keep changing every single month because another crazed maniac goes out there and shoots up a bunch of people. They should be stopped. We should make sure that these people get help if they are mentally ill. If they are unstable.

I hope that mental health will be able to handle these people. I want people just to be able to live, people to feel safe, be able to go out to their school and not have to worry what they're wearing, if it will attract a shooter. I mean, I have red hair. I will be found in fields miles away, especially in Florida where it's flat and you can see as far as the eye.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, I want to ask you. We've heard, it seems to be a political talking point coming from many on the right that you students have somehow been co-opted by the progressive left and activists and the media. How do you respond to that?

DEITSCH: I respond to all of that by saying, it is a great help to see people out there with influence and money being able to donate with us, being able to speak about our movement.

[22:20:06] But by all means, this is a movement of the students for students, to be able to feel safe in a school, to be able to feel safe outside their home and inside their home. So they wouldn't have to fear some gunman coming in and by all means, the -- you can say this is a left issue, you can say this is a right issue, it is not. This is a human issue. This is a human topic. This is life we are talking about.

LEMON: There's a lot of activity happening behind you, Ryan. What's going on?

DEITSCH: Behind me, I have not looked, I have not turned my head as I was afraid to get out of the cameraman's shot. Right now, we are just cleaning up from all the buses coming in. I was on the second bus. Everyone piled into the school. They are talking to people now.

But I made sure to stay out here to talk to the people who chose to come out here from Leon High School, chose to speak to us, and I was just moved by all of them standing out here supporting me and my fellow classmates in our battle.

LEMON: The governor, Rick Scott, is promising quick action to prevent violence in school and keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. By Friday, he says he'll have a proposal. Do you believe him, Ryan?

DEITSCH: It's hard to say if I believe anyone at this point. I know that Governor Scott has not been my favorite in the bunch. I have compared him to Lord Voldemort just by his appearance. But overall, I believe that anything he says means nothing until I see that bill, until I see that law passed. Words are just words.

LEMON: Ryan Deitsch, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

DEITSCH: Thank you so much.

LEMON: We're counting down to an important event tomorrow night. The students of Stoneman Douglas High School speaking out to demand action and an end to gun violence once and for all. Stand up, a live CNN town hall hosted by our very own Jake Tapper.

Senators Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson, and Congressman Ted Deutch will be taking questions from students and parents. That's stand up, a live CNN town hall tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern, of course right here on CNN.

And when we come back, more problems with Jared Kushner's security clearance. And that's creating a rift between him and the chief of staff, John Kelly.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So the breaking news tonight is about Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser reportedly fighting to keep his access to highly classified information against the wishes of the chief of staff, John Kelly. That is according to the New York Times.

So joining me now on the phone is Julie Hirschfeld Davis who helped break the story for the New York Times. Julie, thank you so much for joining us here.

This is a big story. You're reporting tonight that Jared Kushner is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information, prompting an internal struggle with the chief of staff. What can you tell us?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, when the chief of staff put out this memo on Friday, it wasn't clear to anyone and certainly not clear to Jared Kushner how it was going to affect him and his ability to see the information he thinks he needs to see to do his job.

Now, Jared Kushner has been operating as Rob Porter had on an interim clearance, because he has not fully cleared his background investigation that began last year.

But it's clear from the memo that John Kelly issued last week that those, the people who are in that position are not going to be able to continue that way going forward, because they're cracking down -- he's cracking down on this practice of allowing people to have high-level security clearances, top-secret and access to sensitive, compartmented information, which is, you know, the much more high-level clearance that fewer people have, on an interim basis.

Basically, the new policy is if you haven't passed your permanent background check, you can't have that kind of clearance anymore going forward. And so this has raised a lot of questions from Kushner about, well, where does that leave him? And there's a lot of concern that he's going to have to relinquish the access that he's enjoyed for, you know, more than a year.

LEMON: Yes. Which is interesting, because if it's, you know, if it goes as the memo has stated, then Jared Kushner would be one of the people who should not have access to this information and who Kelly says wouldn't, according to the memo. But Kelly is pushing back.

As a matter of fact, Julie, he put out a statement. He says, "As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli/Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico. Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the president's agenda. There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise."

But again, according to the memo and the policy, it's quite different than what he said in that statement. What's your read on this?

HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Well, it was interesting that he opted to put out that statement at all. I mean, essentially, what he is saying is that Jared Kushner does not need this level of access to do the job that he has. Well, if you ask previous senior advisers to presidents in the White House, they will say something quite different, which is that in these positions, you actually do need access to top-secret information...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Especially if you're doing Israeli/Palestinian negotiations. You're going to have to see classified information that may -- yes.

HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: You're going to have to be read into things that are considered sensitive, compartmented information, from time to time. You may have to look at the presidential daily brief from time to time.

These are all things that Jared Kushner has been able to do on an interim basis for many months. And what you hear John Kelly doing through this statement is essentially saying, don't worry, it's fine, you'll still be able to do the job that you have without this.

But it's not clear to Jared Kushner how that's going to be possible. And frankly, it hasn't really been laid out. And in the statement today, Kelly was very clear. He wasn't going to address specifically Jared Kushner's clearance or any other individual's clearance. And he's not ready to address these issues directly about where this leaves Kushner.

And frankly, there are other officials in the West Wing who are similarly situated. We may not know their names, but this has been a problem that John Kelly has been trying to get his hands around for many months.

[22:30:02] And he's only now getting around to actually putting out some policies to try to enforce it.

LEMON: Julie, great reporting. Thank you for joining us this evening. We appreciate it.

HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: Thank you. I want to bring in now political correspondent Sara Murray and political analyst...

HERE

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[22:30:00] JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: ... trying to get his hands around for many months. And he's only now getting around to actually putting out some policies to try to enforce it.

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: Julie, great reporting. Thank you for joining us this evening. We appreciate it.

HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: Thank you. I want to bring in now political correspondent Sara Murray and political analyst April Ryan, the White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks.

Thank you both for joining us. I have to ask you about this reporting, April. You're at the White House. That's your beat most days.

APRIL RYAN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Yes.

LEMON: What's your read on this?

RYAN: Well, the read is that Jared Kushner, he has his hands in a lot of pots, particularly when it comes to issues of intelligence and security, like you said a moment ago. You cannot deal with issues of the Middle East without seeing the daily intelligence brief and understanding the minutia, getting into the weeds about what's happening there on the ground, which is very sensitive.

And also, the issue with Mexico. You know, this is going to be very hard for someone like Jared Kushner at that level to be able to -- if they were to take away the aspect of top-secret and other materials that -- really sensitive materials that his clearance would not allow him to have.

Because you have to remember, an interim clearance is about keeping it limited in scope. You cannot look at top secret or classified information.

LEMON: Yes.

RYAN: So Jared Kushner will have a tough time if that were the case. But the question is, you know, my sources are telling me that the president could actually waive this for Jared Kushner if, indeed, he chose to. This is his son-in-law. He's stood by him thus far. We have to see how this one plays out, if the president will step in and allow him to...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Can I ask you something, April?

RYAN: Yes, go ahead.

LEMON: What is the relationship between Kelly and Kushner? Is it contentious? Is there any way -- do the reporters who are out in the briefing room or who are set up there every day and have work spaces, is there -- what do they -- what's their read on the relationship between the two men?

RYAN: Well, according to sources, it's not pretty -- it's not a pretty situation right now. You know, I'm hearing that Jared Kushner and Ivanka have been looking at helping the president possibly find replacements for John Kelly, even before this moment. So this doesn't bode well.

If you have the keys to the kingdom and you don't necessarily have to have all that you need to have those keys, of course you're going to push back. And this just makes perfect sense. This is common sense. But this will not help the relationship at all go smoothly. I mean, there's already tension. It's going to be worse.

LEMON: OK. Sara, I'm going to bring you in now and I want to turn -- I want to talk about Russia. The president tweeted this out earlier today, Sara. He said, "I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama. Just look at the facts. Total fake news." You know, that was also echoed during the White House briefing. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He has been tougher on Russia in the first year than Obama was in eight years combined. He's imposed sanctions, he's taken away properties, he's rebuilt their military. He has done a number of things to put pressure on Russia and to be tough on Russia.

Just last week, there was an incident that will be reported in the coming days in another way that this president was tough on Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But Sara, the facts don't bear that out.

SARA MURRAY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, let's look at the facts. Let's look at what Obama did versus what President Trump has done so far. I mean, Obama personally warned Vladimir Putin against interfering in our U.S. elections. He imposed sanctions on Russian individuals as well as entities. He expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds that were in the U.S.

And I think part of the reason that the Trump administration is grappling with this is we have not seen a strong approach from the president himself. We have not seen him come out and condemn Russia's interference in our election. We have not seen him come out and say, I'm going to do everything in my power to ensure this never happens again.

And we also haven't seen the president follow through on imposing Russian sanctions that have been overwhelmingly approved by Congress.

And so, you know, Sarah Sanders can go out and say what she needs to say, what she feels she needs to say from the podium in that briefing room, but I think a lot of people are looking at this saying, why would we believe this if it doesn't come from the president directly? And his actions have really not backed up her words at the podium today.

LEMON: And this president always needs a foil, so it's either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or the media. That's why he keeps going back to the Obama well. Sara, I have to ask you because you're talking about Sarah Sanders also made this false claim about the president's response to Russia. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: The president hasn't said that Russia didn't meddle. What he's saying is it didn't have an impact and it certainly wasn't with help from the Trump campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The facts don't bear that out either, do they?

MURRAY: Look, Don, I think if the president came out and said, Russia, we know what you did, we are going to ensure you never meddle in our elections again, we're going to take a tough line on that and then went on to spike the football and say, but by the way, this didn't impact me becoming president, people might be fine with that.

[22:35:02] But that is not the way the president has address this so far. Here's a look at some of the things President Trump has said when it comes to Russian meddling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. How many times do I have to answer this question?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you just answer...

TRUMP: Russia is a ruse! This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. The entire thing has been a witch hunt.

The Russia story is a total fabrication. Russia did not help me, OK? I call it the Russian hoax. They made up the whole Russia hoax. That was a democrat hoax. It's a democrat hoax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: Now if you talk to some people in the White House, they will say that he is referring to two different things here. That the thing that the president thinks is a hoax. Hoax is the notion of collusion with Trump campaign officials, not the notion that Russia meddled in the election. But this is a president that has not gone to the lengths to make that distinction. He has not gone to the lengths to publicly condemn Russia for their behavior.

And so yet again, we're relying on White House officials to sort of try to parse and explain what the president may think on this. We're not relying on leadership from President Trump on this issue.

LEMON: It's interesting that they would do this, April, because, you know, Sara laid out the facts here and played some sound bites. But just, you know, there was a fact check that was done.

June of 2016, the president said, then candidate Donald Trump, it was a DNC that did the hacking, right? That's talking about interference in the election. He's not saying that Russia did it.

September 2016, I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC that's interfering in the election Russia. So this contradicts what he's saying.

October 2016, maybe there is no hacking. December of 2016, I don't believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. And then on January of 2017, Russia, China outside countries outside groups, people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions.

And then in May, he said, if Russia did anything having to do with our election, I want to know about it. Then he said July, somebody did say, if you did do it, you wouldn't have found out about it.

November, every time he sees me, he says, I didn't do that. He's talking about Putin. That's interference in the election. So what is Sarah Sanders talking about? And what is the president talking about, saying that he never said that Russia didn't interfere with the election? That's a -- those are flat-out lies. He's saying it right there in all the examples I gave.

RYAN: Yes. You gave a lot of examples. And the last one that you gave was poignant. When he, when the president, this president talked to Vladimir Putin and said he believed him. And I'm thinking back to when then-President Barack Obama was president and he told Vladimir Putin to quit it, to cut it out, to stop it.

So, you have to remember, this president's back is up against the wall. It's getting closer. And when you have indictments coming the way they're coming, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders said just a few months ago, this investigation is coming to a close soon, it's just beginning. And we're seeing it on the outskirts.

And many, you know, who are close to this administration have said it's getting so close that there is fear that it could touch the inner circle. And it's getting close.

I mean, when you start talking about plea deals, you're talking about going higher. And what's higher than the ones that have already been indicted? You know, what's higher? Who's higher?

LEMON: Yes.

RYAN: And people flipping. So this president is very concerned about this. And that's one of the reasons why he's very concerned and thinking about, you know, firing Mueller. We have to really look at this for what it is. And Sarah Huckabee Sanders came out saying this, because at this moment, this is totally against what they were saying at the beginning. The smoke is there, now they're trying to find the fire. LEMON: Thank you both, I appreciate it.

When we come back, a European lawyer pleads guilty to lying to Robert Mueller's investigators after he covered up his conversations with former Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates. I'm going to talk about that with a member of the House intel committee, that's next.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: You can score another victory for the special counsel Robert Mueller in the ongoing Russia probe. A Dutch lawyer pleading guilty for lying to Mueller's investigators about his discussions with former Trump campaign official Rick Gates.

And I want to talk about that and other aspects of the investigation with Congressman Mike Quigley, an Illinois democrat, who is a member of the intelligence committee.

Listen, I want to discuss that, but quickly, were you listening to the conversation before about the president insisting that he has never denied, you know, that Russia influenced the election, and then I gave examples of ways that he did deny it. Do you think he's doing enough to protect our electoral process?

MIKE QUIGLEY, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: You missed my favorite quote when he said, it could have been a guy in Jersey, a big guy in Jersey. Look, it's more than the president just protecting himself that we should be worried about.

A year ago, it should have been a call to arms. We knew in August of '16 that my state's board of election was hacked by the Russians. Since then, we know that it's several dozen. And as Director Comey said, they're coming back.

We have 13 states that don't even have a paper record to know that we've been hacked. Our equipment is 10 to 12 years old. It cannot meet the demands of modern cybersecurity. We are extraordinarily vulnerable. We need to buy new equipment to protect from future attacks. The president's intransigence and his obstruction has not only protected himself, it's actually made us more vulnerable to the next wave of attacks by the Russians.

LEMON: Another question before I get to today's guilty plea. I have to ask you about the democratic memo for House intel. What is the status? When might we see it?

QUIGLEY: Yes, I mean, it's sad that the majority's memo went through with almost no analysis by the intel community, and clearly not from the White House.

[22:44:57] And our memo, which rebuts their memo, point by point, and actually enhances the integrity of the investigation, was not released by the White House. It's my understanding that we're still in discussions with the intel community to redact portions they're particularly concerned about. I would go along with that process. I just want a fair shake from the White House. LEMON: Yes. Do you -- well, quickly, do you think that there'll be a

redacted version? What are your expectations?

QUIGLEY: I'd like to think that there would be a redacted version soon and that we can move forward on the ongoing investigation. We have now wasted four weeks of critical time.

LEMON: Yes. So let's turn now to that guilty plea of the attorney, Alex van der Zwaan, Robert Mueller's fourth since the special counsel probe began. What's your reaction to it?

QUIGLEY: Yes, it reminds me, and I think reinforces what the American public needs to know. Mr. Mueller is the right man for this job. The most important investigation of our lifetime. And he is not taking any nonsense. If you lie, you're going to be indicted and you're going to go to jail. Mr. Papadopoulos learned that, as well.

So I think it's a clear message to those who are obstructing this investigation or who would lie to us, as Congress, or to the Mueller investigation, that we're not going to allow it. We need to know exactly how the democratic process was attacked, and how to prevent it in the future, and who helped them do it.

LEMON: You are a part of the house intel committee's investigation. Was Van der Zwaan on your radar before this was announced?

QUIGLEY: Well, we try to avoid talking about who was or wasn't on our radar. I would just say that there's a whole slew of folks that the American public haven't heard about yet. That certainly happened and we learned about the first four indictments. That's because the investigation has been obstructed.

It has been team worked by the White House and unfortunately the chairman of the intel community, Mr. Nunes, I think now working in full concert to obstruct the investigation. So the reason you haven't heard all of these names like the one you just heard about in the guilty plea today is because we've been hindered by both the White House and the house investigation intel committee.

LEMON: Yes. OK. Thank you very much, Mike Quigley, I appreciate that.

QUIGLEY: Glad to be here.

LEMON: When we come back, the president tweeting tonight in support of strengthening background checks, after earlier today instructing the Justice Department to propose a rule to ban bump stocks. But will any of this actually come to fruition?

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LEMON: Breaking news in the aftermath of the Florida high school massacre. President Trump tweeting tonight, "Whether we are republican or democrat we must now focus on strengthening background checks."

I want to bring in now CNN political commentators Ana Navarro, Scott Jennings, and Symone Sanders. Good evening one and all. Good to have you on. President Trump, Symone, announced today that he wants the Justice Department to issue regulations that would declare bump stocks, those devices that effectively turn semiautomatic rifles into machine guns. He wants to declare that those illegal. Is that at least a step in the right direction?

SYMONE SANDERS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes. It's a step in the right direction. I think in the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre. We heard a conversation from members of Congress and outside folks around banning the bump stocks, saying bump stocks are something that can modify a gun that makes it that much more deadlier. But that didn't go anywhere.

So I'm wondering what kind of muscle is the White House willing to put behind this effort? Do they have the ability to twist arms? But, Don, you know what? Donald Trump in the budget that he proposed he cut critical funding for background checks specifically when it comes to being able to put this information to this comprehensive system.

So when someone does run a name or whatnot, the correct information pops up. And they don't -- these folks aren't able to get a gun if they should not in fact have a gun. He cut that funding in his budget. And so I have to wonder with the announcement of this bump stock policy, if you will, how true is the administration? How married to this idea are they? Are they willing to put the muscle behind it and are they going to mean their budget...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And also.

SANDERS: ... when it comes to issues of gun control.

LEMON: Rolling back some of the rules about who was able oh get a gun.

SANDERS: Absolutely.

LEMON: Under the Obama administration it was harder for people who had in this sort of mental issues to be able to get a gun. This administration put an end to that.

So, Ana, you know, the White House also announcing that they are going to host two days of meetings with students, with parents and teachers and public officials aimed at improving school safety. What are your expectations for this event?

ANA NAVARRO, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: You know, I think like a lot of America I have very low expectations for anything after gun tragedies, because I think so many of us have just become frustrated and accustomed to seeing nothing happen. A lot of thoughts, a lot of prayers, a lot of mourning, a lot of outrage, a lot of this and that. And you know finger pointing but leading up to nothing.

So it would be a refreshing surprise. It would be a wonderful surprise. It would be a great celebration I think for any of us if we actually saw this tragedy turned into action, turn into specific results. What do I expect? What I hope is that it's not a carefully curated group of people that agree with this administration or that agree with, you know, the current gun laws.

But also you know that they hear from folks like Emma Gonzalez from the Parkland tragedy, they hear from the students who survived this and who have let voices and become the activists behind this movement.

And let me just say something. We have got to stop criticizing and attacking the students. What is going on by some of the gun lobbyists, by some of the Trump apologists and by some of the page hills that are coming on the air and attacking and questioning the motives of these kids is gross, it is unconscionable.

Let's be clear. They don't need to be coached by anybody. They witnessed their 17 of their classmates, their friends, their faculty, their teachers die. They are burying these days that have gone by. It's unacceptable for adults to be picking a political fight with these folks. I'm glad that one guy who is doing in the Florida House a staffer got fired today. More people who do it should be ousted. It is disgusting.

[22:55:04] LEMON: Scott, you know, according to Politico the White House source said some administration officials were taken aback by the president's bump stock announcement after days of talking the problem around, I guess we're going to focus on mental health, right? That was sort of the talking point.

Do you think that the president is signaling a change in his position? Maybe he is sort of signaling to the base, you know, I'm going to give on this one? What do you think?

SCOTT JENNINGS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes, look, I think the bump stock thing is a good idea. And frankly, I don't know very many -- in fact, I can't think of somebody that I know that I would consider to be a strong second amendment advocate that doesn't think the bump stock ban is a good idea.

I mean, it seems to be a no brainer solution. I also know a lot of conservatives out there that think we could do more to strengthen the background check situation.

So I actually think there are policy ideas here that may not be as hard to implement as we think. I know people have a low expectation of what Congress and the executive branch might do following a shooting like this. But there are ideas right now in rotation in the policy rotation, that I think a, have popular support and b, clearly caught the attention of the president.

Those are two important things when you try to pass a bill. And yes, I think the White House is serious about this. And as they ought to be. This is a terrible tragedy. I think there are policy solutions, database policy solutions that could be implemented that don't impede on anyone's rights but might actually get to the heart of the issue here which is stopping these mass shootings from occurring.

LEMON: So, Listen, today, the Florida House of Representatives voted down a motion to take up a bill that would ban purchases of assault rifles and large capacity magazines statewide. It's your state Ana, so I think it's fair to get your reaction.

NAVARRO: It's my state and its people that I know who voted today on that. Look, the groundwork had not been laid for that. Did I expect that to be passed all of a sudden? No. There are also things that happened today here in Florida, for example, the governor convened and held a round table with, you know, people from law enforcement and education on the issue of mass shootings.

But it's not enough to have a round table. It's not enough to have a discussion. He has to make sure that it gets addressed by the legislature. The legislature is in session now.

In Florida the legislature only convenes two months a year. They've got two and a half more weeks of legislative session. If they don't do it then this governor should call a special session to address just this.

Because two of the recent shootings, Pulse and now Parkland have happened in his state. You've got Bill Galvona who is the next the incoming Senate president, he is proposing some common sense legislation, some common sense solutions for this.

Like, like for example, increasing the age at which you can buy, you know, an AR-15, increasing the waiting period to three days. It cannot be easier to buy an AR-15 in Florida than it is to rent a car. And right now it is.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you all. We're out of time. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

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