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Mueller Filed More Cases to Manafort and Gates; Resource Officer Failed to Save Children Inside his Jurisdiction; Armed Authorities Failed to Protect Students; Good Day for Trump at CPAC. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 23, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, HOST, CNN: That's it for 360. I'm John Berman. Time now for Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts now.
DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon
Multiple big stories tonight. And we're going to catch you up on all of them. First, breaking news in the Mueller investigation. It looks like the special counsel is tightening the screws on Donald Trump's former campaign chairman following new charges late today against Paul Manafort, that's more charges and more than the ones yesterday.
Charges alleging Manafort secretly paid a group of European former politicians to covertly lobby for Ukraine in Washington. That coming less than two hours after Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation. Manafort he says he's innocent.
But it's hard to square that with Gates' guilty plea. The stakes are getting higher every single day. So what does Mueller want from Manafort and where will it lead?
Plus outrage tonight as we're learning that authorities at every single level failed the students and teachers at Stoneman Douglas high school. Repeatedly missing chances to stop the shooter who gunned down 17 people.
An unidentified woman who called the FBI tip line on January 5th said Nikolas Cruz was, and this is a quote, "going to explode." And she said she feared him, quote, "getting into a school and just shooting the place up." Her chilling conclusion, quote, "I just want to get it off my chest in case something does happen and I do believe something is going to happen."
And what happened after this graphic warning? Nothing. CNN also learning tonight that as shots rang out in the high school, some Broward County deputy stayed outside. That's after we learned that the school resource deputy armed and in uniform also failed to go inside the school.
And then there's President Trump's rambling, rambling 80 minute speech today at the Conservative Political Action Conference ditching his own prepared remarks calling them boring and launching into a tirade claiming among other things that the second amendment is in jeopardy in the wake of Stoneman Douglas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They'll take away your second amendment which we will never allow to happen. They'll take away your second amendment.
Remember, they will take away -- thank you, they will take away those massive tax cuts and they will take away your second amendment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: If you believe that, I got a bridge to sell you. No, Mr. President. Nobody is to going to take away the second amendment. No one is going to take away the second amendment. I repeat that, no one is going to take away the second amendment.
First of all, that would take a vote by two-thirds of the House and Senate plus approval by 38 state legislatures. By the way, the House and Senate right now are republican. That is not going to happen. And that's not repeat ever going to happen.
So why is the president stirring up conservatives? Why is he making such dumb statements? Could it be part of a strategy from the White House that he loves to distract and deflect? Maybe from the Russia investigation?
I want to get right now to the breaking news on the Mueller investigation. Here to discuss CNN's legal analyst, Laura Coates, CNN contributor Garrett Graff, the author of "The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller's FBI and the War on Global Terror," and Solomon Wisenberg who is a former independent counsel in the Whitewater Lewinsky investigation.
So good to have you all. Man, what a busy news night. Friday night used to be a quiet night. Now everything happens on a Friday. So, Solomon, we have you here. Thank you for joining us. The charging documents in the Gates case is out tonight. What stands out to you in this document?
SOLOMON WISENBERG, FORMER DEPUTY INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Well, it's a standard guilty plea, criminal information when you look at the original indictment. What stands out to me is that there's nothing about collusion with respect to the Russians and there's nothing about obstruction of justice. Which in a way isn't surprising because the Manafort indictment had nothing to do with those things either. The original Manafort/Gates indictment.
And I think there's an important point that people aren't focusing on. For Bob Mueller to have even gone after Manafort and Gates, he had to have gone to Rod Rosenstein and gotten permission because it's not in his original charter. And Rod Rosenstein testified in those situations Bob Mueller has to come to him. So that means that Bob Mueller has already given the OK for that months ago, and if he's got that authority with respect to Manafort, he has it with respect to President Trump.
[22:05:00] LEMON: Laura, is that in the scope of the original? Or is he right it's not in the scope and he have to go and ask?
LAURA COATES, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, it's not -- it is in the scope for him to be able to investigate collusion and potential ties with Russia or any other foreign land and whatever else he may come across during the course of his investigation. That's not what was being said in terms of having to still get the authority of Rod Rosenstein at the end of the day to go forward with anything, including the indictment the grand jury and everything else.
But it is entirely within his scope which is one of the reasons why he has not gotten the pushback that he usually have with respect to him being a potential partisan hack. It's within his scope at this point in time. And as it goes forward we'll see where it takes us.
LEMON: So Laura, another question. So Rick Gates, that guilty plea today, makes him the third Trump associate cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. How significant is that for this investigation?
COATES: It's huge. First of all, this is the third known person that's cooperating with Robert Mueller's team. We didn't even know about Papadopoulos until what, a month or three months after the event. We still don't know what Michael Flynn has been telling and don't know quite yet what Rick Gates has done in terms of his cooperation.
What we do know that it has a huge impact on Manafort in particular. If the person who was alleged to be his co-conspirator and arguably his confidant for the better part of a decade is now willing to admit to guilt, is nor willing to say that he himself is not innocent with respect to defrauding the government or in other charges of lying, what then you have is trouble continuing to knock on Manafort's door.
And somebody is cooperating in an investigation against somebody who already has a very strong case against him in terms of the documentation. Remember, Don, it doesn't take much to prove things that are based on documents, you don't need a whole lot of witnesses. What Mueller's team needed was what they needed -- the proof they had to show intent. Intent is a much harder burden to prove. And now you got the co-conspirator and a cooperator to give you that gem.
LEMON: Garrett, why on earth would anybody lie to the special counsel?
GARRETT GRAFF, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: It's baffling in some ways because two of the guilty pleas that we have seen this week, the Dutch lawyer earlier in the week and then Rick Gates, both of those lies have come months after it has become clear that this special counsel is going to take those so-called 1001 violations of lying to a federal agent incredibly seriously. But I want to sort of pick up on two other little quick points on this
investigation that I think are really relevant when you look at the charging documents. First is this behavior continued during the time that these people were working on the Donald Trump campaign. So it's hard for us to know at this moment whether that's actually related to a larger question about the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.
And particularly sort of why Paul Manafort might have gotten involved in this campaign in the first place. That's a really important question that we don't know. The second thing is look at what Rick Gates actually pleaded to. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States which is both an incredibly sort of striking charge to see a senior presidential campaign aide plead to.
But also now that Bob Mueller has established a conspiracy, what that means is that he can charge others who abetted it, knew about it, and didn't say anything. So that sort of opens up a possibility that we might see other people brought to charges under this same conspiracy.
LEMON: Solomon, did you want to respond to that?
WISENBERG: I just think it's all of this speculation about it being a big deal is just guess work at this point. Yes, it's obviously significant that Gates pled. But the offense that they're investigating it goes back years before the campaign, and it's not related to the campaign.
GRAFF: Well, we don't know that yet, though. That's part of the challenge here.
WISENBERG: Right. I'm -- but -- well, but -- sorry, I'm talking about yes there's a lot we don't know. For all we know Mueller is about to wrap up everything. But I'm speaking about the public record. What is known on the public record, and there are things that you can look at in the various Mueller pleas that tell me that he does not have much of a case on either collusion or obstruction of justice.
Now he might have a great case. First of all he may have a great obstruction case, but not based upon what we see. If he's looking at Donald Trump's international transactions over the last ten years, God knows what he'll find.
But all we really know right now is that the case against -- all we can really say based on today's event is the case against Manafort has gotten stronger because we got an insider who's going to say yes, that's what we did.
[22:09:59] COATES: Well, I don't think that it's primarily based simply on guess work. You're right, Solomon. A lot of this is speculative because of the fact that Mueller keeps everything close to the vest which is intended to be the case when you have a special counsel in an ongoing active investigation.
But the facts that are in the public record do indicate that there is some basis. Now, remember, collusion is some term everyone is using. It's nebulous by default, it's probably nebulous intentionally. But what it is showing is that you've got the definitions and how it's being defined by Mueller in terms of money laundering, in terms of conspiracy, in terms of bank fraud, in terms of a whole host of issues, in terms of failure to register as a foreign agent. All of these things could comprise...
WISENBERG: That has nothing to do. That has nothing to...
COATES: Excuse me. I'll finish my point first.
WISENBERG: I'm sorry.
COATES: It has a lot of -- all these things can lead to the possibility of defining that otherwise nebulous term. You're right. Have we had the definitive smoking gun that some people alluded that it may be, no, but what you do have is a directive to undertake an investigation about why there may be a motive that somebody would be susceptible to undue influence by a foreign nation and you see that following the money trail.
LEMON: Solomon, I need you to hold your thought I'm going to get toa break and we'll continue this on the other side.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
LEMON: We're back. Special counsel Robert Mueller has set high sights on former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. But what do Mueller's tactics tell us about where he's going from here.
Back with me now, Laura Coates, Garrett Graff, and Solomon Wisenberg. So, I want to get this in, Garrett and have you respond everything. But let me get this in.
[22:15:01] Because this is a letter obtained by CNN. Gates describes having a change of heart when it came to the legal battle that he's facing right now. And here's what he wrote.
He said, "Despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart. The reality of how long this legal process will likely take, the cost, and the circus-like atmosphere of an anticipated trial are too much. I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process."
Do you think it was ultimately the lengthy trial that pushed Gates over the edge, or was his back against the wall?
GRAFF: I think it's hard to see after yesterday's 32 count superseding indictment came down anything other than his back against the wall. I mean, those were decades in federal prison that he was potentially facing, and as Laura sort of already mentioned, I mean, this was -- this was an indictment heavily backed up by documents. (CROSSTALK)
LEMON: So what is he saying I'm innocent but I'm going to plea to this or cop to this so that I can get the process over? I mean, why would -- why would someone do that if they're innocent and they can prove it?
GRAFF: Well, you know, I think there are -- it's hard to say in a situation like that what it's like facing down an indictment like that, and how sort of the roller coaster of emotions that have been going through probably Rick Gates' life for the last couple of months.
But certainly this is a situation where you saw him, you know, even on February 1st, this was one of the charges he pleaded guilty to today, lying to federal investigators during a proffer session, which is basically the rough legal equivalent of attempting to pay for a bounced check with another bounced check. Like, you're in the room trying to convince...
LEMON: It's called chiding.
GRAFF: Yes. You're trying to convince them you're a reliable person and be willing to tell the truth. And Bob Mueller caught him in a lie again.
LEMON: Yes. So, Solomon, less than two hours after Gates pleaded guilty today, a federal grand jury in D.C. approved five new criminal charges against Manafort, and the new charges allege that Manafort with Gates' help, that he secretly retained a group of former senior European politicians to take positions favorable to Ukraine including by lobbying in the United States.
Do these latest charges against Manafort tie in the rest of Mueller's investigation or is Mueller piling onto get Manafort to flip?
WISENBERG: I think he's piling on. I don't really know if he's doing it to make him flip because he's already looking at guidelines that are, you know, as others have said, that will have him in prison for the rest of his life. I just think it's -- some of this is tidying up.
I think I saw some of this information in the Virginia indictment from a couple of days ago. So, I think that you're talking about the letter that Gates sent. I wouldn't be real happy if I was Bob Mueller with that letter. That's about as close as you can come to saying I'm really innocent but I'm going to go ahead and do this.
And if I were Manafort's attorney and I was going to trial, I'd have a field day using that in my cross examination of Gates. So he's clearly a reluctant, a reluctant pleader.
But if I could go back for a second to this idea of collusion. I think several people have said on your show before, as we know there's no federal crime of collusion. So, in Mueller's investigation, what do we mean when we say collusion? We mean conspiracy. Either conspiracy to hack people's computers or conspiracy with the Russians to get benefit and aid from the Russians in some way in the election, or conspiracy to defraud the United States. I don't consider those nebulous. They're pretty discreet statutes. But just because...
LEMON: Wasn't there a conspiracy to defraud the United States in the documents today? Wasn't that one of the charges?
WISENBERG: Yes, but it has nothing to do -- it has absolutely nothing to do with the election. That's what's called a Kline conspiracy. It's part of...
LEMON: Solomon, with all due respect, the Mueller investigation is not just the election. It is Russia tampering in general. I mean, collusion, you know, that nebulous...
WISENBERG: I agree.
LEMON: ... that's part of it. But what I don't understand is why you keep saying that this is -- you said in the first block, this is not a big deal. Anybody who is facing the possibility of going to jail for the rest of their lives or they've lied to a special prosecutor or lied to federal authorities, you don't think that's a big deal?
WISENBERG: I think it's a big deal for Manafort. It's obviously a big deal for Gates. He's pled guilty and severely limited his exposure. He's looking at 57 to 71 month guideline range and he's going to get a 5K1 for cooperation. And I think it's a big deal for Manafort because the evidence against him now becomes stronger, but in terms of...
[22:19:57] LEMON: You don't think it's a big deal that the person who is charged with running the United States of America, the President of the United States, hired these people and had these people for lack of -- I mean, this is -- with questionable character, basically pleading guilty. That means they're criminals around him, and heading his campaign? That's not a big deal?
WISENBERG: I don't think it's a big criminal law deal, Don. It may show that he have -- we already know he's got terrible judgment in the people that he hires. We already know what kind of a person and what kind of a president he is. I'm not talking about that.
WISENBERG: I'm talking about is it a big deal in terms of the criminal law. And we don't know enough to know -- look, if Manafort knows, has a bunch of information on President Trump that he can give to Bob Mueller, that's going to be a very big deal. All we know right now is that there's a stronger case against Manafort because Gates is pleading.
LEMON: OK. I've got -- I want to get this, Laura. I want you to respond but I'm running out of time here. Manafort -- I have to get the statement. Manafort released a statement today in response to Gates' guilty plea. Here's what he said. He said "Notwithstanding that Rick Gates pled today, I continue to maintain my innocence. I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue to battle to prove our innocence. For reasons yet to surface, he chose to do otherwise. This does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue piled up charges contained in the indictment against me."
So, how much harder does the Gates guilty plea make it for Manafort to say that he's innocent?
COATES: It makes extremely difficult and possible for him to say that it's our innocent. One has already said that he's no longer innocent or professing. But really what you're seeing here is somebody who, one, is defiant but also he's trying to make a move to stay in the game.
Remember, there is a possibility that he may have information and be able to flip against potentially a bigger fish. Maybe not. But if he does, he is trying to set himself up to have the plea bargaining chips in place and to reverse the course of leverage that is so been in Mueller's favor since the beginning of the investigation.
So I see that statement as not only somebody being defied in pressing innocent but also someone saying, wait, I'm biding some time. Perhaps there's a deal in my future. It may never come, but what does he have to lose? He's facing the rest of his life in prison otherwise.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Laura. Thank you, Garrett. Thank you, Solomon. I appreciate it.
When we come back, sources telling CNN several armed police officers waited outside Stoneman Douglas High School - waited while the shooter killed 17 people. Is this another moment where the authorities failed to prevent the deaths of so many innocent people?
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Painful new questions tonight in the response to the shooting rampage at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Sources told CNN when police officers from neighboring Coral Springs arrived at that scene they found not only the school's resource officer outside the building but three other colleagues from the Broward County sheriff's office.
I want to bring in now CNN's Martin Savidge who is in Parkland tonight. Martin, I mean, the more we hear, the worse it gets. What are you learning about this school resource officer Scott Peterson?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Scott Peterson is no longer a school resource officer as of yesterday afternoon when he was confronted by Sheriff Scott Israel where he essentially said I'm resigning and going into my retirement.
He had been informed that he was going to go on unpaid leave and there was going to be an internal investigation, but instead, he has decided to go into retirement.
Some people have suggested that that's part of the reason why he didn't really respond. In other words, that he had been on the department a long time and that he was more focused on his life after being on the force than focused on trying to disrupt the shooter.
We already know that according to the Broward County sheriff's office, they say they saw him for four minutes on the surveillance camera standing outside the building while the shots were fired on the inside and that he did not go in and that made of course the sheriff absolutely sick, he said, and so he separated his ways.
We tried to find Scott Peterson, we tried to reach out to him. We would like to hear his side of things, we would like to hear what he has to say. But so far he's not responded to CNN.
LEMON: So, Martin, CNN, as I introduce that police sources are telling CNN when Coral Springs police officers arrive on the scene at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School they were shocked to find not only had the armed resource officer Scott Peterson that we've been talking about hadn't entered the school but three other Broward County sheriff's deputies were also at the scene not entering as well. What were they doing?
SAVIDGE: Yes. I've heard these reports. They are exceedingly troubling if in fact that is the case. I'll sort of warn you a bit here. We have not had the official police time line. In other words, the official line that tells you who was the first on scene. What time did they get there? What time did the calls come in and where did they go once they arrived on scene.
That official document has not been produced. That will be part of the investigation. And the reason it hasn't been produced is that there were hundreds of people that responded that terrible day. And they came from multiple jurisdictions.
Yes, it was Coral Springs, yes, it was Broward County. There were other neighborhoods, there were firefighters. There were EMTs. There were many other people that got on this 45-acre campus at very different times in very different stages.
So everybody saw something. Nobody saw everything. So the concern is that some of these reports could be officers that were confused. Again, this is law enforcement that is telling us that Coral Springs officers saw deputies that they did not believe were responding in a way that was proper.
The Coral Springs Police Department put out an official statement just a short while ago, and they have basically said there is no official statement from them on this matter. They know it's a controversy, but they also said there were countless deputies and officers who responded on that fateful day from multiple jurisdictions whose actions were nothing short of heroic.
[22:29:57] As already reported, any actions or inactions that negatively affect the response will be investigated thoroughly and the information will be released officially from the proper agency at the proper time.
We cannot urge law enforcement to get that time line out soon enough to us. Because there is a lot of grief and anger that is coming out as a result of what people think did or did not happen.
DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: I think we're hearing it's supposed to come out as early as next week, possibly. Thank you, Martin. Martin Savidge down in Florida for us.
I want to bring in now retired FBI special agent Jim Maxwell who trains teachers on what to do during an active shooting situation. Jim, thanks for coming on this evening. I have to believe a trained police officer would recommend the sound of an AR-15 and know that they're outnumbered. The Broward County sheriff seemed to indicate that his deputies didn't follow protocol. Listen to this and we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY: When we in law enforcement arrive at an active shooter, we go in and address the target. And that's what should have been done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What do you think, Jim? Does it surprise you that four armed officers didn't enter an active scene?
JIM MAXWELL, RETIRED SPECIAL AGENT, FBI: Well, you know, rather than armchair quarterback the situation, I agree with the previous reporter here that we have to wait to see what the final -- what Broward County finally says about this and what the time line exactly is.
But I will discuss the tactics of this type of situation. Over the years I've worked with groups like the Eagle Security group in Fredericksburg, Virginia. And we've given courses on teaching patrol officers how to respond to these situations.
And I can tell you that from day one in that course, we emphasize that you have to go in and address the threat as quickly as possible. And the reverse of that is what I'm teaching civilian courses. We emphasize that when police officers arrive on scene of an active shooter, they're not here to help you out of the building. They're not going to carry you out. They're not going to help the wounded.
Their mission, their tactical mission is to address the shooter. Find the shooter. And address the problem. And that is the paramount mission of any officer arriving on that if he's the first officer arriving on scene.
So why the officers delayed or why they didn't go in, they're going to have to articulate that. That's all part of that Broward County investigation. But I do applaud the sheriff for meeting this head on and dealing with it rather quickly.
LEMON: Yes. He is being very transparent and very candid about how he feels this all went down. Jim, the president actually called out the armed force -- the armed resource officer, I should say, who was also a sheriff's deputy. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If that's the case where somebody was outside, they're trained, they didn't react properly under pressure or they were a coward. It was a real shot to the police department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So part of what some say is a solution is arming people to neutralize a threat. Yet, it seems like the system failed on so many fronts. I mean, how can people feel confident when an armed, an armed deputy, maybe more, is on campus and now you see some of them may not have even gone in?
MAXWELL: You know, Don, I'm involved all the time with evaluations and assessments of schools around the country. And the one thing that's common to all these assessments we do is there's no real standard. Some school districts have their act together and they're right on top of issue. Other school districts have blinders on.
So my suggestion here is that if we're going to put some efforts behind getting some valid changes here. We have to establish a national standard on how we protect children in schools.
Now, armed officers, sure. Great idea. But the people who you hire to do that that it'd be either a retired police officers or retired military. People who understand what it means to carry a weapon and understand what it means to use deadly force. You can't go for the lowest bid on a project like that.
And other issues, the architecture of the school. How we let people in and out of schools. These are the standards across the country are dramatically different between private schools and public schools. And I think that's the biggest issue. We need to get our act together and establish national standards on those issues as well as the mental health issue.
How do we deal with at risk children? Do we allow them back into the general population of students with this type of potential? I don't think so.
MAXWELL: But we have to have a very exact track on how we deal with these students. Because many of these things are predictable.
MAXWELL: Now I go back to what I mentioned the other night when I was on your show. Secret service did a study on 14 separate incidents of violence in schools. And the statistic that jumps off the page is that in over 60 percent of those incidents, somebody knew. [22:35:00] Somebody knew that it was going to happen. Either days,
weeks, you know, they had a heads up. So we have to cultivate students, staff, to raise their hand at the right moment.
MAXWELL: Because since the days of Columbine, we've gotten very adept. Look at what happened the over day.
LEMON: It seems like...
MAXWELL: We are adept at heading these things off.
LEMON: Yes, it seems like a number of people knew they even called tip lines and they notified law enforcement, and then nothing happened. I got to run, though, unfortunately I'm out of time. Jim, I appreciate you joining us here on a Friday night. Thank you so much.
LEMON: When we come back, the president speaking for 80 minutes at CPAC today and this about sums up his speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You don't mind if I go off script a little bit, because, you know, it's sort of boring. It's a little boring.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You want to see the rest of it. Stick around.
LEMON: So much for teleprompter Trump. The president calling his speech boring and going rogue at CPAC today. But a lot of what he said, well, let's call it fact challenged.
I want to bring CNN politics executive -- editor-at-large -- excuse me. Why do I keep calling you executive editor I don't know why. You need to change your title, I bet Chris Cillizza.
[22:40:04] CNN political analyst Ryan Lizza and CNN political commentator, Joan Walsh. I got Ryan and Chris Lizza and Cillizza. Let's see if I can get this right.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE, CNN: You wouldn't be the first person in rare events.
LEMON: So you guys are not the same people. Look, you're in the same place but not the same...
CILLIZZA: We're in different cities.
LEMON: Yes, there you go. So the president went -- Chris, this is for you.
LEMON: The president went off script and spoke for 80 minutes this afternoon at CPAC. I want you to listen to some of the highlights and he is -- this is about guns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They'll take away your second amendment which we will never allow to happen. They'll take away your second amendment.
Remember that. They will take away -- thank you. They will take away those massive tax cuts, and they will take away your second amendment. By the way, if you only had a choice of one, what would you rather have, the second amendment or the tax cuts? Go ahead, second amendment? Tax cuts. Second amendment?
I'm going to leave it at the second amendment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He's like -- I feel like I'm watching the Daily Show's -- his Trevor Noah's impression of Donald Trump. I feel like I'm watching Donald Trump doing Trevor Noah's impression of himself. Explain why this is completely false, Chris.
CILLIZZA: OK. So, first of all, just on the pure weirdness of the President of the United States doing an audience-sourced poll.
LEMON: It's call -- yes, it's called call and repeat, right.
CILLIZZA: Let's leave that aside. Yes, I mean, I think there is a serious point here, Don, which is, you know, Donald Trump spent the previous 48 hours prior to today talking about things like raising the age to which you can purchase a rifle from 18 to 21.
Bump stocks, and other modifications that turn semiautomatic to automatic weapons, et cetera, et cetera. Things that the NRA doesn't always agree with him on and saying we need to make compromises. There are places here background checks. There are places that we can make a deal. Everyone wants to make a deal.
What's hard then is when he goes and uses language like they are trying to take away the second amendment. They will do it if you elect them. Basically saying the stakes in the 2018 election are the second amendment will be gone if the democrats win. You know, it's just ridiculous.
It's not going to happen for people who care. In order for an amendment to be repealed, you need another amendment, which means that two-thirds of the House and Senate have to approve of that amendment. Then it gets to the state legislatures and...
LEMON: And by the way, the House and Senate are what -- who's there now, who's in charge? Republicans.
CILLIZZA: Right. I mean, by the way, 38 out of the 50 state legislatures...
LEMON: My God.
CILLIZZA: ... have to approve and 32 of those state legislature in 32 of the 50 states republicans control everything. So, I mean, it's not going to happen. But the point is when you engage in rhetoric like that, yes, you will get cheers at CPAC. They will applaud you. Yes, it may motivate some people. But if you're trying to be something even close to an honest broker of a deal of any sort on an issue that's polarizing emotional as guns...
LEMON: Come on, Chris, wrap it up because you know it's not going to happen.
CILLIZZA: No. Breaking news. It's not going to happen.
JOAN WALSH, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Not your guy.
LEMON: Listen, it's completely embarrassing. As an American, it's embarrassing for me. And what's even more embarrassing is people cheering him instead of saying this guy is nuts. Who would even think that no one is ever going to take away the second amendment, and every single person knows it's not going to happen or at least rational thing.
WALSH: Yes. What if they'd chosen tax cuts over the second amendment? Would he then say OK, let's get rid of the second amendment?
LEMON: Let's get -- yes.
WALSH: I mean, it's just crazy.
LEMON: It was a poll, so who knows.
WALSH: Yes, it's a poll.
LEMON: Right. Right, so let's play. Who's up next? Ryan. The president also stood by his campaign promise on building a wall. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We know that a strong nation must have strong borders. We celebrate our history and our heroes. We believe young Americans should be taught to love their country and to respect its traditions. Don't worry. You're getting the wall. Don't worry. OK? I heard some -- getting the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So he promised to build a wall but so far he has failed to convince Congress to give him any money or has gotten it as a part of a DACA negotiation. So how is he going to -- how is this going to work? Ryan?
RYAN LIZZA, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: He dropped, of course, what used to be standard part of that statement which is who's going to pay for it? Remember, there used to be a call and response at Trump rallies, right? That became such a part of his speeches that he would say who's going to pay for it and the crowd would yell Mexico. That dropped out of the stump speech because there's no actual plan on the table to have Mexico oay for it.
[22:45:00] There's barely a plan to get the U.S. Congress to pay for it. I thought you also were going to do the snake there. That he read the part of the snake.
LIZZA: This was like greatest hits of Donald Trump...
LEMON: We've got more sound bites, Ryan. Don't read -- don't read ahead in the syllabus here in the work book.
LIZZA: Well, I thought you did immigration so you weren't going to do the snake.
LIZZA: But it was like -- it was like Trump classic. It was like vintage, you know, early 2016 primary Trump. But you know, one serious point on all this, I do think the last week of watching Trump talk about guns but sort of settling by the end -- you know, by Friday a week -- you know, what has it been more than a week after the tragedy in Florida, he's settled on the most NRA-endorsed right wing view of guns after saying a lot of things that sound -- that sounded like maybe he was - he was open to doing something, and I think that's been what his presidency is like.
He listens to people sometimes. He says things that sound like he's moving in another direction and challenging republican orthodoxy, but he always ends up right where the conservatives are and the base of his party is. And that's what this speech was about.
LEMON: So, Joan, he's not, to Ryan's point, he's not talking much at all about raising the age to 21 and all the clips are...
LEMON: The magazines and any of that?
WALSH: No. And he's also -- you know, Ryan is, of course, right. That he is talking about things that the NRA claims that it's OK with. But you notice that they said we're OK with banning bump stocks after that Las Vegas nightmare, but that never happened.
You know, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan somehow, it never comes to the floor of either the House or the Senate. So the president gets away with talking compassionately and going out a little bit, you know, beyond what the NRA might take, but then he's never going to be called on it. He's never going to act on it. The Congress is never going to act on it. We're going to need a different Congress frankly.
LEMON: What about the maturity, though, what about showing some sort of maturity or what's the word I'm looking for? I don't know. Some stature to show that he is the President of the United States, instead of acting sort of like a cheer leader with the megaphone yelling to the crowd?
WALSH: Well, I mean, that's his crowd. That's CPAC, you know, you got to give him that. That's what he's going to be like with CPAC. I mean, we had lock her up, all the greatest hits, Don. We had lock her up. And I love it. It's against the backdrop of charges, you know, being finalized against Rick Gates and more charges being brought against Manafort. So have gun, guys. Cheer lock her up, but other people might be getting locked up.
LEMON: Speaking of lock her up, more of that right after the break.
WALSH: Do we have that?
LEMON: We'll be right back.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Back now with Chris Cillizza, Ryan Lizza and Joan Walsh. Joan we talked about lock her up. So we did that, I don't think we don't need to play it because it was...
WALSH: We know what it sounds like.
LEMON: We know what it sounds like, right.
WALSH: We heard a lot of it.
LEMON: It seems like we're back on the campaign trail.
LEMON: So let's move to unemployment. The president continues to take credit for African-American employment being the lowest in history. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Unemployment claims have reached a 45-year low. African- American unemployment has reached the lowest level in our history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, here are the numbers though, just so we get this is. This is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. African-American unemployment was 6.8 percent in December down from 16.4 percent in 2011, right. So who was president then.
WALSH: Thanks, Obama. That's what we say every time we see the chart.
LEMON: The president completely deserves -- believe he deserves some credit for this. Do you think he does?
WALSH: He's done nothing. No, he deserves no credit. As a matter of fact, it ticked up a point last month. So, maybe does he deserve credit for that, that African-unemployment actually went up a full point. I mean, I'm not going to blame him. But if he's going to take credit then he deserves the blame.
No. You know, it's his one talking point, Don, where he feels like he can reach out and say, you know, you African-Americans, why don't you see how great I am for you. What do you got to lose and look what I've done for you already, and it doesn't connect with people at all.
LEMON: When Obama first took office African-American unemployment was above 16 percent. And when Trump took office in January of 2017 the black unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.
LEMON: Right? The lowest it had been in nearly ten years according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Under Trump it is dropped a full percentage point to 6.8 percent in December. That is the lowest rate since the bureau began regularly breaking out unemployment rates, the rate by race since 1972. But you can clearly see it has been on the downward track.
WALSH: And it's still twice as high as white.
LEMON: Still twice as high...
WALSH: And we need to say that.
LEMON: OK. He also took a swipe at Senator John McCain who you know, he's fighting against Obamacare. McCain is suffering from cancer. And Trump promised his, you know, his daughter Meghan McCain that he wouldn't do that anymore. So what gives here? Chris, what's going on. CILLIZZA: I mean, remember back, Don, when -- I thought this was the
end of Donald Trump. Little did I know when he made the joke that he preferred his military heroes, not captured in reference to John McCain. This was right back -- speaking about vintage Trump, this is right back in the beginning of Trump's campaign, sort of the fall of 2015.
You know, I think he does not like John McCain. John McCain has made no secret that he doesn't really like Trump and Trumpism either. That Donald Trump broke his word to Meghan McCain and Cindy McCain that he would not attack John McCain any longer given John McCain's struggle against brain cancer.
It should not be that surprising. Joan mentioned last segment this is Donald Trump in front of the most raw meat crowd that you could have as a republican president. He likes applause.
[22:55:06] LEMON: But it's unnecessary.
CILLIZZA: He knows McCain isn't -- he likes -- he knows McCain isn't popular so he does it.
LEMON: It's a low below, it's unnecessary. And he should be ashamed of himself and the people there should be ashamed of themselves for applauding. I mean, here is John McCain who is sick...
WALSH: Fighting for his life.
LEMON: Thank you. And come on. It's just -- it's gauche to say the least.
LIZZA: And there were three, there were three republicans -- three republicans who voted against that bill not just John McCain.
LEMON: Not John McCain. Ryan, I want to talk to you about this. Lastly, this from the president today, some rare self-deprecation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: By the way what a nice picture. That is -- look at that. I'd love to watch that guy speak. Boy.
I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks. I work hard at it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So he admits he has a bald spot. I'm sure he was not happy when the cameras captured it and everybody started reporting on it. But what do you think of that? My God, how do you get a bald spot on the back of your head? Who has a bald spot, but go on. What do think, Ryan?
LIZZA: That could happen.
CILLIZZA: Yes, let's not...
LIZZA: I think...
LIZZA: Chris and I start thinking about our own heads. So, I think -- how you respond to something like that will say a lot about how you personally feel about Donald Trump. And I -- you know, I think all of us can sit here and there are plenty of criticism that we can talk about with Donald Trump. I've made my views about him known regularly. But every once in a while I have to admit that I find him...
LIZZA: Somewhat humorous, funny.
LEMON: Yes. We're all laughing. I agree with you. We're laughing.
LIZZA: You know, he has -- occasionally has as sense of humor that you just -- you cannot deny.
CILLIZZA: That was.
LEMON: I thought it was funny. But you I still don't.
CILIZZA: That was a good moment for him honestly.
LEMON: You guys, look.
CILIZZA: I mean, honestly, he's never self-deprecated.
LEMON: I don't know how you get a balanced spot on the back of your head. I don't know. I've had this part since I was a kid. Everyone thinks I'm bald.
CILIZZA: Not all of us are so follicle (Ph) blessed as you.
LEMON: Well, it's so weird.
WALSH: You are.
LEMON: They're yelling at me. We're having fun. Come on, producers. All right. I got to go. Let's see.
LEMON: Let me see se the back of your head there, Cillizza.
CILIZZA: No. That's not the deal. That's not the contract.
LEMON: Thanks, everyone. We got to go. We'll be back at the top of the show.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)