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Stormy Daniels Versus Trump Continues; U.S. And North Korea Summit Expected in May, World Awaits U.S.-North Korea Meeting; Trump's Lawyers with New Tactics. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired March 9, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:20] DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Breaking news, because, of course, there is breaking news at the end of this incredible week. We learned tonight that a judge has been assigned in the lawsuit Stormy Daniels filed against Donald Trump. Judge Elizabeth Feffer set to hear the case in Los Angeles, though, no hearing dates have been set.
That comes on the same day that Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer, told CNN he used money from his own home equity line to make that $130,000 payment to the porn star whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Cohen also confirming that he used his Trump organization e-mail to communicate details of the payment, telling CNN, quote, "I basically used it for everything," everything including paying a porn star out of his own pocket. He claims in a secret hush money agreement to keep quiet about Donald Trump just a few weeks before the election.
We'll follow that moment in just a moment. All of that comes at the end of a week when we may have -- it may have been hard for you to keep up. So let's recap for you. Monday this happened.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: They wanted it by 3 p.m. today. They want me over -- they want me over at the grand jury. Screw that. Why do I have to go? Why? For what?
(END VOICE CLIP)
LEMON: Is that just Monday? It feels like two weeks ago. Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg eventually changed his mind about what he just said and testified for six hours before a federal grand jury today.
This was Tuesday. News broke that Stormy Daniels who said she had a, quote, "intimate relationship" with Donald Trump is suing the president to end their allege hush agreement, claiming he never signed the agreement. Explosive news, but not the only big story that day. The top economic advisor Gary Cohn quit Tuesday after clashing with the president over tariffs and his willingness to start a trade war.
On Wednesday, news broke that the president had asked key witnesses what they discussed with Robert Mueller's investigators. The New York Times reported the president asked former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, if investigators had been, in his word, "nice." And that the president said White House counsel, Don McGahn, should deny that Trump once asked him to fire Mueller. Again, they had to remind the president that was exactly what he asked.
And listen to what press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Wednesday admitting that the president was a party to the Stormy Daniels lawsuit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has addressed these directly and made very well clear that none of these allegations are true. This case has already been won in arbitration and anything beyond that I would refer you to the president's outside counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So that apparently made the president really, really unhappy. A source telling CNN, quote, "Sarah gave the Stormy Daniels story -- storyline steroids."
Thursday, a defiant President Trump slaps a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent on imported aluminum even after his own party begged him not to. Following that up by going rogue and grabbing the headlines with his announcement he will meet with North Korea's Kim Jong-un.
But as it is often the case with the White House, things got a little confused today. Sarah Sanders telling reporters this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: We're not going to have this meeting take place, until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, a White House official later telling CNN, quote, "The invitation has been extended and accepted and stands." We have a lot more to come on all of that. First, we want to begin with our breaking news on Stormy Daniels on that case.
Here to discuss, CNN political commentator Van Jones, host of the Van Jones Show; also political commentator Alice Stewart; CNN contributor Larry Noble, former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission; and Washington Post contributor Daniel Drezner.
So much for quiet Fridays, we got Van Jones up late, so there you go. Good evening, everyone. Larry, I want to start with you. CNN has obtained an e-mail showing that Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, used a Trump organization e-mail address to discuss the details of the payment. Does that raise the specter that this payment may have violated election laws?
LARRY NOBLE, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Well, it adds to the whole problem here, if in fact the Trump organization was involved in this, if Michael Cohen was getting paid by the Trump organization when he was negotiating this deal, then you have the Trump campaign involved in illegal campaign contributions.
You know, Cohen says that while he uses his e-mail for everything, his Trump e-mail for everything, but another e-mail came out tonight that he talks about not being in the office for Yom Kippur. The office is closed.
[22:04:58] So, it sounds like he is -- he is working from his office and using his Trump -- his Trump position. So, you know, it adds to the whole problem here, that we don't know what exactly what went on. It looks like there may very well have been a campaign finance violation. You know, you mentioned earlier about him using the -- his own funds or his --
LEMON: A home equity loan.
LEMON: His funds from his own equity loan to make the $130,000 payment. Does it matter where the money came from?
NOBLE: It does matter where the money came from. But that doesn't tell us where the money came from. That tells us where he got it, got it from initially. The fact that he got it from a home equity loan seems to suggest that he may have expected it to get repaid.
And there have been some reports that he complained after the election that he had not been repaid yet. So the question is, was Trump going to pay this, did Trump pay this back than anybody else pay it?
Because if it's a campaign contribution or if it is a campaign expenditure, then the campaign should have reported it. If it came from a third person other than Trump, it was an illegal contribution. And that's what we need to get to the bottom of it.
LEMON: All right. Mr. Van Jones, and then there's, you know, this new e-mail that Stormy Daniels' attorney provided to Anderson for Michael -- from Michael Cohen to Stormy's previous attorney and it read, it says, "Yes, it's Yom Kippur, so the office for all purposes is closed. And it goes on from there."
So here's what Stormy Daniels' attorney had to say about that. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: If in fact the payment was being made personally by Attorney Cohen, he wouldn't need his office open in order to effectuate the payment. COOPER: And clearly the office he's talking about is the Trump organization office, which is on the letterhead and it's underneath his signature.
AVENATTI: That is the office he's clearly referring to. Because if you look at the signature, and you put it up on the screen, he identifies himself as the executive vice president and special counsel to Donald J. Trump, and he list the address.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So Van, I'm wondering how significant is this -- you think this is because Stormy's attorney is making the point that why would the office need to be open if it's a personal matter between him and Michael Cohen.
VAN JONES, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, because it's not a personal matter between him and Michael Cohen. Look, let's just cut the crap. It's late, it's a long week. This is sleazy, disgusting garbage behavior on the part of Donald Trump and the part of his organization, period.
You know what's not fun? You know what's not fun? Trying to explain to your 9-year-old son what a porn star is because he's watching the God damn news. That's not fun. You know, this is ridiculous.
I mean, at a certain point, we just have to say, "Listen, well, it's Donald Trump, so it's OK." It's not Donald Trump. It's the President of the United States engaging in disgusting, sleazy behavior with sleazy people around him, and now lying about it, and acting like some, no, if I -- look, find me a lawyer who's going to go and pay my bills off a home equity line, hey, I'll have that lawyer the rest of my life.
There's not a lawyer born in the history of the bar that's doing that. They're lying about garbage behavior and it's wrong.
JONES: And so now we got to go -- and now we got to go bird poop by bird poop by bird poop to prove that we've got -- that we've got a bird in the cage. The bird is in the cage. He's caught red handed paying off a porn star, and we have to pretend something else is going on.
LEMON: Go ahead, Alice.
ALICE STEWART, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Don, I like to just say it's a pretty sad day when a porn dud's personal attorney is more credible than the President of the United States' personal attorney. Let's just start right there.
And look, I think that the problem is that this president and the administration has gotten themselves into a bad situation here, a bad hole. They need to quit digging. When you have this attorney who is using a home equity line of credit to pay off a porn dud, that is a problem.
And when he's sending e-mails back and forth to this attorney from a Trump organization e-mail it is virtually impossible for the president and the administration to claim they didn't know anything about it. And it's virtually impossible to believe when the spokesperson says that he won in arbitration, but he's ignorant about why they paid this money. It's impossible to believe.
So, there's many things that don't add up. And I think it's just making it worse by dragging it out. They're not going to listen to me, but it would be much better if he would just own up to all of this, and let's focus on things that are much more important, like his upcoming meeting with North Korea.
LEMON: Well, I'm wondering what -- how Dan feels about this because just from your facial expressions as Van was speaking. Go.
DANIEL DREZNER, CONTRIBUTOR, WASHINGTON POST: Oh, gosh. I'm so looking forward to talking about this. Look, I think this is the way we should think about it, which is to say that -- I believe the original Wall Street Journal story about this came out in January, right?
And it says something that it took about six weeks for this to percolate up so that this became a conversation at the top of the hour. And in some ways, that's sort of the issue with the Trump administration.
[22:04:58] There is -- you know, what Van is talking about, there's garbage scandal after garbage scandal after a pile of garbage scandals. Your conversation about what happened this week, Don, was very good in terms of what it did in terms of Trump.
It didn't talk about what's going on at the Department of Veteran Affairs. It didn't talk about the door -- the $160,000 door I think that happened in the interior department. It didn't talk about...
LEMON: One hundred thirty nine thousand dollar door.
DREZNER: One hundred thirty nine thousand, sorry.
LEMON: And the $30,000 table and -- yes, dining table.
DREZNER: Right. And then Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, his, you know, very fancy chairs. I can only guess where he got those.
You know, it literally is a case where there's so much garbage, that it's impossible to focus on what's, you know, the most important thing. And to be honest, I think this Stormy Daniels business is obviously a scandal that's not going to go away for Donald Trump, but I do agree that it would be nice to focus on the even scarier things like North Korea. LEMON: Yes. Well, but Van, having said that, do you think that the
North Korea thing -- so when you look at the time line which has been written by the New York Times and several other newspaper, I think the newspaper is Washington Post as well, the time line how he reportedly sort of invited himself into the room with the South Koreans, that this was a distraction to get Stormy Daniels that story off the front page.
JONES: I mean --
DREZNER: No, I don't think so, because he had already -- he already sign the tariffs at that point, which also would have, you know, displaced the Stormy Daniels story. I think this is more about the fact that Trump in some ways has in some ways has declared war on his own advisers.
DREZNER: You know, we've seen a lot of stories over the last couple of months about how Trump is frustrated with his own staff, how he feels shackled by them. And in some ways, you know, both the tariff case, which forced Gary Cohn to resign, and for that matter the North Korea meeting, are things where, in some ways if advisers tell him, "This is probably not what you want to do," he's oppositional to us so that he's going to do it.
LEMON: Yes. Van, what did you want to say?
JONES: I was going to say that, you know, we're in this situation again where there's so much nonsense and so many shenanigans going on that we sometimes forget that we have been inching closer and closer to a nuclear conflict with a nuclear power.
That by -- you know, listen, in any other situation or circumstance, that would be the only thing we would be talking about, we would be marshalling the best thoughts of people on both sides and peace activists and generals to try to understand how we get back out of this thing. We're squeezing in, you know, North Korea in the middle of, you know, porn stuff.
Like that is a disservice to the country. It's a -- I just -- I do not want us to spend all of our time and outrage. But this week has been just a despicable display on the part of this White House.
And when Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is the spin master's spin master, who goes out there every day and tap the answer on marbles and somehow gets away with it, and then she says one word wrong, just one word, you know, she look up in the paper and she got the order of the words wrong and the whole roof falls in, that's not on Sarah.
The marbles aren't coming from Sarah. The marbles are coming from the Oval Office. It's about the President of the United States, not the staff on this one, the President of the United States.
LEMON: Well, Dan, the reason I ask you about the, you know, whether this gets off the front page because today Sarah Sanders seemed to walk back the meeting saying that, well, certain parameters have to be met and they have to have certain promises and then they walk back their walk backs (Ph). So we're going to talk about North Korea right after the break. And Larry, we'll get you in on the other side. We'll be right back.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The White House trying to clear up its own confusing messaging this afternoon, insisting that President Trump's meeting with North Korea's Kim Jog-un is still on despite what Sarah Sanders said at today's briefing.
Back with me, Van Jones, Alice Stewart, Larry Noble, and Dan Drezner. So the White House can't seem to get their story straight on North Korea. Yesterday, we learned that the president would meet Kim Jong-un by May. Today Sarah Sanders added preconditions to the meeting. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: They've made promises to denuclearize. We're not going to have this meeting take place, until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea. We've accepted the invitation to talk, based on them following through with concrete actions.
This meeting won't take place without concrete actions. The president will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Larry, well, just a couple hours after that, a White House official clarified to CNN that, quote, "The invitation has been extended and accepted and that stands," they say. Doesn't it all show that this, you know, was rolled out haphazardly without the input of key people in our government?
NOBLE: It does, and this is something we're seeing over and over again. We saw it with the tariffs caught his administration by surprise. He seems to just react to certain things and it makes announcements and then everybody has to catch up to him.
And so, you know, it is, it's governing by chaos into certain extent, and it's not only really demoralizing, it leads to all sorts of problems, it leads to a lot of ethical problems we're seeing, it leads to policy problems. And you know, right now, I'm not sure anybody really knows whether we're going to meet with North Korea, or whether he's going to meet with North Korea or what's going to be said. And who knows what he's going to tweet tomorrow about it. That's not really the way you want to run the White House.
LEMON: Alice Stewart, the president tweeted this tonight. He said, "Deal with North Korea is very much in the making and will be, if completed, a very good one for the world. Time and place to be determined." In the works, Alice. That's what he says.
STEWART: Yes. Look, I think this is a great thing the denuclearization of the peninsula and it will be a great thing for the world. The problem is when you receive an invitation from North Korea to have these talks, you don't accept them until you have all the conditions necessary to be met.
And you don't accept the invitation and then say it's still in the works. I think this meeting is good. I think it's long overdue. It's important to have. However, we need to make sure as Sarah said repeatedly have concrete and verifiable actions that they are committed in taking action on denuclearization not just saying as they are that they are committed to it.
That should have been outlined prior to accepting this invitation. I think that is one where -- a place where they made a mistake. That being said --
LEMON: Was that the reason behind you think Sarah Sanders adding a giant asterisk to the meeting in the first place?
[22:19:58] STEWART: It's hard to say what the motive is. But I think it was important to say that, it was important to let people know we're not just giving up everything and Kim Jong-un has all the high ground here. I think it's important for people to know that we're not giving up everything and without them sacrificing something, but that should have been stated yesterday.
This should have been a beautiful rollout. This should have been something that he could say with great pride that his pressure, the sanctions he has imposed on North Korea put them in a position where they had to take action, they had to do something. Unfortunately, yet again, I think they dropped the ball on rolling this out and doing this the right way.
LEMON: Well, listen, Dan, this is your area. Do you -- do you think that they will get rid of everything? Do you think that that North Korea will give up their nuclear weapons? That's all they have.
DREZNER: It seems highly unlikely. You know, the idea that -- and particularly they're certainly not going to denuclearize before the May summit, which was something you could have inferred from what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. No, they're not going to do that.
I mean, the template for how we would expect this to go, if it takes place at all. Because bear in mind, first of all, we don't know where this is going to take place. And it's worth remembering Kim Jong-un has yet to meet a foreign leader, since he took over North Korea, and he also hasn't left the country since he took over North Korea.
So the only two places that I can see this meeting taking place or meet three places, will be first in Panmunjom, second in Pyongyang, or third it's on ship off the coast of the Korean peninsula. And it's not obvious to me that that's going to be agreed upon.
But the other thing to realize is the only template we can think of with Trump when he has met with an authoritarian leader one on one without much in a way of consultation was this meeting with Vladimir Putin on the margins of the G-20 summit.
And if you remember how that played out, you know, he announced it with some great fanfare that it was going to be joint cooperation on a cyber unit, I believe, and that lasted less than 24 hours. He actually cancelled it by tweet if memory serves.
So my real concern about the summit is whether or not, you know, if he gets into a room with Kim Jong-un, he thinks he hears something that's been said, and in fact, you know, the agreement doesn't wind up being operable, which would be consistent with how North Korea's bargain for the last 25 years.
LEMON: Van, I mean, you worked in the last White House, you know how these deals play out. It's not something that you, you know, go into a meeting and then decide, "Well, I'm going to -- I'm going to say yes to this." this has to be strategized in months and sometimes years.
JONES: Yes. I mean, a couple of things. To try to be fair to the White House, the criticism up until now was that the White House had completely unrealistic terms for any discussion. They had to completely denuke. And people said, listen, that's just crazy.
Then they belly flopped over to, we're just going to meet. And that also is crazy. So now they're trying to -- it's like this goldilocks process, trying to get what every other administration does naturally, which is have a process, roll it out properly. The way that you arrive at the decision is a confidence building measure in and of itself for the -- for your adversary.
The way you roll it out is confidence building. The problem is doing all this weird flip-floppy stuff and not getting it right the first time means nobody -- even people who actually should be happy that we're moving away from this bellicose posture and toward a dialogic process, nobody's happy because they keep screwing it up, so they can't even do good stuff right.
And that's a big, big problem. It's a big problem. I would love to be sitting here and saying, "I can finally give them credit for something because they're moving away from threats and trying to move toward dialogues." They even screwed that up.
LEMON: Yes. Hey, Larry, if you have a quick answer for me, do you think this meeting will even happen?
NOBLE: I don't know. Earlier today, I was thinking no. Earlier today, I was thinking they are backing out. And when they were saying that North Korea would have to do something about nuclear weapons, I was thinking, "There they go." But now they seem to be tampering that. My bet would be no, but I don't know.
LEMON: I want to -- Dan, CNN exclusively -- if you can answer quick because I got to get to the break -- learning that President Trump will get his military parade, some of the details that there's going to tanks won't be featured to avoid damaging the streets. But it's going to feature wheeled vehicles and, quote, "heavy air component." It will go from the White House to the capital schedule for Veteran's Day in November 11th. What do you think about this idea?
DREZNER: You know, I teach military students at Fletcher, and let's just say they're less than thrilled by the prospect of having to be stationed and actually participate in this kind of thing. It actually weakens our military to be blunt because it basically takes units that should be training or preparing for things like fighting wars or other kinds of operations and instead they have to do the one thing that almost all soldiers hate, which is drill duty.
So, I don't think this is really that great of an idea no matter what. But I think it's worth pointing out that if you're going to try to do this to honor the soldiers, the soldiers themselves don't like this idea. And I think there were a Military Times polls that show something like 93 percent of those who responded thought this was a bad idea.
[22:24:53] LEMON: Yes. I cannot go -- let you go, Van without asking you about you have -- your huge show coming up, one on one with Oprah Winfrey. And if that isn't enough, you have director Ava DuVernay. I mean, my God, who are you? Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: This is a serious question, I think about this, because of this whole idea of light. If you had 10 minutes with him, I mean, you're one of the few people that listen, billionaire to billionaire, megastar to megastar, and also human being to human being. What would you say? I mean, no cameras, no lights, just you guys.
OPRAH WINFREY, TV HOST: I would -- I would only speak where I feel that I can be heard. So I would only speak if I felt that I could be heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Only speak if she felt she could be heard.
JONES: I was trying to get her to maybe agree to go talk to Donald Trump. I'm doing anything I can.
LEMON: Oprah always says, "Go lean in towards the light." And I don't know if she thinks that's a light place, right? That's her -- that's her thing.
JONES: I felt so lucky when she said that she was going to come on the Van Jones show, Sunday, 8 o'clock on the East Coast, 5 o'clock on the West Coast. And if we had gotten five minutes with Oprah Winfrey and two minutes with Ava DuVernay, we would have been thrilled. We wound up with an hour. They just stay, we had an hour and she took
over. I mean, Oprah Winfrey she just took over the show and we came at Oprah Winfrey show. She gets up and starts dancing, I mean, it's an insane thing.
JONES: And you realize how much you missed the light, she is the light bringer. We miss her so much. But you get one hour of Oprah Winfrey on my show on Sunday.
LEMON: And listen, and I know Oprah has done great things and will continue to do great things, but Ava is killing it right now.
JONES: Oh, my God.
LEMON: I can't wait to see her new movie and all the other projects she has coming up and then...
JONES: "A Wrinkle in Time."
LEMON: Did she talk about the studio that she's -- she's doing in the studio?
JONES: You got to see, you got to -- I can't give it all away. I can't give it all away.
LEMON: But she's building her own studio or is having -- anyway, I don't want to give it away. But anyways...
JONES: The movie, "The Wrinkle in Time," any young people in your life take them to this movie. It's going to lift their spirits and lift their sights. So, Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey our Sunday night.
LEMON: Thank you. When we come back, much more in the president's upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un, is the president giving the dictator what he wants or will this be the historic meeting the administration hopes it could be.
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[22:30:00] LEMON: President Trump leaving no doubt in anyone's mind tonight about his upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un, tweeting that a deal with North Korea is in the making and it could end being good for the world.
I want to bring in now James Fallows, the national correspondent for the Atlantic. Mr. Fallows, good to see you. Thank you for coming in.
JAMES FALLOWS, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTIC: My pleasure. Thanks, Don. LEMON: Many analysts believe that North Korea's goal for the past few decades has been to get the U.S. to recognize it as an equal -- an equal legitimate power. By agreeing to meet with Kim Jong-un, did President Trump validate his position on the world stage, give him everything he's ever wanted?
FALLOWS: You know, well, I guess there are more that Kim Jong-un would like. But the central narrative of North Korean, you know, internal policy and propaganda and everything else has been their valiant struggle against the great external enemy of the United States over the decades.
And so to have the American president agree to meet at the leader there is a significant step for them. And I think the easiest way to imagine it might be to think of Fidel Castro during his years in Cuba.
I'm not equating the two countries at all. But you know, but Castro's Cuba was also a problem for the U.S. through all those years. And imagine if Castro could have gotten a face to face meeting with Richard Nixon or with Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan that would have been a huge coup for Cuba's -- the Cuban regime sense. I think similar with North Korea.
LEMON: On the other hand, though, Mr. Fallows, nothing else has seemed to work. So why not try to do something new, something different. Do you think the president's unconventional approach worked here at some level at least, you know, we're talking about negotiating and not about who's button is bigger?
FALLOWS: Well, let us be optimistic. There is some a nonzero possibility that this kind of shake things up approach will, you know, would be some kind of progress on what Barack Obama described to Donald Trump in that famous conversation after Trump was elected as the most difficult, most impossible problem because, as you say, nobody else has an answer to this
But if you think of other case where American presidents have really rolled the dice and shaken things up, most famously, Richard Nixon going to China, also Ronald Reagan dealing with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, in both cases there was careful preparation, and the presidential meeting was the last part of the process after Henry Kissinger had gone to China, and after teams of experts have sort of figured out all the different moves.
So maybe, let us hope, you know, this is certainly better than war. But for it to work, it would require a kind of concentration that it would be a change from Donald Trump.
LEMON: You know, just before the meeting was announced yesterday, Secretary of State Tillerson was asked about possible negotiations with North Korea and said, "You know, we're a long way from negotiations."
Today, Tillerson saying that Trump's decision was not a surprise in any way. So, Tillerson, you know, he's on a tour of Africa right now, has he become irrelevant? Is he even clued in to what's happening? FALLOWS: You know, even beyond his own position in the administration, and in public life now, it's an illustration of in any previous administration, just the ranks of experts, and people to try out all the different approaches ideas and subject and to questioning and to draw on the history of how things went, when Bill Clinton was trying to deal with North Korea, and how things went for either of the President's Bush.
And the fact that the secretary of state apparently was not aware of this and that there is no ambassadors to South Korea at all and that the main experts in the State Department dealing with North Korea have resigned or not been appointed, it's a sign of just for something that is the most difficult foreign policy problem there is right now of having nobody really other than Donald Trump apparently lending his attention to it. That would give one pause.
LEMON: He really does seem to have a fascination with strong men. He expressed admiration for Vladimir -- President Putin, invited President Duterte of the Philippines to the White House.
[22:35:03] He says he has a close friendship with Turkish President Erdogan. All these leaders have some questionable human rights records. Why so cozy with these dictators and why speak so highly of them?
FALLOWS: That is an interesting question. My publication, The Atlantic, had a great feature last week. After Chinese President Xi Jinping had essentially declared himself president for life or arranged things toward that result. And Donald Trump said, "That's a great idea I might try it out here."
You know, he was joking, but there is this long record of strong man and dictators whom Donald Trump has praised. And you think by contrast of how he has beaten up on Angela Merkel in Germany or with Malcolm Turnbull in Australia before that was patched up.
So there is something in Trump's personality that appears to be drawn towards this kind of figure. And so, we will hope it remains in the joke category.
LEMON: I also want to get your thoughts on this because we're learning tonight that the president will indeed get that military parade he wanted schedule for November 11th, it's the Veteran's Day. But it will not involve -- it's not going to involve any heavy military vehicles like tanks. How is this going to go, do you think?
FALLOWS: I think Dan Drezner in that previous segment made a good point. This is the last thing that most of the uniformed military would like to be doing, spending their time practicing just for a downtown parade.
It looks from the contours of the announcement from the Pentagon that they are sort of treading a fine line here. There are often parades on Veterans Day. There are -- on big national occasions, there are flyovers of historic airplanes, World War II airplanes. We see them every year or two in D.C. So, it seems as if they're doing something like what the president said he wanted, of having some kind of show of force like the one in France with President Macron. But not really -- but doing it only so much.
LEMON: Thank you, James Fallows. I appreciate your time.
FALLOWS: My pleasure. Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, will the president speak to Robert Mueller? We're going to tell you what his attorneys are saying now.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: CNN is learning tonight that the president's attorneys may be using the possibility of his interview with Robert Mueller to learn how close the investigation is to wrapping up.
Let's discuss now with CNN contributor John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel, and Michael Moore, a former United States attorney. Good to have both of you on.
John, CNN is reporting the president's attorneys are discussing how they could use a potential interview between the president and the special counsel as a bargaining chip, effectively saying, "We'll let you interview the president if you can guarantee we're buttoning up the Russia investigation." What do you make of this tactic?
JOHN DEAN, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: I think it's a nonstarter. I don't think they have any leverage whatsoever. The president has a couple options. One is to take the Fifth Amendment and say he's not going to testify at all which will be politically very unattractive or they can talk about dates and that's about the only two options he has.
LEMON: Michael, Trump's legal team reportedly wants to limit the scope of the interview and maybe prevent it from taking place under oath. Do you think that's something Mueller would be open to?
MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: I think it's probably a pipe dream at this point. I mean, think about Bob Mueller has -- he's got the evidence piling up against Trump. He's got cooperators lining up against him. And by and large, public support for the investigation is going up especially since the last indictment.
So, I just can't see much benefit to Bob Mueller to try to cut a deal at this point. I agree with John that basically this is a situation where Mueller has a federal grand jury that he's empanelled.
He can call in the president, the president if he wants to take the Fifth Amendment he can do that. He can try to assert executive privilege, but I would just tell you that, you know, executive privilege is a tool not to cover up obstruction. It may be a tool to help an executive and conceal or live to have a free deliberative process about strategy but it's not there to cover up criminal conduct. And so, I agree that I think basically this is a pipe dream, if they think they're going to limit the inquiry or try to use it as a tactic just to speed it up.
LEMON: John, we've had these conversations before about Trump lawyers putting up, you know, a lot of time lines for when this investigation will or could wrap up and they've been wrong about every one of them.
Are they really in a position to lay out terms for the special counsel?
DEAN: They are not. I think they're playing to an audience of one, and that's their client, who likes to hear this kind of talk, who likes to think they're in there wrestling with the prosecutors as to what they can and cannot ask, and when and how long they can investigate.
But he has all the leverage, Don. And we have case law, you know, I don't think he wants to take this to the Supreme Court. Mueller certainly probably doesn't want to, that could be the other option, stalling option, where they litigate some of this, and that would just make it a more protracted investigation.
LEMON: What kind of things, Michael, do you think, do you expect Trump's lawyers don't want him talking about. They probably don't want him talking at all, but what kind of things do you think specifically they don't want him talking about?
MOORE: You know, I've said for a long time, this is a case that's going to be about the money, and my guess is they don't want him talking about his business transactions before he got into office. They don't want him talking about how the companies have been run since he's been in office.
I don't think at the end of the day want him talking about why he fired Jim Comey because essentially he's already come on national television and said. "I did it because of the Russia thing."
So they've got a client that they cannot control. And I think Mueller knows that. To put your client or a client like Trump in front of a federal prosecutor is guaranteed peril, both for him and for your client's position.
So, they would rather him not talk at all. But they certainly don't want him getting into anything that has to do with any money. And you know, that's Trump's weak spot, he can talk about his power and his money and he'll go on ad nauseam about it.
LEMON: John, Sam Nunberg was Monday, if you can believe it or not. It seems like it was so long ago.
[22:44:57] But after telling anyone who would listen on Monday that he wasn't going to cooperate with the special counsel, he relented and spent six hours in front of Robert Mueller's grand jury today. How do you think Monday's media blitz went over with Mueller? Did Nunberg make it harder himself do you think than he -- than he needed to be? DEAN: Well, I think he kind of embarrassed himself publicly on what he did Monday. I don't think it affected the prosecutors at all. They had obviously what they wanted to get from him. They knew a lot of what he had. They had informal discussions beforehand.
So they had had a pretty well-tailored idea of what was going to happen in the grand jury today and how long it was going to take. And they wrapped it up in six hours, which is not a bad session.
LEMON: Michael, in his many media appearances on Monday, Nunberg said that he was -- he's convinced that Mueller's team wanted to interview him as a way to get the former Trump confidant, Roger Stone, to get at him. What do you make of that assessment?
MOORE: You know, I think most of the time when you're called in front of a federal prosecutor in a federal grand jury, you have to remember that they already know what they want to find out. They don't bring people in on a fishing expedition. They don't bring people in just to see if you've had a good day or a bad day or if you maybe remember something down the road.
They've already looked the documents, they've looked at tax returns, they've looked at financial records, they've listened wiretaps. Whatever it is, they're bringing you in to see if you are going to own to it and become a cooperator and somebody who corroborates the evidence they've already got.
So, my guess is he could probably tell from the questions, the tone of the questions, the types of questions, about either his buddy Roger Stone or Trump's business. I think he mentioned that at one point. He can tell that they've got some information already, and they're just trying to see how much he knows and how much he'll corroborate in from their investigation.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate your time.
MOORE: Great to be with you.
LEMON: When we come back, the president stumping for the republican candidate in the Pennsylvania special election. And he thinks his tariffs could be the thing to win the election for the GOP. But is he completely wrong?
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The president is heading to Western Pennsylvania tomorrow trying to save a struggling GOP congressional candidate locked in a tough special election race. Republican Rick Saccone could be facing an embarrassing defeat by Democrat, Conor Lamb, in a race that has huge national implications.
Let's discuss now with CNN contributor Salena Zito, a columnist for The New York Post and a resident of the Pennsylvania's 18th district. So you know your stuff on this.
SALENA ZITO, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: True. LEMON: So let's talk about this, Salena. How are you by the way?
ZITO: I was well. How are you? This is literally my backyard and my front yard.
LEMON: And your front yard. So, the president broke with tradition, the traditional Republican doctrine with his decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and he did it in large part to woo the voters in Tuesday's special election. You live in the district. How much will this matter do you think?
ZITO: It's interesting, right, because both candidates, both the Democrat and the Republican usually there is a lot of contrast between candidates, right? They both support the tariffs.
So it makes it difficult for the Republican to pull ahead because the Democrat, Conor Lamb, is young, he's charming. He looks like he just came out of central casting and they don't have anything really to squabble about because they're both on the same page.
And he also is not criticizing President Trump for anything. So, you know, what this is, though -- I mean, in terms -- if this was any other contest, you know, this is a tangible benefit that Trump is bringing to his base in this area because there is a lot of blue collar workers.
But there is also a little bit of tension, because this is also a shale area. And shale is the industry that is growing. And I don't know if tariffs --
LEMON: And you said shale is bigger than steel, right? And so the tariffs won't really make a difference.
ZITO: At this moment -- at his moment, but, you know, I mean, there is -- there is a lot of nostalgic association with steel. So maybe people my age or maybe people my children's age, my kid's age, adult children, you know, they never worked in a steel mill and I never worked in a steel mill, but there is still that cultural association. So, it is something that people wrap their arms around.
LEMON: But explain the significance --
ZITO: Despite there not being that many jobs there.
LEMON: Yes. Talk to me about the shale industry being bigger there.
ZITO: Well, shale is the growth industry around there and not exactly in that district, but right beside that district is a new cracker plant that's being built not like saltine crackers, but it's part of the press of the shale industry.
And that's attracting thousands and thousands of jobs. And it has the potential to attract plastic companies to be in and around it. It's a game changer for the area, both the Democratic governor that is in place right now and the former Republican governor both agree that this is a really big deal. This is where the growth is, and also the ancillary jobs that surround it.
LEMON: So will tariffs affect that industry? How will they?
ZITO: Well, I mean, that part is unclear. It could affect the cost of the piping. And you know, that's sort of -- that is sort of not been made clear yet. But that is the growth industry. It's not the just labor in the shale industry. It's high-technology, it's engineers, it's chemists, it's physicists. You know, it's a broad industry that attracts not only blue collar workers but also white collar workers.
LEMON: Yes. So it's looking to the future towards the future and not the past, yes.
ZITO: Right, right.
ZITO: This is --- this is more of the future.
[22:54:56] ZITO: But there is still -- I mean, you can't discount that emotional pull of the steel industry. And you also can't discount that while it didn't happen in Western Pennsylvania, over in Lorraine, Ohio, Republic Steel has just announced that it's going to reopening the Black River Plant and that's about a thousand jobs.
LEMON: So there is a nostalgia to steel. But before we go, because we are running out of time, so how much impact do you think the president's appearance will have there?
ZITO: Well, I mean, it never hurts to have the leader of the party come in and energize people. Conor Lamb had Joe Biden in the beginning -- in the beginning of this week. Donald Trump will be here tomorrow. I expect the rally to be pretty big.
I don't think he will have a problem attracting a lot of people and he has a lot to talk about. In particular, the jobs numbers from today and the tariffs, North Korea, he had in the base -- his base's mind, he has had a good week. He's brought them tangible benefits.
LEMON: Got it.
ZITO: In terms of what they expected from him.
LEMON: Salena, thank you. Always a pleasure. Have a great weekend.
ZITO: Thank you. Thank you. You, too.
LEMON: When we come back, Stormy Daniels and her lawyer are not backing down. And that lawyer has won settlements against Trump before. Has the president met his match? [23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)