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Conor Lamb Wins by Thin Margin; Trump Takes Credit for Lamb; Stormy Daniels Brings More Storms to Trump White House; White House Statement Blames Russia For Spy Poisoning; Russian Roulette: Trump Obsessed With Meeting Putin While In Moscow For Miss Universe In 2013; Thousands Leave Class For National Student Walkout Demanding Stricter Gun Laws. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 14, 2018 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: There were also student walkouts in solidarity in other countries including Tanzania, Israel, and the Czech Republic.

That's it for us tonight. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. CNN TONIGHT starts now.


It must have been a tough day to work in this White House. The White House that's making excuses for the president's candidate losing a major bellwether election last night.

Well, a source tells CNN President Trump has been complaining about his own handpicked cabinet and wants to purge what he calls the dead weight.

So it's no wonder multiple staffers tell CNN they're on edge, not sure who will still have a job tomorrow. One White House official is telling CNN -- telling Axios, excuse me, quote, "this is the most toxic working environment on the planet."

Well, tonight, whether you work for this administration or whether you're a Republican up for election come November, are you more than a little worried about your job prospect.

Politics right now in this country like it or not is about one man. People have strong feelings about him. You may have noticed that. And right now that man, our president, wants to get rid of the very people he chose and replace them with people who will not restrain him, who will let - you heard it before - Trump be Trump.

Clearly, that means between now and November's elections he is definitely not going to change.

Harry Truman famously had a sign on his desk, and it said, "The buck stops here." But it seems this president doesn't realize that. He constantly fails to take the blame for the chaos he himself is creating. The blame for the race in Pennsylvania that should never have been lost by a Republican, or the one in Alabama that should never have been won by a Democrat.

The cabinet reflects the president's choices, the post election spin doesn't deflect from an embarrassing defeat. Voters are sending a message, and if the president isn't hearing it, a whole lot of other people are.

Let's get to CNN's political analyst Ryan Lizza, April Ryan, and former Congressman David Jolly. Good to evening to all of you. Glad to have you on.


LEMON: Hi, Ryan. You first. We have all the chaos coming up of this Trump White House. And then we have a red district turning blue last night, and the president doesn't seem to think it has anything to do with him.

LIZZA: Well, what you said in your intro is right, Don. These midterm elections and re-election campaigns are always referenda on the incumbent presidents. And so this entire year and we're in an election year, is going to be about one person, and that's Donald Trump.

And that -- you know, look, the election in Pennsylvania, there were a lot of local issues that this Democratic candidate campaigned on, because it was a -- it is a more conservative district. But at the end of the say Trump is what is driving the sort of historic special election turnout for Democrats, he's driving some Republicans in the suburbs away from the Republican Party, and he's driving obviously increased turnout on the Democratic side.

And he's also driving a lot of Republicans out of Congress. I think the thing to watch for in the next few days is who else retires. There's already been three dozen Republicans who have announced their retirement this cycle. And if you're on the cusp of, you know, should I stay, should I go, you see a race like the one in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, and that might push you to the exits.

LEMON: April, you're there most days. In the briefing room around the White House, that's your perch.


LEMON: So, the most toxic working environment ever or in the country. I mean, and everyone is spinning around this president making excuses, does he know that he is the cause of this chaos, do they know?

RYAN: Well, let me say this? You know, inside they know it's manic. Inside they know the substance is not right. But the president is someone who never loses, he never sees it as it's his problem, you know, we talked about this early on. The manic pace and it's now exposing itself, what's done in the dark is coming to the light.

And at issue, Don, is the fact that this president wants to shake up his administration. He's hearing from his friends. According to my sources, he's consulting and hearing from his friends, his loyalists who are telling him, you need to make cuts now, and make major cuts now, not just one, not just two, but get rid of people now. And then bring in those who are loyal to you.

I mean, I'm hearing their names being -- I'm hearing like major names from various sectors who this president is looking at to replace certain people. I mean, people that he even brought in during the transition period.

[22:05:06] So, this is real. This president is supposedly wanting to - according to sources - wanting to surround himself with those who are loyal, and his friends, those who are loyal around him so it will not be someone who is a naysayer, per se when he gets rid of the rest of the group that he wants to get rid of at this moment.

LEMON: Yes. David Jolly, I want to bring you in here, because I want to know about your former colleagues in the GOP. Do you think any of them realize this, do they see what's happening here?

DAVID JOLLY, FORMER FLORIDA REPRESENTATIVE: Sure, and they're terrified. They are absolutely terrified. And Ryan is like -- Ryan is correct. You're going to see more retirements likely in most dates filing deadlines are coming up in the next four to six to eight weeks, and you're going to be seeing people begin to relook whether or not they are going to run for re-election. And it's for one very simple reason, it's Donald Trump.

Listen, under Donald Trump every Republican in a congressional special election since he took office has underperformed. Republicans like to say they won five or six, they've only lost one, yes, but in every single one of those races Republicans underperformed, last night they underperformed by 20 points.

There are at least 20 to 25 seats in the House right now held by Republicans that Hillary Clinton won. There's another 30 to 40 that are within two to three to four points. Every single one of those races is now in jeopardy, and it's why Republicans are more likely than not looking at a wipeout in November.

LEMON: I want to ask you this, Ryan, because the sources close to the White House says the GOP does not view the race as a referendum on Trump but rather Rick Saccone was a weak candidate. I mean, what do you think last night, was it a referendum on this president or was it on Saccone.

LIZZA: Look, when you have a 20-point swing in less than two years that is not because you had a weak candidate. And plus, what was the candidate's claim to fame. He said he was Trump before Trump. So he himself was trying to say -- portray himself like the president.

The president is the dominant factor in our politics. He is what everything revolves around. And midterm elections that this was a special elections, it's a little bit different, but midterm elections are always a statement about the president. They're always a referendum on the president, and you know, most presidents lose obviously in their first midterm.

But what we're looking at with these numbers in the special elections is a wave forming out there, and you know, the last thing that was said there about the margin of the swing is much, much more important than who wins or loses.

I mean, if every House race in the country swung 20 points toward the Democrats, obviously not every Democrat would necessarily win, but you would have a wipeout on the Republican side, and obviously the Democrats would take over.

So, yes, look, when you lose an election you got to come out you got to have some line, you got to have some spin. If you're at the White House you'll say it wasn't about the president, it was all local thing. He's a terrible candidate.

And Trump has a history of saying, you know, it was the candidate's fault, not his. But these races are about Trump. Everything in American politics revolves around trump. I mean, everything in American culture these days revolves around President Trump for good or bad.

LEMON: Yes. As I said in the open, but you know, now they're trying to embrace it and take credit for the supposed win of Lamb by saying, well, he embraced all of Trump's policies, so therefore he should win, and that should be a lesson to every candidate.

I mean, listen, you got to admire that spin, I mean, that's a pretty good spin. But I want to move on. I want to -- let's -- I want to talk about Russia and other things and Stormy Daniels and what have you.

Two big things hanging over the administration right now, April. Russia and Stormy Daniels. Let's start with Stormy Daniels, OK?

So, according to new documents --

RYAN: Yes.

LEMON: -- we're learning that a second Trump organization attorney involved in this ongoing legal battle, a woman by the name of Jill Martin is on -- is on the demand for arbitration document. She's a California based attorney for the organization, and then I thought the story was, that this had nothing to do with Trump or the Trump organization. It's just Michael Cohen here. But now you see there's another attorney with the Trump organization who is part of this.

RYAN: Yes. Yes, and basically, you know, Sarah Huckabee Sanders got in trouble last week for saying that the president wasn't involved, by saying there was arbitration.

This White House wants to stay as clear from Stormy Daniels and the stormy weather that follows as they can, but the -- I mean, it's true, the allegations the stories, the innuendos, it's all coming out, and at some point they're going to have to address it again.

Because if Stormy Daniels even attempts to talk. And you find out more about who's involved, who's close, and more about David Dennison, AKA President Trump, they're going to have to speak. It's getting wider, they've got to say something, whether it be Sarah Huckabee Sanders or the president himself.

[22:10:02] LEMON: Or Michael Cohen.

RYAN: This is happening too much and it's causing a problem. Yes. Or Michael Cohen. Yes.

LEMON: David, listen, Jill Martin was asked by CNN about the documents, and she says that she was working in a private capacity on behalf of Cohen's attorney, Lawrence Rosen. Now if they wanted to keep this as far away from the president as possible why not seek out the thousands of attorneys based in Los Angeles, not affiliated, not affiliated with the Trump organization?

JOLLY: Look, that's exactly right, Don, let's be honest. This is a terrible chapter in American politics. I mean, we're talking about the President of the United States caught in a scandal of paying hush money to a porn star. Someone who has a kid about the same age as the length of this scandal now.

And it is the type of the caricature of this president and that is the reality. This is a president who kind of came in and said I'm going to be a different type of candidate. But I don't think the American people were asking for this.

And you know, at the end of the day if you look back in history it's these moments that they seem incidental that actually trip up a president, whether it results in some form of perjury or some other type of legal culpability that the president didn't see coming, it may be something like this.

LEMON: Do you -- do you think, David, that the -- that Michael Cohen and the president have met their match. I mean, listen, this Michael Avenatti is -- he seems to be coming forward, you know, every couple of days with new information, and if I were on the Trump side, I'd be a little worried, a lot worried.

JOLLY: Yes, I think so. Look, I would say, you know, it's a push. I think Donald Trump's lawyering has protected him in this environment. I'm not sure Stormy Daniels has the leverage that she thinks she perhaps needs. But at the end of the day where does this lead in terms of the president having to made statements of legal culpability or not. And I do think that's going to be a real issue if this continues to proceed.

LEMON: It's always the little things that you don't see --


RYAN: Don?

LEMON: -- the thing -- the thing -- the talk last week was that Stormy Daniels could be much more detrimental to this president than the Russia investigation.

Go ahead, April. What would you want to say?

RYAN: Yes. Yes, and it's so interesting. I mean, I think back to Bill Clinton, you know, I was there covering it, and we were talking about the blue dress and Monica Lewinsky. But the Ken Starr investigation was all about Whitewater, it wound up going into this Monica Lewinsky scandal. I know, Whitewater, how long ago was that. And then it went into Monica Lewinsky, this affair with an intern.

But I talked to Chris Darden, the former prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson scandal. And I talked to him today, and I said, you know, what happens with this kind of thing? Is it -- is there a broad scope, could Bob Mueller go into this Stormy Daniels thing, he said, look, with anything, he has a broad scope.

Chris Darden said it's like police officers and prosecutors, if you go in to do a drug bust and you see that there's a child that's been abused, you can't just overlook the child being abused. You got to look at that as well.

So, I mean, you never know, this could also be a part of this, and it's all about, Chris Darden, you all -- you have to look at the trail of money, and there's a trail of money here too with Stormy Daniels. So, it gets very interesting, and I would like to see if the scope of this Mueller investigation, this Russia investigation does go to Stormy Daniels.

LEMON: Ryan, I want to ask you, let's move on to Russia now. we know that President Trump wants both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former FBI director -- a former director Andrew McCabe out. Now Sessions is weighing whether to fire McCabe just days before he is set to retire on March 18th.

CNN has learned the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility made the recommendation after internal review, found that he misled investigators by the decision to let FBI officials speak to the media about an investigation of the Clinton Foundation. If Sessions fires him, he loses his pension, what's your read on this?

LIZZA: I mean, I think when most people heard the -- saw the headline today about this story, the first reaction was, wait a second, is this the Justice Department trying to punish McCabe at the behest of Donald Trump who has been very public about his dislike of this guy?

But the more some of the experts about internal FBI procedure spoke about this, it does seem that that office has a reputation for being very independent and that their recommendation carries a lot of weight.

I think the question I have is, should Sessions himself recuse himself from making this decision? He obviously has quite a bit of political pressure from the White House to fire McCabe and to do it in a way that reportedly will damage his pension.

So that's where I think the politics get a little messy here, is this independent entity within the Justice Department did make this recommendation and it was all in the up and up, they did really find some kind of wrongdoing, I think you have to respect that process, if it was all in the up and up.

But is Sessions now the person to make this decision, given the pressure he has from the president.

LEMON: David Jolly, I know you want to weigh in. Quickly, if you will, I got to get to the break. What do you want to say?

[22:14:59] JOLLY: Yes. Look, it was the third week in December, Donald Trump said there's about 90 days left before McCabe can get his full pension. So I think the fix is in of it. The question is, if Sessions does not fire him, what type of public humiliation does Donald Trump put Sessions through for that decision?

LEMON: Very good assessment. Thank you, all. I appreciate it.

LIZZA: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: When we come back, what does the special election in Pennsylvania say about the midterms? We're going to talk to outgoing Republican Congressman Charlie Dent who says this race should be a warning for Republicans around the country.


LEMON: GOP put out talking points today in the wake of what looks like a stunning loss in the Pennsylvania district. Donald Trump won handedly in 2016 including the claim that the race between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone was what they called a unique set of circumstances, but are they missing the point and how bad is all of this for the GOP?

Joining me now, a man who currently is serving his 7th and final term in Congress. Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Charlie Dent.

Congressman, I appreciate you joining us here on CNN. I want to first get your reaction to Democrat Conor Lamb's apparent win, though CNN hasn't called the race yet, other have and he's claimed victory in Pennsylvania's 18th District election last night as a fire alarm fire for the GOP, is it?

[22:19:57] REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, yes, this is certainly a clarion call to my Republican colleagues. That this election cycle is going to be a referendum on the Republican Party, the President of the United States and his conduct in office, plain and simple.

This election in my view was quite a bit more about the national political environment than the candidates themselves. Now with respect to this election, I would say, you know, Rick Saccone ran saying that he would be Donald Trump's wing man and that he was trump before Trump. And I would argue that, you know, basically that's a narrative that people were going to take into consideration as they voted.

And if you're -- I always tell my colleagues, you better be able to demonstrate a certain degree of independence from the executive branch regardless if you represent a swing or marginal district like I do, or should be considered a pretty safe reliable Republican district like this seat in questioned in Pennsylvania 18. I think you have to be able to do that, they expect you to show some

independence. You need to be able to stands up in front of people who oppose the president and say why you may support him on some issues, and you need to be able to stand up and tell people, you know, who support the president why oppose him from time to time. That's just part of being a congressman, and you have to show that you're independent.

LEMON: Well, let me ask you. You're always honest, so I want an honest answer from you. Because, you know, all day we've been seeing people downplaying it, even, you know, the House speaker saying, well, you know, he's really a -- he ran as a conservative, on and on and on. But then we hear behind doors people are saying. They're really scared.

I know you've been talking to people, are Republicans freaking out? What are you hearing?

DENT: I think most Republicans, certainly those in the margin and swing districts know they're going to be running in an enormously difficult political environment. Potential tidal wave or, you know, hurricane force wind in their face. They know that.

And those members are prepared for that fight. And they can, they're good candidates, they're battle tested and they'll run good races now, but even the best candidates and the best campaigns can lose in a wave election.

The concern that I have for my Republican colleagues those who represent that are considered to be Republican districts who have never been in a real fight before with a Democrat may be ill-prepared for what's coming at them. And they'll be shocked on Election Day. Trust me, this is a very real issue.

Now the Democrats have a challenge too. You know, they're going to need to nominate candidates, you know, who are, you know, more centrist and there's a lot of pressure on Democrats to go full Bernie or Elizabeth Warren. Those candidates will do poorly in a lot of these districts.

LEMON: Yes. The Atlantic has reported tonight that at a fund-raiser this evening the president called the election results virtually a tie. Then he said this about Conor Lamb's victory. He said, "The young man last night that ran, he said, I'm like -- I'm like Trump, Second Amendment, everything, I love the tax cuts, everything. He ran on that basis, he ran on the campaign that said very nice things about me." Is he trying to take credit for it?

DENT: Well, I -- that's quite a spin. I got to tell you.

LEMON: It's good, right? It is good.


DENT: That's a spin. LEMON: Before you answer, he didn't -- he didn't talk about this that Lamb criticized the GOP attempt to repeal Obamacare. He called the GOP tax bill a giveaway to wealthy Americans. He personally opposes abortion but backs the Supreme Court's decision to legalize it. He's for medical marijuana, he supports unions and endorsed by -- is endorsed by the AFL-CIO. He wants to protect Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, those aren't exactly Trump platforms.

DENT: Correct. Now I think as I followed the campaign, it seemed like Conor Lamb was running more against Paul Ryan than Donald Trump. Learning as Paul Ryan on Medicare and Medicaid, and Social Security. So I think it's fair to say that. But I don't think we should try to surcoat this.

This is clearly in large part a referendum on the party in power, and the president. And I think many voters will want to check. This isn't 2010. When I ran, you know, the Democrats had full control, and a number of us said we were going to be a check and a balance to President Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. And a lot of voters understood that.

You know, Republican need to understand that's what the Democrats are going to be saying about us, they need to have -- they need to a better check and balance on the executive branch. And I think that's what you saw in Southwestern Pennsylvania, people wanted to check. Even people who may have supported Donald Trump, say yes, but you need to keep an eye on him.

LEMON: Yes. Last night, were you like, glad I'm going to do this again?

DENT: Well, you know, when I actually announced, Don, when I announced that I was not running again in September I had no serious threat from the left or no serious threat from the right. I really didn't. I wasn't really concern, but I knew it would be a difficult environment.

You know, a lot of my Republican colleagues were concerned about primaries. And I would tell them your problem in this election is not going to be the enemy behind you, but the enemy in front of you that you better be ready for that. That's what's coming at you. If you're worried you're the primary, boy, you really -- you really don't understand what this election is going to be about.

LEMON: Congressman Dent, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.

DENT: Thank you, Don. Great to be with you.

LEMON: Yes, thank you very much.

[22:24:59] When we come back, a new book out with shocking revelations connecting the Trump campaign with Russia. How Moscow got its hooks in the campaign and who was targeted. The two veteran journalists who wrote the book, they join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Britain taking drastic action against Vladimir Putin's government, expelling 23 Russian diplomats, after concluding the Kremlin is responsible for attempted murder of a former spy, by exposing him to a nerve agent.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, well, saying the U.S. supports Britain's conclusion. President Trump didn't go that far yesterday. Telling reporters Britain's theory might be right.

But tonight, however, the White House issuing a statement blaming Russia for the attack.

I want to bring in now Michael Isikoff and David Corn, the co-authors of "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's war on America, and The Election of Donald Trump." It's a fascinating read. It's a write- off. Who named this book?

DAVID CORN, CO-AUTHOR, RUSSIAN ROULETTE: Well, it was 17-year-old daughter.

LEMON: There you go.

CORN: We were struggling. She came up with the obvious name.

LEMON: It's a good read, and it's actually a really great name.

But Michael, I have to start by asking you.


LEMON: You know, the response directly from the president which I talked a little bit about in the open, as opposed to his cabinet officials or statements was, "as soon as we get the facts straight, as soon as we get the fact straight, if we agree with them, they say, we'll condemn Russia. However -- or whoever it might be." Why add the "whoever it might be?"

ISIKOFF: Because --


LEMON: Why not -


ISIKOFF: Because that's what he always does. Look what he did during the debates, during the campaign. When the U.S. Intelligence Community had made clear that there was -- this was the Russians who hacked the DNC, this was the Russians who provided the e-mail to dump on WikiLeaks, the Podesta e-mails, and yet Trump couldn't accept it.

You know, it could have been, we don't know it was the Russians, it could have been some 400 pound guy in his basement. I mean -- and so there's a pattern where he clearly resists blaming Putin for anything. As we describe in the book, it really goes back to Trump's interests,

all these years to doing a business deal in Moscow, Miss Universe Pageant in 2013, and he flies there, it's all about a business project getting a Trump Tower built in Moscow, and he can't do it without Vladimir Putin's approval.

LEMON: Let's talk about the House Intel Committee. They shut down the Russian investigation saying that well, you know, Russia did interfere, but not to help Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Although your reporting agrees with the Intelligence Community that...

CORN: Yes, let's start with the U.S. Intelligence Community have said now definitively, and you even have Trump appointees in the Intelligence Community saying they agree with this assessment that the operation was done in part to sew discord in political turmoil on the United States, but also to get Donald Trump elected.

And we have intelligence -- we quote in the book, and I don't know if the House Republicans didn't look at this, in which their reports after the election of Russian officials high fiving each other. And there's a report that came out prior to the election that really was shocking to people who read it in the White House and elsewhere.

ISIKOFF: It didn't come out. It was a classified report.

CORN: I mean it was produced. It was a classified report, and people saw it in a top secret capacity. And it said that the Russian -- the Russian officials were taking credit for the DNC hack, and the turmoil that was caused when these e-mails were released at the Democratic convention.

So there's really little if any doubt, and I -- you know, I hate to say it, but I feel in some way, the book that we produced after a year's worth of work is somewhat of the antidote, you know, to the investigation, and we have things in it. Mike can talk about this too, that the committee, we know, we've learn in the last couple days, has not bothered to investigate.

ISIKOFF: Right. There are details in our book that the House Intelligence Committee was completely unaware of. Republicans, you know, sending investigations over. They have reached their conclusions.

I will give you a couple of examples. George Papadopoulos, the Foreign Policy Adviser, the young kid who has plead guilty, and is cooperating witness to -- with Robert Mueller, we talk about a critical March 31st, 2016 meeting with Donald Trump, with the Foreign Policy...

LEMON: In the book you said it was at that meeting that Papadopoulos first informed Trump and the then-candidate of the Foreign Policy Adviser that he had contacts in Britain who could arrange a summit between the GOP candidate and Putin.

ISIKOFF: That's right. And Trump's reaction was to give him a green light to encourage him to say he's interesting, to go forward. Now that contradicts all the public accounts so far of what took place in that meeting, in which others -- another person there had said no, Jeff Sessions had put the kibosh on it.

But this is what Papadopoulos has told Mueller's investigators, the House Republican Intelligence Committee never spoke to -- they never to spoke to Papadopoulos. They didn't know what he has said. That's critical testimony.

LEMON: And the Democrats on the committee who I have interviewed say when they come on, the people who they did interview, they didn't press them, they didn't follow up on them, they didn't -- it's as if they're not looking for...

CORN: It's pretty obvious, if you look at what Devin Nunes has done over the last year, he's put out distractions, and tried to deflect, and come with, you know, different storylines that have nothing to do with Russian intervention in the election.

And you know, they are Democrats, they are partisan, but they've all said the same thing, that the vast -- you know, when witnesses don't answer questions, they are not subpoenaed, do not back, and they are forced to produce documentary records that the Democrats want.

And Adam Schiff, the top Democrat in the committee has a list of 30 or so witnesses that the Democrats have wanted to bring in that Republicans have said no to. And you know, it's a highly partisan time we live in.

[22:35:00] But you know, Mike and I, and you, we've all been covering Congressional investigations for a long time, and even when they get kind of partisan, it's never like this.

You still have people on both sides who try to get to the bottom of things, and they at least do the investigations by the numbers. This is -- it looks like they're in the tank on an issue that is of fundamental importance to American democracy.

LEMON: I want to talk about when we back more, when you talk about -- you said about building a Trump Tower in Moscow, right, and also about the Miss Universe pageant there.

ISIKOFF: We have a lot of new details on that.


LEMON: We'll talk about that when we come back. Don't go anywhere.


LEMON: The White House tonight releasing a statement agreeing with Britain, and blaming Russia for the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy on British soil.

But President Trump has not yet publicly called up Vladimir Putin about this incident. So, why is that and what might he be holding back? Back with me now, Michael Isikoff and David Korn. So let's talk more about Russia in real life because, Michael, why do

people have been investigating Trump's 2013 Miss Universe contest in Moscow, juicy nuggets (ph) from the trip that you have uncovered, and behind-the-scenes information, what do you know?

[22:40:04] ISIKOFF: Right. Well look, this is a saga that I think is key to understanding everything that came afterwards. And it really goes back before Vegas -- before Moscow to Las Vegas.

Five months before in June of 2013, it's the MISS USA Pageant, the feeder to Miss Universe, and that's where Trump first meets the oligarch Aras Agalarov, his son Emin Agalarov, the singer -- the pop singer, his publicist Rob Goldstone. And they reach the agreement to have the Miss Universe in Moscow. Trump is eagerly into this.

Because he thinks with Agalarov's backing, he can get the Trump Tower project he's always wanted. The relationship really begin then, we described some of what happened in Las Vegas, it's been known that they all met and went to dinner. We talked for the first time about what happened afterwards, they went to this raunchy Las Vegas nightclub partying late at night.

LEMON: A club that since has been closed down because...

ISIKOFF: Since closed down because of its lewd, and obscene performances, and that was under investigation by the Nevada gaming commission at the time.

I'll let readers take a look at the book for some of the details about the kinds of performances that were performed there, but the important thing is that the bond between Trump, and the Agalarovs forms there, then you cut to Moscow, where Trump is obsessed about meeting Vladimir Putin.


ISIKOFF: He'd talked to people around there, where is Putin? Is he coming? Have we heard from him yet? He never does get to meet Vladimir Putin in Moscow, but that's where you start to see all these fawning flattering comments that Trump makes about Putin, because he knows it's key to getting that business deal approved.

LEMON: Let me read a quote from the book, David, and I'll pose a question to you because at the time, Trump tweeted, do you think Putin will be going to the Miss Universe pageant in November in Moscow? If so, will he become my new best friend? Was Putin playing Trump here, do you think?

CORN: Well I think he's been playing Trump all along, and that is actually one of the main big points that Steele makes in the dossier, that they had a year long -- years-long campaign to cultivate and co- opt Trump.

And you see in 2013, as soon as he envisions the idea of doing a project in Moscow with Miss Universe, or maybe a tower -- and he's been chasing a tower in Moscow for almost 30 years at this point, starting in the 1980s.

He starts these -- as Mike said, these fawning comments about Putin. Now it's important to remember that if this is the point in time where Putin has passed a law that if you say would anything positive about gay rights, you can go to jail.

He's also now later on in the year, you know, moving into Ukraine in the beginning of 2014. And he's by now, of course, an autocrat, who is running a regime where it's known that dissidents and journalists can lose their lives for criticizing him.

So throughout all this period -- and people are puzzling about this then as they continued to. He acts as if Putin is a good guy. And he wants to preserve his right to do business. I think there is psychological element.

He wants to be a strong man himself. He wants to be a global oligarch. He actually seems to identify with Putin, and his new friend Aras Agalarov. Trump is going to be an American oligarch. And it comes out -- it's like hiding in plain sight.

It ends up when you go back looking at it, which is what we have decided to do at the book, put together these very deal and the different pieces, and you can see a pattern that looks kind of obvious.

LEMON: This is something that you report on that's very disturbing to me, and probably to most people, Michael, a note about the contest, OK? You write, Trump would toss out finalists and replace them with others he preferred.

If there were too many women of color, he would make changes, a Miss Universe staffer later noted. Another Miss Universe staffer recalled, he often thought a woman was too ethnic or too dark skinned. He had a particular type of woman he thought was a winner, others were too ethnic, and another example, if you need one, this president -- about this president's views on race.

ISIKOFF: Yes. Well first, I should say that under the rules of the Miss Universe Pageant which were -- you know, it was his contest.

CORN: His rules.

ISIKOFF: His rules. He had the right to select the finalists for the Miss Universe Pageant, so whatever the judges selected, he could overrule them. He could pick the women he wanted.

It is interesting that he had this preference, or aversion to having people look too ethnic. He did seem to like Eastern European women for whatever reason. You could make of that what you will.

[22:45:02] He liked women -- but Miss Universe people told us they could get through to him by saying, well, this woman, this contestant is...

CORN: Is dating a football player. ISIKOFF: Is dating a football star, or...

CORN: Or is from royalty.

ISIKOFF: Yes. Something special about her, and then you know he might be persuaded. But look...

CORN: Too ethnic, there's another quality that would get him over that hurdle.

LEMON: Oh, got it. OK. This is -- go on.

CORN: No, no, that's OK.

LEMON: This is important, and I want to get to this thing before we ran out of time. David, you first reported the existence of that infamous dossier compiled by British officer Christopher Steele. A lot of it has been made fact. And you said that it's raw intelligence, how much of it though has been verified?

CORN: Well, a lot of the particulars have not -- a lot of them can't be, because you know, he's citing inside information from sources, working with people in the Kremlin or near the Kremlin.

I think if you look at some of the big picture, in June of 2016, he is reporting that Moscow has an operation to help Donald Trump. This is before we know about the infamous Trump Tower meeting where the Russians sent an emissary who meets with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner.

And you know, they think they're getting dirt on Hillary in this meeting. So he was right on some big pictured items. He does say -- he's been telling colleagues that he believes that if you look at all the major thematic issues in the dossier, that he was 70 percent to 90 percent accurate. When it comes to the salacious allegation, he says oh, maybe just 50/50.

LEMON: So you think that is a conglomeration of stories that they have working together? What do you think?

CORN: Of its salacious stuff?


CORN: You know it's not been confirmed. We do quote someone else in the book who talked about Trump taking trips to meet women in Russia. All I know is this, this is a fact. If you're a prominent person, and you go to Russia, and this time frame, and probably even now, and you do anything untoward, they are watching you. And they probably have evidence of it.

LEMON: David, Michael, thank you very much. Russian Roulette -- their new book is called Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. We will be right back.


LEMON: Thousands of students across America walked out of class today for National Student Walkout, calling for stricter gun laws. They left classrooms for 17 minutes, one minute for each of the 17 people killed in at a high school in Parkland, Florida one month ago today.

But it was a slightly different story in Wilson Prep Academy in Wilson, North Carolina. That is where out of 700 students, just one lone young man got up and walked out. He posted his lonely protest on social media.


JUSTIN BLACKMAN, STUDENT, WILSON PREPARATORY ACADEMY: Hello, Twitter. This is like -- six people watching this hopefully. That's about it. It's National Walkout Day. I'm the only one in my school out here. No one here but me. No one really said anything besides my home room teacher. I'm in Spanish class right now. He let me walk out here. He didn't really care. It's going to be chilling here the next 15 minutes.


LEMON: Well a lot more than six people saw that. Millions have now seen it since this morning. That young man is Justin Blackman. He joins me now. I heard your laugh there. Justin, hello to you. Why did you want to walk out? And how did you feel when you found you were the only one in your school who did it?

BLACKMAN: Well, I wanted to walk out when I realized that there -- there is a constant issue in the United States, and that is school shootings. It happens too many times -- just too many times. Let alone I think it was 17 times at the time of the incident on Valentine's Day.

So that's what like three every two weeks or something like that. And that's just crazy. And just think we need stricter gun laws. I'm not saying gun laws per se, but maybe -- like we need someone in the schools to protect the students, because if the students -- we are the future, if we all just -- if someone gets gun blazing one day, that's the future gone in one incident.

LEMON: How did you feel that you were the only one at your school who walked out?

BLACKMAN: I mean, it wasn't -- it wasn't really I felt bad. I felt like surprised sort of, because I was expecting at least like one or two people to come outside with me. Because I talked about it a little bit before I did. A couple people didn't know about it.

A couple of people said they would. But then first period my teacher said that he don't think -- he doesn't think that I should go out, but he think that I should write a letter. It will be even more powerful, but I guess the video was more powerful.

LEMON: Every time you go from your heart, and you do what you think is right, you will see that's where your power is. You know, we know your mother is there with you. And she must be really proud.


LEMON: What did the other students and teachers say to you afterward?

BLACKMAN: They're all just happy for me. They're all happy. They're all like next time -- next month, because on the 14th they are going to do it again. They are all saying next month we're going to do it too. And when we do it next month, we're just going to put it on Twitter again. I mean, it's what -- it's the same thing, just more people will see it.

LEMON: Do you think you start a little, mini revolution there?

BLACKMAN: I wouldn't say that.

LEMON: No? What are the attitudes among the kids at your school kids when it comes to guns and school violence? Do you guys talk about it?

BLACKMAN: Oh, yes, definitely. Our sixth period class is where we have world history. And our class is very advance, so we finished the class early.

And we have like two months left, so now it's basically a current events class, and all we do right now is just basically talk about politics, or we might talk about something that happened like a 100 years ago, and somehow related to politics. It's just -- we talk about politics a lot in school.

LEMON: Yes. We just played some of the video that you recorded while you were outside your school.

[22:55:03] Even some celebrities like Chelsea Handler, Ava DuVernay, Chelsea Clinton, they've reacted to it on Twitter. I'm sure to you that must be surprising to you. But why did you decide to record this?

BLACKMAN: I mean, because -- really it was only because I saw my friends that I have in New Jersey posting it. And I was like, all right, well everyone is posting their fun. Let me just post my loneliness.

And then I posted it on Twitter because I have the least following on Twitter. And I was like, all right, I I'll just post it here. Not that many people will see it, so I don't have to worry about looking good in the video. But I was wrong. It was like 2.6 million before I even got here I'm pretty sure.

LEMON: It's going to continue to climb. Why is it so important, Justin, for you to participate in the walkout? And what would you like to see our leaders do when it comes to guns?

BLACKMAN: Well, it was important because the 17 people that died in Florida, they can't protest for anything anymore because they're dead, and I can. So now that I have this platform that I have now to be able to use the

voice that I have, like I'm going to do the same thing I would like people of a bigger platform to do, and that's speak. Don't just hold back your words.

Just like LeBron said -- he is one of my biggest role models. He is the only reason I try to be as good as I can. He said that you need to strive for greatness. And he said he is not just an athlete. Athletes have voices. And it's like, all celebrities have voices, and you need to use your platforms for something good.

LEMON: Justin Blackman, thank you.

BLACKMAN: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come back another attorney appearing on a legal document related to Stormy Daniels' six-figure payout. Why her lawyer says it's more proof the Trump organization was involved.