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Robert Mueller's Team Using Help From Former Trump Campaign Deputy Rick Gates On Their Central Mission Investigating Potential Collusion Between The Trump Campaign And The Russians; President Donald Trump Touting All Lies; Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 29, 2018 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The FAA says the controller could not verify that any other aircraft was in the area at the time. The American airlines pilot said he wasn't sure it was a balloon, but said it had a big reflection.

Thanks for watching "360." Time to send it over to Dom Lemon. CNN TONIGHT starts right now.

[22:00:21] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Breaking news in the Russia investigation. CNN has learned how special counsel Robert Mueller seem zeroed in on former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates making it clear to him that they wanted his help to get at the central mention investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

And new details available to CNN and in court filings this week and giving us the first indications of how prosecutors are getting the help from Gates and using it to tie Paul Manafort, the former chairman of the President's campaign directly to a Russian operative.

Also tonight, attorney general Jeff Sessions rejecting calls from President Trump and top Republicans on Capitol Hill to name a second special counsel to investigate the FBI and the justice department, at least for now. However, he is revealing that a top federal prosecutor is, in fact, investigating allegations that the FBI abused its power to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser and looking into allegations of political bias in the investigation of Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information.

President Trump appearing in its first public event all week, talking up his infrastructure plan before a crowd of union builders in Ohio and joking about his past as a real estate developer.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think better than being President, I was maybe be good at building. I think maybe will be better at President.


LEMON: It was vintage campaign style Trump. But a lot of what he said to the assembled crowd just flat out wrong. We are going to take a look at that for you.

Let's get right to the breaking news tough in Robert Mueller in the Russian investigation. I want to go to CNN Sara Murray for the latest on that.

Sara, what more can you tell us?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Don, I think when Rick Gates struck this plea deal, everyone sort of expected that he would flip on Paul Manafort who is his longtime business partner and, of course, the campaign chairman at one point of the Trump campaign.

But one of the things that my colleague (INAUDIBLE) has been learning from her sources is that when Robert Mueller's team, the prosecutors on his team were talking to Gates, they said, look, we don't really need you necessarily to help us make this case against Paul Manafort and help us win over Manafort's cooperation. What we want from you is cooperation, is information that helps our core mission. And of course, we know from Mueller that core mission means investigating Russian meddling in any kind of potential Russian collusion with Trump campaign officials. And so that tells you that Mueller is very much still looking into collusion. And he believes that Rick Gates could be an asset in that case.

LEMON: Sara, how is all this new information surrounding Gates coming to light now?

MURRAY: Well, part of it is from what sources have been telling CNN. But there is also this new court filing that came not, not in the Gates' case, not in the Manafort case, but in the case of another lawyer who did some worked for firm that worked for Manafort and Gates who pled guilty to lying to special counsel Robert Mueller. And one of the things he lied about was Rick Gate's interactions with a Russian operative, of a Russian intelligence operative. Now that person is not named in the filing. But CNN has determined that it is Konstantin Kilimnik. This is someone who did work with Manafort in the past. And it says that Rick Gates was in contact with this person throughout the presidential campaign and knew that this guy was a Russian intelligence operative when he was in touch with him.

LEMON: What is it that Gates could know? I mean, what kind of information, Sara, might he have access that Mueller would be interested in?

MURRAY: Well, again, I think we started looked into the silo of his relationship with Paul Manafort. And of course, that is important because Manafort was close to the President. And he was running the campaign. But this is a guy who stuck around even after Manafort was fired. He was around the campaign longer and he also developed a close relationship with one of President Trump's close friends, Tom Berick (ph). So even after the campaign ended, he stuck around and he helped around the inauguration, for instance, and work closely with one of Trump's friend.

So if you look back at the campaign, the other thing to remember even if Rick Gates wasn't in some of these meetings we talked so much about. For instance, that Trump tower meeting that Paul Manafort attended with a number of Russians. He may have still heard about it or he may have found out if those Russians were with anyone else in the building. Out sources tell us that this is a guy who may not have been in all of the top strategy meetings but he certainly made is his business to know what was going on.

LEMON: Sara Murray with the reporting tonight. Sara, thank you so much. I appreciate that.

I want to bring in now CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein, contributor John Dean, a former Nixon White House council and CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd.

Gentlemen, good evening to you.

John, huge news tonight. What do you think this tells us about the real target of Mueller's investigation?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think he is right back to where he started with is looking at collusion. And I have always thought that Gates was a powerful potential witness. Given the deal made for Gates, it was a very good deal. And it had to be more than just nailing his former partner, Manafort. So I think he has given them a lot of information. And he has a lot of information. And he is an invaluable witness and could change the whole dynamics of the case.

[22:05:14] LEMON: Philip, Mueller and his team didn't need Rick Goetz to flip on his boss, Paul Manafort. But instead, one of the information from him about contacts with Russians and potential collusion. What does that tell you?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: A couple things. One, is that a personal level I spent four-and-a-half years working besides director Mueller. He is a linear guy. He was not brought in to investigate financial crimes. He was brought in to determine not collusion, Don, but whether something inappropriate was done between Russia and the Trump campaign. Those are facts and those are time lines.

When he has Gates flip, he's not asking, I don't think he would ask Gates anything about collusion. He wants to know, who said what about meetings with the Russians, who said what about financial transactions. What do you know about the meeting on this date, what do you know about how the Trump campaign was arranged and who would have been involved in conversations about meetings with the Russians.

The American people, the American public keeps talking about collusion. I don't think that's the conversation with Rick Gates. The conversation is exactly, what do you know about the campaign and exactly what do you know about timeline the meetings with people like the Russian ambassador? That's what I think is going on here, facts.

LEMON: So it's a good time to talk about the scope of the investigation, Carl. One of the criticisms we have heard from President Trump and supporters throughout this investigation is that Mueller is outside the bounds of his authority or that the indictment so far, small fish, or for crimes that have nothing to do with the campaign or the President. Do these new developments destroy that argument?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That argument has been destroyed for a long time. Donald Trump is presided over a cover-up for all things Russian for more than a year. Whether they have to do with his family, his businesses, his finances, his campaign. And now we are beginning to see why he has presided over this cover-up.

Look, what's at stake here is the following question. Did members of Trump's family, business organization, the President, himself, his campaign associates come under Russian influence in the campaign? Either wittingly or unwittingly or before the campaign and were they subject to manipulation, either wittingly or unwittingly by the Russians and we are seeing real suggestions that that might be the case.

And we are also beginning to understand very clearly why it is that Donald Trump is determined to bury this investigation, why he has wanted to fire Mueller, see that his investigation never sees the light of day. And we are heading towards a real collision, because we are beginning where the facts lead.

LEMON: John Dean, you know, what have we learned about Mueller's tactics in these new developments here? He appears to be methodically driving towards a conclusion tightening the screws as he goes.

DEAN: First thing we have learned is he operates in a black box. He is not leaking. He is very consistent. He is very persistent. And we have watched him march forward and get cases developed that we had known (INAUDIBLE) that weren't going to happen until we saw them in court. And I think that's the way he plays it, is we have had special prosecutors and independent counsel in the past who played these things in the public. And that doesn't fly as well as the professionalism we are seeing with Mueller.

LEMON: Yes. And while all this is happening, the President is still operating with, what is essentially a one-man legal team and constitutional lawyer Jay Sekulow. Is there anyway, Carl, that he could possibly be prepared for dealing with all of this?

BERNSTEIN: Yes. He needs to get some people into his orbit, legal orbit, who can provide real assistance, who have experience in this area, but there is a great disadvantage he has had as follows.

The White House turned over more than 20,000 emails to the Mueller investigation and the government service administration turned over almost a million pages of documents that the prosecutors have had for months now. And there is no way that a new team or the existing team can ever process those documents the way Mueller's team already has.

And the reason Mueller has been able to squeeze so many people and I think we have many accounts of people who have been before Mueller coming out saying, oh my God, he has everything that we have said. It's been a frightening experience. They have talked as a result of it. As a result of so-called perjury traps. And there is really no way for the Trump White House in anyway at this point to catch up with this investigation.

But the underlying fact is, if there is no "there" there, if there is no quote "collusion or manipulation," or copromad (ph) or anything of the kind, Donald Trump should welcome Mueller's investigation, because Mueller is the kind of guy who will issue a report that says there is no "there" there. But that seems very unlikely at this date.

[22:10:16] LEMON: Phil, it looks like you want to responds. What do you want to say?

MUDD: I agree with that. Look, I sat beside director Mueller for maybe 2,000 meetings. I never saw him sweat. I never saw him say anything political. I don't think he is sweating this at all. I think what you are looking at is a methodical investigation where one thing is happening, Don.

You start to interview dozens and dozens of people. You review millions of financial records, email records, phone, text records, and then you go in, in a conversation with somebody in the White House, maybe even the President of the United States. You know what will happen, Don?

You got a timeline over months that you know everything that's happened. And you tell the President, what were the conversations in the campaign about meetings with the Russian ambassador and the President says, I never heard anything about that.

The investigators by the time they walked into that meeting, they already know what the answer is. This is complicated. This is methodical and the President ought to be cautious if he ever goes into the conversation. Don't ever mess with director Mueller. He will crush you.

LEMON: John?

DEAN: The other thing Mueller has are the business records and tax returns of Donald Trump for a good number of years.

LEMON: You think he has tax returns, Carl?

BERNSTEIN: There is no question in my mind whatsoever. Am I 100 percent? I would say 99.9 percent sure and that's been suggested to me by people who should know not in Mueller's office, but others. You got to remember, this investigation has been going on for a good while.

I don't think there is any question about it. I think all of these business transactions. As Donald Trump Jr. once said, you know, most of our money, I don't want to misquote him. I'm going to paraphrase him about how much of our money in the Trump organization has come from Russians, ethno--Russians from Russia.

This has been the source of the financing of the quote "Trump empire" as it were for years and years. And where all this is leading is this question of whether or not there was influence over people in the campaign or in his - or in Trump's family or business organization by the Russians. And Mueller is methodically going through. And we are seeing signs of interaction between Russians, ethno-Russians, people close to Trump high in his campaign organization. And we have known for a while that the person named who work for both Manafort and for Rick Gates was a Russian operative. We have known that for a good while.

This has been pointing in this direction for a long time. And now we are going to see how the Republicans react and will they continue to defend Trump blindly in saying, oh, there is no evidence of collusion here.

LEMON: Yes. Hey, John, I have to get to the break. Just something that Carl said before that keeping up, there is no way that Trump's team can keep up with Mueller and the number of people he has. Do you agree with that having dealt with a similar situation?

DEAN: I do, I do. One of the great handicaps Nixon faced is he never had effective counsel. He didn't hire a really competent criminal lawyer until he left office. And it was too late. And Presidents who have done the reverse have done very well.


A great conversation. I'm going to keep you guys. So stick around.

Just ahead, more on our breaking news. Robert Mueller's team using help from Rick Gates on their central mission investigating the Trump campaign's contact with Russians.

Also ahead, the attorney general Jeff Sessions rejecting calls from the President and top Republicans to appoint a new special counsel to investigate the FBI and the justice department. But he reveals that a top federal prosecutor is investigating allegations of misconduct at the agency.


[22:17:36] LEMON: There is the breaking news. CNN learning that Robert Mueller's team is using help from Rick Gates on their central mission investigating the Trump campaign's contacts with Russians.

Back with me Carl Bernstein, John Dean and Philip Mudd.

So Phil, in the court documents we saw from earlier this week, Mueller devolved at Rick Gates did direct contact with a - have a direct contact with a Russian military intelligence asset in 2016. So how does he go about finding out what they discussed and what the Russian then did with that information?

MUDD: Look the conversation just isn't about Rick Gates. If I'm talking to Rick Gates, I have some questions. Number one, who directed you to do this? Number two. What did you talk about? Who did you speak about with this in the campaign? I want to see your laptop. I want to see your cell phone. So if you tell me something in terms of your contact with the Russians, I also want to know whether it is reflected in everything from your calendar to your laptop.

But there is a bigger question here. It's not only what contact Rick Gates had with the Russians. I want to know in conversations with him. Because clearly, he is cooperating. Who else was aware of these conversations? Who else was in contact with these Russians? Was there a tone around the campaign that said it's appropriate to talk to Russians before we get into office about some sort of trade in exchange for relieving sanctions with them?

He could be a goal mine of information beyond just sort of the technical information about financial transactions that may relate to Paul Manafort. If I'm on the Mueller team, I want to know everything about the campaign but about who else directed it, who else spoke, who else was involved in sort of conversations about foreign policy in the campaign.

LEMON: So, if Mueller's team is telling Gates that they didn't needs him to flip on Manafort, does that indicate they have everything they need to potentially bust Manafort, Carl?

BERNSTEIN: Look, Manafort, they have got so many criminal violations, money laundering that goes back many years. There is no question about how vulnerable Manafort is to, many, many years in prison unless somehow there is prosecutorial misconduct and an appeals court would overturn a conviction. But let's look at one other aspect here.

And that is the political aspect. This is not happening in a vacuum in which the political world is uninvolved. And Donald Trump has made clear, he wants to bury this investigation. And what we are seeing now are more and more of the reasons to expect that he is going to try to do it. He will hear from people in the White House. He is determine to get rid of Mueller to bury this investigation. And he is betting that his base will follow him. And even though he might invite impeachment, even though he might invite an obstruction charge or a vast narrative that Mueller is putting together of both a cover- up and quote "collusion" that his base, as said, I can shoot somebody and walk down fifth avenue, Trump once said. Perhaps his base is so cultish, is so willing to go along with their belief in him and his demagoguery and authoritarianism I would add that they are his insurance policy ultimately. We are in a, you know, a real cold civil war in this country.

[22:21:04] LEMON: Well, if they do, that is on them. It's just more about them than it does about Donald Trump.

John, does this impact whether President Trump will sit down for an interview with Mueller because, you know, he has said he wants to, but then he has waffled on it. Do you think it makes it more or less likely?

DEAN: Well, I think the fitting of his legal representation may make it more likely that he is going to have to sit down. I think Mueller is going to make that decision, and not Donald Trump. He has got really only one option if he doesn't want to testify and that's the Fifth Amendment. If he tells him he is going to take the fifth, it's certainly going to be a political disaster for him. But other than firing as Carl suggested, he doesn't have a lot of options at this point that those subpoenas are real. And they can resolve that pretty quickly.

LEMON: Does Mueller even need to sit down with President Trump, John? I mean, can Mueller make a case for coordination with Russia without that interview?

DEAN: I think that's possible. I think you know there is a certain courtesy element, particularly, if indeed it looks like the President is the target of the investigation. They haven't said that at this point. But that's where it's going. It has all along, we all know that. So I think as a courtesy, he would not ignore him. And he wouldn't care one way or another. If Trump wants to take the fifth, he is still going to go forward and build a really powerful case.

LEMON: Hey Phil. So unless you want weigh in to that, I have another question. Do you want to say something, Phil?

MUDD: Yes, just a quick comment. Let's flip it. Let's say that Robert Mueller gets in front of a microphone or in front of a court and says, there is a question about inappropriate contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians that I never spoke to the President.

That doesn't sounds too good. I look at this and say agree with John Dean, but I would say if you flip it, it doesn't sounds good if you level charges and you say I never bothered to get around and speak to the man who headed the campaign.

LEMON: And Phil, I want to ask you this. Attorney general Jeff Sessions reveal today that John Huber, he is Utah's top prosecutor, has been investigating accusations of bias and abuse, abuse of power in the FBI and justice department. The President and the congressional Republicans have been pushing for a special counsel to investigate these claims. Will this appointment satisfy them, you think, though?

MUDD: It's a rare moment, Don, where you really (bleep) me off. Let me tell you something. Politicians and ten-pack (ph) dictatorships decide when their political opponents get investigated. And the prosecutor should be deciding when somebody is investigated in this country, not Republicans or Democrats who say my rivals should be investigated.

I think what the attorney general said here was I'm under a lot of political pressure. I'm not going to knuckle on to that political pressure. So I will take a half measure and nominate a prosecutor.

I have seen this happen before in a case I was involved in. I was the CI destruction of tape, the department of justice says no special prosecutor will nominate a -- someone who was involved in federal prosecutions, but no special prosecutor. When do politician in democracy decide whether their political opponents get investigated? I don't get it, Don. It is 10:15 and I'm done. You (bleep) me off.

LEMON: I don't want to do that to you.

I just ask the question. I'm sorry about that.

MUDD: I'm sorry.

LEMON: So listen.

BERNSTEIN: This has been the dam shame of this all along that we cannot have a legitimate congressional investigation bipartisan in this country the way there was in Watergate to find out the national security and the conduct of the President of the United States and those around him. That is about being reduced to something that can do in ten-pack (ph) dictatorship. Because we have had a total failure of one of the three branches of our government. The Congress has failed. And as a result, we have in our political system as well as our larger culture this cold civil war which has now become a scorched earth battle and doesn't seem to be going anywhere else but more scorch bearing.

[22:25:15] LEMON: Listen, it's late. I think you should - Phil, take another tone. It will help you calm down and sleep.

Thank you, gentleman. Always a pleasure. I appreciate it.

MUDD: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come down, how Russian intelligence could have attempted to target and cultivate Trump campaign staffers. One of my next guests says the campaign was amateur hour for Russian intel operatives.


[22:29:31] LEMON: So there is a major development tonight in the Russian investigation of Robert Mueller's team using help from former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates on their central mission investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

I want to talk about this now with two CNN national security analysts Samantha Vinograd who work for the Obama administration and Steve Hall, retired chief of CIA Russian operations.

Good evening to both of you. Welcome to the program.

Steve, you first.

One of the central pieces of all of this breaking news is that Rick Gates had knowingly been in contact with a Russian officer alleged to be Konstantin Kilimnik as late as September of 2016 and that Gates knew he was a spy. So Kilimnik is also a former employee at Manafort's law firm. As a Russia expert, how do you see this?

[22:30:20] STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Don, from a counterintelligence perspective, there is a lot of stuff that smells very bad about this. The Kilimnik thing is certainly one of those bad smelling things. Actually, if you go back a little further when Paul Manafort was

working for the then president of Ukraine (INAUDIBLE), you know, it's incomprehensible to me but Yanukovych was very, very close to Putin in Moscow. Would have at least been embedded and perhaps had other contacts with Russia via Ukraine at that time via Yanukovych.

The Kilimnik thing, you know, to me, he looks like, smells like a GRU officer, Russian military intelligence officer. And that people in the campaign knew about that and that's a various thing.

But by far and away for me the most, I don't know, the thing that screams out at me most is something that we are not talking about right now, which is when Paul Manafort reaches out through an intermediary, to an oligarch by the name of (INAUDIBLE), very close to Putin and says, hey, if you need an inside private briefing about how things are going in the campaign and this is when Manafort was I believe the campaign manager, Manafort said I'm happy to provide that. Essentially, providing an insight directly to Vladimir Putin as to how the Trump campaign was going. So there are lot of different things going on here that from a counterintelligence perspective just raise my antenna.

LEMON: Sam, you are agreeing? You want to respond?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. This is amateur hour, right. Like the Russian operative didn't actually have to work very hard. We have a situation where you look at this reporting about the Russians maybe having contact with campaign officials at the Republican convention.

The Russian didn't have to try to get meetings with the campaign officials like we've seen happen in the past. Campaign officials were actively seeking out meetings with the Russians. They were doing their job for them. So you just have to wonder, for example, why would you want to meet with a former spy? Why would you want to meet with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.? What were you talking about other than something that didn't have to do with this administration?

LEMON: Steve, if what Sam says is correct, and I mean, some people would look at that and say, well, isn't that in some way coordination. I don't know if it rises to the level of collusion. But if you are reaching out to, you know, Russians, would that be defined at least as coordination or willing?

HALL: You know, that -- yes, Don, that's a really complicated. I mean, because there is legal implications. There is certainly counterintelligence implications. And hopefully, Mueller is trying to get to the bottom of that very, very slippery slope.

I men, first of all, you have to understand how the Russians work. You know, in the United States, for example, you know, somebody reaches out to the FBI with a foreign intelligence matter and the FBI usually says, well, you know, CIA handles that and vice versa. CIA, it's a foreign intelligence matter. Somebody says -- but that's not the way it works in Russia. Everybody works for Vladimir Putin. So you know you can say, well,

you know, the ambassador wasn't an intelligence officer or you know the guys that they were reaching out to somehow explainable.

All that's true. But it all gets from - I mean, Sam is exactly right. It all gets funneled back to Moscow. It all get funneled back to Putin, whose people inside the Kremlin are managing all of this. So you got, you know, spies who are trying to actually recruit people and probably penetrate inside of the campaign. And you also have, you know, somebody who is an ambassador, an overt, an official Russian also present at some meetings, where it's kind of interesting as to why he was there. Especially when the plans of the future administration are apparently discussed vis-a-vis sanction and other very, very sensitive issues. So it's a real mess that I hope Mueller is teasing out.

LEMON: So it seems as if the Russians successfully targeted the Trump circle in so many ways switching out to Don Jr., to Jared Kushner, to Jeff Sessions, to Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort. Was the campaign naive or were they just playing right into the Russian's hands?

VINOGRAD: I cannot for the life of me saying that Jeff Sessions and Michael Flynn thought they all of a sudden became very popular with foreign operatives, right. Like they knew better. Jeff Sessions with the senator, Michael Flynn, with the head of the DIA, they didn't just win the popularity card somewhere around July 2016. They had to know that foreign operatives, foreign officials like ambassadors, were going to reach out to them to try to get influence and to try to manipulate them in case they came into power. So you can make the excuse maybe for some lower level staff members. But the senior guys had years of training on them.

LEMON: Young folks, like Don, Jr. and Jared Kushner.

VINOGRAD: Exactly.

LEMON: People previously been in politics.

You make a very good point. Steve, you know, we have talked many times about how Russia uses its contacts. It builds networks to get information. Do you see that in how they dealt with Gates and with Manafort?

HALL: Yes, I think, yes, absolutely. I mean, certainly, Manafort I think is I was alluding to really has a long record of contact with people that would have ended up you know back at Moscow knowing about it. The Russian intelligent services knowing about it. And I think Paul Manafort is the kind of guy based on his activities in Ukraine for the puppet government on Moscow and Ms. Yanukovych, they would have definitely said this guy who could be useful later on. And sure enough it turns out he is.

Sam's interesting point about Flynn. You know, him - he should have known better. Professional intelligence office. Indeed he should have. But I have seen his personality so many times from a counterintelligence analysis where you have somebody who is smart, who should know better, but who also thinks he is smarter than everybody else. That he can handle it. That he can swim with the tide. And I think Flynn is a perfect -- would have been a perfect recruitment target. I would have had a go at it if I were the Russians, you never know. And I guess we just have to see whether or not they were successful.

[22:35:53] LEMON: This is a question and I'm really interested in finding out. You have been talking, Sam, to senior congressional Republicans about the President and the Mueller investigation. What are they saying?

VINOGRAD: I'm hearing from senior congressional sources that firing Mueller is a red line. And then that has been communicated directly to President Trump. That you can go so far. You can push the envelope. But if you fire Mueller, they will move to impeach.

But frankly, Don, I don't think we know. I think the red line keeps getting pushed. The President keeps abusing his position. And it's time for the Republicans to keep saying this loudly both publicly and privately so he doesn't feel he has a wiggle room.

LEMON: Steve, Samantha, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Great talk.

When we come back, this is what the President is claiming about the border wall.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are getting that sucker built.


LEMON: But he's not even close. We are going to tell you why. That's next.


[22:40:38] LEMON: President Trump making his first public appearance of the week addressing a group of builders in Ohio about infrastructure. But it sounded more like a vintage Trump campaign rally.

I want to bring in now CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston, political analyst April Ryan, and Republican strategist Rick Wilson.

Welcome to the show, everyone.

So the President told a crowd in Ohio today that his border wall as he put it has already started.


TRUMP: We started building our wall. I'm so proud of it. We started. We have $1.6 billion and we have already starred. You saw the picture yesterday. I said what a thing of beauty. And on September 28th, we go farther. And we are getting that sucker built.


LEMON: OK. So, Rick, Trump referenced this picture. We put it up for our viewers.


LEMON: He tweeted showing construction. OK, so here's the fact check. OK. Everyone, work has not begun on Trump's border wall. In fact, homeland security secretary Kristen Nielsen clarified that the photos the President tweeted are of a wall being rebuilt in Calexico, California. That it has nothing to do with the border wall. So why is the President touting a replace that's not new construction on the wall? There is the picture. It's not the border wall.

WILSON: Well, Don, the fundamental promise of his campaign is I'm going to keep the brown people away from you. And the modality of that was I'm going to build a wall. Mexico is going to pay for it. We promised. We heard million times.

But there is no wall. There is no funding for a wall. There is not going to be a wall. And you know, he has got these four pieces of concrete, sample sections of a wall out there in California, which I call deutsche him (ph). And it's just a symbol for these people, these suckers that believe the wall is real. And it's already half done.

And this, showing the picture of a fence today, there will be people who will say, well, that's the wall. That's absolutely the wall. It's being built. It's there. This is an alternate reality bubble. And this is a key promise to his base. And this is something he can't walk away from. I mean, you know, the desperation of that today made me feel like he was trying to woo in culture back into his loving arms. It was an astounding weak moment from a guy, he is so loose with the truth to begin with that, you know, it just seems pathetic almost today.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Rick Wilson, speaking for the Republican establishment.

LEMON: My God. OK. Stop.

So, Mark, this is the second time the Trump administration tried to claim that new wall construction is happening, you know, when it is not. Is he - why is he deliberately - is he misleading voters?

PRESTON: Yes, yes, and yes. And let me just follow up on what Rick is saying.

You know, oftentimes you will hear us talking heads on cable news, used the word gas lighting. Well, what does it mean? It means a lot of things to a lot of different people. But in essence what it means is, basically -

LEMON: It's a con. PRESTON: You are lying, right. And if you say things enough times,

and you convince people that what you say are true, then it's true. That's exactly what is happening right now with President Trump.

He couldn't go out and give that speech today and acknowledge that he was unable to get the funds, to be the deal maker that he promised that he was going to be to build that wall. So that's exactly what we saw him do today, Don. And he will continue to do it until his last day in office.

LEMON: I think that became a mantra, right, that people would yell on the campaign trail. He has got to do it. Rick says it is not going to happen.

And with that mantra, it goes and Mexico is going to pay for it, April. Then Mexico is going to reimburse after that, right, after Mexico is going to pay for it. And then he said, I want it funded through a comprehensive immigration bill, that wouldn't go over well on the campaign trail. And then I wonder how, now possibly through a military budget. How they would go of? I mean, which is it?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Which is it? He is looking for something that might stick at some point. It's like that limp piece of spaghetti that you threw up against on the wall, and it keeps falling on the ground.

But really, Don, when it comes to this wall issue, every President has something called a winning picture. This President will make a winning picture even if it's not one. He will embellish a lot. This is a President who doesn't want to look like he has failed.

But we have to remember that when Barack Obama left, there was already plans for construction of maintenance repairing of walls, or border walls. So this President coasted in on some of that. But as far as his costly financially busting wall price, fiscal conservatives are having a heart attack as well as Democrats who are saying I thought Mexico was going to pay for it. It's not going to happen for the American public to pay for it.

[22:45:37] LEMON: Yes. So Rick, President Trump also falsely claim that he has already band bump stocks. Watch this.


TRUMP: We got rid of the bump stocks. The bump stocks are under very strict control which I think everybody agrees. It is fine. And we really did a job. Nobody reported it.


LEMON: OK. So guess what? That's also false. They are still legal. The Trump administration today published a proposed rule to ban bump stocks which starts in 90 days, comment, period, right. Why does he have such a problem with the truth?

WILSON: I mean, look, so there is two kinds of lies here. The lie of, you know, Mexico will pay for the wall evolving down to Mexico might owe us some money for the wall is one kind of lie. That's just an outright lie.

This thing, I don't think he understands federal rule making and policy procedure and things like that and the code of regulations is a mystery and a black hole for Donald Trump's brain. So he doesn't understand that it is just not executive (INAUDIBLE). The President doesn't wave a magic wand and say, (INAUDIBLE) or do extra do why (ph). And I think that frustrates him sometimes. But then he goes out and says, I did it. It's done. That's like saying I threw the laundry in the washer and it's sitting there soaking went. It's not dried and folded, you know. It's not the same thing. So even the smallest accomplishment seem to him to be something he can market and go pitch. So that second lie is just not understanding it. It do sort of BS as way past the question.

LEMON: I don't understand why he does that. He said, it just -- maybe he just can't help himself.

Stay with me. We'll talk more.

When we come back, President Trump taking the credit for 'the Roseanne" for Rosanne's big ratings. Does he have a point?


[22:51:00] LEMON: President Trump appears to have a new BFF tonight, noting the gangster ratings, the gang buster rating (INAUDIBLE) from the premiere of Roseann Reboot. The President called Roseanne Barr to congratulate here.

Back with me Mark Preston, April Ryan and Rick Wilson.

Can't read with my new glasses on. It says gang busted not gangster.

So Rick, the President was extremely excited today in Ohio when he talked about the big ratings numbers the Roseanne revival got. Let's listen.


TRUMP: Look at Roseanne. I called her yesterday. Look at her ratings. I got a call from Mark Burnett. He did "the Apprentice." He is a great guy. He said Donald I called to say hello and tell you, did you see Roseanne's ratings? I said Mark, how big were they? They were unbelievable? Over 18 million people and it was about us.


LEMON: So Rick, is President Trump right? This show did so well because of his supporters?

WILSON: Well, look, there is a demographic for that message. There is -- you know, 30 some percent of the population are die hard Trumpers and they exist and they watch television. And they watch entertainment television. They watch reality television. And so the overlap of folks that like Donald Trump and want to hear that sort of populist nationalist, you know, coal country message, it's out there.

And you know, I will also argue that Roseanne is a well-known star that had a TV series that lasted for I think 12 years or something. So there may be some knock on effect there. But the irony of this things, I think that I kind put - kind of delicious is, you know, this is a show produced by evil liberals and an evil liberal place called Hollywood. The cultural nature of the show you know is that the sham or is the show itself?

You know, the entire thing is -- it's a perfect representation of what we're at. A reality TV President talking about a show talking him about him. It's so recursive. It's like a snake eating itself.


LEMON: Mark --

PRESTON: I mean, I have nothing to say, show is over. Rick got the movement of the night.

LEMON: You guys are, believe it or not, I have never seen one episode of the Roseanne show.

If you look at the top ten rated markets for the premiere, eight of them are in states that Donald Trump carried. A lot of them in the Midwest. The showed you 18.2 million viewers total. Is that map of TV viewers a little bit like the electoral map to you, you think?

PRESTON: Well a couple of things. One is let's just go to the core of it. First of all, Donald Trump when he was giving that speech there just a short time ago, a few hours ago, said this is about us. Well, it's not about us. I mean, he is not about them. He may carry forth some of their messaging. But he grew up in New York City. He grew up wealthy, OK. So it's not about us. I mean, let's acknowledge that. But what's important is --.

LEMON: I'm sure some of those people have gold toilets and servants in their own thing. And they live in a tower, come on.

PRESTON: Listen. I mean, the bottom line is the demographic does crossover. But what's important about the Roseanne show is that it really exposed people to conversation that were happening at that time about the economic woes that middle America was going through. So I'm not surprised that we are seeing this reboot and so successful now because we are still going through those times.


April, could Roseanne become a rallying point for -- a rally point for Republicans just as Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" was for Democrats?

RYAN: It could, but Roseanne really could. But guess what she has that sister who was the nasty woman. So I think what that show did last night, that reboot that everyone was anticipating because she came back, because of the Trump era. But she had that sister who was the other person at the water cooler. I mean it reminded me of art imitating life, exactly what's happening

now. We are seeing families literally split over this, Hillary versus Donald Trump or Democrat versus Republican, one policy over another policy. And we saw it in this family, a fierce fight. It's changed. But Roseanne could very well be, if this goes the way it's going, she could very well be somewhat of a rallying point for the President and also the party. Because she is every day America. That show shows every day America. It was really good, though. I give it to her. It was a very good show. It caught my attention.

[22:55:49] LEMON: Take your word for it. So a giant snake eating itself.


LEMON: Thank you.

RYAN: I know.

LEMON: When we come back Rick Gates cooperating with Robert Mueller giving him information on contact between the Trump campaign and Russians. Is Gates the key to Mueller proving collusion?