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Trump Fears He Could Be Baited Into An Interview That Would Land Him In Hot Water; Trump Escalates Border Wall Battle; Trump Declares Nobody Has Been Tougher On Russia; White House: Trump Briefed Today On Border Strategy Which Includes The Mobilization Of The National Guard; "Washington Post:" Mueller Told Trump's Attorneys President Remains Under Investigation But Is Not Currently A Criminal Target; Another Member Of Trump's Cabinet Under Fire Over Potential Conflicts Of Interest; President Trump Ramps Up His Twitter Attacks. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 3, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. We have breaking news on multiple big stories to tell you about tonight. Robert Mueller has told President Trump's attorney that he remains under investigation, but he is not criminally, currently a criminal target. That is according to the "Washington Post," which also reports that some of the President's advisers are worried that he could be baited into an interview that could land him in legal hot water. This is all coming in the same day that the first prison term is handed down in the Mueller investigation.
Alex van der Zwaan, who has ties to Paul Manafort and to Rick Gates, is going to spend 30 days behind bars and pay a $20,000 fine after he admitted lying to Mueller's team. Mueller's office warning that there are, quote, consequences to lying to investigators. Also today, President Trump escalating his border wall battle, calling on the military to guard the southern border while he pushes for his wall to be built.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are preparing for the military to secure our boarder between Mexico and the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK, there's a lot that is wrong with that. That is not factual about that. Mexico not at all thrilled about the idea of the troops on the border. And not surprisingly, asking for a clarification about exactly what President Trump meant. They're not the only ones, because even our own government officials at the Pentagon, told CNN that they were not exactly sure what the President meant either. But the White House now says the President -- that is now -- says that the President wants to mobilize the National Guard at the border. But he said military at first. And President Trump, well, he had more surprises in store, they are claiming that nobody has been tougher on Russia than he has, but at the same time, saying this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think I could have a very good relationship with President Putin, I think. It's possible I won't and you will know about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, a good relationship with Vladimir Putin or maybe not. Definitely, maybe. Also some confusion on Syria today. The President saying the battle against ISIS is won and it's time to bring American troops home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We've had a tremendous military success against ISIS, as you know. It's close to 100 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: But just minutes before the President said that, his own special envoy told reporters this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are in Syria to fight ISIS. That is our mission. And the mission isn't over. And we're going to complete that mission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. A lot to talk about. But I want to bring in now CNN contributor, John Dean, who was a Nixon White House Special Counsel, CNN counterterrorism analyst, Philip Mudd, and CNN political analyst, Ryan Lizza.
Thank you all for joining us this evening. I have to get to this "Washington Post" reporting, very interesting, John Dean, you first.
They are reporting tonight that as part of negotiation with the President's attorneys that the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, told them that while he is still investigating the President, still investigating the President, he does not consider him a criminal target at this time. Remember the President said, I'm not under investigation. Well, they said, he is under investigation, he is just not the criminal target at this time. What does that mean, John?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, it doesn't mean a whole lot in this context, to me. First instance, as a matter of policy of the Department of Justice, he can't be a target, really. A target is somebody that they're going to indict. And the President by the policy cannot be indicted. So it's a little vague what they're meaning. And it may be to make Mr. Trump relax and bring him in and get him in front of the grand jury. That report also indicates that they are writing a report. They're going to do it possibly in segments, where they'll address the obstruction in one, the counterintelligence matter in another, and what have you. So it's very good journalism and it's a very insightful report in that it tells all the permutations involved in it. But it doesn't really tell us a whole lot about where we are.
LEMON: Yes, so here's the quote that you're talking about. The special counsel also told Trump's lawyers that he is preparing a report about the President's actions while in office, it says, and potential obstruction of justice. That is according to two people with knowledge of the conversations. John, here's what I want to ask you about that. And that is the whole idea of subject. When negotiating with Trump's lawyers, Mueller specifically described Trump as a subject. That is significant. Why is that?
DEAN: Is that to me, Don?
LEMON: Yes, John, yes.
DEAN: Well, the difference between a subject and a target is the target is somebody who is just that. They're going to likely be indicted by the grand jury. As I said, a President can't. A subject is somebody who could be, who somebody who is a subject of the investigation, but they don't have any evidence at this point indicating a call for indictment.
[23:05:00] LEMON: That -- you know, according to his legal team, that subject thing has raised tensions in the White House. But I got to ask you Ryan, what is -- what's your reaction, before I get to Phil, what's your reaction to this breaking news tonight?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Two things, I agree that perhaps the more interesting part of this story is that Mueller's interested in writing a report and there was a suggestion -- suggestion of piece that he wanted to write a report, so that the public understands what's going on. And to me it indicates that Mueller sees himself as the only game in town when it comes to explaining to the American public what happened in the 2016 election. What was the extent of Russian meddling, and that he doesn't just see himself as looking at discreet crimes and deciding whether a crime has been committed and whether there's a prosecutable offense.
That he actually sees himself as a little bit more of a more important actor. He sees what Congress -- what's happening in Congress in these investigations that have sort of devolved into partisan bickering. And so there's a bit of -- a hint in there that he sees his role as a little bit more important. Secondly, on the subject versus target. I'm not a lawyer, obviously. But my understanding of the distinction is that a target, the prosecutor believes they have evidence of a crime. And you know, obviously, that is more serious.
A subject, there's something suspicious, maybe there's an innocent explanation. You need to talk to the person and dig into it and figure out if a crime was committed or not. I agree that this may be part of the negotiations with Trump and his lawyers saying, oh, don't worry, he is not a target, he is just a subject. We just need to hear his side of the story does not suggest to me at all that he is out of the woods when it comes to potential criminal liability.
LEMON: All right. Mr. Philip Mudd. So what does this tell you about the Mueller investigation, this report?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think we're too soft on this. If I -- put yourself in the -- in these shoes, Don. If someone walked in my room, in particular, FBI investigators. I've been questioned as a witness, not a subject. If someone walked in my office and said I was a subject of a multi-year criminal investigation led by a former FBI Director, Robert Mueller, I'd wet my pants. I mean this -- I'm not kidding. This is significant -- the President is the subject of a criminal investigation. If he goes into questioning in a room and he lies about what he is done or said over the course of time, he could transition from a subject to a target.
Also, there's a couple other things that weren't mentioned here. Number one, what about Don Jr.? What about his son-in-law? Jared Kushner? It doesn't tell me anything about other White House officials and whether the investigation targets the investigation reached the White House. So, I think there are a lot of aspects here that are fascinating, including that issue of subject. One final point. Ryan Lizza nailed this one. This issue of reports. The special counsel doesn't have to write reports. So even if he chooses not to indict and he lays some grenades on the table about the President's actions and trying to impede the investigation, those are going to have a half-life of years. And people like members of congress are going to want to read them and say, do we want to do something beyond what the Special Counsel is doing?
LEMON: Yes, some of Trump's advisers have warned the White House aides that they fear Mueller could issue a blistering report about the President's actions. And that will live on in writing and in documents for years. This is what -- I want to ask you guys about this. Because, you know, you said your description, if you were the subject of a criminal investigation, that you would wet your pants, Phil.
LEMON: But here's what the President -- the President has privately expressed relief at the description of his legal status, which has increased his determination to agree to a Special Counsel interview, people said. Maybe that is why they worded it the way they did or framed it the way they did. He has repeatedly told allies that he is not a target of the probe and believes an interview will help him put the matter behind him, friends said.
However, legal experts said Mueller's description of Trump as a subject of a grand jury probe does not mean he is in the clear. That is what Phil said. Phil was a little bit stronger with that. Do you agree with that, John?
DEAN: I do. I would like to track back just one point on the report, though. That is not going to be Mueller's decision. That is going to be the Deputy Attorney General's decision. And it's a very important one. But I think, indeed, that Phil makes a good point about how he should be worried that he is even a subject, because a blistering report could well end up in front of the Congress and it could well result in impeachment proceedings. So, he -- this doesn't put him out of the woods in any way, this journalism.
LEMON: Hey, Ryan --
LIZZA: Yes, and look, if you're a target, you're not going to go -- you know, if this were not the President -- if this were a normal case. If you are a target, your lawyer is going to tell you, you are in the going to go into an interview with FBI agents. You're going to plead the fifth. If you are known to be the target of a criminal investigation. So, I think part of this is the chess of getting Trump into an interview, is, yes, Mr. President, you're just a subject, you're not a target, don't worry.
[22:10:00] LEMON: Yes, hey Philip, I mean, does this -- do you think this is all going to center around maybe the biggest point here in this investigation will be obstruction of justice? Because, also in this report tonight from "the Washington Post," Mueller's team has told Trump's attorneys over recent months that they are seeking to learn more about the firings of Comey. CNN has reported that. And National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, last year, and the President's efforts to get the Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign.
MUDD: No, I think there are three issues I would be thinking of. Number one, the lying issue. And that is what I would be concerned about it, if I were the President's counsel. You're not talking about going in for a 30-minute interview. You're talking about multiple hours, and those prosecutors are going to be asking really detailed questions of a President who doesn't do detail. The second thing I would be worried about is, if you go back and we've been talking about this today to the memo issued by Rod Rosenstein on August 2nd to Mueller.
It specifically talks about investigations of, for example, financial linkages to Ukraine. I would still be worried that other people would be wrapped up in financial charges. And finally, the last thing, Don, remember the indictment of those 13 Russians and the incredible detail in that mid-February indictment. We still don't know the other half of that story. And that is, are we confident that Mueller hasn't found any American citizens around the White House who communicate with those Russians? That is the question I really want to know about it. And I'm not sure we're out of the woods on that one yet.
LEMON: Yes. I have one more for you, John. Because - again, I find this report fascinating. It says Trump's attorneys expect the President would also face questions about what he knew about any contacts by his associates with Russian officials and emissaries in 2016, several White House advisers said. The President's allies believe a second report detailing the Special Counsel's finding on Russia -- Russian interference would be issued later.
So, they're expecting him to be asked all these questions, all these questions he wants to go in and do it. Some folks are telling him, you know, if you don't have anything, I think it was Sekulow and others, you can't continue to say that there's no collusion and nothing's going on and not testify. Would you -- should he testify, you think? I mean, should he go in and be deposed? DEAN: Well, it's very difficult for a President to take the Fifth
Amendment. And so if he goes in, he obviously has to testify. It's very likely they will do that under circumstances where they would record it, video record it, so it can be taken to the grand jury. They're not likely to take him down to the courthouse and put him in front of the grand jury. So this is a -- this will be not unlike what Bill Clinton went through when they have that sit-down. And I think it's inevitable that it will happen, Don. That he will have to answer questions. I think for political reasons, he'll have to do it. And I think for legal reasons, he'll have to do it.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. We have a lot to discuss here, including the first prison sentence handed down today in the Mueller investigation, that is coming up. And also President Trump -- President Trump unleashed. Is the President throwing our foreign policy into turmoil with his freewheeling and contradictory statements about Russia, about Syria and the border wall?
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Robert Mueller told President Trump's lawyers, he is preparing a report about the President's actions in office and this could be key potential obstruction of justice. That is according to two sources who spoke to "the Washington Post." I want to bring in now CNN politics editor at large, Chris Cillizza, CNN political analyst, Molly Ball, national political correspondent for "Time," and CNN military analyst, Major General James "Spider" Marks.
Good evening, everyone. Let's discuss. Chris --
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
LEMON: -- let me get your reaction to this "Washington Post" report. Mueller told Trump's attorneys, the President remains under investigation, but is not a criminal target at this point. With that headline in mind, do you think we're going to continue to hear the President utter his favorite two words, "no collusion"?
CILLIZZA: Yes. And in fact, I would be surprised if in -- I'm looking at the clock, in about 8-ish hours, 6:15, 6:30 a.m. tomorrow, you don't see a tweet from Donald Trump saying, I'm -- Mueller says I'm not a criminal -- you know, I'm not the target of a criminal investigation. He will, I think, declare some level of victory or at least that he is been proven right.
Remember that when Jim Comey had told him in the past that he was not a subject of the -- or a target of the investigation, rather, that he Trumpeted that quite frequently. I think the important thing here is number one, what Phil Mudd said in your last segment, Don, which is, you're still talking about someone who is a subject in the investigation and the words you just read, as of this point.
Now, that doesn't mean that he ever will become the target of a criminal investigation. But he is the subject. He is part of a group of people that are being looked at in relation to this. That is not nothing and this is an ongoing investigation, we need to remember both of those things.
LEMON: Yes, but listen, the obstruction part that is discussed in this -- that is mentioned in this story, that isn't going to help any of this go away, though.
CILLIZZA: No. What's amazing to me is, you mentioned it -- we talk about it all the time. No collusion. He says it all the time. There may well be nothing there as you as it relates to Donald Trump, but the obstruction piece, which is something that he did at least allegedly or potentially, I should say post-election, the firing of Jim Comey, having nothing to do with the 2016 election, could be the thing that trips him up, because it certainly seems like we know from CNN's reporting about sort of the questions that have been asked of witnesses in front of the Mueller probe do seem to folks a lot of times around, the circumstances around Comey's firing. So it may well be no collusion and it still doesn't mean that Donald Trump is entirely out of the woods.
LEMON: So I mentioned this, Molly, in the last segment, but I didn't read the quote. Let me -- this is another detail from "The Post" about the President's attorneys. And it says, Sekulow and Cobb gave the President the opposite advice as Dowd, that it would be politically difficult for Trump to refuse to answer questions after insisting for months there was no collusion or crime, according to three people familiar with the advice. So, Molly, what do you think politically, would it be difficult for Trump to refuse to answer questions?
MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I -- think it depends on the circumstances. I mean, I always wish that my answer to all of these questions could just be, I have no idea, right? Because there's so much we don't know about this investigation. And I know you want me to say more words than that, so I will, and we all have to say -- on this.
LEMON: No, you don't have to. Just say what you want.
[22:20:00] BALL: I am trying to figure out what it means and I, too, want to know what it means and am grasping for every shred of evidence, but I have no idea, because Bob Mueller is the only one, he is firmly in charge of this, he is running a very tight ship. We are going to know what he wants us to know when he wants us to know it. And that's been how every concrete development in this investigation has gone so far.
LEMON: He is the only one where you don't know exactly what he is thinking. You know, you hear dribs and drabs maybe from other parts of the investigation, from the congressional and senate investigations, but you don't really hear anything from Mueller. You don't know what he knows.
BALL: But in terms of the politics of it, in terms of whether it's politically difficult for the President, this is -- this politically difficult no matter what, right? And so you do have, I can see the case that both of these lawyers are making, on the one hand saying, don't testify, you could incriminate yourself that is obviously politically difficult in a lot of ways.
Others saying, you know, if you're really as innocent as you say you are, you ought to go out there and make your case. You ought to be able to be interviewed and so on. And so, I just think this is a -- it's a difficult situation for the President, but going to the original point, he is not, at this point, a target. And this is what the White House has been saying all along.
Sure, there's a lot of people around Donald Trump, you know, his campaign manager, being indicted is no small thing. But as many people around the President who suspicion has been cast upon, the President has not yet been directly implicated as far as we know.
LEMON: But he is -- but he said, I am not under investigation. This report says he is under investigation, though not the target of the investigation. He is a subject of the investigation. So General Marks, let me bring you in. And I want to turn to the President's remarks on Russia, if you will. He said, --
JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thank you.
LEMON: -- no one has been on tougher on Russia than him, but also repeated his desire to have a good relationship with Vladimir Putin. Can the two things coexist?
MARKS: They absolutely can. Look, on multiple levels, our nation understands and our leaders understand how they could deal with troubling circumstances. You can deal and be very difficult with a nation in a particular -- along -- within a particular element of power. Whether that is being very diplomatically very strong or economically imposing sanctions and then really doubling down on those sanctions.
And then with military, there may be some form of military operations that make it very clear about how you feel and what you're going to do about a particular issue. But at the same time, you want to leave the door open. I mean, we've learned that through past examples that we've seen, and I think the bold strokes that we've seen in the past, with Reagan at the Berlin Wall, with Nixon in China, you can be very tough. We can be very strong.
Yet at the same time, we can try to figure out how we want to cooperate. Because at the end of the day, you don't negotiate Russia away. You don't say, I'm fed up with Russia, we are going to go on to something else, this deal is closed.
MARKS: You have to figure out how you want to try to cooperate or at least figure out what those lines look like, so you can begin a dialogue and get beyond simple discussions and get into some real policy directives that allow you to have a rather fulsome relationship that allows you to move the ball down the field in some way.
LEMON: I want to get this sound bite in, because this is what President Trump said today about Putin. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you see Vladimir Putin? Is he a friend or a foe?
TRUMP: We'll find out. I'll let you know. I mean, there'll be a time where I'll let you know. You're going to find out very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, General, here he is sitting next to the Baltic leaders. Countries concerned about Russia's aggression. Maybe his non-answer isn't surprising, but is it troubling?
MARKS: It's very troubling. Putin is not our buddy. He is not our friend. He is not demonstrated any ounce of cooperation on his part. Let's just take Syria. The total mess that Syria is right now. We stand the real likelihood of Turkey leaving NATO and saddling up more aggressively than they already are with Russia and Putin. And Putin is sitting back with the strategic initiative and we're trying to respond to that.
Putin is not our buddy. But we can figure out ways that we can move closer towards some type of a relationship that works to our advantage and theirs. Number one thing, obviously, is what's in our national interests? Let's find that confluence and make it work.
LEMON: All right. Listen, I want you guys to stick around, because we're going to talk about troops on the Mexican border. And I'm not talking about the National Guard, I'm talking about military troops. That is what the President said. Do they have to backtrack? What does he mean? Does he even know? Is it something a high school civics class that they teach in that? That he is not aware of? We'll discuss. We'll be right back.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So, the President creating an awful lot of confusion today when he said that he wanted the military to secure the border between the United States and Mexico. Back with me now, Chris Cillizza, Molly Ball, and General Marks. So, General Marks, the president -- he made news when it comes to this southern border thing. He said that things will be handled militarily until there is a wall. He is trying to figure out a way to get this wall promised in any way and seem strong when it comes to border security.
The White House is now clarifying his remarks, saying the President was actually briefed today about -- about the potential of mobilizing the National Guard. That is what he meant, they say, when he was talking about troops at the border, but everyone wanted a clarification. Mexico wanted clarification. Folks at the Pentagon were like, we don't know what's going on here. They weren't sure about it. So explain the difference and why this is so important. MARKS: Yes, first of all, federal troops work for the Department of
Defense and work for the Commander in Chief directly. And the President of the United States can deploy those forces anywhere he wants, frankly, at any time. The National Guard, on the other hand, works for those governors. If the President directs that the National Guard be deployed for some mission, for example, over the course of the last 15 years, the National Guard has routinely participated in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
So they've been federalized and they've been deployed. So the President can federalize National Guard troops. They now work for the President of the United States, not for the governor, and then as a result of that federalization, they can be employed in some particular fashion. Particularly as it regards this mission along the border, that's a very precise mission. On active duty multiple times, I conducted border missions. Those missions were very precise. They were intelligence collection, and once we gathered intelligence, it really was information.
I then had to turn that over to local law enforcement, whether with the FBI, or the CBP, or ICE, or local sheriffs, or local police departments for the handling of prosecution for the follow-on steps of what was going to take place, because as a soldier, the Posse Comitatus Act applies to me.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And that means that you cannot -- go on. Explain it.
MARKS: You know, that prohibits very precisely that the U.S. army cannot enforce U.S. laws in U.S. territory.
MARKS: It's got to be done by law enforcement dudes.
MARKS: Unless Congress says otherwise.
MARKS: So those are kind of -- that's how it lays out.
LEMON: Juliette Kayyem, who is our National Security Analyst here said, the U.S. military being deployed on the border -- to serve the United States along the border is unlawful.
And if they are deployed to go to Mexico, then that would be an act of war, Molly. And that's why Mexico actually had to call the U.S. State Department over Trump's border comments that they were certainly unsure about what the President was talking about.
MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the White House staff itself was unsure what the President was talking about. He confused everyone with these pronouncements. And I really find the politics of this perplexing, because the border is an area where if he wanted to, Trump could be claiming victory.
And this actually was a big talking point at the White House last year. He was pointing at the incredible decrease in border crossings, the decrease in illegal immigration to this country, and saying see, this is something that the President has already accomplished.
Instead, he's saying, look how I've failed. Look how I've failed to get my wall. Look how I've failed to secure the border. And therefore, I'm going to suggest increasingly confusing, and far- fetched, and desperate, and possibly illegal measures in a way that cause alarm, and aren't necessarily -- don't necessarily actually do anything.
The White House did clarify at the end of the day. They claim that the President was briefed by senior administration officials, and what he meant was the deployment of the National Guard, which is something that previous Presidents have done. This is -- this is not something that Donald Trump just thought of for the first time.
But to me, it's very strange and potentially a problem for the Republicans who unlike Trump will be on the ballot in a few months, that he continues to basically point out to all of his supporters that this thing that he promised them has not been accomplished.
LEMON: OK. So, Chris, that's the interesting thing. If there is -- if he can claim victory on the -- you know, on the border, because border crossings are down, illegal immigration down, so spending all this money on a wall, everyone's wondering like, then why the heck are you spending all this money.
Remember, building a wall, that was his major campaign promise. Mexico was going to pay for the wall. Congress is not going to pay for it now. Mexico said they're not going to pay for it now. He's not even mentioning Mexico when he talks about the wall.
So I mean if you're the President, and this was your major promise, why wouldn't you try to secure the border in any way you could on your own?
Maybe you shouldn't say that the military is going to do it, because, you know, a high school civics class will tell you that he can't, unless, you know, he goes through Congress or what have you. So shouldn't he be able to try things if they won't do what he wants?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: OK, two things. One, the President of the United States repeatedly says stuff, and then his administration scrambles to put some sort of policy meat on that bone.
The idea that Donald Trump is familiar with the ways in which the National Guard can and has been deployed, there's just very little evidence that would suggest he has a working familiarity with those sort of details of the way in which sort of who the National Guard reports to, how you federalize the National Guard. There's just not -- there's not a ton of background that would lead me to believe that that's what happened.
LEMON: And both Bush and Obama did it, but in limited ways. But go on.
CILLIZZA: I think he said it, and they -- as Molly pointed, by the end of the day, they sort of got to the place where he /said, oh, he was talking about the National Guard. On the wall, I think what it is, is that he spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago with Sean Hannity, with Jeanine Pirro, with other folks he has heard...
LEMON: Immigration hardliners.
CILLIZZA: ... on happiness from the likes of people like Ann Coulter about the wall. This was -- you noted it, this was a central campaign promise.
Yes, it was about immigration, but it was also about sort of, I'm going to do this, even though everyone says I can't. That's what people bought into. Donald Trump doesn't become Donald Trump without the wall.
[22:35:02] He really doesn't. And you know, that galvanizes people -- the idea that he would do something like that galvanizes people to believe he is something different.
So, it may not necessarily be about border crossings, and those sorts of things. It may be literally be about the conservative critique that he said he was going to build the wall.
We've said we need the wall forever. He said he was going to be the one who can deliver on it, and he hasn't done it. And he is, by nature, quite reactive, particularly to the conservative media.
And I think at least there's a piece of that in his logic there, because Molly is right. From a political perspective, it's not super helpful to any Republican politician.
LEMON: So it's not about common sense, it's about rhetoric, and that's the bottom line. I've got to go, Molly, quickly, if you can do it in 10 seconds.
BALL: I was just going to say, to Chris' point, I think he right. This is about more than immigration. It's about Trump being a builder, and being able to build stuff. This is about infrastructure. This was a promise to build infrastructure. And that's what he hasn't done.
LEMON: Couldn't it just be, it's just about chanting, and that's what people got all worked up about. And he's got to do, build that wall, build that wall?
BALL: The chant -- we still have the chant.
LEMON: There you go. Thank. Appreciate it. Misplaced and factually inaccurate tweets, attacking the post office, former President and a lot of people in between. Again, my question is, how much harm are the President's tweets doing? [22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Here's the breaking news to what could be a major development in the Russia investigation. A report tonight that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller has told President Trump's lawyers that he remains under investigation, but is not currently a criminal target.
Let's discuss now, CNN Senior Political Commentator, Jennifer Granholm is here, and political commentators, Ana Navarro, Mike Shields, as well. Good evening to you all.
Ana, "The Washington Post" has new reporting that Mueller's team told team Trump -- Trump's team, or team Trump, however you want to put it -- that the President remains under investigation, but it is not currently a criminal target. Should that be enough to worry the President? How should he feel about it?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think we know how he feels about it. I think that this investigation is driving him crazy. And you know, you see that he is obsessed with it.
You see how much of his tweets and the things he says are about this investigation. And, you know, it's really affecting his psyche. I don't think he feels good about it.
And I don't think he should feel good about it when you see the amount of people in his circle, in Trump world, including people in his inner circle, that are being implicated, that are being indicted. We saw the first actual conviction today.
It was a minor conviction and it was for a guy that was, you know, not very close, but it sent a clear message, if you lie to the Special Counsel, there will be consequences.
LEMON: The Washington Post is also reporting -- they're saying that legal experts have warned any potential testimony could make the President a target. We've heard the President say that he would love to speak to Mueller, but do you think that -- do you think that would be a bad idea, Jennifer?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: For him to speak to Mueller?
GRANHOLM: A terrible idea! I mean, if I were his lawyer, I would say, heck, no! I mean, you know, when we are seeing him...
LEMON: Then you would be John Dowd, and you would be gone.
GRANHOLM: Right, I'm sure I would be. But I know he pretends like he's so confident, but really, I think what, Ana, is saying, and I think you see it in the dissembling on the tweets that he continues to put out, which contain so many falsehoods, is that he is freaked out about this. And he shouldn't -- I mean, if I were -- I mean, I think for the
American people, it would be great if he testified. But I do think that he would put himself in significant jeopardy.
LEMON: Yes. Mike, The Washington Post also reporting that the Special Counsel told Trump's lawyers that he is preparing a report about the President's actions while in office -- while in office, and potential obstruction of justice, would Mueller need to write a report if the President didn't do anything wrong?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, because it could exonerate him, and I think that's why many of us on here have said, one of the reasons why we would not recommend him to fire the Special Counsel, because you want the Special Counsel to issue that report so you can find out exactly what he didn't do.
I mean, look, we've been at this for over a year. There isn't any evidence yet that anyone has seen that the President had colluded with Russia or obstructed justice. There's being nothing that we've seen that proves any of that sort of thing.
And in fact, the news tonight is kind of what we've already know. The President is not the target of a criminal investigation. He's a subject, which means they want to talk to him, we already knew that, we knew that he was investigating -- negotiating with Mueller to sit down and figure out exactly how it was that he would testify.
And you guys are saying the President is sort of worried or scared. I think the President is angry. I think he's trying to get on with the nation's business, and do what 63 million Americans have asked him to do.
And instead, we have this very slow-involving investigation where there's not been anything other than minor people like today going -- sort of getting indicted out of the whole thing. So, I think he would like to speed up and get over with, and I think writing a report will help exonerate him. He should do that.
LEMON: Mike, two things here, just for facts, for the audience. We don't know if there's evidence of collusion or not. There could be none.
LEMON: But we don't know the evidence that Robert Mueller has, so you can't say definitively that there's nothing that points to collusion or obstruction of justice. The evidence just does not show that at this point.
SHIELDS: Well, that's -- that's what -- I agree.
LEMON: So we don't know.
SHIELDS: There is no evidence yet. Right.
LEMON: Yes, there's no evidence... (CROSSTALK)
LEMON: Well, we don't know if there's evidence yet. I'm not saying there is no evidence. My point is that we don't know what Robert Mueller is doing.
And the President has insisted, and the White House, from the podium, that the President is not under investigation. This report is saying the President is under investigation. He is not a target, he is the subject of the investigation. I just wanted to clarify that for the people.
SHIELDS: That means he's a part of the investigation, which I just think is important to use words. Saying you're under investigation...
LEMON: That's what it says.
SHIELDS: ... or saying you're a part investigation are...
LEMON: The headline says, Mueller told Trump's attorneys the President remains under investigation. That means he's under investigation, but is not currently a criminal target. I just want to make those facts clear.
So, Ana, President Trump vowed to drain the swamp. But we are learning more and more about his EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's decision to rent a room in Washington, D.C., from the family of an energy lobbyist.
[22:45:06] I think it is like 50 bucks a night, well below what any room 2would be. Does that seem swampy to you?
NAVARRO: Everything seems swampy to me. Look, you know, I think we have -- we've been amazed as American people to see the level of chivalry, the level of, you know, nonchalance with which these cabinet secretaries spend taxpayer money.
And it's very important that we not get used to it. I think it's very important that we keep scrutinizing these cabinet secretaries. Not the President and not the cabinet are above the law.
And it is, you know, unacceptable for people to be spending $31,000 on a lunch table, for people to be spending $140,000 on a set of doors, for people to be pushing the envelope and, you know, blurring the lines of ethics and propriety with things like the rental of this apartment.
We must demand transparency. It was part of the reason why so many people voted for Donald Trump because he was supposed to clean this up. He was supposed to drain the swamp. He was supposed to bring in a new level of transparency.
And frankly, he has so many rich people in his cabinet, everybody thought, well, great! Nobody's going to be doing any corrupt acts. And instead, what we've seen is nothing but corruption. Listen, I was in San Francisco this weekend. I was at the academy of
sciences. I was looking at the swamp things there. And I couldn't tell the difference between what I was seeing in the aquarium, and what I was seeing in Washington. I saw an albino alligator!
LEMON: The only one who's not laughing is Mike. So, Mike, I'll ask you. CNN is learning that Trump called Pruitt last night, and told him, quote, we got your back. Do you believe that? Because then we heard that, and then they're gone within a couple days or a couple weeks.
SHIELDS: Yes, look, I mean, I think anyone who's in the President's cabinet knows that they could be gone at any moment. He'll switch them out for somebody until he thinks they are doing the right job, and that's why the American people are fine with that.
That's why term limits have always been so popular, because we're fine with getting rid of politicians until they do the things that we want. Look, I think what the interesting things -- I believe it's a former lobbyist, not a current lobbyist.
I think it's worth noting that, that he's been renting this from. And I think also it's worth pointing out, a lot of the scrutiny around Pruitt that the media has been covering about for instance, how much money he spends on travel, and yet it paled in comparison to what his predecessor in the Obama administration paid for travel. And yet we didn't seem to have a lot of these stories.
LEMON: Do you...
SHIELDS: So I think part of that is because the President here is to drain the swamp, so it's fair to say, when someone is doing something, you're going to talk about it, but they do all of the things that...
LEMON: But shouldn't he be doing better than if you say you are going to drain the swamp?
SHIELDS: Well, that's my point.
LEMON: You can't compare it to the previous administration.
SHIELDS: I think a little objectivity in the media to cover...
LEMON: Fair enough.
SHIELDS: ... travel and to say they haven't been covered before is worth pointing out.
LEMON: But let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. You live in D.C., right? 2
SHIELDS: Outside D.C.
LEMON: You live outside D.C. SHIELDS: Yes.
LEMON: So if you want to stay in the city for a night, how much duo you think you would pay for a hotel room?
SHIELDS: Look, this is not a cheap city, there's no question.
LEMON: So 50 bucks from a former lobbyist. You cool with that?
SHIELDS: Well, I don't -- look, I don't know the details of that, and I think it's probably being looked into. I would say...
LEMON: On the surface, 50 bucks, former lobbyist per night. Are you cool with that?
SHIELDS: If there's no quid pro quo, if there's nothing that's being given in exchange, well then there is nothing wrong with it. You can stay in a friend's basement. You can stay with a relative. There's nothing wrong with it if there's no quid pro quo, if there's nothing being given to the Secretary of State.
NAVARRO: I pay for hotel rooms in -- I pay for hotel rooms in Washington. You are lucky to get anything for under $250. For $50 a night, you couldn't even rent a park bench.
SHIELDS: Of course.
LEMON: Hold that thought, I have to get...
SHIELDS: Have you ever stayed at a friend's house?
LEMON: I got to get to the break. Well, if he's a friend, then that's a whole another thing, friends with a former lobbyist. But I mean come on. All right, we'll be back. Don't go anywhere. We have a lot to talk about.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: I'm back now with Jennifer Granholm, Ana Navarro, and Mike Shields. So, Jennifer, for the past 48 hours, the President has been using harsh and emotional language in his tweets.
In appearances, he calls President Obama, cheating Obama says we have a pathetic immigration laws, he says news organizations have a sick and bias agenda, and people who don't condemn Amazon are fools or worse. He is fired up on all the things about Russia. So, what it going on?
GRANHOLM: Yes, I mean, he is...
LEMON: And most of it, it's not factual.
GRANHOLM: To me -- I mean, first of all, it's so unpresidential, whatever that means, right? So people sent him there because maybe they didn't want somebody who is presidential. I'm on my way in today. I talked to the guy -- one of the guys who wrote the leadership
challenge, which is the biggest selling leadership book for the past 25 years. And they have surveyed hundreds of thousands of people to ask them, what are the qualities in a leader you would willingly follow?
You know what the number one quality is among -- all over the world -- this is Jim Kouzes, the number one quality people want is honesty. That is the number one quality. So I said to him, how could this be that everybody says they want leaders who are honest.
GRANHOLM: And yet we have somebody who has been documented lying thousands of times by the fact checkers all across the country. How can b? .
LEMON: Well, he said that -- he said Amazon, only fools are -- when he talked about Amazon -- he said Amazon doesn't pay taxes.
LEMON: Amazon started paying taxes in 2014. He says Amazon is costing the post office more money. The post office -- Amazon is keeping the post office afloat.
LEMON: And they are paying taxes in places where...
GRANHOLM: Four lies -- four Pinocchio lies. So in Amazon in fact, the delivery service for Amazon packages has been the one sector that has really grown for the post office.
The post office must charge people what it costs them to deliver or more. They don't take -- they aren't -- taxpayers are not paying for Amazon delivery through the post office.
LEMON: Well -- and the President can't compel Amazon to pay more money because it operates independently through the Postmaster General.
[22:55:01] GRANHOLM: Who just approved the latest fees for the delivery service.
LEMON: And the cheatin' Obama...
GRANHOLM: It's -- I mean...
LEMON: Listen -- I mean honestly, probably the squeakiest president we've had in modern history.
GRANHOLM: Squeaky clean. Yes.
LEMON: Squeaky clean is not -- I mean, come on, president -- I mean a black man did not make a mistake without making people jump on him. (CROSSTALK)
NAVARRO: Let me tell you, not to mention that if there is one word Donald Trump should not throw out at any other man right now it's the word...
GRANHOLM: It's cheating.
NAVARRO: ... cheating, OK?
NAVARRO: I mean, that is one that he should strike from the vocabulary right now. Look, I think what we're seeing is that he was pretty quiet there a few days while the entire Stormy Daniels thing was brewing and was playing out on T.V.
That's the only time we have seen silence from him for years now. And the thing built up in his system so that it exploded over the weekend.
This guy was going into Easter service, and started spewing off crazy inaccurate lies about DACA. He has been tweeting crazy stuff since, you know -- since he exploded like a volcano after keeping silence with Stormy.
LEMON: If he's going to explode on Twitter which is his right, right?
NAVARRO: Bring her back!
LEMON: Shouldn't he at least have his facts correct about it?
SHIELDS: Well, look, I think the President obviously we know uses Twitter to communicate to the American people, and set debates, and then everyone on our...
LEMON: But should it be communicative facts? Shouldn't it be -- shouldn't it be true -- truthful what he tweets? He shouldn't tweet out things that are lies that are not factual, get the American people all upset, have a lot of people believing that it's actually true when it's just not accurate. That's not informing people as the president. He is actually making them dumber.
SHIELDS: Yes, look, I mean he is going to get fact checked, right? So I mean -- and we've been saying this about the President's tweets for white quite a while, and they get fact checked on television, and he keeps doing. So, obviously, he believes in doing something else, which is...
LEMON: So, you're OK with that?
LEMON: You're OK with the President -- you're OK with people not telling the truth?
SHIELDS: I believe that the President should do a little more -- little more research before he hits the send button. There is no question about that and I don't -- I think it's a disservice to him when that happens.
SHIELDS: However, I also believe that most of the people that are experiencing the President's economy, that are doing better don't care about a lot of this noise. These winds up being noise that we end up talking about...
LEMON: Because that doesn't matter.
NAVARRO: We should all care about the...
LEMON: We should care -- we should care if the President of the United States tells the truth.
NAVARRO: I mean we should care. This one of the things, Mike, I think...
LEMON: I got to go, Ana.
NAVARRO: Regardless of party, we don't numb ourselves...
NAVARRO: ... to believing and accepting that this is normal. It is not.
LEMON: OK, I got to go, I'm sorry.
NAVARRO: He is in keeping the presidency of the United States.
LEMON: We'll be right back.