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CNN TONIGHT

Lawyers With Ties To Gates, Manafort Will Serve 30 Days, Pay $20,000 Fine; Trump's Twitter Storm; Democrats' Fundraising Bonanza; Fears Of U.S.-China Trade War; Stormy Daniels's Lawyer Asks Treasury Department For Bank Information On Hush Payment; Publisher Seeks To End Suit By Woman Who Claims Trump Affair; Dr. King's Legacy. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired April 3, 2018 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon, 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast, live with breaking news. Robert Mueller has told President Trump's attorney that he remains under investigation, but 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 he could be baited into an interview that could land him in legal hot water.

Let's discuss that now, I want to bring in legal analyst, CNN legal analyst, Michael Zeldin, Robert Mueller's former special assistant to the Justice Department and also former U.S. attorney, Michael Moore. Gentlemen, good evening. Thank you for joining us here on CNN. Michael Zeldin, walk us through why this is significant and what it means.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: A subject of a grand jury investigation is defined in the U.S. attorney's manual as a person as to whom the grand jury has an interest. So, it's not an outside witness to an event. It's a person who is a participant in the underlying activities of the grand jury's investigating. Differentiate that from a target, whom which is really a putative defendant is a person as to which the grand jury has made a conclusion that they had committed a crime and they are going to be indicted for.

So, logically the President of United States was always a subject of Mueller's investigation as to both the possibility of coordination between his campaign and outside forces and as to obstruction once Flynn and Comey and others were fired and events from that were set in motion. So, I don't really think its breaking news from the standpoint of a Mueller attorney giving the President a description of himself as a subject. That to me is what he always was logically and we'll just see whether he migrates from being a subject to a target as the investigation evolves or remains the subject which will be best for him.

LEMON: Thank you. So no one -- you said, you don't think its breaking news, so no one should rest easy here. This is just where we are, where they are in the investigation now.

ZELDIN: That is right.

LEMON: OK.

ZELDIN: My view is that in the life of the investigation at this point the President of the United States is a person as to whom the grand jury has an interest and they're going to take his testimony.

LEMON: So, Michael Moore, why would Mueller's team telegraph to the President's lawyers of this kind of information?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR GEORGIA: You know, they've been trying to negotiate an interview with the President for some time. I think that is part of the missing link in the chain of this investigation, but let me tell you, there are plenty of times that people who are subjects of an investigation talk their way into becoming targets of an investigation. And my guess is even if you think about today, Mr. Van der Zwaan, who was sentenced today. At the time he went to give the interview, I'll bet you that he was not a target.

By the time he finished the interview he was a target. And today he was a convicted felon. So you know, I don't put a lot of stock -- I certainly -- I think it would be foolish for a lawyer to represent to his or her client that simply because at this time or currently I think as those phrases are being used in the discussions -- what we're hearing from the discussions about the Mueller disclosure, you know, that -- doesn't give you a lot of comfort. I wouldn't rest easy at this point. I'd certainly wouldn't be thinking about the advice I gave my client.

LEMON: So, do you think that they're just trying to soften him up right now that maybe he will come in? You know, because he loves to say I'm not a subject of the investigation. Remember when Comey -- he was furious when Comey wouldn't say publicly that he wasn't under investigation. Remember, do you think that they're trying to soften him up?

MOORE: Well, that could be, but think about this too. I mean, what we're hearing -- We're hearing that sources familiar with the investigation for me rather with the discussion are saying this. Mueller's team has been very steadfast in not leaking.

LEMON: Air tight.

MOORE: That is right. So, we don't know where these individuals are. My belief, this is it's not from Mueller's team. What else would you tell your boss who wants to be told, you know, please tell me I'm not a target and guess what, you're not a target. You're just a subject. You know, so I don't put a lot of -- a lot of confidence and I wouldn't have a lot of comfort in those representations.

LEMON: OK.

ZELDIN: So, may I just add one thing to that?

LEMON: Yes. ZELDIN: I agree with Michael Moore. The issue though, too, is that

typically prosecutors inform persons about whom they're going to gather evidence or take an interview from, if they are a target. So there is usually an affirmative obligation to say if you are a target. So, saying that you are not a target is, you know, again standard prosecutorial blocking and tackling.

[23:05:09] MOORE: And if you are bringing them into the grand jury.

ZELDIN: Especially.

MOORE: That is right. So I think those things may be may be down the road.

LEMON: OK, so the corrupt intent, the article talked about a corrupt intent here. Because according to the report, Mueller is pushing hard to interview President Trump to determine if the President had any corrupt intent. So what is that -- how is that determined, Michael -- Moore? Kidding.

(LAUGHTER)

Go ahead, Michael Moore.

MOORE: Well, I mean, clearly they are going to talk to him about what was his state of mind at the time he was fired. They'll go back through the Rosenstein memo that prepared after the fact. He is going to talk to you about the interview that took place on network television where he said, look, you know, I got rid of Jim Comey, because of the Russia thing. You know, which I think is pretty damning evidence in and of itself.

He will talk to him about statements that were made in the Oval Office, to the Russian delegation when they were there and the disparaging comments on the president, apparently made about the former Director of the FBI. So, but those things will all come to play. But, again, a lot of this -- these prosecutors are trained interviewers. And these investigators, this agents that they work with are trained interviewers.

And sometimes you get somebody in the room and talking to them and you just keep drawing information out. And so, that is the danger for Trump. He has -- he likes for people to believe him. He likes to feel like he is the smartest man in the room. But I can tell you, if he gets in the room with Bob Mueller, he is not going to be the smartest man in that room.

LEMON: So, to that point Michael Zeldin, Mueller's team has told trump says -- I am reading from a report -- Trump's attorneys over recent months said that they are seeking to learn more about the firings of Comey and the National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn and last year and the President's efforts to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign. What does that tell you? Where is -- is that obstruction? Are they going for obstruction of justice here?

ZELDIN: So, the two questions you had asked back-to-back really go hand in glove. Corrupt intent is what they would need to establish in order to bring a case under the obstruction of justice or even the abuse of office provisions for high crimes and misdemeanors. So they are looking at the various pieces of the puzzle of acts that the President has committed to determine whether -- when he undertook those -- whether he did so with corrupt intent, meaning he could be -- if a President of the United States is able to be indicted, he could be indicted or if the Congress so were inclined to bring articles of impeachment. So, those things fit together. You have to act with corrupt intent in order to be charged with obstruction of justice or probably high crimes and misdemeanors.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, gentlemen. Appreciate it.

ZELDIN: Good to see you, Don.

LEMON: You as well. Let's bring in Congressman Eric Swalwell, now a California Democrat who is on the Intelligence and the Judiciary Committees.

Congressman Swalwell, good to see you. Thank you for coming on.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening, Don.

LEMON: So, Mueller's it team also told Trump's attorneys that they want more information about the firing of James Comey and Michael Flynn. As well as the president's efforts to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign. Because I just asked the last question, knowing what you know from the House Intelligence Committee investigation, do you think the President's testimony would fill in some of the holes in your committee's findings?

SWALWELL: Don, first let me just say, you -- CNN covered earlier tonight the San Bruno shooting, that is just across from my district and I want to thank the first responders and praying for the victims there, but --

LEMON: Absolutely.

SWALWELL: -- to your question, Don, the President would best serve the country by just sitting down and coming clean with Bob Mueller. And innocent people cooperate. Guilty people screw around, they try and cover up, they try to bury the evidence. And he should actually just follow his own advice, which was when he said back in September of 2016, only the mob takes the Fifth Amendment. Prove to America, Mr. President that you are not running the White House like a mobster. And just cooperate with Bob Mueller and so we can all move on and make sure that the President, you know, acted accordingly in what he did with James Comey, when he tried to do with Bob Mueller and what the pressure he keeps putting every day on his Attorney General.

LEMON: So, representative we are learning late today that the Deputy A.G. has just picked Prosecutor Ed O'Callaghan, to help oversee the Russia investigation at the Justice Department. Does this appointment indicate anything about the scope of Mueller's investigation to you?

SWALWELL: It shows me Don that this team is moving expeditiously. That they are doing all they can, not under a time table, but understanding that there is, you know, a public sentiment out there to get answers on the conduct that is in question. The best thing we can do, though, is to allow them to just follow the evidence.

Congress could pass -- because there is bipartisan legislation out there right now -- legislation that would cement Bob Mueller's role and prevent him from being fired without cause. I think that sort of certainty would allow the prosecutors and agents to do all they need to do to tell the American people whether there was a conspiracy to work with the Russians, whether money laundering occurred with the Trump organization and whether the President acted with corrupt intent in a consciousness of guilt when he tried to fire the investigators.

[23:10:10] LEMON: Does anyone ever asked -- when you guys -- if all these people -- if there is nothing happening, nothing is going on -- let me get van der Zwaan, I am still talking about that, because he is the first person to be sentenced. But if nothing is going on, why are so many people lying to the FBI, to -- into Mueller?

SWALWELL: Consciousness of guilt, Don. You know, I saw it as a former prosecutor. And every juror in America is told that if a witness makes a false statement to the police in an investigation, that you can conclude that they did that because they were aware of their own guilty conduct.

LEMON: Yes.

SWALWELL: Again, it's -- if logic follows that innocent people cooperate. Guilty people try and cover it up or disguise their conduct.

LEMON: All right. So with that said, then let's talk about Alex van der Zwaan, the first person sentenced in this Russia investigation. He worked with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. He admitted to lying, covering up conversations with Gates, failing to turn over emails to Mueller's team back in February. Are we expected to learn more about the contents of those emails, do you think?

SWALWELL: There is a lot that we don't know. But what we do know is how doggedly the Mueller team is tracking down a lot of the B.S. stories, quite frankly. We saw this with George Papadopoulos, right Don? I think that is the canary in the coal mine here which was, he lied in January 2017 to the FBI. They interviewed him again in February, he lied. And then in July they pulled him off a plane. It looks like from the indictment that they had subpoenaed Facebook and Skype logs. He confronted him with that story, he came around and now he is a cooperating witness.

So, as long as they're able to follow the evidence, subpoena bank records, communications records and then go back at this witnesses, who was -- as you just mentioned are so willing to lie through their teeth to protect the President. I think that is the only way we can get to the truth. That is actually what we what we did not do on the House Intelligence Committee investigation. We just took people at their word and the American people right now, have an incomplete and inaccurate version of what happened. So, I hope the Mueller team is able to pursue and follow all the evidence.

LEMON: We are just seeing the quick documents which offered the first direct acknowledge that Mueller was specifically looking into allegations that former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, committed a crime by colluding with the Russian government officials in the 2016 election. What other insights into the investigation do they show? Do you think does this show?

SWALWELL: Don, it shows, that there was a willingness and eagerness on the Trump campaign part to receive and work with -- to receive information from and work with the Russians. And Don, again, whether it's collusion or not, that is Bob Mueller job. But I just can tell you the evidence we have already seen publicly is that the Russians sought to offer the Trump team information on Hillary Clinton.

The Trump team did everything they could to receive it. Once it was disseminated to the public they really turned it up and amplified the proceeds of the hacking. And the candidate even invited the Russians to conduct further hacking. So to me, I don't know what you call it when you invite it, you receive it, you amplify it, you encourage it and then you start to pay back the Russians through your actions once you take office. But to me it's not American. Certainly doesn't look right.

LEMON: Representative Swalwell, thank you. I appreciate your time.

SWALWELL: Yes. My pleasure.

LEMON: When we come back President Trump tweeting up a storm and slamming his enemies with a kind of rhetoric that were not used to hearing from the President. But is it all really about keeping the conservative media on his side as the Mueller investigation heats up?

[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The President is returning to his favorite theme slamming his enemies on Twitter, but there may be more going on here than meets the eye. I want to bring in now Republican strategist Mike Murphy, always a pleasure to have you. I hope you had a great holiday, thank you for joining us.

MICHAEL MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you.

LEMON: Listen, Mike, in the last few days President Trump has lashed out at his enemies on Twitter even more than we are used to. He is targeting Amazon, hi9s targeting Democrats, fake news, immigrants, Honduras, Mexico, NAFTA, cheating Obama, the FBI and Justice Department. I mean, what do you think is prompting the President to, you know, take this sharp swing to the right?

MURPHY: Yes, I'm starting to worry about sore Presidential fingers here with the avalanche of tweeting. You know, my suspicion sits the combination of things. He tweets as therapy. So things are irritating him. I think part of it is, he reminds me a little bit of the music star who had a bunch of hits a while back and things are a little slow, so he is doing the new material and he notices the front row of the concert hall is falling asleep, so he goes back to the hits.

And I think he is feeling some heat, particularly in the, you know, the conservative world over the size of the spending and the budget deal which I think is becoming more and more uncomfortable with after doing it. And he doesn't like the criticism of the -- kind of professional movement conservatives like Ann Coulter who has been kind of banging the moon about him. So it has triggered a reaction, he is playing the old hits and trying to stir things up with his golden oldies.

LEMON: So then, could it also be about rallying conservatives or the conservative media to his defense if, you know, if he needs them for the Mueller investigation?

MURPHY: Well, I think, you know being a reality TV star, Donald Trump knows the first rule of that kind of television programming or the home shopping network for that matter, which is when it doubt cut to a new conflict or cut to a new product. So whenever the Mueller thing starts to heat up or go the wrong way, he tends to throw a big smoke bomb and move the controversy over to an issue that he think cuts for him, he had attacking the media, attacking immigrants, you know, attacking somebody. Because I think his bible is conflict sells.

So starting with Easter, he has kind of been on these rampage. And I think he is feeling neurotic about his core voters, because that is all he has. But you always have to remember about Donald Trump, is he never left the Republican primary. He doesn't have swing voters, he certainly doesn't have any Democrats. He is down to that base and I think he is very twitchy about it. So when he feels through seeing Fox News or a commentator criticizing him, he reacts.

LEMON: Yes.

MURPHY: So this is his way, you know, to tell his 30 percent of the country that I'm still your guy and I'm still the same -- saying the same stuff that got me here.

LEMON: He could just like -- us talking about him. It could all be just ego. And probably is.

MURPHY: Oh, I think the cruelest think the media could ever do is not say anything about him for a week. He would probably resign.

LEMON: You know how many times I've said that? Even though I said -- we could just stop talking about him, he would lose it.

[23:20:04] So, listen, I'm -- you mentioned the Democrats and I'm glad you did, because they are raising record amounts of money in red states. Beto O'Rourke, has raised $7 million in the first three months of this year, he is challenging Senator Ted Cruz in Texas. Randy "Iron Stache" Bryce wants Paul Ryan, he has raised $2 million in the last quarter. I mean this guys are still a long shot to unseat Cruz and Ryan, but, I mean, you are seeing sign of surge in this election on the Democratic side?

MURPHY: Well, I think, there is a lot of energy there. I mean, one of the things the Internet has done is Democratize fund raising. So it's a lot easier if you are a local candidate even running for Congress to raise national money if you got a hook, you know, from low dollar donors. And that is really what digital fund raising does for you.

Look, we don't know what's going to happen in the mid-terms. But the signs are there of tremendous Democratic energy. You see it in the turn out in the special elections. You see it in the number of candidates running. And now you see it in grassroots fund raising across the board. So, as one of this things were, you know, I don't know there is going to be a big Democratic wave, but all the early conditions that would accompany a Democratic wave, intensity, turnout, interest among younger voters, who normally don't -- are disobeyed on and off in the elections, it's all there.

So, I think, this is another thing you put in the pile of evidence that a lot of Democratic pressure is building. And, you know, again, if you look at the President's polling numbers he has the worst numbers 18 months in of any President in the history of polling. That is some mean accomplishment there. And there's got to be a Democratic reaction to it. The question is are we going to be in that the same situation come the mid-terms in November.

LEMON: Well, if the -- I think the economy -- a lot of that depends on the economy, right? And you know, we'll see. I got to get to some other stuff here, China slapping $3 billion of tariffs on 128 U.S. products in retaliation to the President's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. This is part of the economy and then -- I want you to take look at this, OK. Let's put it up on the screen, China's revenge move so far has targeted products made in the heartland states which of course is home to many Trump voters. And what point do you think they are going to start pushing back against this or will they?

MURPHY: Well this is very interesting. In some ways, I think it's the biggest most material story of today in politics. Which is this -- it looks like the trade skirmish is cranking its way to a trade war. These never turn out well. We have a lot of economic history to prove that. And take agricultural, soybeans and pork to areas where the Chinese are moving towards tariffs. I know they had done it in pork, I think they are doing it at soybeans of the ten largest producing states, nine of them are Republican. Including Iowa, site of the early caucuses.

And now metal bending states like my home state of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, the states that the President was able to, frankly, find his Electoral College victory from narrowly. Those are being targeted. So, if this keeps escalating, American consumers are going to pay more. The free trade Republican Party is now going to stand for protectionism which is going to disturb a lot of us and it's going to cost American jobs. So, it's bad for the country, forget the politics, but I think it does spirals, it will hurt the President.

LEMON: How much time do we have? Because, I want to play this. OK. I want to play this. This is --

MURPHY: Sure. LEMON: -- what Paul Ryan said in 2016 about the idea of people in

Washington putting their finger on the scale for different companies. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We do not believe we should be governed by our betters, that elites in Washington should make all those big decisions, that they should be picking winners and losers. That is a recipe for a closed economy, for cronyism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And the reason -- you know why I am asking you that, because the President had gone on the Twitter tirade about Amazon, he is attacking the company, really with falsely -- false information about their tax structure and the Post Office. The Post Office is actually staying afloat, because in large part, because of Amazon. So why do you think he is doing this? And why isn't any -- why isn't Paul Ryan or anybody saying this. Why is he attacking privately?

MURPHY: Well, I think, it's all personal to the President. I don't think he is attacking Amazon, he is trying to attack "The Washington Post" through Amazon, --

LEMON: Right.

MURPHY: -- because Jeff Bezos owns it, but I would counsel the President not that he is a guy would ever listen to me, but Amazon is a lot more popular than he is. And a lot of Republicans are very uncomfortable with this as Speaker Ryan said. I'm waiting for my friend Paul Ryan to start saying some of these things both on trade and on this sort of picking personal grievance enemies and then trying to use the power of the presidency to punish him. Its way, way out of the bounds of what American President ought to do. Ryan knows that, I mean, he should say something about it.

LEMON: Yes. I mean, it's interesting -- I keep wondering why he is doing it. I know it's personal. Maybe it's, you know, he's upset, because Bezos is, you know, infinitely richer than he is. But he is affecting people's 401K, the retirement people who voted for him. He is affecting the markets. It's a one leg that he has to stand on is that -- I don't understand why he is doing it, so it's just odd.

[23:25:10] MURPHY: You know, its speculation. But I think personal grudge triumphs all unfortunately for the President.

LEMON: Yes.

MURPHY: And you know, he thinks by complaining about Amazon, he is going to have some outcome. But, I don't think it does anybody any good. I mean, there are legitimate issues about state and federal taxation and all that, but this is not the way you engage it.

LEMON: Well said. Thank you, Mike Murphy, always a pleasure.

MURPHY: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: When we come back Stormy Daniels is trying to enlist one of the President's cabinet members and her fight to tell her story. Why she wants Steve Mnuchin and the U.S. Treasury, he wants their help for her chances. What are her chances of getting it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Let me give you some breaking news tonight on the shooting at YouTube headquarters. Sources are telling CNN that authorities have identified the deceased suspect as Nasim Aghdam, a woman in her late 30's. Investigator still trying to piece together a motive here. Three people being treated tonight, for gunshot wound. One of them a 36-year-old man in critical condition. Police say the shooter may have killed herself with a handgun. We'll continue to update that story here on CNN.

Now I want to turn to some big developments tonight in the Stormy Daniels lawsuit against President Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen. Here to discuss, defense attorney, Joe Tacopina, and CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin, author of "Making it Rain."

Good evening. Welcome.

Joe, Stormy Daniels lawyer asking the Treasury Department, right? To release suspicious bank information related to hush money paid to the porn star. What are the chances of this suspicious activity report getting released? Zero percent?

JOE TACOPINA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Zero means 0.1 percent, maybe. Remember, the treasury secretary works directly at the pleasure of the president, Mr. Trump. And I think he understands if he releases that report, he is fired. And understand this. There really is no basis.

These are two civil litigants in a civil case asking for document from the Department of Treasury. That's not normally turned over. A SAR, a suspicious active report, is fairly common. These are not -- it doesn't mean something (INAUDIBLE) is happening. It just means something like a new account is open, money is put in and money is put out.

LEMON: All right. Areva, give me some more details. What sort of -- I don't know. What suspicious activity might be in this report?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, anything. And I think Joe is spot on. It could have just been this is a new account that's been opened and money moved to this account very quickly. This whole SAR report is about trying to capture people who are engaged in money laundering or people who are funding terrorists.

And the definition of what's suspicious is so broad and so ambiguous and different banks treat this report very differently. And Stormy Daniels's lawyer knows there is not a chance that the treasury secretary is going to respond to a letter. This isn't even a subpoena, Don. This is just a letter on his stationery saying give us this report. He knows he is never going to get it. But this is his way of keeping the story in the news and keeping us talking about the story. Because I think there is some concern that this matter may be sent to private arbitration. And he won't be able to talk about it --

LEMON: So, are we getting to a point, Areva, where Daniels's team needs to show us the money?

MARTIN: Well, I think they've shown us a lot. I mean she went on "60 Minutes" and told us that there was this one sexual encounter and she gave us a lot of information. But I do think we are getting to the point where this matter is probably going to be referred back to private arbitration and we are not going to hear very much about it. So they're going to share as much and keep this story in the news as long as they can.

LEMON: OK.

MARTIN: I mean that's a lawyer's job. So I'm not faulting him for that. But I don't think he has any reasonable expectation of getting that report.

LEMON: So there is also a new development in the Karen McDougal case, the National Enquirer's parent company seeking to dismiss, to get out of the deal with Karen McDougal, sold the rights to her story, remember to them.

Karen McDougal's story was silenced by the "National Enquirer," $150,000 in paperwork filed, but the company argues that the First Amendment protects the publishers, editorial right. They have a point?

TACOPINA: They have a point, but it's not going to win. I mean, it's a point. Every lawyer has a point. I don't think that has a snowball chance in hell to win, because look, we saw what happened just now. The Stormy Daniels's case -- and Areva is correct. There is nothing left to talk about. She talked about everything in this one-night stand. There is nothing left to talk about --

LEMON: No, no. This is Karen McDougal.

TACOPINA: I understand that.

LEMON: Yes.

TACOPINA: But I'm saying, like that case, I mean there is nothing left to talk about. They are here. She is going to get her story out. We do get her story out. I don't think there is any shot that the Enquirer has any legal standing.

LEMON: Right.

TACOPINA: But, you know, they're going to try everything they can do. I don't see it working.

LEMON: I feel like I'm on a legal show now. It's like Ashleigh Banfield.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Black Ashleigh Banfield. I got the glasses, right? So listen. McDougal's attorney is firing back on Twitter. All right.

This is for you, Areva, saying, the irony of today's motion by American Media Inc. to strike Karen McDougal's lawsuit is unmistakable. As we have learned through brave truth-tellers like Ms. McDougal, the tabloid went to great lengths to silence her and others, and they are now attempting to silence her again with the absurd claim that their own free speech was violated.

TACOPINA: Let's not oversell this. Let's not call them brave truth- tellers. Come on, really. There was a woman who had one-night stand --

MARTIN: Women are brave, Joe.

TACOPINA: Come on, Areva. Look, all --

MARTIN: They are brave, Joe. They are going up against the powerful.

TACOPINA: -- in support of propaganda claim (ph) and what not, but let's not make them like these incredible powerful women --

MARTIN: They are going up against the president of the United States of America.

TACOPINA: -- who stood up to the man. We have a porn star and a nude model. I mean, a bunny (ph).

MARTIN: But why are you disparaging them? Because of their profession.

TACOPINA: I'm not disparaging them. I'm not disparaging them. But let's not make them more than they they are. These are brave, strong American women. They are not brave. They are just women who had extramarital affairs with the guy.

MARTIN: I think they are brave. I think they are brave because they are taking on the president of the United States and it takes a lot of courage to file a a lawsuit or to be at a lawsuit against the president who has unlimited resources. You know that there is an imbalance of power when a woman sues a powerful man like Donald Trump. They show bravery, in my point.

LEMON: I got to go.

TACOPINA: I know but both of these women have now become worldwide famous, are making a lot of money off of this, are doing shows and everything else. I don't want to embrace them as these incredible heroes of this country.

LEMON: Everybody is in it for something.

[23:35:00] MARTIN: They are brave to tell their stories, Joe.

LEMON: Brave. We'll be right back.

MARTIN: Brave.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Tomorrow, April 4th, marks a tragic moment in American history. Fifty years to the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassin in Memphis.

The White House tonight released a proclamation reading in part, quote, it is not government that will achieve Dr. King's ideals, but rather the people of this great country who will see to it that our nation represents all that is good and true, and embodies unity, peace, and justice. We must actively aspire to secure the dream of living together as one people with a common purpose.

Dr. King lost his life at Lorraine Motel, which is now home to the National Civil Rights Museum. The sole surviving member of Dr. King's entourage that day are Ambassador Andrew Young and Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Tonight, CNN's Victor Blackwell sits down with them at the motel to reflect on what happened there and how Dr. King's spirit lives on.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Does it feel like it has been 50 years?

ANDREW YOUNG, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: It feels like it was yesterday.

[23:39:57] BLACKWELL (voice over): It was April 4th, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, before Andrew Young was an ambassador to the world, before Jesse Jackson became a reverend and a groundbreaking political figure. They were two young men dedicated to the cause of equality led by Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. It was a chilly Thursday afternoon at the Lorraine Motel.

YOUNG: I was talking to him, telling him he needed a coat. And he sort of raised his head to kind of see test the weather. And pow!

BLACKWELL (voice over): A single shot to his chin and King was dead. He was 39 years old. Now a half century later, Young and Jackson returned to the very spot where their friend and leader was assassinated.

YOUNG: His shoes got caught under here and it knocked him out of his shoes.

BLACKWELL (voice over): A photographer who was staying three rooms down snapped this iconic image as King lay dying.

YOUNG: We were pointing over there to the police who were here. They were running over this way. And we were trying to tell them to go back that way. That's where the shot came from. BLACKWELL (on camera): Do you think he heard the shot?

YOUNG: I don't think he heard the shot or felt it. I think it was a beautiful death. My first reaction was to be mad. And second reaction was to say well, if anybody is entitled to a reward, you have sure earned it. And, you know, take your flight to heaven.

BLACKWELL (voice over): Young went on to serve as congressman, as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and as mayor of Atlanta. Jackson continued social and political activism and ran for president twice.

JESSE JACKSON, REVEREND, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Every move I made, whether a demonstration or running for presidency, I always felt his spirit and somewhat touching base with him for doing it.

BLACKWELL (voice over): Jackson now 76, and Young 86, say King did not fear death. And even as they stand on the balcony that was once stained with King's blood, they're convinced that he will never die.

JACKSON: I've been to 152 countries. I've never been anywhere where people have wanted to ask me about Martin Luther King.

He would be 89 years old. He would be just an old preacher who preach great sermon. He is smarter than his power. His spirit is alive.

BLACKWELL (voice over): Victor Blackwell, CNN, Memphis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Victor, thank you very much. When we come back, who will pick up the mantle of Dr. King? And what's the current state of civil rights movement in America? I'm going to ask two members of the Congressional Black Caucus what they think. That's next.

[23:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Tonight, we are talking about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the eve of the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Memphis.

Joining me in is Congressman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressman Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota who is deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee.

I'm so glad to have both of you on. Thank you so much for joining me this evening. Representative Richmond, you first.

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D), LOUISIANA: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: We heard Jesse Jackson say that Martin Luther King Jr. spirit is alive. Do you see it? Do you feel it energizing the civil rights struggles of today?

RICHMOND: Absolutely. First of all, Don, you would not be where you are and certainly Keith and I would not be where we are but for him, but for his dream, and but for his legacy.

And every time we see people come together, whether it's Black Lives Matter, whether it's the young people in their protests of gun violence and the plethora of guns on the streets, whether it's Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem.

That's King. And it's just in different forms. But it's people coming together to stand up to make this country a more perfect union. And in King's last speech, he talked about the fact that we had an obligation and a duty to protest to make this country a better country.

LEMON: I'm going to talk more about Black Lives Matter and where you guys think the civil rights movement is going. But I want to bring you in, Representative Ellison. When you think about the state of politics right now particularly around the issues important to minorities, are we losing ground in the fight for equality and justice or gaining ground?

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: You know, we definitely have our challenges. If you compare 1968 until now, there is about 60 percent more people who are under the federal guidelines for poverty. The minimum wage if you adjust for inflation for 1968 would be almost $12 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7 and 25 cents.

CEO pay, the workers in 1968 got about -- well CEOs got about 20 times more than the average worker. But yet today it's somewhere around 300 to one. And so economically speaking, the fight that Martin Luther King was waging on behalf of poor and working class people, we can't deny that we have slipped.

At the same time, we have made important strides on racial justice. You know, we did pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Yet the Supreme Court tried to gut it. But, you know, folks are running for office every day. We are fighting every day. We are making important political progress. But we have got to take a lesson from Martin Luther King about economic empowerment --

LEMON: Empowerment, right.

ELLISON: -- and fighting against poverty.

LEMON: Yes. That's the important part and building wealth really, I think, is one of the most important issues that we have to face especially as a people. I do want to talk specifically about today, though, Congressman Richmond, because -- and both of you are leaders in the Congressional Black Caucus.

But in Congress run by Republicans with a president who even members of his own party say is insensitive to minorities, do you have a voice right now?

[23:50:00] RICHMOND: Well, we do have a voice. And if you look at the spending bill that we just passed, we did some remarkable work, whether it was the $600 million that we added for head start to make sure that children in poverty have a chance to succeed through education and through opportunity, as well as the money for HPCU (ph) and other things.

We did a phenomenal job in fighting for and funding things that are important to help people who are on the bottom to move up. That's what the struggle and the fight is about, regardless of the president, his insensitive, as Republicans would like to call it. I think it is more calculated.

But we are still fighting. We have 48 members. We represent 78 million Americans. And only 17 million of those are African-American. But Dr. King's dream and his fight was not just for African-Americans. It was to make sure that you had true economic justice as well as making sure that we end discrimination and all of those things.

So, his fight is still a real fight. We still have an awful long way to go to make sure that this country is a better country and Keith mentioned it. When you look at CEO pay and you look at the average rage wage that people make, we know there's a problem.

We're a great country. People can make as much as they want. But we do have an obligation that people who wake up and go to work hard and work hard for 40 hours a week, they should be able to sustain a family. And that is just not the case.

LEMON: They shouldn't be living paycheck to paycheck. Representative Ellison, the president's message to African-Americans. Remember on the campaign trail, you live in poverty.

ELLISON: Yes, what do we have to lose?

LEMON: Yes, what do you have to lose? I mean he calls Mexicans rapists. He made many incendiary comments about Muslims. President Trump has the biggest microphone in the world. How do you fight that message?

ELLISON: Every day we put our time in, we organize all across this country. Black Lives Matter, the Parkland students. We have the DACA students, young people standing up for immigration justice. We add all of our collective voices together. Because as much as we honor Martin Luther King, we should and we do, Martin Luther King stands for the movement.

He stands for all of the people who were pushed down by segregation, all the folks who worked hard every day. The woman who said, my feet is tired but my soul is rest, because she was protesting the Montgomery bus boycott, he represents her. We have to be movement- oriented people.

That's why Cedric is leading the Black Caucus. He is going to black college campuses all the time. I'm going around the country. We're talking to masses of people, rising them up, making them understand that their power really is in our collective action. Just like those teachers in West Virginia, Kentucky. The power of us together is more than Trump. And if we do it, we can get it done.

LEMON: Both of you have mentioned Black Lives Matter in our conversation. Them demonstrating, demanding change. Is this what civil rights movement -- is this what it looks like today? Is it effective?

RICHMOND: I would say yes. We have to remember that Dr. King started when he was 17, a student at Morehouse. He wrote his first letter to the editor, to Atlanta Constitution, saying that blacks should have equal opportunity and equal rights as every American. So, the thing I get out of it is that he started his activism at such a young age.

So when we look at Black Lives Matter, the Parkland students and others, I think it highlights exactly what his life was about. And when you talk about the president, the president is the biggest voice in the nation. However, he's not the only voice. The fact is --

ELLISON: That's right.

RICHMOND: -- when people come together in a collective voice and fight together, that's how we win. And I will just take another part of Dr. King's last speech, he said that when a pharaoh wanted to continue slavery in Egypt, what he tried to do is get the slaves fighting each other. When the slaves would band together, it's when they would make their biggest gains against pharaoh.

So, we just have to remember as a people, as a country, no matter who the president is, no matter the rhetoric coming out of his mouth, no matter the hate coming out of his heart, it doesn't matter. If we ban together, we will overcome it, and we will create the country we want it to be, not the country that he wants it to be.

LEMON: Listen --

ELLISON: Cedric is absolutely right. I mean, resistance is -- I mean, our unity and our coming together is resistance. Solidarity is resistance. We've got to come together and understand that when we unite, that is a powerful statement about the country we envision.

LEMON: I want to get this in real quickly before we run out of time. I think it's an important question. You have the -- there are some very good people on both sides, right? Remember the president said that. We have people marching through the street --

ELLISON: Yes, will never forget that.

LEMON: -- torches in 2017. Fifty years and if you can give me a quick answer, I know it deserves more but I'm sorry about that, 50 years since the assassination of Dr. King, are you more frustrated or you are hopeful about where we are going? First, Congressman Ellison?

[23:55:02] ELLISON: I am incredibly hopeful. I believe that if the young folks and not so young folks, the teachers in West Virginia, people all over the country continue to march, the bright days ahead for the United States. But we've got to stick together and we've got to stay hopeful, optimistic, and keep fighting back.

LEMON: Representative Richmond?

RICHMOND: I'm absolutely more hopeful. And I think that the last thing that we need to focus on is those of us who have made it. We have an obligation to reach back. Dr. King was middle class. He died fighting for sanitation workers. That's what we need to remember every day, especially as African-Americans. Even though we've made it, we still have an obligation to reach back and lift people up.

LEMON: I appreciate it, both of you. I appreciate the conversation. And thank you for fighting every day. Thank you so much.

ELLISON: Thanks, Don.

RICHMOND: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: That's it for us tonight. Thank you for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.

[24:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)