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Trump Chooses Corrupt Official to Replace Sessions; President Trump Says He Did Not Know About The $130,000 Hush Payment To Stormy Daniels; Corey Lewandowski Uses Foul Language with Democrats; How Sen. Scott And Rep. Gowdy Found Common Ground. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 5, 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] (JOINED IN PROGRESS)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts now. See you tomorrow.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
This tells you everything you need to know about how this White House operates. President Trump seriously considered replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Scott Pruitt. Yes, the same Scott Pruitt, that one, the head of Environmental Protection Agency, who's under fire for renting a cut rate condo from a pair of energy lobbyists who has been under the microscope for pricey plane tickets at taxpayers' expense, whose sources tell CNN wanted to drive through the streets of Washington, D.C. with, lights and sirens blaring.
A special agent who refused to do that was demoted. And this interview, well, Pruitt did with Fox News definitely didn't help things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PRUITT, ADMINISTRATOR, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: I was misinformed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you made mistakes?
PRUITT: I think this is something that needs to be corrected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you take responsibility?
PRUITT: It was a mistake -- it was a mistake by my team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So do you take responsibility?
PRUITT: I'm fixing it. I'm fixing it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you take responsibility?
PRUITT: I'm fixing the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: In the face of all that, the president told reporters in the air force one that he thinks Pruitt is doing a great job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that Scott has done a fantastic job. I think he's a fantastic person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Trump denying today though that he is planning to replace Sessions with Pruitt. Sarah Sanders telling CNN the White House does not, quote, "have any plans" -- this is a quote, "have any plans for personal changes at this time" which is pretty much what this White House says every time there is a new rumor of a staff shake-up. So it is not exactly a statement you can take to the bank.
This is a president who proved again today that he will say whatever he wants whatever he wants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This was going to be my remarks. It would have taken about two minutes.
TRUMP: But that would have been a little boring. A little boring.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You have to admit, that is humorous. But it is a president who absolutely has no regard for facts. The facts don't suit his purpose at all, a president who turned his planned remarks on tax reform today into a tirade on immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They're not putting their good ones and remember my opening remarks at Trump tower when I opened, everybody said, he was so tough and I used the word rape. And yesterday it came out where this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody's ever seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The president offering no evidence to support that claim caravan of migrants from Central America. But the fact is many of those migrants are fleeing violence, that's why they're risking their lives to try to come here. And then there is another of the president's favorite fact free claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There are many places like California, the same person votes many times, you probably heard about that. There was like to say that is a conspiracy theory. Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It's conspiracy theory. He is spreading a conspiracy theory again, there is absolutely no evidence, none, that millions of people voted illegally and the fact is the president himself disbanded his own commission investigating voter fraud back in January.
His I.T. director in a sworn court document saying the commission, quote, "did not create any preliminary findings." That means they found nothing. So they disbanded the commission.
And today, the president for the first time breaking his silence about Stormy Daniels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why, why did Michael Cohen make it?
TRUMP: You have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. And you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: No, I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The porn actress' attorney tweeting, quote, "We very much look forward to testing the truthfulness of Mr. Trump's famed lack of knowledge concerning the $130,000 payment as he stated on air force one."
And then there is this. Sources telling CNN that President Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski repeatedly swore are Democrats on the House intelligence committee, at one point shouting, quote, "I'm not answering your f'ing questions." But answers facts are exactly what Americans deserve. The real question is will we get them?
Let's discuss now. I want to bring in CNN senior White House correspondent Mr. Jeff Zeleny, and CNN political analyst Molly Ball. Good to have both of you on. Good evening.
Jeff, we could start with any number of breaking stories today. But let's start with the president expressing confidence in his EPA Chief Scott Pruitt and despite the ever growing list of controversy surrounding his cabinet official, he even floated replacing Sessions with Pruitt this week. What do you know about that?
[22:05:00] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don, certainly a number of developments here today. The president is speaking on something he's not spoken about. But as for Scott Pruitt, we do know the president has been thinking about this for several weeks.
We reported a couple of weeks ago that he was eyeing Scott Pruitt as a potential replacement for Jeff Sessions, and this is why. We know that Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, is the most, you know, the biggest member of the cabinet with a target on his back, if you will, in the eye of the president. He has been furious about him for more than a year for recusing himself in the Russia investigation.
One way around confirming a new attorney general is to appoint an acting attorney general. The only person who can be appointed as an acting attorney general is someone who has been confirmed by the Senate already.
So Scott Pruitt, the former attorney general from Oklahoma, a member of the president's cabinet, could have slid into that role. So we know the president has been thinking about that as early as this week. But the question now, Don, is that out the window given all of these allegations?
We know the president has been watching that interview on Fox News. We know he is watching it, I'm told, just off the Oval Office in the study and did not think it went very well. He was trying to clean it up but, of course, you know, as we learned more about what Scott Pruitt is doing, how he is leading the agency, the president is torn by two things.
One, he likes what he is doing in a substantive matter. Conservative groups like what he is doing in a substantive matter by rolling back a lot of Obama era regulations. But he does not like the headlines that all of this generating, it goes against his draining the swamp mantra.
So this was the president himself has to decide. He said he is doing a fantastic job. The question is does he believe that he is fit to be a member of his cabinet? One of the reasons this is different though than all the other cabinet secretaries, Scott Pruitt has a lot of support because of what he's doing at the EPA, much different than the V.A. or the Department of, you know, Health and Human Services with Tom Price, on and on and on. This case is different, Don.
LEMON: OK. So I'm glad you laid that out. But listen, I mean, listen, I have a long list of this infractions from Pruitt, Molly.
MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.
LEMON: And I can, you know, I'll just read some of them. I'm just wondering why this isn't a firable -- five alarm fire. Remember, what we're talking about here he rented a room for 50 bucks a night for from the wife of a prominent lobbyists, pricey plane tickets, security for non-official business like a family trip to Disneyland, trying to secure big pay raises for his aides which he says he didn't know about.
And then today we learn that Pruitt's security detail was asked to use lights and sirens when traveling through D.C. Plus, reporting that several EPA officials were sidelined or demoted when they raised concerns about Pruitt. Again, I can only imagine if this happened under any other administration, why isn't this a five alarm fire? Drain the swamp, remember?
BALL: Well, I think for Trump what matters is, does -- are making Trump look good or not? And I think Trump used this from the perspective of on policy and with his base and as Jeff was saying with conservatives.
Pruitt is making him look good by doing the things that Trump feels that he was elected to do. And that keep him popular with Republicans in particular. On the other hand, does this scandal make Trump look bad? I mean, unlike Sessions, Pruitt hasn't done anything that Trump regards as disloyal.
So is this -- does the scandal rise to a level of making Trump look bad? It certainly could turn that way at any moment. We have seen Trump turn on a dime where he decides that a scandal is too much and he cuts the person off. Almost everyone in his cabinet is not someone he has a close personal relationship with, has a feeling of personal loyalty with. If Trump does feel personally loyal to you, he will keep you on through all manner of things.
LEMON: Hey, Molly, can I ask you this?
LEMON: Because I mean, I'm just looking at the numbers here, OK. And fine, you know, these helping the base. But just looking -- because the taxpayers are paying for this. And if you just look at it, so $70,000 for two desks, $100,000 a month private plane charter. More than $43,000 to construct to secure a booth, $18,000 to spend on the prep work of that, $25,000 on the booth itself.
Your security detail while not on official business, let's see, $17,631 for a trip to Morocco. First class plane tickets following hurricane Harvey total $330. Visit to Florida $3,700. Just over $120,000 that his trip to the Vatican. And then over $2 million for his security detail alone. That's a lot of taxpayer money. Come on.
BALL: Sure. I mean, I'm not defending it at all. Although it is pocket change in the scope of a multibillion, trillion dollar federal budget.
BALL: But I'm just saying I'm just trying to understand, you know, where Trump is coming from and when he decides someone is worth firing and when he's not. And frankly, it's impossible to understand because it seems to come down to which side of the bed Trump woke up on.
[22:09:58] BALL: But at this point, I think he is a little bit conflicted as he said on air force today one between believing that Pruitt is a good person who is doing the right things on policy and then believing that the scandals like this do make him look bad.
ZELENY: And Don, the bigger question here is Scott Pruitt was a leader in the -- he was a leading member, you know, the attorney general from Oklahoma leading this fight against climate change and other matters. I think the bigger point here is this fits into the theme of the president not hiring the best and brightest.
Some of these things, this administrator is accused of doing and that it has done certainly would not pass the smell test in any, you know, county attorney's office, state senator's office.
It is striking to me how flagrant he has been of some of the rules and things. So I think it goes again about the quality of person he is hiring. That said, what the output of his office is very important to a lot of business leaders, conservative groups. So do not take that into account. That is more important than that $50 a night apartment here in Washington.
LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate your time and your reporting. Now I want to bring in James Fallows, national correspondent for "The Atlantic."
James, good evening to you.
CNN has reporting the president floated the idea of placing Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Pruitt. With all the scandals swirling around him, is there a tone deafness here do you think?
JAMES FALLOWS, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, I guess, you know, the calculation that Donald Trump's making all along is that playing to the people who got him to office is the strategy that keeps him in office.
Every other president in modern times has found it worthwhile to try to expand beyond the constituency that got him there. So this is an extension of what we've seen now for year and four months.
LEMON: And then there is the president in West Virginia today, James. It was billed as an officially White House event not a campaign event and he spent time talking about electoral politics. You know, you took note of this, these immigration comments. What stood out to you?
FALLOWS: What stood out to me is two things. One is on the fact of immigration. This is a reprise of the way Donald Trump first introduced himself a year and a half before the election. They're sending rapists, they're not sending their best. And not only is this insulting to the country of Mexico to the many Americans of immigrant heritage but also it's really out of touch with the way that the fiber of America is now.
I've been doing a long reporting project with my wife over the last couple years. The only places you find this kind of raw anti-immigrant sentiment is where immigrants aren't and aren't planning to come. West Virginia of all 50 states has the lowest proportion of foreign born people there and that's where you can have this kind of rhetoric.
The places where immigrants are coming on the whole for all of the adjustment difficulties, people recognize this as part of the American renewal. So that is one striking thing.
The other is Donald Trump's ongoing sense that he is a character in a TV show as opposed to someone leading a nation, leading a government, having to get people to sort of follow what he wants to do. So this is, again, it's what got him here so he is sticking with that. But it is unusual.
LEMON: A character -- do you think he is playing to his base? I'm wondering if there is some strategy about looking forward to the midterms. I'm sure politics is always behind it.
FALLOWS: Well, certainly, you know, the performance of congressional republicans, which I think historians looking back on this time will be even more focused on than the way Donald Trump himself behaves.
The fact that they will not challenge him on anything suggests they still are more afraid of challenges from the right, challenges from Trump loyalists than they are of challenges from the middle. And so maybe they share the same calculation that Donald Trump does which is the most important thing he can do is to rally the people who are originally behind him and just keep playing this same theme.
I guess we won't have -- we've had incremental market tests of that with all the midterms are all this sort of special elections, most of which have gone the Democrats' way. But this is why for the next six months we'll be talking about the stakes in the midterm election. Because that's the first real market test of these strategies.
LEMON: James, let's talk about there are a few themes here that you're seeing in President Trump's behavior recently. Tantrum, strategy, and vengeance. Why do you say, talk to me about that.
FALLOWS: So, I'm talking about I was thinking about this especially in the trade negotiations with China. As we discussed before, I lived in China for a long time. And you see on the one hand I think that Donald Trump's strategy towards China in a way it's like the build a wall rhetoric towards Mexico.
If Mexico had 1.4 billion people, and you know, arguably the world's largest economy where it's something that sounds good and sounds threatening and sounds like it's being tough, meanwhile, the Chinese are much more -- even though they're vulnerable in some ways to trade wars and they have lots of trade practices that need to be addressed, they're much more strategic and calm and revenge the best sort of cold and saying OK we're going to target Boeing which is your leading exporter.
[22:15:01] We're going to target soy beans and pork which is the farm states. And so they're just they're doing it as if they have a plan as opposed to sort of an emotion. So I think that difference between emotion and plan is the one we're seeing with the trade threats coming from one side and the other. LEMON: Mr. James Fallows, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
FALLOWS: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, remember when President Trump said over and over and over he'd only choose the best people for his administration. But now it seems the only constant in this chaotic administration is scandal. Whatever happened to draining the swamp?
LEMON: President Trump came to Washington with a mandate from his supporters that was to drain the swamp. Now more than a year into his presidency with scandal swirling around his cabinet, things are looking pretty swampy.
Joining me now to discuss, CNN political commentator, Van Jones, a former Obama administration official and host of CNN's "The Van Jones Show," and CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist, and CNN political commentator, Scott Jennings, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush.
Good evening, everyone. Thank you for joining us. Good to see you. Ana, you're up first. What's your reaction to all of this Pruitt news tonight?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One more episode of, you know, as the Trump world turns. One more episode of the tele-novela. One more episode where we see the inconsistency and hypocrisy of this Trump administration.
[22:19:57] He came in promising transparency, promising to change the status quo, promising to drain the swamp. And what we've seen is that he has just brought an entirely new species of swamp things into D.S. A lot of them are rich.
We thought, you know what? He is appointing all this rich people to the cabinet, people like, you know, Steve Mnuchin, Steve munchkin, whatever his name is, and they're not going to have to be corrupt.
It turns out they're just as corrupt but his base doesn't seem to care. And I think the rest of us are just watching this and eating popcorn and drinking soda wondering, you know, what is the point to be the next shoe to drop?
LEMON: Well, the interesting thing is that, you know, every day I come in I'm not surprised anymore. I'm just like well, here it is. But I'm just sort of surprised, Scott, that, you know, small government conservatives, fiscal conservatives aren't really saying anything about this. Especially when you considering how much money, you know, Scott Pruitt seems to be spending or wasting, however you want to put it.
And then sources telling CNN the president considered replacing Sessions with the embattled EPA administrator as recently as last week. Does this seem like the attorney general's position is always in jeopardy here?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, a couple things. Number one, I think Scott Pruitt is under attack largely because he's been the most effective member of Donald Trump's cabinet. They have not gotten a lot of things done in a lot of cabinets. But at the EPA, Scott Pruitt took the mandate seriously and he has systematically dismantled the Obama regulatory regime. That's why I think he is under attack right now. The reason he is--
LEMON: Who is attacking him?
JENNINGS: -- up for a possible appointment to attorney general--
LEMON: Just do it for clarity, who is attacking him?
JENNINGS: I think he's under attack from all quarters. He's under attack from disgruntled employees, he's under attack from the left in Washington, D.C., he's under from, you know, a lot of people right now because he's been effective. I think this has nothing to do with anything but his flat effectiveness.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's really -- first of all, I don't think he's under attack. I think he's doing things that are despicable and that should be your position.
I mean, I'm shocked to hear you as a Republican not starting out with saying this is not what our party stands for. The corruption, taking money, taking advantage. Wanting special privilege. That should be the opposite of a conservative point of view. For you -- for you to come out and say that there is something bad happened to him do you think you should have $2 million to drive around and go to Disneyland? I mean, what kind of a nanny state are you in favor of now because you got the Trump administration up there in Washington, D.C.?
JENNINGS: Look, I think that that Scott Pruitt had some judgment issues on a few things. I also think some of the things he's been accused of are not true but they are being regurgitated as though they are. He didn't buy expensive desks. There was a proposal and they didn't come to pass. They didn't have a charter jet service. There was a proposal and it didn't come to pass.
And if you look at his travel patterns they are really no different than EPA administrators in the Obama administration.
JONES: That is--
JENNINGS: So he is basically operating on travel the exact same way his predecessors did.
JONES: I hope--
LEMON: Van worked for the Obama administration, let him respond. JENNINGS: I think there's everything to do with the--
JONES: Well, I hope Lisa Jackson is not listening to this. I hope she is some place doing something because her head just blew off her shoulders if you said that she was spending millions of dollars to go to Disneyland, that is just not true.
And this is part of the problem. I understand that the level of defensiveness. We all want to defend people on our own side. But I think we are hurting the country when we will defend anybody doing anything.
Listen, I agree with you. Scott Pruitt is very effective at hurting America's environment. He has done everything he can to increase the amount of poison and pollution in our country. And for that, you might want to applaud him.
But that does not give him a free pass to take advantage of the country's purse strings. Listen, I'm shocked that you don't have Republicans -- the first thing you guys would have said is, you don't do stuff like that and then you pivot. You don't even make the pivot. You go straight ahead and say this guy is only under attack because he's being effective. And you know that's not true.
LEMON: Ana, I want you to get in.
NAVARRO: So listen, one of the problems is that this is not, you know, this is not happening a vacuum. This is one more chapter in this novella. In the sense that we've heard about excesses by Ben Carson, by munchkin, by Mnuchin, what's the name, Mnuchin, by you know, Zinke at the Department of Interior, whether it's 140,000 door or $30,000 lunch tables or whether it's jetting around to go see an eclipse.
This is just one more instance of what we're seeing after Donald Trump promised to be different. And the Republican Party again and again looks the other way whether it's Stormy Daniels or tariffs or deficits or overspending. They look the other way.
If this were a Democratic administration, people would be brought in to testify. And there would be investigations. And there would be much more scrutiny. The Republican Congress continues to give this administration a pass even though they are behaving as anything but traditional Republicans.
[22:25:02] LEMON: I want to move on. But Scott, I think you should have a chance to respond to this.
JENNINGS: Yes. Let me just tell you about the politics of Scott Pruitt within the Republican Party. If you talked to any Republican, small business person, farmer, anybody in the sort of the conservative pro business wing of the Republican Party in Middle America and you say what's the one thing about the Obama administration that you hated the most? Almost universally they'll tell you it was the EPA. The EPA crushing businesses, jobs, and farmers and they see Scott
Pruitt as their champion who has come in and reversed these bad decisions. That's why I think you're going to see and have seen the conservatives rally to his cause tonight.
NAVARRO: Scott, did you see -- did you see the interview that he gave Ed Henry?
JENNINGS: Yes. It was terrible. Look, I'm not going to say to you that Scott Pruitt is the best in the world at giving interviews.
NAVARRO: Right and to me--
JENNINGS: I'm just explaining to you the politics of this.
NAVARRO: Right. To me, that interview he gave Ed Henry--
JENNINGS: He need to admit the mistakes, atone for them and set up better processes.
NAVARRO: I give Ed Henry kudos for having holding -- for holding his feet to the fire. And I will say to you, you know, the problem with that interview is -- I mean first of all, it was so bad he made Betsy DeVos look like Albert Einstein. But more than that, he went around the White House to give his buddies and cronies a huge pay raise despite the White House saying for him not to do it. That should really bother us.
As Republicans, as Americans, as taxpayers. That is our money that he is misspending. And it should bother all of us despite partisanship.
JONES: And I just want to say this myth that the Obama administration was crushing small businesses, killing -- we had a sustained growth. We came out of the Great Recession with sustained growth that President Trump I think has continued at a slower rate.
And, you know, it's mythology that he was -- we were able to -- and especially places like California, to have clean air and a growing economy and add jobs. There is a way forward that doesn't require poisoning America's children in the name of economic development.
LEMON: That's got to be the last word. And with that I say thank you. And I'll say don't miss the Van Jones show this Saturday night with Van special guest former Vice President -- and speaking of the clean air -- Al Gore, right?
And then you also have Ryan Coogler, director of the mega hit movie "The Black Panther." That is the Van Jones show Saturday night at 7 Eastern. When we come back, the president breaking silence about his alleged
affair with Stormy Daniels and Daniels' lawyer is claiming victory over what he said. Did President Trump just put himself in legal jeopardy?
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The President breaking his silence today on Stormy Daniels denying he knew about the hush payment to the porn star.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. No. What else?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why did Michael Cohen make those if there was no truth to hush allegations?
TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You'll have to ask Michael.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: No, I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, I want to talk about this now with Renato Mariotti, he is former federal prosecutor, and Harry Litman is a former U.S. attorney.
Gentlemen, good to see you. Thank you so much. We've got a lot of ground to cover. So, if we can keep it brief because I want to cover a lot here.
Renato, President Trump says he didn't know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. From your perspective, what kind of impact could his statement have on this case?
RENATO MARIOTTI, PARTNER, THOMPSON COBURN: I think it's devastating for his side of the case for the Trump team, him, and Cohen, and their LLC because that contract between Daniels and the other side has a number of promises that are made by Donald Trump in that document where he releases her of claims, and makes various representations.
There's no way he could do any of that if he didn't know about the agreement. So it's very -- that's a real problem because either, he did know about the agreement and he's lying now, or you know, Michael Cohen, and that LLC fraudulently represented that Trump was releasing her of claims, et cetera.
And I'll tell you, you don't need to be a legal genius to know that if one side that's making promises and a contract didn't know about it, you don't have a legal contract.
LEMON: Harry, if true, does this invalidate the nondisclosure agreement?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It does. Renato is spot on. Look, Trump made some promises as a party. And he didn't know anything about it. It's no more of a contract for him than it would be for you or me.
And, in fact, as Renato said, it was induced by fraud. He told her, hey, that's going to -- Trump will make these performances, and he never could do it.
And remember, Don, that's the issue before the court now. That's how they want to keep it out of arbitration, to say that the contract was never formed. If it was never formed, it doesn't go to arbitration. And everything is invalid.
LEMON: Is it kind of like you putting a down payment on a car, and buying it from me, and then promising that I'll pay the note when it's in your name? Is that kind of similar to what you guys are saying? Could you dumb it down for me?
MARIOTTI: It's like -- it's like, Don, if you -- if I said that you were co-signing on my loan for the car, you never signed, and then we asked you about it, you're like I have no idea what you're talking about, didn't know anything about that loan. That would be a real problem for the car company to loan the money based upon the fact that you agreed to co-sign for the loan.
LEMON: OK. I have to ask you because...
LITMAN: Right, Don, you promise, and then drive it away. That's the -- that's the situation.
LEMON: Got you. Good answer to the question. So, listen, I have to ask you about these new filings in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation.
Prosecutors revealing tonight that they're using information related to the search of Paul Manafort's belongings for their ongoing investigations, the office even used a warrant from March 9th, to get information related to five AT&T phone numbers.
And that searches involves information related to ongoing investigation that are not the subject of either of the current prosecutions involvement -- involving Manafort. Wow, that's a lot. So, is that a different subject? What could that mean, Renato? That's a lot -- I don't understand what's going on here.
[22:35:00] MARIOTTI: Sure. So the reason that he's obtaining information regarding phones via search warrant is because he's obtaining what is called -- it appears that he's obtaining what's called historical cell site information.
He's getting information about which cell towers those phones were in contact with at the time that they were making calls, which is really interesting. It doesn't give you precise location of the phone, but it tells you the vicinity that phone is in.
So, right now I'm in Chicago. My phone is hitting off of a cell tower in Chicago. If I made a phone call, it would tell you that I'm not in Tennessee, or Canada, or anywhere else. I'm somewhere in the vicinity of downtown Chicago.
And so that -- what is interesting about that is that typically financial crimes are not crimes where the location of the person matters. In other words, it's not like -- you know, if you're trying to move money laundering, it doesn't matter where Paul Manafort was.
What matters is where -- you know, what he was doing financially. So what is interesting is that this suggests that the location of those particular phones matters, who they were in contact with, you know, what location they were in, and maybe he's trying to prove that Manafort, or whoever owns these phones was having a meeting with the person at a certain time, or he's trying to back up the testimony for cooperating.
LEMON: OK. So, Harry, we have reported that Mueller is looking into Trump's businesses. And tonight, this is what McClatchy is reporting, that investigators are very interested in Michael Cohen's role in business deals with the Trump organization in Georgia, was Kazakhstan, and Russia. I would like to get both of your reactions to that. First, Harry.
LITMAN: All right. Well, you ask or not, what is the bottom line? The bottom line is Russia 2016. Manafort's current charges don't have to do with that.
But we see many avenues in which Mueller is right now sort of moving east from the states, Manafort, and Gates, and others moving west from Russia, Chilnick (ph), and others, and trying to bring together with the charges of potential conspiracy or collusion. I think that's the bottom line and it would be the jackpot of the whole investigation.
MARIOTTI: Well, regarding Michael Cohen and that news, I have to tell you this just underscores what -- how foolish Michael Cohen has been to talk so much on the record, on television, and in print about this investigation.
And act in such a reckless way by talking about his loyalty for Trump, and how he would do anything for Trump. I assume he is angling for a pardon because it's a very foolish legal strategy when you're under -- when you are a subject of a criminal investigation by Robert Mueller.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Renato. Thank you, Harry. I appreciate your time. When we come back, Corey Lewandowski's interview before the House Intelligence Committee going completely off the rails, descending into chaos and cursing. I'm going to ask a member of the committee about their ultimately messy Russia investigation, that's next. [22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Tonight sources telling CNN that Corey Lewandowski shouted and cursed at House Democrats investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Let's talk about this, and other topics, and also there is a new book out.
Senator Tim Scott is with me. He is a Congressman, and also Trey Gowdy, both of -- South Carolina Republicans. Both are Republicans. And they're the co-authors of the book I mentioned, Unified: How Our Unlikely Friendship Gives Us Hope for a Divided Country.
Boy, we certainly need that at this moment, and we're going to talk about it in our next segment. But, you know, I am a journalist, so I've to get to the news of the day, gentlemen. So, if you will indulge. Good evening. First, Congressman Gowdy.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes, sir.
LEMON: We're going to discuss your book as I said in the next segment. I want to start with CNN's new reporting tonight that Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski swore at Democrats during his questioning to the Intel Committee, apparently shouting, I'm not going to answer your f'ing questions. You are on that committee. Can you tell us about that?
GOWDY: Yes, Don. I was certainly there for his first interview. I'm sure you and your viewers recall that there was some ambiguity as to what line of questions he would and would not answer.
So he came -- when he came back for the second time, I had an oversight hearing. So I was not present for it. Those were not the exchanges from the first hearing. I don't doubt that those were the exchanges during second hearing. I just was not there for it.
LEMON: So Manu Raju is reporting, Congressman Gowdy, that Republicans on the committee sided with Lewandowski saying, he spent hours before the 2panel answering questions pertinent to the inquiry.
Lewandowski is also saying, you know, I had to repeat multiple occasions that there was no collusion and cooperating. Basically saying they were -- they used foul language, and he was responding in kind. Does that -- does the witness get to decide what is relevant here?
GOWDY: No. I mean there are certain parameters. I mean, there is the parameter of relevance. And, you know, Don, I mean, I've been critical of legislative branch investigations. I'm actually been part of serious investigations in the executive branch, and I've been critical of congressional investigations partly for this reason.
I mean, if I'm investigating you for collusion, I don't know that I should go back to when you were 12-years-old, and ask you questions from elementary school. But some of my colleagues have gone back 25 years. And if there is a reason for it -- if it deals with motive, or intent,
or common scheme, then I'll hear you out. But between the leaks and the irrelevant questions, I just -- I think your viewers should have a confidence in Mueller's investigation, the Senate investigation may turn out to be serious. I hope it is.
But, you know, Adam Schiff said he had evidence of collusion before we ever started, that's not a great way to get an investigation off. And I just -- I don't doubt all of that happened.
I don't doubt that Corey got frustrated. But I'm sure other witnesses have been frustrated with leaks, and what they perceive to be irrelevant, or unfair questions.
LEMON: Unless you want to respond to this, Senator Scott, then I'll move on, and ask you about something else.
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let's move on.
LEMON: Yes. So CNN is reporting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has questioned two Russian oligarchs, and sought information from a third, they're asking whether these wealthy Russians illegally funneled cash donations directly or indirectly into Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and the inauguration.
[22:45:03] What does it mean if Russian money was used in the election?
SCOTT: I think it's important for us not to draw hypothetical, but the good news is the Mueller investigation continues. What we all need to know is have a great clarity about what happened and why it happened.
One of the things I've said earlier is that getting to the catalyst of what started this process is incredibly important. So as all this information comes to light, we'll be able to understand, and appreciate what impact Russia had on our elections, and frankly there after.
LEMON: Yes. So Senator Scott, another breaking news story tonight. President Trump is floating the idea of possibly replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions with embattled EPA Chief Scott Pruitt. Do you think the President is more concerned with the running of the Justice Department, and possibly ending the Mueller investigation, than the ethics firestorm surrounding Pruitt?
SCOTT: I saw that breaking news on CNN. I will just say that any process for nominating another attorney general will be a long process, frankly. Scott Pruitt certainly has some challenges on his hands. I don't see that happening any time soon. And certainly I'm not sure that the Senate would be receptive.
LEMON: Congressman Gowdy, I'm just wondering with Trump replacing his attorney general, will the goal of firing Mueller rise to the level of obstruction to you? GOWDY: Well, it depends on why he fired Jeff Sessions. If he fired
Jeff Sessions because he was trying to get Rod Rosenstein, and then get to Bob Mueller, I guess that's a quasi criminal, or quasi legislative constitutional injury question.
If you fired Jeff Sessions because -- you know, Jeff Sessions robbed a bank later on tonight, no, that would not -- I think we would all agree on that. So it depends on why he fired him. I don't think it's going to happen.
And I don't think can you fire Bob Mueller, and by the time we see all those pieces being played out, I think the Senator is right, it will be a really difficult confirmation process. I frankly think it will be a difficult confirmation process for anyone.
It's a 51-49 split in the Senate. Jeff Sessions is the former United States Senator. So I don't doubt whatever sources may have said that. Well, actually, I do. I don't think Jeff Sessions is going anywhere other than being subject of some episodic criticism.
LEMON: Did you say that you don't think Mueller is going anywhere either? You don't think he's going to fire Mueller?
GOWDY: Oh, no. I don't think the President can fire Mueller. But assuming I am wrong as I sometimes am from a legal standpoint, no, I don't. I mean, you know, I said it two weeks ago.
And I know I have friends on the right that don't like it when I said it, so I'll say it again, if you're innocent, you should act like it. And part of being innocent is not talking about firing the person who is investigating you. That is free legal advice that I'll offer for anyone who is in trouble right now.
GOWDY: If you didn't do it, act like it.
SCOTT: We definitely need to reinforce the -- the American people deserve to have this investigation completed. We need to do nothing, nothing to interrupt this investigation. It is in -- it is one of the ways that we can reinforce Americans' confidence in their government. This is important.
LEMON: I want to -- I want to save time to talk about your book. So, stay with me, both of you. I appreciate you talking about the news of the day. When we come back, there are plenty of things that divide America, but I want to know what they think. What these two gentlemen think that we can do to come together. We'll be right back.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Can a divided America find common ground? I'm back now with Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Trey Gowdy. This is their new book. It's called Unified: How Our Unlikely Friendship Gives Us Hope for a Divided Country. I started reading it last night. It's fascinating. You started about
-- started talking about Mother Emanuel Church, and that's how you start the book. You guys have been friends a while though, right?
SCOTT: Yes, we've been friends about five years before that, perhaps that's the most important part of the foundation of the story, which is that after a racially motivated shooting Dylann Roof comes in to start a race war in the city that started a civil war.
And for me to be able to turn to Trey Gowdy, a white guy from the same state with such a provocative and rich history on race, just said a lot about the foundation of our friendship, and how unlikely friendships can actually transform this county.
It doesn't matter if you're a Republican or Democrat, black or white, even if you don't philosophically agree on the issues. If you can form an unlikely friendship, America will be better.
LEMON: Yes. Do you -- did it take Charleston -- did it bring you together closer, Congressman Gowdy? Or were you guys are both close before that?
GOWDY: No, I loved him from orientation in 2010, the fall of 2010. He is impossible to not like. So I think from his perspective, it was the shooting at Emanuel. What Tim has helped me do, I have never been black a day in my life.
So I've never been stopped because of the color of my skin. I've never been asked for an I.D. while the person in front of me or in back was not asked for the I.D. I've never been stopped from going into the Capitol, and I don't where a member pin.
And he has been stopped going in the Capitol, and he does wear a member pin. So if I want to understand what it is like to experience life as a person of color, particularly in the criminal justice context, I can only get that perspective from him or another person of color.
So what we're trying to encourage people to do is listen without prejudice, listen to other people's perspective, not trying to persuade anyone to come around to our way of thinking. Just the divisiveness I think is corroding the American soul.
Keep the contrast. I like it. I got a 21-year-old that doesn't agree with me on anything politically. And I love her more than anything in the world. So keep the contrast. But see if we can lose the conflict.
LEMON: Well, having said that about you having been black a day in your life and you don't -- you know, feign to understand that. So I'm asking you both this question. I'm going to start with you Senator Scott.
Because we have heard the White House what they have had to say about the shootings of unarmed black Americans, you know, what the President said about African nations, very fine people on both sides in Charlotte, kneeling NFL players SOBs, you know Mexicans are rapists.
[22:55:12] So is the President a racist, Senator Scott?
SCOTT: I don't think he is a racist. Can he be racially insensitive, the answer is without question. One of the reason where he and I sat down at the Oval Office after the Charlottesville incident is he and I saw the world from two different vantage points.
Mine was a history based on reality of my experience, reality of my grandfather's experience, and reality of my mother's experience. And frankly, I wanted to have a chance to sit there and have that conversation.
My criticism is why the White House called and said let's sit down, and have a conversation to see if there is a path forward that we could find. We did not come to an agreement on the issue of race.
We did come to an agreement on how we could help those folks living in distressed communities. And that led to a legislative victory that will hopefully lead to more people living in distressed communities like the one I grew up in.
Single parent households like that one I grew up in, having more opportunities to experience the American dream through legislation called opportunity zones that was passed with the President's support. So while we had not found -- go ahead.
LEMON: No, go ahead sorry. I think you were going to say you had not found common ground on the race issue, but you're working towards it. Is that what you are saying?
SCOTT: Yes, exactly. We're just looking for ways to move this country forward. Because if you are on two different pages, it doesn't mean that you can't find something that you work on, and for me my goal is to find public policy that tells young folks like myself trapped in, and mitered in poverty, feeling hopeless, and frustrated, and sometimes really irritated, there is a reason to be hopeful.
SCOTT: The American dream is achievable for folks like me and that's part of the message I brought there.
LEMON: I'm running out of time. I want to be over. The producer is going to be mad. I got to ask you, Representative Gowdy, because the same question.
But I mean when you look at the President, you talk about the divide in this country, and it's political. And the President seems to appealing to his own -- only to his base, and not you know, even Senator Scott couldn't come to consensus on race with the President. Do you think he is a racist? Do you think he needs to reach out to people of color more?
GOWDY: Well, I don't think he is a racist. I've never met President Trump, I never had a conversation with him. I would be impossible for me to judge someone's motives. I think if I don't have any exposure to him other than snippets on the news...
LEMON: On his words and actions?
GOWDY: Yes -- no, of course. But politics has been divisive from the day I got there. So it didn't begin with President Trump. I mean, there is a reason President Trump won. And I think it was the frustration, and the unmet expectations of at least enough people to win the Electoral College.
GOWDY: But, I mean, one of the reasons I'm leaving politics is it is inherently divisive. And we have figured out how to commercialize people's anger and frustration. And I don't want to see the world through that prism. I don't want to see...
LEMON: Got to run.
GOWDY: I want to see the world through people of good conscious, and people who are not, and that's it.
LEMON: All right, thank you for answering. The book is called Unified. Here it is. Go out, and pick it up. Once again, Unified: How Our Unlikely Friendship Gives Us Hope for a County -- a Divided Country. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.