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President Breaks His Silence On Stormy Daniels; Trump Gets Irritated When Told Pulling U.S. Troops Out Of Syria Now Would Be Unwise; President Often At Odds With His Advisers; Will The Public See Mueller's Final Report?; President Trump's War With Amazon; What Happened To "Drain The Swamp?" Aired 11-12a ET
Aired April 5, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[23:00:40] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. It's 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. Live with new developments in the saga of the President and the porn star. President Trump for the first time breaking his silence about Stormy Daniels. Denying he knew about the hush money payment as he spoke to reporters and Air Force One.
(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 her allegations
TRUMP: Well, you'll 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: Well, the porn star's attorney doubling down tonight tweeting quote, "We very much look forward to testing the truthfulness of Mr. Trump's feigned lack of knowledge concerning the $130,000 payment," as he stated on Air Force One. Let's discuss now. Areva Martin is here. She is a CNN legal analyst and the author of the bestseller "Make It Rain." Also CNN legal analyst, Mark Geragos.
So good to have you on. Good evening to both of you. Areva, you get the first question. President Trump says he didn't know about that payment, about $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. First, what kind of impact do you think the President's statement is going to have on this case, if any at all? AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think we're going to see
Stormy Daniels attorney running into that Federal Court telling the Judge, you know, this is why this contract, this non-disclosure agreement is not valid and she should not be held accountable to this agreement. That is what he has been arguing all along is that this contract isn't valid. He said, because Trump didn't sign it.
Now we know there was no meeting of the minds. There was no mutual consent, because Trump didn't even know about the payment or know about the alleged, I guess the underlying facts of the agreement, which is that Cohen was trying to keep Stormy Daniels from telling a story about his sexual encounter with him.
So this is huge news for the Stormy Daniels team. And we should expect the attorney as we saw him today, you know not just talking about it on cable television, but also bringing it to the court's attention as well.
LEMON: So Mark, I want to know what you think. And do you think it was wise for the President to weigh in publicly? Now he is on the record and with a statement? Is he going to be held to it?
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Is it wise? No. If you're his lawyer, are you pulling what little hair you have left on top of your head out? Yes. In a one-two punch he literally not only put at issue -- meaning he created something that a jury is going to have to hear in terms of whether or not he is even a party to this agreement.
And more -- I think, I saw Michael talking about this. And Michael must be living right, because this is manna from heaven for him. He also put into play as to whether or not the attorney client privilege hasn't been waived. So, I think between the two, if you're the lawyer representing them you're saying to yourself tonight, this is not going to arbitration as easily as I thought it was.
LEMON: Wow. Wow. OK, so, if what the President says is accurate, Mark, does that invalidate this non-disclosure agreement?
GERAGOS: Well, I always thought that one of the threshold issues was going to be, not so much -- I thought there was a way to thread the needle legally as to make it enforceable to get a motion to compel granted to go over to an arbitrator. The problem with what was stated here is, if he is saying he didn't know, he being the President, didn't know about the NDA -- and he is.
He is saying he didn't know about one of the material terms which is the $130,000. You can no longer with a straight face argue that you're going to enforce an agreement you didn't know about, especially since you weren't the one who paid the money. So it's a very -- it takes what I thought was going to be a routine motion to compel and a case that would have gone into arbitration -- if Michael is now right back smack dab in the game.
MARTIN: I think too. LEMON: Areva -- I want -- let me play this and I will get your
respond. Because Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti. You know, Mark just said it is manna from heaven for him. He says the strength of this case just went up exponentially. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIEL'S ATTORNEY: I think what we have seen over the last seven to 14 days is an effort to effectively put Michael Cohen in the cross hairs, the President and others are putting a lot of weight on this man's shoulders.
[23:05:07] And they better hope that he holds up. Because if he doesn't hold up under questioning by me or Mr. Mueller, if he caves, the President and the administration should be -- could be in a very, very bad place. They could pierce the attorney client privilege based on the crime fraud exception. They are putting Michael Cohen in the cross hairs and if there's -- it is clear as day. And I don't think it's going to work out well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Areva, is he right, when the President create more problems for Cohen and himself?
MARTIN: Yes. Absolutely, but let's be clear. Michael Cohen has been creating problems for himself in the statements that he has been making publicly as well. And the President didn't help him. And definitely any argument that the Cohen team has about not being subject to deposition or the Trump team not being subject to deposition, that just went out the window.
And I think Michael now Stormy's lawyer has a great argument for why there should be discovery in this matter, why Trump should be deposed, why Michael Cohen should be deposed, why written interrogatories should be sent, subpoenas should be sent, requests for production of documents, the entire discovery process has now been put into play. And we should expect this President in all likelihood will be forced to give testimony under oath.
LEMON: So Mark, I was getting dressed when this came out of the breaking news on the situation room. And I had to get out of the shower. And I -- I couldn't believe the President answered those questions and gave more oxygen to this story. It was shocking. I was -- it was actually shocking that he even responded after all this time of saying -- not saying nothing, listening to his attorney. Were you shocked?
GERAGOS: Yes, Don, you know we talked when I was back in New York a couple of weeks ago, off the air, about the fact that it's inexplicable to me what the president's team is doing and how they do give -- every time the story dies -- the story dies, they tend to kind of reinvigorate it. This today -- I am telling you as somebody who has defended clients who say things that are inexplicable. I feel the pain of the lawyer who is handling this for the President and for Michael Cohen. I mean, it's just -- you watch that and you say -- you just put your
hand in your head and say why? You know, we had -- we had them -- I had a friend who once said I painted a Picasso and the client urinated all over it. That is exactly how you feel in a situation like this.
LEMON: Oh my God.
MARTIN: I wasn't surprised, Don. For me it was always a question of when, not if. Trump can't keep quiet about anything. And you know, Stormy Daniels' lawyer has been brilliant about using the media, using this cable shows that we know Trump watches religiously to go-Trump. I mean, he's out there attacking him and this is President that can't go a day without counter-punching, that his the team likes to say.
So, the fact that he went this long without saying something, I think he should be given a little credit for that, because it's very strange to me that he didn't come out on day one, particularly after the "60 Minute" interview when Stormy said the sex wasn't good. I thought Trump would lose it and we would see him tweeting up a storm. And he hold his composure and didn't say anything, but --
GERAGOS: Well, you know, Areva, Areva. I have a -- I have a theory about this. My theory is that originally when he heard he was not a target, he was ecstatic and he said it worked, I've gotten through this, I am in the home stretch. Then when somebody explained to him -- and maybe he watched TV and realized that being the subject of a Federal Criminal investigation.
LEMON: It's not good to be there.
MARTIN: Is bad.
GERAGOS: It is -- It is not only is not good either -- I tell my clients strap in, this is the worst part of the whole thing. At least when you're a target you've got options. When you're a subject you're boxed in.
LEMON: You don't know. Right. You don't know.
MARTIN: That may be an accurate theory, Mark.
LEMON: Let me ask you guys this.
MARTIN: It's hard to know, but we knew he was going to have to say something at some point.
LEMON: I want to ask you, because there was the argument to be made that Cohen broke campaign finance with the payment to Stormy Daniels, the amount and the timing of this. And I'm wondering what kind of repercussions for Cohen, what is he facing? Could he be disbarred? Is he -- I don't know, just a reprimand? Is he in the clear when it comes to campaign finance rules? Mark?
GERAGOS: Look, the -- I don't think that is where his hazard is. I don't know the man. I feel his pain too. I never like anybody in the heart of one of these fire storms.
GERAGOS: His problem is the bar, you know, the professional responsibility. That is his first problem. The second problem is if -- if Mueller has got a situation where he thinks he needs to squeeze Cohen. Avenatti is right, one of the places where he is going to squeeze is a conspiracy to commit a campaign finance fraud.
[23:10:00] I defended those cases. They're difficult cases. And it may not have any great teeth to it. But the last thing you want is a lawyer is to be indicted. So, I mean that is no -- that is no picnic. And this is a situation now where he is smack dab his client has effectively said that he went ahead and he paid the $130,000 and I didn't know about it. And I waived privilege basically. I mean that is going to end up -- you're asking for a food fight between the client and the lawyer.
LEMON: Oh boy. I want to ask you about this. If he's opened the flood gates, because of Karen McDougal, Areva, her lawyer tweeting today, now that real Donald Trump has cleared up everything for Michael Avenatti, -- Stormy Daniels will he be making a statement about our client Karen McDougal or should we ask Michael Cohen? So did he just open up a whole new can of worm and put himself in another danger.
MARTIN: Well, I think Karen McDougal's lawyers is hoping that the same kind of gift that was given to Avenatti is given to them I their case. And I think all along, what this lawyers up, wanted Trump to do was to -- yes, start tweeting about the cases or giving statements like he did today with the hopes that they can use these statements against him in court.
And I just want to say, Don, Mark tonight, Joe last night, have so much empathy. Maybe Mark not as much as Joe for these lawyers. But you know, let's talk about the women involved in these cases and what's happening with them, the imbalance of power, where they are having to go up against the President of the United States with all of the resources and the majesty of his office. So I don't want to lose sight of the women in these cases. And no, they're not Rosa Parks, they are not saints, but they are taking on the biggest client -- the biggest defendant on the planet.
GERAGOS: Areva -- How in it the world you steered this from me having empathy for some poor lawyer to being me to is brilliant. I give you that.
LEMON: She is a good attorney.
GERAGOS: Apparently a no good -- no good deed goes unpunished.
LEMON: She is a good dancer. I mean she spun that, man. Thank you.
GERAGOS: Boy did she pivot, ever. LEMON: Well, that is why she is making it rain.
MARTIN: That is in the book.
GERAGOS: Exactly. I have my umbrella out. She is making rain.
LEMON: All right. Thank you guys. I appreciate it.
GERAGOS: Thank you.
LEMON: See you soon. We'll be right back.
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The President clearly prepared to trust his gut even when that puts him at odds with his own advisers, but is that putting the country in danger? Joining me now is CNN national security analyst, James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence.
Always a pleasure to have you on. Thank you, sir. Director Clapper you saw CNN's reporting that the President grew testy when his National Security team warned of the risks of withdrawing too quickly from Syria. Does the President understand the nature of Counter- Terrorism?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I'm not sure he does. And I think the fact is, in the case of a sudden withdrawal from Syria, which I actually caught -- appears to me to have caught everyone by surprise when he made that pronouncement. And -- first of all, the first point is the fighting isn't over yet. The ISIS still has some territory left. And the important -- and the hard phase comes after the fighting, when you have to stabilize and restore order and restore services, like food, water, electricity and get the people to come back and set up some form of government -- governance which hopefully will be a lot less brutal than the one that they enduring under ISIS.
And there are huge policy implications here from the standpoint of withdrawal in terms of ceding the Syria to a combination, I supposed of Iran, and Russia, Assad and the Turks. He leaves the Kurds who have been doing the heavy lifting on the actual fighting, high and dry.
And the fact of the matter is, I think we are going to be in a state of suppression of these terrorist groups overseas -- and it's much better overseas than this closer to home. So, we need to -- in my view, we need to stay there longer for intelligence purposes, and to keep tabs on these people and to stabilize these places once the fighting is over and in this case it isn't over. So --
LEMON: -- to answer the question, I don't think he understands those implications.
LEMON: The short answer is, you don't believe that. Do you think that the President is thinking in terms of what is good for politics instead of what's good for the safety of the country?
CLAPPER: Well, it appears to me that so many of the things that he says and does are driven more by pleasing the base and returning to the rhetoric of the campaign. And that seems to be where he feels most comfortable. And I have to say, I don't know that he considers the implications of these things in terms of the safety and security of this country.
We are a much better served in this -- in this particular case by suppressing terrorism and monitoring terrorism from afar rather than close to home. And that is why, you know, it's kind of a pottery barn and metaphor here. Once you break -- you know, you break the China you're sort of responsible for it. And that is -- it's unfortunate, but this is a sad fact.
Until, in fact, until the basic conditions, particularly in the Middle East and other places in the world, change, those that give rise to the phenomenon of terrorism -- until such time as those changes occur, we are always going to be in a mode of monitoring and suppressing terrorist groups, particularly those that may morph into a threat to the homeland.
LEMON: Let's talk about the impulsive nature of this President. When you hear, Director Clapper, that aides are playing catch-up to translate his instant demands into policy, ordering National Guard troops to the southern border for -- that is just one example. There are so many examples. What are your thoughts about Trump running the country on impulse?
[23:20:13] CLAPPER: Well, it appears to me he has gotten more and more confident in his -- his own sense of reality, and that he doesn't need advisers or he wants to surround himself with advisers that he thinks are not going to push back, which I think is very dangerous.
You know -- I mean he is playing no pun intended right into the emperor has no clothes syndrome, where nobody can go to him and tell him that, you know, he is making a big mistake. And when you think about it, you know, we really haven't had a real major crisis overseas. You know, God forbid, another -- something of the magnitude of a 9/11 attack. And so all of this impulsiveness so far has not probably done any real harm, but it's certainly not good over the long-term for the safety and security of this country.
LEMON: Yes. As my grandmother would say a hard head makes a soft behind. So listen -- and that sounds like what you're saying, right.
CLAPPER: Sage wisdom by the way.
LEMON: Sage wisdom. Listen Direct, I want to read this tweet, this is from the former CIA Director John Brennan, he was replying to a Trump tweet where he was touting his own poll numbers. Poll numbers by the way that don't meet CNN standards. And here is what he writes, he said, "I served six Presidents, three R's, three D's. I directly supported Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama. Well, I don't agree with all their policy choices, I admired and respected all of them as they put country above their personal interests not so with you, as your self- adoration is disgraceful." What's your reaction to that Director?
CLAPPER: Well, again, once again, you can't fault John for being too subtle. I think, you know, that this is -- I've said this before about the way I think Putin approaches our President right now. And as a trained experienced KGB officer, what he looks for is ways to influence and co-opt, and the way he found to do that with President Trump is his ego.
And I think, you know, John has a point here, that as long as there is adulation of President Trump and those who adulates him are the ones are people he likes, to include Putin -- and that in itself is not -- not in my view -- I am not a good characteristic or attribute of the President of the United States
LEMON: I have to ask you this, before you go -- and I'm out of time here, but you work for multiple Presidents. Do you respect the President the way he is leading?
CLAPPER: Well -- that is a tough one for me. You know, my father was a career army officers and had served in World War II, Vietnam Korea. I had served 34 years in the military. So, it's almost a part of my very being to be respectful of the President, particularly in his role as Commander-in-Chief. This President makes that tough.
LEMON: Thank you, sir. Perfect answer. I'll see you next time.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, will the public get to see Robert Mueller's final report? Well, we will tell what and who could stand in the way.
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: We have some breaking news tonight on the Mueller investigation. Here to discuss that CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem, CNN's legal analyst, Michael Zeldin, Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Justice Department and Guy Lewis, a former U.S. Attorney. There is so much to cover guys. I don't need to be rude, but just, please brief responses, because we do have a lot to get through.
So, Juliette, just learning tonight, I just want to put this out. I need to read the whole thing. Past hour, Robert Mueller prosecutors using information they granted from -- they green I should say from Paul Manafort's belongings in their investigation. They executed a warrant as recently as March 9th. That information is related to, quote, ongoing investigations that are not the subject of either of the current prosecutions involving Manafort. What does that tell you?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So just quickly, this begins with sort of you know Gates, Manafort's number two pleading. So that happened a month before the new subpoenas went out. You have to assume there is some conversation going on. We also have the Rod Rosenstein memo that got released earlier this week or leaked earlier this week about allowing Mueller to look into new charges against Manafort. So what we can surmise from this and remember this is the fourth sort
of filing in the Mueller investigation in 10 days. So there is -- there is a quick pace going on here.
KAYYEM: That is giving hints and suggestions about how big this case is getting. It can't get worse for Manafort. And it actually did.
LEMON: Oh, it did. You agree with that, guy?
GUY LEWIS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: No, I think it's getting worse for Manafort. I think that Mueller and his team are now as a result of the Rosenstein memo are probably unleashing dozens and dozens of new subpoenas. You know, once an indictment is returned you can still use the grand jury to investigate new charges. And I think that is what's going on here. These prosecutors know how to follow money. They know how to trace funds. And I think that is what they're doing.
LEMON: OK. Michael I have a question for you. We reported that Mueller is looking into Trump's businesses, but tonight McClatchy is reporting that investigators are very interested in Michael Cohen's role in business deals with the Trump organization in Georgia, Kazakhstan and Russia. What does that tell you?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That they are investigating two things possibly. One is sort of ala Manafort. Independent financial crime by the Trump organization. Remember, Manafort in some respects engaged in money laundering and tax evasion and failed to register as a foreign agent untethered to the collusion investigation directly. So it tells us one, they may be doing the same as to Trump.
And then two, they may be looking that as a possible basis for a relationship with Russians and we saw the stopping of oligarchs at airports to see whether that is a channel through which illicit money came into the campaign in violation of the federal campaign laws.
LEMON: OK. So, listen, I want to -- listen, I'm just getting some new information here. So, it's saying -- this is a new reporting that we're getting. This is according to -- Politico, right? This is Politico. Mueller moved to seize bank accounts one day before indictment of Manafort. Also special counsel team got new search warrant for phones just last month. Juliette?
KAYYEM: I think this is just consistent with the reporting earlier today, which is Mueller is looking at a sort of new indictments or new charges against Manafort that go beyond -- you remember the first charges were actually financial charges.
So if you're thinking they're going beyond, they may be getting into the election -- you know, let's just say Manafort was the campaign chairman. We are in the Trump campaign now. As I said last night, sometimes it's just as obvious as it looks.
(LAUGHTER) KAYYEM: And that's how we have to -- that's how I think we have to take this. We don't know the specifics obviously what Mueller has but we certainly know that this investigation is just taking a lot of interesting focused turns that will culminate in either report or indictment.
LEMON: OK. So, Michael, I want to -- I'm going to read this again. I want you to weigh in. Mueller moved -- this is again according to Politico -- Mueller moved to seize bank accounts one day before indictment of Manafort. Also special counsel team got new search warrant for phones just last month. More charges possible.
ZELDIN: Right. So they are looking at the full extent of Manafort's financial dealings with his private clients and possibly looking at those financial records in relationship to the funneling of money into the campaign.
I think that you can't decouple the activities with respect to the oligarchs, with respect to the Seychelles meetings that were just investigated with the cooperation of Gates. These are all evidence of a broadening financial investigation that includes both financial crime and what we call coordination in the -- or conspiracy in the election law context.
GUY LEWIS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, I think Juliette and Michael are right on point. Remember, Don, the prosecutors that Bob Mueller has picked on this case are some of the smartest, most aggressive, terrific prosecutors that I worked with when I was with the Justice Department. They prosecuted Enron, Worldcom and a number of the most sophisticated financial fraud cases that the department brought.
They know how to trace money. And to me as a prosecutor, that was always very, very powerful, powerful evidence. And that's got to be really what's making the president very angry here, that this investigation is not condensing. It's not getting smaller. It's getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
LEMON: Yes. It was supposed to be over by Thanksgiving and then Christmas. Did you want to weigh in on that, Juliette?
ZELDIN: I was just going to --
KAYYEM: I -- go ahead.
ZELDIN: Sorry. I was going to say in response to what Guy said is, remember my position in the Justice Department with Mueller was his special counsel for money laundering matters. So that was in the late 1980s. Obama has had an experienced team around him in money laundering for a long time. So, all of this stuff is very basic, blocking and tackling for a money laundering prosecutor.
KAYYEM: Oh, just picking up on Guy, it's not only getting bigger, it's getting closer. So, we're -- the -- the investigation is getting wider and it's getting quite close, I would say at this stage to the Oval Office. And that's obviously what's animating the Trump White House's concerns.
LEMON: Juliette, so of the four people -- I don't know if there is anything to read into this -- of the four people charged, Manafort is the only one who pleaded not guilty.
KAYYEM: Right. I mean he is -- and whether that holds, we don't know, right? Because these additional potential charges may finally get him to -- to open up or to be willing to talk. So, Manafort's plea now, I don't know if that sustains itself.
But Manafort may just be weighing the length of time it would be to prove something against him, against what he knows he would face, which is -- he is not a young guy, a long time in jail for it. So, he is gambling. And the question is, you know, whether he wins or whether he decides to fold.
ZELDIN: Right and remember --
KAYYEM: I just made a gambling allusion which is really -- I don't gamble.
ZELDIN: Remember, Don, he just had a very bad day in court the other day on his motion to dismiss the Mueller prosecution as being outside of his mandate.
[23:35:07] What he triggered was the release of that August 2nd mandate letter which said exactly Mueller is doing what Rosenstein has asked him to do. And so I think his case now is going to be a jury trial. And his hopes of a dismissal are vanished. And so now he is going to make a tough decision about whether to cooperate or not.
LEMON: I appreciate the input from all of you. Guy, Juliette, Michael, thank you so much. When we come back, we're going to dig into the real reason behind President Trump's repeated attacks on Amazon.
LEMON: President Trump's war on Amazon and The Washington Post shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. But what is his goal here? What's the endgame? And why is he attacking one of America's most successful companies?
Let's discuss now with someone who has lived through Trump Twitter tirades. Joining me now, CNN political commentator, Joe Lockhart, the former chief communications officer for the NFL. Welcome. And CNN political commentator, Margaret Hoover, a former White House staffer for George W. Bush. Welcome as well.
2MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.
LEMON: She has been here before. You're a newbie, Joe. JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm new.
LEMON: So, thank you so much.
[23:40:00] We are going to start with you. President Trump has attacked Amazon by name 15 times since taking office and he was at it again this morning, accusing Washington Post of being the chief lobbyist.
Here is what he wrote. He said, the fake news Washington Post, Amazon's chief lobbyist, has another (of many) phony headlines, "Trump Defiant As China Adds Trade Penalties." Wrong! Should read, "Trump Defiant As U.S. Adds Trade Penalties, Will End Barrier And Massive I.P. Theft." Typically bad reporting.
So, what do you think ultimately is behind the attacks on Amazon? Is it The Washington Post coverage? Is he jealous of Bezos's wealth? Or something else?
LOCKHART: You know, I think it's a combination. I think the most obvious thing and the thing that gets under his skin most often is The Washington Post coverage. This is the way bullies go after people that don't agree with them or criticize them.
But I think it's interesting. It gives you some insight into his mine. I think some of it is some sort of envy that Bezos is the richest guy in the world and that he is not because he is always trying to aggrandize his own wealth.
And I think, you know, there is also the possibility that he is a developer, he is a builder. The people who hate e-commerce more than anyone are builders because it devalues what they build. You know, retail spaces worth less. His buildings are worth less.
You see this on a lot of issues, the sort of grudges that he has carried around his adult life, he has brought to the White House. And now, you know, uses his power which is an abuse of power to try to settle the scores.
LEMON: You know, Margaret, it got to be -- it is very disorienting to see a sitting Republican president repeatedly attacking one of America's most successful companies. I mean, Amazon employs half a million people. This seems to fly in the face of Republican dogma.
HOOVER: Republican dogma. The idea of a sitting president singling out a company and singling out a CEO of a company and consistently attacking them. By the way, there is a real effect to that. I mean, Amazon stocks are down today.
HOOVER: That has a real effect on the market. Amazon, I think, frankly the bully pulpit of the presidency is the most powerful media platform anybody has. I mean, Donald Trump should be reminded of that. That can have a real effect on jobs, on livelihoods.
LEMON: It is having a real effect on people's 401(K)s, their retirements.
HOOVER: Yes. Amazon is going to need to be really thoughtful and strategic about how to respond. And I think they are going to have to do something. Without, by the way, appearing to get into a fist fight with the president because that's not helpful either.
LEMON: Yes. Joe, I want to talk about this with you because you are the former P.R. chief for the NFL.
LEMON: You were on the receiving end of Trump's attacks when he came after the NFL players for kneeling in protest of racial injustice during the national anthem. What was that experience like? What do you think Jeff Bezos is going through right now? What advice would you offer him, considering what Margaret just said? He is going to have to be strategic in a way he responds or the company responds.
LOCKHART: Yes, you know, I think the difference here is he is going after a company. He is going after Bezos. Bezos is a big boy. He can take presidential criticism. He has got $100 billion in the bank that will help him through this difficult time.
LOCKHART: I think the difference with the NFL was the president was going after the entire workforce of the NFL, the players, the guys who go out on the field. And it was, you know, at best it was racially insensitive. At worst it was something worse. So I think for the NFL's -- from the NFL's perspective, we really had to stand up and say that it was wrong. We did that.
But then we let him tweet away because what he wants is a fist fight in the school yard. And I think over time, you know, that kind of behavior -- the public catches on to. So I don't think the people at Amazon need to get into on a daily basis with the president. I think they handled it pretty well.
LEMON: Yes. I'm just wondering now if it's, you know, when you have these tough times when everyone is so politically polarized, is it tough, you know, not chasing away, you know, some of the NFL fans or some of Amazon's customers when you -- you know, when you have to criticize the president or respond to him? . LOCKHART: Well, I mean, the difference is if you're the NFL, you're
Amazon, you're trying to appeal to 100 percent of the country. Donald Trump is trying to appeal to about 35 to 40 percent of the country. And if he gets to 47, 48, he wins re-election and the game is over.
But, you know, I think the interesting part is -- and it goes back to this sort of, you know, the kind of the grudge that he keeps holding. Going after the NFL wasn't by accident. He sued the NFL and tried to get into the NFL owners' clubs in the '80s and lost. He tried to buy a club four or five years ago, the Buffalo Bills.
[23:45:02] And there is just no chance that the owners were going to let him in to that organization. And this was -- he carried that grudge and he uses the Oval Office and Twitter in particular to try to litigate or get even with people -- LEMON: As a cudgel.
LOCKHART: -- which is just -- it is abuse of power, you know, at its base.
LEMON: Margaret, you know, in the past few weeks, he has been really sort of erratically acting out on Twitter and saying things that are just factually inaccurate. He has had so many people leave. He lost Hope Hicks. He lost his bag man, John McEntee. Rob Porter is gone. Do you think it has something to do with what we are seeing?
HOOVER: I think the circle that advises the president necessarily over time becomes smaller and becomes more insular. Every now and then you get a sort of a refresh. Somebody new comes in that brings sort of fresh blood to it. He is probably right for that, especially since so many of the inner circle that he had trusted and that he relied on as a sort of normal functioning have had turnover.
HOOVER: Not -- not just the ones that we know about. The ones that are really helping him get through the day.
LEMON: Can I ask you this? We're out of time. Why aren't more Republicans speaking out against someone who is directly -- a sitting president directly affecting the markets and companies and people's livelihoods? Why -- what's --
HOOVER: It is fundamentally shocking to me as a Republican who -- who has -- identified with the modern American conservative movement since I had a political sensibility. We have always been the market -- the party of free trade. We have always been the party that has stood for freedom, political freedom, economic freedom.
And to see the number of governors, frankly, even who -- whose tariff war hurts their states and hurt their economies be so afraid to criticize the president's policies.
HOOVER: It doesn't have to be personal, just to criticize the substance of the policy. This man is such a bully that he doesn't give anybody room to disagree with him.
LEMON: Thank you both. Fascinating conversation. I appreciate it. When he come back, just when you think the Trump cabinet's behavior can't get any worse, well it does. What happened to drain that swamp?
[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Whatever happened to President Trump's promise to drain the swamp? When it comes to his cabinet and members of his administration, the swampy water appears to be getting deeper. Here to discuss, Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer, and CNN political commentator, Doug Heye, a Republican strategist. Hello, gentlemen. Thank you for coming in.
So Richard, sources are telling CNN TONIGHT that the lead agent in charge of Scott Pruitt's security detail got booted from Pruitt's detail after he told his boss that he couldn't use lights and sirens to get through D.C. traffic any quicker. The unnamed agent told Pruitt that he could only do that in an emergency. What's your reaction?
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: The lights and sirens routine, we had a lot of that with the Vice President Cheney during the Bush administration, certainly tied up traffic going back and forth to the vice president's house. But for the EPA administrator, I mean, this is ridiculous. There is no need for that.
Where is he going and coming from? The $50 a night room he's got with a lobbyist, he's busy trying to deregulate the energy industry. This is exactly the kind of thing that the American people are fed up with in Washington. They haven't drained the swamp, they just made it worse.
LEMON: The Pruitt scandals seem to be piling up, you know, from first class flights, security detail, below the market rent. We were talking about the condo for 50 bucks a night co-owned by wife of an energy lobbyist. What happened again to draining the swamp? What is going on?
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What we are seeing and we've seen obviously other examples of this in other departments and agencies, is that some of the prime directive of what they're there for have been forgotten. There's a lot of substance that Scott Pruitt and his team would rather be talking about than all of this.
And I can tell you -- as you know, Don, I worked for Eric Cantor when he was majority leader of the House for two and a half years, which means I was in his security detail a lot. We never used a siren. We never tried to get anywhere, other than being stuck at the same stoplights as everyone else. And all these stories are having a pile on effect.
But the biggest mistake that he has made is the Fox News interview. I can tell you, here is exactly how it happens. It happens one or two ways. Either the principal says, I need my voice out there to defend myself. Or a not helpful staffer says, you know what, boss? Your voice needs to be out there to help define things.
That's always how these things happen. It is where the comms (ph) team, the very smart and very talented comms (ph) team at EPA, needs to be able to get a better hold on things and have him step back.
LEMON: Speaking of having your voice out there in spite of Pruitt's problems, his boss seems unfazed. Here's the president earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think that Scott has done a fantastic job. I think he's a fantastic person. You know, I just left -- I just left coal and energy country. They love Scott Pruitt. They feel very strongly about Scott Pruitt and they love Scott Pruitt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Richard, is Scott Pruitt going to make it?
PAINTER: Oh, I don't know. I guess if the president wants to keep him there, he can keep him there. But he's not protecting the environment. It's supposed to be the Environmental Protection Agency. It's turning into the environmental pollution agency. And he has an energy lobbyist who is giving him a room for $50 a night. We all know nobody can get a room for $50 a night in Washington D.C. unless you get a cabinet position and get a lobbyist to give it to you.
PAINTER: So, if that's what the the president wants, OK. But I think the American people is going to need to go to the polls and give some people a good kick in the behind because this is unacceptable.
LEMON: CNN has learned, Doug, that at least five staffers at the EPA have been reassigned or demoted after raising concerns about Pruitt's spending.
[23:55:00] Is the clock ticking on Pruitt's job? Should it be? The president seems OK.
HEYE: The fact that the president spoke to the press which we knew he doesn't do a lot and did so on Air Force One, means he does have that endorsement from the president because Scott Pruitt is somebody who is implementing the president's agenda in a way that not every cabinet secretary is.
He's been very effective as his job, which means for Scott Pruitt and his team, what they need to do, as the president should do, stay out of your own way, focus on the policies that you're trying to implement. There will be more bad stories. But if he recedes from the headlines, he should be fine.
LEMON: Well, Tillerson's job was fine, that's what he said. And then McMaster was fake news and look at where they are.
Thank you, gentlemen.
HEYE: Tomorrow is Friday.
LEMON: Tomorrow is fire day. Thank you all. Thank you both. That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.
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