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Cohen Talks to Media After Raid; CNN Exclusive: Cohen Says He'd Rethink How He Handled Payment To Stormy Daniels; CNN Sources: President Considering Firing Rosenstein In An Effort To Check Mueller; Zuckerberg Confirms Facebook Is Cooperating With Special Counsel Mueller's Investigation. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 10, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Here's our breaking news. Sources telling CNN that President Trump is now considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the only man who stands between the president and Robert Mueller. Firing Rosenstein is something that could put Trump in Saturday night massacre territory. But officials say even that may not be enough for a furious president.
I want you to listen to this exchange from today's White House briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does this president believe he has the power to fire special counsel Robert Mueller? Does he believe that's within his power?
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly believes he has the power to do so. We've been advised that the president certainly has the power to make that decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So the president believes he has the power to fire Mueller. Even though the code of federal regulations clearly states only the attorney general has that power.
But this may be even more important. Sarah Sanders says the White House has been advised by the -- advised that the president has the power to fire Mueller. So it's not just something he's threatening to do, he's looking for guidance on whether he can actually do it.
And this isn't the first time. A source tells CNN, the president and his aides have discussed firing Mueller for months. We're also learning Trump has discussed with members of Congress who've warned him it would be a disaster in the midterms. I want you to listen to Senate judiciary committee chairman Chuck Grassley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), CHAIRMAN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think it would be suicide for the president to fire him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So one thing is clear, President Trump is at a boiling point. And two sources tell CNN FBI raid -- the FBI raid on the home and office of Trump attorney Michael Cohen could be the thing that pushes him over the edge.
Michael Cohen himself, speaking out about that raid, exclusively to CNN. Today I talked with Michael Cohen who told me the FBI agents were, quote, "extremely professional, courteous, and respectful." Nothing at all like the president's claim that agents broke into Cohen's office.
He also admitted that he's worried and called the raid upsetting to say the least. We'll have more on my conversation with Michael Cohen and that's just in a moment.
And there are more signs tonight that something may be afoot at the White House. Attorney General Jeff Sessions not exactly the president's favorite cabinet member, was at the White House for about 90 minutes today. No word on why.
And a source tells CNN the president had dinner tonight with the -- with attorney and high profile defender Alan Dershowitz. I wonder what they talked about. In case you thought Stormy Daniels was out of the picture, you should think again, because we're learning tonight she is cooperating with the feds in an investigation that's being described as extensive and aggressive.
I'm going to talk to her attorney in a moment.
And it's only Tuesday. Let's get straight to CNN Senior White House Correspondent, Pamela Brown.
Pamela, good evening to you. Thanks for joining us. You know, you broke the story that President Trump is considering firing Rod Rosenstein to check Mueller. What more can you tell us?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Don. Our team has learned the president's consideration of firing Rod Rosenstein has gained urgency following the raid of the office of the president's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. As you pointed put, he's been angered by this.
This is one of several options, including going so far as to fire the Attorney General Jeff Sessions as well that Trump is weighing in the wake of all of this.
Now we should note that not all of Trump's advisers and legal advisers are on board, but there are others telling him that they now believe they have a stronger case against Rosenstein. They believe he has crossed the line in what he can and cannot pursue, and they consider him conflicted since he's a potential witness in the special counsel's investigation, because he wrote that memo that justified firing former FBI director James Comey. So even though Trump has considered firing him in the past as we know,
the possibility, Don, has taken on a more serious tone in recent days according to sources we've spoken with.
LEMON: Pamela, you also have reporting about the special counsel's team meeting with Trump lawyers yesterday, the same day of the Cohen raid.
BROWN: Yes, that's right. The timing of the raid, as you can imagine, made for an awkward meeting between Mueller's team and the president's lawyers yesterday. Sources familiar say the meeting had been previously scheduled as part of preparations for a possible interview between the president and Mueller's team.
And a source close to the president said, there had been these ongoing negotiations between Mueller's team and the president's legal team for a potential interview. But the raid on the president's personal attorney has up-ended those discussions.
The president's anger over the raid as well as a new assessment of what the implications of the raid could be for Cohen's most prominent client, Trump, are factors certainly that the president's legal team has to take into account as they try to decide how to move forward.
The president's attorney, Jay Sekulow, we should note would not comment on the specific meeting saying we do not discuss conversations we have had or have not had with the special counsel, Don.
LEMON: Pamela Brown, thank you. Reporting from the White House live. I appreciate that. I want to bring in now CNN Political Analyst, Ryan Lizza, CNN Political Analyst, April Ryan, and CNN Legal Analyst, Laura Coates.
Good evening to all of you. Where do I start? I get new notes, new information like up until the last second of this show every day.
[22:05:06] And as I said in the open, it's only Tuesday. So Laura, first, I want to get your take on the president considering, considering firing the Deputy Attorney general Rod Rosenstein to check Mueller. Is that where this is headed?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it certainly could be. Remember, he's been on the chopping block, or at least on the list, the short list of people that he could fire. Because he, just like Jeff Sessions, serves as the pleasure of the president of the United States.
Now you should note that of course these people have both been bipartisan supported in their positions so he rightly had extends here, but the key here is that Rod Rosenstein is the person who Mueller reports to. He's not the person where it will obviously influence in every facet what Mueller will investigate and to what extent he will do so.
And so if he were to place Rod Rosenstein, the next person in line to Sessions would have to be somebody who would also be willing potentially to fire Mueller or anyone else who came along as a way to try to placate the president of the United States. But it wouldn't end all of the inquiries there.
Because in large respects, Mueller's team is operating in a fashion that you can't put that genie back in the bottle. And it's unlikely given the statement of Senator Lindsey Graham and others that Mueller or Rosenstein is doing a poor enough job for there to be absolute political cover in the firing of that particular person. But he does serve at the pleasure of the president and it's probably the way that he can get around the issue in his mind of having to address Mueller directly.
LEMON: OK. So I think we have to -- Ryan, we have to talk about this, right. And this is a DOJ succession. All right. Sessions recused himself, so Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller.
RYAN LIZZA, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes.
LEMON: If Trump fires Rosenstein, that means the solicitor general Noel Francisco takes control since the number three, Rachel Brand resigned in February. So my question is, firing Rosenstein any different than firing Mueller?
LIZZA: Well, he has to -- first of all, Sarah Sanders today, when she said they've been advised that he can indeed fire Mueller or -- I think there is some constitutional legal dispute about whether the president, he's the head of the executive branch, can reach down into the Department of Justice and hire -- excuse me -- fire anyone he wants.
So that's sort of the argument she's glommed onto. I think there are some people out there who think that. But as you point out, the regulations do not say that. They don't permit that. And he has to -- he could do one of two things. If the end result here that he wants is for Mueller to be fired. He could ask Rosenstein to fire Mueller, right?
Rosenstein could say no and either resign or be fired by the president. And then that succession plan that you just put up there would kick in. But then he's got to find someone, you know, if these are all career people who care about their reputations and don't want to be known for defending Donald Trump in a duly instituted investigation, they're not going to do this.
So he's got to clear out the whole leadership of the Justice Department if he wants to get rid of Mueller--
LEMON: Is this the way we--
LIZZA: -- the way that -- the way that Nixon did in the Saturday night massacre.
LEMON: I said in the open he's in that territory. Now he--
LIZZA: He wants to do it. Look, we all know that's what he wants to do. The issue is what's holding him back?
LIZZA: Because he does what he wants to do. If he has the power to do he does it. And the only thing that's holding him back--
LIZZA: I think it's more congressional republicans, just by a thread they are telling him you can't do that. That is a red line. And as soon as they start to go shaky, he will do it.
LEMON: OK. I have the code of the federal regulations on the firing of the special counsel, the title 28, chapter 6, part 600, section part d. There it is. "Special counsel may be disciplined or removed from office only by the personnel -- personal action for the attorney general."
But then there's this nebulous line here that says, the special counsel for misconduct -- how do you interpret misconduct? Dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflicts of interest. So, you know, for other good cause, including violation of departmental policies. So it may depend on how you interpret that.
LIZZA: Right. But if the president himself decided to fire Rosenstein and/or Mueller, what if they resisted, what if they said no, Mr. President, you can't -- in the case of Mueller, what if he said no, you can't do that and Rosenstein backed him up--
LIZZA: -- saying regulations don't allow that? Then we would some legal confrontation.
LEMON: April, given everything going on at the White House, you asked the question at the press briefing today that was not well received. Some people thought it was a great question, but not from the podium. Take a look.
APRIL RYAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: With all of this turmoil, particularly this last week, has the president at any time thought about stepping down?
SANDERS: No, and I think that's an absolutely ridiculous question.
RYAN: Not ridiculous.
SANDERS: We're moving on. Jordan, go ahead.
RYAN: It's not ridiculous.
LEMON: Why did you ask that question?
RYAN: Why did I ask the question? Well, first of all, after 21 years, I've watched -- I've been there for various issues, to include Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
[22:10:04] Around issues like this, and when presidents are in the throes of issues of people talking impeachment or investigations or things of that nature, and the turmoil that he's been going through, these presidents and their administrations, the top staff tier have options on the table for each scenario.
So, and this president has been doing that, as well. And then you also -- you've been talking about Nixon and Watergate. Well, Republicans at that time said Mr. Nixon, either you resign or you -- you will be given impeachment proceedings. And what did he do?
So it was a legitimate question. And you have to remember, Don, and for everyone watching and listening or what have you, there is no question that it's beyond the realm or scope of a president to answer.
He is the president of all of America, and he's the leader of the free world. And when it deals with him and turmoil, that is a legitimate question. It may not have been well received by Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the White House, but it is a legitimate question.
This president is possibly looking at firing his -- his -- well, wanting any Mueller fired ultimately by someone he will fire in the Justice Department. That could cause obstruction of justice. And it could also cause a constitutional crisis, and then other things going on. With the Stormy Daniels and FBI raid, why not ask that question. What was so wrong about that question? Nothing.
LEMON: Yes. Well, you know, a lot of people agree with you, because I think there are, I'd say there are no silly questions. And it was good that you asked it and you should be able to ask whatever question you want. But you did bring up the raid, OK.
RYAN: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: So, Laura, I spoke with Michael Cohen today who told me that the raid was upsetting he said. He said, "I am unhappy to have my personal residence and office raided, but I will tell you that members of the FBI that conducted the search and seizure were all extremely professional. They were courteous and respectful and I thanked them at the conclusion."
You know, it's a total contrast from what we heard from the president. President Trump called the raids a break-in. It wasn't. What is your reaction to that? COATES: Well, it was never a break-in. It was a duly executed warrant
that was issued and enforce by people who were independent of the Mueller investigation and people who were partly in some line of succession of people who had been appointed by the President of the United States.
And I think what the statement of the president was yesterday was trying to further perpetuate a narrative that goes in line with his theory of a witch hunt which is largely unsubstantiated in any respect.
And so when you have Michael Cohen go out and say that it was handled and executed in a way that was respectful, I wasn't surprised. There is an impression that people have that a warrant or a raid that's executed comes in with people having a barrel against the door and a wooden stake of some sort where they go through your house, rip up your couches, overthrow your mattresses.
Most of the people when you have these applications for these warrants that are not fishing expeditions, they know what they're looking for. Electronic equipment, devices, paperwork. They were trying -- they had everything that they actually needed.
So I'm not surprised this is what happened. What I am surprised with is that there is a continuing thought process that is done any differently. And that there is this attack on the FBI and its investigators.
That serves the president in one respect -- if he can continue to conflate these issues and have people question the integrity of the FBI or the process by which the investigation is undertaken, then he gives himself political cover to be able to say don't take it seriously, regardless of the result. And please don't hold me accountable if I choose not to participate in it.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you. That's going to have to be the last word. We appreciate it.
When we come back, are we on the verge of President Trump's very own Saturday night massacre? It didn't work out especially well for Richard Nixon. We're going to ask someone who knows that person and that's John Dean, he's here right after this break.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Here's the breaking news tonight. President Trump could be on the verge of firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. But sources tell CNN that may not be enough to satisfy a furious president. He may have special counsel Robert Mueller himself in his sights.
Let's discuss now with CNN contributor, John Dean who is Nixon White House counsel. I'm so glad to have you on to discuss this. Welcome to the program.
What goes through your mind, John, when you hear our breaking news tonight that the president is considering firing Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he would do well to remember the history of what happened with Richard Nixon. In fact, Nixon would write in his memoirs he miscalculated in making his decision to fire the special prosecutor Cox at the time. What he did, as he was dealing with an aggressive prosecutor who was seeking evidence that the president didn't want, namely his tapes.
In June -- excuse me, in July of 1973, the revelation of the tapes had been made public by the Senate. And Alex Butterfield's testimony. Right after that, the entire dynamics of Watergate changed, because then it was no longer my word against the president, but rather what did the tapes say about who had said what? And that became the prosecutor's focus, and Nixon didn't want him go in there. And that's why he fired him.
LEMON: So give us some more historical perspective here. Because let me, I want to show you two graphics here, all right. If Trump moves to fire Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, that means the solicitor general Noel Francisco would be next in line to oversee Mueller's investigation.
Back in 1973, when Nixon ordered his attorney general Elliot Richardson to fire the special prosecutor Archibald Cox, Richardson refused and resigned in protest. Nixon then orders the deputy attorney general, and he also refuses and resigns.
Before the night is over, the U.S. solicitor general agrees to fire Cox. The question is, are we closer to a Saturday night massacre than ever before?
DEAN: The situation is a little different for this reason, Don. When Elliott Richardson was selected attorney general, which was in May of 1973, he had to go through confirmation proceedings.
[22:20:01] During those proceedings, he made a commitment to the Senate that he would, one, appoint a special prosecutor. And two, he would not remove that special prosecutor except being for cause.
So, that's what was the bound secret he had made with the -- or the pledge he had made with the Senate. When it came time to fire, he didn't feel he could violate his pledge to the Senate, and his deputy, Bill Ruckelshaus felt the same way, that he was honor bound not to follow the president's orders, and rather to resign. 2
The two of them actually persuaded the solicitor general to take and carry out the president's orders. Bork was not a yes man, but he was in a situation where they were worried about the stability of the department at that point if somebody couldn't step up and do the job.
So that -- Bork has always -- while he's very conservative and much more conservative than many in the Republican Party, he's kind of gotten a bad rap over this, over the years.
LEMON: So let me, so John, is it worse than -- I mean, in Nixon's case, he had to get someone to get the job done. In Trump's case, the White House believes that he has the power to fire Mueller himself. What do you think?
DEAN: Well, I think that's a new theory of executive power that's really come since Watergate. It's called the unitary executive theory, that the president by the Constitution has unlimited powers in the executive branch, that he could not only fire anybody in the Department of Justice notwithstanding regulations, he can go over to the SEC and tell them how to decide a case or tell the SEC How to decide a case. It's a -- it's a -- it really does -- it places the president above the law. And most scholars don't subscribe to that theory.
LEMON: So then is the president getting accurate information? Because again, the White House says that the president has been advised that he has the power to fire Mueller.
DEAN: I think the president can probably get advice on any issue on both sides of it if he wanted it. That's why the dinner with Dershowitz is kind of interesting tonight because we know what Dershowitz thinks on this, the president has the power. So we'll see how all this plays out.
LEMON: The president tweeted this morning, John, he said "a total witch-hunt." And we've seen similar tweets on the president forward. And this is from the headline, this is from July of 1973 which says, "Nixon sees witch hunt, insiders say." Does Trump need to change the way he's responding to everything?
DEAN: He doesn't seem to recall as history very well. You know, in 1987, he wrote a letter to Richard Nixon, which has never been made public. But he did make public the response that Nixon sent him. That was largely based on Pat Nixon watching Trump on a television show and complimenting him. But we've never seen the letter.
We know that Trump has great admiration for Nixon. I think he ought to remember some of the consequences of what happened to Nixon and thinking about that period of history that he's faced a very similar situation right now.
LEMON: John Dean, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.
DEAN: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, was Michael Cohen talking to me a good idea? Was it a good idea? One person doesn't think so. His opposing counsel in the Stormy Daniels case, Michael Avenatti will join me next.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump's attorney Michael Cohen speaking out in the wake of the FBI raid on his home and his office and he tells me exclusively that in the wake of that raid, he would rethink how he handled the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels.
I want to know what her attorney thinks about that. Joining me now is Michael Avenatti. Michael, thank you very much. MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Thank you.
LEMON: What do you think of Michael Cohen talking to me?
AVENATTI: Well, I mean, Don, I think it's a testament to your ability as a journalist that you actually got him to talk with you, because it makes zero sense. You know, it's said that any attorney that represents himself has a fool for a client. And I think that's absolutely true here.
Michael Cohen should not be speaking with you or other members of the press the day after his offices and his home were raided by the FBI. The statements that he makes to you are not privileged.
LEMON: Even if he's just, he's talking to me about his family and how he feels, not about the investigation.
AVENATTI: Well, no, I think what you just said is he admitted that he would do things differently. That's going to be fodder at some point for either myself in a deposition against him or Mr. Mueller's potential inquiry if it gets to that point. I mean, he should not be making those statements. And let me say this about Michael Cohen and the statements about his family.
LEMON: Let me read the quote. Can I read the quote first?
LEMON: Because I asked him, Michael Cohen, if he was worried, and he told me this. Quote, he said "I would be lying if I told you that I am not. Do I need this in my life? No. Do I want to be involved in this? No." So he's really concerned about his family is what he said. And up until yesterday, he said maybe he would have -- he would have done it but until the raid he would rethink because it hurts his family.
Now he says he's worried not in the sense that he's guilty, because he thinks that legally he will be proven, everything will be proven to be above board, but just worried that this may be a fishing expedition on the part of investigators.
AVENATTI: Well, two things, Don. First of all, I think Michael Cohen faces serious, serious issues in connection with the $130,000 payment and faces huge potential criminal and civil liability. That's number one.
But I want to go back to these statements about his family. And I too feel for his family when they go through this process. But do you know who else I feel for as it relates to their family? I feel for my client's family. I feel for my client's husband. I feel for my client's 7-year-old daughter and what they've all had to go through.
And you know why they've had to go through a lot of this? They had to go through a lot of it because of Michael Cohen's thuggish tactics over the years. What he did to them in January and February of this year, when he came out publicly and -- I mean, these folks have to put up with death threats. They can't even go to a restaurant near their house without people approaching them and trying to potentially harm them.
I mean, they're going through hell and back right now. And all they're trying to do is the right thing.
[22:30:00] So it's rather ironic for me to listen to Michael Cohen talk about his family when my client and her family are going through so much, all in the pursuit of the truth.
LEMON: Well, let me talk to you about the legal part of this, because we didn't, Michael, didn't -- Cohen didn't discuss that legal exposure, legally, what do you -- what is he looking at here?
AVENATTI: Well, I think there's a number of potential areas and inquiry in connection with these raids by the FBI. I will touch on a few of them.
First of all, Michael Cohen claims that he took out a home equity loan to make this payment. He would have had to make a representation to the bank what that was for. I seriously doubt that he...
LEMON: Can I tell you, I checked with my loan officer today, and he said if you have a home equity line of credit, you can use -- you can pay it for anything, you can use it for anything as long as you pay the money back. They don't care what you use it for.
AVENATTI: Well, it's different when you actually take out the loan though, if they inquire is to what the purpose of the loan is. And my understanding is, in connection with this loan, an inquiry was made for the purpose.
And I don't think Michael Cohen told them it's to pay a porn star a $130,000 payment, so that it's hush money. And by the way, we don't believe her. And by the way, certainly, they didn't tell the bank that. So that's one potential area of inquiry in connection with these raids.
LEMON: But it's possible the bank didn't ask. And maybe the line of credit, who knows, maybe it was before that. Maybe he just has this line of credit.
AVENATTI: It's possible.
AVENATTI: Second area of inquiry is, we know that he set up a single purpose LLC -- essential consultant's LLC, and that he then established one, or more bank accounts at First Republic Bank for that LLC.
In connection with that, he would have had to tell the bank what that company was all about, what his business purpose was, how much money was going to flow in and out of those accounts, in connection what's called KYC, or Know Your Customer. The bank would have asked these questions.
Again, I don't believe he was honest with the bank in connection with KYC process. That may also prove to be an area of liability. So that's number two.
Number three, we know that after the $130,000 payment to my client was wired out of one of those accounts that he set up for the LLC, we know that at some point later the bank conducted an internal investigation into that payment. Our understanding is that the bank inquired of Michael Cohen as to the purpose of that payment, and he was not truthful with them.
LEMON: Let me ask you this in the interest of time, how does this connect back to the President, if at all?
AVENATTI: Well, depending on what the President knew, and when he knew it, especially as he relates to this $130,000 payment, it could very well spill over to the President, depending on Michael Cohen, and the liability he faces.
He may -- he may turn state's evidence, if you will, on the President, and come clean about what the President knew. And that could be a very, very bad thing for the President.
LEMON: Michael Avenatti, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
AVENATTI: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, it would be suicide, that's what Senator Chuck Grassley says about the possibility of President Trump firing Robert Mueller. But when push comes to shove, will Republicans actually take action if the President does fire Mueller?
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Sources telling CNN Tonight, President Trump is considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in an attempt to stall the Mueller investigation. Sources also tell CNN, the President and his aides have discussed firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller for months.
And the White House says today the President has the authority to do it. Still, a number of Republican senators seem to think there's nothing to worry about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: I think it would be suicide for the President to fire him. I think the less the President says about this whole thing, the better off he will be. And I think that Mueller is a person of stature, and respected, and I respect him.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm not worried about trump firing Mueller, because you think he's smarter than that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it would be a mistake to fire him. I don't think his job is in jeopardy.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: I'm not going to speculate on something that I don't think will happen. I think the President is too smart to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would create a significant problem here in the Senate.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I don't think he's going to be removed from this office. He shouldn't be removed from the office. He should be allowed to finish the job.
SEN. JONI ERNST (R), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Honestly, I am not that concerned. I don't believe the President would do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So the evidence of this President being bound by conventions, or norms is scant at best. So why do these senators seem convinced that he won't try to fire the deputy A.G., or the Special Counsel? Let's bring in now Republican Strategist Rick Wilson, and CNN Political Commentator, Scott Jennings.
So, thank you so much. You know, this President -- this President, we don't know that. He doesn't go by convention. Scott, you heard those Republican lawmakers just a moment ago. Does it seem to you like firing Mueller, would it be a red line for them? What do they do?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't know what they would do other than to tell the President what they're telling him publicly, which is that your presidency would effectively come to an end if you try to decapitate the Department of Justice.
Obviously (ph), Washington will grind to a halt, if you think you're unhappy with the way things are working today, take a drastic action like this, and we will guarantee the next couple of years are going to be really miserable.
I think the reason they're stating what they're stating for the cameras today, is they're trying to send that message to the President. Don't do this, don't push us to the brink, don't end your presidency in this ugly way.
LEMON: Are they sending that message firmly enough, Rick?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think Scott is exactly right, that's the message they ought to be sending. And maybe some of them are trying to in an elliptical way.
But this is a President who every time you give him an inch, he's going to take a mile. And this is a guy who doesn't play by any of the conventional rules of the rule of law, or federal regulations. And so he believes he can get away with things.
And when he thinks that, he tends to want to do that. If I were in the position of the speaker and the leader, I would remember two numbers, 49 and 8. Those are the numbers of seats we lost in the House and the Senate during Watergate.
In 1973, Republicans were beating their chests, and saying it was a witch hunt, it was all a lie, it was all just made up, it was fake news.
And in 1974, we found ourselves in a majority for quite a long time because we got -- we were the ones who took the hit from a president who engaged in obstruction of justice and corrupt behavior.
[22:40:02] I think they need to be very much more explicit with that. Maybe they do it behind closed doors, maybe the speaker and the majority leader need to go to the Oval Office, close the door behind them, and say, Don, here it is.
If you do this, just like Scott said a moment ago, Washington comes to a halt. Your misery level doesn't go down, and it goes up, and it goes up forever.
LEMON: All right. So, Scott, I just want to dig in deeper, because again, Republicans keep saying they don't think the President will fire Mueller, and there is no need to pass any sort of laws protecting him. But now seeing this reporting, the President is considering firing Rod Rosenstein, would that cause the same outrage?
JENNINGS: Yes, it would. I think any kind of movement against the top lawyer at the DOJ would cause extensive outrage on Capitol Hill. I don't know what you would see with the House Republicans. I think the Senate really is the key.
Because, you know, we go down the path this year, if you consider it likely that the Democrats are going to take the House, then I do consider it likely.
Holding the Senate, and holding those Republicans together in the Senate is what is critical. So I think instead of going on television, and stomping their feet, and making demands of the President, I think they're trying to communicate with him in a way that perhaps he will respond better to.
At least I hope that's what they're doing. But I think a movement against Sessions, Rosenstein, Wray, or Mueller, any of that group, anyone of them would cause considerable outrage, and alarm on Capitol Hill.
LEMON: Rick, you know, if Trump committing his own Saturday night massacre wouldn't be a red line, then is there anything that would be a red line?
WILSON: Look, I've said this, you know, lightly and seriously. There is literally nothing that Donald Trump could do. You could get video of Vladimir Putin giving him a briefcase of cash, and a foot massage, and Republicans on the Hill would say, well, M.A.G.A., because that's just -- that's how, Don, is.
I'm sorry, but you know, the rule of law does matter, and at some point, you know, we have got to play by those rules, at some point, we've got to adhere to those rules.
And you know, I always thought that being a conservative -- part of the fundamental element of being a conservative, was obedience to the rule of law, understanding the constitution, the separation of powers, the fact that Congress is a co-equal branch of government, they don't work for Donald Trump.
They are a co-equal branch. They work with him. He's responsible for his behavior. And they can bring sanction against him because of that -- our constitutional structure. It's just a moment where they need to start remembering that they're a co-equal branch, and they're not subsidiaries of Trump, c.o.
LEMON: Hey, Scott, I'm going to go back to something that Rick said just a moment ago, that maybe, you know, some of the leaders need to go behind closed doors, and say look, you can't do this, it would be the end of your presidency.
But, you know, Democrat Mark Warner posted this on Twitter earlier, and he said, with respect to my Republican colleagues, we're past the point of pretend this isn't happening. It's happening, and it's time to speak up.
And he did #protectmueller. So congressional Republicans haven't stood up to this President yet, is there any reason to think that they would start now?
JENNINGS: Well, he hasn't done anything yet. I mean, we have seen numerous reports that he gets up to the brink of complaining about these things, or saying I want to do these things, but then he never does. In fact, there are reports tonight...
LEMON: He fired Comey. He attempted to fire Mueller. And again...
JENNINGS: The president...
WILSON: We're always one tweet away from disaster.
JENNINGS: Yes, but the President doesn't attempt to do anything. If the President wants to do something, he will do it. I mean, he's proven that. So he hasn't done these things yet, which what I think -- I think this is the communications reaction you're getting from the Senate.
Because he hasn't done them yet, and they're sort of gently saying listen, you know, don't give in to your impulse here, because it would be the end of your presidency.
I'm not sure going to the Oval Office, and you know, sitting him down on the couch and saying, here's the deal is the right way to communicate with this guy.
I think they're doing it in the way they've learned to do it, and I hope what they're doing is effective, because I agree. This would be a disaster for him, the White House, the Republican Party, the midterms. There's no area of Washington where this wouldn't be a huge disaster if he moves on the DOJ. LEMON: Yes. Thank you both. I appreciate your time. When we come
back, how bad would it be for the country if the President fires Rod Rosenstein or Robert Mueller, even Jeff Sessions? I'm going to ask General Michael Hayden what he thinks, next.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Breaking news. Sources telling CNN an angry President Trump may be getting ready to take drastic action to derail the Mueller investigation.
Let's talk about this now with CNN National Security Analyst, General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, and former director of the National Security Agency.
Good to have you on, sir. Thank you for joining us.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Hey, Don.
LEMON: The President is fuming. Aides fear that he could fire Rosenstein, or Mueller, even Sessions. Where would that leave the country, and this investigation?
HAYDEN: Yes, I kind of predict two impacts, Don. One is, we don't get out from under the cloud we're all now living in. I mean, we need resolution of this. You and I have talked about this in the past.
I think the President, for his own well-being, for his political survival, for the effectiveness of his government, needs to let this run its course, so most Americans with confidence can have a judgment with regard to what may, or may not have happened with regard to the Russians, and other related matters.
The other question, Don, is just what's happening day-to-day inside of our government. I talked to a lot of folks who are currently serving. They see what's going on. They see the unusual circumstances, the stresses, and they would rather not talk about it. They just want to stay focused.
I've served in two White Houses, both President Bush 41 and 43. It's hard work by itself. Don, I cannot imagine what it must be like going to work there now with all of these additional stresses.
LEMON: With all of this going on. General Hayden, what do you make of the fact that the President called the FBI raid on his attorney an attack in our country, and an attack on what we stand for, when he never once described Russia's meddling in 2016 election as an attack on our country?
HAYDEN: Yes, it just jumps right out at you, that the President certainly -- I mean, we all have this feeling, but I think the President has this in a special way. He sees all things through his own personal lens.
[22:50:02] And with regard to the Russia question, he keeps seeing it with regard his own legitimacy as President, not with regard to an attack against the United States.
And, Don, let me just give you one additional thought. He made all of those really, I think, over the top comments. And he did it in the presence of all of America's combatant commanders.
LEMON: Senior military members.
HAYDEN: We're the props for that. I mean even if the President wanted to vet, I think most presidents would not have done it in that setting with those men and women in the room.
LEMON: Yes. There is a video of him making those comments about Cohen in front of the senior military leadership. They were there to discuss issues like Syria, General.
And a general yourself, what do you think of, you know, what was going through their minds when the President went off on this tangent or tirade?
HAYDEN: I know some of them, and I was looking at them. They put on their best former military face, but kind of reading their minds I think all of them kind of wanted to climb under the table.
They did not want to be there in those circumstances. It's just so inappropriate. We have great difference to civilian authority, and the American armed forces, but in return for that, we're not used as political props.
LEMON: Yes. You know, General Hayden, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert resigned today, sourcing telling CNN that he was pushed out by the new National Security Adviser John Bolton. What do you think was behind this move?
HAYDEN: I think Ambassador Bolton wants his own team in there. And it suggest what I was trying to suggest earlier, Don, about this just isn't a happy place to work. I was with Tom yesterday.
We were at a meeting on an island off the Georgia coast with a bunch of folks like ourselves, talking about national security questions. This is an incredibly bright young man. He and I disagree on some issues, but we had some really interesting conversations.
It was clear to me he had no idea this was coming. He flies back to Washington last night, and this morning he's greeted with this. Again, the personal costs of working within this administration. I admire the people who do it. I don't think I could bring myself to do so.
LEMON: Amid all this chaos there's supposed to be a decision from the President about really what to do about Syria. Again, that's what that, you know, meeting was for yesterday.
LEMON: I want you to take a look at this picture. This is the President and his advisers, they're huddling during the U.S. strike on Syria. This was last April, General. By now, eight of those staffers are gone. How much of a problem is that turnover at a time like this?
HAYDEN: I probably think it's a tremendous problem. As I've said before, I've worked inside the White House. Governing is hard. It's a challenging world, and we just make it so much more difficult for ourselves.
Number one, you have the turnover, so you have less experienced people in these positions. They've not lived through it once. You lose the community, and I mean that in a very real sense of the word.
Then having been in the bunker together before, you know how to deal with the situation coming forward. And then there's just the absolute distraction, Don, of knowing whether you, or the guy next to you is going to be at work tomorrow.
LEMON: Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that his company is cooperating with the Special Counsel -- with the Russia probe. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: I assume that Facebook has been served the subpoenas from the special counsel's office. Is that correct?
MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Yes.
LEAHY: Have you or anyone in Facebook been interviewed by the Special Counsel's office?
LEAHY: Have you been interviewed?
ZUCKERBERG: I have not. I have not.
LEAHY: Others have?
ZUCKERBERG: I believe so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He went onto clarify saying that they were, you know, cooperating in whatever they could with the Special Counsel. How significant, though, is it that Facebook employees are working with Mueller's team?
HAYDEN: Well, I certainly would hope so given what's going on, given what we know as to how the Russians manipulated the platform, and profited from being able to move within American social media.
So I think it's an absolute civic duty on the part of Facebook to be absolutely transparent to the Special Counsel. And then also, Don, it's really quite an interesting civics lesson today. Here you have a very bright, very successful young man.
But I think it's very clear that here's an example where technology and ambition, the Facebook project, got well ahead of law, policy, and norms.
And now we're looking back at what we have created here, and we see we've created some problems we didn't anticipate. So even when we get beyond the Russia issue, we've got very serious questions with regard to what Facebook is, and how we relate to it.
[22:55:03] LEMON: Let's hope that we can get ahead of it, or at least catch up to with what you just said. So I want you to take a listen. This is what Senator Amy Klobuchar asked Zuckerberg at today's hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: You've estimated that roughly 126 people -- million people may have been shown content from a Facebook page, associated with the internet research agency, have you determine where any of those people were the same Facebook users whose data were shared with Cambridge Analytica? Are you able to make that determination?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we're investigation that now. We believe that it is entirely possible that there will be a connection there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I mean, it seems very significant news there, that there could be a connection between Facebook data that was harvested by Cambridge Analytica with those ties from the Trump campaign, and then those who saw content from the Russian troll group that try to disrupt the U.S. election. I mean, it's being investigated now, but what does that mean for the overall Russia investigation?
HAYDEN: Well, it tells us the Russians -- if that is true to the degree that is true, it frankly, I've got a health of respect for the Russian services for being able to be that sophisticated inside the American space.
But it also then teaches us, Don, the vulnerabilities we have created for ourselves that can be exploited by a foreign power, back to my earlier point, ambition, and technology getting ahead of law, policy, and norms.
LEMON: General Hayden, thank you. I appreciate your time.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, what will the President do next, and does Robert Mueller have any other surprises up his sleeve?