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Farewell to A Great Woman; Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dies At 92; Fox In Full Support to Sean Hannity; Fox News Surprised By Hannity's Relationship With Cohen But Stands By Him; Nikki Haley Fires Back, Responds To White House: With All Due Respect, I Don't Get Confused. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 17, 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: The mother joins the daughter she lost 50 years ago when she was just three years old.
Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
And it's another night of big, multiple stories. But our breaking news is the former first lady Barbara Bush dead at the age of 92. The matriarch of the Bush family, wife of one president, mother of another, passing away tonight.
She was a famously fierce defender and an astute adviser of her husband, the first President Bush as well as a devoted wife and mother. And one of the most popular first ladies in recent history. A woman well-known as a straight talker. We're going to have much more on the life and times of Barbara Bush in just a moment.
And then there's the news out of the Trump White House, increasingly unsettled over the investigation of his attorney Michael Cohen. In fact, a source telling CNN, President Trump is not just angry, he's apoplectic.
The president apparently fixated on what investigators seized from Cohen. Trump concerned that that could include everything he has ever told Cohen and everything Cohen has ever done for him.
A source pointing out that only Trump and Cohen know exactly what that entails. Another source saying as upset as the president has been over the Russia investigation, quote, "this issue in New York takes the cake by a mile because it is a treasure trove of information and things nobody knows about. It is personal."
Also tonight, the ambassador strikes back. After top adviser Larry Kudlow tried to throw Ambassador Nikki Haley under the bus claiming she may have been confused and, quote, "got ahead of the curve," when she announced new sanctions on Russia, Haley had this blunt response. Quote, "With all due respect, I don't get confused." Well, Kudlow has apologized. A source telling CNN he called Haley to
say that the policy had changed but that the U.N. ambassador was not kept in the loop.
And then there is Fox News' Hannity problem, although they don't see it as much of a problem. The network today in the awkward position of putting out a statement saying that they still support their biggest star, that's in the wake of a bombshell revelation that Hannity is Michael Cohen's mystery third client.
But none of that seems to matter to the president. A source telling CNN, quote, "the relationship between the two of them has grown stronger and stronger." Hannity affirms what Trump believes and Trump obviously is giving him unparalled access.
So let's get started. I want to bring in now senior White House Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, and CNN Special Correspondent, Jamie Gangel with more on the life and times of Barbara Bush.
Good evening to all of you. Jamie, I know it's sad, and I know you know that she wouldn't want us to cry over her or make over her, but what can you tell us about the matriarch of the Bush family?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the first thing she would say is what are you making a fuss about, and then she would give you that look. She's 92 years old. It is a sad day. But she would want us to have a bourbon toast, Don, probably at this point.
You know, a lot of people were aware that her husband suffers from Parkinson's. We've seen him in the wheelchair. But not so many people were aware that she's been suffering from COPD and congestive heart failure for the last two years. She just got tired. She had been in and out of the hospital. She was having trouble breathing.
And this past week she said, enough, we're going to do this on my terms, I don't want to go back into the hospital, I'm ready. She told her family that she was at peace. They all came and saw her. They were at peace.
I know that her husband spent today at her side, holding her hand. And he's heartbroken. But I think she did things the way Barbara Bush would do it. She did it on her terms, Don.
LEMON: Jeff, the White House is responding tonight, correct?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don, they are indeed. Slightly unusual, two separate statements coming from the president himself and the first lady as well, even though other presidents, the Clintons and the Obama's issued one statement.
But let's take a look at a couple of these statements, first from President Trump who is having a dinner this evening with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
But in part the statement reads this. "Mrs. Bush was an advocate of the American family. Among her greatest achievements was recognizing the importance of literacy as a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection. She will long be remembered, he says, for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well."
Also another statement, as I said, from the First Lady Melania Trump, issuing her own statement to a former first lady. It says in part this. "Throughout her life, she put family and country above all else. Her dedicated service to the American people was matched only by her compassion and love of family. She was a woman of strength and we will always remember her for her most important roles of wife, mother, and first lady of the United States."
[22:05:07] So, Don, certainly thousands of remembrances from politicians and regular Americans of all walks of life certainly will be coming in here.
But as we were, you know, just watching the coverage and preparing for your show tonight, I was having a conversation with our CNN photo journalist here Mark Walls who was talking about covering the Bush family about how Mrs. Bush was so gracious, remembered all the names he said of camera men, of the reporters, at Kennebunkport, would invite them into their family compound into the house.
I remember interviewing her in the aisle when George W. Bush was running. So, such and American legacy here that she has unique to virtually anyone else. So, certainly, a sad evening but also one to take stock of this amazing, unique American woman.
LEMON: And to take stock of her humility, and she wasn't extravagant, I was listening to a story told on Anderson's show, Jamie, she didn't want to fly in air force one, she wanted to go commercial, she wanted to be driven around in a smaller car.
I'm wondering though, because she was such a well-liked first lady, one of the most-liked in recent history, as I said in the open, did she ever compare herself to first ladies who came before or after her?
GANGEL: You know, I don't remember her doing that. Just that talk about, I think we use the word authentic a lot these days. She was authentic. But one thing about her was fake, and she loved it, and those were those pearls she wore. Everybody saw she was known for those big pearls in every picture. But she was proud that they were fake.
Just the way, you know, she had the common touch. She could talk to anybody. People thought of her as a more traditional first lady. But there is no question she was an essential political adviser and helper to her husband, though very much behind the scenes.
The other thing that I think that's important to remember is, this was a political family for a long period of time. Her husband's resume from Congress to the U.N. to China to CIA to vice president, she really was a critical part of that.
Someone said to me tonight, do you know so and so, they're really good friend with the Bushes. I didn't know them, but I said, you know what, they are really good friends with the Bushes. The Bushes have thousands of close personal friends. A lot of that was because of Barbara Bush and the role that she played in their political life as well, Don.
LEMON: Thank you for that, Jamie. Thank you, Jeff, as well. I appreciate that. I need to turn now to a different White House than when the Bushes were in there and the developments in this Trump White House.
Here to discuss, CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto, CNN Legal Analyst, Laura Coates and Michael Zeldin, who was Robert Mueller's special assistant at the Justice Department.
Good evening to all of you. Jim, I'm going to start with the news. Sources are telling CNN that CIA Director Mike Pompeo met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over Easter weekend in North Korea. That is remarkable.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question. You have to go back 18 years for the last time you had a level - this level meeting between the U.S. and North Korea. That was Madeleine Albright at the time the secretary of state who met with Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un's father. Remarkable at that time. This meeting remarkable at this time.
You would expect that both sides had assurances. You don't take that meeting unless you believe that there is a reason to meet, a reason to discuss. And both sides put things on the table that makes the other want to sit down across from them and particularly to lay the groundwork if you're going to have the leaders meet face-to-face. And that's something that President Trump referred to today, a meeting between him and Kim Jong-un which he referred to as possible very soon.
Of course the trouble with talking with North Korea is there has been a lot of outreach through the last couple of decades, and hopeful talks that haven't led to lasting agreement. So the real question will be not the talks, but what comes out of the talks, what's verifiable and what is lasting out of any negotiations.
LEMON: Laura, a source close to the president says President Trump is still, quote, "apoplectic about the Cohen raids." He says the key lines. He said, a source didn't specify what exactly the president is concerned about because only Trump and Cohen know what they could possibly be. What does that tell you?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, of course he's apoplectic. Unlike the idea of the Russian collusion investigation which until we learn more information or an indictment is forthcoming, any involvement by Trump is still in the hypothetical realm right now. There may be indications in Mueller's team but the public hasn't seen that.
[22:09:57] When it comes to Cohen, it's not hypothetical that there actually is going to be information. There will a treasure trove of information which has the president's fingerprints all over it. Citizen Donald Trump, candidate Donald Trump. Now what it will entail or include, we don't know.
But of course, he's rightly, rightly justified in feeling as though his personal and perhaps potential bones that may be buried somewhere will be exposed. And so I think he's apoplectic far more about this case than it would be about the Russian collusion because he cannot hide behind the idea of the hypothetical.
LEMON: Michael, listen, no one wants their conversations rifled through, their personal business. But why would the president be apoplectic if everything is above board?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, let me start first by saying, Don, that I wanted to extend my condolences to the Bush family having investigated George Herbert Bush for three years, I feel like I've gotten to know them some and they are a class family, so I wanted to say that to start.
Second, to your question, the reason that anyone would feel upset about their attorney's office or their business partners being searched by federal law enforcement officers is you don't know what it is that they're after.
We know from the opposition to the motion for restraining order that the government filed against Cohen, they said that Cohen's crimes or potential crimes, quote, "sound in fraud and speak to dishonesty."
So we know that they view this as a fraud-based sort of dishonest- based activity set. How that implicates, if at all, the president is unknown and unknowable at this point. But he knows what he needs to be worried about. He has said apoplectic, he hasn't said worried. There's a difference between being mad and being worried.
And we'll see as the facts play out whether he has something to be mad about because his attorney's office was searched or mad and worried about because they did something that he either is going to be embarrassing but lawful or unlawful and problematic.
LEMON: Jim, there's so much on this president's plate. This is what he is consumed by?
SCIUTTO: Apparently, yes. Although also paying attention to other issues, if he was willing to send his CIA director and soon to be, if confirmed, secretary of state, to North Korea.
But in his public comments, at least many of his public comments he's clearly wrapped up very much in the continuing Mueller investigation, and particularly it seems when it gets close to him, to him, whether it proves wrongdoing or not, but just gets into an area that he considers his private business and nothing to do with his position as president.
COATES: And you know, by the way, Don, it needs to be said, we keep referring to Michael Cohen as the president's personal attorney. But the government's case is largely found, with respect to being able to raid his home, his office, and his hotel room, that perhaps his dealings with the president of the United States was not in an attorney/client fashion.
So imagine, if you will, you're the president of the United States or one of the other two and a half clients, shall we say, of Michael Cohen, and you're wondering to yourself, which conversations that I had which one will be privileged and which ones will have to parse out or business or had nothing to do with his law degree?
That's part of the nature of the uncertainty that makes everybody I'm sure around him feel quite unsettled.
LEMON: Stick around, everyone. When we come back, the White House learning not to mess with Nikki Haley. Why the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. fired back at a top Trump aide tonight and he apologized.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: A source telling CNN TONIGHT President Trump is apoplectic about the fed's raid on his attorney Michael Cohen. But he's also increasingly angry at Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein.
Back with me now Jim Sciutto, Laura Coates, and Michael Zeldin.
Michael, this is for you. The former attorney general Eric Holder was on MSNBC earlier tonight. He was asked if he has the power to fire Rosenstein. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, he can do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that constitute in your mind more evidence of obstruction where he to do that?
HOLDER: I'm not sure it would necessarily by itself constitute obstruction. The question would be what was his intent in doing so. But it would play into a narrative that I think leads one to conclude that the president probably has engaged in some obstructive behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So Holder is saying, Michael, he's also talked about how Trump is putting pressure on all of our government institutions. Is it a pattern of obstruction, even if each individual action may not constitute obstruction all on its own?
ZELDIN: A couple of things about what Eric said. First is, he and I disagree about whether the president possesses the legal power to fire Mueller. My view is he does not have that power. It's a derived power through the attorney general and only the attorney general has that power.
Second, in respect of obstruction of justice, there's an open question about whether the president can be charged with obstruction of justice for doing something he has a constitutional right to do. If that's the question of firing Comey, it's not clear.
The office of legal counsel also has said that a sitting president cannot be indicted. So I'm not sure what indictment there is that could possibly be here.
But in the abstract, if you're looking at this as more an abuse of office, articles of impeachment sort of sense, then yes, obstruction of justice is a mosaic of activity that you take the constituent parts of and you put together and you see whether that pattern constitutes an effort to interfere with an ongoing investigation or the administration of justice, depending on which statute you're inquiring under in a criminal law sense or an abuse of office sense, whether it together rises to a high crime and misdemeanor.
LEMON: Jim, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was on Fox News today. Here is what he said about the Mueller protection bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCH MCCONNELL (R), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I don't think he should fire Mueller and I don't think he's going to. So this is a piece of legislation that's not necessary in my judgment.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST, FOX NEWS: I didn't see it. I know none of your colleagues fear it enough to say it should be in there.
MCCONNELL: Yes. But I'm the one who decides what we take to the floor. That's my responsibility as the majority leader. We will not be having this on the floor of the Senate.
CAVUTO: Would you be shocked if he did fire him?
MCCONNELL: Yes. I don't think he should and I don't think he will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So he says legislation to protect Robert Mueller isn't necessary because he doesn't think Trump will fire Mueller. But hasn't he already tried?
SCIUTTO: Well, listen. It's always struck me as a, what odd argument from the Senate majority leader. Being one politically, of course you have numerous Democrats who want this legislation.
[22:19:59] But they're joined now by a handful of Republicans who are concerned enough to lend their support, which is not an easy thing to do in the current state of party politics here.
But to say that because your judgment is it's not necessary, I'm not going to even put it on the floor, right, because well, vote against it if you don't think it's necessary, but to not allow it to go to a vote, it's an interesting strategy.
But listen, it may be a measure of where Republican Party politics are now. Mitch McConnell has often had his finger on the pulse, and the fact is that there are a number of Americans who see the Mueller investigation as going too far and that might be what this move is about other than his judgment that it's not necessary.
LEMON: He's put a lot of trust, Laura, in a president we know has already tried to fire the special counsel on multiple occasions.
COATES: The trust is entirely misplaced. Don, tell me what laws are on the books that are not proactive and are written in a way that predicts and expects poor behavior but hopes that it does not occur. Most if not all of the laws that we have on the books that is overseen by Congress, and they put out there, are because you hope people will do the right thing but you expect them to not do so. And you base it on human nature.
If you're Donald Trump, looking at him, you base it off his tweets. And you would expect based on his commentary, based off the comments by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, what they believe they have the right to do, that Mitch McConnell should expect that this is a possibility and should guard against it.
And remember, the only thing that really preserves the ability of Robert Mueller to have the derivative power that Michael was talking about, meaning that only the deputy attorney general can actually fire him, is based on this code of federal regulations that Congress has handed over to the DOJ. They haven't codified that in the actual statutes. And they're trying to simply add that fail-safe, add that underlying protection.
And that Mitch McConnell won't do so, he effectively is green lighting the result by pretending that laws are only meant to be for people who will never do anything wrong.
LEMON: I want to switch subjects, Michael, I'll get you on the next subject. I want to start with Jim on this.
The White House suggested that U.N. Ambassador, Jim, Nikki Haley got ahead of the curve when she announced additional sanctions on Russia. Trump's chief economic adviser says there must have been a momentary confusion. Well, she put out a statement. She says, "Well, with all do you respect," it's very simple, "I don't get confused." So Kudlow has apologized, right?
SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen, a pretty remarkable smack down within the senior leadership of the Trump administration. But keep in mind, it wasn't just Kudlow who was pushing this line over the course of the last 24 or 48 hours.
A number I spoke to someone in the White House, my colleagues did, and the line may not have been as harshly worded as Kudlow saying she was confused, but they were saying, well, listen, you know, she went out there on Sunday, this wasn't fully baked, maybe the talking points had not been checked with the White House.
So, it was more than one person who was putting out there that it was on Nikki Haley, that she was over her skis, as it were, on this. Now, for folks who know and cover Nikki Haley and have dealt with her before, she's a very precise, meticulous individual who is known for checking her talking points with the White House before she goes forward and knowing what the deliberations are within the NSC.
So the idea -- from the beginning I found the idea that somehow she had gone willy-nilly on the floor of the U.N. Security Council to make this promise, this vow, without kind of crossing the t's and dotting the i's, it struck me as somewhat difficult to believe.
SCIUTTO: So, you know, you heard it from her mouth right now.
SCIUTTO: You know, it was a very clear message not to Larry Kudlow but to the administration that she had it right in her view.
LEMON: I want -- before I run, I want to get Michael. Hey, Michael, when you see, you know, an about face like this on policy, you got to wonder why and whether it all ties back to the Russia investigation, whether Russia has something on this president and so on.
ZELDIN: Right, so if you're a conspiratorial theorist, and absolutely you say well, of course with all this heating up around Mueller and Cohen and everything, the last thing the president wants to do is upset the Russians so that they'll release that dossier of incriminating information that is alleged to be out there.
I can't go there personally. I don't like to make suppositions around things that I have no factual basis for. But certainly it feeds into the narrative among those who believe in conspiracies.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you all. I appreciate it.
When we come back, Fox News standing by Sean Hannity even though they admit they didn't know about his ties to Michael Cohen. But something doesn't add up here. Why they are giving him their full support.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Tonight Fox News saying that while it did not know Sean Hannity was a client of President Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen, it stands by him anyway.
So let's bring in now CNN Contributor, Frank Bruni, a columnist for "The New York Times," CNN Political Analyst, Kirsten Powers, a columnist for "USA Today," and James Fallows, national correspondent for "The Atlantic." Next month, his new book, there it is, "Our Towns," written with his wife, Deborah fallows, will be published. Leave it up there. That's great. I can't wait to read it.
Good evening, everyone. Frank, I'm going to start with you. I want to talk about Sean Hannity being the third mystery client of President Trump's embattled attorney Michael Cohen.
Fox News is apparently just as surprised as the rest of us to find that Hannity was one of Cohen's three clients. So here is what the network says. It says "While Fox News is unaware of Sean Hannity's informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was surprised by the announcement in court yesterday, we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support." So business continues as usual.
FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm shocked. Why wouldn't he have their full support? I mean, by normal journalistic ethics for him to go on and on about how awful the raid on the Cohen's office were, he never mention his relationship with Cohen. By normal journalistic ethics and standards, that's reprehensible.
But Sean Hannity doesn't really pretend to be a journalist and we shouldn't pretend he's a journalist. And I think Fox News knows what they have in him, they don't really expect the kind of behavior from him that another news organization would expect from someone who is not performing in the manner that Sean Hannity is. So I don't find their acceptance of this at all unusual.
[22:30:09] LEMON: What's your take, is he bigger than Fox News?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, no. I mean, he's very central to Fox News. I think that's part of it. But I also think that in Fox News, as you know, they make the distinction that I think Fox and Friends is entertainment.
And then it starts at 9:00 with news, and then it goes up to -- through Special Report, and then it becomes entertainment again. And I just think that for a while, people sort of understood this. But now, because Hannity has become...
LEMON: The average viewer does not.
POWERS: Well, because Hannity has become so influential with Donald Trump, I feel like it's changed a little bit, you know. And that he has become really a pipeline for the administration. And so it's hard to say like you're just entertainment. I don't know if that's quite right. And you know, even...
LEMON: He's influencing policy.
POWERS: Well, right. You're influencing policy, and you're sort of sharing the policy with the public. So I feel like, just to be honest with the viewers, you should disclose it, whether or not you call yourself a journalist, or not. It just seems like something you should disclose.
LEMON: And then driving the narrative, James, of the policy, correct?
JAMES FALLOWS, NATIONAL CORRESPODENT, "THE ATLANTIC": Sorry, say it again, please, Don.
LEMON: I said driving the narrative of the policy as well.
FALLOWS: Yes, of course. And as we know from reporting and all the papers, that sort of driving the emotional intensity of Donald Trump as well, and I think the points all of you made are crucial, and that this is a clarifying moment about Fox. I think you said, Don, that the average viewer doesn't really
distinguish between the so-called news, and so-called entertainment, although they're very different kinds of people doing it.
They see it's all Fox, it all says Fox News Channel. And by -- and for any normal organization to have this kind of central issue, not disclosed even within the company, would be, I think, just the end of somebody's career there.
So the fact that Fox just says, OK, go ahead, this is fine with us, it does clarify the fact that it's really misleading to call it a news organization anymore because it is an entertainment slash political combine.
LEMON: Yes, it is a mutual admiration society. And that's no secret. Let's play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I don't hold back. I'll be voting for Donald Trump in November.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will say this, you have been so great, and I'm very proud of you.
HANNITY: All the accomplishments of the President, keeping his promise, checking off his list.
TRUMP: And Hannity -- how good is Hannity? And he's a great guy and he's an honest guy.
HANNITY: Take a look at your screen right there. Here is a list of President Trump's accomplishments for 2017.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: James, talk to me about that. What are the red flags there?
FALLOWS: Well, this is -- you know, through American history, there have been commentators, and journalists who have been allied, either secretly or openly, with various political figures, backing on the dawn of time.
Alexander Hamilton used to write anonymous editorials praising himself, and so on. But again, this is in modern journalism, this is something that you don't see. You don't see this kind of -- you know, just kind of political log rolling of this sort.
And again, in an organization that presents itself, that wants to be seen as a "we report, you decide" news organization. It wants to have it both ways, and being grouped with everybody else when convenient.
And then having this sort of, you know, side branch of the White House press office, and I think that may be becoming commercially beneficial to them, but unsustainable for everybody else who is not on the team.
LEMON: Go ahead, Kirsten.
POWERS: You know, I was at Fox when George Bush was president -- George W. Bush was president. And I don't ever remember there ever being such an alignment, you know, between the White House, this kind of just -- it's 2almost like Hannity is working for Donald Trump, or that Fox and Friends is working for Donald Trump, that they're boosters.
I just don't remember that. I don't even remember it with Hannity, who was there to sort of, you know, spout the conservative line unabashedly every night. It's just -- it's just bizarre to kind of watch it, how they are just -- it's like they work for Donald Trump.
BRUNI: Yes, I know, 100 percent.
LEMON: At least -- well, at least you know, they're transparent. Does that say something?
BRUNI: James raised an important historical point, which is -- there is plenty of prior coziness between journalist, or journalist organizations, and presidents, this is more like coordination, you know. I mean, that's what this feels like.
I mean, you can listen to Hannity, and hear the same phrases coming out of his mouth that you just heard coming out of the President's, or that you will soon hear coming out of the president's, same relationship symbiotic exist with Fox and Friends, and the presidency. I don't recall anything like that with the prior administration.
LEMON: As a -- my friend who is a former Trump supporter -- voter, texted me when this all came out, and said, now there is the real collusion right there. Go ahead.
FALLOWS: Just one further thing, you know, there have been times through American history, again, as Frank is saying, where there have been sort of information bubbles, and people have believed one thing, or another, even going back to before the civil war, when the entire white south thought about racial relations in those days.
[22:35:05] But I think what we're seeing right now that is new at least in modern history is the alignment of a political party, and a major news organization, an overt, unashamed, you know, kind of right out front colluding way, if you will. And that is something we have not seen before, and we'll see where it takes us.
LEMON: Yes, I want to know for how much time do I have, producers? Do I have enough to play both of these sound bites? Because I want to play -- this is Alan Dershowitz first talking to Hannity who has been -- you know, some people have said he's become a Trump apologist. He says he's fighting for civil liberties. Watch, here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: I think it would have been much, much better -- had you disclosed that relationship... (CROSSTALK)
HANNITY: If you understand the nature of it, professor, I'm going to deal with this later in the show.
DERSHOWITZ: Yes, I understand.
HANNITY: It was minimal. I put out a statement about it.
DERSHOWITZ: You should have said that. And that would have been fair to say that it was minimal. You were in a tough position because, A, you had to talk about Cohen, and B, you didn't want the fact that you had spoken to him to be revealed. And you had the right, by the way, not to have your identity revealed.
HANNITY: I have the right to privacy.
HANNITY: I do.
DERSHOWITZ: But, you know, it's a complex situation when you are speaking to millions of people...
HANNITY: It s such was a minor...
HANNITY: Professor, it was such a minor relationship in terms of it had...
DERSHOWITZ: You should have said that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I was going to play what legendary Ted Koppel said next. But no, no, no, hold on, because you were -- what do you want to say about that?
BRUNI: Well, I was just sort of aghast with Sean Hannity saying he has the right to privacy. He is -- he has stepped out to be the most public kind of figure.
And you know, we all have the right to some privacy, but he doesn't have the right not to tell his viewers that he has this kind of relationship with someone who he's talking about in a news story night, after night, after night.
And if they had only minor interactions, and there was nothing there, all the more reason to put that out there right away, so when it comes out later, you don't look like you were hiding something, which I suspect he is hiding.
POWERS: Well, also I don't know -- I like Sean, I worked with him for a long time, so I'm not, you know, trying to pile on here.
LEMON: This is not personal, because we all know Sean.
POWERS: Yes, and I -- but I think if you're going to assert some sort of attorney-client privilege, you just can't have it both ways. Either you had a very casual conversation with somebody, and just get it out in the open, or you did something that's an actual transactional relationship.
LEMON: Very simple. All you have to do is say, and you know, Michael Cohen, blah, blah, blah, and by the way, I have a relationship with Michael Cohen, I've gotten legal advice, now let's start the conversation, right?
POWERS: Yes. But what I'm saying is you don't need an attorney- client privilege for a conversation over dinner or something.
LEMON: James, quickly, I got to get to the break, please.
FALLOWS: Quickly, in a normal news organization, what we've all been talking about would be how it has to be. So the fact that Fox is not doing it, again, shows the abnormality.
LEMON: All right, stay with me, all of you. When we come back, I want to talk about -- to see all about our breaking news tonight, and that is the former first lady, Barbara Bush, passing at the age of 92. Look at this, flags at the White House now flying at half-staff.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Here's our breaking news tonight, the death of former first lady Barbara Bush at the age of 92. Frank Bruni is back with me, Kristen Powers, and James Fallows, as well.
Frank, you interviewed the former first lady a few time, and how are you going to remember her?
FALLOWS: You know, I think more than anything else, I will remember her spectacular bluntness, you know? I mean, it's something you don't see in a lot of public figures. And she managed to be blunt without being uncivil.
And I will remember, I think very distinctly, an interview I did with her just before George W. Bush got the nomination formally at the Republican convention.
And I was in (Inaudible) court sitting down with her and George H.W. Bush, and she kept on saying little things about the Clintons, little digs at immoral behavior in the White House.
And he kept on saying, Barbara, you promised you wouldn't do this. Five minutes would pass, she would do it again. He said, we're going to have to kick you out of the interview if you keep doing this. And she managed at once to be a cynic, and utterly charming, and I think that was her -- that was her distinctive combination.
LEMON: I loved it, in the interview, someone asked her, what do you think of -- I was watching in my office -- what do you think of Donald Trump? And she said, I don't want to think much about him.
LEMON: And I was like, wow.
LEMON: She did not hold back. I mean, she had plenty of views on her own, right?
LEMON: She was a keeper of the flame for the family.
POWERS: Very much so, and I think -- you know, I can remember when she used to be sort of portrayed as the -- you know, oh, she's just the little lady at home. I mean, before people really got to know her, and people really underestimated her, I was like, she's just a housewife.
Meanwhile, she's this force of nature, you know, behind all of this power in the family. It was completely shaped by her, there is no question. And, you know, a friend of mine who is a friend of theirs from Houston, texted me and said he had seen her, and she was talking about how all her -- she followed her grandchildren on Fitbit.
And she was harassing them so much whenever they were not exercising enough, or walking, and they had to cut her off. She was just this tall character.
LEMON: Yes, I think it's -- you know, it's interesting, when you -- when you compare the tune. You know, when I hear from the former president or first lady, it's just glaringly obvious what the civility that we have lost, James.
And I tweeted out tonight, you know, an elegant first lady -- former first lady, you know, has passed. There's something to be said about that, especially when it comes to Barbara Bush.
FALLOWS: There certainly is. And I knew Barbara Bush only from a distance as a citizen. I never interviewed her or reported on her. I've been thinking about the symbolic role of families in the White House.
And bear with me, I'm going to compare the Bush family and the Kennedy family, these multi, you know, television dynastic families. They had their failings, they had their critics. But obviously they've done -- they've served, you know, over a long time in admirable ways.
And they represent a certain kind American aristocracy if you will. The Kennedys are sort of glamorous one from immigrants dock in Boston, the Bushes, kind of an old New England W.A.S.P. aristocracy with a long record of public service. And I think in different ways, the members of these families in the
White House, I'm thinking of the women, of Jacqueline Kennedy, the way she bore both the successes and the tragedies of her time in the White House.
And Barbara Bush, showing the sort of the way -- both of them, I'm trying to say, they showed the way we would like our upper classes, which we don't think we have, but we do, to behave.
[22:45:03] The way we would like them to represent us in that kind of office, and there is the contrast, as you say, is obvious.
LEMON: We want our first families especially to have some class, right? And some dignity.
LEMON: Thank you. I appreciate it. Nice tribute to the former first lady. When we come back, the White House says their own U.S. ambassador got ahead of the curve when announcing new Russia sanctions. But Nikki Haley is snapping back at them tonight.
LEMON: Ambassador Nikki Haley is sticking to her guns after butting heads with another member of the White House. Speaking to CBS on Sunday Morning, Haley said new sanctions against Russia were imminent.
But the White House has been walking it back ever since. Here is what President Trump's top Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow has to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: She got ahead of the curve. She's done a great job. She's a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that.
But if you talk to Steve Mnuchin at treasury, and so forth, he will tell you the same thing. They're in charge of this. We have had those sanctions. Additional sanctions are under consideration, but not implemented.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, there is only one problem here, Haley isn't backing down, saying, quote, with all due respect, I don't get confused. Let's discuss now with CNN Global Affairs Analyst, Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and author of the book "The Road Not Taken."
[22:50:07] Good evening, sir.
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hi.
LEMON: What is going on -- there could have been a better way for the White House to handle this without, you know, backing -- you know, running over her, and then backing the bus up.
BOOT: Right, exactly. Well, I think Nikki Haley made clear that she's not going to be next to Rex. She is not going to let them do to her what they did to Rex Tillerson, where you saw time after time where Rex Tillerson would say something.
And then Trump would say, no, he doesn't really speak for me, and then, you know, Rex would -- Tillerson would basically have to be quiet. Nikki Haley is not being quiet. I mean, she's making clear that she is not confused here. So she's -- you know, we have a major (Inaudible).
LEMON: Nikki Haley very well prepared, very bright woman.
LEMON: Right, yes. And, you know, has political experience unlike a lot of people in the White House. Her butting heads with people in the White House, could her days be numbered?
BOOT: I think everybody's days in this White House are pretty numbered. I mean, it's amazing, she ahs lasted as long as she has, but it's pretty clear that she does not speak for the White House. And again, this gets to the problem we've seen repeatedly with Rex Tillerson.
We'll see if it's a problem with Mike Pompeo, because you can have people who are supposed to represent the United States and the administration, they say stuff, and then Trump contradicts them. And so what's pretty clear here is the only person who actually speaks for the U.S. government is Donald Trump.
BOOT: And, you know, his aides keep saying -- and embarrassed Republicans keep saying, don't pay any attention to his tweets -- you know, his deranged crazy tweets.
But in fact, that turns out that is pretty much the only thing you should pay attention to as what is coming directly out of Trump's mouth, directly out of his tweets, everything else, all the kind of diplomatic problem is meaningless with this president.
LEMON: Didn't he say that his tweets -- someone said at the podium, I don't know if it was Sean Spicer or Sarah Sanders, who said it is possible because it came from the President. So...
BOOT: Yes, it is. But a lot of Republicans want to pretend otherwise -- I mean, Paul Ryan has spent the last couple of years pretending that he doesn't read the Trump tweets, right?
LEMON: Yes. What is more likely you think that Nikki Haley got ahead of the curve, or the President got cold feet?
BOOT: I think the President keeps flip-flopping like crazy. I mean, I think he was in one place over the weekend, and then by Monday or Tuesday he was in another place.
I mean, you constantly see this is the Russia policy. You have the policy of the rest of the administration, and you have the Russia policy of Donald Trump.
And just a couple of days ago, there was a report in the Washington Post that Trump was furious about the fact that he excelled 60 Russian diplomats because, of course, he doesn't actually read his briefing papers. So he had no idea that he had sign off on something like that.
LEMON: Developing a consistent Russia policy is difficult in this White because on Friday night, we heard about the President making strong -- he hits, you know, strong comments about Russian involvement in Syria, and then now the White House is backing off of these new sanctions.
BOOT: Right. I mean, Trump is exactly what he accuses Obama of doing, which is talking big, and not backing it up. I mean, he says Russia is going to pay a big price for backing up this use of chemical weapons in Syria. So where's the price to pay?
LEMON: So why's it so difficult for them to develop a consistent policy on Russia?
BOOT: Because Donald Trump is like if you look in the dictionary under the word inconsistency, you would see Donald Trump. I mean he can't make up his mind. He's all over the map.
He's mysteriously friendly towards Vladimir Putin, and he kind of reluctantly goes along with tough anti-Russian measures developed by his aides, but then in an instant, he assert themselves in, you know, he says he contradicting things about how, nobody has been tough on Russia, than Donald Trump.
But I want to be friends with Russia, and wouldn't it be great if can be friends with Putin. So he's that kind of presidential -- and inconsistency means that it doesn't matter what his aides are doing, you're not going to have a consistent policy from the administration.
LEMON: Here's what the Washington Post is reporting on Sunday, the President was furious when he found out the he extended the diplomatic...
BOOT: Right, exactly.
LEMON: ... expulsions.
BOOT: We can't make this up, he is furious when finds our his own...
LEMON: But he signed off on it.
LEMON: So, why would he be furious? BOOT: Well, I think, what -- I suspect what happened was, he did not follow the oral briefings, because, you know, he doesn't read the written briefs. If he had read it, he would know what was agreed to.
But he probably didn't pay a lot of attention. He was briefed in passing. Let's not forget one other major factor here, Don, Trump is drowning in scandal, right?
I mean, what is he most (Inaudible), he can't barely focus on Syria and Russia because he's freaking out because his attorney got raided. He's afraid what that means for him. He's afraid that Mueller is coming for 2him. That's what he's focused on.
He's not focused on all this other stuff. He's very, very distracted. I mean, he basically -- I don't think he is able to carry out the duties of president right now because he is so concerned about his own personal survival.
LEMON: You saw the Comey interview on ABC, right?
LEMON: He said that the quote -- this is a quote, that it's possible that the Russians had compromising information on this president. Is that why he's so wishy-washy with him you think?
BOOT: Well, we don't know. I mean, that's what we're waiting for Robert Mueller to find out. I mean, yes, it is possible there is compromising information, but it's also just possible that he just loves Vladimir Putin, as he loves a lot of other dictators. We're still waiting on that answer.
LEMON: In the short time we have left, I want to switch the side of this, and talk about Mike Pompeo, the CIA Director reportedly meeting with Kim Jong-un over the Easter weekend at Pyongyang.
[22:55:04] What do you think of that?
BOOT: Well, I mean I think it's very good that they were having some back channel communications, so that Trump doesn't go into the summit of Kim Jong-un cold. I mean that would be a recipe of disaster.
So I think it is prudent that they're having these talks. My concern is that they're -- is that they may still be talking past one another because the message from the Trump White House is that Kim Jong-un is going to talk about denuclearization. But, you know, when Kim says denuclearization, it doesn't mean what Trump thinks it means.
BOOT: Because for North Korea, denuclearization is code word for, the U.S. breaks its treaty with South Korea, pulls all his troops out, and basically let North Korea take over South Korea in return for a process that North Korea will denuclearize. That's not a good deal.
LEMON: Do you think gets that? BOOT: No.
BOOT: Trump? No. He doesn't read the briefing papers. He doesn't get it.
LEMON: Thank you, Max Boot.
BOOT: Thank you.
LEMON: Always a pleasure. When we come back, she was married to one President, and a mother to another. Barbara Bush passing away tonight at the age of 92, more on her life and her legacy, next.
[23:00:00] LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.