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Trump Was Warned About Cohen; Trump Fires Back on Questions About Russia Collusion; Trump Adds More Fire to Controversies; Bills in Both House and Senate Tonight Would Protect Mueller; First Lady Melania Trump to Attend Barbara Bush's Funeral. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 18, 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] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Quick reminder, former FBI director James Comey sits down with Jake Tapper this Thursday 4 p.m. Eastern. That's it for us. Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts now. See you tomorrow.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Another night of multiple breaking news stories. A longtime lawyer of Donald Trump telling CNN he has warned the president to be careful about Michael Cohen. Jay Goldberg who negotiated Trump's divorces for -- from Ivana Trump and Marla Maples says the president called him last Friday seeking advice. Goldberg says he warned Trump that Cohen could flip on him. More on that in just a moment.
There's also news from President Trump's press conference tonight at Mar-a-Lago, asked whether he would sit down for an interview with the special counsel Robert Mueller. The president avoiding answering that question. And as he so often does, he returned again and again to his phrase, his favorite phrase, which is no collusion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There were no collusion. And that's been so found as you know by the House Intelligence Committee. There's no collusion. There was no collusion with Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, of course, what the president didn't mention there is that it is -- it was the Republicans on the House intelligence committee voting along party lines who said they found no evidence of collusion. Democrats did not sign on to their report.
He also didn't mention that the House Intel Committee finding has no bearing on the Mueller investigation. But there's more. The president had this to say about whether he is considering firing Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They've been saying I'm going to get rid of them for the last three months. Four months. Five months. And they're still here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, that's not exactly ringing endorsement from a president who just to recap has already tried twice to fire Robert Mueller. Once in June of last year and again in December, that's according to the New York Times. And remember, it was just days ago in the wake of the raid on Michael Cohen that the president said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Why don't I just fire Mueller?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Just fire the guy.
TRUMP: Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens, but I think it's really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said, you should fire him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I don't know about you, but that sure sounds to me like the president has at least thought about firing Mueller. And on the subject of Russia, the president had this to say tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Sanctions, they very much deserve it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: But it's hard to square this statement with the president's claim that he is tough on Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There's been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So I want to bring no now CNN's Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash, CNN Political Analysts, Ryan Lizza and April Ryan. Good evening, one and all.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Don.
LEMON: Dana, you are up first. I want to start with this -- this warning from the former Trump attorney to President Trump that Michael Cohen could flip on him. What do we know about this?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is more amazing reporting from our colleague, Gloria Borger, who spoke to this attorney, his name is Jay Goldberg. This is somebody who goes back with Donald Trump for decades. He helped negotiate Donald Trump's divorces from both Ivana Trump and Marla Maples, and, in fact, the president called him on Friday just to talk to him and to get advice, to get legal advice.
And what Goldberg told the president, this is according to Goldberg, himself, he spoke to Gloria Borger, is that he thinks that it's very possible that Michael Cohen could flip because he said, look, he could be facing up to 30 years in prison and he is not, in his legal experience, has not seen anybody who has that kind of potential sentence not at least thought about or even ultimately gone ahead and flipped on somebody in order to lessen the sentence at the very least, which is interesting given the fact that the whole sort of persona of Michael Cohen has been this -- and he enjoys being referred to as sort of a Ray Donovan type, somebody who will take whatever it is for his boss and somebody who loves Donald Trump like a family member and would go to the end of the earth.
A very different kind of perspective from this man who the president interestingly turned to, even though they worked together decades ago.
LEMON: Yes. Ryan, can you imagine this, though, not -- I don't think that the president would -- I don't want to say this -- be naive enough, let's put it that way, to actually speak to Michael Cohen privately about this information, but maybe he would. But can you picture a Michael Cohen wearing a wire?
[22:05:01] LIZZA: Well, we do know that the president, it was reported he did talk to Cohen, what was it, a Friday ago. Wearing a wire?
LEMON: I know he's spoke to him. But do you think there was any detail? I mean, that would be--
LEMON: -- not smart.
LIZZA: What I think is the astonishing thing about this whole conversation is that the assumption is -- according to this lawyer, Goldberg, the assumption by everyone just seems to be that Cohen has something to flip on.
LIZZA: Everyone just make -- everyone just casually assumes that Trump and Cohen must have been running some criminal enterprise together and they're -- I mean, what is he going to flip on?
LEMON: I made that point the other night. That's a very good point.
LIZZA: I mean, you know, it's fine for us in the pundit class to sort of, you know, bandy that about. That the fact that his former lawyer is calling the president and saying this guy could flip on you and then telling the press about it, that means someone very, very close to Trump, who knows a lot of his secrets believes that Michael Cohen has some kind of extremely damaging information about -- presumably about crimes. I mean, that's the only way to read what Goldberg is saying.
LEMON: Yes, well, yes, and if you -- I mean, Dana, I think what the issue is is that according to legal minds, and I'm not one, you're not an attorney that I know of--
LIZZA: We all play one on T.V.
BASH: We just play one on T.V. Thank you, Ryan.
LEMON: We all play well. Is that, in order for the southern district to get a warrant to raid, you know, the attorney's office, especially the President of the United States, there has to be some kind of compelling evidence.
BASH: Of course.
BASH: Yes, no question. And we don't need to be attorneys to know that, it's a basic understanding of how the judicial system works, right? And this is something that -- that is sort of well known.
Now, we don't know what the 'it' was or we don't know what the things were that not only the prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office and the judge and, frankly, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein knew about this. All of them thought that there was enough evidence or enough concern that this unbelievably unprecedented raid on a president of the United States' attorney, fixer, whatever you call him, could go through.
It certainly does tell you that there could be a -- to use Ryan's term -- crime that Michael Cohen could flip on.
BASH: Now, we don't know if it has to do directly with the president, we don't know if it has to do with things that are a little bit tangential. But I agree with Ryan, the fact that this conversation even took place and that it's being relayed on the record in a very public way is a signal and is telling.
LEMON: Yes. Yes. And, again, and Ryan, you bring up a very good point which I said the other night, working on that assumption, innocent until proven guilty.
LEMON: We don't know. We don't know.
LIZZA: Absolutely. It's important to point out.
LEMON: We're not investigators. We're not part of the investigation. Let's talk about Mueller. April, you can hear me, right? I know you had an earpiece issue.
APRIL RYAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I can hear you now, yes.
LEMON: Got it, you can hear it now.
LEMON: So, President Trump was asked if he -- if he's concluded that firing Mueller and Rosenstein is not worth the political fallout. And his response was, "they're still here." That's not really closing the door on any future action, is it?
RYAN: No, it's not at all. This president offers knee-jerk reactions all the time, and as we remember, this president was thinking about changing the hierarchy of the Justice Department to make sure that Mueller could be fired or that he would be restrained.
This president is very upset with this investigation, and it just depends upon which way the wind blows, what happens at any moment in time. This president does not want this investigation to continue. And he's very upset and it's all about right now following the trail of money, which he does not like.
And we know that because he did not even want to offer his taxes for public consumption, even though it's not law that he had to. Even that on the last day of tax filing tonight.
So, this is all about the president not liking this, and let's see what happens, what more charges come out, what charges come from this. It all depends upon all of that how the president will respond. This president is very reactionary.
LEMON: Well, you know, I mean, we all know, you were mentioning the tax. The reason that he didn't -- one main reason that he didn't do it is because he didn't think he was going to win, and so why put all your information out there when you don't believe that you're--
RYAN: Well, he's won.
LEMON: Yes, I know.
RYAN: Why not put the information out there.
LEMON: So now it's a different story.
LEMON: But that is what happened. So, Ryan, the question was specific to Mueller and to Rosenstein but this is how the president began his answer. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There was no collusion and that's been so found as you know by the House intelligence committee. There's no collusion. There was no collusion with Russia. Other than by the Democrats. Or as I call them, the obstructionists because they truly are obstructionists.
[22:10:01] So, we are giving tremendous amounts of paper. This was really a hoax created largely by the Democrats as a way of softening the blow of a loss which is a loss that frankly, they shouldn't have had from the standpoint that it's very easy for them. They have a tremendous advantage in the Electoral College.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, the president, Ryan, brought up Podesta, he talked about the DNC server. Listen, I was on my way to work listening at it. I don't think he brought up Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama which would be interesting. But he does keep going back reaching for those greatest hits and it's kind of like, hey, look over there.
LIZZA: I mean, so much to unpack there. One, the House Intelligence Committee, well, I think they didn't finish their investigation, right? So they did not -- there are many witnesses that were outside of their reach.
It is true that apparently the Republicans on that committee are going to argue that they didn't find conclusion. The minority will argue and has been arguing that they never actually got to the bottom of that question.
So that's the first thing to say about that part of the answer.
The one that -- the thing that really sticks out to me is embedded in that answer when he's talking about the server at the DNC and the FBI never looking at that, think about what he's saying there. He's, again, raising the idea that maybe the DNC hack was something else. That the FBI missed it.
He's raising the idea that Russia, that what his -- the conclusion of his own intelligence services is not true. That the hack of the DNC might have been some other entity, maybe some, you know, 300-pound person sitting on his bed, as Trump once said. But, again--
LEMON: He said 400, but go on.
LIZZA: Was it 400? So that, to me, is he's still -- you know, he resorts when on the topic of Russia, he resorts to these far-out statement.
BASH: Before that--
LEMON: Could be a 98-pound weakling, too, we don't want to fat shame someone, but go ahead, Dana.
BASH: Don -- it's going to far-out statements but it's also he's tried to divert from the question. Talking about the Democrats. And the question of was there any collusion between the Trump team, anybody in that orbit, and Russians?
And the real answer to that question is that the FBI, and we know even more about this since James Comey is out and about talking about this in his book, started an investigation in the summer of 2016 based on things that they picked up from Carter Page and maybe even Papadopoulos, conversations that they were having that were worrisome. And that's how the investigation started.
BASH: It is not, you know, some political hoax done by the Democratic administration that was in there. Now, listen, it could very well be that at the end of the day, Robert Mueller does not find collusion as the president is talking about, but we don't know the answer to that.
LEMON: That's right.
BASH: One other point I want to make really quickly, I kind of -- what struck me with him talking about collusion over and over again is almost a reminder that that's how -- that's what this is supposed to be about. And that the Mueller team is looking at other things like obstruction of justice and who knows what else, maybe his finances.
LEMON: Yes. Well--
BASH: And that was kind of a reminder--
LEMON: Yes, let me -- so here's a directive.
LEMON: Any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump and any matters that arose and may arise directly from--
LEMON: -- that investigation. Now, he keeps saying there's no collusion, there's nothing there. Papadopoulos--
LIZZA: A lot of links.
LEMON: -- pleaded guilty. Michael Flynn pleaded guilty. Paul Manafort was indicted. Rick Gates pleaded with the Mueller team on one conspiracy charge. Russian nationals, three Russian companies were--
BASH: To be fair, they're not about -- it's not about-- LEMON: Right. But is still it has arisen from this investigation. And
if you're going to talk about it, then you need to give the whole scope of the investigation. I'll give you the last word quickly, please, April. Sorry.
RYAN: You know, I just think it reminds me of, once again, what happened with Bill Clinton in the '90s. You know, it started with whit Whitewater then it wound up with Monica Lewinsky.
RYAN: As we are seeing all of this, as we're seeing all this -- my earpiece once again pops out -- as we're seeing all this, we have to remember that whatever they find while they're looking at collusion, it's like Chris Darden said, former prosecutor of the O.J. Simpson trial, if they go in, if the police are going in looking for drugs and they see the wife being beaten, they have to bring that in, too.
RYAN: And that's what we're going to be what we're going to see. We're seeing a scope of different things. It starts with collusion but it's unfolding into other things.
[22:14:56] LEMON: I got to run. My favorite line of the night, though, did you guys have a favorite line of the night? As I was listening the Olympics line? Did you guys catch that?
BASH: No. The Olympics, made it great.
LEMON: Could not have gone off without him.
BASH: Don Lemon, I think you made the Olympics great just because.
LEMON: I was -- I was like that's a good one. So I enjoyed that. Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
LIZZA: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: See you next time.
James Comey sits down with Jake Tapper live on "THE LEAD" tomorrow at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
LEMON: President getting a blunt warning from one of his longtime lawyers who says Michael Cohen might flip on him.
I want to bring in now CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, Jack Quinn, the former White House counsel to President Clinton, and Renato Mariotti, who is a former federal prosecutor.
Good evening to all of you. So, Renato, let's look at this new reporting. It's from Gloria Borger and "The Wall Street Journal" tonight. One of the president's longtime legal advisers, Jay Goldberg, he's been on the show by the way, warning the president just a few days ago that Michael Cohen would flip on him and if he face -- if 's faced with criminal charges.
Cohen has been one of the most loyal Donald Trump supporters, a real Trump loyalist. I don't -- is it surprising to you that at least one of the president's allies is now very publicly advising him to be wary of Cohen? It sounds like common sense, be wary of anybody, especially if you're under a federal investigation.
[22:20:02] RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: You know, it's an interesting, it's actually a little interesting, Don, because, you know, if you think -- if everyone at home thinks if you were offered a benefit in exchange for testifying about somebody you knew -- a friend of yours committing a serious federal crime, the first thing you need to ask yourself is would you be able to testify?
I mean, I would tell you I don't know of anybody who's committed serious federal crimes. I haven't witnessed any serious crimes being committed. I mean, what's interesting here is, the only reason you need to be worried about somebody flipping on you is if you, yourself, have criminal liability. And I think what's interesting about it is it sort of betrays the fact that there's an assumption amongst Trump's camp that he has criminal liability and Michael Cohen know something about it.
LEMON: Renato, well, you bring up a very good point from an attorney who has worked with him for a long time is saying this, because otherwise why would you have to give him that advice, right?
MARIOTTI: Well, yes, you know, when I -- when I was a federal prosecutor, a junior prosecutor, my supervisor was teaching me, he said all these people are cooperators, the reason that they have this information is because they are associating with criminals. And they are, you know, often criminals, themselves.
I mean, cooperators are rarely, you know, people who are -- you know, just a person who's a witness might be somebody on the street seeing a crime committed but a corroborator is usually in the thick of a crime about it.
LEMON: Yes. So, Jack, listen, Goldberg who told Gloria anybody who's facing 30 years never stands up. I'm wondering if that's your experience. And also to Renato's point, if you knew someone, you had a friend, you'd say, look, you have nothing to hide so don't worry about it. You wouldn't say careful of that guy, Bobby, over there, he might flip on you, right?
JACK QUINN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: I mean, look, the thing that's baffled me for a long time in this whole thing is why the president doesn't act like the innocent man he professes to be. I mean, his behavior -- it's like a guy, you know, with a pile of documents behind him and he's saying don't read these. You know? Look over there. And his behavior is just is really concerning--
LEMON: Is that your experience, so anybody who's facing 30 years never stands up?
QUINN: I think it's a pretty fair assumption, particularly, look, if you got a guy who's got a family. He's going to be concerned about them. Nobody wants to -- prison's tough. It's really hard to go to jail. And, you know, if there's an escape route, I would say at least nine out of 10 people will take it.
LEMON: So Juliette, I mean, it sounds, it does sound like, I don't know, I guess I'm watching law and order or something because Goldberg is suggesting that Michael Cohen wear a wire. I mean, wouldn't that be picked up by the Secret Service? I mean, do you think that is actually something that's viable in this?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I don't think it's very viable now, but we don't know what conversations they've been having since the raid of Michael Cohen's home. We know of at least one -- of offices -- we know of at least one phone call.
And I think this gets to a bigger issue which is implicating obviously the Mueller investigation which is -- and just something that has to be repeated because it's so shocking. The president can't get lawyers to represent him. And that, I mean, he's -- you know, he's the president of the United States. It shouldn't be that hard to do.
I was thinking earlier that, like, the mastermind of the 9/11 attack is able to get better lawyers. I mean, this is crazy at this stage. And I think part of it is the fear of lawyers that you get implicated in a conspiracy that you don't even know about and you end up -- or you only know tangentially and that you end up like Michael Cohen sort of facing this choice that he has.
I have no doubt that if given the option, Michael Cohen just from the looks on his face, never met the guy, only seen him on T.V., just from the looks on his face the last couple days and the pictures taken of him, that guy is going to fold, I have no doubt about it.
LEMON: Really? Just by looking at him you can tell that?
KAYYEM: Yes. No, I mean, I'm just saying this is not a guy -- the president does not give loyalty and at some stage when you're facing 30 years, a wife and two kids and no salary, and the potential that you can get out of that problem, for, you know, you get the loyalty that you give. And you know--
LEMON: Let me ask you this, Juliette. I know that -- I've raised this question in the last segment that I think people are saying that because they believe in order for the southern district to do what they did, there must be compelling evidence and then Ryan Lizza brought up the point that, well, maybe there's nothing there, we're working on the assumption that there is something there. What do you say to that?
QUINN: I -- look, I think the aggressive -- sorry, was that -- I think the aggressive nature of that search speaks volumes. I think that the southern district believes that not just crimes, serious crimes, have been committed, and they had to go through a long stairway in the Department of Justice in the southern district and then in front of a federal judge to make out a case that the premises identified would bear fruit of those criminal activities.
[22:25:14] LEMON: OK. You agree with that, Juliette, correct? Because I want to move on and--
KAYYEM: Yes, I do, OK.
LEMON: Are you good with that? You agree with that?
KAYYEM: I always agree with Jack.
LEMON: All right. So, Renato, you know, we've been watching all day, President Trump is back to counterpunching at a press conference tonight. He was asked about firing Mueller, and said no collusion at least five time times. And then went on and ran about blaming Democrats. Never mind that Mueller and Comey and so many others at the center of the Russia probe are Republicans. What does this flailing answer tell you?
MARIOTTI: Well, I'll tell you, it suggests to me that he's trying to do something a lot of people do when they're under criminal investigation which is attack the prosecution, demean the prosecution, demean the people who are investigating you. It usually doesn't matter.
Usually we sort of, you know, you know, you laugh it off, I've been criticized, I've been attacked. I think any federal prosecutor has. The difference here is this guy's their boss and what he's done is he's convince add lot of people in this country, a lot of Republicans that the heads of the DOJ and the FBI are criminals.
I mean, we had congressmen today, Republican congressmen and congresswoman who are writing a letter to Attorney General Sessions saying you need to investigate and bring criminal charges against the heads of the FBI. I mean, it's a pretty astounding thing.
LEMON: All right. More to talk about. Stay with me, everyone.
When we come back, the president's Twitter attack against Stormy Daniels drawing fire from her attorney, but did his tweet hurt his own case?
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So, the president couldn't resist tweeting about the sketch released by Stormy Daniels of the man she claims threatened her back 2011 to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump, but could that tweet get him in hot water legally?
Back with me now, Juliette Kayyem, Jack Quinn, and Renato Mariotti. OK. So, President Trump was tweeting about Stormy Daniels saying, "A sketch years later about a nonexistent man, a total con job, playing the fake news media for fools but they know it." And then re-tweeting that man who allegedly threatened Daniels looked similar to her ex- husband. Juliette, you think this was a smart comment?
KAYYEM: No. I mean, why the president is engaging in this on so many levels, just the fact that he's the president, he has better things to do or should have better things to do, but the fact that every -- he has no sense of self-preservation at this stage. I think that's the most shocking thing. And somewhat scary because he is or president.
Every person would tell you don't engage in this, don't make yourself vulnerable, don't admit to the affair, whatever happened and just leave it alone. He can't do that. And it does worry me just what that says to the world. Right? What does it say to our enemies who know that we have a president who has no capacity to check himself? But also to our allies.
I mean, he's with -- you know, the prime minister of Japan right now, it's not like things are all rosy over in the Korean peninsula or China is backing down from its world dominance. It's just a -- it's that lack of control that his engagement in this outside of the legal liability that just is so disconcerting at this stage. He can't stop himself on all things.
LEMON: I know, but are you really surprised? I mean, when someone shows you who they are, I mean, he kind of--
KAYYEM: You know, I have to say, the -- most people who can't -- you know, most people with personalities like that, I mean, there are people out there like that, do have a good sense of self-preservation and, you know, to the extent I'll defer to the lawyers that at least I read the same thing that they read, which is he does have a lot of vulnerability on this side on the Stormy Daniels side. You would just think self-preservation would keep him quiet.
LEMON: Yes. I want to bring in the lawyers now. Because Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, Jack, says that the president -- what the president tweeted could be defamation. How do you see it?
QUINN: I think the defamation case, frankly, is a little bit hard. I'm not saying he couldn't succeed there, but, you know, Stormy Daniels is now what's called a public figure and the threshold for demonstrating that she's been defamed is higher than for, you know, an unknown person.
That said, I think Michael Avenatti has been enormously successful already. I think that the contract that Michael Cohen had once upon a time wanted to enforce against her through which he was threatening millions and millions of dollars of damages, I think that case is for all intents and purposes over. I think she has won that case. You know, it's a laid down hand for them now I think.
QUINN: And by the way, I think the Karen McDougal settlement, too, signals to me that perhaps this group of people, AMI and the Trump forces are kind of raising the -- waving the white flag here because these cases have been nothing but disastrous so far.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, I thought the same thing when I read the Karen McDougal thing. I wonder if someone just called and said can you see your way into letting this go?
LEMON: That's get that reference? You get that? That's a Comey reference. Speaking to the president.
So, listen, Renato, I want to ask you, any -- Avenatti also responded to the president on Twitter writing, "In my experience, there's nothing better in litigation than having a completely unhinged, undisciplined opponent who is prone to shooting himself in the foot. Always leads to big-league problems like new claims, i.e. defamation."
KAYYEM: A lot.
LEMON: Right. "LOL. Christmas, Hanukkah, Basta." Is he right?
MARIOTTI: Trump called this a con job, if it was a con job, it worked. He literally, Avenatti has a story that's kind of old, right? OK. He filed a lawsuit, not much has happened. He keeps finding ways to continue to keep this in the press, continue to draw attention to the case and Trump managed to find a way to extend the news cycle on this.
[22:35:05] I mean, he hadn't tweeted about this case before. There was no need for him to tweet about a sketch of some event that happened years prior, but he couldn't help himself and now, you know, he's -- that tweet's going to be used in the lawsuit. It's got more attention, we're on national television talking about it right now. It's getting more leverage for Avenatti and Daniels.
Now, can you imagine if they wanted to settle with Stormy Daniels what the price would be at this point? They just really have gained a lot of leverage for themselves.
LEMON: When he did that, I was like, my gosh, he just gave this more oxygen, we're going to be seeing a lot more of Michael Avenatti today. Thank you, I appreciate it. Great conversation.
When we come back, the president dodging the question when asked if he was going to fire Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein tonight. Will Republicans in Congress step in to make sure he doesn't? One House Republican tells me he will. That's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: You heard the president tonight dodging a question about whether he might fire Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein by saying they're still here.
[22:40:00] But there's no better sign of just how serious all this could be than this. Reports of a leaked internal police e-mail in Pittsburgh ordering major crimes detectives to bring riot gear with them to work beginning tomorrow in case of protests if the president fires Mueller.
But there are bills in both the House and Senate tonight that would protect Mueller. And my next guest is backing one of those bills.
Joining me now is Congressman Leonard Lance, one of a group of House Republicans backing one of those bills. Good evening. Thank you so much.
REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW JERSEY: Thank you very having me.
LEMON: The president was asked just a short while ago about fire Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein. He said they're still here. Does that give you any confidence he won't act to fire either man or try to shut down the Russia investigation?
LANCE: I certainly hope he will not do that, and that's why I'm involved in the legislation, but let me say that it is in the president's best interest not to do that and he's being advised that way by Corey Lewandowski and others and I think he should take that fine advice. And so far the Mueller investigation continues and I am a supporter of the Mueller investigation.
LEMON: OK. Before we get to the bill, let me ask you this question, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversees the Mueller investigation, oversees Mueller, would firing him effectively accomplish the same goal?
LANCE: I don't think so because the Mueller investigation would continue and if someone were to be nominated to be deputy attorney general, that position requires Senate confirmation, Don.
LEMON: Yes. OK. So let's talk about a bill. Because there are actually bipartisan bills in both the House and the Senate that would protect Mueller prohibiting the president from firing him without good cause and giving him a right to appeal. Including one by Republican Charlie Dent just this past Friday. You endorsed that bill along with a handful of Republican lawmakers. Why now?
LANCE: Because it's important that the Mueller investigation continue and Congressman Dent, as you know, is retiring next month and I hope to be the Republican lead when my good friend, Charlie Dent, retires from the Congress.
LEMON: So he's retiring next month. What will happen to the bill you signed on to support then?
LANCE: Congressman Welch, a Democrat, is the principal Democrat who is sponsoring the bill. I hope to become the principal Republican. And of course, this is identical with the bipartisan bill in the Senate of the United States.
Senator Tillis, Senator Booker, Senator Alexander, I believe, perhaps Senator Graham, I think it's Senator Graham, and Senator Coons and we have to move forward in a bipartisan capacity in this matter in my judgment.
LEMON: OK. So the bill will continue to go on even without Charlie Dent?
LEMON: House and Senate leaders have opposed any such bill. I want you to listen now to both Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan said just yesterday. Watch this.
(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 is not necessary in my judgment.
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS HOST: Obviously none of your colleagues fear it enough to say it should be in there as an--
MCCONNELL: Yes. But I'm the one who decides what he takes to the floor. That's my responsibility as the majority leader and we'll 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.
PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We do not believe that he should be fired, and we do not believe that he will be fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So they think -- they feel differently than you.
LANCE: I would hope that as Senator Grassley brings this bill out of his committee that the majority leader might reconsider his point of view and that's why it's bipartisan in nature, Don, and that is why I support it.
LEMON: OK. Listen, there's a lot of talk about a blue wave coming. New Jersey is a solid blue state and you won your district by 11 points in 2016, yet your seat is judged to be a tossup by both CNN and Cook Political Report. Are you worried you're going to lose your seat, congressman?
LANCE: I am not. I won by 38,000 votes last time. Secretary Clinton carried the district by 3,800 votes. We had a governor's race in New Jersey a couple of months ago. And the Republican candidate for governor who lost the state by the same percentage as Donald Trump a year before won our district by 15,000 votes and state Senate republican candidates by 21,000 votes.
Don, I have a very sophisticated district. And I'm going be judged base upon what I have supported including this piece of legislation.
LEMON: Are you hearing about the Russia investigation from your constituents and if so, what are they telling you?
LANCE: I am. I hold town hall meetings regularly and my constituents want to get to the bottom of how the Russians were involved in tampering with our elective process and that is unconscionable and we want to make sure it does not happen again. We need to make sure that the sanctity of the voting booth is preserved in this country. There should be no voting fraud in this country and certainly there should be no tampering by a foreign power, particularly the Russians.
LEMON: Let me ask you, is the president -- the president a liability for you or other moderate Republicans come the midterms?
[22:45:00] LANCE: I support the administration when I can, but I have opposed both the health care bill and the tax bill and I want the Russian investigation to continue and I will be judged based upon my views. I have been a Republican throughout my entire adult life. I'm a proud republican. And those in my district will judge me based upon my views.
LEMON: Congressman Lance, thank you.
LANCE: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: And when we come back, President Trump remembering former First Lady Barbara Bush tonight. But after all his criticism of her family, will he pay his respects at her funeral?
LEMON: President Trump taking a moment tonight to praise former First Lady Barbara Bush who died yesterday at the age of 92.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For decades, Barbara was a titan in American life. Her presence and character were engraved into America's identity. Her strength and toughness really embodied the spirit of our country and her warmth and devotion earned the admiration of an entire nation and, indeed, the entire world.
Melania and I send our prayers to Barbara's husband of 73 years. I'll never beat that record.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[22:50:09] LEMON: Joining me now CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley, and CNN White House Reporter, Kate Bennett. Good to both of you.
Kate, first. The First Lady Melania Trump is going to travel to Houston this weekend for the funeral of the former First Lady Barbara Bush, but will the president go with her?
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: We have not heard an announcement from the White House, Don, on what the president's plan are for the funeral which, you know, will be attended by several former presidents and former first ladies.
Melania Trump again is often playing the role of the compassionate side of this administration. Very quickly this morning we learned that she would be among those invited to the funeral, and she would be going. However, again, still no word from the White House tonight. We've asked several times what the president's plans are for this funeral and have not heard back.
LEMON: So, Douglas, you know Kate mentioned that several former presidents, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton will be attending. What will it mean for the president not to be there?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: He'll be criticized if he comes, he will be criticized if he doesn't come. There's no love lost by the Bush family for Donald Trump.
LEMON: You think he'll get criticize if he doesn't go, because I think most people knew how Barbara Bush thought about him.
BRINKLEY: yes. But you know, there's some Americans that would like to think we can pull together in times like these, but he's kind of a one man circus. If he comes he just sucks the oxygen out of a funeral service. So I doubt that he's going to be showing up there. But Barbara Bush loved the Obamas and loved the Clintons, so there'll be a lot of that president's club warmth going on.
LEMON: Not for nothing, isn't the time to come together is when she's alive, is when he had the opportunity to build bridges with her, not now showing up at her funeral. I think it's disrespectful actually for him to go knowing how she felt about him.
Because look, Kate, this is 2016, Barbara Bush gave an interview to CNN where she did not hold back her views on President Trump. Here's what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: He doesn't give many answers to how he would solve problems. He sort of makes faces and says insulting things. I mean, he's said terrible things about women, terrible things about military. I don't understand why people are for him for that reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And she went on to talk about, she said you know what do you think of him, I think it was Jamie Gangel who press on and she said I don't think much about him and I don't really want to talk about him anymore. There's no love lost there. Do you think the president knows about these comments and taking them into consideration?
BENNETT: Sure. I mean, I think the last image we sort of think of on the campaign trail is Barbara Bush pushing her walker through New Hampshire with the Jeb sticker on it. I mean, she was clearly involve in the campaign.
You know, Donald Trump must know and understand the feeling of the Bush family and how the former first lady felt about him. However, as Doug said, I think it's virtually a lose-lose for the president. If he goes there are those who will think it's disrespectful, and if he doesn't go there will are those who will say why isn't the president here? This is a very important iconic woman in our political history of the country. The president of the United States should be there.
So, you know, like I said, either way, someone said to me today it might be sort of like mean girl with the former president where they're sort of very close and tight and been through things and then Donald Trump over here sort of feeling awkward and out of place. All of those things are possible.
Again, we don't know for sure that he's not going. But I think either way it's a difficult and very uncomfortable situation considering what we just heard from Barbara Bush when she was alive.
LEMON: Barbara Bush was very protective of her husband as president and very protective of her son as president. And actually said both of you, remember when she said, I take it personally when they both get criticized. And I mean, I have to say that it's the kind, you know, that Jeb Bush -- he wasn't kind to Jeb Bush, nor the Bush family during the primaries. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I heard just Jeb Bush is a total lightweight. Bush says I do not believe he's a true conservative. These people are stupid. Jeb, Jeb, he's asleep. He's asleep at the wheel, folks.
No, seriously, can you imagine Jeb negotiating with China?
The Iraq war is a disaster for the Bushes, that's why the last thing we need is another Bush, believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Why did he want to go?
BRINKLEY: And not just to that. Remember on George W. Bush and the Iraq war Donald Trump just hammered away at the failures of George W. Bush and he led to a recession, he brutalized George W. and Jeb Bush, and so that's why I personally doubt he's going because I don't think he's particularly welcome, but they don't want to say no if a president of the United States wants to attend because there's an old- fashioned sense of public service. [22:55:06] LEMON: Yes. Well, she's a matriarch of the family. And I
have to say, listen, I know we have to go. But former President George W. Bush called President Trump a blow hard in his book. The last Republican is the former President George W. Bush also had a harsh words for Trump.
He said this guy doesn't know what it means to be president, given how nasty Trump is, I don't know how they feel. Maybe it is protocol, but certainly if it was my mom I would say thanks, but no thanks.
When we come back, will Michael Cohen flip on President Trump? Well, we'll tell you about the ominous warning one of the president's long time lawyers is giving him.
LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon, 11 p.m. here on the East Coast. We're live with all the breaking news for you.
A long time lawyer for Donald Trump says he has warned the president to be careful about Michael Cohen.
[22:59:58] Jay Goldberg who negotiated Trump's divorces from Ivana Trump and Marla Maples says the president called him last Friday seeking advice. Goldberg says he warned Trump that Cohen could flip on him, even suggesting that Cohen might be wearing a wire.
We're going to have more on that in just a moment.