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Comey's Memos Turned Over to Congress; Trump and California Governor Jerry Brown Face Off on Immigration. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired April 20, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. It's just a little past midnight here on the East Coast live with huge breaking news right now. James Comey's memos about his conversations with the President turned over to Congress tonight and CNN has obtained a copy. Those memos are, of course, a key part of Robert Mueller's investigation of potential obstruction of justice. And they're full of fascinating details including revelations on Michael Flynn on media leaks on the President's obsession with loyalty.
We're going through memos page by page and we will bring you all of it tonight. I want to bring in now CNN Legal Analyst Michael Zeldin who was Robert Mueller's special assistant at the Justice Department, also Former Federal Prosecutor Renato Mariotti, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Josh Campbell who was a Former Special Assistant to James Comey and CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem. Good evening. Thanks to all of you for coming on and joining us late in the evening. Again as I said, this is big breaking news. Those memos are out.
Juliette, Comey also documented his conversations with the then White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Let me read what he said, some of it. "We touched on a variety of subjects including how -- how the, now this is redacted, ended up in the report. I explained that the analyst from all three agents agreed it was relevant and that portions of the material were corroborated by other intelligence. I explained that the primary source redacted, much of it was consistent and corroborative of other intelligence." Right up after Comey says he and Priebus discussed the President's interest in the Golden Shower's thing. Is Comey saying the steel dossier was corroborated by other intelligence? Is that what he's saying?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's it. From the beginning this had -- this wasn't only about the dossiers. We now know the dossier did not trigger the FBI investigation and so the fact that it was at one stage, you know, sort of, supported by the Hillary Clinton campaign or Democrats is irrelevant to the FBI. I think the most interesting thing of the -- of the Reince Priebus conversations or that memo in particular is clearly that Priebus has been told by someone and one has to assume it's the White House Counsel, that Mike Flynn could be compromised.
Sally Yates, the then Acting Attorney General had already told the White House of their concerns about Mike Flynn's vulnerabilities and this conversation between Priebus and Comey comes later. So the concerns about Flynn, who remember remained as the National Security Advisor for 20 or 30 days later, is well known to the Chief of Staff and -- and -- and maybe the -- the President relatively early on in the Administration and they did nothing about it.
LEMON : Michael, a key figure in Comey's memos is Mike Flynn and he recounts a moment where he talked about Flynn himself and he writes this. "As I waited in the West Wing lobby, Mike Flynn stopped by and sat down. We chatted for about five minutes about his new job. The challenges in building a staff and working with folks who had never been in government before. How he maintained fitness, etcetera. There was no mention by either of us (redacted, redacted, redacted)." So we don't know what the redaction is at the end of it. Does Mueller know?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Absolutely. Mueller knows. The -- the reality is as we've talked about previously is that Comey's testimony the un-redacted memoranda and all the supporting information that corroborates what Comey has to say is locked and loaded in - -in -- in Mueller's case. And whether it amounts to anything remains to be seen. But Comey is already a delivered witness and his memoranda are with him.
LEMON: Yes. Josh, were you with Comey when he wrote some of these memos?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMTN ANALYST: I was.
LEMON: OK. All right.
CAMPBELL: What else do you got Don? No, actually for me it's interesting because, you know, seeing some of this now come to light obviously with the Department of Justice now handing this over to Congress and than Congress releasing it. We're obviously a little more freer now and you know and what we can discuss. I think what we see and I've -- and I've said this before and I'll say it again (inaudible). It's important to remember that these memos don't prove anything.
And you know if fairness we have to point that out. But they are contemporaneous observations of one of the key parties to these conversations. At the end of the day, the American public will have to decide who do they find the most credible, Jim Comey or the President of the United States. And it's obviously a question that no one is really comfortable answering and it's amazing that we even have to ask it. But it is important to remember.
It's also important to remember as we move forward that, you know, as Michael mentioned that, you know, this information has already been passed on to Robert Mueller. You know, a lot of people have criticized Comey for going out with this book tour. And I've even heard the argument that he may say something that's inconsistent with the past. I -- I don't credit that because, A, as Michael said he's already been locked in with these memos. He's already been out there as far as, you know, being on record. And also you have to remember he's a, you know, a professional lawyer. He's walked around, you know, in his head with some of the most important secrets that the United States government comes. This isn't someone who slips up. So I think these memos are going to be important and it will be interesting to see how they apply to the case as it moves forward.
LEMON: OK. Renato, here's what Comey writes about the President and Flynn. He says, "He didn't return to the topic of Mike Flynn saying that Mike Flynn is a good guy and has been through a lot. He misled the Vice-President but he didn't do anything wrong in the call." He said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go. To letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go. I replied by saying, I agree, he is a good buy but said no more." This backs up what we have been hearing Renato.
RENATO MARATTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Absolutely. And it's really the most disturbing in those memos is when the President of the United States shoos everyone from the room. The only people who have any sense that they should linger and -- and that there's something wrong or bizarre about the President trying to get everyone else out of the room, you know, except him and the FBI Director are, to his credit, Attorney General Sessions and -- and Jared Kushner of all people. But he gets them out of the room and his request to the FBI Director is to let his friend go, to say that his friend's a good guy. You need to let him go.
And I'll tell you, that's not how the United States is supposed to work. That's not how law enforcement is supposed to work. You know, I will say that I would be very surprised if anyone at this point really doubts Jim Comey on this. You know, frankly, you know, he's been consistent throughout. He's the law enforcement agent. He may contemporaneous notes. They're -- they're backed up by Dana Boente. You know, who he had told shortly thereafter. You know, frankly, you know, whether or not there's -- there's proof of corrupt intent, I've argued publicly that there is based on the number of other things and other evidence that we have. You know, this is something that -- that is, you know, very highly disturbing and frankly all of us as Americans should find this disturbing. It should not be a partisan issue.
LEMON: Juliette --
CAMPBELL: It's interesting too if you -- I'm sorry I'm just going to pop in there real quick.
LEMON: Go ahead Josh.
CAMPBELL: -- to say, you know, if -- you know, if you look at the Administration when they come in, obviously there's this honeymoon period when people come in, you give them the, kind of, the benefit of the doubt, as they get to know -- get to know Washington. But, you know, the President says he hires all the best people. But I don't know if anyone had pointed out to him that, you know, someone like Jim Comey who is known to keep notes in important situations and now, you know, Bob Mueller obviously with -- you know the hospital situation.
I -- I can't imagine that someone wouldn't have mentioned to him that you need to be careful when you're talking to law enforcement, when you're talking to the Department of Justice. These are agencies you need to keep at arms length to begin with. These aren't part of your clan that you're going to bring in, you know, close to you. I -- I can't, you know for the life of me, fathom that someone wouldn't have pointed out to him that these are people that keep contemporaneous notes.
ZELDIN: Well, in fact, in -- in the memorandum through Renato's point, I think there's a line in there where --
LEMON: That was Josh but --
ZELDIN: Josh, I'm sorry. To Josh's point where Comey is telling the President there's a problem when the White House and the Department of Justice are too close.
LEMON: I was just going to read that. But you jumped in. That's OK.
ZELDIN: Go right ahead.
LEMON: -- about really it starts talking about AG Holder and Lynch. When he said, "at about this point, he asked me to compare AG Holder and AG Lynch. I said I thought AG Holder was smarter and more sophisticated than AG Lynch who I added is -- is a good person. He said Holder and President Obama were quite close. I replied that they were and it illustrated in my view a mistake President's make over and over again because they reason that problems for a president often come from justice. They try to bring justice close which paradoxically makes things worse. Because an independent DOJ and FBI are better for a president and the country. It listed off John Mitchell, Ed Meese and Al Gonzalez as examples of this mistake --
[00:10:15] LEMON: -- and added Bobby Kennedy."
ZELDIN: Right and this is prescient of what the problems that the President created for himself and what additional problems he will create for himself were he to do something as foolish as firing Rosenstein or Mueller. Comey is here telling the President there are clear guidelines through which we should be communicating and you should stay away from the Department of Justice and it's investigations. But the President has not been able to do that and we're in this situation in large measure because of that.
LEMON: I was going to read another quote. But Juliette but I think it's fair for you to work on that given your background to -- to respond to that. What do you say?
KAYYEM: I -- I think that's absolutely right. I mean, if there's a sort of consistent theme throughout all of these memos it's that President Trump wants three things from Comey. I mean, one, he wants loyalty from Comey. Two, he wants Comey to drop the case against Flynn and three, he wants the overall investigation to go away -- to go away. That -- that is -- that is known to anyone over the age of 12 that you don't do that with the -- the FBI Director. So I -- this sort of newness argument I -- I've -- I've long gotten over.
And what -- I think what's over telling is the absence of any conversation in all of these memos about the election in 2016 or the threat that Russia was in 2016 and continues to be. Comey mentions that but there are no -- at no stage does the President ask the FBI Director when alone with him what is our greatest threat and how do we stop it? He's only concerned about loyalty and -- and then of course this side issue of the -- of, you know, the Russian prostitutes.
LEMON: Yes. So this is what -- I mean you -- what you said -- did you say 8th grade or -- yes. High school.
LEMON: No. Because that's what we learned as a kid. There are three branches of government. There's Judicial, the Legislative and the Executive Branch and they all work independently of each other. That's very simple. You don't have to be President to know that.
CAMPBELL: But even within your own branch, I mean, it's interesting to point out and Juliette know this from --
CAMPBELL: -- obviously her days working -- reading some of the highest classified intelligence that was in the government. That, you know, you look at this idea of Reince Priebus and I'm still not over this from, you know, last hour when we talked about this. That you have the White House Chief of Staff who is asking the FBI Director whether one of his colleagues, who happens to be the National Security Advisor is the subject in a FISA warrant. Which, again, just let that sink in for a second. That, you know, these are people that should know the process. Reince Priebus is no outsider. It's -- it's stunning.
LEMON: Yes. OK. Stick around everyone. We're going to be back. When we come back. A lot more from James Comey's memos about his conversations with President Trump and what all of this will mean for the Mueller investigation and beyond. We'll be right back.
[00:12:51] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[00:16:38] LEMON: Here's our breaking news. Revelations from James Comey's memos about his conversations with President Trump. Those memos delivered to Congress tonight and CNN's obtained a copy. Back with me Michael Zeldin, Renato Mariatti, Josh Campbell and Juliette Kayyem. Let me -- I'm going to give this to Renato. Renato, as I understand this is reporting from the Washington Post tonight. OK? So let me read it.
RENATO MARIATTI: Yes.
LEMON: In recent days, the President has been regularly venting and speculating to aides about his legal status and the expected timeline for the Russian investigation to end according to associates briefed on the discussions. Talk also loudly and repeatedly, complaining to several advisors earlier in the week that Former FBI Director James B. Comey, Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Former Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton among others should be charged with crimes and misdeeds alleged by Republicans the associate said.
Although White House officials said Thursday the Trump has not called Justice Department officials or taken any formal action but the persistent grousing has made some advisors anxious according to two people close to the President. First, the President is speculating here on this own legal status and then go -- what are your thoughts on the rest of it?
MARIATTI: Wow. Well the rest of it should be disturbing to all of us. I mean, you have the President of the United States talking about charging and jailing some of the leaders of the FBI for example. I mean, he's talked publicly about the leaders of the FBI and DOJ, people who he appointed by the way. At times, people who he thinks should be thrown in prison. It's a very dangerous thing and I -- the only thing I can say to mitigate it is, he told us this was coming. He talked about jailing Hillary Clinton in the -- in the election. During the election talked about prosecuting and jailing his political opponent.
You know, frankly, as I -- as I mentioned earlier when we were -- when he talked about jailing reporters. These are the tendencies of someone who -- that are -- that are not consistent with democracy. It's not what our country's about. We don't, you know, throw law enforcement in jail when they're investigating you. We don't throw our political opponents in jail. It really should be something that's disturbing to us. And it -- it seems like it's disturbing to his aides. That's the one upside of that Washington Post report. It really should be disturbing to more people on both sides of the aisle.
CAMPBELL: You know Don, what -- what's interesting to me about Giuliani --
LEMON: Go -- go ahead Juliette. Juliette go ahead.
KAYYMEN: Oh, I -- I that's alright -- I just wanted to say something because something came up earlier today in the interview with Erin Burnett. The -- the -- the lawyer who says that Michael Cohen may turn because he might make new friends in prison and he doesn't want that to happen. Yes, Joe Goldberg with a wink and a nod. In -- in -- in the memos Trump makes a similar thing about reporters. He says, they'll make a new friend. Now everyone knows what that means. That means sexual assault in prison. And I just -- I feel like the woman on the panel, I need to say this.
The amount of focus by Trump and his team on sexual violence, sexual harassment, prostitution and sex, sex, sex, it's just -- like -- it's just so shocking. And I'm -- I just needed to raise it because in that point about the journalist it just that -- that -- that little side thing that Trump says about make a new friend. We know what that means and -- and Trump's focus on all of these really odd sexual things is just -- it's just part of the narrative of a very machismo, slightly, you know, antiquated 1970's type of guy. And it's -- and it animates the way the sort of mafias tone of what's going on in the White House. I'm going to stop them from doing that. You need to stop this investigation.
LEMON: Josh, hold your thought. I want to --
[00:20:15] LEMON: -- ask Michael this. Hold on. Hold on. So where's the floor? Where's the floor?
ZELDIN: In terms of where Mueller will take us? Where the --
LEMON: No, no, no. Where's the floor in terms of --
ZELDIN: -- of decency?
LEMON: Of decency.
ZELDIN: It's -- it's where people want it to be. They -- they have to make a determination about how they want the narrative of our country to move forward. And if they find that this is acceptable, then that's where we'll be. If they find it objectionable, then they have opportunities to make changes in 2018 and 2020. But it's really up to people to say, is this discourse? Is this manner in which we are proceeding acceptable or not? It's not for you and I alone to say. It's -- it's a basic democratic proposition.
LEMON: Well the majority of people found it unacceptable and during the campaign. But there were enough people electorally who went out and voted for this. But the majority of Americans find this --
ZELDIN: And -- and then we'll see what happens. We'll see what happens.
LEMON: Go ahead Josh.
CAMPBELL: No. I was just going to point out that, you know, not only as an observation. Not only is Juliette the only woman on this panel, of all of us in government, she was the most high -- the highest ranking person out of everyone on this panel. So that's awesome. I just wanted to go back real quick and talk about Giuliani. You mentioned him. And obviously, the President, he can choose whomever he wants to, you know, to serve as his legal counsel. One thing that interests me and obviously I -- I set aside like Rudy Giuliani one and Rudy Giuliani two. So there's the 9/11 Giuliani who was America's mayor who was exactly who we needed. And then the Giuliani two who, you know, I don't really know what happened.
But it's interesting that you have a President that as you look at these Comey memos that was obsessed with leaks and rooting out those who were leaking. And even, you know, going after and saying we need to prosecute people and now he's calling Jim Comey a leaker. But if you go back and remember during the election, it was Rudy Giuliani who was basically celebrating that he had this information that he was going to leak. So it's just curious to me that that would then be the person who now is going to represent you. Someone who celebrated taking information and putting it out there inappropriately in the public scenario.
LEMON: Well we were talking about this Washington Post reporting, talking as well about, you know, he -- think -- presidential nominee Hillary Clinton among others should be charged with crimes and misdeeds. Judge Andrew Napolitano on -- was on FOX by the way, FOX news earlier and he publicly urged the Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reopen the Clinton Investigation saying, her guilt of espionage is quote "overwhelming". I mean, Renato, do you think that this is where Trump is getting this idea to charge these people?
MARIATTI: I actually think it's -- it's sort of a -- a self perpetuating system. I mean, I follow a lot of people, FOX News hosts and others on Twitter just to keep track of what they're talking about. And it's -- it's like the -- feedback loop. Trump talks about, I want to charge the FBI and DOJ leaders and Hillary Clinton and others. They're a den of thieves he called them at one point. And then these hosts start, you know, picking that up and talking about the same stuff and it's very dangerous.
In the case of, you know, Hillary Clinton, you know, if you look back and I did at the time, you know -- you know -- I -- I had just -- you know was -- I was in government at the time, looked at the case law and the cases of when we prosecute people from mishandling classified information. It's really only when there's a deliberate transfer of classified information from one person to another, not when they're just being careless. And really, you know, this is just essentially saying that she should be held to a different standard than anyone else because she's the political opponent of the President. And that's just wrong.
LEMON: No. She's the President of the United States. Oh wait, sorry that's on one channel. I forgot about that. All right. Everybody, thank you. I appreciate it. When we come back more new details from James Comey's memos about his conversations with President Trump. Those memos a key part of Robert Mueller's investigation of potential obstruction of justice.
[00:23:52] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[00:27:47] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So here's our breaking news tonight. New details from James Comey's memos documenting his conversations with President Trump. I want to bring in now Caroline Polisi, a Federal and White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney. That's a lot to get out. CNN Global Affairs Analyst David Rose, CNN Political Commentator Scott Jennings and Alice Stewart. Alice, get to New York man. We need you hear in studio.
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT: Right?
LEMON: You're (inaudible) here. You're behind us.
STEWART: You're buying. I'm flying.
LEMON: All right. So let's talk about the -- the memos that a lot -- that Comey talks about a lot in his book. There's a lot of great detail here in these memos. Let me just get your take and then I'm going to read something. Scott, you first. What do you think?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Here's my main takeaways. Number one, these memos remind us that the Flynn hire for National Security Advisor was galacticalllly stupid. I mean, this was -- I mean, unbelievable. Number two, Comey was pretty consistent.
LEMON: Hold -- no -- no, keep that in mind. Because I want to go back to the point. OK.
JENNINGS: Sure. Comey pretty consistent. I think we've heard most of this in his public statements and testimony. Number three, I thought it was interesting that at the dinner Comey told the President, you know, I don't leak. And later testified that he in fact did leak --
LEMON: Well according to -- according to a law enforcement guy here, he said that's technically not a leak.
JENNINGS: I didn't say it --
LEMON: Yes. Legally he said it's not leak.
JENNINGS: He said it's not a leak?
LEMON: He said, legally it's not a leak. Said it's not a leak.
JENNINGS: All right. We'll go with that for now. And then -- and then finally the most eye popping passage, the President of the United States wants to throw reporters in jail. Subject them to some kind of sexual abuse apparently which we know how he feels about reporters. But then Comey is laughing about it. Laughing about it and wants to put a head on a pike. I think we knew how the President felt about reporters. But I don't think we knew how Comey did. I wonder if that had been known before this media tour how it would effect -- effected his coverage.
LEMON: Is he laughing about it you think? Or --
JENNINGS: He said, I laughed as I went to the door. I laughed.
JENNINGS: I laughed.
LEMON: OK. What do you think?
CAROLINE POLISI: From a legal perspective, I think it's more of a sideshow than anything else. I don't think that this is going to add anything big to the Mueller investigation. I -- I know we're talking a lot about, sort of, men's (inaudible) and sort of state of mind that would be necessary to get to the level of obstruction of justice for Robert Mueller to charge that. I don't see it here. I -- I don't -- I think it corroborates the testimony you heard from James Comey earlier and there's really nothing more there.
LEMON: Before I get to the other guests. What about others who testified to Robert Mueller about, you know, their meeting -- you know when he said I want everybody to get out of the office. If they -- so if they -- you know --
[00:30:14] LEMON: -- they -- they're --
POLISI: No. I -- I -- I don't doubt the accuracy of the event. Certainly I think that it took place the way it was described by James Comey then and the way it's described in the memo now. And certainly, look, a clearing of the Oval Office on February 14th to have this sort of closed door, clandestined meeting for an oath of loyalty. Yes. It doesn't sound good.
LEMON: But I'm saying there're other things --
POLISI: -- threshold --
LEMON: There are things beside this one memo.
POLISI: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
LEMON: Right. Yes.
POLISI: You're going to build a case for obstruction of justice. I'm just saying, I don't think that this is a (inaudible)
POLISI: But absolutely, there are other issues beyond the memo.
DAVID ROSE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I'm just struck by the details as sort of how this Oval Office operates. There's this constant focus on conspiracy theories. It's sort of like a running FOX news conversation and I'm sorry to say that in a negative way. But it's -- this obsession with Andrew McCabe. The jokes about reporters. You have Vice-President Pence asking Comey about, you know, do you have a FISA warrant on Michael Flynn. And this obsession with Hillary Clinton and the email case and sort of over and over again.
Whatever you think of James Comey, he's the head of the FBI. He's a Former Federal Prosecutor. And he's over and over explaining the legal principles that lead him to make the decisions in the Hillary case and they just don't seem to listen. It's just brought up over and over again. Trump's asking, hey did you see my tweet this morning? It's -- it's -- it's very similar to his persona, you know, on TV and this is the Oval Office today.
LEMON: Alice Stewart's over our shoulder here. So what do you think Alice?
ALICE STEWART: What I find interesting Don is this comes -- a lot of these memos were written after the President was briefed on Russian interference in our election. And a lot of his follow up questions weren't about, well what can we do to make sure that Russia interfere in our elections in the future. They were more about what can we do to lift the cloud on the dossier, which is the -- the stories of him with allegedly with Russian hookers doing unmentionables in a hotel room. And also, he's also concerned about making sure that the public realizes that he is not investigation in this.
And -- and -- and to Scott's point, with regard to his concerns -- grave concerns about leaks which is a serious matter but make -- putting this on the journalists who were reporting information that they're given by those in the Administration. And even talking and mentioning they should be put in jail for -- for this. And I -- I feel like and -- and as Josh had mentioned earlier, this isn't evidence of -- of any guilt. This is -- these aren't facts. But this is one person's recollection of a conversations he had with the President and in my view the President's ultimate concern should -- have been about Russian interference in our election and not about how things that affect him personally. That is one of the -- the big concerns that I have after reading these memos.
LEMON: OK. I want to ask about a couple of things. I told you to -- the Flynn -- to keep that in mind because this was when they were talking. And apparently he was going through a story about what happened at -- you know, who called him first and I think it was a lunch or something. He said he then asked who I thought would -- he would deal with -- no I'm going -- this goes on the desk. He then -- he then went on to explain that he has serious reservations about Mike Flynn's judgment, and illustrated with a story from that day which the President apparently discovered during his toast to Teresa May that and it's redacted but can I say who -- that the Wall Street Journal is reporting?
OK. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the redacted part is Putin. He said that Teresa May that Putin had called four days ago. Apparently as the President was toasting Prime Minister May, he was explaining that she had been the first to call him after his inauguration and Flynn interrupted to say that Putin had called first apparently. It was then that the President learned that Putin -- of Putin's call. He then confirmed to Flynn about it. It is not clear whether that was a moment after the lunch with Teresa May. Flynn said the return call was scheduled for Saturday which prompted a very heated reply from the President. Six days was not an appropriate period of time to return a call from blank and blank and blank. And then it just goes on -- is talking about an argument. He's upset because he didn't know that Vladimir Putin had called . But I mean, is this something to be upset about? Not necessarily that it's Vladimir Putin but, I mean --
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's just extraordinary. I mean, his A, the interest in Putin and just --
LEMON: Why am I reading this? Why do I need to know this? But go on. JENNINGS: But this is the Oval Office. This is the President of the United States and he's not being told which foreign leaders are calling. And then there's sort of no alarm or suspicion or skepticism about Putin. And then you have -- you know, separately you have this separate thing where Trump's always denied that he's ever spoken to Putin and there's a reference in this memo to him saying how he -- Putin had bragged to him about -- you know, the wonderful prostitutes in Moscow.
LEMON: He said that he called redacted and didn't get a return call. That if he called redacted he didn't get a return call within six days he would be very upset and telling this story the President pointed his fingers at his head and said this guy has serious judgment issues.
JENNINGS: Yes. I mean, look, time and again, the President right out of the gate knew Flynn had -- you know, as he says judgment issues.
[00:25:15] JENNINGS: Flynn turned out to be and is continuing to be a huge liability for the President. So this was -- you know, it was a bad hire. I mean, they could have picked somebody else. They could have picked anybody else. They picked Flynn because he was a good campaign surrogate, but being a good campaign surrogate does not a National Security Advisor make as we've now learned.
LEMON: So who then has the judgment issues?
JENNINGS: Well Flynn has judgment issues. I mean -- (inaudible)
JENNINGS: Sure. But I think -- I mean, I think the President -- look I think the President learned a valuable lesson there which is hire somebody who's qualified to do this and then he did. He got McMaster and now he has Bolton. Both are qualified to hold this job.
LEMON: Yes. That reminds me of the commercial with the crash test dummies and then there's a thing you don't wear your seatbelt. And then they go, who's the real dummy?
JENNINGS: It -- it goes to the question though. How much did the President really know coming into this about what is the function of these jobs?
JENNINGS: What does the National Security Advisor do? What does this person do? What does that person do? If you'd known a little bit more about it, maybe. Maybe you would have different choices. They've made a lot -- I think great choices lately on some of these slots. But that one -- that one was not good.
LEMON: I haven't read -- I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing. But does it -- does Hannity come up in any of this?
ALICE STEWART: No.
LEMON: Don't give away my tease. Don't give away my tease Alice. Bill O'Reilly does after the break Alice. If Alice doesn't ruin it. We'll be right back.
[00:36:31] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[00:40:28] DON LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, new details from James Comey's memos on his conversations with President Trump and how they'll figure into the Mueller investigation. Back with me Caroline Polisi, David Rose, Scott Jennings and Alice Stewart. Alice, since you were reading ahead in the workbook here, I'm going to -- let's talk about this.
ALICE STEWART: I'm sorry. Bad me.
LEMON: President Trump asked Comey about a particular answer that he had given to Bill O'Reilly about whether he respected Vladimir Putin. You think my answer was good. Right? I said the answer was fine except the part about the killers. Because we aren't the kind of killers that Putin is. When I said this the President paused noticeably. I don't know what to make of it. I -- I don't know what to make of it. But he clearly noticed I had directly criticized him. Why do you think Comey made note of that Alice?
STEWART: Clearly the -- the -- the President was focused on making sure that steps were being made to make sure that we had a smooth relationship with Russia. And the fact that he made a point to talk to the Director of the FBI about a -- a TV News host should apologize to Putin was quite notable. And -- and also, that clearly that Trump seemed to be a little miffed that Comey responded to him in a way that really contradicted what the President really wanted to hear. And that was quite noticeable.
And this was one of the things as -- as -- as he said throughout the memos that Trump would jump around from one topic to another to another and this was one that just went -- thrown out there. Trump said what was on his mind and what he wanted to -- to say and then they jumped right to another topic. But clearly, the President wasn't happy that Comey criticized him with regard to the response on Russia.
LEMON: OK. So, anybody else want to respond to that? You're good. Caroline, here's another portion of the Comey memo after -- this is after his -- his dinner he writes as he said. The first time he asked, so what do you want to do explaining that lots of people wanted my job about 20 people that he thought very highly of me and had heard great things. That the people at the FBI really like me but he would understand if I wanted to walk away given I had -- given all I had been through.
Although he thought that would be bad for me personally because it would look like I had done something wrong. That he, of course, can make a change at the FBI if he wants. But he wants to know what I think. There was no acknowledgement by him or me that we had any -- had already talked about this twice. So what do you make of this? Is he letting Comey know that he's dispensable? STEWART: Potentially I think it goes more to the issue of the, sort
of, piling on of the innuendos in terms of -- you know, President Trump is the one in power here. That he can really do what he wants when it comes to the entirety of the investigation. And I -- I think it does -- you know -- again if you talk about an obstruction charge, it does potentially go to his -- to his frame of mind at the time of his dinner. Whether or not he was trying to, sort of, pile on the intimidation tactics onto James Comey.
LEMON: OK. He also writes David about some bizarre interactions with the President. He writes, at various times he talked about the inauguration and crowd size. The campaign and his effective use of free media, earned media. The extraordinary luxury of the White House which he favorably compared to Mar-A-Lago. His many activities during the day and week. His young son's height.
The viciousness of the campaign which I interjected about Adams and Jefferson. And he said he had been given a book about it which was upstairs. How he had not been mocking a handicapped reporter, had not assaulted any of the women who claimed he did. Reviewing in details several of the allegations and many other things. So how do you think Americans are going to read this? Is Comey's story more believable or is it just going to reinforce partisan beliefs?
DAVID ROSE: I think it will reinforce partisan beliefs. But there is this view of this touchy, sensitive almost needy President. One of the events on Comey's book tour tonight, he was interviewed by my boss David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker. And tonight Comey said about Trump, I think he has an emptiness inside of him and a hunger for affirmation that I've never seen in an adult. It's all what will fill this hole. And again, maybe that's unfair to the President, Comey's being biased. But it's this constant need for affirmation that Comey's talking about and again in this interview tonight. And -- and he's put it in the memos as well.
LEMON: I'll ask -- pose the same question in giving -- given what he said here.
SCOTT JENNINGS: Yes. I -- I mean, we've known the President doesn't take criticism very well. I mean, during the campaign.
LEMON: He wants to be liked.
JENNINGS: Well -- and -- and in somebody levels an accusation at him and somebody says -- you know, you're guilty of this or you've done this. I mean, he -- he never forgets it and he always comes back to it. To be honest, some of this stuff Comey is saying is A, hyper- partisan, B, hyper-personal and C, I think degrading Comey's image. I'm not certain this media blitz this week has gone that well for Director Comey. I think a lot of the things he said have been, frankly, beneath --
[00:45:13] JENNINGS: -- a man of his stature and experience. I respect the man but I -- I think he said some things in the book and on this media tour that are going to erode his above it all image. I think he's going to sell a lot of books but I'm not sure his image is going to come out as favorably perhaps as he might have imagined when he started this tour.
LEMON: So -- and -- and listen. Josh was on earlier. Josh Campbell saying, who do you believe the President of the -- or -- or James Comey? And to your point, he's getting criticized by both Democrats and Republicans. But as far as credibility the President has said worse than James Comey, a lot worse.
JENNINGS: Sure. I -- I -- I find it interesting that people were positioning it -- who do you -- you -- you can only believe Trump or Comey.
JENNINGS: I mean, coming into this people believed Trump or Comey but they're not -- they're not -- you know, they're not in court against each other right now. They're not playing a pick up game of basketball as far as I know. They're not on golf -- I mean, why is it Trump versus Comey right now? Trump has a narrative of events. Comey has a book. But they're not -- they're not in opposition to each other except for Comey's making that way throughout this media tour this week. So I -- I -- I'm interested in that just the position. I don't get it.
LEMON: Well he is being asked about it. But I mean, this is why. These memos. Come on Scott.
JENNINGS: He's no longer -- he's no longer the prosecutor -- he's no longer the investigator and he's no longer the antagonist in that job. He is a witness is what I think is a little unseemly about all this.
LEMON: Yes. All right. Do they come back? Maybe so. We'll be right back. Thank you. Thank you. You don't. We'll be right back.
[00:46:37] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[00:50:44] DON LEMON: Tonight President Trump ratcheting up his war of words with California Governor Jerry Brown over his refusal to deploy the state's National Guard to enforce Federal Immigration Laws. That after the President upset a lot of people with a tweet yesterday about what he called breeding in sanctuary cities. I want to talk about this with -- now with Journalist Maria Elena Salinas, Former Univision Anchor. So good to have you on. Thank you for coming in.
MARIA ELENA SALINAS, JOURNALIST, FORMER UNIVISION ANCHOR: Great to be here.
LEMON: Good to have you here in person.
SALINAS: Thank you.
LEMON: The President is starting to cut funding for California's National Guard Troops complaining by tweet. Here's what he put. He said about the hundreds of -- of those troops doing nothing. The issue is, is California Governor Jerry Brown announced that those troops would be deployed to fight gangs and smugglers along the border. But he said they would not participate in immigration enforcement. How is the deploying of National Guard somehow become a political fight?
SALINAS: Because Trump is not getting what he wants, the way that he wants to get it and that's usually when he racks up his -- his rhetoric. And if he runs out of words so he just adds more and more and more fuel to the fire. And I -- I don't know if he can really take away funds for -- for the National Guard just like now we know he can't do that for sanctuary cities. So, you know, I think that's basically what it is. California's a state where you can't do that. You can't send troops to the border to detain people who are coming into this country looking for a better life. People that are maybe coming into this country transfer asylum because they're running away not just poverty but violence --
SALINAS: -- danger in -- in their countries.
LEMON: When I said and -- and before introducing you I said the word breeding, you winced. And because this comes a day after the President mentioned the -- the phrase breeding concept in referral to illegal immigration, and taking a swipe at California Governor Jerry Brown. His DHS Secretary took a hard pass when he was asked to clarify. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What do you say to those people who look at the word breeding being used in the context of immigration and -- and really (inaudible)?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, DHS SECRETARY: I just generally from where I stand, we have immigration laws. We need to enforce them. No matter who is breaking those laws and that's what we're committed to doing. I can't speak to any -- a particular meaning at the tweet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Yes. (inaudible).
SALINAS: What does the law have to do with -- what does it have to do with it? Has nothing to do with it.
LEMON: What did you -- is there anyway to explain that? That tweet. What did you think when you saw it? Because in all honesty someone last night said that he thinks -- he thinks the President meant it's a breeding ground for crime and other things.
SALINAS: Right. There's always someone that has to interpret whatever the President is saying. But what the President said was just the word breeding and left if open for all of us to interpret. So, I mean, when you talk about breeding you think of animals. So, is he basically saying that immigrants are animals? And if they have children here then their children will become criminals too? It -- you know -- it's really, really insulting and I think that's the kind of language that he uses when he's not getting his way. When he -- when people are not doing exactly what he says and the way that he wants things to happen.
So it -- it is definitely insulting and it's also insinuating and implying that immigrants are criminals. And immigrants are not criminals. Even crossing the border is not -- not a crime. It's a civic -- civil violation. And, you know, you get that perception - - I don't even know if it's a perception or if it's just plain lies that this country has a crime problem because of immigrants. When study after study has shown that it's the contrary. It's more likely for U.S. citizens born -- U.S. born citizens or even legal immigrants to commit crimes than undocumented immigrants. I think it's less than 1 percent of those who are jailed for crimes are undocumented immigrants.
LEMON: Well I know the term breeding concept and also in the chain migration, that doesn't resonate well on the other side of the border or with people on this side of the border.
SALINAS: No it doesn't. You know, whenever I hear chain migration do you know what chain migration really is? Just the reunification of families. But, you know, I -- I think and I always think of me and my family. My father was an undocumented immigrant. But my father was not your -- you know -- what do you -- what is an undocumented immigrant? What is an undocumented immigrant look like?
LEMON: This falls in line to what he said before. Watch this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You have people on the border and in one day they walk over, have a baby and now all of a sudden we're supposed to pay the baby.
We will get rid of chain migration and the Visa lottery program. We had a lottery program where we take in a lottery people from other countries. In some places we are bringing in some very bad, bad people. We don't want this group of people anymore.
[00:55:13] TRUMP: Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Do you think he doesn't realize how this comes out? Or do you think it's just -- he doesn't care?
SALINAS: I don't think he cares. I think he just says the things that he feels he needs to say to get the support from his -- from his voters. But as you can see, it's insults after insults and lie after lie. Because what he's saying is not true. You know, when he's talking about anchor babies, I'm an anchor baby, you want to call me that way. We lived in Tijuana for a while and my mother crossed the border so that I could be born in the U.S., but my mother had a green card. My mother was a legal resident. My sisters were also born here. So -- you -- it's an -- it's an insult to say that.
LEMON: And look what you're accomplished?
SALINAS: Right? I think -- I think my family and I have contributed quite a bit to -- to this country. So, you know, unfortunately, you know, we continue talking about this and we -- and it never stops. And I'm just hoping that one day we'll sit here and talk about something else that is not insults to immigrants.
LEMON: I'm holding your had because it's such a pleasure to have you in studio.
SALINAS: Thank you.
LEMON: It's always a pleasure to have you on.
SALINAS: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you very much.
SALINAS: Great to be here.
LEMON: That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.