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Former President George H.W. Bush in Intensive Care; Trump Welcomes French President Macron; Trump Could Pardon Cohen; President Trump Under Fire for Tweeting about Breeding in Sanctuary Cities in California. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 23, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Here's our breaking news. The 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush in intensive care tonight. The former president was admitted to the hospital just hours after the funeral of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush.
And in retrospect, these pictures are even more moving now. The frail 93-year-old former president greeting mourners and posing for this picture with three other past presidents and four first ladies. We're going to have much more on the president's condition. That is in just a moment.
That is coming in. In the midst of the pomp and circumstance of the visit by French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte. The president, and President Trump's first state dinner tomorrow night. But behind the scenes, it is a very different story.
A source telling CNN the president's lawyers are preparing for all possibilities. Though, the source say they're not worried about Michael Cohen flipping. But listen to Sarah Sanders dance around the question of whether the president might pardon Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, White House PRESS SECRETARY: It's hard to close the door on something that hasn't taken place. I don't like to discuss or comment on hypothetical situations that may or may not happen. I would refer you to personal attorneys to comment on anything specific regarding that case, we don't have anything at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That's not exactly a denial and this president who has already pardoned Scooter Libby and Joe Arpaio. And is considering a posthumous pardon of boxer Jack Johnson.
So is President Trump sending a message with all this pardon talk? We'll discuss all of that. But I want to get to our breaking news straight off. And that former President George H.W. Bush in intensive care tonight. Joining me now is CNN's medical chief correspondent -- Chief Political
Correspondent, I should say, Dana Bash, CNN Special Correspondent, Jamie Gangel, and our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us, and Presidential Historian, Mark Updegrove who is the author of "The Last Republicans."
You were at Barbara Bush's funeral, correct?
MARK UPDEGROVE, DIRECTOR, LBJ LIBRARY: Yes.
LEMON: You were there, OK.
Thank you all for joining us. Jamie, you have been talking to your sources, what's the latest on the former president?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So what we know is this, you know, you showed those pictures, and he was doing as well as could be expected at the funeral. He was obviously very emotional, and then I'm told that Sunday morning he came down with an infection and sepsis which is very dangerous, to someone of his age, in his medical condition.
He suffers from a form of Parkinson's, and that he was rushed to Houston Methodist Hospital and put in the ICU. And that it was really a rough day on Sunday. I'm told that twice his blood pressure dropped and frankly, they weren't sure whether he was going to make it.
The good news is that he has been given treatment, antibiotics, fluids for the infection and I'm told that today he is stabilized, but he's still in the ICU in very serious condition.
LEMON: That's good news. And of course, we wish him a very speedy recovery, Sanjay. The statement put out by his office that he is responding to treatments and appears to be recovering. Obviously you're surgeon, you're familiar with such serious, especially for someone who is 93 years old and their health is fragile.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It can start off as a relatively minor infection even, Don, but when it becomes sepsis, it usually means that it has spread throughout the body, it is spread into the blood, what typically happens is, you know, someone may start to have high fever, they may have changes in their vital signs, their heart rate, their blood pressure, have difficulty breathing.
Those are the warning signs. And certainly, as you point out, as Jamie points out you're 93 years old, you have had some medical problems in the past, it is something you take more seriously. You have to identify what caused the sepsis.
In this case, a bacteria for which as was mentioned he is getting the antibiotics. It's great that he's responding to those. That's what you want to see. But still, you -- these things take some time to really be sure that you're going to be able to clear the infection and that his body is going to be able to maintain all those important vitals, the blood pressure and heart rate in particular.
LEMON: So they keep giving him antibiotics and they just checking and is that the treatment?
GUPTA: Yes, there's usually a course like base on the type of bacteria that is there and base on how his body has responded. You say this is going to be the typical course of antibiotics and it might be several days of I.V. antibiotics, followed up by oral antibiotics, for example. During the time that he's getting the antibiotics if he needs to be in the hospital, maybe even in the ICU typically.
So, that's -- that's -- these things are measured in days and weeks, not minutes and hours in terms of his recovery, Don.
LEMON: Yes. Mark, I want to come to you now. As I said, when I introduce you, you were at the memorial, you've written about the Bushes. You previously tweeted a photo of you interviewing them. How was the former president during the memorial service?
[22:04:59] UPDEGROVE: I saw what you saw. I didn't interact with him, Don, but he was -- he looked terrific, and I think he was around family. And when President Bush is around his family, it's a bomb to him. It was a bomb to him when he was president. He always had family around. And I think that probably helped to sustain him in a very dark hour.
LEMON: Yes. Dana, we saw that video of the former president greeting the public paying tribute to his wife. He wanted to be there. It says a lot about the kind of guy he is and the kind of family this is, doesn't it?
BASH: No question. And look, we've been seeing with our own eyes and we've been hearing stories since the death of Barbara Bush specifically and especially in and around her funeral where as you mentioned of course, her widower was front and center.
But I'm really struck by something I heard Sanjay talking about earlier which is that broken heart syndrome is an actual thing.
BASH: It's a medical condition and the fact that we have heard so much from Jamie and others about their incredible love story. A 73- year marriage, it really tells us a lot about the potential for why, you know, he suddenly came down with infection.
Obviously he has been ill, he's been in the hospital, several times, he has been sort of more ill, even more ill than Barbara Bush. But you know, this is certainly something for people who have heard about their incredible bond. Maybe it isn't unexpected that he's just physically depleted.
LEMON: I think that was on a lot of people's minds, Dana. And you're absolutely right, and listen, they met in 1941, that's 77 years ago. They were married for 73 years married.
LEMON: Married for 73 years but together for 77 years. So he is -- he is a man with a broken heart, Sanjay. Would that kind of grief affect someone medically?
GUPTA: It certainly can. I mean, as we talked about, this is a medical diagnosis in the sense that you think what's the connection here, but people can release a lot of these different types of chemicals into the body, that can have an impact on the heart, in response to a significant loss like this. In response to a significant emotional event like this, you can have a tangible effect from this loss, and it's been a thing that's been more recognized recently.
It can also have a tangible effect on your immune system, you know, your ability to fight off infections. And I bring that up only because, you know, sometimes sepsis can start as an infection that, you know, President Bush or anybody else could clear on their own, without it turning into a more systemic, you know, body wide infection.
Was his immunity more suppressed as a result of the loss this week and all that he's been through, that is another tangible effect of this? So, you know, there was a lot that could potentially set him up for this.
LEMON: Jamie, talk to us about that love story. Again, as I said, they met in 1941, she was 16 years old. They eventually ended up getting married. But it was a love story, and if you watched the funeral one couldn't help but think about that. That he was waking up without the woman that he had been in love with for 77 years.
GANGEL: No question, they were partners, not only did they meet when they were 16, Don, but they both loved to say that -- Barbara Bush would say, he was the first man I ever kissed and the only man, she would laugh about how her children would roll their eyes when she told that story.
But 73 years is a long time. I also think that what has been true is, he has had tremendous will to live. I was lucky enough to have dinner with them in the fall. And he said to me, he said this frequently in the last couple of years, I'm going to live to be 102, Jamie. I think he really has felt that.
If you have seen him, he has not been hiding away, he goes to baseball games. He goes to dinners, he was talking about going to Maine, he is someone who has had a great desire to keep living. I think what everyone was thinking this past weekend at Barbara Bush's funeral is, what about now?
GANGEL: Because the loss is just tremendous. And you could see it on his face.
GANGEL: He was heartbroken.
LEMON: Mark, the Bush family just laid to rest their matriarch over the weekend, how is the family dealing with this crisis? UPDEGROVE: You know, I think I had lunch with the Bushes about a
month and a half ago. And I think she was ready to go. She was really tired, breathing had become laborious for her, she was dragging around a breathing apparatus and writing around an emotional--
LEMON: If you listen to the minister at her funeral he said as much.
UPDEGROVE: Yes. That's right.
LEMON: Yes, go on.
[22:09:59] UPDEGROVE: Yes. I think she was tired and I think she was ready to go. In fact, she talked to us openly about how she was ready to go, and her one -- the reluctance she had, was leaving behind her husband of 73 years, she wanted them to go together. And she talked openly about that, I don't think he's ready.
LEMON: Yes. Jamie, Sanjay, and Mark, thank you very much, I appreciate it. Dana is going to stay with us. We're going to have more updates tonight on the former President, George H.W. Bush.
And when we come back, what's really going on behind the scenes at the Trump White House, as the president rolls out the red carpet for French President Emmanuel Macron. Sources tell CNN his attorneys are prepping for all possibilities while still insisting they're not worried about Michael Cohen flipping.
Plus, I'm going to ask Dana Bash about this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: It is not about gender, I don't want to have this conversation. You know that I want--
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: No, it's not about gender, hold on. It's not about gender.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The White House rolling out the red carpet tonight for the French president and his wife, but in the midst of all the pomp and circumstance President Trump and his legal team have Michael Cohen on their minds.
Dana Bash is back with me, and joining me now is CNN White House Reporter, Kate Bennett, and CNN Political Analyst, Patrick Healy of "The New York Times." Welcome to the panel, and Dana, welcome back.
Patrick, you know, the visit from the president is giving the White House sort of this veneer of normalcy, right. But then when you look behind the scenes at the barrage of tweets over the last week, a few days you should see attacking journalists on Michael Cohen and plenty more from this president. It really tells a different story, doesn't it?
[22:15:06] PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, absolutely. I mean, Trump has been on fire lately. He went after my colleague Maggie Haberman, you know, pretty aggressively about a story in which all the sources were on the record, you know, about Michael Cohen. I mean, it was a very strongly reported piece.
And you know, he has not let up, sort of over the weekend. I mean, he realizes Michael Cohen - Michael Cohen may not be Jared Kushner or Ivanka Trump in terms of being like in the family, but he's about as close to Trump as you know, you're going to get. In terms of a person who he feels like has got information who knows things and is a threat.
So, you have you the state visit, you have for a day, Don, like the sense of OK, this looks like a normal White House, normal president might do. But as we know, going on behind the scenes, I mean, they are still down deep in the bunker on kind of a war footing, and he's tweeting what he tweets.
LEMON: Yes. I wish he would tweet about the waffle house hero.
LEMON: And that would be nice there because when it's a Muslim involved, he tweets immediately.
HEALY: Right. No, when he -- immediately. And also like Barbara Bush's funeral. I mean, we're all going to remember that I think for a while.
LEMON: He's tweeting all the stuff during Barbara Bush--
HEALY: Barbara Bush--
LEMON: Dana, then there is this. CNN learning that the president is increasingly using his cell phone to contact outside advisers. And this is according to sources doesn't want his chief of staff John Kelly to know who he's talking to. Are you hearing anything about that?
BASH: Look, I mean, this is classic Donald Trump in that. He, it's his lifeline to talk to the people outside the White House, to talk to people who he wants to hear from, he wants to bounce ideas off of, he wants to sort of, you know, get a sense of what's happening out in the world where he used to be.
And frankly, event, which by the way, for any president, it is quite difficult to be in the bubble of the White House no matter how much they want of the job. But in this particular case, Don, the idea that sort of like a teenager, he has to sneak a cell phone when, you know, when the people who are sort of watching over him aren't there or around, the people who are watching him or the person in this case the chief of staff, it's pretty extraordinary.
LEMON: Yes. You better get off of that phone, young man. Or I'm going to come into that room, right.
LEMON: It's like a teenager on that phone.
Patrick, one source is telling CNN that Trump is talking all sorts of people. Should the president of the United States just be talking to anyone especially on his own cell phone.
HEALY: Right. I mean, this is the president's need to go to an inner circle, Barack Obama did it, George W. did it, Bill Clinton did it, you know, ways back when they need to have people around who they feel that they can trust the most, often they don't feel when crisis moments are flaring that it's the people around in the White House which is can be troubling, so they go to old friends, they go to old advisers.
The problem here is that a lot of the old friends and advisers of Donald Trump haven't given him good advice in the past. I mean, these are sort of double down folks, you know, you got to hit harder, you got to hit harder, and there aren't many people around Donald Trump who can speak honestly to him about when he's going, you know, when he's going too far, when he's made mistakes.
John Kelly made some difference of that early on. He was able to get him understand, you don't want to step on your own message. You don't want to create problems unnecessarily where they on. But the ones he's calling up, you know, we know we have an idea of like who he's calling, and these aren't people who necessarily help.
LEMON: And you see it's kind of the advice that he wants to hear.
HEALY: Right. These are people who reinforce the sense of like you're doing a great job.
LEMON: Reinforce, yes. So Kate, Melania Trump is taking the lead on planning for the state dinner with the French president and his wife, also front and center at Barbara Bush's funeral. She posted these photos earlier today and tonight. You got the first video from inside the room, talk about the significance of Melania running the show.
KATE BENNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We just came out of the White House, where we saw the state dining room dressed up. It looks lovely. You know, traditional they are gold plates and gold setting and gold salt and pepper shakers and white flowers. You know, certainly this is a moment for Melania to say that she's arrived, she's hosting this big dinner, she's planned it herself from the menu to the seat cushions, you know, to the dessert with White House honey from the White House bees here on the South Lawn.
So this is very much her coming out, she hasn't been living full time in Washington for a year yet. Let's remember she just moved last June, a little late for an administration to be getting started with their first state dinner, but it looked lovely in there and she's got a big number of guests coming on tomorrow night here for this. It looks like it's going to be a lovely evening just from the aesthetics. We're hopeful that the dinner goes well.
LEMON: I'm surprised they chose gold.
BENNETT: It's actually, you know what, Don, it's actually the -- it's the irony is, it's the Clinton China. So this is the China from Bill and Hillary Clinton.
[22:04:59] BENNETT: But the irony is the most Trump ask China. It's actually the Clinton.
LEMON: That was just a little joke. Just having a little fun here. We need some humor.
So, Dana, you know, at the same time, there's some controversy because no congressional democrats have been invited, that is a break from the past, isn't it?
BASH: It is, and it's weird given what we have seen from this president. I mean, he was reached in a big way to Democrats in the House and in the Senate. Maybe because it's so late in the beginning of his first term that he sort of feels like he has done that to no avail politically or legislatively.
It is unusual, there's no question particularly when you're talking about an ally like France. You would think that you want to show that leader that there is bipartisan support for this country's very, very first ally before this country was a country during the war, during the revolutionary war.
HEALY: I would just add to what Dana was saying. I mean, we're seeing now President Trump going on to bit of midterms where fitting he is going to be skipping White House correspondent's dinner association. Again, going to Michigan to give a campaign speech.
So I started to think about all those kind of midterm candidates who are going to want to give him a big hug, Don, they are going to want have (Inaudible) with him. But he's still a very good fund raiser and this is having democrats in the House, isn't necessarily what his head is at.
LEMON: Some hugs some hives mind. Some are saying, yes. All right. I'm not sure about this.
HEALY: Keep your distance.
LEMON: So, Dana, listen, you talked to Kellyanne Conway over the weekend about her husband's critical tweets and this president. Here's how some of the exchange. Watch this.
CONWAY: That really is meant to divert attention from again the big issues in America cares about. But like I said, CNN chose to go there, I think that's going to be fascinating moving forward. Don't deny that, when you just said it must be different. I do want you to clarify though for the whole wide world audience, and in fact for me since you raise me. It's difficult for whom to have two adults--
BASH: My point only is that--
CONWAY: Difficult for my children who are probably watching me right now?
CONWAY: Because it's not hard for them. They've already seen a double standard for their mother for two years.
BASH: It is not about gender. I don't want to have this conversation. You know that I don't believe that it's about gender.
CONWAY: No, no. I didn't say it's not about gender. Hold on. It's not about gender. There's been a different standard for me than there have been for other people.
LEMON: Listen, Dana, I know you, you don't like the story to be about -- so I'll ask you about the journalism part of this, she says it was not a fair question, you think it was.
BASH: Absolutely. I would ask it again right now, despite the reaction because look, Kellyanne Conway, first of all, she has gotten a lot of tough questions that she has handled pretty well, this is one certainly that hit close to home, but that was the point.
She is the counselor to the President of the United States. And she had, her husband, who is a prominent lawyer, a Republican, but, you know, sort of still a private citizen, is pretty active relatively so on Twitter, criticizing the very administration that she goes out and defends.
So that is why I believe that it was a legitimate question, we certainly have heard some whispering from Republicans questioning -- in the White House -- why that has happened. And the fact that she reacted the way she did, was quite surprising and I'm still sort of in shock that that was -- that that was the reaction instead of something maybe a little more simple. A little more succinct. And maybe something--
LEMON: Made humor.
BASH: -- that she's fighting points that something that she is entitled to do, but not as personal.
LEMON: Yes. Patrick?
HEALY: But tactical too. I mean, it was surprising and not surprising in a way. I mean, what was surprising was that, you know, Dana is one of the most respected journalists in Washington, this was a completely fair question, you know, Dana asking the question to Kellyanne sort of pointing out these distinctions, you know, from what her husband is tweeting. That is not -- that is surprising that Kellyanne was willing to sort go there.
What wasn't surprising is that Kellyanne Conway is often playing for an audience of one. As many of the White House advisers they're playing for President Trump, he's watching this on television. He's a big believer in punching back 10 times as hard as he's going to punch. I don't think Dana was punching in any unfair way--
HEALY: -- against Kellyanne Conway, but Kellyanne decided to sort of bring it and she brought it and, you know, that I imagine probably went down very well at the White House.
LEMON: And we all move on and then it will -- you know, we just move on because it happens. That's the business we're in.
Thank you all. Thanks, Dana. Thanks, Kate. Thanks, Patrick. I appreciate it.
BASH: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, the White House failing to close the door behind on the possibility of pardoning Michael Cohen, but this is a president who has already handed down other pardons, so is he sending a signal? One could be coming his lawyer's way? We'll talk about that.
[22:25:02] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Top White House aide is trying to throw cold water today on the possibility that President Trump could pardon his attorney Michael Cohen but they did not go so far as to say it won't happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no need for that at this point, Chris. I think that the president, of course, all of us are frustrated. We're very frustrated with the scope of the investigation, and the way it's dragged on.
SANDERS: It's hard to close the door on something that hasn't taken place, I don't like to discuss or comment on hypothetical situations that may or may not ever happened. I would refer you to personal attorneys to comment on anything specific regarding that case but we don't have anything at this point.
LEMON: I want to talk about this now with Jack Quinn. He is a former White House counsel to President Clinton, and Mark Osler, is a former federal prosecutor who's the author of "Contemporary Criminal Law." Gentlemen, it's great to have both of you on. Thank you so much.
Mark, you first, given that Cohen is possibly in a position to know incriminating information about the president himself -- would pardoning him be an abuse of power?
[22:24:56] MARK OSLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It would be legal, to get that out of the way first of all. Would it be right? I think a lot of people would think it's not right, it's a way of avoiding responsibility and inquiry. You know, and the fear that he's going to flip and give information. And that's one of the things about the pardon power.
It's incredibly broad. And it can be used for good, and it can be used for bad things, and it affects the reputation of the president for decades later, as we have seen with some this president's predecessors.
LEMON: Jack, a lot of people are reading the statements, and the president's tweets as a message to Cohen, not to worry. How do you see it?
JACK QUINN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Look, with every passing day, and the influence (ph), there's a message, and a signal in the President's comments, it's stronger and stronger.
But I want to go back to Mark's point about the breadth of the pardon power. I agree. It's incredibly broad, but it's not unlimited. And I think, you know, the President takes an oath to faithfully execute his office, and to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.
Here, we're talking about the President pardoning people, pardoning potential witnesses, at the same time, that he's talking about potentially firing the prosecutors, I think that is a deadly combination, and I think together, they could very well make out the elements of abuse of that presidential power.
And form the basis for both an obstruction charge, and subsequent impeachment. You can't pardon yourself. How in the world can we think that a nation of laws would tolerate a president getting rid of the witnesses, and getting rid of the prosecutors?
That is unthinkable, and I think it would be a pretty clear violation of the presidential oath. And by the way, he's the only elected official who takes an oath to faithfully execute the laws.
He's the only one who's required in two parts of the constitution, to be faithful to his office, and to the laws of the United States. Getting rid of the witnesses, and the prosecutors can hardly be construed as being faithful to his office. LEMON: All right, since you're warmed up here. Jack, I want to ask
you, the President tweeted over the weekend that he doesn't see Michael Cohen flipping on him. Clearly, this is on his mind, if the President did nothing wrong, why do you think he's worried about Cohen cooperating with investigators?
QUINN: And why in heaven's name would he characterize it as flipping? Why isn't he saying, Michael, I want you to tell the truth? You and I both know there's nothing here, so go in there, and just tell the truth.
LEMON: OK. Mark, listen, the President also tweeted that he was considering a full pardon of boxing champ Jack Johnson. Johnson has been dead now for 70 years. Many people on both sides of the aisle have called for his pardon, but would it, you know, have a practical effect, so why now?
OSLER: It's symbolic. And it's -- I'm all for it. I think he should pardon Jack Johnson. It's terrible what happened to him. It's rooted, and endemic racism.
But I think if he does that, he should also pardon Alice Johnson, who is a 60-something grandmother who convicted of a first time nonviolent narcotics offense, and is doing life in prison. That there needs to be a balance between symbolism, and doing things that affect real people.
The other thing too about the Jack Johnson pardon, is that it reflects this view that racism is something that was in the past, and now we've fixed it, you know, along with other criminal justice issues, that's simply not true. It's hard to do, but there needs to be a broader approach, to be on, and simply this symbolic.
LEMON: Can you bring very fast any point, go on, continue to talk about that. Why do say that?
OSLER: Well, just because I know some of these people. I've represented people for pardon petitions, that are clemency (Inaudible), and we saw President Obama really take a concerted heartfelt effort to reach some of those folks through clemency, but it didn't work very well, frankly.
The sentencing commission found that very few of the people that he was targeting nationally got clemency through that project. Part of the problem is the process.
It goes through seven levels to review, much of it through the Department of Justice. And that just doesn't work, there's a conflict of interest there, and you've got the bureaucracy as a problem.
OSLER: The President should pull it closer to him, and do a favor to all of his successors as well many.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, I want to ask you just quickly, Jack, if you know here, because, you know, he pardoned Scooter Libby, that raised some eyebrows. And I'm just wondering if he's not afraid to use his pardon power to anyone who may be coming up against the special prosecutor in this Mueller's investigation.
[22:35:00] QUINN: Absolutely. I mean, the clear signal in that case was that, you know, crimes like obstruction of justice, and perjury are not out of the realm of pardonable. And look, again, I think you can't isolate any one of these events.
But together, as I say, as every day goes by, and he talks about pardons, and he talks about firings, the inferences are very clear, and he's on thin ice. I really think so, and he needs a good lawyer to explain to him, that his presidential powers are not unlimited.
And the country is not going to abide by a process by which he essentially fixes this situation for himself. Rather than insuring that he is in fact faithfully executing the responsibilities of his office, and the laws of the United States.
LEMON: Jack, thank you. Jack is a returned guest. Mark, thank you. We hope you come back, we appreciated having you. Thanks to both of you gentlemen.
QUINN: Thank you.
OSLER: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, sources telling CNN that President Trump is back to using his personal cellphone. But, is that a security risk? I'm going to ask a former director from National Intelligence, James Clapper.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, former President George H.W. Bush is in intensive care at a Houston Hospital tonight. The 41st president was admitted just hours after the funeral of his wife, the former first lady Barbara Bush.
Joining me now is a former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, he is now a CNN National Security Analyst, and worked in President Bush's 41 administration.
Thank you so much for joining us, General Clapper. I really appreciate it. It's a sad time for the country especially for the Bush family. What can you share about your experience with him as a president and a man?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think, Don, my most memorable experience with Bush 41 was about 18 -- about 1989 or '90. I'm not sure when. When I was a young two-star in the Air Force, and I was chief intelligence for what was then known as strategic air command at a head quarter at a Air Force base in Omaha, Nebraska.
And President Bush, along with Mrs. Bush came to visit, and it was the first time a president had visited sack headquarters which controls the nuclear arsenal in 13 years.
So we went through repeated dress rehearsals of exactly what was going to be said and done, and how President Bush would move, and what the schedule would be, and our commander the four-star there, had this down to, you know, a smoothly oiled machine, or so he thought.
So typically, as happens in a situation like this, intelligence starts, and President Bush was accompanied by another iconic American Brent Scowcroft who was national security adviser at the time.
And I did my briefing, and then we walked out on to our 7x24 watch center, and a lot of enlisted troops are sitting there at their computer terminals, and President Bush, the humanist, and human that he was, wanted to go around, and meet every one of those enlisted people.
And talked to them, and asked them where they're from, and how long they've been in the service, and, of course, this is a life memory for each, and every one of those enlisted people.
Well, this really threw the schedule off. Much to the chagrin of our commander, but it just illustrates what a great human being President Bush was. And I later had some encounters with him in subsequent incumbency, but that encounter is just his outreach to people in this case, very junior people, left a great impression on me.
LEMON: Yes. It's just class, and it would be great if we could get back to that in this country. Let's talk about the other thing that we want to talk about, this is the President's cellphone, because multiple sources tonight are telling CNN that President Trump is ramping up the use of his personal cellphone.
One source is saying it's partly because of the President, he doesn't want his chief of staff to know who he's talking to. From a security perspective, does that worry you?
CLAPPER: Yes, it does. He may be keeping things from his chief of staff, but he will elicit the interest of foreign intelligence services, and not just adversary foreign intelligence services, but friends, and allies as well.
This is potentially a gold mine of intelligence for them. And even if he's using some kind of secure app, there are all kinds of inferential things that you can derive from the fact that he's doing that.
You know, how long he's talking, who he's talking to, and even if you don't get the content. So this is not a very good practice from a security standpoint. So, yes, I will be concerned.
LEMON: You said he can use apps, but is the President's personal phone encrypted? I mean, what kind of security measure should the White House be taking to protect the President's conversations?
CLAPPER: Well, I hope they're at least doing that. So he's not just using a cellphone, you know, on an open basis. I mean, that is -- that is a gold mine. And more of it, you know, from an intelligence -- classic intelligence
priority number one, plans and intentions of foreign leaders, and inferentially, you can derive a lot of valuable intelligence just from listening to what you might think is just a casual phone conversation. As I say, a foreign intelligence services will be all over this.
LEMON: I want to get your take on North Korea. The White House said today that they are not naive when it comes to believing that Kim will denuclearize after the President tweeted just, you know, that over the weekend.
[22:45:02] Is North Korea actually giving anything up, and is the U.S. getting anything for this meeting?
CLAPPER: Well, that's a great question. I guess what we are getting is a toning down of the rhetoric. I mean, we're in a better place than we were, say, six months ago when the North Koreans -- or eight months ago, when the North Koreans are launching missile, and conducting underground nuclear tests.
And we had all this bellicose threatening language being exchanged between the two leaders. So I guess we're getting a toning down of that, a moderation of the rhetoric, which, you know, is a good thing.
I just hope we're going to be pretty, you know, eyes wide open on this. I would be surprised if Kim Jong-un just summarily walks into the meeting, and says, I'm giving up all our nuclear weapons, and I'm going to let you verify it, I would be -- I would be really taken aback.
LEMON: Pleasantly surprised, I think we all would.
CLAPPER: The reason it would be so surprising, from my own experience in dealing with the North Koreans, the nuclear capability, whatever it is, is there -- they consider their ticket to survival.
And I believe the reason they all of a sudden have this willingness to tone down the rhetoric, and meet is because they feel for the first time they are not going to be approaching this negotiation as a supplicant, which has always been the case in the past.
And they have achieved whatever the capability they think they have. And they have confidence, and enough in it, that they believe it uses deterrents, which is more about psychology than actual capability.
LEMON: Director Clapper, thank you. Always a pleasure.
CLAPPER: Thank, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, Sarah Sander is trying to clarify that President -- what the President meant when he used the loaded phrase, breeding concept in a tweet blasting sanctuary cities, just wait until you hear her explanation.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: So the White House is on the defensive about a tweet from the President, saying quote, there is a revolution going on in California, so many sanctuaries want out of this ridiculous crime infest, and breeding concept. Well, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about it in today's briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: When he used the word breeding, was he making a derogatory term about Latinos in California that they breed a lot, or that they're prone to breeding?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, he is talking about the problem itself growing, and getting bigger.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What does breeding mean to this president? When you think of breeding, you think of animals breeding populating.
SANDERS: I'm not going to begin to think what you think. Certainly, I think that it can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So here to discuss, CNN Political Commentators Angela Rye, Ana Navarro, and Mike Shields. Good evening.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good evening.
LEMON: What do you think of the explanation, Ana?
NAVARRO: I think it is a lame explanation. And I think it's one that we've heard over and over again when President Trump uses dog whistles, and uses phrases -- catch phrases that appeal to some people in America.
Look, what Donald Trump does is breeds discord, he breeds disunity, he breeds hostility, breeds division. And you know, it is a rich phrase, frankly, coming from a guy who's bred five kids, four of them with two immigrants that we know of. So you know, this is just one more instance of Donald Trump coming out against a community of color.
NAVARRO: It's just what the man does.
LEMON: OK. Mike, do you think this is a dog whistle, the word breeding? She said he uses dog whistles.
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have actually kind of called the President out on times when he has done that. I disagree with them. I don't see that here. Breeding concept -- look, should he use the word breeding?
We all know that's a word -- that is not a good word to use. I don't know if the president actually even knows that to be honest with you. And so I think this is all -- and then you have reports asking the Press Secretary to clarify. Here is the official White House vision, here is what he said.
Well, that's not good enough. We are going to ask you again, and again. And so now it is actually an issue of the media just trying to find something to attack the President on, over the words that he used in a tweet, and not talking about sanctuary cities, which is a real issue, something that actually Americans are talking about.
It is a concept where mayor after mayor starting in California are saying I'm going to -- I'm going to now make my city a sanctuary city, where -- just so people understand what means, it means that if somebody is arrested for a crime, we are not going to verify whether or not they are in the country illegally. And if they are, we are not going to do anything about it. So that's illegal alien committing a crime.
LEMON: That's one definition.
SHIELDS: And that is something that is a debate in the public about whether there should be federal funds should be sent to a city where that would happen.
LEMON: Mike. Mike. Mike.
SHIELDS: That's a real issue, and now we are distracted by this word.
LEMON: Mike, listen, I think most people would agree with you that having a substantive policy debate about sanctuary cities would be a good place for all of us to be.
But you said you are not sure the President even knows what that means. Isn't that -- isn't that problematic if he doesn't know what it means, and he is tweeting it out, and he is the leader of the free world, and we want to have this substance policy debate about it. Isn't that a problem?
SHIELDS: No. Well, yes, look, I mean if I -- I wish the President would not walk into those mistakes because it takes away from the message he is trying to convey.
But that's different than accusing him of a dog whistle, which means he knowingly knows that that's sort of a non-PC word that some people are going to get offended by it.
So now we don't have to talk about sanctuary cities, let's have a whole conversation about whether or not he did that on purpose, when he said breeding concept in the actual tweet.
LEMON: Go ahead, Angela.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If he didn't know what he was doing, then he frankly is so oblivious to the world around him that he doesn't realize the power, and meaning of his words.
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: Because we are running out of time, Ana. Sorry. Go ahead -- go ahead, Angela.
RYE: So, I think there are two big problems here. One is, if Donald Trump does not know what that means, it's just reason 1 million why he does not deserve to be commander in chief.
The other issue is Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and her dismissive behavior towards April Ryan in this moment, right? She said I don't even want to begin to think what you think.
[22:55:01] At least try to understand that there are some perspectives that sit in that press room every day representing audiences much broader than the podium from which she stands.
And it's important to have that framework, so that this clown can know what he is tweeting, can understand the impact of the language, and the words that he uses, can understand that it is a dog whistle to white supremacist, can understand that Adolph Hitler used similar language about Jewish people, that language is troubling in this administration.
It has reached a point to which it is very dangerous, and toxic, and resulted in violence crime against people of which he has no interest in representing despite the fact that he does.
It is time for this President to be responsible for the language that he uses, and the fallout from that language, whether it's on Twitter, or it's behind a podium. He's got to be responsible for the words that are coming out of his mouth.
LEMON: That has to be the last word. Thank you all. I appreciate it. I wish we had more time to discuss this.
NAVARRO: Thank you.
LEMON: It would be nice if he tweeted about the four people who lost their lives in the Waffle House, the four black people who lost their lives, and the black hero from that. But not unless it is a Muslim does he tweet about something like that.
When we come back, our breaking news, former President George H.W. Bush is in the intensive care tonight. We're going to bring you the latest update on his health right after this.