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Mueller Wants To Ask Trump Questions Related To Flynn, Comey, Sessions And Russia; Special Counsel Mueller's Lawyers Outline Nearly 50 Questions For President Trump; Leaked Questions Reveal What Robert Mueller Wants To Ask Trump; "National Enquirer" Story Targets Cohen; Gaslighting of America; CNN Hero Dr. Rob Gore. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired April 30, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Don Lemon. It is 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. We're live with all the breaking news for you tonight. And this is a big deal in the Russia investigation. The Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has nearly 50 questions he wants to ask President Trump. That is according to "The New York Times" which has obtained a list of the questions. And they cover a very wide range of topics from Trump's ties to Russia, to whether he obstructed justice.
But there is more. They also touch on the President's businesses. And his relationships with Michael Flynn, James Comey and Jeff Sessions. A lot to get to in the next hour or so here on CNN.
I want to bring in CNN Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez. Also Jack Quinn, who is the White House counsel for President Clinton, former U.S. attorney, Mike Moore and CNN Legal and National Security Analyst, Asha Rangappa. Good evening to all of you. Evan, you first. What do we know?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, we know that these questions were put together, were written by the President's legal team. They had a meeting last month. And during that meeting, they heard from the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller's team, what the questions, what the four categories of questions that they had for the President. And as a result of that meeting, they put together these 50 or so questions. And as you said, the cover a range of topics, a deal with the firings of James Comey, the former FBI Director as well as Michael Flynn, the former National Security Adviser, as well as the President's relationship, his treatment, his mistreatment of Jeff Sessions, who he believes did the wrong thing by recusing himself on the investigation.
But I tell you, the most important part, I think, the most interesting part of these questions is about 25 percent of them deal with the question that what we've come to call collusion. The question of whether or not there was any illegal coordination between people in the campaign and the Russians. And what this tells us is despite what you hear from the President, he repeatedly, he said there was no collusion, no collusion, no collusion. Robert Mueller is not done with that question. And very many -- again, 25 percent of the questions here have to do
with that subject matter. And so I think what this tells us Don, is that this is not nearly done. There's going to be a lot more for the President to consider before he sits down for this interview if he does do that.
LEMON: Evan, who actually wrote -- we don't know how these questions got leaked, from whom.
LEMON: But who wrote these questions?
PEREZ: Well, the President's legal teams put together the questions. They wrote the ones that you see "The New York Times" had published were actually written by the President's legal team based on what they heard from the Special Counsel team. So it may not exactly be how been the questions that were given to them, that were said to them, but this is the essence of what they wrote.
And it's really intended for them to sort of prepare, if they want the client to go and do this interview. And Don, I've got to tell you, the questions -- especially the ones having to do with Russia and contacts between the campaign, they're very broadly worded, and I think it's -- it is filled with land mines for the President. If he steps in there. Because there's a lot -- a lot of stuff here that clearly Robert Mueller knows already what the answers are.
PEREZ: And the danger for the President is grave here, if he goes in for this interview. And it really, you know -- Don, when we reported a story last month that talked about the four categories of questions, one of the things that we noticed in talking to people was that there was agitation inside the President's legal team about this meeting. And it clearly told us that, you know, they saw the danger signs here for the President.
LEMON: OK. Let's dig into some of these questions, OK? Evan, thank you for that. We are going to dig in to some of the questions -- specific questions that the Special Counsel wants to ask President Trump. This is one about Michael Cohen, he said, "What did you know about the phone calls that Mr. Flynn made with the Russian Ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, in late December of 2016?" I mean this question -- this is all about obstruction of justice, isn't it?
PEREZ: It really is.
LEMON: This is for Jack, I'm sorry.
PEREZ: I'm sorry.
JACK QUINN, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Oh, yes. I mean, I think it's very much about, you know the Russia question and exactly what Trump's people were doing with the ambassador, all of this stuff ties together, you know remember, you know, around this time that they are talking about having a back channel that was a little bit advance of this. But I think, this this were the two things come together.
[23:05:11] I do quite agree with Evan that the most interesting of these questions are those which focus on the Russia Trump campaign communications. And you know, there is a lot of -- there is a lot of stuff, look, these are far ranging. I don't think any of them are totally unexpected. But another important point that I think Evan made is, Bob Mueller knows a lot of the answers to a good many of these questions.
LEMON: Well, I mean, we tell people all the time, don't ask a question you don't know the answer to. And I'm sure Robert Mueller won't do that. So let us go -- I want to take you through some of this, OK everyone? Here is another one, it says, after the resignation, what efforts are made to reach out to Mr. Flynn about seeking immunity of possible pardon. What is behind this question, Asha?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: What is behind that question, again this goes to obstruction. It is whether the President was dangling the option of a pardon to induce someone to perhaps change their testimony, not cooperate, or in some other way impede the investigation.
This is an interesting question, because, obviously the president has brought latitude to pardon people, he has that constitutional power. But it's not extend to actually extending as a carrot for someone to behave in a particular way in an investigation. And it's noteworthy that Mueller is looking into that avenue.
LEMON: OK. Michael this one is about the firing of James Comey, a case of, what did you mean in your interview with Lester Holt about Mr. Comey and Russia? Does that question highlight how important that interview was that Trump did with Lester Holt on NBC?
MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR GEORGIA: I don't think there is any question that Trump is going to get face with comments that he has made, but in tweets and maybe in interviews, things that he publicly said in speeches and his campaign style rallies that he had about his state of mind and why he did it and whether or not he did it to obstruct. These questions, are what did you know, what did you do and what did you think? And, you know, that to me tells that there is a great deal of focus on his intent. And my belief at this point is that they have some indication, either through the cooperating witnesses or through thing that had been discovered through the course of the investigation of his intent when he did some of this things and I think everybody said the same thing. Basically, if he goes in there, he is basically set up, because I promise you, that his questioner will know the answers to the questions that he imposed on the president.
LEMON: All right. You guys seem be unanimous on that one. So, Jack, the infamous Trump tower meeting in 2016, OK? What involvement did you have in the communication strategy, including the release of Donald Trump Jr.'s e-mails? How significant do you think the Trump team's response is to that meeting? QUINN: I think it's critical. I think that there's, you know,
there's been a lot of surmise, the President helped shape that statement in a way that quite consciously obscured the truth of what happened. Just to remind the viewer, this is the event at which afterwards, the Trump team tried to say that the meeting was about adoptions. And you know, if ever there was an obfuscation, it was the statement that was written by the campaign with the president's assistance after that meeting. This is a key -- the key chapter in the whole episode.
PEREZ: Hey, Don, just really a quick on following on that, you know the interesting there is that was a public statement that was given to the media, right? And so, the question we've -- the point we have heard from people close to the president is, what's the big deal? You know, lying to the media is not a crime. It tells us the Robert Mueller is focused on that very question, whether or not there was some crime committed there. And I think it's interesting they were asking that.
LEMON: Yes. Michael, the questions obtained by "The New York Times" focus broadly on Michael Flynn, on James Comey, on the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, about coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. Any surprises? Or are there no surprises here?
MOORE: I don't know that there's really any surprise. I mean, we're talking about things, whether that be folks who had made statements about what the President did, actions that he took. So there's no great surprise. What's interesting to me though, is there's some discussion in the questions about -- it looks as though there's a question about Trump feeling like he is not been protected by Jeff Sessions.
And he seems to -- that is been a recurring theme that we've heard. I mean, the bottom line is that no Attorney General could probably protect this President from himself. You know, in more than you could stop him though from chasing his tail, I mean, he gets off on a tangent, and he just can't do it. I think that is sort of where, I think where he is at.
[23:10:05] But I thought that was an interesting twist there and some statements that has been always been made, both publicly in a number of tweets when the president has attacked both the Justice Department and his Attorney General, I thought that was interesting.
LEMON: Did you discuss whether Mr. Sessions would protect you in reference past Attorneys General. That is the one you're talking about.
MOORE: Right. That is right.
LEMON: So, Asha, were you surprised, based on these questions that Mueller doesn't appear, just what we have here, to be focused on Trump's finances?
RANGAPPA: Well, he does have a question that relates to a real estate deal in Moscow that he may have been involved with Michael Cohen. So, I think it starts to allude to that. But I think this is kind of a broad arc of what he is looking to get at. And remember, that if he has an in-person interview, there will be plenty of follow-up questions. You know the way the FBI would approach, these is to present these as open-ended questions.
You know, it is kind of the Colombo approach of you know, I don't know, tell me what you know. And just let the person talk. And the President is especially in danger here. Because he likes to control the narrative. We saw that on Fox and Friends the other day. While that may fly on "Fox and Friends," it's not a great strategy when you're talking to a federal prosecutor. And so, you know, there would be a lot of follow up questions and I suspect with regards to that Moscow deal, there would be several that might start touching on other real estate or financial aspects of Trump's life.
LEMON: All right. Evan, thank you very much, I appreciate you. Everyone else stick around. When we come back, a lot more on our breaking news tonight. And what it tells us about where the Russian investigation is heading.
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: To be back on our breaking news tonight, a list of nearly 50 questions that Robert Mueller wants to ask President Trump on his ties to Russia, on obstruction of justice, on his businesses, and his family and his closest advisers. Back with me now, jack Quinn, Michael Moore and Asha Rangappa. OK, let's go through some of these that we didn't talk about. There's one that involves Asha, Roger Stone, OK? What did you know about communications between Roger Stone, his associates Julian Assange or WikiLeaks?
RANGAPPA: Yes, this tells me, that there's an entire line of investigative inquiry that we probably haven't seen really the tip of the iceberg yet which is into hacking the e-mails, release of the e- mails and how that -- anything -- any connection or coordination there might have been with members of the campaign and that activity.
And I think that that is what this question is getting at. And we know that Roger Stone has made mention, that he had contact with Julian Assange. We know that Don Jr. was in contact with WikiLeaks. We know that Trump himself, asked for the release of the e-mails on national television. So, it would be interesting to see what Trump would say in response to that question, if he were to sit for this interview.
LEMON: OK. Michael, here is another one. It says, what do you know about a 2017 meeting in Seychelles involving Erik Prince? That meeting is something that George Nader, the cooperating witness told Mueller's team about.
MOORE: Well, yes, I think that is right. And I think, you know, the idea -- you remember this meeting apparently -- there's a Russian operative or businessman that is there. Some of these two individuals, one is the brother of Trump's Secretary of Education, strangely meeting with somebody who's connected with apparently with Russian business and Russian government. I think there's a question on how that happened and who set that up and what, you know, what the purpose was behind the meeting was.
You know, I will say this, about this entire list of questions. This seems to be written from an outline that Mueller's team gave broadly. And I don't know that I would necessarily take every bit of -- every specific question and think that that is where Mueller is boring down.
What's interesting to me is that Trump's team apparently been took this general outline and came up with these questions that they thought might be of particular interest to Mueller in the investigation. And so for instance, somebody could have said well, tell us about -- we want to know about the meeting in Seychelles. Or we want to know about the, you know, Kislyak's phone call and suddenly they sort of expanded and expounded on this general topics that the Mueller team put out, that to me is going to be interested on.
LEMON: Do you think this is a study guide for the President?
MOORE: If we can count on him to study it. I just don't know that anybody and I mean with respect to the sense that, I mean, I don't think, I mean he's a smart man. I mean, he wouldn't be where he is at. I mean, I just don't know that he is able to not control the narrative and the conversation. I feel like he likes to get into the room and convince everybody that he is the smartest person in the room. That will kill him if he gets in front of Federal Investigators.
LEMON: I mean, what witness or subject, Jack, gets the questions beforehand?
QUINN: Well, look, I think this is all part of the negotiations as to how this interview with him is going to unfold. And I think in part of the of the motivational on the part of the Special Counsel's office was to, you know, give them some head's up about the general areas they might have in mind as to a way of trying to make it easier for them to say yes.
You know, I have heard a lot of talk about whether or not this means the President will testify, will not testify. I mean, we have to remember, too, this is not entirely up to the President. If the President at the end of the day refuses to make himself available to answer some of these questions, then we might be in for the issuance of a subpoena.
[23:20:02] Attempts to enforce that and a period of litigation in the courts, attempting to force the President's testimony. I don't think the president will fare well in that course of action. And so, I think, what we're seeing here is perhaps one of the concluding chapters of, as I say, these negotiations as to what the ground rules for this interview with the Special Counsel will be.
LEMON: OK. Jack, let me -- while I have you there, let me ask you this, what discussions do you have -- did you have with Reince Priebus in July 2017 about obtaining Jeff Sessions resignation. With whom did you discus it? Talk to me about that.
QUINN: Well, I think the Special Counsel knows the answer to that question, with whom Priebus discuss it. And again, I think, this is -- this is one piece and just one piece of the case that might lend itself to a charge of obstruction.
And, you know, Asha, pointed out that you cannot issue a pardon corruptly. You will hear people all the time say that the President's pardon power is unlimited. She is absolutely right. It does have its limits and you can't do it corruptly. By the same token, this obstruction charge, the questions lending themselves to that demonstrate that, you know, there are limits here to the kind of pressure that he can put on the investigators.
And again, you know, we can't tolerate the situation in which both the witnesses are immunized or pardoned and the prosecutors are taken off the field by firing. So, I think a lot of this is bound to sort of draw a ring around that.
LEMON: Interesting. Asha, another question. You reportedly wants to ask the president. What did you mean when you told Russian diplomats on May 10, 2017, that firing Mr. Comey had taken the pressure off? So many people were stunned when Trump fired Comey and then told the Russian ambassadors and others, I face great pressure, because of Russia, that is taken off. Remember that? I mean, do you think the President's own words will come back to haunt him?
RANGAPPA: Yes. It definitely will. That was also the time, I think, he told the Russian that Comey was a nut job, and that is why he fired him. You know, I think, you are making a great point, Don, is that a good portion of the obstruction of justice case, he has built himself, talking about the President, via his tweets, via his interview, via public comments that he is made.
And they are coming back to haunt him, because, you know, all of this questions, none of them taken an isolation is going to make or break the case. What we -- what Mueller is looking at is a pattern of activity that is going to point to firing Comey, that is the bad act here, whether he did it with corrupt intent. And everything else is circumstantial, kind of pointing, to whether or not he did it for the wrong reasons versus, you know, the reasons that he could do legitimately. And a lot of the wrong reasons are things that he has himself stated out in public.
LEMON: All right. Thanks everyone. When we come back, much more on our breaking news, 50 questions, Robert Mueller wants to ask President Trump and what they tell us about where the Russian investigations might be going.
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Here is our breaking news tonight, 50 questions, Robert Mueller wants to ask President Trump, those questions are the best window yet into the Russian investigation. So let us bring in now, CNN Political Commentator, Steve Cortes, a former Trump campaign adviser, also CNN Political Commentator, Margaret Hoover and Keith Boykin.
OK, good evening to all of you, so we are getting -- let us talk about the timeline here that we are learning. All the stunning information from "The New York Times." And this talks about the negotiation between the Trump lawyers and Robert Mueller. And then it's as if Mueller had sought for months to question the president, who expressed a desire. And then they were going back and forth with the lawyers.
So Mueller told Mr. Dowd in early month -- in early March, that he needed to question the President directly to determine whether he had criminal intent when he fired Comey, the people said. But Mr. Dowd, he'll firm, an investigators from Mr. Mueller agreed days later to share during a meeting with Mr. Dowd the questions they wanted to ask Mr. Trump. So that is how these questions came about that we have now.
When Mr. Mueller's team relayed the question, their tone and detailed nature submitted Mr. Dowd's view that the President should not sit for an interview. Despite Mr. Dowd misgiving, Mr. Trump remained firm in his insistence that he meet with Mr. Mueller. About a week and a half after receiving the questions, Mr. Dowd resigned, including that his client was ignoring his advice. Margaret Hoover?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, this is -- it is striking, because it's all here in one place. A lot of this has been sort of cobbled together over some time. We know the President has said, he had no problem sitting down with Special Counsel Mueller. Meanwhile, we all know, all the American public can see that the President has a very hard time sticking to any one version of the truth. And that, you know, if I were his lawyer, I certainly wouldn't -- and I'm not a lawyer. I wouldn't advise him to sit with the Special Counsel, because he can't help, but contradict himself constantly. And contradicting yourself in front of a Special Counsel is called perjuring yourself. So, one can understand why he is been through so many lawyers as this process has. And here we see all in one chronological timeline how it's coming past.
LEMON: So, Steve, I mean there was a -- people were trying to figure out exactly why -- although there were, you know, it was, there were rumblings, and people said according to sources or what have you, why Dowd resigned. This gives us a clear indication that because he didn't think the President was listening to his -- his client wasn't listening to his advice.
STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't know if we can say it's clear, but by the way, if that was the advice, then I would agree with Mr. Dowd and I would tell the president that under no circumstances should he be interviewed or interrogated, I should say, really about by his own inner line, by his own Justice Department. Let u be clear about that. This is very different. Ken Starr, was an independent counsel, he had statutory relevance, and this Mueller investigation is part of Donald Trump's own Justice Department.
Now the Congress wants to investigate him as a co-equal branch. They have constitutional (INAUDIBLE) to do that. But his own Justice Department, his own underling, does not have the right to --
LEMON: What do you mean about his own underling?
CORTES: -- his superior, the president of the United States.
LEMON: Hold on. I will give you plenty of time. What do you mean by his own underling? We have co-equal branches of government here. Why do you keep calling him his underling? He's supposed to be independent from the Justice Department.
CORTES: There are co-equal branches. The Congress has every right to investigate the president. And I suspect that the Democrats take the house, they will do so vociferously starting in 2019. And they have every constitutional and legal right to do so.
Trump's own Justice Department does not have the right to in any sense compel him to be interrogated by his own underling, Mueller. Mueller works for the president. That is just the reality of the legal situation.
LEMON: Do you look at these questions that you read? I'm sure you read the questions in New York Times and we have been reading it here in CNN. Do you look at these question as interrogations? After all, they were written supposedly by Trump's own team.
CORTES: I do. These are interrogation questions. You know what? The American people knew these allegations -- I say scurrilous allegations -- knew these going into the election, certainly known them since. They decided that they either weren't true or weren't relevant to electing him president.
LEMON: I'm talking about the questions here.
CORTES: The president doesn't answer to Mueller. He answers to the people.
LEMON: OK, But Mueller, he said -- Keith, can you respond to this? He said Mueller works -- Mueller is not under the president.
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Well, there a lot of things he said that need to be cleared up. First of all, Mueller is special counsel. Congress created this special counsel law. Yes, he's an employee, so to speak, or an independent representative of the Justice Department.
The Justice Department is under the executive's authority. But Congress created the law for the special counsel to investigate issues just like this. So he is not some underling. He has the statutory authority to do exactly what he's doing.
Secondly, the president -- no president is above the law. That's a principle we learned from Richard Nixon and Watergate. That's a principle when even when Bill Clinton had to sit and testify in a legal case against him. Donald Trump is no different. He is not above the law. He has the responsibility to do so.
Thirdly, I agree with what Margaret said and I agree with what Steve said as well about the legal aspects of it. From a legal point of view, I'm not lawyer, I don't practice law, but I would never advise a client to testify in a case like this. But from a political point of view, it is incumbent upon the president to testify, to show that he has nothing to hide. And that's why you have to separate the legal issue from the political case.
LEMON: Margaret, you wanted to say something? No?
HOOVER: This is all -- it's incredibly baffling and unprecedented. We really -- we haven't seen this. This is -- frankly, what's concerning most to me is why this list was leaked now? Right? I think that's just as much a part of the story.
LEMON: That was my first when I've read. When I've read before, I read the story, it's like, who leaked this? Why would it be leaked?
HOOVER: All signs point to the White House, and all signs point to -- what we know about the White House is there is a strategy of leaking items in order to get the president's attention and to garner his focus.
LEMON: Speaking to him through the television, you think? Go ahead, Steve. 2 CORTES: Margaret, what I think is actually baffling is the fact that we now know, and it's not just conjecture, that the Obama Department of Justice, whether we're talking about Comey or McCabe or for that matter, even on national security side, people like Clapper and Brennan, were corrupted at the very highest level.
BOYKIN: Why are we talking about this, Steve? Come on. Let's focus on today's news. Don't go back in history.
CORTES: And because -- no. What's baffling is, how are they not being investigated? And by the way --
BOYKIN: One story at a time, Steve.
CORTES: -- I call upon Trump's Justice Department to investigate those people because there was -- there's real crimes and a war (ph), I believe. Those --
BOYKIN: Steve, there have have been 100 criminal counts that have been filed by Mueller into this investigation. There have been 22 indictments. There have been five people pleaded guilty --
CORTES: Almost all of those were against Russian nationals.
BOYKIN: Five people pleaded guilty including Trump's campaign chairman and Trump's national security adviser. This is not --
CORTES: Right. For crimes committed long before the Trump campaign.
BOYKIN: This is about giving the seat of the United States government in the election process. And don't try to undermine that by throwing in some (INAUDIBLE) deflection about Barack Obama. This is 2018, not 2008. HOOVER: You had me, Keith, for a second. You have a point. There was clearly political corruption at the highest level of the FBI and that undermines everybody's confidence in our independent judicial system. And by the way, in the Department of Justice, that is not good, OK? But we can see two things at the same time.
[23:35:00] And that is an independent and separate issue, that while connected to the impetus for the special counsel has nothing to do with what the special counsel has discovered. And we can separate that as discerning independent (INAUDIBLE) Americans without going down the bunny holes of partisanship on either side that are intended to obscure what we're actually trying to get at which is the truth.
LEMON: OK, I got to get to the break here because the tabloid, The Nation Enquirer, which is very friendly to President Trump, now targeting his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. We are going to talk about that, next.
LEMON: We're back now. Steve Cortes, Margaret Hoover, and Keith Boykin, all back with me now.
[23:39:59] Steve, I want to get your take on this story, the National Enquirer cover story targeting Michael Cohen. A source close to President Trump tells CNN -- this could be a strong sign that the president is upset with Cohen and is turning against him because the source said, there is no way that Enquirer publisher David Pecker would allow that story to be published without the president's blessing. Do you think the president is turning on Cohen?
CORTES: You know, I don't. I think it's frankly a bit irresponsible to read into a tabloid covering what we think is an innuendo from the president. I mean, there's a lot of stretches of logic there, quite frankly. Are these stories true? I have no idea. I don't pay much attention. When checking out of the supermarket, don't read often those stories on the side of the aisle, and this is one of them.
LEMON: So you don't think he's turning. David Pecker is a friend of President Trump's. You know the whole catch and kill thing with The National Enquirer about stories that were negative about President Trump. You see nothing there, Steve?
CORTES: Look, I don't think so. It appears to me -- I'm not a lawyer -- it appears to me that Mr. Cohen might have some legal problems of his own. It does not appear to me in any sense as a non-lawyer, as a political operative, that the president has any real problems or any real jeopardy of his own.
So the idea -- I hear this a lot by the way that Michael Cohen is going to flip or going to be induced to flip. Well, flip on what? If there's no crime committed by the president and there is no collusion, what is he going to flip on?
LEMON: We were talking about "The National Enquirer" story, Steve. Go on. HOOVER: What strikes me and what seems resonant is, you know, somebody who's followed this and has a sense of how this goes down in Michael Cohen's businesses -- we've known Michael Cohen a little bit here in CNN -- what it seems to me -- and also we know that the president watches National Enquirer and the editor has -- there is a strong relationship there, we all know that.
It seems to me that the president is very clearly trying to put distance between himself and Michael Cohen for no other reason than to protect himself. We also have a very strong sense that Michael Cohen is in quite a bit of legal trouble after the 16 phones, the many, many documents and artifacts that were taken from Michael Cohen's apartment.
USA, the southern district of New York doesn't go in and confiscate that much material if you don't have good cause and there's not a good reason to. So Michael Cohen is in trouble. The president is rightfully and understandably trying to distance himself from him, even though I'm sure there's loyalty there, there's a longstanding relationship, there's a lot of information. But for both of their protection, I mean it makes sense the president would do that.
LEMON: So Keith, Jim Acosta asked Michael Cohen about that. When asked whether he thought a message was being sent by the (INAUDIBLE) publications, Cohen told CNN, what do you think?
BOYKIN: He's the king of understatement. Of course there's a message being spent. Any publication that spends $150,000 to pay off a Playboy playmate to prevent that person from telling the story about a potential president of the United States, obviously has an interest in protecting that president of the United States.
And yes, "The National Enquirer" serves as some sort of function of unofficial state publication. Nobody takes "The National Enquirer" seriously. It's not a very reputable publication. It's known as a rag. But at the same time, it does speak for the president of the United States. And "The National Enquirer" is saying --
CORTES: Wait, since when, Keith? Since when?
BOYKIN: Let me finish and then you can interrupt.
CORTES: Since when?
BOYKIN: It does speak for the president of the United States in the sense that it is definitely portraying his message out there. Obviously whenever you have a publication out there that tries to kill a story that's harmful to the president, that's a publication that's speaking for the president of the United States.
2LEMON: It's a publication that's been involved in legal --
BOYKIN: Longstanding relationship. LEMON: Yeah, with women who said that they did catch and kill story for the president of the United States. So that's why it's in the news media right now. That's why this is relevant right now. Thank you all, I appreciate it. Steve, thank you. Thanks so much.
When we come back, the gaslighting of America. The author who says President Trump is gaslighting us. And she says we love it when he lies.
[23:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Is President Trump gaslighting America? My next guest says he is. And she literally wrote the book on that topic. Joining me now, CNN Political Commentator, Amanda Carpenter, the author of the new book. It is called "Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies To Us." Thank you for coming on.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
LEMON: And this is my next read.
LEMON: It's gotten great reviews. I can't wait to read it. We've spoken a lot on this show about since the president took office about gaslight, even during the campaign about gaslighting. First, explain to our audience exactly what gaslighting is and some examples.
CARPENTER: Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that is so extreme you begin to question your own reality. And when you raise objections to objectionable things, people say you're hysterical or you're crazy. And this is typically something that happens in abusive relationships, but I think we can apply this dynamic to what is happening with our relationship with the president.
But unfortunately, like many toxic relationships, you can escape from, we can't easily escape this. We sort of have to live in this environment and cope with it. And so what I do in this book is explain the methods that he uses because he does take very deliberate steps in hopes of taking away that power.
LEMON: Let's put that up. You identify the steps involved in gaslighting. But do you think President Trump -- do you think it's deliberate? Or it's just sort of second nature to him. Stake a claim. Advance and deny. Create suspense. Discredit opponents. Declare victory, regardless of the facts.
CARPENTER: I don't think he knows how predictable he is. And these are tactics that he hone while he is a New York businessman to keep his name in the tabloids.
[23:50:03] At his heart, his gaslighting method is a media strategy because at every step, he creates interest in the narrative that he is advancing but at the same time, that target that he is honing (INAUDIBLE) and it is very difficult for them to respond. And I saw this play out through the GOP primary. The textbook example really is how he took on Barack Obama with birtherism. He sort of dipped his toes in conspiracy water. That was a way of him taking that narrative.
And then he would sort of go on television and say, well, you know, people are saying this. And they say if you have interest in it, you're a madman. But maybe there is something to it. And so he would kind of advance this narrative but deny any responsibility
And that is really the trick to this. And once you see him do this, you won't be able to unsee it. You'll say, there he goes again. And so I hope as more people do that, it takes that far away.
LEMON: Then definitely it's good.
LEMON: This is a workbook because we see it all the time because we are so close to it here in the media. We saw the interview with CBS where he was asked about what evidence do you have that President Obama wiretapped -- Trump started to --
LEMON: -- well, people are saying --
CARPENTER: That's a favorite thing.
LEMON: A lot of people (INAUDIBLE). The people are saying.
CARPENTER: There are reports on the internet. Another favorite one. He moves very quickly into people are saying to creating suspense like he did with the birtherism. Well, investigators are on it. There's a report coming soon. So as a media person, you have to say, well, OK, I'm going to keep covering the story.
But it's just a delay tactic. Sometimes, there is even evidence that does come out. There will be somebody in the internet or a friendly person at the conservative news outlet that will drum up something that he can continue to use. So it is really foolproof.
CARPENTER: And the media does love it because it always gives them something to cover.
LEMON: It's easy.
CARPENTER: Republicans love it because it shows that he will never back down. He will stop at nothing in taking on his enemies. And Even the Democrats like it because they keep falling for this fantasy that this will finally be the (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump end (ph). It never is.
LEMON: That's good because I say the same thing. I remember during the campaign when a lot of my liberal friends did not take him seriously.
LEMON: There is no way in this. I said, all right, guys. And even now I think people underestimate his influence on sort of tainting the media, right? And how he weaponize it. Like he weaponized this weekend with reporters, you know --
CARPENTER: (INAUDIBLE) reporters part of the show. One of the most stunning things he did at his rally, you know, a lot of campaigns will put the press in this --
CARPENTER: It became a cage --
CARPENTER: -- during the Trump primary. He essentially would parade the press out and say, look at them, they are fake news. And they became part of the show.
CARPENTER: Audience would boo against them and say, you know, CNN whatever this or that. And there is nothing those reporters could do to respond to it because they are supposed to cover the story. They are not supposed to be the story. So, they were getting sucked in too.
LEMON: But then when he says that it is fake news and then all of a sudden it turns out to be true, he never goes back and say, well, they were right and I was wrong or we lied about it.
CARPENTER: Right. Well, fake news is just his way of saying this what I don't like (ph).
LEMON: Yes, I know.
LEMON: You said that you have been personally (INAUDIBLE) allies of the president and it bears resemblance to what is happening at The National Enquirer and Michael Cohen, the way they are --
CARPENTER: Yes. It's funny how The National Enquirer keeps popping up. One of the reasons I wrote this book is because I was personally (INAUDIBLE). There was this drama to the election where The National Enquirer came out and said that Ted Cruz, my former boss, was having some kind of affair.
This was something that Donald Trump sort of hidden at when he was attacking Cruz. He had a tweet about his wife saying we are going to spill the beans. And so there was this narrative out there that Cruz has something to hide and then lo and behold, The National Enquirer produces the story that Ted Cruz has a secret sex scandal.
Lo and behold, Roger Stone, one of Trump's close allies, is quoted in the story. And what was so crafty about this in the way that it was almost impossible to respond until it went full blown gaslighting madness was that no women were named. But the print edition had images of five women with their faces sort of blurred out.
And that sent up a real live witch hunt on the internet and one of those women was me in the photos. And I was a CNN commentator doing my job. And somebody confronted me on the air. That made it a real story that I had to confront. I was living in a completely false reality that I had to fight my way out of.
[23:54:59] LEMON: I remember you talking about that on the air. Thank you. The book is called "Gaslighting America" by Amanda Carpenter. I appreciate it. And also there is a movie called "Gaslight" with Ingrid Bergman. It's good. It's one of the all-time classics.
CARPENTER: Read the book first then watch the movie.
LEMON: Yes, and then watch the movie.
LEMON: Thanks. We'll be right back.
LEMON: According to Centers for Disease Control, homicide is the number one cause of death for black men ages 15 to 34. it is a grim statistic. For this week's CNN hero, an emergency doctor in Brooklyn, New York, it is a reality that pushed him to take action in and out of the hospital. Meet Dr. Rob Gore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROB GORE, CNN HERO: I don't like pronouncing people dead.
[24:00:02] It's probably the worst thing that I have ever had do. I want to preserve life.