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"Wall Street Journal:" Trump Lawyers Hope to Decide By May 17 for Trump's Possible Sit-Down with Robert Mueller and His Investigators; Some White House Officials Balk at Giuliani's Media Blitz; Melania Trump's Popularity Soars to 57 Percent While President Trump's Job Approval is 41 Percent; "New York Times:" McCain Doesn't Want President Trump at His Funeral, Would Like Obama, Bush to Speak; Jake Tapper on His New Political Thriller. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 7, 2018 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:30] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It has only been a few weeks but the President may already be getting frustrated with his newest lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

CNN is reporting some White House officials are not thrilled with Giuliani's media blitz and never know when and where he will pop up on their T.V. screens.

Tonight, Politico was reporting the President is griping that Giuliani has not shut down the Stormy Daniels scandal. Politico spoke with Giuliani just tonight, and he pushed back against the idea that the President is unhappy, saying, "If I'm not up to it, I don't know who is. I know the Justice Department better than just about anyone."

Meanwhile, the President's legal team reportedly wants to mark the one-year anniversary of the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller with a big decision. Whether the President will sit down for an interview with Mueller and his team, with that anniversary that deadline just 10 days away, there are a few potential hiccups. The legal team can't begin in the same page and in a recent practice session, they didn't get very far. This is all according to new reporting in the "The Wall Street Journal." A short time ago I spoke with reporter Peter Nicholas.


PETER NICHOLAS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": They ran some sample questions by President Trump in the White House residence to see how he would do and they made very little headway. They were there for about four hours but they were repeatedly interrupted. So national security advisers would come into the room, they wanted to talk to the President about North Korea or Iran. The lawyers would have to leave the room because they didn't need to be privy to that. And then they would come back and try to resume the Q&A. And they found that the President was kind of -- as I mentioned long winded in his answers and weren't able to discover very much ground, so it was not a successful experiment. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: On the table tonight, that interview deadline looms, or at least a deadline to make a decision about it. We'll take a look at the stakes and the pitfalls.

Also, did Michael Cohen make more payoffs to women on behalf of the President? The President's other lawyer suggests it's a possibility.

And be best, with two words, the first lady launches her platform and a lot of discussion. All of that is ahead. We begin with Boris Sanchez at the White House. Boris, what more are you learning about the President and the White House frustration with Rudy Giuliani?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this may not shock you, but we're hearing some mixed messages from the White House on this, for one, sources have indicated to CNN that President Trump is thrilled with Rudy Giuliani's performance, saying that he enjoys seeing his attorney be so aggressive in contrast to his legal team previously fully complying with the special counsel.

Further, we heard Sarah Sanders from the podium today saying the President values Rudy Giuliani as a member of his legal staff, though as you noted, sources are telling others news outlets at the President is unhappy with Giuliani, not making the Stormy Daniels saga go away.

We've also heard from White House officials who have suggested that Giuliani is catching a lot of officials at the White House off guard with some of his statements. But they were surprised by some of what he's saying. One White House official actually comparing his tenure to that of Anthony Scaramucci, someone who came in with a brash personality, was very vocal, but that source actually telling CNN, "Either he'll change his behavior or will not last." We've asked the White House for comment on this. They have yet to back to us. John.

BERMAN: Scaramucci tweeted he's flattered by that comparison, by the way. I'm not making it up, he has. Boris, has the White House responded yet to the idea of the possible May 17th decision to sit down with Robert Mueller and his investigators?

SANCHEZ: Not yet, John, but we suspect that if they do respond, they will repeat something that Sarah Sanders said from the podium today and refer us back to the source of those comments. Rudy Giuliani notably, I did want to point out something that Giuliani told the "The Wall Street Journal," he said, "Every day we swing a little different." That, of course, on the question of whether the President should sit down one-on-one with Robert Mueller. We know where the President stands on this. He has told reporters that he's looking forward to testifying before the special counsel.

Giuliani over the weekend on one of the Sunday morning talk show suggested that the special counsel was laying a trap for the President saying that the President should not have to comply with the subpoena, if the special counsel submits one, and further, trying to suggest that the President may plead the fifth. So it seems like there is a bit of a battle still going on between the President and his legal team. One source indicates that it is still a 50/50 decision, but they suggest that this is still a very fluid situation, and could go either direction, John.

BERMAN: Boris Sanchez, thank you very much.

A lot to talk about with the panel. Joining me tonight, Gloria Borger, Ryan Lizza, Paris Dennard, Maria Cardona, Alice Stewart, and Bakari Sellers.

[21:05:05] Gloria, I want to start with you here. What's the latest you're hearing on the President's either satisfaction or lack thereof with Rudy Giuliani?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as we know from history, that any time somebody gets way out front and he's on T.V. a lot, remember Steve Bannon, he wasn't on T.V., but he was way out front, people that the President gets upset. And I think what's happened is that, the legal team is upset with Rudy Giuliani because he seems to be freelancing. He is consulting with the President, so it's the President and Rudy Giuliani and the rest of the legal team. Rest of the legal team is new. You've got the Raskins who are just starting out. You've got Emmet Flood who hasn't gotten his security clearance yet, hasn't even started yet. And you have Rudy Giuliani setting deadlines and saying, OK, we want this -- we want to make this decision by May 17th. So, what I've been told, what my colleagues at the White House have been told, is that, you know, this really is a goal and not so much a deadline.

BERMAN: It's aspirational?

BORGER: Let's call it aspirational. And so the legal team is kind of like herding cats right now, and the person in charge is the President of the United States whom as we all know loves chaos. So that's what he's got.

BERMAN: So Ryan, it's hard to believe, the Rudy Giuliani interview with Sean Hannity was last Wednesday night.


BERMAN: You know, it's not even a full week since that happened. You know, it went the way it did and the next day it went even worse then he was on T.V. again this weekend, and he is on the phone with POLITICO and "The Wall Street Journal" all day today. How is it that this is still going on?

RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: And we still actually don't know what the story is, we don't know which of one -- which Giuliani's statements and the White House statements stand as the official account of this episode. You know, all this time later. I want to say a couple things, one about getting too close to the son in this White House. Absolutely, you know, Bannon wasn't on T.V. so much, but had the book about him. He was on the cover of "TIME" magazine.

BORGER: Right. LIZZA: And we know from the famous Scaramucci, you know, 10 days that at first, Trump really liked Scaramucci, he liked, you know, all the stuff he was doing, liked when Scaramucci was punching people in the news.

BERMAN: Like you.

LIZZA: And then the blow-back came and then everyone said this guy's a bit of a joke, he is making you look bad and Trump discarded him. I don't know if Giuliani crossed the Scaramucci line yet where he's become a complete liability and sort of a joke to the President but we've definitely seen some of those hints. And I noted that Jonathan Swan of Axios yesterday reported some White House aides were using the Mooch as an example as a reference for Giuliani. So he has -- Giuliani has to be careful. We now how this President sours on people.

BERMAN: Paris, you're a supporter of the President right now. And it's a basic question. Do you think he is being well served now by the public appearances of Rudy Giuliani?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, there's two things that I think any supporter will look at. And I think this is the way the President looks at it. Is the President pleased with the fact that he has somebody that's aggressively defending him on television who is being combative and just going to the, you know, hitting the ball real strong and hard for him? Yes. He likes that. And I think --

BERMAN: Unquestionable, he does.

DENNARD: Right. And I think that's a good thing. I think when you've seen Avenatti out there day after day, night after night, 24/7 constantly combatting and going up against the President, we were wondering where is the defense? You have it. Now, the problem we have is that Giuliani is sort of being fast and loose on the facts, and the President has said -- and the President --

BERMAN: By his own admission which sort of blows my mind.

DENNARD: True. He said that and the President said he needs to get caught up with the facts and so the question becomes when is he going to get all the facts straight? And when will the President get feed up with him being a distraction and earning him negative press rather than the positive press and the positive reactions that he wanted from Giuliani in the first place?

And I think for a lot of Trump supporters, like myself, we are hoping that that is sooner rather than later because Giuliani means well, but he can also run the other way and do more harm than good.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually see it a little bit differently. I think that, yes, I agree that he loves people to go and defend him, but then it's the blow-back that he looks at. When you have somebody from Fox News telling the President that he is responsible for his own swamp stink, then you know that if you have -- BERMAN: Neil Cavuto.

CARDONA: Neil Cavuto from Fox News, if Fox News is turning on you, that's kind of a tipping point. But I'll say this about Giuliani, I don't think the President or the White House is mad because they -- because Giuliani didn't get his facts straight. I think they're mad because he actually told the truth. He talked about how the President knew about the payment. That is what is getting him in trouble.

He also wondered out loud, which the majority of the American people do, too, whether this retainer from Michael Cohen has been used to pay off other women. So, Giuliani is out there talking about things that perhaps he shouldn't be talking about because they might be the truth. So actually as a Democrat, I hope that Giuliani is out there 24/7 talking about this.

[21:10:07] ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Here's the thing, before you do any national media, you learn the facts. You're briefed on it, you go through war-room and they ask you the questions, you know exactly what you're going to say, you know the timeline. He didn't have that in his first interview with Sean Hannity and even after the President said he's going to get the facts, he still hasn't gotten them. But that being said --

CARDONA: Or maybe he has.

STEWART: -- he is all over the place and we can have all of these White House people say that Giuliani is off message, he's stealing the spotlight, he is creating havoc, he is doing harm. He clearly is getting the red light -- the green light from the President, the President is telling him to go out there because he wants someone who's going to fight for him. The problem is Giuliani can sit there all day long, you're the lawyer. You know, you can sit there and say we're going to do 2 1/2 hours. We want the Hillary Clinton treatment. We're going to do it on our timeline. It's not up to him to dictate a timeline of a Mueller investigation. That's up to Mueller. And until this President recognizes that he's on Mueller's timeline, not any attorney, whether it's Ty Cobb or Rudy Giuliani, we're still going to be in the situation.

BERMAN: Bakari, what do you make on that note? What do you make in this May 17th deadline?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Rudy Giuliani is not making any deadlines in this investigation. He's not going to all of a sudden come into this investigation and tell Mueller what he's going to do when he's going to do it and how he's going to do it.

You know, I don't really blame Rudy Giuliani or Ty Cobb or any of the other lawyers that have come through his radius. The President of the United States is a horrible client to have. Just imagine someone that you cannot control at all. Someone that you cannot advise. Someone who just literally flies by the seat of their pants and when you try to explain to them the gravity of the situation they're in, their narcissistic approach says that they're too big to fall. And so that's what you have here. Rudy Giuliani is doing his best Vinny Gambini impersonation, I mean, that is what he looks out here flailing around on T.V. But what we have seen is that there are a few things. The President is unmanageable, he is uncontrollable and he's a liar. Those three things make it very, very difficult for a lawyer to represent you because the first thing I tell my client is, you can lie to everyone, you can lie to your boss, you can lie to your wife, but do not lie to your lawyer. Because I do not want to be surprised.

BORGER: But I think Rudy Giuliani is supposed to be their spokesman right now.

BERMAN: Right.

BORGER: And maybe their negotiator. And I know they're kind of looking for a spokesman, but it's hard to get one. And he's supposed to have a message. A clear message. And Alice, you know about this, supposed to have a clear message, and if you want to discredit the special counsel, go ahead and do it. You want to discredit the FBI, go ahead and do it. That's what they want to do. You want to, you know, discredit those Democrats in Congress. Go ahead and do it. But instead, he's doing some of that, but instead, he's all over the place getting the President in hot water.

BERMAN: Is funneling money. More possible thing --

BORGER: Are there more women, you know --

BERMAN: I get the sense we have a lot more to talk about. All of you stick around for a moment. We're going to continue the conversation.

Next with this burning question, could it possibly be that there are other hush money payments besides the one that we know about to Stormy Daniels? As we mentioned, Rudy Giuliani certainly left open that possibility. We're going to talk about that next.

And later, as Senator John McCain battles brain cancer, word tonight about which President he would like to speak at his funeral. And which will not be invited.


[21:17:01] BERMAN: We already know about the payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels from the President's lawyer Michael Cohen right before the election to, admittedly, by his own account keep her quiet about the sexual encounter she says she had with the President, but were there other payments to other women? The President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, left open that possibility.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you said he -- this is a regular arrangement he had with Michael Cohen, did Michael Cohen make payments to other women for the President?

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT PERSONAL ATTORNEY: I have no knowledge of that, but I would think if it was necessary, yes. He made payment for the President or he conducted business for the President which means he had legal fees. Money's laid out, and expenditures.


BERMAN: So back now with the panel, Ryan Lizza, there is another possible answer to that question he could have given which would have been no. He chose not to give the answer, no, there.

LIZZA: Well, and even if he says I have no knowledge, going a little further but saying it's possible --

BERMAN: Right.

LIZZA: -- I mean, does anyone really get the sense that he knows one way or the other? I don't think so. It doesn't seem like he's operating --

CARDONA: No, but he knows Donald Trump which is why he wanted to keep that option open.

DENNARD: No, actually what we saw was Rudy Giuliani being a very good lawyer. He did not answer something that he did not know the answer to. He said, I have no knowledge of that. And then he said, if necessary, yes, which is --

LIZZA: I raise the hypothetical --


LIZZA: I mean kudos for being honest. Can't criticize the guy for being honest.

CARDONA: Here's the problem --

LIZZA: As a lawyer, seems to be falling down on the job.

CARDONA: Giuliani was supposedly hired, as Gloria said, I agree, to be the spokesperson. As a spokesperson, he just failed media training 101, which is don't answer a question you don't want to answer and pivot. He had the perfect pivot. He said at the beginning, I have no knowledge of that. He should have just left it there. He should have just shut his mouse mouth and go to the next. Can't help himself.

STEWART: We've learned from this administration, we have a similar answer out o the briefing today. There are four different types of responses when a question is asked. There's a direct answer, there is a not to my knowledge answer, to my understanding, and this is what I knew at the time. Those were the four kind of answers we get out of this administration. And that's what Giuliani is saying, look, to the best of my understanding. Look if other money --

LIZZA: The two of you could sit Giuliani down and media training --


CARDONA: He needs it desperately.

STEWART: If no other money was paid to other women, which I would hope that's the case, but I doubt it, he would have simply said no.

BERMAN: So Bakari, you can answer how you want here, but as an attorney, would you ask your client, would you say, Mr. President, you're my client here, have you paid other women?

SELLERS: Yes. I mean, because you would want to know the answer to that because you're dealing with possible campaign violations, you're dealing with other things that you just want to know the answer to.

But I think that we're all confused as to the reason why Rudy Giuliani was hired. Is he your criminal attorney, one, or he supposed to play impeachment politics, too? Because the President when he is bastardizing Mueller, when he is talking about Democrats -- prosecuting and when he is going down this list of things, he's actually, you know, playing the game the right way. Goes back to the Clinton playbook when you play impeachment politics. The problem gets when Rudy Giuliani is your criminal attorney and he sucks at it. I mean, he's really, really not doing his client any service right now by bringing up what ifs. We saw the list of 50 questions that were going to be asked by Mueller. The question we all believe, I think we all think the answer to is yes is after watching Rudy Giuliani, does Mueller have more questions? Yes.

[21:20:20] STEWART: Of course he does.

BORGER: Well, but he is not -- you know, so Rudy Giuliani is not the criminal attorney. I mean, we know that. The criminal attorneys are the Raskins.

DENNARD: Emmet Flood.

BORGER: And Emmet Flood, these are the criminal attorney --

SELLERS: He's playing criminal attorney on T.V.

BORGER: He is playing one on T.V. And --

SELLERS: And that's the problem.

BORGER: And the danger in doing that, whether you're a criminal attorney or you're a P.R. person, is you need to know the answer to the questions before you go out.

CARDONA: But I think Bakari hit the nail on the head when he talked about the kind of client that Rudy Giuliani and all of this lawyers have, which is Donald Trump. Somebody who is a liar, somebody who will not tell you the truth, even if you ask him the question straight out. Because to me, it's still baffling, Gloria, you've reported this, that before Giuliani went out on the Sean Hannity, supposedly he and the President were on the same page.

Nobody else was, nobody else knew what they were talking about or what Giuliani was going to say. But supposedly, Giuliani and Trump had agreed that this is what Giuliani was going to do. Not only that, let's remember the President's tweets that absolutely underscored everything that Giuliani said before he got the blow-back and before then he tried to walk back what I believe was essentially the truth.

BERMAN: And Paris, I mean, there are two different things here in a way, which is the Mueller investigation, which is what we all thought Rudy Giuliani was really being brought in for, and then there's really Stormy Daniels, what he's ended up talking about an awful lot. I mean, he chose to walk down that path with Sean Hannity, which they walked hand in hand, sometimes awkwardly.

DENNARD: Yes. I think there's a reason why Emmet Flood and Raskins are the ones that are his actual criminal attorneys. They're going to be behind the scenes. I promise you they no -- why I can't say that -- I would suspect that they know the answers to the questions that we've been asking. And I think there's a reason why Rudy Giuliani does not know the answer to that because I don't believe that he was ever brought on to know those answers and to be that person.

He's not going to be negotiating and doing all the things in the courtroom. He is there to be the person in the media constantly defending the President. And the problem is when he takes the -- his responses are too long, he makes them too long. The President has the same problem of talking in long stanzas for a long time. You have to keep it succinct. The problem with Giuliani, he said, I have no knowledge of that. Like you said, if he would have stopped there, that would have been fine. But then he moved on and said, if necessary, yes. And that opened up a whole line of questioning that he didn't have to have opened up.

STEWART: And we'll give him the benefit of this one been fit of the answer that he answered correctly is he -- a few times did pivoted back to no campaign funds were used. And if it was, then it was paid back, which that's still to be debated. However, if that's going to be his story it would be --

BORGER: That's still a violation.

STEWART: I hope he'd stick with that.

BORGER: Well, but the big question out here is what is Michael Cohen's relationship really to the President vis-a-vis his business, vis-a-vis all of these LLCs he's opened, et cetera, et cetera? And Rudy Giuliani seemed to be at one point throwing Michael Cohen under the bus.


BORGER: I mean, we've run out of buses. There are so many people that have been thrown under them. But at one point, he was throwing him under the bus. Now he can't answer certain questions. So all of this becomes murky and the question you have is this all part of the same story now?

BERMAN: Right. Can I ask you very quickly, this idea of talking to Robert Mueller? I mean there's the legal question here, there's also the political issue. And it just seems that this President may be in a different political situation than any other has in the past. Every other President, Bill Clinton sat down with Ken Starr. They didn't want the political blow-back here. I'm not sure that President Trump is concerned about the political blow-back.

LIZZA: Nixon and Clinton cooperated at the end of the day because it was death not to and we do seem to be operating in a very different political time where even the idea of the President taking the Fifth Amendment has somehow been normalized. I mean, I know we use that word a lot were his supporters are being prepared for that possibility and frankly don't seem all that worked up about that possibility. I don't what you think of that Paris.

But one thing about Rudy being normalizing -- I mean, if you ignore all the craziness, one thing he has tried to do is he has tried to -- say hate to use this word again -- normalize Michael Cohen as a fixer. He's basically tried to come out and say this is just no big deal, yes, he paid off women, yes, he did this, the President give him money, that's the way it was. This was a celebrity who had a lot of issues. So I think that -- if he had a strategy going into this, that's what he -- that's the one message --

BERMAN: All right, guys, stick around. You guys are around for many more questions.

[21:24:53] Ahead, a new CNN poll shows that Melania Trump is viewed more favorably than her husband. The first lady unveils her new initiative to help children. Stick around.


BERMAN: First Lady Melania Trump stepped into the spotlight today on her own to unveil her agenda to help America's children. During a White House speech, she said, the be best campaign will focus on fighting cyber bullying and the opioid crisis. This comes as a new CNN poll shows that 57 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the first lady. That's up 10 points since January. And 16 points higher than the President's job approval rating.

In our new poll, 41percent support the work he is doing. Back now with our panel. You know, Gloria, when it comes to poll numbers, we know the President follows them very, very closely, will Melania Trump's rising popularity, is it tied in any way do you believe to the President?

BORGER: No. Well, I believe, honestly, that it's tied to a few things. One is Stormy Daniels. I think that people believe that by saying nothing and by doing her job, and by continuing to sort of be out there and trolling the President in her own little way, that she is to be respected for that and that she has behaved admirably. So in a way, it is tied to the President, to a degree, and his -- and the tabloid stories about him. And I think that, you know, I give her credit today for going out and doing whatever she did.

[21:30:13] People said you can't talk about cyberbullying because your husband is one. She said, you know what, doesn't matter to me, I'm going to -- I care about this stuff, and I'm going to do it and she did a fine job today and she is independent and I think people kind of admire that. Particularly women.

BERMAN: Inversely proportional, her approval rating to the President.

BORGER: Exactly.

BERMAN: Bakari, the message about cyberbullying, everyone can get behind that but there is some irony that the President was sitting in the front row.

SELLERS: No. Irony is dead, John. Irony is been dead in this administration killed it. If you think there is -- that coming out and talking about cyberbullying when you can't go down the hall and control the biggest cyber bully we have in the United States, then that irony is completely dead. And I actually think that this -- her approval rating is directly tied to the President, to be completely honest. I think there are a lot of people who have a sense of sympathy for the first lady.

BORGER: That's another thing.

SELLERS: Because -- let's take this away because I have a hard time judging and critiquing and talking about somebody's wife or somebody's mother, but people -- we remember that she was, you know, the co- birther in chief with Donald Trump. We remember she plagiarized Michelle Obama, right? So it's very hard to take that away from her when she's trying to roll out these new initiatives.

I wished her the best of luck because actually young people in this country need role models. They need somebody to look up to. They need someone to help them prepare for a world I now say is flat due to our interconnectivity. I hope she's successful. I just can't separate the Melania who was Donald Trump's wife from this be best Melania. Although I wish her the best of luck.

STEWART: I think another component of the be best initiative that is important that we mention, the social media, stopping cyber bullying well-being -- you know, promoting well-being for kids and the opioid crisis. This is a serious problem. It's something that needs to be addressed and I think her calling attention to this will help address this issue. But look, we all know that Donald Trump is a cheater. He cheated on her before. And he got elected, anyway. Our CNN poll out today says 80 percent of people polled say they believe that he cheated. 70percent say they believe Michael Cohen paid these people off. And 60 percent say they believe he knew about it but --

BERMAN: It's a good segue because those are some of the biggest numbers in the poll.


BERMAN: Another number in the poll is what the 57percent of people right now think the country is moving in the right direction.

STEWART: Yes. BERMAN: That's a big number.


BERMAN: Maria Cardona, that's a very good number for any administration if we're looking back the last 10, 15 years, yet the President's approval rating is at 41 percent in the poll. So does it -- are these things divorced now? If you look at people who believe the affair, you look at President's approval but you look at where people feel the country is going?

CARDONA: Yes. I kind of think it is divorce. And so I've been thinking a lot about this because everybody talks about how voters only care about the economy, how voters only care about jobs, you know, and how they only care about their own pocketbooks. And of course, to a big extent, that is true, but if they were wholeheartedly 100 percent true, then Donald Trump would be at 70 percent approval rating. And he's still at record low levels.

What that tells me, yes, people care about the economy and the 57 percent number talks about that, they're happy with the way things are going to go, but it also tells me that they care about the character, they care about the type of person in the President of the United States is, they care about how their leader, the commander in chief, should display basic decency. And that this President does not.


LIZZA: I want to add one point to the Melania thing before we move on to anything. That's an excellent point. But I think one of the fascinating things about why Melania's poll numbers have gone up. I mean, if you think about it, Republicans have always loved Melania. She is always gotten solid numbers with Republicans. No different than Donald Trump's. What is boosting her poll numbers are Democrats.

BERMAN: Absolutely.

LIZZA: And soft independents. Why is that? Why do Democrats suddenly rallying around Melania? I mean I think it's very interesting, they see her, people who hate Donald Trump like Melania. They see her as a victim of this President who they despise. So it has to do with the Stormy and the affairs that she was, you know, she's been maligned. But they also see her almost as, like, trapped with this person that they have a very low opinion of and, you know, as a consequence, they have sympathy for her. So it's a very interesting dynamic that's going on.

BERMAN: Paris, on this, or on the President's approval rating of 41percent, which is not a good number, but the 57percent think the country is moving in the right direction, you know, is the glass half empty or glass half full here?

DENNARD: I think the glass is half full because, look --

BERMAN: For the President? DENNARD: For the President. And I think at the end of the day I think the American people are responding about how they feel. I think they feel that things are on the right track as we have 57percent, if you look at what's happening in North Korea, they said, you know, we don't know what's going to happen but that's a good thing. That's a good development. They see what's happening with regards to tax cuts and the economy and unemployment rate going down. They think these are good things. Back to Mrs. Trump, our first lady, traditionally, the first lady is more popular than the President.

[21:35:11] BERMAN: Sure.

DENNARD: And normally has high approval ratings.



LIZZA: Hillary went through bad times, though. The more they're going to involve with politics, the more unpopular they become.

DENNARD: And I think that what you see with Mrs. Trump is people are now saying who is she? And they're getting to see more and more about who she is, and what she cares about? Every holiday, and think she's going to visit children, those are positive things. The American people are getting to see her more, they'll respond in kind.

BERMAN: Very quickly.

CARDONA: Very quickly, I also think a reason why her numbers are going up is because people have seen the footage of her swatting away the President's hand. I'm not trying to make a joke. I think that's actually true because it goes to the fact that she and her own way is standing up for herself.

BERMAN: All right, guys, stick around. Everyone's going to be here.

When we come back, Senator John McCain battles brain cancer. There is new reporting on which President he would like to speak at his funeral, and, again, who he does not want invited.


[21:40:00] BERMAN: As Senator John McCain battles brain cancer, his staffers are reportedly sharing some of his thoughts on his funeral which will be at Washington's national cathedral. According to "The New York Times," one person the senator does not want in attendance is President Trump. Today, one of McCain's Senate colleagues, Republican Orrin Hatch, told CNN he thought that was ridiculous.

Back now with our panel, you know, Gloria, this "Times" piece is interesting, I mean it's odd to have so many details being leaked about the funeral of someone who is alive right now and battling brain cancer, but it is out there. So what does it tell you, if it is true, that John McCain wants President Obama, President George W. Bush, two men, by the way, who beat him in elections, he wants them to speak, but not the current President?

BORGER: It's so John McCain. First of all. He doesn't like Donald Trump and he's not going to be a hypocrite and say, I want you at my funeral, number one. Number two, he's been spending a lot of time talking about civility, bipartisanship, getting things done. So what he did was he invited two people who beat him, as you point out. Neither of whom he was particularly close to, but people he respects, and, you know, he fought a hard fight against Barack Obama, but his concession speech when Obama won was one of the best speeches I've ever heard. And I think the fact that he invited a Republican and a Democrat to speak at his funeral is just quintessential John McCain.

STEWART: And he also, remember, during the heat of the campaign with Obama when it was very tense, someone at one of his events spoke ill of the President -- of Barack Obama, he said no, no, no, we're not going to do that, we're going to be civil to each other. I think this is an example of how he wants to bring both sides together, talk about civility in Washington. Also he has asked Mike Pence to attend for the President. But good for him. I think honestly what President Trump said about John McCain, saying he's not a hero because he was captured, is despicable. And I don't blame John McCain for not wanting him to be there.

BERMAN: Paris?

DENNARD: Who am I to tell somebody who to invite and not to invite to your funeral? But I'll say this. This is a tough one for me because I know Senator McCain, the entire family. I worked for him, 2000, 2008. I've been to the home. I went to high school with the children. I know the McCain family very well.

I'm a tremendous supporter and fan of President Trump. I think Senator McCain is making a mistake by saying that he does not -- he's not inviting the sitting President of the United States to attend his funeral. I think that the bigger thing to do would say, despite the fact that you said all these things about me, everybody heard it, you still should come and sit at my funeral and hear all the great things that people say about me and celebrate me despite of what you may think about me politically. I think that would be -- but I will say, I understand why he's not doing it, not inviting him. I think the bigger moment --

BORGER: I actually think --

SELLERS: The President of the United States isn't invited to anybody's funeral? Like, you know --

DENNARD: He's invited to mine.

SELLERS: George H.W. -- listen, there are two things, "growing up yonder" is what I want played at my funeral and Donald Trump is not invited. Those are the only two things that I have laid out right now.

But Donald Trump, he has not risen up to the pedestal of the President of the United States. BORGER: Right.

SELLERS: And I think John McCain recognizes that and wants to rest in peace. He does not want to rest with someone who acted a complete ass sitting out in the audience audience. And he thought he was completely disrespectful to him and he was.

BERMAN: Maria?

SELLERS: -- Donald Trump should apologize to John McCain.

CARDONA: That's exactly what should happen before John McCain leaves us. And actually, I -- good for him, good for John McCain. He has the right to say how he wants his funeral, how he wants people to come and honor him. And he doesn't think that Trump being there will be a way to honor him. And I completely agree. I think it was very telling also in the reporting that CNN did about Joe Biden's visit to John McCain.

And what he said about how John McCain is so worried about our country, about the image of our country, about the civil -- the lack of civility in our country and it all points back to Donald Trump. And interestingly enough, he also said he regrets not putting Joe Lieberman on his ticket, and by doing that, he's also saying he regrets putting Sarah Palin on the ticket and a lot of people believe that Sarah Palin was like the gateway drug to a Donald Trump.

BERMAN: Can I ask you, Maria, very quickly.


BERMAN: We're always wanted to know, what would you have said as a Democrat if John McCain had put Joe Lieberman on the ticket?


CARDONA: Oh, I probably would have hated him, but, you know, that's what politics are. But I also think that -- you know, looking back at it, I actually think that it's a big thing for John McCain to say that he regrets having put Sarah Palin on there.

BORGER: I do, because, you know, he's never criticized her.


BORGER: He has always --

CARDONA: It's huge.

BORGER: He has said, and he's told me, I -- you know, Lieberman was my first choice, but he's never gone that second step. Can I say one more thing about the Trump -- I think he may be doing it for his family, not inviting Trump. Because his wife and his daughter, in particular, were so offended by everything that Donald Trump said about John McCain. [21:45:10] And perhaps when he was -- I'm just surmising this. I have no idea. When he was talking to his family about his funeral plans, and they said, maybe they said, you know what, that would be so hard for us.

BERMAN: Can I just say -- John McCain, I mean -- President Trump is still out talking about John McCain in an unflattering way. Brings up the health care vote, he toss it with a thumb, you know, he was doing it just last week. I will say, Ryan, it talks a lot about John McCain's role in our civil discourse that he can choose which Presidents attend his funeral, which do not.

LIZZA: I hate this story so much. It's just -- it makes --

BORGER: Morbid.

LIZZA: -- so raw how --

BORGER: Divided.

LIZZA: -- divided the country is right now that someone like McCain who will be when he passes will be one of the most celebrated United States senators in history. And that one of his last wishes is that he didn't want the President of the United States at his funeral. And I cannot think of a historical example. Maybe go back to the 19th century when things were particularly ugly, but you can't think of a modern example where a sitting United States senator in advance of his death is letting it be known that he doesn't want the President there. He has such a low opinion of this man.

CARDONA: Of his own party.

LIZZA: Such low morality and ethics. This is a military man. Would have been his commander in chief if he were still in the military. He doesn't want him there.

BORGER: But he is (inaudible) of history himself, right? So he knows exactly --

LIZZA: And I'm not criticizing McCain for a second over this. I think you're right about the family. Look, he forgave the Vietnamese who tortured him two years. He went to Vietnam, befriended people who tried to kill him and he won't --

BERMAN: Paris, very quickly.

DENNARD: I hope that Mrs. Trump is invited to attend. I think that would be appropriate. And I think that she has exhibited much grace and class and I think it would be appropriate to have her there.

BERMAN: I hope this is a discussion that is moved for many months to come.

BORGER: Right.

BERMAN: At the rate we're going. All right, thank you all, very much, everyone, I appreciate it.

Coming up, we do have breaking news. Another call for the resignation of the New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman after four women reportedly accused him of violence. That's next.


[21:51:21] BERMAN: We do have breaking news just in. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has resigned. This comes after four women accused him of violence. The accusations are in the "New Yorker." That came out just a few hours ago. Two of the women spoke on the record saying he'd hit and choked them. Both sought medical attention because of this alleged abuse. Two others asked to stay anonymous.

Now Schneiderman just posted this on his website. He writes "It's been my great honor and privilege to serve as attorney general for the people of the state of New York. In the last several hours serious allegations which I strongly contest have been made against me. While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office's work at this critical time. I, therefore, resign my office effective at the close of business on May 8th, 2018."

That happened very quickly after the story was published just a few hours ago.

As our chief Washington Correspondent and Anchor of "The Lead" and "State of the Union," Jake Tapper gets his daily fill of real life political drama. Now Jake is turning his attention to historical fiction. He's the author of the new novel, the "Hellfire Club," the thriller has some parallels to today with claims of abuse of power, conspiracy theories, 2along with ethical and moral question. It takes place during the 1950s when the intimidating Joe McCarthy was senator and carrying out his communist witch hunt. Anderson recently spoke to Jake about the new book.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, your book is set in the McCarthy era. It's easy to make comparisons, you know, from then to now. But you actually started this before this administration was even kind of a glimmer in anyone's eye, right?

JAKE TAPPER, AUTHOR, "THE HELLFIRE CLUB": Yes, I just thought it was such an interesting era on the veneer, it's romantic, and it seems pleasant. The Eisenhower years. But you just scratch a little bit beneath the surface and there are literally communists infiltrating the government, the rise of McCarthyism, the atomic race, the country still segregated, it's still a very sexist society. So it looks pleasant, but it's really, there's this undertone of menace throughout the 1950s.

All of that was cooking long before Donald Trump came down that escalator, but then once he became this candidate and, you know, they say history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. There's a lot of rhyming when you read about the 1950s and you look at President Trump in 2018.

COOPER: Explain just kind of what the book is about, because "A," it's fiction which I'm so impressed that you were able to write, you bring amazing nonfiction books but I can't even kind of wrap my mind around the concept of trying to write a fiction book?

TAPPER: It's about a young World War II hero academic who becomes a congressman and he is very strong independent wife, who's a zoologist, and they moved to Washington, and they get caught up in this conspiracy having to do with secret societies.

In a larger sense, the book is about compromise and how far are people willing to go to compromise their principles in order to achieve an end, whether it's all the people I see who come down here to Washington, D.C., to try to do good and end up selling little bits of their soul bit by bit until all of a sudden it's not clear why they're in Washington other than for their own self-aggrandizement.

And a larger scale, it's about what are you willing to do to protect the country? McCarthy was willing to lie and smear and attack people in the name of what he thought was defending the country. So, compromise, which is what this town, what Washington, D.C., is about, that's the theme of it, but, you know, wrapped in what I hope people will think is a fun thrill ever.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's a political thriller. It's -- I mean, it really is a, I hate the cliche about a page turner. But it is. I mean, I've I read it. I really enjoyed it. Did -- how do you go about actually wry writing? I mean, not just how you find the time, given your family and your work but for writing fiction -- I mean, do you map it all out, do you have an outline that you kind of do first?

[21:55:18] TAPPER: Yes. A friend of mine who's a really creative guy who said there's two types of writers, there's gardeners and architects. Gardeners kind of just let the flowers grow and see what happens. And architects have to plan everything. I'm definitely more of an architect.

And in terms of the schedule, I have a very busy schedule as do you. But I just tried to have a rule that I would write at least 15 minutes a day. You know, if you write 15 minutes a day, by the end of the week you've written for an hour and 45 minutes. I mean, that's not nothing.

COOPER: Well, it is really -- it is a great read. And I encourage people to get it. Jake, thanks so much.

TAPPER: Thanks so much, Anderson.


BERMAN: All right, more news next. An update on the lava leaving a path of destruction in Hawaii.


BERMAN: Tonight on Hawaii's big island molten lava pouring through neighborhoods. Video here shows you the damage can do as it destroys that car. Stunning. 35 structures including 26 homes have been wiped away by the lava flow from an eruption that started last Thursday. The other dangerous toxic fumes and earthquakes, the officials are warning people to stay away from the danger zone for their own safety.

That's all for me tonight. I'm John Berman. Time now to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts now.