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No Apologies for the True Hero; Loose Lips Sink Ships; Report: Giuliani Says Trump Blocked Merger Of AT&T And Time Warner; Giuliani Reps Another Client, One Day After Promising POTUS His Sole Concentration; Kelly Claims Undocumented Immigrants Don't Have The Skills To Assimilate Into U.S. Society. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired May 11, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] (JOINED IN PROGRESS)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Breaking news and pay close attention. Rudy Giuliani at it again, reportedly says President Trump blocked the proposed AT&T Time Warner merger even though the Justice Department has insisted from day one that the president had no role in the lawsuit. That's according to the "Huffington Post."
So is this another foot in mouth moment for Rudy Giuliani? We got much more on that in a moment. This is a bombshell. So stick with us here. There's also the turmoil over that vicious so-called joke at the expense of a true American hero, I'm talking about John McCain.
A navy fighter pilot who was shot down and spent five and a half years being tortured in a North Vietnamese prison camp, who refused when his captors offered him early release because he didn't want to be freed POW's who had been held longer; who had served in Congress since 1982, who ran for president in 2008. And who is battling brain cancer right now.
It is hard to imagine that anyone, much less a White House aide, would joke that John McCain is -- these are her words -- "dying anyway." But that's exactly what Kelly Sadler said. Anybody with just an ounce of decency would apologize. But this White House?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: If you won't comment on the specific comment, what does the White House believe about Senator McCain? Is there a tone set from the top here where it is allowed for an aide to say he is dying anyway?
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly, there is not a tone set here. We have a respect for all Americans. And that is what we try to put forward in everything we do, both in word and in action. Focusing on doing things that help every American in this country every single day. I think if you look at the policies we put forth, you'll see that reflected.
ZELENY: Why not apologize to senator McCain? SANDERS: Again, I'm not -- I'm not going to get into a back and forth
because, you know, people want to create issues of leaked staffing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: No apology. That is disgraceful. This is not about leaks. This is not about policies. This is about taking responsibility. Senator McCain's daughter, Meghan, saying this today on The View.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGHAN MCCAIN, CO-HOST, ABC NEWS: I don't understand what kind of environment you are working in when that would be acceptable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MCCAIN: And then you can come to work the next day and still have a job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Meghan McCain is right. But honestly, we shouldn't be surprised. After all Donald Trump himself has never apologized for saying this about John McCain during the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is not a war hero.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a war hero. Five and a half years--
TRUMP: He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: None of us should be surprised at the tone coming out of this White House. And none of us should be surprised to hear this from the White House chief of staff John Kelly, talking to NPR about undocumented immigrants who cross our southern border.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into the United States are not bad people. They're not criminals. They're not MS-13.
But they are also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States. They are overwhelmingly rural people. And the countries they come from, fourth, fifth, sixth grade education are kind of the norm. They come here for a reason and I sympathize with the reason.
(END VOICE CLIP) LEMON: The fact is that many, many immigrants are educated and have
skills. And all this talk about assimilation just echoes the arguments that have been used against generations of people for their race, for their religion or their ethnic background.
But the American dream is all about people starting with nothing, coming here working hard and making life better for themselves and their children. Remember the words on the base of the Statue of Liberty? There she is in the harbor tonight. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
It doesn't say give me your English speakers, your city dwellers, your skilled workers people who can easily assimilate into the United States.
And by the way, the vast majority of the people in this country are descended from those huddled masses. And those huddled masses are the people who for generations have been making America great. America is always been great.
Now let's get right to our breaking news now. I want to talk about the proposed AT&T and Time Warner merger. Joining me now is CNN Senior Media Correspondent, Brian Stelter, Hadas Gold, politics, media, and business reporter for CNN Money, and CNN Legal Analyst, Michael Zeldin.
[22:04:59] Just when you thought it couldn't get more interesting, Brian, here we go. Rudy Giuliani is getting the president in hot water once again, what is he saying?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Rudy Giuliani quoted in an interview with the "Huffington Post" saying the president denied the merger. Five simple words that have a really significant meaning. They contradict everything we have been told up until now about why AT&T and Time Warner were sued to stop this deal.
Let's go back 18 months real quick. The deal is announced during the campaign. President Trump, now President Trump, then candidate Trump, opposed the deal. So when he came into office, there were questions about whether he would try to block the deal, whether he would somehow inappropriately interfere.
All along the White House denied that. And so did the Justice Department. When the government did sue to block the deal last November, the DOJ said, no way Trump was involved. This was purely a decision made by career officials working for what was best for consumers.
STELTER: So all along there's been a denial that Trump was involved. Now Rudy Giuliani comes along and tells "Huffington Post", quote, 'the president denied the merger." No why is he doing that? He is doing that because he is trying to say, hey, Michael Cohen, he got all this money from companies, but Cohen didn't do anything. He wasn't able to influence the president because the president denied the merger. Again, that contradicts everything we've been told.
LEMON: Let me just read, Brian, exactly what the "Huffington Post" says he said. He said, "Whatever lobbying was done didn't reach the president, Giuliani said, offering as proof the fact that AT&T proposed merger with Time Warner has not gone through. He did drain the swamp, the president denied the merger. They didn't get the result that they wanted."
Das, you were in that courtroom every single day. You have lived and breathed this story. Doesn't this contradict everything that we have been told about this merger and about what's going on for months?
HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: It definitely contradicts everything that we've heard about this merger, Don, for a long time. But politics has been the elephant in the courtroom for some time. But we haven't actually heard the words Donald Trump, because they have decided to fight this battle on pure antitrust grounds.
But beyond just the fact that AT&T decided not to fight this on a political bias sense is also that there was a sworn affidavit by the head of the Justice Department's antitrust division during the trial.
Now we actually obtained this from a freedom of information request where the head of the DOJ antitrust division said, and I quote, "At no time did I receive orders, instructions or directions relating to the transaction or decision to file the complaint from any of the following people or entities, including President Trump, the executive Office of the President or related representatives, the attorney general, deputy attorney general." And he goes down and down.
He says, "As is typical for major litigation, prior to the filing of the complaint, I briefed others in the Department of Justice regarding my decision and that was that."
That is a sworn affidavit from the head of the antitrust division. So if what Rudy Giuliani is saying is true, that the president himself was the one that blocked the merger, that is suggesting that this sworn affidavit is not true. That's a major thing here. Because this has been, as I said, the elephant in the room this entire trial is the fact that Donald Trump does not like CNN. He does not like -- as a fact, does not like CNN's parent company Time Warner, which is who AT&T is trying to buy and that is why he wanted to block this merger. And now if--
LEMON: So let's talk about this. Because AT&T, again, as I said, you listen to this, they wanted to raise the issue of political motivation.
LEMON: But the judge said no, Hadas. So take us through -- what might happen next? Can -- will the judge, because the judge is deciding now.
LEMON: Will AT&T's lawyers go back and say, we didn't have this information or the DOJ lied? What's next?
GOLD: I mean, this is all happening very quickly. But where we are right now in this case is that initially, as yu said, AT&T wanted to bring up the selective enforcement is what it's called, pretty much political bias is the reason behind why they brought this case. But a judge blocked discovery on some communication that AT&T wanted between the White House and the Justice Department.
As a result, AT&T decided, you know, we're just going to fight this on pure antitrust grounds because they felt they had a strong enough case that they could prove this would not harm consumers, not be anti- competitive.
But now we're in a phase right now where actually the judge is sitting in his chambers and deciding this trial. He is writing his opinion right now. I'm sure that he is watching the news. He is seeing this happen. Now what could happen is he is probably going to issue his decision without thinking about the politics.
But if there is an appeal, I could definitely see AT&T saying, OK, on the appeal, we're going to bring up this political bias.
LEMON: OK. I need to get -- I want to get Michael in. Because Michael, you are the legal person. So I want -- give me your analysis here. Because the DOJ -- the DOJ is supposed to act independently from the president.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's right. I think going back to Hadas' last point is this. Petrocelli, the lawyer for Time Warner and AT&T seeks as she said to bring a defense of selective prosecution particularly the judge in the case said essentially, you haven't presented enough evidence for me to grant that request.
[22:09:54] So I think that Petrocelli has to be making decisions right now, are we going to file overnight a motion with the judge saying, we want to renew our motion to open the case anew to receive this evidence of White House communications so that we can evaluate whether or not that defense, if you will, of selective enforcement is availing.
And I think if they file that, giving the Giuliani comments, particularly on has a hard choice to decline that opportunity for them to receive that information. Because he essentially has said, Giuliani that is, that the president made this decision, contradicting the affidavit.
And so, it may well be that before we even get to the appellate stage, particularly on he says, you know what, I'm going to give you -- I'm going to put my decision on hold. I'm going to allow this additional discovery and then I'll make a decision about whether or not we can reopen this case for the receipt of the evidence.
If not then he's got to make a decision -- then he's got to make a decision on the evidence presented and make a determination. And the appellate court will have to make a decision whether or not particularly he made a mistake in not allowing that communication that discovery to take place.
LEMON: Brian, let me read this before you jump in.
LEMON: Because I think it's important. Because the president is tweeting tonight, OK.
STELTER: He said, "Why doesn't the fake news media state that the Trump administration's antitrust division has been and is opposed to the AT&T purchase of Time Warner in a currently ongoing trial? Such a disgrace in reporting." But Rudy Giuliani just, I mean, doesn't he highlight that he is stepping in it again?
STELTER: Yes. Obviously Trump's tweet is wrong. Every time we talk about this case, we talk about how the DOJ--
LEMON: We're reporting it nonstop. Yes.
STELTER: -- is suing to block it. But what's interesting about the tweet tonight is Trump is contradicting his lawyer. Trump is saying it's not me. It's the DOJ. It's the antitrust division.
Rudy is saying the opposite. He is the president decided to do this. Either Rudy Giuliani accidentally told the truth just now and created a big problem for the government or Rudy is talking out of school again, talking out of turn, making it up as he goes along. He's got his foot in his mouth again.
Either way, it's ugly, Don. Either way, it's not good. And it's a reminder that we're seeing Rudy Giuliani every day it seems like in every interview he gives stumbling through answers, saying things that create problems for Trump and the White House.
LEMON: And also trying to separate themselves from Michael Cohen and had they--
STELTER: Right. Right.
LEMON: -- had they resolved this case -- because Michael Avenatti brought all this information to light.
STELTER: Yes, he did three days ago.
LEMON: Three days ago.
LEMON: So if they settled that, this may not have been in the public sphere. Now the special counsel knew about it but who knows if he would have revealed it. The Stormy Daniels-Michael Avennati thing, I mean, Michael Avenatti thing has -- I mean, it's a runaway trail for this--
STELTER: World's longest domino effect.
LEMON: Yes. So Hadas, you have reached out to the Justice Department. Any response?
GOLD: I have not heard anything back so far. But I'm sure they are scrambling now to come up with some sort of response. I'm sure as Michael said, AT&T is now considering their options. How are they going to handle this information? Are they going to use it to their advantage?
Because keep in mind, there is a merger deadline, June 21st is when either side in this merger can decide to walk away. So they might decide that it's not worth it. They might decide that their case is strong enough to some pure antitrust ground and then in the political and the public relations sphere they might have sort of won with this idea this is somehow politically motivated.
ZELDIN: The other thing--
LEMON: I've got to go. I've got to go. But maybe -- maybe he is fronting something he thinks the feds already know. Maybe, who knows? I'm just saying. Putting it out there.
STELTER: Hey, Mueller knew about the payments six months ago.
LEMON: There you go. I've got to run.
When we come back, more on our breaking news. Rudy Giuliani reportedly says President Trump block the proposed AT&T and Time Warner merger, essentially throwing the whole case into turmoil.
Plus, the White House refusing today to apologize for that vicious so- called joke at the expense of a true American hero, John McCain.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So, so much for a slow Friday night. We have some breaking news tonight to tell you about. Rudy Giuliani reportedly says President Trump blocked the proposed AT&T and Time Warner merger. Even though the Justice Department has insisted from day one that the president had no role in the lawsuit. That is according to the "Huffington Post".
So I want to bring in now CNN White House Reporter, Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, good evening to you. What a turn of events here. Any reaction from the White House to Rudy Giuliani's interview with the "Huffington Post"-- (CROSSTALK)
KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, CNN: No reaction--
LEMON: -- saying that the merger was blocked by the president?
COLLINS: Yes, Don, no reaction yet. Of course, the White House has tried to put a lot of distance between themselves and Rudy Giuliani since he first made that revelation that the president had reimbursed Michael Cohen for the payment, saying they don't coordinate with him and Rudy Giuliani saying he doesn't coordinate with the White House.
But we have heard from the White House on this specifically. The deputy press secretary Raj Shah said last fall that the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had not discussed it at all -- this at all. And he also said that no White House official had been authorized to speak with the Justice Department about this potential merger.
So we have that. Then we also have Jeff Sessions himself who testified on Capitol Hill last fall saying he couldn't comment on this when certain lawmakers asked him about whether or not the president had attempted to influence it.
So it raises a litany of questions there. But then of course we do know that AT&T did pay Michael Cohen hoping to get some kind of influence with the White House back whenever President Trump did first take office. It raises the question here, or course they likely did not think that Michael Cohen had a large amount of influence on the antitrust division but raising questions about his influence on President Trump.
Now the question here, Don, is does the White House come out and correct Rudy Giuliani like we have seen them do before?
LEMON: Kaitlan, that is a big question. Get back to us if you get any news. Thank you, Kaitlan Collins at the White House.
I want to bring in now Chris Cillizza, a CNN politics editor-at-large, David Swerdlick, a CNN political commentator. So, Chris, here we go again. The latest Rudy Giuliani headache for the folks over at the White House, give me your reaction.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: OK. The reason that he is still talking to the press, Don, is because Donald Trump has allowed him to still talk to the press. If Donald Trump said you are not talking to the media anymore, he wouldn't talk to the media anymore.
Donald Trump brought Rudy Giuliani on at least in part because he liked how Rudy Giuliani performed on television.
LEMON: So, wait, wait, wait. So do you think the president wants this out there?
LEMON: Do you think they're putting this out there on purpose?
CILLIZZA: No. Absolutely not. They are going to have to walk this back. There's no -- you cannot have what Rudy Giuliani said about the AT&T merger there. In the same way that they tried to walk back the Michael Cohen reimbursements for the Stormy Daniels payments, remember, Giuliani put out a clarification and said, well, this is just my understanding of it. This wasn't the president's understanding.
[22:20:00] They'll have to do something like that. He misspoke. He meant the president -- the administration, not the president. But the point is, you know, strike one, maybe you are just looking for your pitch. Strike two, OK, we will see. Strike three, it's actually strike six for Giuliani, at some point you're not just a good hitter, right.
And I think that we may have reached that point with Giuliani. My guess is, Donald Trump is probably reached his breaking point. I don't know he is going to fire Rudy Giuliani. But I mean, I would be stunned if we see more of Giuliani rather than less.
LEMON: Well, David, I think four days ago that Sarah Sanders stood from the podium to say that Giuliani adds value to Trump's outside counsel. And then tonight, you know, he totally screws up yet again. A major argument for the president. But unless they want to get this out there because, again, maybe they know something -- who knows?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Don, like Chris said, this is like a few days ago with Stormy Daniels and Cohen and the money going into the essential consultant account. Mayor Giuliani seems to be going out and seems yet again in this case of AT&T and trying to put one story out to cover up another story.
But the story that he puts out looks bad as well as the story that he was trying to cover up. And he is just sort of beat boxing and break dancing all over cable news as if he hasn't been paying attention to politics or news or anything in the Trump administration for the past year and a half.
Like Chris said, it's one thing to try to get caught up on the first strike. But when you are at a full count, you know, you got to get in there, dig in and either swing at your pitch or try and put the ball into play. But he is doing neither. This looks like another strike.
LEMON: Hey, guys, remember when Giuliani said -- well, Cohen said that there was no lobbying, right. I think his attorney said that and he was a consultant. AT&T said that there was no lobbying. This is a quote, he says -- Giuliani says, "Whatever lobbying was done didn't reach the president, Giuliani said, offering as proof the fact that AT&T's proposed merger with Time Warner has not gone through. He did drain the swamp. The president denied the merger. They didn't get the results -- result they wanted." So now he is throwing AT&T and Michael Cohen under the bus because now he is saying there's lobbying. 2
CILLIZZA: And you know, the problem here, Don, is that this is all theoretically in defense of the president. Like Giuliani's goal is, I'm going to help the president by saying, see, it's perfect evidence that he drained the swamp because even though Donald Trump's sort of personal fixer got $600,000 from AT&T, he was -- the merger didn't go through. He is trying to do the right thing.
But he is -- Dave makes a really important point. It's as though Giuliani sort air dropped into the Trump administration and he had been kept in one of those hermetically sealed rooms that they used on the dating game in the 1980s. Like, he didn't hear anything that had been happening in the last 18 months.
So they drop him in. And he thinks he is defending him. But the problem, is there's a year's worth of statements, there's a year's worth of things that he is directly contradicting. We saw it with the Stormy Daniels stuff. Well, wait a minute, Trump not only knew about it but he -- it's his money? He reimbursed Cohen for it. Now, well, so he's a lobbyist or he isn't lobbyist? The president was involved in denying the merger? He wasn't -- you know, it's just Giuliani sort of understand and he--
LEMON: Chris, I got to get -- I want to get this in. Because this is another moment -- this was our other story tonight. This is another big story, David. I want to turn to the comments made by a White House aide about John McCain. You know, in the latest piece on CNN.com, it Chris' piece. He said he went on this week to be Trump be best to, quote, "he is dying anyway." I'll say it again, that is disgraceful is what I said at the top of the show. Do you -- talk to me about that, David.
SWERDLICK: So look, everybody makes mistakes. If Kelly Sadler were to come out publicly face the cameras, face the music and apologize for these remarks, if the remarks as reported are what she said, then I think we should accept her apology. But if she can't apologize or won't apologize, then I think she should resign. It's not for me she should be fired as many people have said. But I think she should resign.
When you have that someone who works for the commander in chief insulting the integrity and -- of a war hero who is now battling cancer, we've lost all standards. This is something that comes from the top. It comes from President Trump insulting Senator McCain through years ago.
It comes from General Kelly insulting the family of Sergeant La David Johnson last year. This is a disgrace, as you said. Don. And what Sadler ought to do tomorrow morning, she ought to get up, go to Arlington National Cemetery, go to section 60 and reflect on the service that people have given to this country for people like her and like me and what it means.
[00:05:01] LEMON: I completely agree. I agree with what you said, Chris. We've gone this week from be best to, quote, "he is dying anyway." Thank you, gentlemen.
CILLIZZA: I mean, one week, perfect encapsulation.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you.
CILLIZZA: It's the hypocrisy that gets him.
LEMON: When we come back, much more on the breaking news tonight. Did Rudy Giuliani have another foot in mouth moment when he reportedly said President Trump blocked the proposed AT&T and Time Warner merger?
LEMON: Did President Trump's newest lawyer step in it again? Rudy Giuliani reportedly says President Trump blocked the proposed AT&T and Time Warner merger even though the Justice Department has insisted from day one that the president had no role in the lawsuit. That is according to the "Huffington Post".
So I want to bring in now CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, Jack Tomarchio, a former principal deputy undersecretary of homeland security under the Bush administration, and Michael Isikoff. Michael is the co-author of "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump." Good book.
Thank you all for joining us. Michael, why don't I start with you? Good evening by the way. I want to read this passage from the "Huffington Post" again. All right. It said, "Whatever lobbying was done didn't reach the president, Giuliani said, offering as proof the fact that AT&T's proposed merger with Time Warner has not gone through. He did drain the swamp. The president denied the merger. They didn't get the result they wanted."
So does this look like the president is interfering in the Justice Department?
[22:29:55] MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Who knows what to make of that? Remember, it was the president just a week or so ago who said that Rudy Giuliani needed a little time to get his facts straight when he misspoke or at least according to president, misspoke about the circumstances of the Michael Cohen payoff to Stormy Daniels.
So it's hard to know whether Rudy Giuliani is making an informed statement about how actually the AT&T decision was made, or he is just shooting off his mouth.
Now I noted that Hadas Gold, who you were talking to earlier, pointed to the sworn affidavit from the head of the Justice Department antitrust division that there was no contact by the President or anybody at White House to the Justice Department about the decision they made. You know, clearly this contradicts that. But how much weight to give Giuliani I think is unknowable at this point.
LEMON: OK. So listen, Michael Cohen was the one getting paid by AT&T. So Giuliani is essentially saying that Cohen was a lobbyist. Did Cohen just get thrown under the bus, Juliette? I asked you that.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. I think he did. And I think you are starting to see this, the isolation of Michael Cohen. No one knew what he was doing.
Isn't it a surprise that he is using his proximity to Donald Trump, and an embarrassment to the Trump White House? But you have to remember, during this entire time that this is occurring, he is still the President's lawyer -- an outside lawyer.
And he is still the deputy finance chair of the RNC. And while I know we're focused on AT&T and the Korean Airlines, and other companies whose names we know, I mean we should remember also that there's Russians who are paying Michael Cohen for whatever it is that he is selling.
And he is selling essentially proximity. Now why does that interest the Russians? Because at the same time, this is Vekselberg and others, at the same time, there's this big question about the Russian sanctions.
And we know that Donald Trump's White House delayed, delayed, delayed, implementing these sanctions, and even now there's a considerable number of waivers that sort of excuse a number of these Russians.
So while I think the American companies are interesting, and it gets to lobbying, and all the seediness in D.C., keep our eyes on the issue that is of import to Mueller, which is, of course, Russians trying to get closer and closer to Donald Trump through Michael Cohen, something that he never denies, and nor did he -- nor did he try to stop.
LEMON: Yes. So, Jack, just one day after Giuliani announced that he was leaving his law firm to give his sole concentration to President Trump, he was back in court today representing not the President, but a woman in an insurance fraud case.
The lead attorney for the case, it's when that Giuliani agreed to take this case because he knows the woman. Are you surprised to hear Giuliani took this on?
JACK TOMARCHIO, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY, HOMELAND SECURITY: Not really. I think Rudy probably has got a practice. He, of course, just left his firm in the last 24 hours.
I don't know actually the circumstances in which he left, whether he resigned, or whether he was asked to resign by the firm. He probably took some clients with him. And I assume that this was one of his pre-existing clients from the law firm that he left.
LEMON: Yes. Do you find, Michael, it unusual for one of the President's attorneys to also have private clients?
ISIKOFF: That Rudy Giuliani still has private clients?
LEMON: Yes. Yes. ISIKOFF: You know, you would think he would have his hands full right now dealing with Robert Mueller, and wouldn't have the time for this. But...
LEMON: He said he was going to focus on the President. That was part of the reason he said he was redesigning from the law firm.
ISIKOFF: Right. Look, I don't think anybody who has watched Rudy Giuliani over the last few weeks has been terribly impressed with the way he has handled questions about this, and his mastery of the details.
You know, there is this sense he is just, you know, winging it, shooting from the hip, and probably not doing the President, you know, much service in this.
But you know, on the Michael Cohen stuff, I mean, there is a lot here that we still don't know. This money trail, how all these entities, the Russians, including the corporations came to hire Michael Cohen, who suggested that they hire Michael Cohen.
Did he just cold call them, and they agreed to open up their checkbooks, and pay $600,000 in the case of AT&T to a guy who had no established lobbying practice in Washington? No mastery of the facts they care about.
Nothing about the regulatory issues that AT&T was facing, or Novartis was facing. Nothing about the details of antitrust law that would have -- that would have been of interest to them.
[22:35:03] I mean, the whole thing is baffling, and does suggest that they thought by hiring Michael Cohen they were going to get some in with the President. And, you know, that's the only conclusion one could draw from this.
LEMON: You know, "The Wall Street Journal," Juliette, reports tonight that in addition to AT&T, Novartis, Columbus Nova, and Korea Aerospace Industries or KAI, Cohen also approached the Ford Motor Company about providing consulting services.
That he called -- he called Ford and said, no thanks -- and Ford said no thanks, I should say. The Special Counsel's office has requested all of the records related to that call. What do you think Mueller would be looking for in this?
KAYYEM: I think he is looking for a pattern on Michael Cohen's part, whether it was initiated by him or not in these instances, which is, while he is taking in money, and let's remember, he is taking in money to an LLC which also paid out Stormy Daniels, and there's any number of other LLCs that Michael Cohen maybe had started.
And where is this money coming from? And who is it going to? This is the big question I've had. It's a lot of money. And where did it go? Did it all just go to Michael Cohen's family? Because he doesn't seem to -- he seems to be a little desperate for cash right now. LEMON: Well, Jack, he's -- nothing appears so far to be illegal. He
hasn't been charged with anything. But there's a lot of money coming in. Again, he said he didn't lobby. AT&T said they didn't -- they didn't lobby. That it was consulting. Give us the bottom line here.
TOMARCHIO: Don, what I really think we have here are several things. I think on Michael Cohen's part, I would say what he was doing was essentially influence peddling. It's not an unknown occupation to Washington, D.C. A lot of people do it.
Law firms do it. Lobbyists do it. He had a relationship. A lot of people didn't expect Donald Trump to be elected as president. And they had no relationship with him. They had no in to his inner circle.
And all of a sudden Michael Cohen pops up. And he is the President's personal lawyer. So, he possible feels safe. I can put my shingle out, and say I'm a lobbyist, I'm a government affairs representative. A lot of lawyers do it. I'm going to do the same thing. And on one hand...
LEMON: He's a good talker. I mean as -- the surface, it seems like he is a good talker. He talked a lot of people out of money. I mean, at least that is something. Go on, Jack.
TOMARCHIO: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. That's one point. And again, that's not illegal to do that. On the second point I would say, look at what the Russian were doing. The Russians now saw that Donald Trump was coming in as president.
They may have not banked on the fact that he was going to be president. They might have wanted him to be president, but they didn't know who was going to win.
So now, they're trying to do the same thing that other influence -- influencers are trying to do is get to the President. Now, their reasons are a little different, or maybe not trying to make a buck here or rubble...
TOMARCHIO: What they're trying to do is get access, and to get influence. That's a classic Russian intelligence operation.
LEMON: All right, I've got to go.
TOMARCHIO: You get close to the people who are your targets.
LEMON: Jack, thank you so much. Michael, Juliette, I appreciate it. When we come back, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly claiming that undocumented immigrants who don't speak English, and don't have skills that can't fit in to American society, but what about the immigrant families of millions and millions of Americans, including many members of the Trump administration?
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly outraged a lot of people with his comments claiming that the majority of undocumented immigrants cross our southern border, his words, don't have the skills to assimilate. I want you to listen to what he said in an interview on MPR.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Let me step back, and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into the United States are not bad people. They're not criminals. They are not MS-13.
But they are also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States. They're overwhelmingly rural people. And the countries they come from, fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They come in here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Here is the truth. If we judge immigrants on their ability to speak English, and having the skills to assimilate, the ancestors of most Americans, including members of the Trump administration would never have come here. Genealogist and writer, Jennifer Mendelsohn, has done some research, and she joins me now.
Jennifer, good evening. Thank you for joining us. I found it fascinating. There's been a lot of outrage over John Kelly's remarks today. But like most Americans, Kelly comes from a family of immigrants. Doesn't he?
JENNIFER MENDELSOHN, WRITER AND GENEALOGIST: He does. All four of his grandparents were American born, but seven of his eight great grandparents were foreign born.
LEMON: So we know that you haven't done genealogical research on President Trump's ancestry. Bur let's go through some of his administration. What can you tell us about Vice President Mike Pence?
MENDELSOHN: Well, Vice President Mike Pence is the grandson of an Irish immigrant, Richard Cawley, who came to the U.S. in 1923. And the administration likes to use the term chain migration as a negative to talk about people bringing over their families.
But that's -- actually, the Pence family is a perfect illustration of chain migration. There were five siblings. And each one came and set themselves up, and then brought over the next. So, Pence's grandfather, Richard Cawley, was part of a neat chain of migrants each helping the next sibling to come over.
LEMON: Very interesting. Immigration hardliner Stephen Miller seems to have the President's ear when it comes to immigration. But tell us what stood out to you about his background.
MENDELSOHN: Well, a very quick look at his family tree. He is pretty much sort of classic eastern European Jewish immigrant success story. On his mother side, his family settled in Pennsylvania.
[22:45:00] They sort of came with nothing, and set themselves up, and became quite successful running a department store. On his father's side, I noticed that his grandfather was American born, but his grandfather's mother in the 1910 census is clearly indicated that she cannot speak English. And it says that she's been in the country for four years.
So, obviously, we all have stories like this and there in our families. It's quite common for immigrants to come, and not be able to speak English. But all of us speak English as their descendants. And that's the point.
So to demonize people for not being able to speak English when they get here is a little ridiculous, when all of us, including many of these White House officials are the descendants of people who didn't speak Engish.
LEMON: Yes. And also Dan Scavino as well. His family, as you said, chain -- Italian descent. Also their term, chain migrated to American in the early 1900s. I love it when you hit us with facts. Facts still matter. Jennifer Mendelsohn, thank you for coming on. We love to have you back.
MENDELSOHN: Thanks for having me.
LEMON: thank you. When we come back, just how much of a headache will John Kelly's comments cause the Trump administration.
LEMON: Social media blowing up today after White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly said that undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border don't assimilate well because they don't have skills.
[22:50:05] Lots of Americans are posting stories about their own immigrant families. I want to bring in now CNN Political Commentator, Bakari Sellers, Alfonso Aguilar, president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principle who was chief of U.S. -- the U.S. of citizenship under President George W. Bush, and CNN Political Commentator Ben Ferguson.
Gentlemen, good evening to you. Alfonso, I'm going to start with you. As a former Trump supporter when you heard John Kelly's his incendiary comments about undocumented immigrants, what did you think?
ALFONSO AGUILAR, PRESIDENT, LATINO PARTNERSHIP FOR CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLE: Well look, I respect General Kelly. He is a good man. I actually met with him to discuss immigration at the White House. But I disagree whole hardly with his views.
As your previous guest clearly stated, we are a nation of immigrants. Our history is one of poor immigrants coming in the country with little education, not speaking English, and assimilating. And that's exactly what's happening right now. But I think General Kelly's comments just echo what the press has said
in the past, and other members of the administration. And clearly nativism is on the rise. This idea that immigrants are taking jobs away from the Americans, that's not true.
Immigrants are taking jobs Americans don't or for which there are American of working they hate to do then, and by doing those important jobs they're helping to create jobs for Americans. So immigration is actually something positive.
The assimilation process continues. And so comments I think are unfortunate. But having said that, I think that the -- difference with them. I think he's a good man, and I think we should...
LEMON: So Bakari, supporters of Trump say they don't see that Kelly isn't talking about people who are trying to come here legally. I mean, he sees -- he is talking who came here -- come here illegally. Laws are laws. What do you say to them?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean I don't think this is going to have any effect politically. Nothing has had an effect politically on Donald Trump supporters. I think the Statue of Liberty reads give me your tired, give me your poor, give me your huddled masses yearning to be free. Donald Trump doesn't respect that.
He doesn't believe in that. He hasn't since he came down the escalator, and said Mexico is sending us nothing but rapists. I mean, they having a clash of culture here, and what's happening is Donald Trump and many of the individuals that are in his White House have a problem with the browning of America.
And that's the way they see immigration. They don't understand that many white Americans in this country, many Irish individuals, and so forth, and so on came to this country, and their grandfathers, and their grandmothers -- extremely hard in the United States of America.
They're tax paying citizens. They help us be the America we want to be. Donald Trump has a very narrow mind of perspective on what this country is reflected in General Kelly, and that's unfortunate.
LEMON: But you say immigration is a major part of being an American and Kelly's comment is the definition of racism. Why do you say that?
SELLERS: Well, it actually is the epitome of racism. I mean, I think when you look at someone, and you're talking about -- not only that, but we have to connect racism with actual power, and General Kelly has that power. He has that power to inflict any type of policy he wants on individuals who he has an issue with.
And in this case we're talking about -- I mean, we're talking about people who come to this country simply seeking a better life. And they're being judge to use a king quote not by the content of their character, but usually by the color of their skin.
And that's what this is about. I mean, this isn't about anything more, anything less, and that's the trouble that many people have because we want to be able to turn the page on that, but we're having an issue of culture in this country. And again, there's paranoia, and there is fear...
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But, Don...
SELLERS: ... that this country is becoming browner.
FERGUSON: Don, let me jump in here.
LEMON: Go ahead, Ben.
FERGUSON: Yes, I think there's two things here. One, we are a nation of immigrants that makes this country great. We're also a nature of laws which is something that makes this country great. And what General Kelly was talking about is very simple.
If you're coming here legally there's no issue. There are many people that come to this country illegally with no attention of assimilating. There is a reason why the number one stimulus of Mexico's economy is a legal immigrant that send back home to Mexico because that is where they're going to go back, and retire, and live their lives, and they have no interest of being part of this country.
That it outpaces their oil production. Illegal immigrants sending money back to Mexico. And so what General Kelly is talking about as much as people want to turn it into something that it's not, he said there are many people that come here.
And they're not trying to assimilate, they're not trying to be a part of this country. They come here, they want to take a job, and earlier somebody said that, you know, that these -- they're doing the jobs that Americans don't want to do. That is also not true. Come to Texas, and I will give you 40 or 50 people that are immigrants. This is important...
[22:55:00] LEMON: I know, but I'm out of time. We got to get Alfonso back. And, Alfonso, you wanted to respond to something. Go ahead.
AGUILAR: Just something very quickly. Look, I disagree with General Kelly, but I have to push back on what something Bakari said. To say that just because he expressed the point of view that he's racist is absolutely...
SELLERS: That's not what I said. That's not what I said. I actually said...
AGUILAR: That's what you implied. That's what you implied.
LEMON: He says it's the epitome of racism.
SELLERS: There is a clear difference. It's the epitome of racism.
(CROSSTALK) AGUILAR: Oh, come on.
FERGUSON: That's the same thing. The semantics...
AGUILAR: Let me finish talking.
SELLERS: You were wrong, and finish. You were wrong. You actually said something that I did not say. It's the definition of racism. It's the definition of racism.
AGUILAR: That's what you implied.
SELLERS: I have not called General Kelly a racist. I have no reason to.
LEMON: He said the remarks are -- hold on.
AGUILAR: You're saying his remarks...
LEMON: He said the remarks are -- and people can make racist remarks. It doesn't mean that they are racist.
AGUILAR: No, but his remarks -- OK, OK, so the remarks are not even racist. He's expressing a point of view that I believe it's wrong. But if we're going to have a single debate about immigration it's time for both sides, the right and the left, to just have a serious objective conversation, and discuss our policy differences. But to say the remarks are racist, are absolutely unfortunate...
LEMON: That's got to be the last word. I've got to go. I'm sorry, guys. Thank you. We'll be right back.
LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon, 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast. Live with all the breaking news for you.