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CNN TONIGHT

Stormy Daniels' Attorney Battles Michael Cohen; Michael Avenatti Threatens To Sue "Daily Caller;" White House Not Apologizing About Joke on John McCain's Health; U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Officially Opens with U.S. Pastors Attending; Father of Meghan Markle Will Not Attend Royal Wedding. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired May 14, 2018 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. It is 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast, live with all the new developments tonight. Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti is here. He has filed a new motion in his legal battle between with Michael Cohen and he got a warning for those who says, they are pushing him. He says, they are pushing him. We are going to explain that in just a moment.

Also tonight, how the Russians used a secret weapon in those Facebook ads to try to tear Americans apart.

And the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is just days away, so why does the father of the bride, say he is not going.

So let us begin now with the developments now in the Stormy Daniels case with Michael Avenatti. Good evening, thank you so much for joining us. You filed this new motion, right, against Michael Cohen, right, for who says you should not be allowed in the courtroom.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIEL'S ATTORNEY: Well, what we filed was, we filed an application for me to be admitted, what is called (inaudible) which is I'm not licensed in the state of New York, so we sought my admission in the court here in the Southern District of New York, which is a fairly perfunctory motion, and Michael Cohen and his attorney filed a preemptive objection to that, last week which we think is baseless and without merit.

LEMON: they filed, because they said you got some of the information wrong. There is a wrong Michael Cohen and now they are saying that you shouldn't be, so, what do you say about that getting wrong information?

AVENATTI: Well, Out of $3 million identified in our executive summary, all but about $25,000 has checked out and verified in fact by the companies involved in many instances. I think you're network has verified a lot of it. So, you know, it's basically 99.35 percent, or thereabouts, correct. I mean, I think that is a pretty high percentage. I would take that percentage on any exam I've ever taken in my life.

LEMON: Yes. OK, so let's talk about what you tweeted out this weekend, right. In sort of similar drama, a tease, much as Donald Trump would do to tune in, what's going on? You tweeted out pictures of Michael Cohen on the Trump tower with a man that appears to be Mohammad Al Ramahi (ph), he is a Qatari banker accused in a lawsuit and trying bribe the Trump administration officials. So, what are you suggesting here Michael? What are you saying?

AVENATTI: I will tell you exactly what I'm suggesting. And we are going to back it up. Michael Cohen, on December 12 of 2016, in the lobby of Trump tower, he brings these gentlemen into the Trump tower lobby on the video, rides up in the elevator with them. They're Qatari nationals. Now, at this time Michael Cohen has not have any position in the transition team in the new administration, he is not a registered lobbyist, he is not a registered foreign agent. He ultimately doesn't have any role in the administration. He is not a foreign dignitary, he is not addressed with meeting foreign dignitaries in connection with the new administration.

So, Don, what's he doing? What is he leading these -- let me finish. Why is he leading this guys into the lobby and up the elevator for? Are they picking up food?

LEMON: We're going to spend the entire block together. But let me ask, because we are going to talk more about this. But what does this have to do with Stormy Daniels? What does this have to do with your case with Stormy Daniels?

AVENATTI: Don, look, and I've said this before and I'm going to say it again. We have become a repository of information relating to Michael Cohen and this administration, and especially as it relates to Michael Cohen's activities from the date of the campaign up until April and May of this year. We are the repository. We've become a repository, because people trust us with the information that they give us. They trust us to, A, vet it and make sure it checks out, and B, if necessary, to disclose it and to keep their confidences. And you know what, Don, we're going to continue to do that as it relates to information that comes to light, and we haven't been proven wrong yet.

LEMON: I got you. But the criticism of you, again, this has nothing to do with your client. It's been the same as Mueller. When people say Mueller has gone beyond the scope. That you're going beyond the scope with this and they don't understand what it has to do with representing an MDA.

AVENATTI: Well, we don't know if we're going beyond the scope yet, because as for the relates to the reveals last week, that all related to the bank account -- the same bank account at issue, the essential consultants LLC, the same entity that Michael Cohen formed for the purposes of paying my client the $130,000, and the full story hasn't been told yet as it relates to this.

LEMON: So because they are not -- because you don't believe they're revealing the truth, you don't know where any lead might end or where it will take you? Is that what you're saying?

[23:05:00] AVENATTI: Well, no, what I'm saying is that -- your point is a good one. When you pull a string, you don't necessarily know where it's going to end, but separate apart from that, all of this appears to trace back to this LLC and this bank account, both of which were initially formed for the purpose of paying my client $130,000 payment.

LEMON: OK. As promise, so let's talk about the tweet again. You also include a picture of Michael Flynn with Michael Cohen, but it appears to be from a different part of the security video in Trump tower. Why -- do you know why Flynn was at this meeting? Why did you put that in there?

AVENATTI: Well, here's what I know. Michael Flynn was present on the same day, this is December 12, 2016 as this two Qatar nationals, as well as Michael Cohen and what we know is that now there is a sworn declaration in Federal Court, not by me, or anyone I know, or anyone that I've had previously had any contact with, this is a completely independent individual who filed a declaration in federal court under penalties of perjury and the laws of the United States of America, who testified that the one of the individuals in the elevator have bragged to him about bribing administration officials, including Michael Flynn.

LEMON: OK. You also tweeted this. And to be clear, by warning ignored, I am referring to the refusal of various parties to come clean and the failure of various parties and news outlets to stop with the personal attacks on our side. Keep pushing us, #consequences, #basta. Who are you referring to pushing you?

AVENATTI: Look, here is what I want to say Don. All right, if people want to argue about the facts and the evidence related to the cases, great. They want to argue about the legal issues relating to the cases, fantastic. But let me tell you what's not appropriate. What's not appropriate is to engage in character assassination attempts aimed at either me or my client or our families, because you don't like the facts and the evidence in the underlying cases and you don't know how to address it.

So what you try to do is, you try to create diversions by mocking up the record and by bringing up all kinds of the nonsense about our personal histories, or our families, et cetera. That has no place in any of this. Whatsoever, it is no different. You don't hear me making personal attacks on the President of the United States relating issues unrelated to this. You don't hear me making personal attacks on Michael Cohen relating to other aspects of his life that don't have anything to with it.

LEMON: But some people would say the Qatari thing is the same thing, what does that have to do with -- that is why I asked you that question.

AVENATTI: No, absolutely not. The Qatari thing, look these individuals are being walked into the lobby of the Trump tower. You're talking about the personal attorney for the President of the United States. I'm not the personal attorney for the President of the United States. I didn't take on that role. I haven't announce a candidacy for public office. My client hasn't announced a candidacy for public office. She hasn't subjected herself to that level of scrutiny. When Michael Cohen took that job and he held himself out to be the personal attorney of the President of the United States and started walking people in to Trump tower and accepting money from corporations, millions of dollars for access to the highest office in the land, and that is clearly what he was doing, he opened himself up to that criticism.

LEMON: OK. So let us -- so when you talked about -- you know, I think the -- did you call it character assassination or whatever trying to get you? Were you talking about "The Daily Caller"? Do you put them in that, because you know, they released, you know, Peter Assan tweeted out your e-mail that you sent to him, right? And he said, you said, we will expose your publications for what it truly is. We will also recover significant damages against each of you that participated personally. So, if I were you, I would tell Mr. Trump to find someone else to fabricate things about me. If you think I'm kidding, you really don't know anything about me. This is the last warning. What's that about?

AVENATTI: Don, I will tell you exactly what it is about, OK. All attorneys are not ethical. All because you're an attorney doesn't mean you're ethical and you do what you're supposed to do. All journalists are not ethical. Just because they are journalist, there's good journalists and there's bad journalists. There's ethical journalists and there is unethical journalists. And you know what Don, if we encounter journalists that don't get their facts straight by designed, don't follow the basic standards of journalism, purposely skews stories to fit their own political dialogue and what they want the message to be, we are going to continue to call them out on that. And there is nothing wrong with that, in anyway shape or form. Just like when individuals encounter unethical attorneys, there is nothing wrong with calling them attorneys.

LEMON: I get that and I challenge you in interviews and other people do as well. I think that is perfect. I mean, that you should be able to do that. But also people criticize -- and I think you guys did for Michael Cohen for threatening a reporter or threatening someone. Do you think that behavior is similar, that you are threatening a reporter?

AVENATTI: No, I think you're talking apples and oranges.

LEMON: Why is that?

AVENATTI: For the following reason. My e-mail is no different than a cease and desist or retraction type e-mail or rather that is received by numerous media organizations on a consistent basis, and there is nothing wrong with that.

LEMON: Why did you put it on the record on that?

[23:10:00] AVENATTI: Well, let me tell you -- let me tell you -- the reason why I put off the record was, because I was concerned that they were going to actually print it and I don't think it has anything to do with the underlying case or the underlying facts or evidence of the case. That is why, there's nothing unusual about that. But let me say this, and that is, there's nothing wrong with that e-mail that I sent, and it's far different if you look at the level of communication and the dialogue, the words that are chosen. It's far different than what we have seen from Michael Cohen threatening people's families, threatening physical harm on them. You can't compare what I sent to that.

LEMON: I do have to say it's interesting that in the last, I guess, six weeks or so, much of the information -- I've said this to other guests, but I've never said it to you -- much of the information like AT&T, Novartis and all that, I don't know if we would have known about it. I know the Special Counsel knows about that, but I don't know if the Special Counsel would have revealed that. Do you understand what I'm saying?

AVENATTI: Yes, --

LEMON: When you pull a string, you don't know when it's coming, but I just wonder, where does it end? How far do you go with it?

AVENATTI: Look, I think that we have disclosed, in fact I know that we've disclose a significant amount of information, and we have at least started the dialogue on a lot of these issues that I think are very important to the American people to know exactly what Mr. Trump was doing, what he knew, what Mr. Cohen was doing, what was he selling, meaning Mr. Cohen, how much money was he getting? We still don't know where all this money went. These are very important questions that the American people deserve answers to. And if by disclosing information we have assisted in starting that dialogue and getting the American people answers, so be it.

LEMON: Thank you, Michael.

AVENATTI: Thank you.

LEMON: I appreciate it.

When we come back, President Trump reportedly still so angry on the FBI raid of Michael Cohen. He vents to his staff 20 times a day. What will he do as investigation moves forward?

[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We just heard from Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels. He is ramping up his battle against President Trump and his attorney, Michael Cohen.

I want to bring in now, CNN Legal Analyst, Michael Zeldin, who was Robert Mueller's special assistant to the Justice Department and Legal Analyst, Areva Martin, the author of "Make It Rain."

So many Michael's. Mike Friend, Mike Zeldin, Michael Avenatti, Michael Cohen, I got to keep my Michaels in order. All right. Good evening, so I'll go to Areva, so I don't get confuse, Areva. You say Avenatti should not be investigating President Trump in Russia, because he is a civil lawyer, who filed a civil lawsuit to void a Nondisclosure agreement, talk to us about, why do you think he is getting out of his lane here.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I worry about Michael Avenatti, getting out of his lane. I love that he is exposing all this information about Donald Trump and his relationship with Michael Cohen. I agree with him 100 percent when he says the American people have a right to know this information. I just don't want anything that Michael Avenatti is doing to interfere with the Special Counsel's investigation.

And because he is not the federal prosecutor designated to investigate Donald Trump, Russia collusion and now that Michael Cohen, Federal investigation, I want to make sure. I'd like, you know, to be assure that he is not in any way damaging either of those investigations.

His lawsuit against Donald Trump to void the nondisclosure agreement, I think is solid. I think he wins that hand down. Again, I appreciate that he is the repository, as he calls himself, with all of this information, and that he is sharing it. But we do know how the media works, and this could backfire and he could soon find himself a subject of much criticism, his credibility could be challenged and he may lose.

LEMON: That's why asked Avenatti, I think people are, that he is finding himself the subject of criticism. If you watch the conservative media, he is criticized all the time, and also there are others that report on him. And so, you got to ask him the questions about scope and all of that. But do you think, especially when it comes to the Qatari and things that he is tweeted out, and some of the things he discover, do you think this is admissible, Areva in the civil case?

MARTIN: I don't see how any of it would be admissive. I think the civil case is squarely focus on was there a forcible non-disclosure agreement and can Stormy Daniels tell her story? Is she bound by that non-disclosure agreement? And if this case went to trial, I am fairly certain that the judge would not allow those tweets, those pictures and even all this reports about, you know, big corporations paying money to Michael Cohen for his alleged access to the president. I'm not sure if any of that is admissible. Again, I worry that that information, as interesting as I think it is vital as it is, to the American public. It has nothing to do with that civil law case.

LEMON: Go ahead, Michael, do you want to weigh in?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, I agree that it has nothing to do with the non-disclosure agreement void lawsuit. I am just stunned that Michael Cohen has not just agreed to let Stormy Daniels talk and relieve her from the non-disclosure and have this whole case go away, leave for -- say, for these, I think, pre-week defamation cases.

The thing that was so interesting to me, Don, about your interview, which was a terrific interview, is that Michael Avenatti is really setting himself up as a domestic WikiLeaks. He sees himself in a news gathering, news dissemination role. He doesn't have the first amendment protection of a news organization, he is a private citizen and so to the points that were just made, I don't know what impact this has, if any, on the lawsuits that the government is trying to bring against these people, and it seems to me that if he has information, that is he is a trusted repository, he should provide that information to the federal prosecutors who are looking at these cases, who have the power to investigate lawfully than he does, and then disseminate as the case warrants it. So, I don't have, you know, I don't have a bone to pick with Michael Avenatti, but I don't think he is doing what he should be doing as a lawyer. What he is doing is working as private news organization without any first amendment protection.

LEMON: Let me tell you though, Areva, it is very polarizing, you know that Trump supporters don't really like him, on the right. On the left, people love what he is doing, because they think that, you know, he is going -- it is going to lead to something with the president and into court of public opinion though. Where do you think he is? Does he win even though you think that this is, maybe in your estimation, going beyond the scope or it is not going admissible in the civil trial? Does he win in the court of public opinion?

[23:20:13] MARTIN: Great question, Don. And there is the legal issue here and I think the Michael's agreed that this is probably beyond the scope of a civil lawsuit, but in terms of pop culture. And I am a student of pop culture. He is winning, I think in the court of public opinion. He is become somewhat of a pop icon. He is on television every night, and for those people who believe that Donald Trump has done something nefarious that he is committed of a crime. That Michael Cohen has committed crimes. They love what Michael Avenatti is doing. They love that he is disseminating this information and they see him as the only person that can command the media attention like Donald Trump. Look, he sets up these teasers. You know, he tweets pictures that he tweets these statements about what he is going to release.

LEMON: He is out-Trumping Trump.

MARTIN: He is out-Trumping Trump. He is Trump's mass in the media and people who have been frustrated about the way that Trump has used the media, and some would even say manipulated the media, are cheering for Michael Avenatti and say, finally, someone is able to match wits with Trump and have forced him into some very untenable positions. You reported earlier on the show about this whole disclosure of the liability to Michael Cohen than he has to decide what to do with tomorrow. So a lots of this situations that Donald Trump finds himself. We can't help but credit to the dissemination of information done by Michael Avenatti.

LEMON: So, let us move on --

ZELDIN: Can I just add one thing? There is a thing that makes me smile about this is, that is the same thing that many will say about Julian Assange, that he, not for him, we would not have known about a whole host of things. Julian Assange, set himself up as a news organization. Now, many in our intelligence community disagree with that, but that is what he set himself up as. So, I think, Michael, if he wants to play that same role, should set himself up as a news organization and play that role, but it is not the role of a private sector lawyer representing Stormy Daniels. I haven't heard her name in weeks.

MARTIN: I don't if I agree with that wholeheartedly, but I do have some concerns about, you know, what he's end game is, but I don't think he has a kind of legal or ethical obligation to established himself as a news outlet. He is a private citizen first and foremost, even before he is a lawyer. He has the right, and if news media want to invite him on every night, every day, every hour to allow him to opine on all kinds of matters, he has the right to do that. Anyone who will disagree with him can do that. They can challenge him.

ZELDIN: No and I don't disagree with you Areva. I'm not saying he has to, I'm just saying, if that is the role that he is taking upon himself. Then he should really run with it and set himself up as a news organization and go at it at full throttle. He doesn't have to, but he can.

MARTIN: Maybe he doesn't know what the definition of what a lawyer is.

LEMON: You took the words right out of my mouth, because aren't these the same sorts of conversations that we have about Donald Trump leading up to the election and now, like, oh, what is the role of a president? How should a president act? What is the role of a lawyer? How should a lawyer act? We're having the same conversations. I am just saying, he is out-Trumping Trump right now.

MARTIN: I absolutely -- and I will just say, keep the information coming, not (inaudible) the first stage of the lawsuit, but I think helping us have a better understanding about that relationship between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen and that is crucial for a lot of us.

ZELDIN: Unless, it interferes with the Southern District or Mueller's prosecution. If he is interfering with that by disclosing information and, thereby, revealing it to people who are the target source subject of Mueller's investigation, giving them insight as to how they should behave in response to that, that is not helpful.

LEMON: Yes, this is interesting. As an observer, all I am saying is, it is very interesting that I find myself sitting here saying, wait, didn't people say the same thing about Donald Trump? Thank you.

All right guys, see you next time.

MARTIN: Thanks Don.

ZELDIN: See you.

LEMON: When we come back, the White House still refusing to apologize for a staffer's cruel joke about Senator John McCain. Why team Trump just can't ever say they are sorry?

[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The White House refusing again today to apologize for a staffer's cool joke about Senator John McCain's battle with brain cancer. The deputy press secretary calling it an internal matter. I want to discuss this now with CNN Political Commentator, Van Jones and Mike Shields and Republican Strategist, Rick Wilson. Good evening everyone. Thank you all for joining me gentlemen.

Rick, let us start with you. So, no public apology from Kelly Sadler regarding those using that callous comment about John McCain. And we are now in the fifth day of the story, mostly to the White House, the way they handle it. That they simply won't apologize for such a heinous remark. Why not?

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: They believe that any time they apologize for anything at all, it plays by the rules of decency and civility that the transgressive nature of Trump's administration is meant to upset and offend. But it really -- it is actually more that hey internally decided that are going to all reflect. Emmerson once said that the institution is the lengthened shadow of a man, well, this is the lengthened shadow of a gigantic dumpster fire that trashing a human being. And these people are actively emulating his behavior which is to, you know insult here the abusants, insult gold Star families, insult the disabled, and to go at things in a way where the insult and the transgressive nature of the insult is more important to them than any kind of, you know, cohesion socially or any kind of civility. And look, politics are a hard game, but once people are off the field or once people are civilians in the game, you ought to have a little bit of decency. That involves people with, you know, terminal cancer. You know, I'm not out there insulting Harry Reid. I mean, dislike his politics, by my god, he has got pancreatic cancer, we ought to be praying for the man. John McCain has brain cancer. We ought to be praying for the man. Instead the White House is dragging the story, day after day after day, because they have no decency, civility or humanity.

LEMON: I don't think that Reed or McCain would take (inaudible) to someone someone criticizing them on policies and then they are public servants and not sure that, you know, when about health, that's just below the belt. Van Kelly Sadler told Meghan McCain that she would apologize publicly. She hasn't done so. Do you think the White House told her not to?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I have no idea. I do want to say that, you know, I've talked with Meghan McCain. This is a horrible thing for the family to be going through period. Before you have people saying horrible stuff, you're talking about, you know, a beloved figure for the country, but he is an incredibly beloved figure within his family. You've very rarely seen a family that close as the McCain family is.

And for them to be having to manage this sort of stuff, night after night after night while they are in, you know, that should be a sweet phase of this journey with their father. It's just unforgivable. It's just unforgivable. At what point do you just say to yourself, let me do whatever I can to give this family a little bit of comfort in a difficult time.

The words "I'm sorry" are so small they would shut this whole story down, but they won't do it. Listen, I can understand you could get in that bunkered mentality and you just don't want to give an inch to your opponents, but this is not about giving an inch to your opponent. This is about giving an inch to a family that is suffering, that you added to their suffering and shouldn't have.

LEMON: So Mike, if Sadler apologizes publicly, does that mean the president would be under pressure to apologize for his attacks on his the statements or is that just -- is that part of the White House reluctant to say anything?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Probably, because I don't think his critics are going to let this go and they are using John McCain's illness against the president as much as this is being horribly handled by the White House. I mean, first of all, this was a joke. It was completely inappropriate and should never been said. It shouldn't have been repeated publicly. Sadler should apologize publicly. The White House should apologize. So let's set that aside.

You know, I was watching Jake Tapper today and he had a sequence on there where I think it was six straight questions in the White House briefing today for asking about this particular issue. And you know, when Sean Spicer tried to have briefings off camera we heard, you can't do that. This is the way that the government communicates with the people and we hear criticism all the time.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders works for us and this is an incredibly important aspect of government that she come out of the briefing room and explains what's going on. And six straight questions today were about a joke that someone made in the White House and that was inappropriate, and whether or not they were going to apologize, it makes a mockery of what's going on in briefing room.

And so, I think there is like culpability all around them. I think the White House should have apologized. I don't think the media itself any favors by dragging this out and making it worse for the McCain family by making a huge issue out of this when we have a nuclear summit getting ready to happen in Korea. We moved the embassy in Jerusalem today.

Most Americans are actually concerned about what the government is going to do for them and we're focused on an inappropriate joke about a low level staffer made and whether or not they're going to apologize. I think there's a lot of blame go around by this for getting dragged out for the McCain family.

LEMON: So, Meghan McCain is on "The View." She's part of the media. She's still talking about it and she is a member of the family.

SHIELDS: She has every right to. She is a member of the family. She has a right to talk about it, of course she does and she has the right to demand an apology.

LEMON: And the media doesn't have the right to talk about it because the White House has not said --

SHIELDS: The media has a right to talk about it --

LEMON: Hold on Michael, let me just get the question out. SHIELDS: -- but they can also (inaudible) themselves by talking about

it.

LEMON: But the White House has not said it was inappropriate at all. All they said was like the leakers, it's being handled internally, and we're going to get the leakers. That doesn't bother you?

JONES: Don, there's a couple things I'd like to say.

LEMON: Yes, go ahead Mike and then Van.

SHIELDS: They should apologize, I just said that. They are not going to apologize it doesn't look like --

LEMON: I even said it's inappropriate, that's what I said.

SHIELDS: Well, they should say that. They're not going to say it. You can report that to the news and let the public know they did something they're not going and then dropping and move on to something that matters as opposed to. One of the reasons this is being dragged out is because there is an obsession with it over something that's incredibly trivial to the American people when it comes to what their governments do, and that's my point.

LEMON: Go ahead Van.

JONES: I mean, look, I think you have a point that there are some people, I think, who might not think this is a big deal. And there is a danger that the media goes off on indirections where, you know, maybe the public is more concerned about other issues. I think that's true. At the same time, a White House staffer, and I was a white House staffer.

Your job is actually more than anything else, not cause problems to the president, not cause problems to the White House and do the people's bidding. Do the people's work. Get things done. The very fact - I just can't, you know, take it to the other direction. The very fact that they would let a minor White House staffer saying something that was inappropriate, drag on this long, it does say something I believe about the character of this White House.

[23:35:02] I do think it's important that we not begin to lower standards. A White House staffer making this kind of blunder in the past would have been either thrown right out on her face or march right in front of the cameras or in front of maybe one reporter off to the side and say something wholesome and get it out of the way. And I don't think that it's wrong.

Listen, the McCain family and I'm not - I don't agree with him politically. I'm on the left side of Pluto (ph), but the McCain family is a family that were now three generations. It has produced honorable public servants who have done a tremendous job to this country. You cannot yet say that about the Trump family. And so you just have - you have the situation that's frustrating I think for everybody.

LEMON: Rick, go ahead. I want you to weigh in. WILSON: Look, I think the real question here and you know, blaming the media for this for continuing the story, Mike, I think is absolutely appropriate. Blaming Americans for being concerned by the fact that this White House lacks such a moral center and that they lack the ability to discern -- when the folks that are down the chain from the president are reflecting all of the worst possible behaviors that he exhibits.

And all of the things that concerns people about the way his character is shaped and the way his behavior is shaped, when it's being reflected and ramified out into the government. That should make Americans sit up and listen. This is a small issue in your mind, but it's an example of just how broken the character of the folks around Donald Trump is. It's an example of just how broken the White House is where they know they can't fire her because Donald Trump would view that as a loss in this bizarre professional wrestling battle he has with the mainstream media.

As Van said, in any other White House, Republican or Democrat, that person would have been bounced in a hot second. This is a sign that John Kelly has absolutely zero power in this White House and no ability to discipline this.

LEMON: I got to get to the break. (Inaudible) the other side. We'll be right back.

[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Van Jones, Mike Shields and Rick Wilson are all back with me. So Mike, Pastor Robert Jeffres who once said that Jews are going to hell and then televangelist Reverend John C. Hagee said Hitler was part of God's plan for Israel. They both play prominent roles in today's opening of the American museum in Jerusalem. Why on earth would the White House invite them and put them in such prominent positions?

SHIELDS: Yes, I don't know. I know that the evangelical community has been a huge supporter of Israel. They have elected members of Congress that had voted for Israeli funding and protection of Israel over the years. I think if you look and see we're a huge well of support in America comes for our Israeli foreign policy, the base of that support comes from evangelical Christians.

So, it's legitimate for them to have leaders of that community coming and speaking at the event. I don't know how those particular people were chosen. Those comments are obviously extreme and, you know, they are pretty sort of surprising especially from a president who has Jewish members of his family who played a huge part of the ceremony today.

Jared Kushner spoke. Ivanka Trump helped unveil the new embassy and that was a huge part of what they were doing. I don't understand why those particular gentlemen were chosen.

LEMON: I'm sorry, I misspoke. My producers saw me I said museum instead of embassy. I was at jury duty all day and then I need to come in to work. Tell me about it. And then back tomorrow. Can you believe I got chosen. Maybe I won't if they see this because I'm talking about it. So listen, but Rick, Pastor Jeffres who has long supported the president and Reverend Hagee, they praised the president in their prayers today. Is that the only qualification that matters, showing loyalty to this president?

WILSON: It appears to be one of the things that Donald Trump grades people on a single scale and it's, do you love me or not? And is your love absolute or not? And I do think, you know, it really does call into question Jeffers in particular, some of the statements he's made. The guy seems to have a sort of equal opportunity hate for everyone who is not a protestant evangelical and, you know, I think he sort of wants Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Mormons and everybody else in the same burning in the lake of fire pot. It was an interesting set of decisions by this White House.

And I think there is somewhat a speculated order. These are folks that or the network of evangelicals that had been, you know, very, very, very adamantly for Trump, giving him mulligan after mulligan and excusing his behavior. So I think that may have sort of contributed too. And he was giving them a little payoff for their consistent loyalty to him.

LEMON: I was just surprised considering some of the things they said, Van, because remember the g-damn America. It lasted for I don't know, how many years.

JONES: Jeremiah Wright. Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

LEMON: So, listen, let me read before you respond. Here's another comment. This is in 2008. This is what Jeffress said about Mitt Romney. He said he was part of cult because he was Mormon. And then yesterday, Romney tweeted, Robert Jeffres says you can't be saved by being Jew and Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell. He said the same about Islam.

He says a religious bigot should not be given the prayer that opens the United States embassy in Jerusalem. What do you say to that Van?

JONES: I say Amen. Amen and then an Alleluia, that's what I'd say. Look, I agree with Mitt Romney's comment. Let me just say, you know, I feel that as a Christian, when I'm in the holy land, you know, we're the smallest group there. The Jewish people are a big group. The Muslims are a big group. The Christians when we're there, we are a very small group and we have the opportunity to play a bridge building role, you know, all that's come from the same faith of Abraham and we should be a healing presence there.

[23:45:03] This is the reverse of that. Actually you can see Christian ministers with horrific track records of bigotry, stoking intolerance. I mean, I'm not just speaking as an American. I'm speaking as a person of faith. That's not the way it's supposed to be done and I was very, very sad to see that. I was very sad about the tragic loss of life today among Palestinian protestors.

You know, there's just a lot that's happening in the world right now and we need some more healing presence, we need some more wisdom and that does not seem to be reflected yet in this White House and so they're not reflected in his choice of people to give opening prayers. I can name without trying hard a thousand Christian ministers who are more appropriate to be in the Holy land or in daylight today than the ones that were picked.

LEMON: I want to get to this in the time that we have left, and this is an opinion column by Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times. It's gaining some attention online tonight. Here's what the quote from it that's getting attention. The juxtaposition of images of dead and wounded Palestinians and Ivanka Trump smiling in Jerusalem like a Zionist Marie Antoinette tell us a lot about America's relationship to Israel right now. It has never been closer, but within that closeness, there are seas of potential estrangement, Mike.

SHIELDS: I think that the -- it's unfortunate seeing of course the loss of life that happened but I think that we have to really understand why that happened. There were sirens blaring out to people at Gaza, run towards the fence even thought they knew that those people could be killed because they're running towards an armed border and that speaks volumes for the leadership in Gaza and what they value human life of their own people.

And I think it's a disgrace and it should be called out. It's precisely why we have to stand with Israel because those are the kinds of people that are in Gaza, into the leadership of Hamas that would send innocent people running towards a suicidal death, and call then protesters afterwards, which is a disgrace.

LEMON: Rick, I want to get, before we run out of time, what's your response --

WILSON: Yes, the New York daily news has a pretty savage cover about that for tomorrow morning. But I do think in terms of the violence that's going on there, it's shocking and horrifying in every way, but we do have to also look to the lost leadership that provokes and inspires that level, and doesn't choose to engage in a lot of the offers of diplomatic and nation to nation (inaudible). But instead, you know, it says chart (ph) defense. So, Hamas has got some blood on their hands at this particular case as well.

LEMON: I'm sorry to rush you guys. Mike and Rick, but I got to get out of here. Thank you very much Van. Appreciate it, and everybody else, thank you. We'll be right back.

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LEMON: Major news to report on this week's royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The bride's father will not be walking her down the aisle. Thomas Markle told TMZ that he won't attend his daughter's wedding on Saturday after the fallout from a scandal surrounding these paparazzi photos he staged with a picture agency. He now says he found the pictures stupid and hammy and he doesn't want to embarrass his daughter or the royal family anymore.

Let's discuss now with CNN Royal Commentator, Victoria Arbiter. Hi Victoria, thank you so much for joining us here. You know, a Kensington Palace spokesman released a statement today and here's what it says, this is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle and the days before her wedding. She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation. The royal wedding is Saturday. It's getting really close, it's almost here. What's been the reaction to this news around London?

VICTORIA ARBITER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been an extraordinary reaction, Don. I think everybody is just incredibly shocked. It's deeply upsetting, of course, for Meghan and it just makes her that much more human and that much more relatable and vulnerable. And I think people just feel deeply sorry for her. A lot of this is self- inflicted by the Markle family, but you can't help but feel sorry for all of the parties involved here.

The siblings there a separate entity altogether, they've behaved pretty badly since the engagement was announced. But I think in this case, Meghan's dad probably got caught up in something that was bigger than him. He made some poor choices and poor decisions, perhaps didn't have the correct guidance. And now, he has got to live with the consequences.

LEMON: Yes. You make a very good point there. Thrust into the fame and this amount of attention, and what family would be used to that, besides the royal family, you know, and especially this quickly. Victoria, you've seen (inaudible) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. They are both very concerned about the pressure Thomas Markle is under.

We're also learning that Merkle is upset about what happened that her feelings, Meghan meaning, her feelings about her father giving her away on Saturday. They really haven't changed since the photographs were published. That sounds kind of cryptic, but does that mean that Meghan still wants him to walk her down the aisle?

ARBITER: Well, according to the front page of a number of the papers that are coming out now (inaudible) first edition, they're all saying that Meghan is pleading with her father to still attend. In the past, she has spoken very fondly of him and she tells a lovely story about how when she was little this Barbie collection was brought out. It was a Barbie family, there was a white family and there was an African- American family. And her father went out and bought two families so that he could combine them and make her family.

She tells this story very fondly and she shares the closeness that the two of them have enjoyed over a number of years. And yet Don, it's a little weird that Harry hasn't met his future father-in-law. And I think Thomas Markle moved down to Mexico seeking a quiet life, a quiet existence. So then being thrust on to the global stage to this degree, and you know, paparazzi photographers, you're in the limelight. You know how unscrupulous they can be.

They're going to chase after you and then say, hey, you know, I'll look after you. Let me take these photographs and everyone else will leave you alone. Now, for someone who is quite naive, yes he's 73. Yes, he's worked in the entertainment industry, he should know better, but I think he got caught off guard. And I think for Meghan, she is probably feeling deeply sorry for him. Harry is reportedly feeling incredibly responsible as well because of course it's his fame, his notoriety, the fact that he's a member of the royal family that's led to this attention.

LEMON: So, having said that, do you think this was solely Thomas Markle's decision?

ARBITER: I think this was his decision. I think he's probably incredibly embarrassed and humiliated and he probably hates what he's now landed on Meghan's shoulders because of course, she's going to have the royal family to answer to, per se.

[23:55:04] They're going to be incredibly supportive. Lord knows the British royal family has its fair share of dysfunction. But of course, she's feeling terribly uncomfortable because any bride would be leading up to their wedding to have this kind of stress. But Meghan is doing it in front of the world's media. Social media has lit up. Everyone's got a comment. They've decided who should walk her down the aisle in his place.

Everybody has an opinion these days and so I think given it's four and a bit days until the royal wedding, this is a stress that Meghan really could have done without and so perhaps this is her father's way of trying to protect her.

LEMON: Four days, you said it. Who is going to do it? Is it the mom then who will be walking her down the aisle?

ARBITER: My bet is the mom. But you know what's interesting on social media, everyone is trying to pick a man, the appropriate man to walk Meghan down the aisle and I think given the incredible bond that Meghan shares with her mother, her mother is more than qualified. And that Queen Victoria gave away a couple of her daughters in the 1800s so, it's not unprecedented.

LEMON: Victoria Arbiter, thank you so much. We appreciate it. See you soon at the royal wedding.

ARBITER: Thank you. Yes, hurry on over.

LEMON: I will. Don't miss CNN's special coverage of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. We'll have all of the news leading up to the big day and we're live for the ceremony, Saturday beginning at 4:00 a.m. eastern time.

That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.

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