Return to Transcripts main page
POTUS Demanded to Investigate the Investigators; President Trump Uses Unsafe Phone; DOJ and FBI to Share Classified Info Related to Spying Claim; DOJ Inspector General Will Investigate President Trump's Spying Claims During Campaign; What Happens to the Mueller Investigations? Aired 10-11p ET
Aired May 21, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It's very dynamic and dangerous.
That's it for us. Thanks for watching. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. We're live in Washington for you tonight.
Breaking news tonight, the president waging war in his own Justice Department, summoning Rod Rosenstein along with FBI director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats to the White House today for a closed-door meeting over the FBI seize of the confidential source during the presidential campaign.
The president was levied in a tweet this weekend over what he suggested was FBI and DOJ infiltration of surveillance of the Trump campaign demanding an investigation. Now the DOJ is asking the inspector general to look into the president's claim.
And White House chief of staff John Kelly is setting up a meeting with the FBI, the DOJ and DNI along with congressional leaders to share highly classified information. Democrats demanding a seat at the table for that meeting.
But what does all of this really mean? Will the Justice Department be forced to turn over classified documents on the FBI source, documents subpoenaed by House intel chairman and Trump ally, Devin Nunes.
And there is more tonight. A source tells CNN advisers outside the White House have been working to persuade the president to attack Rod Rosenstein as part of the so-called deep state anti-Trump lot. That group includes Steve Bannon, Corey Lewandowski, former deputy campaign manager David Bossie, and former campaign adviser and CNN Commentator, Steve Cortes.
More on that in a moment as well.
There are a lot of pretty shocking charges being thrown around tonight, but facts matter. So here are the facts. We're talking about a confidential source which is not the same thing as a spy or an informant.
Let's look again at President Trump's tweet from this weekend suggesting that the FBI or the Justice Department, his words, "infiltrated or surveilled the Trump campaign for little purposes." Officials have told CNN the confidential source was not someone planted inside the campaign, so no infiltration. No spying.
The FBI uses confidential sources all the time. Perhaps the question we should be asking is what was happening with this campaign to bring on a counterintelligence investigation in the first place?
And as for the president suggesting that there was some kind of political purpose, all of this, presumably that would mean some kind of harm to the Trump campaign, which clearly didn't happen. News flash, he won.
And releasing more information about that comfortable source could be very dangerous. As the FBI director told the Senate last week, quote, "The day that we can't protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe."
Those are the facts, and facts matter. So let's bring in now CNN Senior White House Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, Senior Political Correspondent, Sara Murray, also Jack Quinn, a former White House counsel to President Clinton, and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Josh Campbell, who was an FBI supervisory agent and a special assistant to former FBI Director James Comey.
Good evening to all of you. Thank you for joining us. Jeff, you first, President Trump met with Rosenstein and Wray at the White House. Se demanded an investigation of the investigation and it appears he's getting his way.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don, it does appear that there is going to be that investigation. We saw the president was calling for it over the weekend. You can see the video of the deputy attorney general, the FBI director, the director of national intelligence as well coming to the White House.
They met for a little under an hour or so, and boy, to be a fly on the wall in that meeting. We did not get frankly much of the emotion or the mood in there. When they were leaving they were all smiles. Who know what that means. But the reality is, Don, this was a very big moment here today.
Because the Department of Justice essentially agreed to expand its investigation having the inspector general essentially do what the president wanted and look into the confidential source.
Now, there is a different school of thought from some folks here, is he doing it simply to placate the president or is he doing it to follow his orders? Many conservatives, many supporters of this president thought that it should be a separate investigation, and in fact, it seems like that's what the president was calling for on Sunday. But the inspector general is going to look into this. But I think the
most interesting thing that came out of the meeting, the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, now later this week here at the White House will be looking over some of those highly sensitive piece of information with congressional leaders and that is a huge break in precedent and a huge break in what John Kelly says he wanted to do a few weeks ago.
[22:04:56] So that is the big takeaway here tonight, Don, that there is going to be a reveal or show of some of those classified documents to congressional leaders. It's unclear how that's going to work if it's going to be bipartisan or Republican only but that was the development here today, Don.
LEMON: Let's bring in Sara Murray now. Sara, what's the impact on the Mueller investigation, the Russia investigation?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I mean, it's hard to imagine the outcry we would see from Republicans if the shoe were on the other foot, in this case. If there was a Democrat who was sitting in the Oval Office, who was in some way related to an investigation was demanding that a confidential source be investigated as part of that investigation--
LEMON: They were really upset besides himself about the possibility of someone unmasking someone in the previous administration.
MURRRAY: Exactly. And yet, the notion that a confidential source would be out that they could potentially be in danger. That does not seem to bother Republicans very much particularly in this moment. So I think that is particularly striking.
I also think, you know, and Josh can speak to this a little bit more, when you're talking about an I.G. investigation this is not a light touch. This is not, you know, sort of a secondary investigation that they're not going to take seriously.
That is another serious matter, that is another serious investigation that essentially been demanded by the president and then sanctioned by the Justice Department.
And the other thing I think it highlight is that this is a president who still does not trust law enforcement in this country, the Justice Department in this country even though he has handpicked the people who now lead these different agencies.
He's still demanding these sort of politicized investigation instead of, you know, letting the Russia investigation reach its conclusion. And remember, this is the president who has declared since day one there is no collusion that he will be found innocent and yet he seems to be consistently taking steps to inject himself in this investigation. LEMON: And to undermine, it appears to undermine the investigation by
investigating the investigators. Josh, this decision to kick it to the inspector general, you describe this as concession -- or concession or capitulation or strategic defiance, what do you say?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So, Jeff Zeleny was spot on when he was talking about the different camps that appeared to be out there trying to make sense of what this means. And I was talking to some of my former colleagues in the FBI to get a sense from the inside kind of what they think about the deputy attorney general's actions over the last 24 hours and there appears to be these two camps.
One being they look at these as capitulation. And that is the deputy attorney general who simply trying to keep his job in order to placate the president. But there's another camp that sees this as that strategic defiance, and that is trying to preemptively box in the president and limit his options.
Again, you know, he sent a tweet out saying that he was going to demand something and they quickly responded providing his options. So, I think regardless of what the motive is we may never know what that is. I think the result is still the same, and that is buying Bob Mueller a little bit more time in order to do his job.
And I'll agree with what Sara said as well, and that is the inspector general investigation is very serious. This is an independent arbiter who looks into these things. I've never seen an I.G. report that's come out and said, you know, gold star for everyone. So this is going to be something that's taken very seriously and hopefully is what is needed in order to get the bottom of what happened.
LEMON: So Jack, I'm not sure if there's anything illegal about what the president is demanding but it is highly inappropriate.
JACK QUINN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: To say the least. I mean, the norm of course is that the White House does not interfere in an investigation at the Department of Justice or the FBI is undertaking.
This is the polar opposite of the norm. I mean, here you have a president interfering in the election. It's as though he said, well, you know, I was fuming for months that Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. If he won't take matters into his own hands I'll do it for him.
And so, he's put himself now in the position of the attorney general. And he's obviously going to, you know, exercise control here for the purpose. It's hard to escape this conclusion of protecting his campaign, his family and himself.
LEMON: You said interfering in the election, did you mean in the investigation?
QUINN: I'm sorry, in the investigation.
LEMON: How dangerous is this?
QUINN For him or?
LEMON: Because as I sit here and listen to all of this and I watch it, it seems extremely dangerous that you have investigator investigating the investigation, right? And you have a president who appears to be by anyone's standards trying to manipulate the process.
QUINN: Again, it's hard to escape that conclusion. But it is dangerous on I think a number of levels. I think it's dangerous for the president. He is setting himself up, I think for a legitimate case of obstruction. It is dangerous for the investigations underway because it's going to deter people, hopefully not, but it might deter people from pursuing all the leaves they need to.
And it is certainly dangerous for the country because it is such a departure from the norm and it's an undoing of the rule of law. There's no escaping that.
LEMON: Jeff Zeleny, back to you at the White House, President Trump campaign sent an e-mail to supporters with a subject line worse than Watergate, saying quote, "I hereby demand that the Department of Justice investigate whether Obama's FBI and DOJ infiltrated or surveiled our campaign for political purposes. This could be the greatest political scandal in American history." This is a political fight.
[22:10:08] ZELENY: No question to that it underscore. If there was any doubt about this, and I'm not sure there is at this point. When the Trump re-election campaign sent that e-mail out, mid-afternoon or so. It initially looked like a fundraising solicitation, but it's actually just a petition to sign so it's list building.
It's to get his supporters on board to get them activated about this. But it makes clear this is a political fight. What the president has been trying to do week by week by week is undermine this investigation. And now, he is doing that in some respects.
But, you have to wonder also, is he drawing it out. They consistently said it will be over well in advance to the midterms elections. Everything he is doing is also helped part of extended here. But no question at all, the moves that we're seeing over the last 24 hours are not legal maneuvers, they're political maneuvers and that's a different matter.
LEMON: Sara, let's talk about the president listening to outside advisers on his fight with the DOJ. Because as I read in the open here, Steve Bannon, his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, the former deputy campaign manager David Bossie, and the president's his Hispanic counsel and CNN commentator Steve Cortes.
They are I guess going about this campaign to try to undermine the investigation, and too, I believe they don't think that John Kelly is forcefully enough representing the president of pushing back on this investigation. MURRAY: Yes, I mean, I think we've seen a lot of frustration from the
president's allies outside of the White House, in particular who, you know, may feel the ability to voice their feelings more loudly than they were when they were in the White House or, you know, in official capacity.
The Trump and the White House are not taking a strong enough line when it comes to this investigation and particularly when it comes to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. And they seem to want to take aim at him, Rosenstein, and sort of part of his deep state conspiracy that's trying to undermine the president and undermine his victory.
LEMON: So what's their role?
MURRAY: But think the thing here is that there are a lot of the president's allies who realize he can't fire Robert Mueller.
MURRAY: It's too far down this path and a lot of them also acknowledge that he probably shouldn't fire Rod Rosenstein although they're divided on that. But they do believe they can give this guy a bloody nose. They can turn this into essentially a political witch hunt and they are looking at the polling out there.
They see that the president's approval ratings are inching up. They see that Robert Mueller's approval ratings are inching down particularly when it comes to Republicans. And they believe that if they can sort of turn this into a politicized fight then even if the president doesn't fire anyone when you get the findings out you can undermine or delegitimize.
LEMON: OK, so what's their strategy? Steve Cortes who appears here on CNN as a commentator. Corey Lewandowski who was all over media, Steve Bannon who is as well, David Bossie, so is it their strategy to go on television and gaslight people to get them to believe something that's not true so that--
MURRAY: I think you can do two thing here. One, is you can start to muddy the waters when it comes to Rod Rosenstein. Do you remember the White House said, you know, sort of the gold standard for, you know, a civil servant in the Justice Department, and then if the president happens to decide one day that he's going to fire him in person or in a tweet or however, you then have created some sort of political cover for the president to do so.
The other thing you do, as you try to craft the narrative, you try to win the war of public relations, so that if these findings are at least eventually, we learn what Robert Mueller is up to, we learn what Rod Rosenstein signed of in terms of the investigation and it doesn't all look rosy for the president, you can say, this was all political, you shouldn't pay attention to it anyway.
And we saw this with Ken Starr report. So, it's not like there's no precedent for trying to fight this battle as a political.
LEMON: And you wonder why people get on television and say some of the outlandish things they say and take some of the unreasonable positions they take, it's all part of the strategy.
Josh, Politico has a report tonight that the president is using a cell phone that isn't equipped, that is not equipped with this sophistical security features that could leave him open to hacking. Does this concern you?
CAMPBELL: It's concerning, it's troubling. If you look at operational security obviously it's very serious. We should not be making it easier for porn adversaries to, you know, essentially hack the president or the commander in chief.
I think, you know, his, according to reporting, the president says that it's inconvenient he doesn't want to be without his phone which makes complete sense. No one wants to be without their phone during the day. But what I will say, and I don't mean this, you know, jokingly.
But you know, if you don't want to be without your phone during a workday maybe we can use one of these golf outings to have his folks process that phone to scan it. I guarantee you that he dropped it off on the first tee to have it back to him by the back nine.
LEMON: Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
When we come back, is President Trump doing real damage with his war on the intelligence community? I'm going to ask General Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and the NSA.
Plus you're looking live at Kilauea, fears of the Big Island of Hawaii tonight that the volcano could erupt again but an eruption may not be the most dangerous thing that could happen. See for yourself. That's coming up.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MACDONALD: President Trump is demanding details about a confidential FBI source who he claims may have tried to infiltrate his 2016 campaign. A claim that's totally unproven. The deputy attorney general, the FBI director, and the director of national intelligence all met with Trump at the White House today. So, are they giving the president what he wants?
Let's discuss. Former CIA Director General Michael Hayden. He is a CNN national security analyst and the author of the book, "The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an age of Lies." Thank you for joining us, sir.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Thank you.
LEMON: The president is demanding an investigation, unproven claims the FBI sources have tried to infiltrate his campaign. This is dangerous isn't it? HAYDEN: Yes, it was kind of a disrupting weekend. Look, I'm not a
lawyer, from what I can tell, I mean, the president is the chief law enforcement officer of the country, and what he did was neither illegal or unconstitutional, it's just unprecedented.
Presidents are normally bound by norms. I'm a creature of the executive branch, I know something about executive power directing CIA. The president's self-limit based upon the norms that we require so that they don't abuse their power.
[22:19:56] And here you have a case, now the president using his office -- and just a tweet, Don, just putting that out there for some fraction of the American population, undercuts what the Department of Justice, the FBI and Mueller are trying to do.
LEMON: That's part of my question, so it's dangerous for the Department of Justice and for law enforcement in this country.
LEMON: But it's also dangerous for the fabric of the country and for the American people.
HAYDEN: My point exactly. I mean, there's a norm out there for a reason. That over the long-term, whatever you might see in the fort run as the transient personnel of political advantage, for the long term, the independence of the Department of Justice, the independence of the FBI and of law enforcement is key to national confidence in our institutions.
Now, you have the president quite freely, wittingly kind of throwing that against these institutions as already suggesting without any proof.
LEMON: Yes. And it seems paranoia in a way. Do you see anything improper about using a confidential source in an investigation that is looking into whether Russia infiltrated our elections?
HAYDEN: Yes. So this begins as a counterintelligence source, remember, this is based on Papadopoulos and the meeting with the Maltese professor talking to the Australian ambassador. So, American law enforcement has reason to believe that there's a counterintelligence threat.
It appears as if and here I'm working purely on news, it appears as if they had someone run against three individuals who had a history of contact with Russia in order to find out more, is there anything more to this allegation. So, on surface it appears to be stunningly normal.
HAYDEN: It's what you're supposed to do.
LEMON: Right. It's what -- it's what -- I mean, if you watch this drama, you'll see that there's--
HAYDEN: We'll find out.
LEMON: We'll go find out hey, we're investigating you for, Michael Hayden, we're investigating you for such and such and such and such.
LEMON: We just want to tell you, did you do it. What would you say, of course you're going to say, no.
LEMON: You're not -- you never going to get--
HAYDEN: So, and this is actually a fairly light touch compared to the other tools available to federal investigation.
LEMON: So if you, remember the whole and we had this whole conversation which turn out to be a nonstory as well and the deflection about unmasking.
HAYDEN: My God.
LEMON: And then so now unmasking which is identifying an American citizen.
LEMON: revealing the identity of an American citizen. How is this different, because they want to reveal the identity of a confidential FBI source?
HAYDEN: Well, a couple of parallels. Number one, I still make good, loyal intelligent try to follow the news Americans who actually think they're still substance to the unmasking story, just because it got so much traction at the time. And now you've got the same kind of approach here in terms of trying to delegitimize preemptively delegitimize an investigation with this kind of story.
Now back to sources, all right, so you've got the danger of unmasking a particular source, and that's bad enough, may open them up to some sort of at least reputational, if not physical danger.
But Don, there's a bigger story here. We get people to work for us because we can promise them confidentiality. We can go out and say, no, you work for us. We will protect your identity, you will not be exposed.
So it's just not can find the damage to this particular case, it's to the broader American government's ability to get people to answer questions for them.
LEMON: So what the heck is going on, so what the hell is going on? HAYDEN: Yes. So I do think there's a preemptive delegitimization of the Mueller investigation. As your last panel quickly said, it's trying to move it into the political arena, away from the legal arena which might suggest 2they don't feel lucky over here. But if we can move it into the political arena and say enough things enough times to enough people, again, we undercut its validity.
LEMON: Do you think that Rosenstein reinforce to the right thing today by directing it to the inspector general--
HAYDEN: I actually thought it was a pretty elegant finessed on Sunday.
LEMON: How so?
HAYDEN: Rather than drawing a line of confrontation on this one he lives to fight another day, he is arguably responsive to the president. Remember the president is within his authority to direct these kinds of thing.
But I think he actually hits the ball back across the net and as you can tell the president doesn't have another return to force him to do something in addition to this.
So I think this is a legitimate response handled properly but it doesn't give credence to the original accusation.
LEMON: I ask the former FBI supervisory agent Josh Campbell he's in the last segment about Politico is reporting tonight that the president is using a cell phone that isn't equipped with sophisticated security features that can lead him over to hacking, what do you say to that?
HAYDEN: I say we had this problem with President Obama who actually ran his campaign on his cell phone too. So we met with him in the interregnum between the election and the inauguration, he allowed us to kind of tighten up the phone and he also restricted his personal use of it.
[22:25:10] Beyond that though, you know, there are a lot of embassies in this city who have technical devices I'm sure on the top floor who really are interested in a lot of things the president says, but frankly, Don, I mean, the president exposes his unfiltered hid (ph) routinely in his Twitter account.
LEMON: On Twitter. But you are mentioning President Obama, you said that was during the transition, right, between the--
LEMON: This is we're, you're a year-and-a-half in.
HAYDEN: Yes. But he did insist on keeping the phone.
HAYDEN: All right, again, we've tightened a bit and he did limit his use to certain channels, certain people it's not kind of the unlimited use that we're seeing now.
LEMON: Thank you.
HAYDEN: All right.
LEMON: I appreciate it.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, the president hereby demanding an investigation into the FBI. But is it about justice or is it about politics? I'm going to Congressman Denny Heck next.
[22:30:00] LEMON: The White House says the Justice Department and FBI have agreed to share highly classified information related to President's -- President Trump's unproven spying claims with members of Congress.
But will Democrats get a seat at the table? Here to discuss, Democratic congressman Denny Heck from Washington. He serves on the House Intel Committee. Good evening sir, thank you so much for joining us.
REP. DENNY HECK (D), WASHINGTON: You're welcome.
LEMON: Senator Chuck Schumer's calling (inaudible) any meeting between the House Intel and the White House and leaders there in Congress, that it be bipartisan to look at those document, do you think that's going to happen?
HECK: No, zero chance probably and all likely if we use the last 14 months of the investigation as any guide. If we use what has happened in the Senate it would be bipartisan, but I really don't have any confidence that that will be the case whatsoever because I believe that this isn't about substance. This is about whack-a-mole and its monthly whack-a-mole. This is the latest and then we'll have another one this next month when this one kinds of peters out.
LEMON: Another distraction.
LEMON: One distraction after another to get you (inaudible) of what's really going on
HECK: Absolutely. Because as General Hayden said earlier, what this is really about isn't the substance of this, isn't about the counter terrorism or the criminal investigation. This is about coalescing and galvanizing the Republican base in the event that Director Mueller has findings that would arguably be considered high crimes and misdemeanors and we know where that would lead. He wants to make sure that it would be difficult if not as impossible to actually get to that vote.
LEMON: In the opening of the show I said what we're not discussing is the question is what was going on inside the campaign that would warrant judges to -- and investigators to have to want to look or be compelled to look into the Trump campaign. That's really the question. That's really what we should be discussing.
HECK: Sure. A hundred indictments, 19 individuals, four -- five now arguably from the Trump campaign, two very high up have pled guilty. Two others and are cooperating with. This isn't the other contending it, but I don't have a lot of doubt about the outcome of those cases frnakly.
LEMON: It's a witch-hunt though.
LEMON: This is CNN's Jake Tapper. He's reported tonight that allies of President Trump is Steve Bannon, is Corey Lewandowski, it's Dave Bossie, and that Steve Cortes who happens to be a commentator here on CNN, they want to attack Rod Rosenstein as part of the so-called deep state. Do you believe this is a larger part and effort by the president and his allies in Congress outside of government to discredit the special counsel?
HECK: A hundred percent. It's what I hope I just said. Moreover, I think what we're observing here is the de facto firing of John Kelly.
LEMON: Well, this is one of the other part. I mean, that had -- there is an investigation that is taking place and the president has ordered an investigation of the investigators. But this is the political part of it. These are the folks who are going out and they're going to be his mouthpieces so, this is different from the legal part of it.
HECK: And Don, John Kelly isn't managing any of this even though he's the president's chief of staff. I'm a former chief of staff of a governor.
LEMON: So why isn't he listening to John Kelly?
HECK: Because he has de facto fired him. That's the reality. John Kelly is no longer in charge of the president's most important agenda items. I know of no theory of management nor leadership that says when you create this kind of competition between the people who work for you on the inside and those who informally advise you from the outside.
And that's always a good idea to have that component be a part of your administration. But I know of no theory that says getting these people on separate pages serves the cause. Leadership is getting people on the same page.
LEMON: The president today was thanking Nunes. I want you to watch this. Here we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And a very courageous man. He's courageous. Congressman Devin Nunes. Thank you very much, Devin, for being here. Appreciate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Devin Nunes is the chairman of the House Intel Committee. What do you say?
HECK: Well, I've already told you on your program before that I find the members of the majority of the Republicans to be largely complicit in this. And what's so discouraging about it frankly from a big picture point of view is that they are completely advocating their check and balance responsibility. This isn't a parliamentary system. We're a separate branch of government and we have a check and balance of responsibility which we're not fulfilling, instead they're being cheer leaders on his behalf.
LEMON: Yeah. I want to talk to you about the meeting. This is another meeting that no one knew about and it came it recently --
HECK: The second Trump, Jr. meeting?
LEMON: Yeah, Trump, Jr. with the representative of Saudi Arabia and UAE and also an Israeli social media strategist that offered the Trump campaign. This is according to the "New York Times," information to try to I guess give this, a negative social media strategy against his opponent. So, what do you think about this meeting? You did not know this when you were investigating.
HECK: So it's interesting that in all of the discussions and all interviews and all of the investigative reports done by all the news media that never was this discovered until recently. And it seems to me that it's exhibit A on why it was incredibly premature for House Republicans to shut down the investigation.
LEMON: I was going to say why didn't the House investigations get to that?
HECK: Right. Because they didn't want to get to it. Furthermore, I think there maybe some significance here that if it is true and let's assume for the time being that it is yet to be established as fact that it appears to be.
[22:35:07] If it is true, Donald Trump Jr.'s legal troubles are mounting. And that will be interesting to see how dad responds to that if they are beginning to close in on Donald Trump Jr.
LEMON: Always a pleasure. Thank you congressman.
HECK: Thank you Don.
LEMON: I appreciate it. When we come back, Rudy Giuliani says Robert Mueller hopes to wrap up his investigation by September 1st, but an awful lot of deadline have already come and gone, so where is this one coming from?
And let's take a look at this. These are live pictures, thousands of people forced to flee as a volcano in Hawaii erupts and now there is a new threat. We're going to have more, that's coming up.
LEMON: President Trump setting off a fire storm as he so often does with a tweet, this one demanding an investigation into the FBI's use of a confidential source during the presidential campaign. The White House following up that tweet with an announcement today that the Justice Department inspector general will look into, quote, any irregularities with the Federal Bureau Investigations or the Department of Justice tactics concerning the Trump campaign.
[22:40:05] Let's bring in now CNN Legal Analyst, Richard Ben-Veniste who was a Watergate special prosecutor, also CNN Legal Analyst, Laura Coates -- it's been long. I've been in three cities in 24 hours. And Nelson Cunningham, who was White House general counsel under President Clinton -- from London to Atlanta to here so, if I don't make sense, then please help me out, Laura.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Let's talk about the wedding instead. I'm guessing it's probably better.
LEMON: Seriously, I'm watching this Laura as just a layperson who doesn't really know about but I'm saying what in the world is going on? He's investigating the investigators. Does it -- I mean, I don't know, does it appear like there is the possibility of obstruction going here. What's happening?
COATES: Well of course. Remember, a couple weeks ago he said that -- he threatened, I may have to one day use my executive powers and try to take control of the situation essentially. He has this -- this is the point in time to do that. And when the Department of Justice essentially placated it seems, he's going to gave it a comp ([ph) out to say, OK, fine. We'll let ourselves be investigated.
They haven't really done much more than they normally would do, which is there is already a mechanism in place to investigate yourself (inaudible) impropriety is called the inspector general. So he's going to just expand the scope of the investigation to say, fine, we want us to investigate the investigators. We already are doing this because of the alleged dossier issues. We'll do it for this as well. And so it's really not something that is strategically out of line of a smart investigation (ph).
LEMON: So then why not just say, no? Why not just go, hey, no. We're not going to do it. This is -- we don't do this. There's already an inspector general in place who looks at those things. It's their job. NELSON CUNNINGHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE GENERAL COUNSEL UNDER PRES.
CLINTON: Well, and that's what Rod Rosenstein said. He said, I'm just going to lateral this over to Michael Horowitz, the inspector general and let him go ahead and investigate it. Looking at the fact from the outside, this one looks like a pretty easy one for Rosenstein to handle elegantly as one of your guest said earlier, elegantly, quickly, (inaudible) it off.
Tell the president I'm doing exactly what you want here. You put it into Horowitz's hands. Horowitz is already investigating all of these issues because he's already been investigated in the Pfizer warrants. He's been investigating all the -- how the FBI began this investigation. You add this, it's easy.
RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Just one more distraction and we're doing what Trump wants us to do --
LEMON: Talking about this.
BEN-VENISTE: -- following the bouncing ball --
LEMON: And said freeze, man.
BEN-VENISTE: -- bounces along.
LEMON: I feel the same way. Instead of talking about why they felt compelled to investigate members of the Trump campaign, we're talking about this, which is already -- there's already an inspector general who --
BEN-VENISTE: Yes. Talking about the FBI here. The FBI receives information that a campaign, an American campaign has been somehow compromised by individuals who the Russians are courting. What should they do? Sit in the corner, suck their thumbs or try to fine out what's going on here. They're protecting our process, instead the president is attacking the FBI for doing their job.
LEMON: So then what is the president and his allies -- what are they afraid of and why aren't Republicans --
BEN-VENISTE: There's plenty to be afraid of. Why isn't he testifying? Why isn't he coming before Mueller and saying, here's what I know, let me tell you the truth, I'll tell you what happened and I've got no problem with that. Why are we talking about this instead of why Trump, from the jump hasn't cooperated with producing his tax returns, he regularly lies. And he continues to lie and anybody who is looking at this, who's got any experience with, you know, the federal process, knows that the president is terrified of giving testimony under oath. I don't think he'll do it.
LEMON: But you think he's afraid of being exposed because -- I had someone on last week who has done multiple investigative reporting and books on the president and says, there is absolutely no evidence that he's actually a billionaire. It means, so if you look at starting from that angle, there are probably other things and business that he just doesn't want to come out. COATES: By virtue of the fact that he is so fearful of a perjury
track where others would look at that as a testifying opportunity. You know that he certainly feels as though he has vulnerability, but I have to disagree in sense and notion that we're simply following the ball because the one thing you can't prove by pure documents or through some circumstantial evidence at times you can, is what his motivational intent was.
But for his statements consistently, his exposes and his tirades over twitter, you wouldn't get much insight into the mental state of the president of the United States about why he did certain thing. It's because of his interviews that Mueller's team and probe continues to delve into other things and that's a great thing for the investigation. It's a bad thing for (inaudible) of our country.
[22:45:02] LEMON: Yes. Listen, I want to get to the break because I want to spend more time on the other side with you because you wrote this for "Politico." You said three predictions for what Mueller will do next, and then you're going to tell us about whether you think the president will sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller. We'll talk about that when we come back.
LEMON: Back with Richard Ben-Veniste, Laura Coates and Nelson Cunningham who worked under Giuliani. Nelson, you had a fascinating piece on "Politico" that you wrote some of your predictions for how Robert Mueller's investigation is going to play out. You say that Mueller's investigation will wrap up this summer, that is inevitable. The president will sit down for an interview with Mueller, and that the former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, will plead guilty. So, walk us through that. Why is it going to wrap this summer?
CUNNINGHAM: First of all, I spent six years as a federal prosecutor in New York. Rudy Giuliani hired me. The guy who had the office next to me for most of six years was Jim Comey. This is a world that I know something about. You look at Mueller's investigation, he has moved fast. He has hit hard. He feels the breath of history on his neck and he has to make a decision now. Does he wrap this up this summer or does he wait until after the midterm elections?
[22:50:04] It's an ironclad rule among prosecutors. You do not want to act in a way that will shape a political election, and Mueller does not want to be that guy. But does he move now or does he wait until after the election? By the way, if he waits until after the election, everything that he does in the months leading up to the election will be picked over by every reporter --
LEMON: You say that that is a norm, right. That's an established norm, right.
LEMON: What about during the 2016 election? Isn't that exactly what Comey did? CUNNINGHAM: This is one of the reasons why Comey, who I know who is a
smart man, who I think probably behaved as he believed he needed to in those circumstances. This is one of the reasons why so many people criticized him on the left and the right. So, is this one of the reasons why Rod Rosenstein wrote to justify Comey's firing, was that he violated this rule about not interfering with elections.
LEMON: You said it's inevitable the president will sit down for an interview with Mueller. Why do you say that Jacklyn (ph) was here, didn't get to say it and he said -- I wanted to say it on television, I don't think he's going to sit down.
CUNNINGHAM: I'll say it on television.
LEMON: You don't think he's going to sit down.
LEMON: Let's hear why he says yes and then why you said no. Why you think?
CUNNINGHAM: Because Mueller has in his hand a grand jury subpoena that says you are commanded to appear at the district court at this date and time until -- and to testify until you are permitted to leave by a district judge. There is no reason in the world that I can see why he will not use that against Donald Trump. Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton fought a subpoena against him in a civil case, remember the Paula Jones case that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court said even a sitting president must give testimony in a civil trial and must go to civil trial if the judge requires. A criminal case is even stronger. I don't see how Donald Trump avoids a subpoena and I see every reason why Mueller would want to bring him to the table with a subpoena. 2
LEMON: OK, you say he's compelled to do it and you don't think he's going to do it.
BEN-VENISTE: I don't think so. I think he'll find a variety of pretext to delay, delay, delay and obfuscate and find other reasons to point fingers at the investigators rather than comply. Everybody knows by now that he's afraid to testify. We could see that.
LEMON: Can Mueller conclude his investigation without interviewing the president?
COATES: I don't think he can in a comprehensive way. You know, the whole purpose of the investigation is to look at ties to a campaign. He is the person campaign centered around. He was the candidate. And so not to have anything especially if you have charges or allegations of obstruction, you have -- what his role would have been in that infamous Trump Tower meeting, what role he have played and whether Don, Jr. had a number of meetings with foreign entities trying to somehow curry favor on behalf of the administration. There are things and pieces that Donald Trump alone can provide that I
think is necessary. Now, what you're talking about I think is a matter of whether he can delay in a way that makes this prolonged and protracted or whether it's a forgone conclusion. I think if both can be true, it will be 2delayed and tactics he will use including the use of privilege to say or the Fifth Amendment, I don't want to do it.
But I think ultimately it's not a matter of his preference, it's a matter of there is a compulsion that has to take place by a court for him to sit.
CUNNINGHAM: I think we could remember --
LEMON: -- something else.
CUNNINGHAM: The last two times we had high-level investigations like this, they each ended with the interview of the principal. Hillary Clinton in 2016. Jim Comey's FBI agent sat down with her. Three days later he concludes the investigation. In 1998, Bill Clinton spent six hours testifying before Ken Starr's grand jury. That was the last act of Ken Starr's investigation. Within a month he had produced his impeachment report.
LEMON: Finally you say that Paul Manafort will plead guilty. Why?
CUNNINGHAM: Paul Manafort is 69 years old. He has against him two indictments that any prosecutor will look at and say are ironclad. He took millions of dollars from Ukrainians. He failed to pay taxes on it and he laundered the proceeds to hide the sources. His junior partner in this crime, Rick Gates, who is also his deputy campaign manager, has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate.
If you're Paul Manafort with these two set of claims against you, your right hand is cooperating against you. You're 69 years old, you're going to jail for the rest of your life. The only way out is to plead guilty and to cooperate.
COATES: Or a pardon.
LEMON: We're getting a -- pardon.
COATES: Or a pardon.
BEN_VENISTE: Which is definitely has in his mind and has for some time. And remember, Don, that in Watergate, the offer of presidential clemency was one of the aspects of the obstruction of justice that Nixon offered Howard Hunt clemency to maintain his silence.
[22:55:03] Here, it's out there like a billboard. Maybe the president will grant pardons to all of those who are indicted. So, will he take a shot at trial, drag it out and see whether the president will exercise his unfettered pardon power?
LEMON: Yes. I got 10 seconds left, if you want to say something. You said pardon.
COATES: I will say, you know, that's an important part of it, but then he hasn't been as supportive of say Manafort as he has been for Michael Flynn.
COATES: He came out on twitter and other means of doing it, but you're right, that there is more than just -- might Rick Gates. His son-in-law has now pled guilty and agreed to cooperate in other cases against him. There are a lot of things going against him, but that pardon power is quite an incentive to keep quiet and stay on the side.
LEMON: I wanted to get to this, it's a whole another fascinating conversation because you mentioned earlier that you were hired by Giuliani when he was in charge of the U.S. attorney's office in the southern district and that's a conversation to be had and it deserves much longer time to talk about. Thank you very much.
CUNNINGHAM: Thank you.
LEMON: Appreciate it. When we come back, the president claims that the FBI had planted a spy in his campaign, but that's not the truth. Is he doing real damage with his demands for an investigation?
And we're going live to Hawaii where Kilauea volcano is spewing a new threat to residents. Look at that.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)