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White House Working on Having Two Classified Briefings; Trump Firmly Believes People Spied His Campaign; James Comey Firing Back; Mike Pompeo Contradicts President Trump. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 23, 2018 - 22:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: We also extended an offer to House Speaker Paul Ryan to join us for a town hall. We hope he accepts our investigation.

Thank you for being with us. "CNN TONIGHT" starts right now.



An important and informative town hall with Nancy Pelosi tonight. But I want to go to the big picture now for you. Take a moment to do that. And this is really important.

Our country is in the middle of an extreme crises, a crises that threatens our foundation, a crises that threatens the values we all hold dear, a crises created to blind us to the truth. Indeed, to destroy the very existence of the sheer truth in this country.

The president of the United States is lying to us over and over and over and over again. We've all seen it with our very own eyes and we heard it with our own ears. He relies on our airwaves to play the lies to you and uses the airwaves of other networks to amplify those lies and pile more and more upon them.

He uses Twitter to recklessly tweet them out to you, to all of us, telegraphing his every thought including to those who mean this country harm, undermining our nation's traditions and norms in real- time.

But, what we've seen and heard from the president in the past five days may be the biggest lie of all. Repeatedly and with no facts to back him up, making the outrageous claim that the so-called deep state spied on his campaign, he did it again today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When they look at the documents, I think people are going to see a lot of bad things happen. I hope it's not so, because if it is there's never been anything like it in the history of our country. I hope, I mean, if you look at Clapper, he sort of admitted that they

had spies in the campaign yesterday inadvertently. But, I hope it's not true but it looks like it is.


LEMON: It's not true. It's a lie. James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence did not -- did not in any way admit to the false charges, spies in the Trump campaign. In fact, he said the opposite. I want you to listen to what he told Jake Tapper today.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Did the intelligence community spy on President Trump and his campaign?

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER UNITED STATES DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: No, we did not. That is a distortion of what I said. In fact, I had an aversion of the use of the term and I thought I made that clear.

And the important thing is here what was this all about. What it was about was trying to determine what the Russians were doing. Were they trying to gain access, infiltrate a political campaign. Didn't matter which campaign. It had nothing to do with spying on the campaign per se, it was about the Russians which is what we all should be concerned about to include President Trump.


LEMON: And then there is the president telling Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Listen to what he said today when asked if there was a so-called deep state at the State Department.


REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Do you believe there's a so-called criminal deep state at the State Department?

MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: I haven't seen comments from the president, I don't believe there's a deep state at the State Department.


LEMON: And yet, President Trump doubles down on his baseless claims of spies and a deep state. This is not just an angry president popping off, this is a deliberate and coordinated effort to save his presidency. To cast doubt on the Russian investigation by repeating a lie. Repeating it every chance he gets.

And that repetition is a key part of the strategy here. Because if you hear him say the same thing over and over and over it gets into your head. You may even start to wonder if there's some truth to it. And that's exactly what the president and his allies want. To put that question in the back of your mind. It is a strategy he's used since he first stormed into the national political stage with his utterly false and racist birther claims that President Barack Obama was not born in this country.


TRUMP: I want him to show his birth certificate. There's something on that birth certificate that he doesn't like.


LEMON: That was a lie. A lie he told for years. A lie he reportedly still clings to today but it served Trump's purpose, he rose to prominence on it. Do you think he regrets it in any way? I doubt it. What lesson do you think he learned from it? I wonder. And you may wonder.

You may have been wondering through all of this why doesn't his own party stand up against this blatant disregard for the truth. It's telling that few Republicans who are speaking out against the president are leaving Congress. Like Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.

In his Harvard Law School commencement address today here is what he said. This is a quote, "Our presidency has been debased by a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division and only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works."

[22:05:05] "I do not think that the founders could have anticipated that the beauty of their invention might someday founder on the rocks of reality television and that the Congress would be such willing accomplices to this calamity."

Very strong words. But this is not just about talk, this is about facts. Facts do matter, the truth matters, and the truth is under daily assault from the president of the United States and that is a crises and that is the truth.

We're going to begin though with some breaking news tonight. The White House now saying they are working on having two meetings, two classified briefings tomorrow. One, the White House Intel Chairman Devin with White House -- with the Intel Chairman Devin Nunes -- excuse me-- the oversight chairman, Trey Gowdy and DOJ officials, the gang of eight in the next couple of days.

I want to get now to the folks who are here. John Dean, Max Boot, and Charlie Dent. Thank you so much for joining us. Charlie, I'm going to start with you, the breaking news tonight, we're learning the White House is working on this bipartisan gang of eight, this briefing before Memorial Day, initially we heard it was going to be after.

This is a separate meeting from the former colleagues Trey Gowdy and Devin Nunes than the one that they are attending tomorrow. Why not just have one briefing for everyone?

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Don I would certainly have one briefing for everyone. I was chair of the House ethics committee. It operates in the similar way to the intelligence committee and everything is done rather secretly and quietly. And I'll tell you one thing. I never would have met with witnesses,

conducted any interviews or done anything of substance on sensitive information without the minority members or at least the ranking member present with me.

You should always have to work together in these types of matters, otherwise the other side will question the integrity of the investigation.

So I think it's a mistake to have a partisan only meeting. Everybody should be brought in.

LEMON: So, everybody wants to be on the same page when it comes to this intelligence. But I mean, you have the president consistently putting out false information. The truth is going to survive. I'm wondering if it's going to survive this presidency, what do you think about this, Max?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, unfortunately, I think that Donald Trump strategy is being all too effective. I mean, as you completely rightly said, and I think I commend you for calling him out, Don. I think more journalist need to do that.

But nevertheless, his strategy is working with the Republican base. I mean, if you look at the polls the numbers are pretty shocking. CNN just had a poll showing that only 17 percent of Republicans have confidence in Bob Mueller's investigation. And 71 percent, 71 percent of Republicans think that Donald Trump is telling the truth about Russia, even though he has been caught in lie after lie as you've pointed out.

And so this strategy of trying to run down the special counsel, much in the way that the O.J. Simpson defense team tried to run down very successfully the prosecutors in that case, unfortunately, what I see it is it's working for Donald Trump.

This is an unethical strategy, it's a threat to our democracy, but Donald Trump doesn't care about that, all that he cares about his political survival and he is helping to ensure his political survivor by convincing the Republican base that he is in fact, the victim of this imaginary deep state plot.

LEMON: OK. So, but on that again, everyone wants to be on the same page when it comes to this intelligence. Why not have one meeting, a bipartisan meeting instead of having two meetings back to back?

BOOT: This is not a -- this is not an impartial inquiry, Don. This is a partisan hit job designed to acquire information that will help the president to defame the investigators who are looking into his own campaign. That's what -- that's what Devin Nunes is all about.

I mean, he has destroyed the reputation of the House Intelligence Committee. He has continued to destroy the House intelligence committee reputation his own reputation by acting as essentially a partisan henchman for Donald Trump instead of upholding his duties as an independent a member of Congress sworn to oversee the intelligence community.

LEMON: John Dean, is this just to save face to say well, we try to make it bipartisan even though you don't have the two groups meeting in the same room?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You mean the consent subsequent meeting?


DEAN: That's what it appears to be, that they got pressured into having that. I think Max has just nailed it, he's out to do this to have a private meeting with the sort of his co-conspirators on how to defend themselves and getting the help from the people in Congress who are sort of leading the fight.

You know, what's interesting though, I think that there's a limit to how far these people can go on Capitol Hill. Legislative immunity has a limit. And if you start interfering with witnesses or disrupting the process in some way, these people could be charged with obstruction of justice.

There is, they can't just push this too far. And this is going to play later, if this is ever tried the president will hear about his behavior and these kinds of meetings.

[22:09:56] LEMON: Yes. So, John, let's -- I want to talk again about sort of the gas lighting that's going on and what I said in the opening especially about--

BOOT: That's the right word.

LEMON: Yes. You heard the president destroy Clapper's words. But, I mean, it has a cost. Here's more from Clapper then we'll talk.


TAPPER: What do you make when they suggest that you committed a crime of some sort?

CLAPPER: Well, I take umbrage of that. I didn't commit a crime. I was trying to explain my understanding of what this informant was doing. It wasn't spying on the campaign, you know, I take exception to it. And I don't particularly want to dignify it by talking about it too much.


LEMON: Wow, that was a great answer. I mean, this president, he lives, John, and breaths in conspiracies and distorting the truth. And you watch that and you realize that he's attacking people whose served this country all their lives and he's attacking the broader institutions as well. To what end?

DEAN: Well, I don't know what end. Clapper's got a book out there now, he may trying to be discredit it. I happen to share editors with Mr. Clapper, I don't know him personally, but I know the wonderful reports I have from my editor of what a fine man this was to work with, how candid and open he was as he was pulling together the story of a book he hadn't plan to write. And he wrote it only because of the way this presidency was won.

LEMON: Yes. The president is also still attacking James Comey, watch this.


TRUMP: I think James Comey has got a lot of problems. We're not undercutting, we're cleaning everything up. This was a terrible situation. What we're doing is we're cleaning everything up. It's so important, what I'm doing is a service to this country. And I did a great service to this country by firing James Comey.


LEMON: Charlie, he says he's cleaning things but undoubtedly he's making a bigger mess and putting his own interest above the country's.

DENT: I have to say I agree with you. And I'll tell you what. Look, he had the right to fire James Comey but when he fired James Comey that's what got him a special prosecutor on his back. That was a mistake.

And I just want to say something as a political matter from my Republican colleagues, in the House especially, I got to tell you, you know, they need to exercise serious oversight. And if they didn't get that message in the election in western Pennsylvania, where the Republican candidate says he was going to be Trump's wing man. He was Trump before Trump. In the district where the president won by 20 points and voters out there wanted somebody to be a little bit of a check on the president in a safe Trump district.

So I keep telling my colleagues they have to be serious about their article 1 powers not only when there's a Democratic president but when there's a Republican president. And we have to act that way, otherwise we can end up in the minority.

LEMON: Yes, go ahead.

BOOT: Really quickly, Don, I mean, the thing that jumps out at me from hearing this tirade from President Trump against the so-called criminal deep state, he doesn't seem to have any awareness that he is actually the head of the state, that he is the president, that all of these people report for him, that he is tearing down the FBI, he is tearing down the Department of Justice.

He is supposed to be the person who is their boss and he doesn't seem to be any -- he doesn't care about the cost of defending himself which is diminishing public confidence in law enforcement which is going to make their job much tougher.

He is making this country less safe by getting people to believe that the FBI is part of this nefarious conspiracy. They're not going to cooperate with the FBI in the future and this is, you know, a pretty clear violation I would say of his oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution.

LEMON: The deep state is him and the people who are--


BOOT: He is.

LEMON: -- right.

BOOT: And the conspiracy is really him and Nunes and Sean Hannity and all these people who are out there pushing this crazy conspiracy theory to defend Donald Trump.

LEMON: I want to keep you guys. We're going to continue to talk with the breaking news, is that the Justice Department says that there are going to be two classified briefings tomorrow. There was only going to be one, remember with only Republicans.

The second is going to be with a gang of eight. The first one is going to include the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein the FBI Director Christopher Wray, the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, Nunes and Gowdy along with the additional FBI and DOJ are going to be briefers and staff.

And the second one would be Kelly, Rod Rosenstein, Wray, Coats, and members of the gang of eight, Gowdy and FBI and the justice staff members. We'll continue one and we'll talk about that.

Everyone stick with me. We're learning more tonight about exactly what kind of questions as well that Robert Mueller's team will ask Jared Kushner. And those questions don't sound one bit like a witch hunt as the president consistently claimed.


LEMON: Breaking news tonight, the Justice Department says there's going to be two classified briefings tomorrow. One with republicans in Washington, the other with the bipartisan gang of eight.

We'll continue to talk about that. But we still don't know whether President Trump will ever sit down with Robert Mueller. The president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner had his second interview with Mueller's team last month. An interview that lasted seven hours.

Back with me now, former Congressman Charlie Dent, John Dean, and Max Boot. John, Jared Kushner's attorney was on with the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer earlier today and we're now learning that Kushner was questioned last month for a second time by the special counsel about Russian collusion and obstruction. Listen to this.


ABBE LOWELL, JARED KUSHNER'S ATTORNEY: We basically followed their lead and the topics were, what were the appropriate topics. You know that they're being thorough in looking at the campaign, and by campaign the issue that they're investigating is whether there was something called collusion, whatever that means to people.

They're looking to see whether there was some undue influence put on by outside countries, particularly Russia. And they've been looking at some of the post-inauguration issues, primarily the firing of James Comey.


LEMON: So isn't he saying that Mueller was asking the appropriate question this wouldn't be witch hunt then.

DEAN: That does not sound like witch hunt questions, sure it's a question that sounds like he's being very candid and he would be in a position to know exactly what those questions were. So, no, this will not bolster the witch hunt argument at all.

[22:19:55] LEMON: After the president's former attorney John Dowd quit, remember he, Mueller quote, terrific, he called the Mueller, quote, "terrific." He told the National Law Review people trusted each other, that there were no misunderstanding.

So it's all conspiracy, this is all conspiracy peddling that we're seeing right now. Part of Trump and Giuliani's new strategy to undermine the investigation. Max, I'll give that to you, is that what it is?

BOOT: Absolutely. And you've see the huge change since Giuliani and he's out there as kind of an attack dog for the president, snarling against Mueller and saying he's going to rip apart the investigation, it's all illegitimate, and calling his former colleagues in the Southern District of New York storm troopers for exercising a lawful search warrant.

I mean, this is, you know, this is kind of a boisterous (ph) strategy that the president is waging because it's pretty clear that he does not have the facts on his side and he's quite worried I suspect, especially about the obstruction of justice charge.

It's now ironically I think he is adding to the case of obstruction of justice on a regular basis by doing all these to try to undermine the Mueller investigation, attack the DOJ and the FBI, so I think he has good cause for worry.

But again, my concern ultimately, as much as I do before, Don, is that I'm concerned that this presidential strategy, which is completely at odds with the rule of law, at odds with the Constitution, at odds with the truth itself as you pointed out.

My concern is that strategy may nevertheless be working because it is resonating with this partisan Republican base that is willing to protect Trump at all cost.

LEMON: So, Charlie, then, your colleagues or former colleagues, I mean, I imagine they're smart people. Why are they such enablers, why won't they stand up for this? What's going on? DENT: Well, I've had some frustration with some of my colleagues on

this matter. I've said to them repeatedly. You work with the president and the administration when they're on the right track. If they're moving in a bad direction you need to check them. If they're going off the rails, and that's what's happening right now, they're going off the rails, at least as it relates to this vetting a spy in the campaign, that's off the rails.

And you have to call the president out on this. And I think that's the appropriate thing to do. And Max is right, by the way, that as a political strategy, I think the White House or the president is succeeding. Because he has essentially tainting the investigation.

So whatever Mueller finds a large number of people will say that the findings are in fact tainted. But as a legal strategy I don't think that this is necessarily helping anybody who is under investigation. How many people have been indicted. Others have pled.

Mueller is not going to pay much attention to all the politics I suspect. So to my colleagues, I say, you know, as a matter of survival politically you need to have your own brain your own identity. And if you are just going to be seeing as an enabler or a facilitator particularly in a marginally swing district you're going to have a really tough time this November.

LEMON: Charlie, Max, John, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

When we come back, Jared Kushner getting his security clearance back as Robert Mueller gets ready to sentence yet another Trump campaign adviser. Is Mueller's investigation coming to a critical feat or just starting to amp up.


LEMON: Here's the breaking news tonight. The Justice Department says it will have two classified briefings tomorrow. One at noon for the House intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and oversight chairman Trey Gowdy and the DOJ along with White House chief of staff, John Jelly.

The second one, just two hours later with the congressional gang of eight, with Nancy Pelosi plus Gowdy and Kelly again.

I want to bring in CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, maybe you can explain this to me. I'm not sure what is going on here. So why not -- why not have just one meeting tomorrow with a bipartisan group?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know exactly what's going on here because that's exactly the question, Don. I've been covering Congress a long time. To me, the idea that it took this kind of public pressure on the White House and on Republicans in the House to have the most basic bipartisan meetings on the most historically bipartisan issue, which is national security is mind boggling.

And first and foremost, they -- OK they pressured the Justice Department and the White House, really, to have this gang of eight meeting, which means the Republican and Democratic heads of the intelligence committees and the Republican and Democratic leaders, the four top leaders in the House and the Senate.

It doesn't make any sense that this shouldn't just be the meeting. The only reason to have a separate meeting with just two Republicans on the House intel committee is to have a partisan discussion. And this isn't a partisan issue.

It's fine for Republicans and Democrats to have meetings amongst themselves, but not when you're talking about something like this. And it just -- there's not even a whisper of anything other than the fact that this is a strategy meeting. It is not a briefing and an oversight situation.

LEMON: We had a lot of news today in the Russian investigation, Dana, and you say that the tea leaves drops by Mueller today are interesting. What do you mean by that?

BASH: They really are. Well, first and foremost, we saw in court that the Mueller team said that they are going to sentence George Papadopoulos soon. So this is somebody who they have been trying to get information for for months and months and months. He has been cooperating.

And the fact that they are sentencing him means that they're done getting the information with him.

So that was an indication, perhaps that things were chugging along until tonight. And tonight there was a different court filing, it was technically to beat back media request to unseal some documents in the Russian investigation.

As their defense or as their push back, what was filed, it specified that the investigation consist of multiple lines of inquiry with the overall scope of -- within the scope of the authority. And it goes on to say that many aspects of the investigation are factually and legally interconnected. They involve overlapping courses of conduct, relationships.

And then it finally says the investigation is not complete and its details remain nonpublic. At the legalese the laymen's term is back off, we got a lot more work to do.

[22:30:00] So, that really -- and it's the most specific explanation of where they are in their investigation now we've really gotten today from the Mueller team.

LEMON: Yes. Dana, always appreciate it for being the Capitol Hill whisperer. Thank you so much.

I want to bring in now Michael Moore, the former U.S. attorney for the middle district of Georgia and Jack Quinn, the former White House counsel to President Clinton.

BASH: Thank you. LEMON: So, we'll talk about Jared Kushner and what went on because

apparently sitting down a month ago seven hours. Let's talk about this breaking news now. What is going on here, Jack?


LEMON: Why not have -- why not just have one meeting because you're meeting with Nunes, with Gowdy and those guys, right, and John Kelly, and then you're going to have another meeting that's supposed to be bipartisan with the same guys.

QUINN: This is an echo of the exercise they went through with the Nunes report and partisan nature of that exercise. The Republicans and Trump forces, they want to get their story straight more to the point they're trying to shape the narrative. The reason they wanted to give it to the Republican side in advance is because they want to get their story out ahead of time.

LEMON: Right.

QUINN: They want to frame the issue here. This is -- this is shaping a story, not searching for the truth and that's the fundamental problem.

LEMON: Do you agree with that?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: I do. I think this is best follow after Giuliani came out and said I'm not going to let my man talk until we know what's being said or what, you know, what the Mueller --

LEMON: But aren't they getting the information from the investigation let's say, to use it to spin it, right.

QUINN: To spin it.


MOORE: They recognize that they've got a problem winning in a court of law with the facts that they have. So, now we're spinning in the court of public opinion out there to try to shift the narrative.

LEMON: I need you to comment on what Dana just reported, that she said, you know, (inaudible) should read the tea (ph) leaves here. We've got to back off. We've got a lot of work to do. What do you say?

MOORE: You know, I think that's true. I think the fact that, you know, there's been some effort, there's been some spin to try to push the idea of the investigation is right enough. I don't think that's the case. And then really what you're seeing here, you've got one guy being sent (inaudible) his cooperation at this point maybe over, but there's ways to cut back and adjust and set aside the fact.

Either way, he could have a rule 35. He could have the government come back in and ask if h continues to cooperate to do some other things. This is just one individual. But you've got indictments, you've got trials coming up, you've got Russian indictments and you've got the investigation going on. I don't think there's anything that indicate to us that this sums about --

LEMON: So, them trying to get the information, Jack, to spin it, does that affect the investigation? Does it effect how Mueller's going to handle because if they get the information they give it to the lawyers and then the lawyers --

2QUINN: It does not affect what the special counsel's going to do.

LEMON: Not at all.

QUINN: No, and I think we're all watching the special counsel keep his head down, plow ahead. He's not responding to any of this publicly. But, you know, clearly they want to, you know, in World War II we had the big lie technique and they said if you repeat often enough a really big lie, people begin to believe it.

You've seen the erosion of support on the Republican side for special counsel Mueller. It's shocking to me because he's leading a team of people who are dedicated members of the premiere law enforcement agency in the world. People who are making the least pay to, you know, keep America safe, and they're tearing them down.

LEMON: Yeah.

QUINN: They are selling the reputations of the people and they're undermining the investigation itself. It's all because they need to spin this narrative and try to get people on their side.

LEMON: Unfathomable and unforgiveable and I think it's really harmful. The truth always comes out in the end. It comes out in the rinse, right? I'm just wondering how long it will take to come out and how much damage it's going to do to our country and to our institution. I need to move on though. I want to talk about -- it's important to talk about Jared Kushner.

His attorney, Michael, was on with Wolf Blitzer earlier saying that, you know, now he has a security clearance back and cooperating with the investigation. Does this give us a clear idea of where he stands with this investigation? Is he clear or not?

MOORE: I don't think he's clear. They are separate things totally. I mean, a security clearance has nothing to do necessarily with the Mueller investigation. That's an ongoing process. This just means that they went in or able to look at the fact that he failed to disclose all his business relationships, all the contacts that he had with folks overseas. They may have cleared some of that information, but it doesn't clear as far as the investigation goes.

LEMON: What do you think? He's in close proximity to the president and he would be something or a person that they're really interested in talking to get information. Do you feel he's clear?

QUINN: He's clear only in terms of having his security clearance. But I agree entirely with Michael, that does not mean anything about the investigation. And look, I don't want to begrudge him. Congratulations on getting a security clearance. He got this cleared up, good for him, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the Mueller investigation.

[22:35:03] LEMON: Listen -- of course. How long did it take though to get him? How many times did he get the wrong information or miswrote or what ever it is that --

QUINN: It took a long time and there were numerous, numerous, numerous omissions that had to be cleared up. But speaking of how long it takes, these investigations take a long time. Think about Whitewater wear. Think about Watergate. Think about Iran Contra.

LEMON: Think about Benghazi. Years.

QUINN: You know, all of those investigations took more than four years. Mueller actually is on a pretty rapid pace right now with the number of charges he's brought already. He's way ahead of those schedules.

LEMON: Yes. So everyone -- I've got to run -- everyone should not get too ahead their skis, shoot (ph) forward on their skis?

MOORE: No, no. We're just getting to going good. I mean, we got one (inaudible) and there are playing more chips.

QUINN: That's right. It's amazing when the president says there's no collusion, haven't shown anything. We are in the second inning of a long baseball.

LEMON: We always say here on CNN, there could be nothing but we don't know because the investigation is still ongoing.

QUINN: And the good men and women conducting that investigation deserve to be able to do their job.

LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it. When we come back, our breaking news tonight, the Congressional Gang of Eight now invited to hear confidential information from FBI and intelligence officials in the second of two briefings tomorrow. I'm going to ask Democratic Congressman Erik Swalwell what he thinks about, that's next.


LEMON: Our breaking news tonight. The Justice Department says it will have two classified briefings tomorrow. One at noon for House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and oversight chairman Trey Gowdy and the DOJ along with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. The second two hours later with Congressional Gang of Eight, which includes Nunes plus Gowdy and Kelly.

So joining me now, Congressman Erik Swalwell, a California Democrat who sits on the intelligence committee. Good evening sir. Thank you so much.

REP. ERIK SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Hello Don. LEMON: Moments ago we learned about this meeting that's going to happen tomorrow. So, what do you think? Why not just one? Why two?

SWALWELL: Why any meeting at all? We should not even be having this meeting, Don. This is allowing subjects of investigations to reach into the evidence locker of the FBI. And so, of course, if a meeting's going to take place, you should have Republicans and Democrats there so that there's no distortion of the facts. We've seen time and time again Chairman Nunes and aided by Speaker Ryan, a perversion of what's been happening in this case.

From the unmasking claims to the Trump Tower being wiretapped claims to the memos that the Republicans have put out. I would prefer to see one meeting so that the Democrats can ensure that there's no misinformation put out to the public.

LEMON: So, earlier today in the day, your colleague, Representative Joaquin Castro approached Devin Nunes on the House floor and said Democrats wanted to go. And his response was, I'm not going to play that game. Are Democrats the one playing a game?

SWALWELL: I mean, the games started when he went over -- when Chairman Nunes went over to the White House the day after James Comey testified. And no, what we're trying to do, Don, is to stand up for the rule of law. America is an idea, the idea where you can work hard and become anything, no matter where you come from. That you have a rule of law to make sure that there's always a check on those empowered.

And that idea right now is under assault. But we never thought that it would be under assault from anyone other than the Russians who attacked us in the last election. Now it's under assault by Donald Trump and his fixers in Congress. And what Paul Ryan I hope will do is to stand up to Devin Nunes and say that enough is enough. That this is about more than just protecting the president --

LEMON: Good luck with that.

SWALWELL: Well, it's about protecting our Democracy. Paul Ryan announced just moments ago, Don, he's not even going to the meeting and that's part of the problem here, is that he's been completely, you know, asleep at the wheel and allowing this to happen. He said he's not going. It's crazy.

LEMON: Well, so then, are you worried because, I mean, you're there, these are your colleagues, your in proximity of the president, these are norms that are just being-blown through, busted, ignored. Are you worried?

SWALWELL: Yeah. You know what worries me is that my constituents come up to me and they told me about these norms that are being violated and just scratching their head asking what's going on. And I tell them, it's not you, it's them and we're not helpless. We actually in Congress are able to check an executive that's out of control. Our constitution allows us to do that and Republicans I think are dangerous -- LEMON: You say that but nothing is being done. I mean, what you're

doing, you come here and you tell it to the world but then nothing happens. They're still meeting without you guys tomorrow.

SWALWELL: Well, hold on tight, Don. We've got about five more months until the election, but seeing the American people all across the country, I think that they're going to hold accountable anyone who either looks the other way or enables this president as his fixers in Congress.

LEMON: Reporters asked President Trump what proof he had that the FBI planted someone in his campaign, here's what he said today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All you have to do is look at the basics and you'll see. It looks like a very serious event, but we'll find out. When they look at the documents, I think people are going to see a lot of bad things happen. I hope it's not so because if it is, there's never been anything like it in the history of our country.

I hope it's not true but it looks like it is.


LEMON: So, it says -- several thing here, looks like, I think, I hope, I hope. And now he's building an investigation of the investigators on that I hope, I think, I hope, many people have said. The truth is he is making accusations with no evidence. Does this feel like, well, this is gaslighting.

SWALWELL: Well, this feels like the birth certificate claims that he made many years ago against President Obama. And if, if, if, that's not evidence, that's just throwing out more smoke bombs to distract from the overwhelming evidence that Russia attacked us.

[22:45:00] His campaign eagerly sought to work with the Russians and those are two things that we should investigate and he is preventing us from doing that. And the only way to make sure those investigations go through are for Republicans to finally stand up for this democracy and stop protecting a president who is not worthy of their efforts.

LEMON: Congressman Swalwell, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

SWALWELL: Yes, my pleasure.

LEMON: Good luck.

When we come back, James Comey is firing back at the president over his false spy claim. We're going to get down to the facts and go through exactly how the FBI works with confidential sources. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: James Comey is pushing back today on President Trump's escalating attacks against the FBI and encouraging Americans to learn the facts.

So, let's discuss those facts with CNN Counterterrorism Analyst, Philip Mudd, a former official of both the FBI and the CIA, and National Security Analyst Shawn Turner. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening Don.

LEMON: So, former FBI Director James Comey tweeted this out today in response to President Trump's attacks against the FBI, he says facts matter. The FBI's use of confidential human sources, the actual term is tightly regulated and essential to protecting the country. Attacks on the FBI and lying about its work will do lasting damage to our country. How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren.

[22:50:04] So, Phil, walk us through how the FBI uses confidential human sources and how this is different from spying.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORIST ANALYST: Let me explain the difference as you're talking about, Don, between a spy and an informant. The president is confusing like Santa Claus and Frosty the snowman. I mean, they both live in the same place, but they're not the same person. Let's talk about a spy.

If you want to understand North Korea, you want to understand what we call in the spy business plans and intentions. What are the North Koreans thinking about at a high level, soup to nuts about their nuclear program? What did they do in the past? What do they plan to do in the future? And what are their political intentions vis-a-vis the United States in a negotiation about their nuclear weapons? You want the whole pizza pie.

In this case, in the Russia investigation I want an informant. I don't need to know about plans and intentions related to the campaign. I don't need to know about what Donald Trump thinks about Hillary Clinton. There's a tiny slice of the pie I need to know. That is we have information that people involved in the campaign think George Papadopoulos had advance information about stolen e-mails from the Democrats.

I want to understand from an informant whether people are talking about that in the campaign and whether they indicate that they did in fact know about those stolen e-mails before the public did. That's Frosty the snowman. What the president is talking about is Santa Claus. They are not the same, Don. That's a different story. Spies, informants, not the same.

LEMON: Shawn, it was -- Shawn, campaign aide George Padopoulos who blabbed about Hillary's stolen e-mails to an Australian diplomat that started the investigation in the first place. So, didn't they bring this investigation on themselves?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Not only did they bring it on themselves but now they are attacking the FBI for doing exactly what the FBI should have done in this case. Look, Phil's absolutely right, but you know, I would extend that step even further. You know, the president is misrepresenting to the American people in his haste to attack the FBI, he's misrepresenting what the FBI was trying to accomplish.

Look, if the FBI believe that there was credible information that let's say that there were Russian operatives that were trying to infiltrate the Trump campaign and that they were trying to co-opt campaign election officials in their efforts to do so. The FBI has a responsibility to take a look at that and to find out what's going on there.

And so, you know, when you look at this -- I look at this from the other end. You know, what exactly were they trying to accomplish vis- a-vis President Trump? President Trump wants people to believe, particularly a particular sector of the public to believe that the FBI was focused on him, that he was the target, that he was under attack.

The truth is that the FBI was much more interested in what the Russians may have been doing and what individuals with his campaign may have been doing in their collaboration with the Russians. So yes, they brought this on themselves and now they're attacking the process.

LEMON: So Phil, President Trump tweeted this out today. He said, if the person placed very early into my campaign wasn't a spy, put there by the previous administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered, many times higher than normal? That was earlier in the week that he did that. What money has a confidential source or informant received exactly? Are they routinely paid and what's the deal with that?

MUDD: Let me cut to the chase here. I spent 25 years in the spy business at both the CIA and the FBI. I never remember a single circumstance dealing with CIA directors and also 4.5 years with Director Mueller where the White House directed us to put a spy into a political campaign. Does the White House doesn't tell the CIA and the FBI how to run operations? So, I mean, to suggest that the White House was actually involved in inserting somebody in the campaign is absurd.

The point about payment, if the informant is working for the FBI as a contractor or an employee, of course they're going to get paid. I get paid. You get paid. If they're working on behalf not only of the FBI but of the U.S. government, I'm going to cut him a paycheck. So, I'm going to assume the informant here got a paycheck because he's working at the behest of the U.S. government. Sure, he got paid.

TURNER: And Don, there are very specific guidelines. There is actually a book, it's the guideline for the use of confidential informants that lays out all the rules with regard to paying confidential informants. I can just tell you, and I've reviewed this book in great detail, there are a lot of checks and balances with regard to the use of these confidential informants.

And yes, there are situations in which they can get paid. But these are not freelancers who are out there doing what they want to do. They are really closely under the thumb of the FBI.

LEMON: I want to play this because I really want to get your response. At a hearing today on Capitol Hill, the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was asked about the notion of a deep state and Trump's assertion that it exists.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't believe there's a deep state at the State Department.

REP TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: That's your experience also when you interact with colleagues at the FBI and Department of Justice as well?

[22:55:02] POMPEO: Yes. There are always exceptions to every rule. I've never led an organization that didn't have bad actors.


LEMON: So Phil, sounds like he's refuting the president's allegation. So, you think that's going to change the president's twitter feed?

MUDD: No. But I mean we've been at this for months. Let me give you the deep state. Senator Burris, the head of the senate committee that said that the Russians intervened in favor of President Trump, last I checked at the attorney general who said this case is so significant that I'm going to recuse myself. It was the deputy attorney general, who's a Trump nominee, who said I'm going to nominate a special counsel. It's the special counsel Robert Mueller, whom I've worked for, the

best federal civil servant I ever saw, who was a Republican nominee by President Bush who said this case is so significant, I'm into year two. Where's the deep state? I suppose it's, A, the Republicans and, B, those tree huggers at the FBI. What is, this Don? It's a joke.

LEMON: Shawn, I want to get your take on this breaking news that we have that there's going to be two briefings that are going to happen tomorrow, one with Kelly, Nunes and Gowdy only. The second one with the Gang of Eight and all the exact same people from the first meeting. Should the intelligence community have agreed to that?

TURNER: You know, I don't think the intelligence community is happy about this briefing and I think it's got a lot less to do with whether or not members of Congress should have access to this information and much more to do with the politicization of intelligence. Look, you know, we know that we're going to have one side of this debate.

We're going to have the Republicans going. They're going to look at this information and then we're going to have the entire week and we're going to have a long Memorial Day weekend in which that information is going to be talked about before others get an opportunity to go in and see that debate. That in and of itself, I mean, I can tell you as I sit here tonight that that is going to result in the politicization of this information.

It's going to be leaked out in that ways that are going to be favorable to one side. And so that's what the intelligence community is really concerned about. We need to make sure under all circumstances that our intelligence is preserved and it's not used in a way to help one political party or the other.

LEMON: Shawn and Phil, thank you both. Appreciate it.

When we come back, the president turning a completely unsubstantiated rumor into a full-blown conspiracy theory. It is just the latest of many times he's done this. Just how much is all this damaging the country?