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CNN TONIGHT

Giuliani No Respect for Porn Stars?; Stormy Daniels Files New Lawsuit Against Lawyers Cohen and Davidson; Giuliani Accuses Mueller Team Of Trying To Frame Trump; Alice Johnson Freed After Trump Commutates Her Sentence for Drug Abuse. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 6, 2018 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] (JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Tomorrow we're going to go one on one with Bernie Sanders. That's all for us. Thanks for watching. Let's get it after again tomorrow. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Feeling the burn tomorrow. Thank you very much, Chris. I appreciate that. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

We have new developments in the Stormy Daniels saga. The porn star filing a new lawsuit against Michael Cohen and her ex-lawyer charging they colluded to manipulate her and benefit Donald Trump. The lawsuit quoting from alleged text between Cohen and Stormy Daniels former attorney Keith Davidson.

We'll have more on that in just a moment.

But it comes as Rudy Giuliani tells an audience in Israel that the first lady does not believe that her husband had an affair with Stormy Daniels. If true, a true Giuliani style well, he couldn't just leave it there. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: She believes in her husband, she knows it's not true. I don't even think there's a slight suspicion that it show when you, excuse me, when you look at Stormy Daniels.

I know Donald Trump, look at his three wives, right. Beautiful women, classy women, women of great substance. Stormy Daniels?

The business you were in entitles you to no degree of giving your credibility any weight. And secondly, explain to me how she could be damaged? She has no reputation. If you're going to sell your body for money you just don't have a reputation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, that's just a cheap shot. Another attempt to distract and deflect from what's really at issue here. That was really disgusting that he said that. Stormy Daniels' appearance. Wow. Whatever Rudy Giuliani thinks has absolutely nothing to do with her credibility. The fact that she's a porn star, something she has been completely honest about has nothing to do with her credibility. Her lawsuit will be decided in court based on the fact as it should be. And her attorney, Michael Avenatti, has a no holds bar defense of her tonight. Listen to what he told Anderson just a while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Mr. Giuliani is an absolute pig for making those comments. He's basically stating that women that engage in the adult film story -- industry or other forms of pornography don't have reputations they're not entitled to respect.

I certainly hope that we're not going to reach a place where Rudy Giuliani is going to be the police that are going to -- that is going to decide which women deserve respect or not. His comments are piggish, they're outrageous especially in today's day and age you should be fired immediately by the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Michael Avenatti will be here later on in the show, I'm going to talk to him. But I want get right to Stormy Daniels' new lawsuit.

Joining me journalist -- joining me now is journalist, Dan Abrams, the author of "Lincoln's Last Trial: The Murder Case that Propelled Him to the Presidency," and CNN Legal Analyst, Jennifer Rodgers, a former prosecutor.

So I want to get to this case, but I just can't help it, you guys gasped when you heard Rudy Giuliani. That was--

DAN ABRAMS, JOURNALIST: Yes. I mean, look, there's a separate question of legal versus moral, right? Legal becomes a question of damages, right? What are the damages she might be able to get or not get based on reputation, et cetera. OK. Fine.

We can talk about damages at some point about what they could be. But the notion that, look at his other three wives, and look at her. And therefore, of course that means that this couldn't have happened.

I mean, even the most fervent of Trump supporters I think, at the very least think, yes, I think that's possible. And most people in the country, based on every poll that I've seen believed that he had an affair with her. So, this notion that it's absurd based on the way she looks and what she does is incredibly insulting obviously. But also just doesn't make a lot of sense.

LEMON: Jennifer, if you want to respond and you want to get to the substance of this.

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I mean, we can get to, but also just distract me to what Trump has been saying about the women who accused him of sexual assault, right? I mean, he actually said those women weren't hot enough for me.

LEMON: So this new lawsuit, Stormy Daniels' new lawsuit alleges that her attorney, her former attorney Keith Richards and then Michael Cohen that they colluded--

ABRAMS: Keith Davidson.

LEMON: Keith Davidson, excuse me. Keith Davidson.

ABRAMS: I love Keith, by the way.

LEMON: Yes. That they colluded to manipulate her to benefit the president. Is that -- what is your read on it?

ABRAMS: I think it's not a particularly strong lawsuit. I mean, look, basically what he's using is he's saying, look at all these text messages between them in a relevant time. They're talking together about possible appearances on TV, et cetera, this shows you they're working together.

The bottom line is, once it's clear that there is going to some sort of settlement or there is settlement in place, lawyers talk to each other all the time about how we're going to go about, what are you going to be saying. Are we good here, et cetera.

[22:04:55] You know, look, I get it. What Avenatti is trying to do is get discovery. He wants to try to move the case forward so he can get more information, he can more text messages, et cetera. But this is likely a lucid lawsuit.

LEMON: But I just want to repeat it, because if you look at it, right, it appears to be really cozy. There was a report Sara Sidner has on e earlier on and it was sort of a cozy relationship between Davidson and Cohen.

ABRAMS: But lawyers are cozy very often.

LEMON: OK.

ABRAMS: And lawyers in a particular industry, right, who do like in appearance that Davidson was doing a lot of these kinds of lawsuits, you know, you get to know the people on the other side and it can be frustrating for the clients. It can be anything from real estate to divorce, you name it. The people on both sides tend to know each other. That doesn't necessarily--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So you don't think it's unusual?

ABRAMS: No, I don't.

LEMON: Because let me read -- let me read some of the text messages.

ABRAMS: I don't. LEMON: So I'm going to read you some of the text messages, Jen, and

then we can talk about it. This is January 2018 text messages between the two men. An attempt to get Stormy Daniels on Hannity, right. Cohen writes to Davidson, he says, "I have her tentatively scheduled for Hannity tonight. Call me after your trials."

Davidson replies, "She cannot do today, she is flying to L.A. tomorrow. I'm trying to get her to commit for tomorrow."

Cohen response, "It's really important. Why?" Cohen later more frustrated writes, "This is no good, we need her by tomorrow. You just created another news cycle instead of putting an end to this one."

So, apparently, he wanted Stormy Daniels to deny the allegations that were made in that in-touch interview. So do you see anything that's done here anything illegal?

RODGERS: Yes. I mean, I see it a little bit differently, nothing illegal. I mean, we're talking about a civil lawsuit and potential kind of bar problems for Keith Davidson. You know, I do think that she knows about the relationship between her and Keith Davidson. So there may be things there, she may know that he was the only one who knew that she was planning to change counsel and that she was planning to come out with these allegations.

And so, she may know things that make what Keith Davidson was doing contrary to her interest and that may be a problem because he does owe her a duty of loyalty. I don't know that that will extend to Michael Cohen, you know, he didn't owe her a duty of loyalty, she don't know what they said between themselves. You know, she alleges that they probably talk about certain things but she doesn't really know at this point, that's what discovery words stands said. So, you know, to me, there might be something there with respect to her loyal but not as--

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: But a Bar Association complaint is different from I should win a civil lawsuit, right. If you want to say he had an obligation, he didn't live up to that, there were certain concerns, that's a separate question. That's just for the Bar Association to deal with.

We're talking about here are damages going to happen and should there be a whole trial with discovery, et cetera. My point is, I don't think this case moves forward, do you disagree with that?

LEMON: All right. All right.

RODGERS: A little bit.

LEMON: Do you think it will go forward?

RODGERS: I think it might. I don't know that they'll give the discovery. I mean, she may have to amend her complaint. But, you know, it is actionable the civil matter, I think the problem is damages, I don't know where damage is going to be here. LEMON: OK. One more and I'm going to give it to you, Dan. Because

this is from the same date that Cohen writes. He says, "let's forget tonight, they would rather tomorrow so they can promote the heck out of the show." And then Cohen later says, "the wise men all believe the story is dying down and don't think it's smart for her to do any interviews. Let her go -- let her do her thing but no interviews at all with anyone."

And then Davidson replies, "In agreement 100 percent." Then Cohen writes, "Thanks, pal."

So, Avenatti wants us to believe he said that the wise man one of them is President Trump.

ABRAMS: Yes, It could be. It could be. But let's not forget, she got $130,000 out of this, right. That's not to suggest that that's bad, or wrong or horrible or anything. I'm just saying let's provide the context necessary here where we are.

She's given a $130,000 pay off. And the question becomes, OK, now what can be said, what can't be said. Where is it going to be said, how is it going to be said. It's just not that surprising to me that there's a discussion between the lawyers.

And I get it. Michael Avenatti is going to say, this shows that he violated his duty to her. I agree with Jennifer, this notion that you're going to drag Michael Cohen into that, it's even more of a long shot. But this is not an easy lawsuit.

You can say we're angry, you can say we're upset, you can lawyers shouldn't do this. But for them to say we're going to win a civil lawsuit we're going to get discovery, we'll see. I could be wrong. But I don't think--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: She says you're wrong.

ABRAMS: She's not--

LEMON: She is saying you are wrong.

ABRAMS: Let's play the tape.

ABRAMS: She's not saying I'm wrong, she's saying maybe they could amend the lawsuit.

LEMON: There's video tapes and tweets for everything. But let's go bigger picture here, because I'm wondering if all of this is going to come out in a criminal investigation. Because this lawsuit also talks about communications from Michael Cohen that hadn't been handed over yet. What do you think of that?

RODGERS: Well, we'll see. I mean, the U.S. attorney's office has these things. The special master is going through them. I mean, if they are relevant to the criminal investigation, then well, either way actually the prosecutors will get them and they'll decide if they're relevant for charging. So, you know, we'll see.

Apparently Cohen recorded a lot of things and you know, if they become public then Avenatti might be able to use them.

LEMON: They've got until the 15th to finish reviewing everything seized in those FBI raids. So, Mr. Abrams, you got a new book out.

ABRAMS: I do.

LEMON: It's called "Lincoln's Last Trial: The Murder Case that Propelled Him to the Presidency."

[22:10:00] Can you draw, is there anything between honest aide that you can add that is current that resembles the current landscape now?

ABRAMS: Yes. So the book is about a huge murder trial where Lincoln defended someone who is accused of murder nine months before he got the Republican nomination.

Number one, I can tell you no political leader would ever take a controversial case nine months before and they are looking for a nomination today. But I think the divide that we saw there, I would hope it's not as bad as it was back then.

But the divide, as we were in 1859 when this trial happened, as the country was completely fractured around the issue of slavery, I hope we're not at that point. And I think that a lot of people are saying, you know, there are comparisons to be made between that time and where we are today.

And as we looked back at that case, and I thought about the timing, and I thought about the country, you know, I couldn't help think about where we are today.

LEMON: I think we're pretty fractured?

ABRAMS: We're incredibly fractured but I don't know that we're set to have civil war I guess is what I hope. My point is that things were so fractured. It was -- it was to the point where you had, you know, again, the southern state saying, we don't want to be a part of this anymore. And I guess I just hope we're not at that point.

But look, this is a compelling murder case that we write about in this book that could be held today in other words.

LEMON: I think we're in a civil war. I mean, we're not fighting with mascots--

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: I hope not.

LEMON: I think we are politically.

ABRAMS: But a rhetorical war--

LEMON: Yes.

ABRAMS: -- is very different from what happened in the four-year Civil War. And I guess I'm still hopeful that our system is strong enough to withstand the challenges that its currently withstanding.

LEMON: I hope so as well. Jennifer, thank you. You--

ABRAMS: Don Lemon.

LEMON: Thanks, Dan. I appreciate it. The book is called "Lincoln's Last Trial, the Murder Case that Propelled him to the Presidency." I appreciate it.

When we come back, the president's attorney says he has no respect for Stormy Daniels because of her career choice. Rudy Giuliani says he respects beautiful women and what he calls women of value. And here's the kicker. He calls his boss a true gentleman. You're going to want to hear this conversation.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Rudy Giuliani's defense of President Trump may be doing more harm than good tonight. The president's attorney tries to cast doubt on Stormy Daniels' credibility with a string of insults and now Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti is fighting back.

Let's discuss now with CNN Political Commentator, Margaret Hoover, CNN Political Analyst, Kirsten Powers, and Annie Karni, White House reporter for Politico.

Good evening to all of you. Thank you so much for joining us. So Kirsten, Rudy Giuliani speaking out about Stormy Daniels. And I just want you guys just listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: Excuse me, when you look at Stormy Daniels, I know Donald Trump and--

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's respect her.

GIULIANI: Look at his three wives, right? Beautiful women. Classy women. Women of great substance. Stormy Daniels? So, I think she--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to respect on this stage every woman.

GIULIANI: Yes, I respect porn stars. Don't you respect porn stars?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I respect--

GIULIANI: Or do you think porn stars desecrate women? Do you think porn stars don't respect women and therefore sell their bodies? So, yes, I respect all human beings. I even have to respect, you know criminals.

I'm sorry I don't respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman or a woman of substance or a woman who has great respect for herself as a woman and as a person that isn't going to sell her body for sexual exploitation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What do you think? Where is he going with this, Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, there's no other way to take this than it's just a sort of a misogynist rant by him. Because to tie someone's integrity to, you know, to them being an adult film actress there's no there-there. There's no way to know that.

If you want to say she doesn't have integrity for some other reason if there's something that you know about her, then bring it up. But you can't just say this person is, you know, does something that I don't approve of so therefore she doesn't have integrity. There's just -- that's not the way that it works.

You should have respect for people just on basic human level. And I think we should just respect her regardless of what she does for a living and sort of let the facts lead us, you know, to our decisions about whether what she's saying is true or not.

LEMON: I wanted to ask him of he said, he did say in that answer you guys, he said, three wives, right? And he cheated on at least one or two of them. Does he have respect for a cheater? He paid off a porn star, right, that he is criticizing. Did he have respect for that? I mean, it's just unbelievable. Go ahead.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I'm happy to take that. I think anybody who has followed Rudy Giuliani's political career over the course of very dramatic times that he was mayor of New York. And then onward wouldn't be the first to defend him by saying that he really has the Trump card to play on morality, right.

I mean, Rudy Giuliani openly had an affair on his second wife with the person who became his third wife. He, I mean, he's just, you know--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: His wife found out that--

HOOVER: (Inaudible) In a press conference, I mean, he sort of had an open sort of affair. So Rudy is not the guy to be playing the morality card. But what we also see is that, you know, Rudy is in the public eye again, relevant again for the first time in many, many years.

And he's doing the best he can to protect his client and frankly, he's serving his client well by spitting up media attention about the things that he says because he's deflecting attention away from his client. And what we know about his client and frankly, Stephanie Clifford,

Stormy Daniels. Stormy Daniels seems to be more consistently a truth teller than Rudy Giuliani's client.

LEMON: Yes. OK. More of Giuliani. Listen.

GIULIANI: So Stormy, you want to bring a case, let me cross examine you. Because the business you're in entitles you to no degree of giving your credibility any weight.

[22:20:01] And secondly, explain to me how she could be damaged? She has no reputation. If you're going to sell your body for money you just don't have a reputation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Annie, what's your take on this?

ANNIE KARNI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: My take on this is that it's a misogynist rant. I think Kirsten is right about that. And that his client probably enjoyed it and thought it was helpful and saw nothing wrong with it.

So, Giuliani is kind of performing the role of surrogate. I don't know how much legal work he's doing. That's the other question. Is he speaking here as the president's lawyer, which is what his job title is. Or as a surrogate who, like he's making these comments in Israel, what is he doing in Israel right now giving a speech I think.

So I think it's also confusing. I think he's been playing more of the role of public spokesman stirring up drama around himself. I've heard from a lot of people inside the White House that at first they were confused and worried about him. And now they're kind of thinking, great, he's drawing the fire over there, he's their Avenatti. So I think that he won't hear any complaints from his client.

LEMON: Yes, I'm sure he would love that comparison. So Kirsten, he slammed Stormy Daniels' credibility. But can we look, I know we talked about, Margaret talked about, you know, his personal life and what have you. But his credibility for a moment as he is trying to because he's working hard to help the president, OK.

POWERS: Yes.

LEMON: He spread some unfounded conspiracy, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, Giuliani has a 29 percent favorability rating, 44 percent unfavorable. Is he the one that really should be talking?

POWERS: No, of course not. Yes, he's acting like this moral arbiter when he, as Margaret just talked about, everybody who lived New York watched him do it. He openly cheated on his wife and then held a press conference and informed her through the press conference that she was being divorced.

He is in no position whatsoever. And even like you were pointing out talking to the three -- about the three wives, right, that somehow that spills something about Trump. It's like, hold on, again he openly cheated, at least with Marla Maples we know that.

So let's not get all high and mighty about this.

But what I feel like we're watching and I feel like this was a little bit Bill Clinton is just sort of this like, white male entitlement that with people who just haven't gotten the memo yet, you know, and this isn't how it works anymore.

And I think there was a time unfortunately where he could have said that and he would have gotten away with it. And you know, people would have said, yes, who are you. You know, there are people who would have said you can't rape a porn actress, you know, you can't rape a prostitute. People used to actually make this argument. And that's not the world, thankfully we live in anymore.

LEMON: Yes. Let's hear from Stormy Daniels attorney, Michael Avenatti. He's going to be on a little bit later on, but this is what he said earlier on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AVENATTI: Mr. Giuliani is an absolute pig for making those comments. He's basically stating that women that engage in the adult film story -- industry or other forms of pornography don't have reputations, they're not entitled to respect.

I certainly hope that we're not going to reach a place where Rudy Giuliani is going to be the police that are going to -- is going to decide which women deserve respect or not.

His comments are piggish, they're outrageous especially in today's day and age, and he should be fired immediately by the president. And if the president doesn't fire him as his personal attorney and condones this behavior, I think it's disgusting and it's an outrage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Margaret?

HOOVER: Actually Michael Avenatti should know better. Every time Michael Avenatti name checks Rudy Giuliani he says the president should fire him, he's securing him an opposition and actually their foils to each other.

Honestly, Avenatti, Giuliani is the equivalent of Avenatti within the White House, right? They're these two foils that keep doing back and forth and they keep the attentions off of the serious issues, the real serious, what's happening in the Mueller investigation, what's happening in North Korea Kim Jong-un.

There are incredibly important serious issues in this country is facing and instead, we go for the cabinet, we go for what Giuliani, with the moral card he played about the adult film actress and that's not what is significant or relevant to the way this country is conducting its business.

LEMON: Well, he's representing the president.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: I don't -- yes, I just like to say, Margaret, I don't really agree with that. I'm surprised to hear you say that you don't think this is really an important issue. I mean, I think it is important that the president's lawyer was speaking this way about one other woman. I mean, how is that not an important issue?

HOOVER: Yes, Kirsten, I hear you, and I hear on that fact is sexism. It is, frankly, not very different from how Donald Trump has treated women. And I'm not trying to actually -- to your point minimize how Rudy Giuliani is speaking about women. But Rudy Giuliani is playing a very clear role which is to distract and deflect. It's what Donald Trump does best is gas lighting, right?

And Rudy Giuliani has become the official gas lighter on the campaign to distract and deflect attention from serious issues so that we talk about those issues. Which by the way, it's important how the president and his surrogates talk about women.

[22:25:01] But what's most at stake here when it comes to the rule of law, when it comes to nuclear disarmament and the Korean peninsula. I mean, there's many, many issues that we could be spending our time talking about. And it's unfortunate that we're talking about the morality of Rudy Giuliani versus Donald Trump.

LEMON: So Annie, I want to bring Annie in here. Because Giuliani has also brought up Melania Trump in all of this. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us how does she feel these days with all the Stormy Daniels going on in the background and she's not stepping up to--

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: I can't speak for Melania.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you're a personal friend.

GIULIANI: I am and I -- she believes in her husband, she knows it's not true. I don't think there's a slight suspicion that it's true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, he said he's not going to speak for Melania and then he proceeds to speak for her. Melania has tried to stay above the fray in all of this and yet he brings her into it, Annie.

KARNI: Yes. That was actually remarkable to me. Melania was used twice today. In the morning Trump tweeted, used her to stage an attack on the media claiming that the media created a conspiracy theories about her long absence and accused her of having a facelift, I'm sure she didn't want him kind of advancing those conspiracy theories on his Twitter feed.

And then here Rudy Giuliani uses her to discredit Stormy Daniels. And it's a really surprising way to use a spouse, to use the first lady who has not commented on this and stayed out of this to draw her into it like this after saying he can't speak for her. I thought that was pretty shocking.

Also that Rudy Giuliani jumped into this completely, I think it's notable that Donald Trump, the president who doesn't have a lot of -- doesn't hold himself back from saying what's on his mind has really been reticent to speak about Stormy Daniels. And she's been notably absent from his tweets.

I'm curious to see what happens next. Donald Trump will not have missed this rant from his lawyer and I don't know if we'll see that this will draw him into speaking about her when he really has done a good job of not so far.

LEMON: Yes. Annie, Margaret, Kirsten, thank you. I appreciate it.

POWERS: Thank you.

LEMON: I need to tell you that Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti is going to join me in just a little bit here on CNN, so make sure you stay tuned. I'm going to get his reaction on Rudy Giuliani's comments and ask about their new lawsuit against Michael Cohen.

And when we come back, Rudy Giuliani's comments about women are just the beginning, he's also claiming that Robert Mueller's team is trying to frame the president, but he has absolutely no evidence of that.

[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: You heard what Rudy Giuliani said about Stormy Daniels, but President Trump's lawyer had a lot more to say hammering the Russia investigation, and accusing Robert Mueller's team of trying to railroad the President.

I want to bring in now CNN Counterterrorism Analyst, Philip Mudd who worked for both the CIA and the FBI, and for the first time, as a new CNN Legal Analyst, Mr. Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.

Welcome to the family, sir. We appreciate it. Glad you are here. And good evening to both of you. So, Phil, the President's lawyer, Giuliani, he keeps trying to discredit the Special Counsel's investigation. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: They are a group of 13 highly partisan Democrats that make up the Mueller team, excluding him, are trying very, very hard to frame him, to get him in trouble, when he hasn't done anything wrong.

Now, they may not know they're doing it, they may not realize their doing it. But they can't -- they can't emotionally come to grips with the fact that this whole thing of Russian collusion didn't happen.

They're trying to invent theories of obstruction of justice. The President fired the FBI Director. The President has the right to fire the FBI Director. The President should have fired the FBI Director. He was a terrible FBI director.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So he's says Mueller's team is trying to frame the President. Of course, he has no evidence of that. Would the Mueller that you know ever, ever frame up a guy, let alone the president of a country that he has served his whole life?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Don, this is so painful. I spent 4 1/2 years with Director Mueller. I was detailed to the FBI under Director Mueller. After 20 years with the CIA, I was about 150 feet down the hall from him. We did maybe 1,500 threat briefings.

We used to do them, I don't remember it, 7:00 or 7:15 in the morning. That was both President Bush and President Obama. I've never heard him comment about Republicans. I've never heard him comment about Democrats. We'd sit down to the table he'd say what's the case? What's -- you know, what's the evidence against some terrorist who is trying to blow something up in New York, or Chicago, or Miami?

And then there's the other piece that's hard to explain. I know Americans can't understand this. They never saw him. But I did the personal Robert Mueller. I remember, the Robert Mueller as you probably know was decorated marine from Vietnam.

We went over a few times to travel to meet FBI personnel in Iraq. In one of the FBI buildings it was five or six stories tall. This is probably in 2006 or 2007, he said I wanted to go up to the roof. I want to see what's going on in Baghdad. I want to see, you know, what the city looks like.

So we went up on the roof, we were never under threat, let me be clear about that, but maybe a mile, mile-and-a-half way, there is a mortifier. And Robert Mueller -- Director Mueller, the former FBI director says I sort of -- this is interesting.

I want to watch this show. It's the only time in 4 1/2 years I saw the security detail get in the face of the FBI Director, and say, Director, 2you're not going to watch mortifier from the roof of this building in Baghdad. You are going to go down stairs. And eventually, Mueller said OK.

But I mean, people don't see what I saw in terms of his bipartisanship or his non-partisanship in investigations. He was just an interesting guy, smart guy. I wasn't what I saw, this picture that you see in the media, Don.

LEMON: Yes. So, Renato, he's -- you know, Phil is talking about Mueller's credibility. Does Rudy Giuliani have any credibility left now? RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think at this point, Don,

he's basically kind of conjuring up tails. I mean, this is totally ungrounded from reality. There's no reason to believe that Mueller is framing the President of the United States, that's an outrageous allegation.

[22:35:06] If Rudy Giuliani -- if we were having a beer with Rudy Giuliani, he would tell us that he knows that that's not true, but he's got to say what he has got to say.

I don't think anyone really believes that, there's no evidence to suggest that, and it's really irresponsible. But he can get away with it. And he's saying that actually in a foreign country in front of our allies. It's a real sad statement fir the United States.

LEMON: I've got to push back on you on that. I got to -- because there are a lot of folks out there who believe it, a lot of the Trump supporters, especial those -- you know, the diehard Trump base. A lot of them are believing it. And if you watch, you know, the channel that's devoted to the President, and then they believe it.

MARIOTTI: You know, I have a lot of my family members who watch that television, and voted for Trump, but I will tell you there's no evidence to support that. And we're at a point now where there's not even like a factual hook that they can go on.

And when they talk about spies in the campaign, at least there was a informant who was so -- you know, who was around the campaign. Here, this was just made up. I don't know of any fact that they can point to that even get you close to the idea of somebody being framed. I mean, that's a crime in itself to frame someone of a crime. They're using a man who's the FBI director served this country of committing a crime. It's outrageous.

LEMON: Yes. So, Phil, listen, also both the House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr, they pushed back on the President's modus claim that the FBI planted a spy in his campaign. I think they were in this classified briefing, both say the FBI acted appropriately. Do you think that's significant?

MARIOTTI: I do. I think --

MUDD: Can we take a step back -- can we take a step back for a moment. Did you ever take civics in high school, Don?

LEMON: Yes.

MUDD: Executive legislative judicial branches of government, the executive branch -- the Intel guys in the executive branch say the Russians meddled. The law enforcement and investigative guys at the Department of Justice, and the FBI, including Trump appointees, like the deputy attorney general, and the FBI Director say this investigation is so significant we should continue.

The legislative branch including the Speaker of the House and Richard Burr, the head of the Senate Committee investigated both Republicans say not only is this -- is Trump wrong, but we see nothing wrong with the investigation. We forget about the judicial branch.

Who do you think, Don, authorizes these searches on people like Paul Manafort, that's judges. Rudy Giuliani went from being not only New York's mayor, but America's mayor, and now he's two hamburgers short of a picnic. What is he talking about? The three branches og government has said this sis good, and the liar in chief has said this is a fraud. Who do you believe, Don? I think I know where I side.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, gentlemen, I appreciate the conversation.

MUDD: That's it.

LEMON: I'm not going to answer that, but I think it's obvious. Thank you. Thank you both. When we come bark, Alice Marie Johnson is out of jail today after 21 years, and all it took was a visit from Kim Kardashian to the Oval Office. Wasn't that simple? We're going to talk about that. And why some people are concerned about how the President commuted Johnson's sentence. We'll be right back.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking news as Alice Johnson is a free woman, released tonight from federal prison after President Trump commuted her sentence. She is a first-time nonviolent drug offender who spent 21 years of a life time behind bars.

Her release coming one week after reality T.V. star Kim Kardashian met with the President to personally plea Johnson's case. So let's talk about this with CNN Political Commentators, Joan Walsh, Van Jones, and Mike Shields. Good evening. Welcome to the program.

Sp, Van, was it -- I know that this was Kim Kardashian visited the President, I think obviously urged the President to do this, but also, wasn't she brought up in a meeting with you, and Jared Kushner, good for Kim, but there were other folks who were involved in getting this done, correct?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. Listen, this is something that people should be very happy about. First of all, a number of factors came together. The family of Miss Johnson fought like cats and dogs for years.

Young female attorneys like Brittany Barnett, Jessica Jackson Sloan, and others talking fought on this for a long time. A viral video that was created by young people went all over the place, and got this on the radar screen.

LEMON: Is that one that Kim saw? Is that out Kim saw it?

JONES: Exactly. Listen, you'll never know. The mainstream media wasn't covering it, but it went crazy on a viral video. You never know when you post something what's going to happen. And then Jared Kushner inside the White House says this was an important issue. I mean, his father had been to prison. Listen, you can't look at a 63-year-old grandmother who will be -- who

will die in prison, never get parole ever because of a nonviolent drug offense, you know, a year -- a decade ago.

LEMON: OK.

JONES: And so it all came together, and you got to give credit to these young female attorneys like Jessica Jackson Sloan and Brittany Barnett, and you've got to give credits to these young video activists, and you got to give credit to Jared Kushner.

But Kim Kardashian walked in that White House, a very few celebrities, and athletes would do that. And she -- and she came out with a victory. You got to give her credit.

LEMON: OK. So, listen, why didn't -- I'm going to bring the rest of the rest of the guess in. Since you worked for the Obama administration, why didn't President Obama do it?

JONES: President Obama did more pardons, and more commutations than anybody. There is not -- and he had a huge operation to try to get that figured out. On this particular case, I felt, and a lot of people felt that they were too cautious because she had some negative associations earlier.

And so they said we just don't feel comfortable with her. But you know what, so many groups that said had her at the number one position on their list for commutations under Obama. I'm glad it got done under Trump. And I'm very, very proud of the fact that you can still eke out, at least a chicken McNugget worth of challenges even in the Trump era.

LEMON: So here is -- this is a -- and according to the senior Obama administration official, the Department of Justice recommended denying the petitions had never reached the White House. And a source tells CNN the prosecutor said that Johnson was heavily involved in a long standing drug cartel that was connected to a lot of violence, and crimes. She was never charged with that.

[22:45:00] But it did come up as you said in the DOJ research. So, Mike, my question to you, does this White House know all of the facts if they aren't going through this official review process that all administrations, except for this one?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know. I think the President did a lot of this on his gut. And I appreciate Van for recognizes this is a good thing. He gave credit to a lot of people, he forget to mention President Trump. He should get credit for this as well, I believe.

LEMON: Fair enough. Fair enough.

SHIELDS: And so look, I mean, this president is prone to people giving him an emotional appeal, and I think that that's what happened here. I think he heard this himself. He follows his gut. He doesn't follow the same procedures that had been well discussed. It doesn't go through the same Justice Department vetting.

But he's someone whose -- who ran an entire, you know, huge international company using his gut, that's his style, that's how he's managing the presidency in the White House. And he made this decision based on this as well. And I suspect he'll probably do some more of that.

LEMON: So, Joan, here is -- this is what David Axelrod tweeted. He said, new White House reality show, celebrity pardons, Kardashian, Martha Stewart. It had everything, featuring the biggest reality show host of them all, Donald -- @RealDonaldTrump, with his new signature line, you're pardoned. He has a point there, is that Trump's new favor line, you're pardoned?

JOAN WALSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well look, I think that I'm thrilled for Miss Johnson, and for her family, and for the lawyers who worked so hard.

LEMON: That goes without saying it.

WALSH: But it goes without saying. But something is -- something different is going on here. And she stands out for -- you know, for what she did. The other people that he is pardoning, and talking about pardoning it's as though he's trying to give messages to the people who are -- who are caught up in the Mueller probe, and he's trying to let them know, I can pardon you too.

We've got people who got campaign finance violations. We've got people who are charged with lying to federal authorities. So, you know, she's great, I'm happy it happened the way it did. But everybody else think that he's talking about pardoning he's giving messages to his --

LEMON: To your point, Joe Arpaio, criminal intent, Christian Mark, mishandled a classified information, Scooter Libby perjuring of such injustice, Jack Johnson was a posthumous, and Dinesh D'Souza, illegal campaign contribution.

WALSH: Right.

LEMON: Yes.

WALSH: So it's like --

JONES: Can I say something?

LEMON: Yes, go for it.

JONES: Yes, look -- I mean, here's what I think that the Trump administration can now do going forward, and we should give credit -- listen when Trump goes --

LEMON: Hey, Van -- Van, can you hold that because they're telling me I got to get to a break. I'll give it to you. You will tell about it on the other side, OK?

JONES: Yes.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back now with Joan, Van, and Mike. So, Van, you were saying.

JONES: Well, I was just saying that Trump, if he wants to go forward with this there's a way to do it. Obama did setup a very comprehensive process, and I think he should just revive that. These none violent -- I mean, listen, I think everybody is redeemable.

But I think there's a lot of consensus that people who are in jail for drug offenses, you know, 20, 30, 50, 70 years, it just doesn't make any sense. So I think there should be a process by which this becomes systematic.

It shouldn't be (Inaudible). I think that's important. I also want to point out that a number of formerly incarcerated women, and you've got to give credit to this, people like Topeka Sam, and others went to the White House as well as Kimberly Kardashian, and they also made this appeal directly to Jared Kushner, and other, and that also had a big impact. It's not just a celebrity thing. That's what the media focuses --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: -- formally incarcerated people.

LEMON: That was the first question. That's why I gave you that first question. I'm so glad you added to it, you amended it. So, Mike, I got it. So I have to point this out then. Doesn't this contradict President Trump's broader drug policy -- you know, a stronger drug policy. Tough on drug offenders, be as tough as possible?

SHIELDS: I don't think so. I think it's completely compatible to be tough on drugs, seal the border, stop drugs from coming into the it country, and also take a look at a nonviolent person who's been put away for what is essentially too long of a sentence for that type of crime. And I think it shows that the President is serious about prison reform, which is Van was at the White House meeting with him.

He's serious about the fact he's meeting with Van, and talk about it, first of all. Second of all, he's serious about it because he's putting it into action. He is actually doing something. This is huge symbol. When you do something like this, it goes beyond.

The whole point of this in some ways other than this woman, and her life, and her family, it is a signal that it sends, and allows people that are -- that are carrying this across, and continue to talk about it. I'll say to Van, I don't think there's going to be a process put in place. And it is the whole point of this.

WALSH: No.

SHIELDS: But this President, he doesn't -- he doesn't create -- the process is what stopped her from getting out of jail actually.

WALSH: That's not true. That's not true, Mike. I mean, you know --

SHIELDS: Hang on. Hang on. Let me -- let me finish. There was a process that went to the Justice Department. The Justice Department in the process denied it, and President Obama didn't even see it. So that process kept her in prison for years --

WALSH: But they also let a lot of people out of prison because of the --

SHIELDS: -- listening to appeals personally is what got her out of jail. So he's not a classic president. He wasn't allowing --

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: I'm going to keep talking even though you're interrupting me. He wasn't a president that was elected to be a process president. That's not what his voters wanted. And this is the evidence of the way that he -- his leadership --

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: Sometimes fairness is about process. Sometimes fairness requires process, and I'm thrilled for Ms. Alice, and I'm thrilled for her family, but I think we also do need a process. I think it's very unfortunate that the President let go of that process. I really -- you know, I never bet against Van, I have never --

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: -- vet against Van. But I don't know that I'm that optimistic about prison reform. I know I'm not optimistic about sentencing reform, the things that Eric Holder put into place, and that Loretta Lynch was starting to put into place, those things are not going to be followed through. So the real systemic challenge is the incarceration of too many people, especially people of color, that is not really being changed here. I am happy for this one moment, I hope there are more.

LEMON: Van, go ahead.

JONES: I think that you are right on the sentencing question. But I think on prison reform, I think you will see more of this in large part because Jared Kushner, I disagree with him on 99 things. We've got 99 conflicts, but prisons are not one. Jared Kushner has been willing to be a persistent and effective advocate inside that building, and I think that's a positive thing.

[22:55:02] LEMON: So, Van, listen, I know -- how do you decide then, if you don't go through a process?

WALSH: Right.

LEMON: I mean, I guess that's part of the pardoning powers as to --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: I would recommend a process. Don, listen, I've been doing this as you know 25 years. I think that you -- I think a process would serve the president better, it would serve the public better. And that would -- I think we get people understanding, we've got too many people locked up for too long.

LEMON: Thank you.

JONES: But if we don't have a process, at least celebrate the victories we get.

LEMON: Thank you, appreciate it. Van Jones is going to sit down with the woman behind this pardon. Don't miss the interview with Kim Kardashian-West. It premieres right here on our show tomorrow night at 10:00 eastern. We're going to play a premier of it right here on this show, so make sure you tune in tomorrow.

When we come back Stormy Daniels filing a new lawsuit against Michael Cohen and her former attorney. She claims they colluded against her. I'm going to ask her current lawyer Michael Avenatti about that. And that's next.

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