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Threats to Revoke Security Clearances of Ex-Intel Chiefs; Georgia Lawmaker Urged to Resign for Racial Slur; Trump Might Sit for an Interview with Bob Mueller; Russia Investigation; Trump Attorneys Waive Attorney-Client Privilege; Judge Delays Paul Manafort's Trial Until July 31st; President Trump Threatens Iran On Twitter In All Caps; Satellite Images Show North Korea Has Begun Dismantling Key Test Site. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired July 23, 2018 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon, 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast live with all the new developments for you tonight. Distract, distract, distract. President Trump's distraction and diversion strategy. Get people to stop focusing on the disastrous Helsinki summit and the worst week of the Trump presidency.

So, the White House now going after vocal critics of the president, six former top intelligence and national security officials threatening to strip their security clearances, and tonight sources telling CNN that the president is quite pleased with the whole discussion and distraction. So let's discuss now.

Frank Bruni is here. He is a CNN contributor and also columnist for "The New York Times," also Michael D'Antonio, and a contributor as well and the author of "The Truth About Trump."

Good evening, gentlemen. So, this threat to revoke security clearances, we face this challenge again, right, Frank? It's a distraction, right? But what he's doing is also a big story because I think he's promoting an enemies list. So what do we do? We have to cover it but it is another distraction.

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, we have to cover it because it's another way in which this presidency is breaking all norms. And it's also -- it also fits the pattern where Donald Trump likes to intimidate his critics. He's tend of serving notice that if you go out there in the world, you know, and you say negative things about him, he will find a way to make it difficult for you to do your livelihood. He will torment you in public.

I mean, this is of a piece with what he does us with those of us in the press, where he calls us enemy of the people and in fact has incited violence against us. He is trying to create a climate and that's what sort of scary and profound about this where you think twice, three times, four times before you criticize him because your life could become more difficult. And I think to talk about it in any other way is actually to soft pedal it.

LEMON: Yes. And anyone who is a critic.

BRUNI: And one of the irony is he used to use Michael Cohen to do this.

LEMON: That's right.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Michael Cohen was the guy who went around and threatened everybody. He threatened me and he threatened you at some point. This was -- this is the M.O. He is constantly distract but also threaten. It's also extremely destructive. You know, the whole idea is to get everybody confused so that there's no reality, no truth and we question everything.

BRUNI: Remember that this was the president who said that he kind of envied the North Korean leader --

LEMON: Right.

BRUNI: -- because his people kind of stood at attention. Well, this is of a piece with that as well.

LEMON: You know, he tweets about, you know, the whole Russia investigation and he seems to contradict what his intelligence people are telling him. That he's calling it a hoax, and he claims that, you know, he -- but he says he believes U.S. intelligence, but yet this is a hoax. So then what is what? I mean, Sarah Sanders tried to explain it today saying, well, he believe this part is a hoax but this part is real. What?

D'ANTONIO: He doesn't want us talking about what happened in Helsinki. This is all of a piece with him constantly throwing out a million notions. Another thing to remember is this is actually a Soviet technique.

The Soviets did it and then Putin started doing it, where you throw out conspiracy theories about everything, and it can be contradictory. That's the whole idea, is to create so much confusion in people's minds that they can't cross the truth and they also stop believing that the press knows the truth.

LEMON: Yes. But what's really in his heart, what he really believes he says off the cup (ph), when he's reading on a paper, that's his advisers and the people around him saying you must say this because you're just getting creamed in the media and by your own Republican and your own colleagues, you need to say this. But what he really means is what --

BRUNI: A hundred percent. You're seeing Trump being reigned in one moment and then reverting to what he really wants to do the next, and back and forth and back and forth. And that's why it's a contradiction because what he insists on believing, which holds him harmless and everyone who id going after him makes them villains, that's what he wants to believe, that he's got people around him saying every time you do that you sound like an imbecile and you're actually betraying the country. LEMON: You've known him for a long time and I want to talk about your

-- you have a new op-ed. It's in the "Boston Globe." And you write, you say, he often says he had been the best high school ball player in New York State. Records show he wasn't. Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a surprise.

LEMON: He thinks the deception helps him and he doesn't think lies matter. Do we need to look at everything he says and tweets through that lens?

D'ANTONIO: I think always and don't think that you can give up. This is the thing everybody has been debating. Well, do we keep calling him out? He's not going to stop so you have to keep calling out each moment of this because no one else is standing up for the truth.

[23:05:05] LEMON: Here's the thing, actually I want to get -- so, I know people who know him and have known him for a long time and they all know this, right? And they say now, I don't know who this guy is, right? But they all say the same thing. They have this story about the best ball players or, you know, him playing golf. And New Yorkers -- people, the New Yorkers know this. Why is the rest of the country falling for the lies and the deception?

D'ANTONIO: Most people are not paying attention. We have to be certain about that. Who watches even CNN, MSNBC, the other network?

LEMON: Fox all day, right.

D'ANOTNIO: But it's a limited audience and the vast number of Americans are earning a living, they are raising their kids, they are going out on dates and they're not focused on how many times this person lies. He was taught to do this by his family from a very young age.

LEMON: You said it comes from his father.

D'ANTONIO: Absolutely. He fixed things for Donald. He created false successes for him growing up. So, he was taught, well, I'm going to go up to the military academy, I'm going to get in good with those guys and then they're going to promote me. And that's what happened.

LEMON: Which answers to my question when I say, you know, as New Yorkers who know him, friends and people who've know him forever know it. I mean, even his family members know it. So, what is the rest of the country -- is he right? They are not paying attention? Do they not --

BRUNI: I think he's very right. I think we always overestimate how close the attention people are paying his, but I also think people have just gone accustomed to it and there are many people who say, well, yeah, that's Donald Trump being Donald Trump. I like these other aspects of him and I'm just not going to focus on that.

It's almost in that sense, Don, the more he lies, the more it just becomes white noise to them. It's not something that really concern themselves with, it's just Donald Trump being Donald Trump.

D'ANTONIO: And people think its fun. They see me talking like this in an exasperated way and they're amused.

LEMON: Yes. I wonder if, you know, if there were other presidents -- well, there weren't other presidents who lied this way, but I wonder what the reaction would have been if Barack Obama had lied this much. He probably would never --

BRUNI: Initially we would have been horrified because we expected better of him, because he led us to expect better of him.

LEMON: Yes. I hear he's a different person so I don't even know if that comparison even works there. So you write about the sheer number of Trump lies, right, as president you're saying, and herein lies the ultimate explanation for Trumps habits. He lies because he gets away with it. The danger in Trump's lying habit is that is he could damage public trust to the point where citizens retreat to a position of cynical acceptance.

If you want to see this dynamic in action, visit an authoritarian country like Russia where everyone knows that the truth cannot be discerned. Hope resides in institutions and individuals who refuse to accept the deceptions. So --

D'ANTONIO: We just have to keep on keeping on. This is our lot, is to call out these lies every time they happen, to re-assure those who are willing to listen, that there is a factual basis for our shared reality and don't give in. Don't give in to thinking everything is corrupt.

LEMON: So maybe a good example is the DNI, the director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, coming out and refuting what the president said, you know, about interference. Saying no, listen, this is the real deal. He got chastised for it, but he did it.

BRUNI: I think that's enormously important because very often Trump's critics, when we call him out on his lies, they say, well they don't like anything Donald Trump says because we can't trust them anymore than we can trust him. When it comes from the inner circle, when it comes from people who are actually in his administration, in his employ, I think it has great meaning and I wish more of them would take a cue from Dan Coats and realize what a patriotic thing he did.

LEMON: I want to put this up because, Frank, I know that you are also interested in President Trump's recent polling. This is from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal taken over four days, right, starting the day before the Trump-Putin news conference, okay. His approval rating rose 1 point from June to 45 percent. So what's your take here?

BRUNI: What you're seeing there the rise has to do with rising among Republicans and what you're seeing is a tribalism in our politics that when they see their guy being criticized by the other side they don't like to say what's going on, it's wrong. Is there merit to that? They just think we've got to rally to his side. Because the definition of partisanship today and what's changed is you're not only rooting for your team.

You're convinced the other team is dangerous, is evil, and that motivates you when your person is under attack to rally to his or her side all the more strongly. That's what you see in these polls and that's what we're seeing in the Trump presidency week in and week out.

LEMON: What people should know, though, is that he is not doing well among independents and that's really going to make a big difference in the midterms. We'll see what happens. I got to run, Thank you both. I appreciate it.

Up next, calls for a Georgia state lawmaker to step down. He dropped his pants and screamed racial slurs on a TV show. Oh yes, there it is. Take a good look at your screen. This is real, this happened. What could make someone do such a thing? We're going to take a look, next. Take a look at your tv screen. This is real, this happened. What could make someone do such a thing? We're going to take a look next.


LEMON: You've got to see this. I'm not sure it's appropriate for children, but you really have to see this. Tonight, Georgia's governor and house speaker calling for a Republican state lawmaker to resign after he was caught with his pants down screaming racial slurs. It's all featured on Sacha Baron Cohen's new Showtime series.

His name is Jason Spencer. He says he was pranked into believing he was making an anti-terrorism training video. Again, I have to warn you, the language you're about to hear is extremely offensive, but we are going to play it for you because I don't believe in sanitizing stuff. This is the news. I don't want to sanitize what this man said and did so here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of who you are you could be the victim of kidnapping by ISIS. You have two seconds to attract attention. How do you attract attention?

[23:15:03] JASON SPENCER, GEORGIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well you start screaming, take your clothes off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In America there is one forbidden word, it is the N word. Now, I am going to be the terrorist. You have three seconds to attract attention. Go!

SPENCER: Nigger! Nigger! Nigger!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you crazy? The word is noonie (ph) not this word. This word is disgusting.

SPENCER: Got it.


LEMON: Sorry. Sorry. Here to discuss, CNN Political Commentators, Charles Blow and Alice Stewart. It is awful. I just can't -- anyways. Alice, good evening, everyone.


LEMON: You've been talking to people who know this representative, Representative Spencer. There's clearly no excuse for what he did, but what are they telling you?

STEWART: They're saying, look, I grew up in Georgia, lived near his district for several years and they're saying he has disgraced himself. He has disgraced the people of Georgia. He has disgraced people across the country. And Republicans and Democrats alike, people across the state are calling for him to resign. They say it's completely unacceptable. They say it is uncalled-for, it is disgraceful, and it is across the board unequivocal thing that he should not have done that.

What was he thinking? This is a bridge too far and he needs to go now. Unfortunately, he is going to stick it out. He was defeated in the primary back in May and he still has five months to serve in the state legislator and he plans to stick it out. But I don't see it lasting. People across the board from the governor on down are encouraging him to step down. It's just unacceptable.

LEMON: Okay, let me just -- this is his response. Okay? He said in response to the "Washington Post" and he said that he had participated in this because he had received death threats and he said in part Sacha Baron Cohen had his associates -- and his associates took advantage of my paralyzing fear that my family would be attacked. In posing as an Israeli agent, he pretended to offer self-defense exercises.

My fears were so heightened at that time I was not thinking clearly nor could I appreciate what I was agreeing to when I participated in his class. I deeply regret the language I used at his request as well as my participation in the class in general. If I had not been so distracted by my fears, I never would have agreed to participate in the first place. What do you think of that excuse?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not kidding that (inaudible) whatsoever, and there are a lot of (inaudible). I mean, is he a racist? Of course, he just admitted it on the camera, right. So we don't need to discuss that deeply. Does he need to resign? Of course he does. As Alice points out, of course he does. It's not even a thing.

But I do think there's a teaching moment in there because one thing that I found striking was how easily he moved back and forth between racism and homophobia and emasculation, constantly, right. So in the first segment he goes -- the say you have two seconds, what would you do? Scream and take off my clothes. Like, your body -- do you think your body is so horrible that it would scare the terrorist away?

I mean, like I don't know which -- but like, that's not where my mind goes, right. And there's another section where he drops (inaudible) literally and toots his butt up to like, what are you doing? Like it was like -- LEMON: Yes. Let's play that. Let's play that then I'll let you

discuss. Go on, here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me the bottom. No, trousers down. Okay, go

SPENCER: America!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good, one more time but louder with America.

SPENCER: America!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good. We say in the Mossad, I mean, not in the Mossad, if you want to win, you show some skin.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, show it to me. Now try to touch me.

SPENCER: I'll touch you. I'll touch you with my buttocks. I'll touch you. You will drop the gun or I'll touch you. U.S.A!


LEMON: So, he did that because he was told --

BLOW: The way that he (inaudible). Don't do that.

LEMON: He was told it would scare terrorists. He was told it would scare terrorist. Go on. You were saying.

BLOW: So like that and then at the end as a PSA (ph) and he pretends to cut off the fake penis off the fake terrorist and looks like he pretends to (inaudible), I'm like, my mind doesn't go there like, I think you need to examine like what's going on with that piece, right? Because if you have something to say, it's 2018, say it. But to me it feels like deal with that because all of the phobias in America and all of the isms are cousins.


BLOW: Homophobia, xenophobia, all of it, racism, sexism, it's all related.

[23:20:02] And it's fascinating psychologically to see him traverse back and forth between it constantly.

LEMON: One more thing I want to show, okay. There's another one.


LEMON: Yes, this is him. In addition to using the "N" word, okay, he also spoke in an offensive Asian accent pretending to be an Asian tourist and trying to take a photo under a person's burka to see if she is a terrorist. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, convince him or her that you are Chinese. Go.

SPENCER: (Foreign language). Red dragon, (inaudible), Hong Kong (inaudible), sushi (inaudible). Do you speak Chinese? Hochi Min City. (Inaudible). Thank you. Thank you. Red dragon, chopstick, sushi -- sushi. (Inaudible).



LEMON: Alice?

BLOW: (Inaudible) also Chinese?

STEWART: Sushi, really? There's really not a whole lot to say about that other than it's --

LEMON: But he's saying Sacha Baron Cohen basically hoodwinked him, but does Sacha Baron Cohen bear any responsibility for this or is this on him for being so gullible, Alice?

STEWART: Look, this was certainly creative and what Sacha Baron Cohen in the show did, but look, for him to blame anyone other than take 102 percent absolute complete responsibility for this idiocy is ridiculous. This state representative -- as soon as he knew this was wrong he should have walked out and not looked back. He shouldn't blame anyone else.

He should completely take responsibility and do the best he can to salvage what's left of what he has in his future. And I think for him to blame anyone else is completely wrong. Look, I think there's going to be a lot more. Sacha Baron Cohen has duped a lot of other people in the shows to follow --

LEMON: He said he was just really scared of the terrorist, Alice.

STEWART: Yes. Look, he should be scared of what he saw of himself in that episode. I think it's beyond disturbing. But, look, he has no one to blame but himself. Anyone in that situation, it was long enough for him to realize this is completely not something I want to be associated with and he had every opportunity to walk out. And I think it's wrong for him to put the blame on someone else.

BLOW: He looks as though on Ambien like Roseanne.

LEMON: What's the bigger picture because a lot of people or a couple of people were duped, Sarah Palin, Vice President Dick Cheney, Bernie Sanders, I mean, a number of people.

BLOW: But nobody can dupe you to just say something that's not in your heart, right. So you can't -- that if he says "N" word and the first N word that you can think of is the "N" word. Then that's in your heart. That's not in Sacha Baron Cohen's heart. And you have to decide whether or not you're going to say that thing out loud. You have to decide if you're going to go konichiwa or pull your pants down or slice a penis off. I mean, that's on you. That's coming out of you. You can't make somebody be somebody other than who they are.

LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it. When we come back, federal investigators seizing a dozen tapes from Michael Cohen including one of a conversation going at with President Trump about paying off a former Playboy model who says she had an affair with Trump. The question is does it show the president lied about that pay off?


LEMON: The "Wall Street Journal" is reporting tonight that President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has an offer for the special counsel. Trump will sit down with Mueller if the questions are limited to collusion and don't touch on possible obstruction of justice. So, let's talk about this. CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem is here, Guy Lewis as well. He is a former U.S. attorney who worked with Robert Mueller, Andrew McCabe and James Comey and Kan Nawaday, former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York.

Good evening to all of you. So good to have you on. So, Kan, CNN and my colleagues here, Dana Bash reported last week that Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani -- excuse me -- believes that the president is coming around to the idea of limiting the scope of a potential interview with Mueller.

And here's -- this is the quote, I think he has accepted that this idea that it can't be wide ranging, but he still wants to do something. So give me your reaction. What's your reaction to the news? Do you think that Trump's legal team feels that there's vulnerability here even with that?

KAN NAWADAY, FORMER FEDERAL CORRUPTION PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I have to think you do have vulnerability. And frankly I'd be surprised if Mueller and his team want to limit things like that.

LEMON: Is there vulnerability to obstruction? Is that why they're making this demand?

NAWADAY: There could be, right? I mean obstruction has been bandied about and frankly, you know, that's the big concern. If I am President Trump's attorney, that's the biggest concern, right, because if you look at the tweets, if you look at the public statements, prosecutors are listening. They're listening to every statement that's being made by the president. And they're coddling together and putting together those statements for absolutely a potential obstruction case.

LEMON: What about with this president, perjury as well because, you know, sometimes he doesn't tell the truth a lot -- most of the time.

NAWADAY: You know, the thing with perjury is what happens under oath.

LEMON: Okay. NAWADAY: And, frankly, these statements and the public narrative and the president trying to control that public narrative, you're absolutely right there's an inconsistency there.

LEMON: So Guy, listen, blocking questions about obstruction wouldn't necessarily rule out the possibility of the president being indicted or continuing the investigation on that, right?

GUY LEWIS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: You're right, Don, and I don't think -- look, this has been such a moving target in terms of this negotiation, which is going on for what, almost a year now in terms of, hey, he'll talk, he'll sit down with you. He wants to sit down with you, but he'll only talk about a few things. And so it's changed from week to week and month to month. So I frankly don't buy any of it. And also keep in mind, Don, the whole --

[23:30:00] LEMON: What do you mean you don't buy any of it before you get to that? What do you mean you don't you buy? What don't you buy?

LEWIS: He's never going to sit down with this prosecutor under these circumstances and answer questions that could put him in jeopardy.

LEMON: So he's stalling? They're stalling?

LEWIS: Absolutely. If I was his lawyer, I would say, Mr. President, over my objection. You're not going to do it. You're not going to sit down and be exposed to a series of interviews and questions that's going to come back to bite you, for the very reasons that you've been talking about in terms of the truth being a moving target.

And remember, Don, very important, Jim Comey, the whole reason he's critical of this investigation, the whole reason he's a witness is because Mueller's theory is that he was fired, he was absolutely fired as a result of what he was doing vis-a-vis a Russia collusion investigation. That is -- that is quintessential obstruction of justice.

LEMON: All right. Juliette, it seems that you agree with Guy that the president is not going to sit down. So, I saw you were shaking your head. So, can we move on now, because I want to switch gears?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I mean, I don't think he's going to --


KAYYEM: I don't he's going to testify.

LEMON: OK. So, let's talk about Michael Cohen then. Let's talk about Michael Cohen, because the lawyer for President Trump had waived attorney-client privilege on that recording. Trump speaking to the former attorney, his former attorney, about a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, which would allow the government to use it in their investigation.

So, court filings also show that federal prosecutors have 11 additional tapes, right, that Cohen made, including conversations that he had with members of the media. Why would the Trump legal team waive their privilege? What is the strategy behind this?

KAYYEM: Well, you know, last Friday, there was a discussion about whether that was a distraction because of all the Russia issues. It may also be as some newspapers are reporting that the tapes -- there's only one tape with Trump and the rest are with journalists, so it may make some journalists look bad if they were trying to court Michael Cohen.

But what we can tell from Michael Cohen right now is that he does view himself as isolated, that there's no allegiance anymore to Donald Trump. And so he is essentially -- I really think in a power seat right now in terms of what he can disclose and what he might be willing to disclose if it does not sort of undermine the privilege.

I often think about Michael Cohen and all these people around Trump, that old Beatles song, you know, and in the end the love you make is equal to the love you take. I mean, in other words, Trump is just realizing or suffering the consequences of being someone who is not faithful.


KAYYEM: And I think you're starting to see from Manafort to Cohen to all the people who have pled this sort of lack of love, right?

LEMON: Right.

KAYYEM: And I think that's what we are seeing unfold.

LEMON: Kan, what can you say about him? More questions for you, but I want to ask Guy. Guy, I think you have a theory about why his attorneys waived privilege, is that correct?

LEWIS: I do, Don. It is so extraordinary. I mean, these are the most sacred conversations that you can have with your -- maybe with your priest, with your rabbi, with your attorney as well because in many instances you're telling him exactly what you've done and why you've done it.

The only reason in my experience having done this for 35 years mostly as a prosecutor was that the government is getting ready -- there's one big huge exception. It's called the crime fraud exception. If I can go in as the government and prove that there was an ongoing crime that was being committed here, there is no privilege.

And the only reason as a defense lawyer now that I would waive this very, very important right that I have is because I knew that the government was going to win that fight and I'm trying to get out front on it.


LEWIS: There you go.

LEMON: Don't go anywhere. We're going to talk more about that when we come back. Don't go anywhere.


LEMON: OK, back now with Juliette Kayyem, Guy Lewis, and Kan Nawaday. So we were talking about waiving privilege, right, that the Trump folks actually waived a privilege, and that's why this recording was released, and you agree with Guy that it was -- explain.

KAN NAWADAY, FORMER FEDERAL CORRUPTION PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Absolutely. I absolutely -- if I could agree 200 percent with Guy, I would agree 200 percent, that the only reason, the only reason that any defense attorney would raise privilege in this circumstance with this tape is if they knew that the government had a very good argument that the crime fraud exception applies.

What the crime fraud exception says is, even if you have a conversation with your lawyer but its in furtherance of a crime or it's part of a crime, there's no attorney-client privilege. So, what Guy is saying and what I agree with is, what's happening here, the only reason that Trump and his people are -- President Trump is waiving the privilege is they believe that they might lose and will likely lose that argument against the government, and they don't want to litigate that.

LEMON: So, this is about getting ahead in the court of public opinion? Because what is -- does it matter legally, that they waived?

NAWADAY: It matters legally to the extent that now the government gets access to this tape. But you're absolutely right. It's a court of public opinion move to get ahead of that narrative. Because frankly, it hurts, I think, the court of public opinion in the future.

[23:39:51] It's a very shortsighted maneuver by President trump's attorneys because now the court of public opinion, what the public will think is, well, you are selectively waiving privilege only on the things that help you or you think are innocuous, because there are all these other items that are still privileged that they are arguing a privilege.

LEMON: All right. So, there's a strategy behind this. We will figure it out. All right, very interesting. Juliette, let's talk about Paul Manafort, OK? His trial is delayed until next week. Are you surprised?

KAYYEM: Oh, no. I mean, it's such a short delay and I think just given the nature of government documents, the judge is -- you know, rightfully when you heard the proceedings was just basically wanting to ensure that there wasn't going to be a basis for appeal, this is such a short period of time.

And I mean, look, this is so -- that ruling was like, you know, a glimmer of hope for Manafort in like a series of pretrial motions and adjudications that, you know, are standing for him. You know, he has won nothing so far. And so it's just a delay of what looks like is going to be a very difficult trial for Manafort.

And of course, you know, defendants plea, you know, the night before trial. So we still have that pending around Manafort if he views himself as having no other options at this stage.

LEMON: So, Guy, let's put it up on the screen. The judge granted immunity to the five people that you see up on the screen here. These witnesses -- all of these witnesses appear to have been connected to financial institutions and real estate dealings of Paul Manafort's. What does that tell you about the upcoming trial?

LEWIS: That tells me that they themselves have a -- or at least their lawyers believe and they believe that they have a legitimate fear of prosecution. That what they say in terms of transactions, in terms of documents, in terms of financial dealings, that that could implicate them and draw them into this web of criminal corruption.

LEMON: What does this say, Kan? Are you surprised at all that Manafort appears to be willing to let this case go all the way to trial, that he is not making a deal, hasn't reached a sort of deal with prosecutors? What does that say about the strategy? What is his strategy?

NAWADAY: I think his strategy is to roll the dice and hope for the best. As the trial gets closer, things will crystallize typically for defendants, which is why defendants do typically plead on the eve of trial. Maybe he thinks this is going to be some last-minute thing. Maybe he thinks people aren't going to show up. But I can guarantee you, the government witnesses will show up.

LEMON: Juliette, we are learning more about what the content of Manafort's trial will include. The judge said that he will allow prosecutors to mention Manafort's role in the Trump campaign, but only as it relates to a banker who allegedly sought to land a role on the campaign in exchange for loans. One of Mueller's prosecutors told the court that they will handle it in a discreet way. Do you think that's a win for the president?

KAYYEM: No. I mean, I think that any reminder of why was Manafort in the campaign and why were these people, these five that were disclosed today, seeking to help Manafort essentially lie on these documents? They all wanted to work for the Trump campaign. He was at least making representations about his role on the Trump campaign.

And so I thought, you know, even though it will be narrow what Mueller seems to be doing at least in these stages, the Manafort case is not about the collusion, at least in this stage, but to the extent that you keep the Trump nexus alive and part of the discussion, it becomes relevant not just for Manafort's case but goodness knows if it's even going to go forward, but for other cases that may be down the pipe.

Remember, lots of people have already pled. Mueller knows so much of this state because now we have a couple more who are going to speak. We have at least 10 to 12 people who around the Mueller case are talking. That's a lot of people.

LEMON: Yes. I just wonder, Guy, because Mueller, you know, said the prosecutors won't bring up collusion, but do you think he can't prove it? Do you think its irrelevant when it comes to these particular charges?

LEWIS: Don, you're going to hear it.


LEWIS: You're going to hear it. Here's what you're going to hear next week in opening statements. You're going to hear that the charges which detail these expenditures, these antique rugs and all of these millions and millions of dollars, Manafort was broke. And that's what the evidence is going to show.

Now, in order to make money, they have to show -- the government is going to show that he was in tight with Trump, he was Trump's campaign manager, he was meeting with people including these Russians, and they were buying access.

You're going to hear in this trial discussion about the underbelly of politics and finances and how -- look, it's all about -- it's not about the money, but it's about the money. That's what it's about.

LEMON: Thank you, Guy. Thank you, Kan. Juliette, thank you.


LEMON: When we come back, the president's all-caps threat to Iran and how that country is responding.


LEMON: So the president sending an explosive threat to Iran on Twitter in all-caps. Iranian President Rouhani, never ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We're no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious.

All right, so let's discuss now. CNN Military Analyst, Major General Spider Marks is here, and also CNN National Security Analyst, Samantha Vinograd is here, who was a senior adviser to the national security adviser under President Obama. Good evening to both of you. Welcome to the program.

Sam, the president's tweets are response to earlier remarks by Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, who warned the U.S. that war with Iran will be the mother of all wars.

[23:50:06] Did the president's tweet escalate tensions between the U.S. and Iran?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It certainly did, but President Rouhani has historically had escalatory rhetoric against the United States, including when I was at the White House. But the difference is that we were at the brink of war in the first term under President Obama.

The Iranians were very close to a nuclear capability. They were up to a range of a line of activities in the region. And you know what, Don, we did everything we could to bring ourselves away from that brink, to deescalate that situation, and to look at other options for changing the Iranian's behavior.

And that's where we got to the Iranian nuclear deal, which removed one of the security risks in the region. And so where are we today? We have Secretary Pompeo giving a speech about supporting Iranian voices. I have to note that just hours later, the president indicated a willingness to sensor American voices here at home.

President Rouhani is insulting President Trump, and we're in this verbal tit for tat. No one knows where it's going to go. And at the same time, the State Department and President Trump are really implementing a very concerted campaign that looks and smells a lot like regime change.

LEMON: Excuse me. So, listen, General Marks, President Trump's tweets didn't seem to scare off Iran today. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted this, he said, color us unimpressed. The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. I will let you read about the thing. Does that kind of talk from Iran make you nervous?

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: No, not at all. I need to tell you that words being exchanged between leaders both in Washington and Tehran really are not as meaningful as the posture that both of those nations have assumed. So, let's kind of review and Sam did a good job of laying out what has occurred over the course of the last few years.

Clearly, what we have is -- we've got a president who -- we have a president that isn't going to abide this regime in Tehran, and I don't think any administration wants to abide this regime -- any previous administration wants to abide this regime in Tehran.

We have an immensely capable, the world's most powerful military. There isn't a fight, if there was. If a fight was to occur, really it wouldn't be anything more than a slaughter that would occur, but we want to stay away from that. I mean, there's nothing to be gained by doing that at this point.

So, look, tweets are -- are a tool certainly and words matter, but I would disagree with Sam that the rhetoric has -- the rhetoric certainly has been elevated, but the tensions have not. They kind of remain where they are.

LEMON: Sam, for those who criticize the president's language in the tweets like this to Iran, say that it's too harsh. Would it be fair to say that this approach worked with North Korea or that's to be determined?

VINOGRAD: Ah, I don't think it worked with North Korea because I don't think they've changed any behavior, but it did work in terms of getting President Trump to the negotiating table.

So, in some kind of perverse way, Don, this could be a negotiating tactic by Rouhani to try to get the president really anxious and then get him to come to the table to negotiate, to tell the world like he did at the Singapore summit, guess what, we were so at each other's throats, we got together, we signed a historic agreement.

And so Rouhani might be trying in some way to use his words to manipulate the president, but I just want to point one quick thing out. You know, back in 2009, 2010, 2011, we talked about war with Iran or a military strike. That was against Iranian nuclear facilities. Those facilities have gone away.

So, when the president talks about really escalating things in a military sense with Iran, I'm not even sure what he's talking about. Is he insinuating that we're going to invade? Are we going to go to war with Iran, in Syria, in Iraq? It's very unclear to me what he means in terms of answering Iran's threat with his version of fire and fury in this case.

LEMON: General Marks, you know, there are new images that were published today, indicate that North Korea has began dismantling key facilities at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station. Analysts say that this represents an important first step towards fulfilling a commitment made by Kim Jong-un during his summit with President Trump. What do you make of this? Did that summit work?

MARKS: Well, no, it's far too soon to say that summit worked. I think it was -- certainly, it was a success that the chairman of the North Korean Communist Party, Kim, was able to sit down with our president. That's great. But we've all been very, very skeptical about what those next steps need to look like.

In fact, it is not surprising at all that the president is probably frustrated and he's looking to see what the next step will look like, and is probably breathing down Mike Pompeo's throat right now, saying, please explain to me what I can anticipate next.


[23:55:02] MARKS: Now, in terms of what is taking place in North Korea, imagery is wonderful. I mean, having spent my life in the world of intelligence and the various means of collecting that intelligence, imagery can provide a very particular, very narrow view of what's going on.

But we really won't know until we can open doors, much like our challenge in Iraq when we invaded, we won't know unless we open doors, we begin to interrogate some of their -- interrogate in a peaceful way, have communications and be able to uncover what is actually taking place. So, I'm still very skeptical in terms of making some discernible progress relative to the summit in Singapore.

LEMON: Thank you, general. Thank you, Sam. That's all we have time for.

MARKS: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: And thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.