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Former Trump Staffer Faces Jail Time for Six Months; Former CIA Officials in Full Force Against Trump; More to Follow Brennan's Lead; President Carter Calls Trump a Disaster In Human Rights and Treating People; Omarosa Believed to Have as Many as 200 Tapes. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 17, 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)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Let's get after it.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I'm pulling my ear. See you later. It's 10 o'clock.
LEMON: Let's get after it.
CUOMO: I'm not anything like that.
LEMON: I know.
CUOMO: You don't need glasses.
LEMON: OK. Well, these are prescription.
CUOMO: Yes, sure.
LEMON: Tell my eye doctor that.
CUOMO: I will.
LEMON: All right. Al right, Chris, thank you. Have great weekend.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
We have breaking news in the Russian investigation to tell you about. The Special Counsel Robert Mueller is recommending a sentence of up to six months in jail for former Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
And we have more breaking news to tell you about as well. President Trump doubling on his enemies list tonight. The White House has reportedly drafted multiple documents revoking security clearances of the critics the president wants to punish.
And one senior official says they have discussed timing the release of those documents as a distraction during news cycles unfavorable to the president. That's according to the Washington Post.
And this latest efforts to distract and deflect comes as 60 former CIA officials have signed a letter warning President Trump that, quote, "the country will be weakened if there's a political litmus test before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views."
That's on top of 15 former officials who have already issued a similar statement in response to the president's decision earlier this week to revoke the security clearance of ex-CIA Chief John Brennan. But the president he says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no silence. If anything I'm giving them a bigger voice. Many people don't even know who he is. And now he has a bigger voice and that's OK with me because I like taking on voices like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That's as President Trump tries to defend his former campaign chairman as a jury in Virginia ends a second day of deliberations in the Manafort trial with no verdict in sight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad when you look another what's going on. I think it's a very sad day for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, now that is absolutely true. It is a very sad day for our country. It's a very sad day for our country when a candidate for the highest office in the nation puts his campaign in hands of man like Paul Manafort.
The man Donald Trump chose to help him get elected is on trial on charges that could land him in jail for the rest of his life if he's convicted on all of them.
But the president rather than keeping quiet and letting justice take its course lashing out at the man prosecuting Manafort and that's Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Mr. Mueller is highly conflicted. In fact, Comey is like his best friend. I could go into conflict after conflict. But sadly, Mr. Mueller is conflicted. Let him write his report. We did nothing. There's no collusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Here we go again. The old I know you are, but what am I strategy. Robert Mueller is a former director of the FBI who was nominated by President George W. Bush. His appointment as special counsel has been upheld by four federal judges. Most recently by a judge appointed to the bench by President Trump himself. But that didn't stop Trump from returning to the baseless charge he's thrown around again and again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Look, I say it. I say it again. That whole situation is a rigged witch hunt. It's a totally rigged deal. They should be looking at the other side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So the fact is, Mueller's investigation has already resulted in 191 criminal charges against 35 defendants and five guilty pleas so far.
In the face of all this, the White House is scrambling to spin the president's actions. Kellyanne Conway today offering a defense you might call pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: Why is everybody so obsessed with the president of the United States? He can't even begin or finish the sentence in (Inaudible) lifetime. It's kind of weird.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, Donald Trump is man who always needs an enemy. Someone to blame especially now. With ex-aide Omarosa holding as many as 200 secretly recorded tapes of team Trump and with the possibility of a presidential interview with Robert Mueller looming.
Mueller who is investigating Russia's attack on our democracy during the 2016 election. And whether anyone from the Trump campaign was involved.
But President Trump doesn't see it as an attack on our democracy. One that should be battled with all the weapons at our disposal. He sees it as an attack on him on his legitimacy. He sees it as questioning his election victory and if there's one thing Trump cannot tolerate, it's anybody who questions his most cherished belief. That he's a winner.
I want to bring in CNN Political Analyst, Carl Bernstein, CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley, and CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem. Good evening, everyone. Happy Friday to you.
[22:05:04] DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Good evening too.
LEMON: Juliette, let's start with this breaking news tonight about the special counsel recommending up to six months of jail time for George Papadopoulos. Remember, he is one that pleaded guilty to lying to investigators.
But the special counsel is arguing that lies have consequences. Because he, they are saying the impeded the investigation and that his cooperation has been disappointing. What's your reaction? JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, actually it's
quite interesting and enlightening to see what happened with Papadopoulos who has been sort of a hero of the resistance. A lot of people thought he's giving this much information.
It's clear from the documents tonight that were filed that he's been anything but. He's not been forthcoming. That they actually believe him to be stalling on information.
And the key point for your audience to know is that there was a professor who basically (Inaudible) who basically was sort of the potentially central point of linking the Russians with the Trump campaign.
He was in the United States and Papadopoulos lies, essentially made it very difficult for the Mueller team to be able to interview him or to even detain him. He's no longer in the United States and they are unable to have those conversations with this professor.
So it's based on one person and sort of a missed opportunity but the bigger point is you don't lie. And even if you're lying and say you want to be helpful, if you're not helpful, we want you to go to jail.
LEMON: So we now have two letters, Juliette, protesting Trump over the handling of the security clearances. One by 15 former senior intelligence officers.
LEMON: One by 60 former CIA officials. I just want to read from this letter, from the second letter, OK? And it says, "We believe equally strongly that former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so."
So, these two letters are a striking rebuke by 75 former officials who worked for Republican and Democratic administrations after Trump revoked John Brennan's clearance.
KAYYEM: That's exactly right. So let me just begin with how sort of, you know, how odd this is for this group of people, both letters actually, but mostly these are people that you and I have never heard of. They don't like to be in the rough-and-tumble of politics, they consider themselves political.
But because the Trump presidency has been so undermining of America's not only legitimacy in the outside world but of course our own internal national security when it comes to our voting integrity, they spoke up.
I just, you know, put it in perspective, Bill Shine who is now the communications director in charge of sort of hiding, you know, decades of harassment at Fox News and Sarah Huckabee Sanders who essentially lies every day to the American public, a public that's paying for her, they are in charge of determining who -- who's security clearances are going to be revoked at what time, right, because the Trump people want it to be done at times in which he is facing bad news.
And what they don't realize, right, not only it's that absurd, is the Trump White House every day is facing bad news. I mean, it's like the idea that they are waiting for some quiet. I mean, they are the bad news, right? I mean, it's not like the outside world is creating it for them. So we're going to see these happen. It's, as you've heard all night, it's pathetic. I mean, in the end it's just pathetic.
LEMON: And it was striking to see the names scrolling of the 60 people who signed the letter as you were there, you know, speaking about it.
Carl, I got to ask you, The Washington Post" is reporting tonight that the White House has drafted more clearance cancellations. I'm going to read from that.
This is Trump wants to sign most, if not all of them, said one senior White House official who indicated that communications aides including press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Bill Shine, the newly named deputy chief of staff have discussed the optimum times to release them as a distraction during unfavorable news cycles.
Juliette touched on this a little bit. So they're going -- they're going to be pulling these clearances and putting this information out when they need to distract from something. That's blatantly political.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course it's blatantly political. We have to go to the very basis of what Trump is doing here. And that is, he is, as part of a cover up is trying to undermine and bury the Mueller investigation at every turn. And that includes through all this diversionary action.
I've talked to people in the White House, lawyers involved defending some former White House people, people in his administration and all of them say that Trump is both in panic about the Mueller investigation and where it is leading in terms of investigating collusion involving key members of his administration and his campaign, perhaps himself. Perhaps his family.
[22:10:00] And we are also witnessing right now an unprecedented revolt. Let's look at what these statements by these 65 officials of the intelligence community really are.
Since the establishment of the intelligence apparatus of this country in 1947 and 1948, there has never been anything like this a revolt. Let's call it for what it is by the most highly regarded intelligence professionals against the conduct of the president of the United States.
A stinging rebuke in which they picture him as a despot who does not believe in free speech. And that's really what this is partly about. It's part of enemies of the people and trying to characterize those who might question him as being enemies of the people.
LEMON: Douglas Brinkley, I want to play this for you. This is John Brennan on MSNBC tonight and then we'll talk about it. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER UNITED STATES CIA DIRECTOR: He's drunk on power. He really is. I think he's abusing the powers of that office. I think right now this country is in a crisis in terms of what Mr. Trump has done and as liable to do.
And so, are the Republicans on the Hill who have given him a pass, are they going to wait for a disaster to happen before they actually find their backbones and spines to speak up against somebody who clearly, clearly is not carrying out his responsibilities?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What's your reaction, Douglas?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: That Brennan is an American hero for speaking up. His tenure at the CIA was impeccable. We owe him so much. And he's now leading the crusade to tell people that Donald Trump is unfit for command.
He's -- these are the best and the brightest, the wisest people on foreign policy and intelligence that are writing these letters. Someone of retirement saying this president is a disaster for the country going on right now. And it's not partisan. It's patriotism.
People need to speak up. The shock in history is going to be how timid that these Republican senators are. They are so worried about the midterms. So worried about Donald Trump tweeting against them. So paranoid being mocked by Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity that they are cowering right now.
And it's GOP that at best they are saying well, let's get through the Kavanaugh hearings. Let's get a Supreme Court justice and then we'll grapple with Donald Trump after the election. So I--
LEMON: Well, won't there be something else down the road, Douglas? Will they say, well, now that we have gotten through that, let's just get through this. And then it will just continue to go on. Go on, Douglas. Sorry to cut you off.
BRINKLEY: That's the problem. No, Don, you're right. That's it. And that's the problem here. But we're in dangerous waters right now. And just like Omarosa's doing her 200 tapes every week. She's a student of Donald Trump who is now going to be taking away security clearances from people with you know, 20, 30 plus career serving the United States in the best and most noble way.
Everybody needs to speak up and defend Brennan right now. I've been surprised that former President George W. Bush staying so quiet. Eight years a president of the United States. His father had been head of the CIA. The CIA is named after Bush. Speak up and denounce Donald Trump because some of these other people in the list aren't household names where Bush is. LEMON: Juliette, is this how a purge starts?
KAYYEM: It is. But as most things that Trump tries to do, it is backfiring, you know, as Doug just said. The amplification. I mean, basically what happened with John Brennan is you got people who really had been relatively quiet during this period.
You know, they were part, they still believe in the bipartisan national security establishment. They all went to all the fancy conferences. And then, you know, you fire John Brennan and all of a sudden this group of 15 or 16 is now unified to say what a disaster Donald Trump is for our national security and how seemingly over his head he is in terms of being able to understand a larger need that the United States has an interest outside of Donald Trump.
So it's how Donald Trump would like a purge to begin and we have to anticipate more will happen. But I think we should be heartened by the push back. It's not the same as being president of the United States.
But there is a significant push back that people are talking about in the agencies and that the leadership is certainly expressing. I've always said I can't believe no one has quit this administration. I think it's time for Dan Coats to man up, so to speak. I think it's been clear he does not like some of the behaviors by the Trump administration. He's the head of national intelligence.
He was caught off guard at the Aspen Institute in terms of the invitations of Putin and he did not know of this purging.
[22:15:00] He's, and somewhere where Coats is expendable unlike Mattis, who I think would be a disaster if he left. And I think it's time.
LEMON: Yes. OK. Stand by, everyone. We're going to talk more about clearances. And when we come back, no sign of a verdict from jurors in the Paul Manafort trial. The first trial to come out of the Mueller investigation.
The president is already trying to defend his former campaign chairman calling the whole thing very sad. But in the sign of things to come Mueller's team is almost three times the evidence for Manafort's upcoming second trial.
LEMON: Back now with Carl, Douglas, and Juliette. So let's continue our conversation. Carl, let me -- I want to play what the president said about the current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr who Trump criticize for his connections to the Steele dossier. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I'll be taking it away very quickly. I think that Bruce Ohr is a disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So Carl, what makes this all the more unusual is Bruce Ohr is a current employee whose been demoted. And he's also never publicly criticized Trump.
BERNSTEIN: He has not. But again, this is part of a reign of terror that the president is attempting to throw down over those parts of the justice system in this country so he can work his own cover-up and undermine the Mueller investigation and whip up his base.
[22:20:01] You know, we keep talking here about whether or not Donald Trump is fit to be president of the United States. The other guest tonight have talked about his unfitness in their term.
And it's interesting. You and I talked a year ago about what members of Congress, Republican members were telling me then that they privately believe that Donald Trump was unfit to be president of the United States. And they questioned him stability.
And right now, the same thing is going on as I talk to those same people in Congress. They believe his stability is questionable at the moment as the Mueller investigation closes in. They believe he's unfit to be the president of the United States, many Republicans in Congress, and yet, as has been said here, we see their own craven disregard for the national interests and for their own election and their fear of the base of Donald Trump.
Rather than allow a consensus to develop as these facts come in about the cover up as we watch the president of the United States today attempt to reach and influence a jury.
Whoever heard of a sitting president trying to influence a jury. This is about the fitness of the president of the United States or unfitness to hold this office.
And the question now and what the intelligence officers have done today is to finally raise the question is a consensus going to develop that Donald Trump's actions render him unfit.
LEMON: Well, to that, to his point, Douglas, the Justice Department says that Ohr is not involved with the special counsel's investigation. So, you know, he's trying to influence the special counsel's investigation. How would history show this as far as, I guess it depends on what comes out of this investigation?
BRINKLEY: Well, it's Joe McCarthy tactics run amuck. But Joe McCarthy never was the president of the United States. He did damage as a senator from Wisconsin but he was shut down by Eisenhower, the U.S. army, Edward R. Murrow, and others.
In this case, the McCarthy-ites in the White House. He's got dictatorial pension and he's struggling for his life. As Carl as very much articulating he's got to survive this onslaught coming on right now.
If not, if the Democrats in the midterms take Congress, they will move to impeach him and he'll be have his whole next year just tied up in a legal knot. So he's making a takedown play right now and is going to be using these revoking of people like Ohr and others security clearance as bait for the media week after week whenever he wants to unleash. And he will when -- and then he'll start talking about these people and mocking them in rallies around the country.
LEMON: Hey, Juliette, I have to say something quickly because I need to get to -- I want to get to Carl.
BERNSTEIN: Let me add one thing if I may here.
LEMON: Hold on, Carl. I got to get to Carl--
BERNSTEIN: Go ahead.
LEMON: I got to get to Manafort. Juliette, quickly, because you said this. I think -- you said, this is -- "This week is a sign to you that this is a failed presidency." Can you talk about that quickly?
KAYYEM: Well, it's just -- I mean, it start from the beginning. You had the press secretary trying -- not able to deny that the president used the n-word on a videotape, right? And then you have a president who if you close your eyes when he's talking, I always urge people to do this, sounds not right.
I'm not -- I'm not a doctor. It's someone who is clearly fighting demons that he's creating. So he will -- you know, he just goes through all these things. He's talking about at some mid-level Justice Department attorney as if he's the prime minister of Great Britain, right?
I mean, Donald Trump is the President of the United States. He punches down incredibly well. But because he only punches down, it shows how failed of a presidency this is. I'm not saying he's not doing incredible damage, damage that will take years to avow.
If I'm in the Trump White House right now and I'm speaking to them right now, there is not much of a future for you outside of this White House because what happened this week, was the entire national security establishment said you are not welcome anymore. So unless you quit, relatively soon, you are not welcome anymore outside of this cocoon.
LEMON: Wow. So, Carl, I want to get onto Paul Manafort. I know you want to make a point. But I want to talk to you about that. The jury is on day two of deliberations in Paul Manafort trial. So I just want to play what the president said about Manafort this morning. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you pardon Paul Manafort? TRUMP: I don't talk about that now. I don't talk about that. I think
the whole Manafort trial is very sad. When you look at what's going on. I think it's a very sad day for our country.
[22:25:01] He worked for me for a very short period of time. But you know what, he happens to be a very good person. And I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right. So listen, Carl, we don't know how the jury is going to rule here. But if they say Manafort is guilty, do you think the president would pardon him?
BERNSTEIN: I -- look, do I think, I would speculate that he has thought and discussed with people around him. Pardons for many people. I know that to be a fact.
But the first part of the clip that we just heard is he says I don't want to talk about that. And the question that was asked was, will you pardon? And that's what he doesn't want to talk about.
He is sending signals to Mr. Papadopoulos, to Paul Manafort, to others that he might - will pardon them. He wants them to believe that he will pardon them so that they will not be forthcoming with the Mueller investigation.
Let me say one last thing here about what's going on. And that is we also heard Trump earlier talk about let Mr. Mueller issue his report and say what he has to say, I'm paraphrasing him there.
In fact, I've talked to people in the White House who say that increasingly, the president has said to others in the White House that he wants to bury the Mueller report when it is written and make sure it never reaches the Congress of the United States, but rather he, the president, that he believes and he probably is right, has the power that the report not go to the Congress of the United States. That it stay within the deputy attorney general's purview, Rod Rosenstein or whoever is in that position.
And that seems to be the case that could happen under the guidelines for the special prosecutor.
We keep coming back to the question of why is there a cover-up? Why isn't the president saying hey, I'm an open book with Russia? Let's open the books up. Let's get everybody in here. Show what happened. Show what didn't happen. Get on with the business of the nation.
Instead we see the president of the United States who may be the grave gravest threat of all to the national security of the United States, stand in Helsinki next to Vladimir Putin, obviously trying to stroke Vladimir Putin.
What the hell happened in Helsinki? We still don't know. The secretary of state does not know. The national security advisor to the president, Mr. Bolton does not know. Only Trump and Putin know what occurred there and there's grave concern among those in this administration as to what happened there.
BERNSTEIN: So we have a president who is a threat to the national security, not those 65 intelligence officers--
LEMON: Who have sign that letter.
BERNSTEIN: -- who've signed the challenge to him today.
LEMON: Well, Douglas, you know, back to Manafort, this is what his lawyer, his lawyers reacting to what the president said. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think with the jury clearly deliberating longer, it favors your client?
KEVIN DOWNING, PAUL MANAFORT'S ATTORNEY: I do. And he does.
I'm very happy to hear from the president and that he's supporting Mr. Manafort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: This is, I mean, that's so unusual and it has to break some sort of president, if not a rule, if not, maybe a law. I don't know. Doug, what do you think?
BRINKLEY: It's wrong on so many levels to be interfering, basically trying to jury tamper as president of the United States instead of staying out of it. It tells you how desperate this president is.
Paul Manafort may be spending his life in jail. Donald Trump wants to signal to him, if he does -- if he's found guilty on most of these charges that does prison time that somewhere along the line he'll let him out. When will that be? Let's say he doesn't run a second term, Donald Trump, and he can still pardon him at any time. So he's trying desperately to keep Manafort close as he can to him without being caught.
LEMON: All right. Thank you all. I appreciate it. Thank you.
When we come back, blunt words for President Trump from the daughter of another president. Quote, "My father would never have stood for this." That's from Ronald Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis. She's going to join me about how she's taking stand against President Trump. Right after this break.
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Former President Jimmy Carter speaking out tonight about President Trump, something he does not often do. But the 39th president is blunt in his Washington Post profile saying quote, I think he is a disaster in human rights and taking care of people and treating people equal. And tonight we're learning what another President might have thought and that is Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis has an opinion piece in "The Washington Post," titled "My father, Ronald Reagan would never have to do for this."
Patti Davis, joins me now. Good evening to you. Thank you so much for joining us, Patty.
PATTI DAVIS, RONALD REAGAN'S DAUGHTER: Good evening. Thank you for having me.
LEMON: Absolutely. You just heard President Carter's comments. President Trump, former presidents don't often speak out about the current one, the sitting president, but President Trump seems to be testing that practice. What do you think your father would have to say?
DAVIS: I think my father would be appalled. I think he would also be really heartbroken at where this country has come to and where we have sunk to. And I think he would be frightened at the use of the word enemy toward the media. You know, the word enemy is really a very strategic word, if you think about it. Because if you call someone the enemy, you've dehumanized them. You've made them into a target really.
And I think it's even broader than just calling the media the enemy. You've stoked fear in people. You've stoked fear in this country just by invoking the word enemy. I heard a quote years ago, that I believe was attributed to the Romanian dictator who was executed in '89. I'm not 100 percent positive, but the quote was you can do whatever you want if you keep the people frightened enough.
And I think that is the agenda of this administration. And I think my father would see it that way because my father, unlike this President, knew history. He knew what happened in Nazi Germany. He knew what has happened historically in Russia and other tyrannical regimes.
[22:35:05] LEMON: Yes. You know. It is interesting when you talk -- it was the first time I thought about this, you know he calls the press the enemy of the people and then he calls Russia a competitor.
LEMON: He thinks the press is worse than Russia or you know, someone like Vladimir Putin has a dictator and people have people murdered in his country. Listen to the way he talks about the press. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a very crooked media.
We're also thrilled to have a lot of fake news media in the back.
Good morning. The legitimate media and the fake news media. It's time to expose the crooked media deceptions and to challenge the
media for their role in fermenting (ph) divisions.
A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people and they are. They are the enemy of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: How dangerous is this tone?
DAVIS: I think it's incredibly dangerous, because, you know, here's the thing. Donald Trump and the people around him told us what they were going to do. Steve Bannon talked about blowing things up and tearing things down what was it, deconstructing the administrative state or something like that. It was something deconstructing something.
They told us what they were going to do. Donald Trump stood in front of people, the press, America and talked about how bad America was right now and he alone could fix it. They told us what they were going to do. In the same way that in Nazi Germany, Hitler told people what they were going to do and assumed that no one was going to get in his way. And Donald Trump has assumed that no one would get in his way. And so far, if you look at the silence of congress, he is right.
LEMON: What do you think about --
DAVIS: Our system of -- go on.
LEMON: What do you think about the Republican Party now? Because the Republican -- no one -- people behind closed doors as you know, or away from cameras, or recordings, people will say I don't agree with this. I can't believe he is doing that. They have disdain, for what the president is doing. But no one will say it publicly. What do think about the Republican Party now?
DAVIS: I think it's so cowardly. It's like they all turned into Unix. I apologize to any Unix who are offended by that comparison. But they really have. You know, it doesn't matter what you say behind closed doors. It matters what you say out in public to this country. That is what people elected you to do. To speak to us.
LEMON: There's always been tension between the Presidents and the press. Your father no exception. But you say, he tried to reach compromises with the media. Explain that.
DAVIS: Well, the example that I gave in this piece was up at his ranch they were initially they had long lenses up on a hillside way far away from the ranch house. But they could see actually into the ranch house. And you know, this is not going to do, I mean, they can't -- this is really an intrusion. We have to reach a compromise. But before they came to that compromise, he stepped outside of the ranch house. Wave, like something is wrong with him, clutched his chest and fell to the ground. And stayed there for a couple of seconds, it felt like he was having a heart attack. And then stood up and smiled and waved at them up on the hill, right?
The secret service was in on this prank. Otherwise they would have all been rushed to the hospital for heart attacks or something. You know, so he did have a sense of humor about it. But he also had enormous respect for the press. And you know, the Iran contra scandal he initially came in front of the press, came in front of America and said there were no arms or hostages. And I think it was like the next day that (inaudible) came to him with the document and said, actually Mr. President we found out there were. He went back in front of the press, I think that night. He went back in front of the country and back in front of the media and said I sincerely believe that I was right in what I told you yesterday, but as it turns out I was wrong.
LEMON: Well, that would not happen with this administration. They would figure out a way to say that the information you have is wrong.
DAVIS: No, it would not. That showing --
LEMON: And the intelligence is not accurate about that. I got to run though, Patti. Thank you so much. You're welcome back any time. It's a pleasure to have you on. Thank you.
DAVIS: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, "The New York Times" reporting that Omarosa could have as many as 200 secretly recorded tapes.
[22:40:03] So, is it any surprise that a worried White House is trying to change the subject.
LEMON: Breaking news. The White House has reportedly drafted multiple documents revoking the security clearances of former officials President Trump wants to punish. The Washington post is reporting, one senior official says they have discussed timing the release of those documents to distract from news cycles unfavorable to the President.
So, let's discuss now. CNN Political Commentator, Scott Jennings is here, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, Also Republican Strategist, Rick Wilson, the author "Everything Trump Touches Dies."
Gentlemen, good evening to you. Rick, I'm going to start with you. How much is Omarosa getting under this President's skin if he is resorting to revoking security clearance as a way to change the narrative?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think Omarosa is something that terrifies Donald Trump tremendously, because she is a creature of the same reality television ecosystem he emerges from.
[22:45:05] And she knows all his tricks. She has a lot of tapes. And she knows the psychology of Donald Trump is built from something that started in the New York City tabloid environment and grew into professional you know, reality TV and she understands all of Donald Trump's psychology in terms of disrupting his narratives and in terms of disrupting his story lines. She is using it to her very best advantage right now. He is very nervous about her.
LEMON: So Scott, the New York Times is reporting that Omarosa may have as many as 200 tapes. What do you think the President is most worried about?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I don't think it's just the President. I think it is all the people around the President. I mean, if you were in meeting with Omarosa, now you're reading this in the newspaper thinking did I ever say something in a meeting that could be taken out of context.
LEMON: Were you ever in a meeting with her?
JENNINGS: Me. No. I've never met Omarosa. Yes, look, if you are in the White House and you have some expectation of privacy so you can be candid either with other staff or with the President and you find out people may have been taping that, I'm sure that is caused panic to run through several folks. I'm not saying anybody has done anything wrong, but you know, any time you take audio tapes out of context, you can be made to look bad.
I think the President frequently punches down at his critics that he probably should just leave alone. I read that he was given advice to leave Omarosa alone. And if he did not take it, I wish he would have taken it, because I think he is frankly amplified her voice with the way he treated her this week.
LEMON: You know. We have seen this pattern before, Rick. When the president is dealing with his negative headlines after siding with Putin in Helsinki, remember?
He threatened Iran on Twitter. When he was dealing with the released of Michael Cohen's tape, he tweeted about NFL national anthem, that debate. Is this how the president handles controversy? He start a new one to get the media spinning onto a new topic so we'll talk about something else. But sometimes the one he gets us spinning onto is worse than the one that he is trying to cover up or get out of the headlines.
WILSON: Absolutely. Donald Trump, his main strategy is to blow up the last thing he is done by making a huge new controversy. And so the media follows that very frequently. And look, is Omarosa the be- all, end all of this administration's problems? Absolutely not. He has Robert Mueller breathing down his neck. He has a collapsing Republican field for the 2018 congressional elections. He is got a whole host of problems.
But he would rather fight about Omarosa than he would talk about Robert Mueller in the real and substantive way. He would rather fight about Omarosa -- make Omarosa the center of the story than focus on anything else that has to do with his capitulation to Russia or his failure with North Korea or his disastrous trade war. He would love to talk about talk radio and reality TV and all the distractions all day long.
LEMON: All right. Both of you stick around. When we come back, the President canceling his big military parade after costs skyrocketed. And I mean skyrocketed, wait until you hear just how much this parade would have cost.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump today canceling his promised military parade. Putting the blame on Washington, D.C. officials. Back now with Scott Jennings and Rick Wilson. OK. So, Scott, an administration official is telling CNN that this parade could run as high as $92 million. Wasn't this President -- wasn't he supposed to be someone who was going to cut back on spending? Isn't that sort of a Republican mantra is, to spend less?
JENNINGS: Yes. Although, I think the idea of a military parade wasn't a bad one. It's been a long time since we had a national military parade. I think maybe since the end of the first gulf war. Fewer than 1 percent of us serve in the military. I think it is a widening gulf between those who serve and a lot of places in this country. We don't know anybody who is in the military, a lot of us. Especially if you live in an urban area or around a University echo system.
So, I think the reasons to have a national parade were good. I'm not surprised that it is a high price tag, to have something like that in Washington. A way to pivot out of this for the President could be to have it somewhere else. Perhaps in a larger media market, but in the middle of the country, where it might be cheaper to do it.
I think honoring the military would be a good idea.
LEMON: How do parade help -- how do parade help with -- you said, I am trying to just follow you here. How would it help with people who -- wouldn't it be -- wouldn't it be better if the $92 million went to like, veterans affairs or paying our military more or getting them better equipment? Isn't that a better way to honor them, than just through pageantry?
JENNINGS: Well, the Congress just appropriated a whole bunch more money to the military and veterans affairs. So that is already been taken care of. There have been several secretaries of defense who talked about how parades of this nature can provide better morale and more pride in our national military.
Look, I understand the high price tag on this. I've gone back and forth myself on the need for this parade. But the more I read about how much it could engender more good will for our armed forces around the country, since we haven't done it for so long, and since we've been at war since 9/11, the more I think, you know what, these guys have been fighting our battles and they deserve to be honored. If it costs a little bit of money to do it, maybe we can do it cheaper in a different place than Washington, but I think we have to do it. LEMON: $90 million is a lot of dough. Go ahead, Rick.
WILSON: Well, look, I think my friend Scott is right on the point, we're honoring our troops is certainly a meritorious action. But I think this parade, unfortunately, was about aggrandizing Donald Trump's gigantic ego, because he likes to see things do go boom. And he is very much wanting to have himself as a sort of generalist figure watching over these troops parading past him to honor him.
[22:55:13] I don't think that Donald Trump really has, you know, anything beyond his own personal image and his own personal ego involved in this thing. And it is almost juvenile in the way he obsesses about this particular parade. There are a lot of soldiers, a lot of troops out there who absolutely deserve to be honored and to be heralded. But I do think there are a lot of things the military could be doing in terms of improving their quality of life, improving their salaries, their pay, their benefits, that would not be a single transitory moment, you know, rolling down Pennsylvania avenue.
And Scott is right. It's been a while. Because I can remember this. I was a young, you know, aide working for the Pentagon when Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense. We did this of victory, the parade and the fly over of that, but we had won a major war. It wasn't about George Bush, aggrandizing himself. It was about honoring the troops. I think there is a different sort of flavor with Donald Trump. He is obsessive about this. There is a certain character flaw to Donald Trump, I think, that makes him envious and wanting to have the associative property of the merit and honor of the troops rubbed off on him, that I think is a little unseemly in some ways. I don't really think it is the same kind of selflessness that you'd see with a George H.W. Bush or another President.
LEMON: I've got to run.
WILSON: There is something about Trump -- I'm sorry, Don.
LEMON: It's OK. I got to run, but I just want to say -- I got to get this in. This is the mayor of D.C. tweeting the president, yes, I am Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, D.C., the local politician who finally got through to the reality star in the White House with the realities $21.6 million of parade, events, demonstrations, and Trump's America, sad. Thank you, gentlemen. We'll be back.