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CNN TONIGHT

Another Pandora's Box to be Opened; Friends Do Unfriendly Moves; Manhattan D.A. Was Recently Considering Criminal Charges Against The Trump Organization; John Bolton Got Some Nasty Questions From The Press; David Pecker's Safe. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 23, 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: "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now. I actually gave it to you early, my friend.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Three seconds, but thank you. I'm not done with you are you, Christopher. Christopher, you notice in. I mean Chris.

CUOMO: Yes, pal.

LEMON: I cannot get that 20 minutes of my life back.

CUOMO: I hope that it was edifying for you and you saw how difficult it is to get even the most obvious falsehoods and proof of lying to be owned and accepted by this White House.

LEMON: They know, and the president does as well, and Kellyanne, that you're not attacking the president. They know that deep down. But they can never admit it. Doesn't play well for the base.

You asked Kellyanne Conway whether, she said, why. Why do you think I'm doing this, Chris. And you said you thought she's doing the right thing. We will have to differ on that one. I think power is a very, very--

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: No. I said she thinks she's doing the right thing.

LEMON: Power is a powerful aphrodisiac. That's all I have to say.

CUOMO: No, I hear you. But what I'm saying is, I said to her, I think you think that you're helping people. I do believe that she believes that.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I also believe that they are playing lots of bad games. They're trying to turn things back on us, they're trying to make us seem like we are a problem in this country. And that is dangerous medicine. And it's not going to stand on this show.

And I'm sorry the president does get a pass when he goes to the mother ship for interviews. That's why they go there more. We will talk about what the president talks about.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: If they're not challenge.

CUOMO: We will challenge them because that's the job. The truth matters. And the mistake is thinking you're going to scare us away from it. Won't happen.

LEMON: Absolutely. But the whole thing about the South African, the white South African farmers, it's the same thing. You know, to me -- did you see the article, there was an article in the Washington Post about it -- or in Vox about it.

CUOMO: Yes. In Vox.

LEMON: It's unbelievable because none of it is true. None of it is true.

CUOMO: Look, there are problems there.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Of course there are problems.

CUOMO: We're going to have to see which way they take their Constitution as they try to--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: The president of the United States is co-signing something from a white nationalist group.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: It's just beyond fathomable now.

CUOMO: And that he would hear something on TV and not use a power that you and I pray to whatever we believe in every night, which is to pick up the phone and say, hey, is this true in South Africa?

He's got the best intelligence in the world. They would have told him the truth. Instead he enlists his secretary of state to chase down a bogus report that he heard on TV. And the reason he did it is what really shakes me in my bones.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: He can't care about this as an issue, there's too much racism at home to worry about. There are too many huge endemic problems in Africa to focus on that.

I believe that he's reaching out to a group he told -- he's told he needs. And he doesn't need them.

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: So I got a big--

CUOMO: There are a lot more Americans in this country he could cultivate instead of the hateful ones.

LEMON: Yes. What does that have to do with the United States, what does that have to do with anything now?

OK. I know my producer is calling because we have a big show planned, but I've to ask you.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Why do you think why can't Kellyanne Conway just admit the president lied? You kept saying, David Pecker said it, Michael Cohen said it. Chris, the tape said it. He said it himself on the tape. The tape didn't say, hey, I've already paid these people. I want to inform you of what I've done.

It's saying we need to talk about this, I need to send out the payment, this is the way we have to pay it, we've got to do it through cash, not a check. They're talking about it in advance. The tape shows the lie.

CUOMO: I know. That's why I had so much confidence going into the conversation. I know I'm right. And they know that admitting the truth will be perceived as weakness at least by the president.

I don't agree with that. I don't teach it to my kids. I know the media can punish you for telling the truth sometimes when they catch you when they got you, that's politics, that's life, own it because there's a bigger value.

But you also heard the real, the real heart of the answer. The president already answered this. I said, yes, and he lied.

LEMON: That's what Sarah Sanders said.

CUOMO: That he believes and they--

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: The president has already answered this.

CUOMO: She called it was -- she said it was a ridiculous suggestion that he was lying. It's ridiculous that she would call it ridiculous. His play is this, if I say it, the base believes it no matter what. That's their play and I don't think that's a long term strategy.

LEMON: We have a lot to talk about in this show on that. Peter Beinert wrote an amazing article that explains all of this for The Atlantic. He is going to be on the show to talk about why Trump supporters believe he is not corrupt.

So, everyone wants to stay tune for that. Chris, I give you a lot of credit, my friend, I could not do it. You know she tried that thing with me, why are you badgering me, I think she said to you why aren't you letting a woman speak.

CUOMO: If anybody knows anything about my personal life, they will know I am surrounded by nothing but powerful women.

LEMON: Who you have to let speak all the time. That is indeed true.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And they should, they have more to say.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: They are more worthwhile listening to. Big brother, good luck to you tonight.

LEMON: I'm the only boy in the family so I feel your pain. Thank you. I appreciate it, Chris. See you later.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. A big show for you ahead right now.

So not only is one of the president's long time friends flipping on him. He had a secret safe full of evidence.

[22:05:02] Donald Trump's friend, his name is David Pecker. David Pecker is a publisher of the National Enquirer, granted immunity by the feds, by the way. That's according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sources are telling CNN that Pecker has told prosecutors that Trump knew about Michael Cohen's hush money payments to silence women who say they had sexual encounters with Trump. OK? So, go with me.

A friend of the president is telling Vanity Fair, and I quote, "holy sh-" and you can guess the rest. All right. I thought David Pecker would be the last one to turn. But that's exactly, that's apparently exactly what he's done.

And this is more bad news for this White House. The bare knuckle tabloid reportedly kept a safe full of documents on hush money payments and stories it killed, that's according to the Associated Press.

So, just days after Trump's former fixer and keeper of secrets Michael Cohen flipped on him, we're learning that David Pecker has flipped too. Can you imagine what's going through the president's mind right now? Is it any wonder the president has flipping on his mind when he sat down with Fox News yesterday?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping, for 30, 40 years, I've been watching flippers. It almost ought to be outlawed. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All of this has to be especially shocking to a president who, in spite of his own disloyalty, his own disloyalty, demands loyalty from others above all else.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We could use some more loyalty. I love loyalty.

Loyalty can be a wonderful thing.

Loyalty is very important. I'm loyal to a fault. Loyalty.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: You know, some of these people have like a 10 percent loyalty, meaning if they sneeze in the wrong direction, they're gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A president who says this about the man he has been slamming pretty much from day one, his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You know, the only reason I gave him the job, because I felt loyalty. He was an original supporter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And now, Sessions is fighting back. Saying in a statement, and I quote here, "While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations."

That's a blow right across the bow right there. But you know what they say about this. You're known by the company you keep. How often did your parents tell you that or how often do you tell your children that?

And now some of the people Donald Trump has surrounded himself with for years are turning on him. Michael Cohen. David Pecker. Omarosa. Three people very close to him for decades.

President Trump may not have seen all of this coming. But he probably should have. After all, he is the man who made this a centerpiece of his campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: On her way to work one morning, down the path along the lake, a tender hearted woman saw a poor, half-frozen snake.

His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew. Poor thing, she cried, I'll take you in, and I'll take care of you. She stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight.

But instead of saying thank you, that snake gave her a vicious bite. You know your bite is poisonous and now I'm going to die. Shut up, silly woman, said the reptile with a grin. You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, OK. So who should be reciting that story? Should Cohen be reciting that story? Or Omarosa? Maybe Pecker. Who is - is the snake Trump? Ponder that for a moment.

I want to bring in now CNN Politics Editor-at-Large, Chris Cillizza, also CNN Political Analysts, Kirsten Powers, and Ryan Lizza. Good evening to all of you.

We're going to get to all of that in just a moment. But I've just got to tell you, you know, Kirsten, you heard what I was just talking about Chris about. There's no way Kellyanne was going to admit that the president lied even though the evidence is right in front of her eyes.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

LEMON: The tape says it. They're talking about a payment to be made. How that payment should be made, and how they were going to do it. It didn't say I already did it, because the president says I only new afterwards.

POWERS: Right.

[22:09:58] LEMON: But as a complete bald-faced flat out l-i-e, lie. And I don't mean the Long Island Expressway. I'm talking about a lie. What do you think, Kirsten.

POWERS: I got it. Yes. I mean, I think that I don't understand why anyone goes back to her expecting her to come out and say something other than what the White House line is.

And no matter how many different ways you go at her, she's going to come back with saying something that often isn't true and, you know, and play the victim and pretend that she's being talked over because she's a woman and all these other things.

And you know, I just find it kind of a waste of time, personally. I know we're divided. There's a -- people are divided over these things, over whether these -- it's worthwhile talking to her or not. But I just wish that she would be a little more forthcoming and answer the questions and stop spinning.

LEMON: Yes. OK. So Chris, let's get to the other stuff that we have. This potential fallout for Donald Trump appears to be getting bigger with reports that the publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker, right, his buddy, buddy, granted immunity, the president's buddy, granted immunity by prosecutors in the Cohen investigation. That's huge.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes, I mean, look. I think it's easy to focus just on when Cohen cut the plea deal, we focused on Cohen and sort of what he said. And it was the Trump argument is, this is Michael Cohen, you can't trust this guy.

What any lawyer I talked to said was, there's a zero percent chance the Southern District of New York went just on Michael Cohen's word about what he said as it relates to these payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal and Donald Trump's role in it.

They corroborated it, right? This is -- this is prosecution 101. You don't just go with this one guy. If you're going to give him a plea deal, you make sure what he's telling you is provable and can be corroborated.

So if you follow that chain, you sort of had to suspect AMI, American Media, that David Pecker is the head of, had some role in that because obviously they were central to Karen McDougal at least as it relates to that story.

So, we shouldn't be stunned but I think it does show that the guy who no one expected to roll over, David Pecker, the guy who said I would take a bullet for Donald Trump, has now cut a plea.

So, you know, you are starting to see these people who Donald Trump relied on for not just a year, not just every once in a while like he likes talk about with Michael Cohen, people who played central roles in his life before the presidency are -- I was just going to say, are starting -- have given up the goods. Now, we don't know all the goods yet. But they've given them up.

LEMON: And just for the sake of truth so far, Lanny Davis told me there is no deal. He just pled guilty. There is no deal for leniency or anything like that. None of that has happened. I guess it could happen in the future.

But, so those, for the people who are saying well, he cut a deal and he's sort of bartering that against the truth or how much he's going to tell, that is not the case at this point.

So Ryan, there's also this A.P. story about the safe, right?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

LEMON: That he is cooperating. I'm wondering does that mean these stories were locked in the safe, are they about to come out? Because no one knows where that information is. Now mysteriously, it has vanished.

LIZZA: Yes. The A.P. said that some of the information was moved. I mean, part of this story that I'm fascinated with is, you basically have the Southern District of New York outlining a criminal conspiracy between Pecker's company, AMI, Michael Cohen, and candidate Donald Trump. They decided to give Pecker immunity, right, but they decided to

either prosecute or they were about -- they were going to indict Cohen and forced him into a plea agreement.

So they obviously, for whatever reason, made that decision between Cohen and Pecker that Cohen was the bigger fish here, right, that they wanted to send him to jail but they were willing to give Pecker immunity to sort of corroborate the tale of how the three individuals violated, allegedly violated campaign finance laws.

And the third person of course is the president of the United States, right? I'm fascinated with why did they pursue the campaign finance violations when they had Cohen on tax evasion and on bank fraud, right?

The only reason to do it, the only reason to go all out on the campaign finance violation, which let's be honest, the last time this argument was made was against John Edwards and the jury didn't buy the prosecution's argument, right?

So these prosecutors in New York decided they were going to go after Cohen on this issue for one reason and one reason only, I think, and that is because it implicated the president of the United States, and they thought it was very important to let everyone know that they believe the president was involved in a criminal conspiracy.

[22:15:11] The question now is, what next? What do we do with that information? What does Mueller do with that information, what does Congress do with that information?

LEMON: I want to read something real quick and I want to bring you guys back. This is from Karen McDougal's attorney. He put out a statement via Twitter. He said, "To all media asking our firm to comment on National Inquirer publisher David Pecker getting immunity from prosecution in exchange for corroboration of his collusion with Michael Cohen and Donald Trump in silencing Karen McDougal, here is our official statement. I told you so."

Yes. When we come back, a new legal challenge for the president, one that he can't fire his way out of.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So I'm back now with Chris Cillizza, Kirsten Powers, and Ryan Lizza. OK. Welcome back, everyone.

Kirsten, new tonight, "The New York Times" is reporting that the Manhattan district attorney's office is considering criminal charges against the Trump organization, two senior company officials in connection with the Cohen hush money payments to Stormy Daniels. How do you think the president is going to react to this?

POWERS: I don't think he's going to like it. Particularly because this will be out of his purview of pardoning, because it would involve a state law. Whether it's an individual or a corporation, and in this case it looks

like they were involved in some pretty shady behavior in terms of, you know, accounting for these fees as legal fees and that Michael Cohen was submitting phony invoices, you know, to sort of cover up what had transpired here.

[22:20:11] So, I think, you know, Trump, this obviously hits very close to home for him, but most importantly there's nothing he can really do to try to, you know, influence it.

LEMON: Chris, apparently, though, the official -- they told the Times that they cautioned that this is still in its earliest stages, OK? But they proceed with this probe connected to Cohen.

Wouldn't this be crossing the same red line the president set when he warned Mueller not to get into his business dealings?

CILLIZZA: Yes, I mean, it's a red line that I feel like has been crossed. You know, I mean, Donald Trump was trying to say you can't ask about anything other than Russia.

LEMON: Yes.

CILLIZZA: I feel like we're well beyond that at this point. And I'll note, as I've noted, everyone on Twitter always attacks about, where is Russia, why isn't Russia being mentioned?

If you read the founding document, and sure, you can read it, a press release, that Rod Rosenstein put out establishing the special counsel, it says any other crimes that you come across.

LEMON: I've read it as much as possible, Chris. And let me say this, it irks me to no end when someone say, what is this -- there it is, it's up on the screen. You guys can read it, right?

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: Yes, there it is.

LEMON: The special counsel believe it's necessary and appropriate the special counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.

But listen, when they say, where's Russia, where's the collusion, there's no collusion, where's the Russian collusion, blah, blah, blah, so it doesn't mean anything.

CILLIZZA: Well--

LEMON: I always want to say to them, I scream at the television and say, do you remember how Kenneth Starr started? It started with Whitewater.

CILLIZZA: Correct.

LEMON: And it ended with Monica Lewinsky. So all of a sudden have the rules changed?

CILLIZZA: That's right.

LEMON: All of a sudden, because this is a president that you support? That is not how it works. Go on, sorry to interrupt.

CILLIZZA: No, no, not at all. Point one, I'm glad that I'm not the only one who yells at the television, thank you, Don.

Point two, yes, here's the other thing. Number one, yes, it says, authorized to prosecute any federal crimes you may come across in this investigation.

LEMON: Right.

CILLIZZA: OK, so that's point, that's that.

LEMON: Yes.

CILLIZZA: But I always say to people, how do we know? We don't know what Mueller knows.

LEMON: We don't know.

CILLIZZA: He hasn't released anything.

LEMON: Yes.

CILLIZZA: So the idea that well, these two things don't have to do with Russia, OK, maybe they don't.

LEMON: yes.

CILLIZZA: But why should we assume -- I mean, it's like saying I left the game -- I left the basketball game in the second quarter, I'm just going to assume that the team that was ahead won.

LEMON: Yes.

CILLIZZA: We don't know, maybe they did. Maybe Manafort has nothing to do with it. But maybe he does.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And it has nothing to do with Russia. And if we see some other crimes or something that's illegal, and we should just look the other way. No, that's not how it works.

CILLIZZA: Again, Paul Manafort was convicted by a jury of his peers on eight felonies and 11 of the 12 jurors would have convicted him on 18 felonies.

LEMON: Yes, all of it.

CILLIZZA: So I don't know how that's the deep state or Bob Mueller's fault. LEMON: Come on. The deep state handpicked that jury. So listen. That

was sarcasm, by the way. Ryan, I want to talk to you now to the attorney general, talk about Attorney General Jeff Sessions hitting back after the president said this. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I put an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions, never took control of the Justice Department. And it's sort of an incredible thing. Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn't have done. Or he should have told me.

Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn't have put him in. He took the job and then he said, I'm going to recuse myself. I said, what kind of a man is this?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A man who is following the letter of the law? I mean, that's different than the criticism we have heard before. Why does Sessions put up with this?

LIZZA: I don't know. I mean, I think what Sessions did today in responding to that was really important. I mean, it was the first time that someone in this administration, and really the most important person in the administration because of his job running the Justice Department, it was the first time where he stood up and fully declared his independence from the president, and assured the American people that he would not let political interference sway the way that the Justice Department does its work.

We now have the leadership at the Department of Justice as a sort of bulwark against a president who at least in my reading, watching that interview today, has complete contempt for the rule of law and views law enforcement officers and the Justice Department as people who should be his political protectors, you know, his sort of shield and sword.

I mean, that's what came out of that interview today, he believes the Justice Department should be a completely politicized weapon and shield for Donald Trump, which is just a shocking thing for a president of the United States to believe, considering the oath of office they take.

[22:25:04] And what Sessions did today, whatever you think of Sessions on a whole host of issues, I'm sure we could agree and disagree with a lot of things Sessions believes and does, but what he did today was really, really important in standing up, assuming he follows through.

LEMON: Yes. And it's interesting, the same people who carted around law enforcement people on the campaign trail, lecturing protesters that they must respect law enforcement, is not respecting law enforcement.

This is supposed to be the law and order administration. It doesn't seem to be that way.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: Well, you know--

LEMON: I got to move on. Kirsten, I got to ask you this because I want to talk about impeachment. And Ryan did bring up that interview on Fox. This is what he said about impeachment. Impeachment. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don't -- I don't know how you can impeach somebody who has done a great job. I'll tell you what. If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor, because without this thinking, you would see -- you would see numbers that you wouldn't believe, in reverse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I mean, the fact that you have a president of the United States sitting there talking about impeachment. But maybe he should like pick up the phone and talk to Bill Clinton who had a very robust economy, the country was doing really well, and was actually impeached.

POWERS: Right. No, I think -- I mean, what he's saying doesn't really make a lot of sense. Maybe he doesn't understand how impeachment works.

But I think that, I do think, however, that well, the Democrats -- you know, if the Democrats win the House back, which is looking like they will if things are the way they are today, they're not going to have enough people in the Senate to be able to convict him.

So I think the impeachment stuff is kind of -- people are getting a little ahead of themselves on it.

LEMON: I agree with you.

POWERS: It's not -- I just don't -- I don't see a scenario, unless there's more information than this. I'm just saying based on this, I don't see there would be any way to get the requisite votes in the Senate to, you know, actually convict him.

LEMON: Yes.

CILLIZZA: Yes. Kirsten is right, by the way, 67 votes, a super majority.

LEMON: Yes.

CILLIZZA: So even if it Democrats -- let's say they take back the Senate, you're talking about 52, 53. I mean, we haven't seen a super majority vote for anything in a very long time.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It's stunning to me.

CILLIZZA: I mean, to Kirsten's point, barring the Mueller report--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I got to go, Chris.

CILLIZZA: -- showing things that we don't know about. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

LEMON: That's right. It's stunning to me the president is sitting there at the White House talking about impeachment and let me see, only 21 months in, 20 months.

POWERS: Yes.

LEMON: Thank you. I appreciate it.

LIZZA: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: When we come back, why the Manhattan district attorney is considering criminal charges against the Trump organization.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:30:01] LEMON: The Manhattan DA tonight considering criminal charges against the Trump organization in connection with the Michael Cohen case. That is according to "The New York Times." Their sources say two company officials could also face charges related to the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels.

So let's discuss this now. CNN Legal Analysts, Jack Quinn and Laura Coates are here. Quinn is a former White House Counsel to President Clinton, and Coates is a former federal prosecutor, also you taught constitutional law for five years, right?

JACK QUINN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: For three years at Georgetown.

LEMON: Three years, all right, so you know a little bit about this.

QUINN: Enough to be dangerous.

LEMON: And John Dean is here. He was also a Nixon White House Counsel. Thank you very much, all of you for joining us, nothing to talk about legally, Jack. That is sarcasm. According to the New York Times, they're reporting that a state investigation would center on how the Trump organization accounted for its reimbursement to Michael Cohen, that $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. How significant a development is this?

QUINN: I mean when the investigation was opened up in the southern district, I made the comment that this whole investigation was metastasizing. It continues to metastasize. And I think you can expect that any law enforcement agency with equities in some of the conduct before us will want to have its opportunity to review the facts and see whether there's a legitimate case to be brought.

LEMON: So Laura, the Trump organization recorded the reimbursement to Cohen as a legal expense, but Cohen says that this payment was to buy Stormy Daniels' silence during the campaign, problematic?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Extremely. You see when you have reporting requirements, the underlying premise behind them is that you report things truthfully and accurately, so you have transparency, so you know whether it's a campaign finance violation, whether it's an IRS exposure for tax liability or anything else. And so if you're trying to circumvent the law by hiding and filtering it in different places, you already have this idea that people are going to be suspicious of it.

And so it's what the intent already being formed here, but what they were trying to do. And if Michael Cohen is saying -- and of course, we have to test that theory, he has been credited by the U.S. attorney's office in New York about this thing. But if he is to be believed about this, that means that there were more parties who were complicit in hiding the truth from the American people and from the campaign finance oversight committees. This is a huge problem.

LEMON: Yeah. And interestingly enough, John, we're talking about state charges. So the President doesn't have pardon power here. Could that have an impact on what the Trump organization officials tell investigators?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It could. But I think there actually is a stronger argument on behalf of a state prosecution to block it while a sitting President is still sitting, maybe deferring it until after he gets out of the presidency. Otherwise, you could have a situation where every state that was a political enemy of a President could start filing and drumming up charges.

That isn't as true in the federal situation. But I think that's an argument that will probably come up pretty soon.

LEMON: And then afterwards, you know, they say a sitting President can't be indicted. That has yet to be tested. If they wait until after he's President, then he's no longer President so then he can be indicted.

QUINN: He can at that point.

LEMON: Ok. So listen. Also tonight, Jack, the Associated Press reported the National Inquirer kept a safe with documents on hush money payments and other killed stories that were damaging to the Trump, to then candidate Trump. Since Pecker reportedly -- Pecker reportedly has immunity, right, that's what the New York Times -- Wall Street Journal, I should say. How damaging is this to President Trump?

QUINN: Well, it remains to be seen. But it should certainly be very concerning to the President, because this is more the source of more and more corroboration. And that's what the prosecution is building up here, corroborators. And, you know, you started out asking about the safe.

LEMON: Right.

QUINN: Mr. Pecker did not get immunity and retain possession of the contents of this safe.

[22:35:02]LEMON: Exactly.

QUINN: OK?

LEMON: He's offering something. If he's getting immunity, he's probably offering a lot.

QUINN: Well, the contents of the safe are downtown, at Foley Square.

LEMON: You think -- that's what I was going to ask Laura. I mean if he's cooperating, and apparently this information has somehow been moved, right? I am wondering if investigators already have the information that's in the safe. And by the way, I don't know if people are making a big enough deal of this Pecker thing, because if the McDougal and the Daniels thing came out of that, who knows what else is there. Go on.

COATES: Well, first of all, the idea that someone would think that the documents that they have in the safe would not be able to be viewed in any other format when you probably printed it from a source that the grand jury subpoena power already had oversight over, the computer perhaps. They already the information about it or had access to it.

It's a little remarkable. But the other notion here -- you're absolutely right to make a very big deal of this. When Michael Cohen basically recorded the audio conversation between himself and then candidate Trump, he mentioned David Pecker. He talked about we have to do everything we can in case he were to be hit by a bus.

LEMON: Laura, let me play it.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let me play it. And then we'll talk about it on the other side. Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. Do we have the rest of it, where he talks about Pecker? OK, let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David. So that I am going to do that right away. I have actually...

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Give it to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I have spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with...

TRUMP: So what are we...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Funding. Yes, and it's all the stuff...

TRUMP: You're thinking about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you never know where that company...

TRUMP: He gets hit by a truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct. So I am all over that. And I spoke to Allen about it. When it comes time for the financing, which will be...

TRUMP: What financing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I have to pay.

TRUMP: We'll pay cash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: By the way, that doesn't sound like after the fact. That sounds like before the President having knowledge of it before it happened. Regardless of what he said in that interview with Fox News. But Laura, you were making the point. Go on.

COATES: Making the point that of course, he mentions David Pecker in that conversation, used the phrase all of them. Now up to that point we believed that it was Karen McDougal, who had the National Inquirer story caught and killed. Then you had the idea of Stormy Daniels aka Stephanie Clifford. But it seems as though in that particular conversation that all of them allude to far more than that.

And David Pecker is now in immunized to talk about perhaps what all of the other things are. And the other person he mentioned in that tape, Don, is Allan Weisselberg, which remember, he was subpoenaed as well several weeks ago. So everyone who was mentioned in that particular audio recording has now been subpoenaed in some way or fashion in connection with the Michael Cohen investigation.

This is a quintessential example of the walls closing in. And everyone who was mentioned was implicated either explicitly or implicitly in that particular call.

LEMON: It's interesting. The President in the interview talked about flipping. We're going to talk more about flipping. But the President's attorney -- I've worked in news in New York for a long time, made his name on corruption by flipping people. It's how he got the cases solved. So I wonder that the President's own attorney would say about that. And I'm talking about Rudy Giuliani. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:40:00] LEMON: And we're back now, breaking news, Rudy Giuliani walking back comments on a potential pardon for Paul Manafort. Well, tonight, the President's lawyer says Trump won't pardon anyone involved in the Russia investigation during the investigation. I want to bring back Jack, Laura, and John Dean.

So since we're on the subject of Rudy Giuliani, I want you to take a listen to -- this is what the President said to Fox News about flipping. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Everything's wonderful, and then they get 10 years in jail, and they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed. It's not fair. It's called flipping. And it almost ought to be illegal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So what do you think, I mean, should be almost outlawed, and almost illegal. Do you think that there's a reason why he keeps adding that word to it?

QUINN: It's breathtaking, that particular comment, among some others. You know, he's talking about the administration of justice. He's talking about prosecuting crimes. Getting people to turn in order to provide evidence against a criminal organization is what helps keep all of us safe.

LEMON: I have got to ask you this, Laura. And Jack, you can probably weigh in on this, because the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, made a name for himself in New York getting members of the mob like Vincent Fish, members of the mob like Vincent Fish Cafaro to flip. They took down Fat Tony Salerno. So flipping is very common.

Again, Rudy Giuliani made his name on it. Isn't this how the justice system works?

COATES: It is. And quite frankly, he's being very flippant about the flipping process, because he's making it seem like when you cooperate with the government and provide information about your own involvement or your unique knowledge because you're somehow associated with somebody or an eyewitness, that somehow you're always going to feed them what they want to hear as opposed to the truth.

And there are measures that a prosecutor has to take to make sure that the information they receive from that person who is providing information is in fact verifiable and can also be corroborated in some form or fashion. They don't just say please tell me all the things I would like to hear. It would make your job a whole lot easier trying cases.

[22:44:57] But you actually have to be in furtherance of justice, and there are parameters there. And so the idea that flipping is synonymous with lying, is what the President and Giuliani want you to believe. But Giuliani forgets that he in fact, and most prosecutors in fact, require the assistance of people who are unsavory and also people who may have a vested interest in saving their own hide to give us information that is truthful and verifiable.

DEAN: And who go to great length to make sure that those people who are flipping in fact telling the truth to the prosecutors, because they don't want to go out on a limb with rotten evidence.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Hold on, Laura. John Dean knows a thing about cooperating with investigators. And I just want to play -- this is a conversation between John Ehrlichman and President Nixon. It's from April 8th of 1973, and they're talking about you, John.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Dean thinks that that's Mitchell's frame of mind on all of this. He doesn't really know much about preparing himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does Dean think about everything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says it's not going to go away, it's right on top of us, and the smartest thing Dean can do is go down there and appear cooperative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Appear cooperative. I mean what Nixon didn't count on is that you would tell the truth and not lie. Are you seeing history repeat himself?

DEAN: There is some of that. I also must tell you, Don, one of the great metaphors of Watergate came out when I testified about that conversation, because I had called Haldeman to tell him that I was -- first I told him earlier. I hired a lawyer, and we were going to meet with the prosecutors. And his line was, he called me from Air Force One, was that remember, John, once the toothpaste is out of the tube it's very hard to get back in.

That was the origin of that comment. But I did go into the White House and reported to Haldeman and Ehrlichman, and this is the benefit -- that's what he's reporting to the President on.

LEMON: That's got to be the last word. Thank you, all. I appreciate your time. When we come back, a report asks National Security Adviser, John Bolton if President Trump is a security risk. And you've got to see his response, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [22:50:00] LEMON: National Security Adviser, John Bolton, meeting with his Russian counterpart in Geneva today, and insisting the U.S. won't tolerate any election interference in the midterms, then he got some questions from the press.

Joining me now to discuss is CNN National Security Analyst, James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence.

Mr. Director, thank you so much for joining us. I got to ask you, the chaos in this White House causing headaches for staff overseas. I want you to listen to what Bolton was asked before abruptly ending a press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Given the events of this week and admissions of payoffs, and you mentioned election meddling, whether there are ever concerns that your own President is a security risk?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course not. I mean that's a silly question. And I just spoke to him literally a few minutes ago. And we have performed here in exactly the way I think the two leaders would have expected us to. And, you know, honestly, have a little faith in the American people who elected him President. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Bolton was clearly furious at the question. Not the topic he wants to be addressing, especially overseas.

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. You know it clearly upset him. I have, you know, with all the falderal lately about security clearances, you know, there are 12 or 13 specific criterion that are used to make judgments about people and whether they're trustworthy enough to have access to classified information. And if you use that 12 or 13 criterion, I think our President would have a hard time.

And the thing that struck me about that in the first instance, Don, was just the fact the question was asked, and it was a serious question. And by the way, one of those things you worry about is, you know, vulnerability to blackmail, for example. And recent revelations, you know, certainly reveal at least the potential for that.

And certainly, if the American people were -- had access to the same data that a security clearance adjudicator would have, if the President had been subjected to that, the voting might have been different.

LEMON: I want you to listen, Mr. Director, to this moment. It's from a meeting with lawmakers today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that China represents the foremost national security and economic challenge to our country, of any other country in the world.

TRUMP: Not Russia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the long term, in the long term.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In addition to military transformation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I mean, do you have confidence the President is taking the threat of Russian election interference seriously?

CLAPPER: Well, I don't think he takes that seriously, nor do I think he takes the threat of Russia seriously. And in my opinion, just my view, I believe that as long as Putin is in power, our primary adversary really is going to be China or is going to be Russia. For lots of reasons, not only because of the meddling, which continues, but because of the profound strategic threat they pose in the modernization of their nuclear arsenal.

[22:54:58] And they only have one adversary in mind, and that's us. Long term, I think it was Senator Cornyn speaking, and I think he's right. Long term, I think China poses a great threat to us. But just the fact that our two economies are so inextricably intertwined, I think does serve to somewhat moderate Chinese behavior.

LEMON: You, yourself, have become the subject of the President's ire. And he tweeted this on Tuesday. He said even James Clapper has admonished John Brennan for having gone totally off the rails. Maybe Clapper is being nice to me so he doesn't lose his security clearance for lying to Congress. I mean what was your reaction to the President's tweet?

CLAPPER: Well, I don't do social media. Someone on CNN notified me about the tweet. And I don't actually pay too much attention to them anymore. And just to be clear, I wasn't admonishing John. John and I are good friends, and I am supportive of him. But I do think this illustrates just how political this security clearance thing is.

When he apparently believes I am trying to curry favor with him in order to keep my clearance, which has nothing to do with anything. So it's -- I actually found it -- the tweet sort of amusing.

LEMON: You have the same response to these tweets about you as I have to tweets about me. Just brush it off your shoulder and keep...

CLAPPER: Yeah, exactly.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you, Director, always a pleasure.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: When we come back, what could David Pecker's safe, full of secrets, safe full of secrets, immunity from prosecutors and prosecution. What could it mean for the Stormy Daniels case? Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, reacts to this and more. He's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)