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Don McGahn To Leave Job As White House Counsel, Trump Says; Is Sessions On The Chopping Block?; Trump's Former Fixer Awaits Sentencing After Guilty Plea; Sessions Silent As Reporters Press Him On Job Status; Inspector General Report: Trump Involved In FBI Headquarters Decision; Trump White House; Ex-Police Officer Convicted Of Murder In Shooting Death Of Unarmed Black Texas Teen. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired August 29, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. It is 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast live will all the new developments tonight. White House Counsel, Don McGahn set to leave his job in the coming weeks. And while McGahn had informed the president some time ago of his intent to go, but he had not firmed up exactly when.
Trump sweet announcing McGahn's departure reportedly catching the White House counsel off guard. His departure leaves a deficit of senior staffers who might be willing to challenge the President. It also comes a short time after news broke of McGahn's 30 hours of conversations with Robert Mueller's team. Something the President didn't know much about until after the fact.
And there is more, CNN is learning about a second Trump Organization employee who discussed a potential immunity deal with federal prosecutors, but ultimately did not get immunity, but others did including long time Trump ally David Pecker, who publishes the National Enquirer and a long time Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. All of this is happening as the President has become increasingly vocal in his dissatisfaction with his Attorney General whom he blames for not protecting him. At a time the President is facing mounting legal issues. The fate of Jeff Sessions seems less and certain. And no one seems more aware than of that than the A.G. himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Attorney General, can you explain why you you're still on the job, after you had been attacked by the president so much?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I want to turn now to new reporting tonight about former Trump fixer and keeper of secrets Michael Cohen and why he decided to plead guilty to eight counts of tax evasion. Making false statements to a bank and to the campaign finance violations. CNN National Political Reporter, M.J. Lee and she is here with more. M.J. good evening to you, thank you for doing this. What factored into Michael Cohen's decision to plead guilty?
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, you know, Don, if you think back to last week, as you said, he pleaded guilty to eight counts including tax evasion, making false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations, those are obviously about the payments that he made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal at time to get to stay quiet during the election. That was obviously very stunning and sort of public down fall for this man who had been a personally attorney for the president for a long time.
What we know now is actually things could had been a lot worst for Michael Cohen. The prosecutors made it very clear to him that there could be more charges coming and that his wife could have been implicated and also that their assets could have been seized. One other considerations that taken into account very, very seriously is the fact that he knew if he had tried to go to trial, the legal bills would simply would have been enormous in addition to bill that already stacking up for his family. So, he just did not want to leave his family with that kind of financial burden.
LEMON: Lots of pressure on him. Sentencing in December, correct? What do we know about his mind set?
LEE: Well, you know, we've been talking to people who are in touch with Michael Cohen and have insights into what he has been thinking and we're told that he is simply resigned. Resigned to the fact that he will go to prison for some time. He still does not expect to receive a Presidential pardon from President Trump and that he feels like everything that he is doing right now and all of the decisions that he has made including last week, all of those lead up to him being able to protect his family as much as possible.
One Cohen friend actually told CNN that Michael Cohen took a bullet for his family. That quote obviously is interesting, because Cohen famously said he would be willing to take a bullet for Donald Trump. We've also seen Cohen out and about in Manhattan. We saw him last week walking out of the four seasons in midtown Manhattan. We saw him coming in and out of his apartment and there was a moment where a photographer actually asked him, Mr. Cohen, do you feel like you are a hero now? And he responded I'll leave that up to you. That goes to show and friends say that he does not want to go into hiding, but he wants to continue his daily routine as he waits for the sentencing hearing.
LEMON: He is not that kind of person that hides. We always see him out and about. I understand, M.J., that you're getting information about a potential immunity deal for a second Trump Organization employee? What can you tell us about?
LEE: Yes, this is interesting. We are learning that there is a second Trump Organization employee who had discussions with prosecutors about a potential immunity deal ultimately this person and this is important, did not receive immunity and they also did not testify before the grand jury and also importantly, CNN actually hasn't identified this person. [23:05:06] All we know is that it was a Trump Organization employee.
Keep in mind, what we knew as of last week was that another Trump Organization executive, who did receive immunity from prosecutors, of course, was Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer for the Trump Organization who had information about these payments about Michael Cohen made to these women. We also know from prosecutors that there were multiple Trump Organization employees who were a part of this sort of reimbursement scheme that Michael Cohen had, participated in and so now, it's interesting that we do know there was at least a second employee who had discussions with prosecutors about potentially receiving immunity.
LEMON: Great reporting. M.J., we thank you so much. I appreciate it.
LEMON: Now I want to bring in Michael Avenatti, the attorney who represents Stormy Daniels. Michael, good evening to you. Thank you for coming on the program. Listen, Michael Cohen who once said he would take a bullet for President Trump now resigned to going to prison. Do you think there is more to come here?
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIEL'S ATTORNEY: There is no question, Don, there is more to come. You know, Michael Cohen has taken the same ark that many white collar criminals take. They start off very defiant stating that they proceed they are willing to proceed with the case until it is very end and then reality sets in and this is exactly what happened with Michael Cohen.
There is no question in my mind that he is cooperating with prosecutors with the Southern District of New York. There is no question that he is going to be providing additional information in that case as well as in our case and I think we're in the middle of the second quarter of a four quarter game.
LEMON: So what does this mean for the Stormy Daniels' civil lawsuit? Does it mean anything?
AVENATTI: Well, it means quite a lot. I mean, on September 10th, we'll have a hearing here in Los Angeles. The judge is going to make a determination as to whether the pause or stay in the case should be lifted, and we're moving forth with depositions of Michael Cohen and Donald Trump, and we're going to get to the bottom of this of what the President knew and when he knew it and what he did about it and we'll ask those questions under oath.
I mean, this is a man who routinely lies as a matter of course. He has no problem lying to you and other members of the press. Has no problem lying to the American public and we are going to find out if he is prepared to lie under oath.
LEMON: So, you know, we talked about this last time and now there is more. You say that Cohen pleading and resigning to go to prison makes depositions of both him and President Trump more likely. Why do you say that, Michael? AVENATTI: Well, because now we have the predicate facts, at least the
general facts that Michael Cohen has stated in open court last week relating to what happened in connection with our case. We've had this pending motion for some time. It's all been delayed at the request of Michael Cohen, the investigation is now generally complete as it relates to Michael Cohen and there is little question in my mind, Don, that we're going to get a deposition of Michael Cohen. We may have to wait until after sentencing in December, but in the meantime, we've asked to proceed with the deposition of Donald Trump under oath.
There is Supreme Court President, Jones V. Clinton for this concept, this idea of a deposition of a sitting President and I'm very much looking forward to asking Donald Trump some very pointed questions about his conduct in connection with this and I think the American people have every right to know exactly what he knew and what he did.
LEMON: You're talking about Paula Jones and former President Bill Clinton, correct?
LEMON: So, listen, if Cohen confesses that hush money, that the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels was a crime, I mean, couldn't you argue that just voids the whole contract and ends the case?
AVENATTI: Well, we could argue that, but I mean, keep in mind that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani and others are now calling Michael Cohen a liar, which is fairly ironic to us, because as you and your viewers will recall, Donald Trump stood in the doorway of the people's plane, Air Force One not too long ago and he told each of us that we should talk to Michael Cohen if we wanted to know what happened in connection with the $130,000 payment. Guess what?
I mean, we have heard from Michael Cohen. We heard from him standing in a federal courthouse in Manhattan last week pleading guilty to a crime. Now all of a sudden, Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump and others are saying no, no, no, we didn't mean what we said in the doorway of Air Force One. Michael Cohen is a liar. Guess what? We are going to test those statements under oath.
LEMON: Let's talk about immunity. Because you know couple people have gotten immunity. We are also learning that prosecutors were talking to a second Trump Organization employee about a possible immunity deal after the CFO Allen Weiselberg received immunity. I mean, these people could provide a lot of information, Michael, about the President and the Trump Organization. What does it say about what's going on inside that company that someone else was also hoping to strike a deal?
[23:10:02] AVENATTI: None of this bodes well for Donald Trump, Don. First of all, people need to understand that immunity is not handed out Willie Nilly by prosecutors. I mean, that is a very serious matter. They take those decisions very seriously before they grant immunity. They have to take into account exactly what they are going to get in return and they also have to factor in how is that going to assist them on a go forward basis in connection with the investigation.
So all of this tells me that this is about to take on an additional level, if you will, an additional level of seriousness and the walls are closing in on Donald Trump. Now, he probably doesn't realize that, because he lives in an alternative universe that he crafts around him, but there is no question that the walls are closing in on these criminal enterprise that he is been the head of for many, more years.
LEMON: I want to talk about this and we have some pictures that we are going to put up. Because you posed with Stormy Daniels, for this month's Vogue Magazine. The piece is titled, Stormy Daniels isn't backing down and then here is what the writer writes. Part of what has made Daniels such an effective adversary to Trump is that she seemingly can't be humiliated or scandalized. She doesn't have a carefully crafted image or a political base to maintain, threatened to leak her sex tape?
Well, I'll leak all of them and you can have as many as you want for $29.95 she says. Does her candor make her a very unique challenge for the President to deal with? You know, he often said during the campaign, you know, what do you have to lose? Well, Stormy, when it comes to this, doesn't really have anything to lose. Everything she -- about her is out there. She is put it out there for the public to consume.
AVENATTI: Well, I think her candor is incredibly refreshing, Don. You know, we live in a day in age when everyone is looking for the perfect tweet or the perfect Instagram pick and Stormy is an incredible woman. She is very, very brave. She is incredibly smart. And what I like most about her is she is who she is and in today's day in age, that is very refreshing and I think that is why she is resonated with people all over the world to the degrade that she has.
LEMON: Hey, I'm up against the clock, but I got to say everywhere I go and you know I'm going to ask you, people say hey, that guy is on your show. Is he really running for President? Is he really running? So, can you just answer for them, what is going on?
AVENATTI: I am seriously considering it, Don. I've been to a number of states. I've talked to a lot of people. People are very enthusiastic about the prospects. It's a big decision, as you know, but here is what I will tell you. The Democrats cannot afford to get this wrong in 2020. They cannot under estimate Donald Trump and the Party better nominate a fighter that can take the fight to this guy in the event that he is still in office, because we have too much at stake in this country and I firmly believe that. So I haven't made a decision, but if I'm the guy, then I'm going to step up and I am going to take it -- I am going to take the fight to Donald Trump. There is no question about that.
LEMON: So much more to talk about when it comes to that, but this show is only an hour long and I got other segments to get to. Thank you, Michael. I appreciate it.
When we come back, a member of the House Judiciary Committee weighs in on the White House Counsel, Don McGahn's departure, Congressman Ted Lieu is here.
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump announcing today that White House Counsel, Don McGahn, will soon be leaving. The news comes as fate of Attorney General, Jeff Session, is more and more uncertain with the President continuing to publicly undermine him. Joining me now to discuss is Congressman Ted Lieu. He is a Democrat and the House judiciary Committee and a Foreign Affairs Committee. Thank you Congressman for joining us here this evening.
Let's start off talking about Don McGahn, shall we, because a source close to McGahn is telling CNN that he planned to leave, but was surprised by the President's tweet announcing it today. Do you think Trump forcing McGahn out is ultimately about fighting back against Robert Mueller's investigation?
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Don, for your question. Absolutely. It's not a coincidence that less than two weeks after Donald Trump finds out, Don McGahn was cooperating with Special Counsel Mueller for 30 hours, he is now forcing Mr. McGahn out and I think it is because Mr. McGahn understood that his oath was not to Donald Trump, it was to U.S. Constitution. He understood that he was there to protect the White House and the American people not to (inaudible) Donald Trump's personal lawyer. I don't think Trump ever understood that and I think you're seeing a parting of the ways because of that.
LEMON: Here is what sources are telling CNN. They are saying that the President and McGahn haven't been close for about a year now. We know McGahn threatened to quit if Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller back in January. I'm sure you remember that. We also know that McGahn sat down with investigators for the Special Counsel for like some 30 hours. Here is how the President responded when asked about that earlier. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he said to the Mueller team?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. Not at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible).
TRUMP: I knew he was going. I had to approve it. No, I don't have to be aware. We do everything straight. We do everything by the book. And Don is an excellent guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What did you think when you heard that?
LIEU: First, I would -- the President does not do everything straight. That is why there are these multiple investigations into his administration and we are also watching that people who stand up to him, because of the rule of law are getting forced out. So Don McGahn is getting forced out. He fired Sally Yates early in his administration, because she stood up for the rule of law and if he then goes and tries to fire Jeff Sessions, what we're really watching now is a slow motion Saturday night massacre where he is really getting rid of all of the Department of Justice and legal officials who are trying to get him to abide by the rule of law.
[23:20:02] LEMON: So, then, how do you think it is going to affect the Mueller investigation, especially Don McGahn being replaced?
LIEU: I think it is not a good sign, because Don McGahn was one of the reasonable folks in the White House in terms of the Mueller investigation trying to get the President to not fire Special Counsel Mueller, to make sure that the President was giving appropriate documents and information upon requests from the Special Counsel's office and with Mr. McGahn leaving, I worry who the President might put in and what they might do with the Special Counsel's office.
LEMON: After the President announced that McGahn was going to be leaving, Senator Chuck Grassley tweeted this, I hope it's not true McGahn is leaving White House counsel. You can't let that happen. What do you think your colleague is so worried about?
LIEU: I think it is very telling that a Republican U.S. Senator is basically telling Donald Trump don't do this. And that is because again, Mr. McGahn even though I disagree with him on policy issues, in terms of the rule of law, he clearly understands it and he understands the President is not above the law. He was trying to get Donald Trump to follow the law and it seems like Donald Trump wants to get rid of him, because of Mr. McGahn's views on the law.
LEMON: OK. So let's talk Attorney General now, OK, Congressman, if you will. I'm talking about Jeff Sessions. Ignoring questions about his fate today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Attorney General, can you explain why you are still on the job after you had been attacked by the president so much? (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, -- you are seeing a split in support for Sessions from within the GOP. So, do you think that his days are numbered or you think Sessions is the President's favorite punching bag and that is just the way it is and it is the way that is going to remain?
LIEU: I hope his days are not numbered, even though I disagree with Jeff Sessions on many policy issues, he has preserved the independence of the Justice Department and if Donald Trump would fire Jeff Sessions that would be obstruction of justice, because Trump is not firing Sessions, because he disagrees with him on immigration. He is firing him, because Sessions is not interfering with the Special Counsel investigation and Trump wants to put in someone who will interfere or that would be obstruction of justice or at least conspiracy of justice.
LEMON: So, President Trump also continuing to lashed out at the Justice Department Attorney, Bruce Ohr. He is saying on Twitter this morning, here is what he say, how the hell is Bruce Ohr still employed at the Justice Department? Disgraceful. Witch hunt. Do you see that this president attacking Ohr, is this another way to discredit the Russian investigation again? Is this whole thing just about discrediting Mueller and the investigation?
LIEU: It's another bizarre conspiracy theory that the President believes on. Look, this is what Bruce Ohr did. Bruce Ohr was not on the Clinton investigation, he is not on Special Counsel Mueller's investigation. He had nothing to do with any of this. All Bruce Ohr did was he got information from Christopher Steele and the Steele dossier, which by the way, gets more and more corroboration every day and he relayed that information to FBI officials. That is what he did and that is what you expect an FBI official to actually do. That is what law enforcement does. They relay information to investigators and let them determine the credibility and relevance of the information.
LEMON: Congressman Lieu, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
LIEU: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: And when we come back, we're learning tonight that another lawyer is leaving the White House. Why the man responsible for policing ethics is heading out next.
[23:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So Don McGahn is not the only lawyer leaving the White House legal team. I want to talk about this now with CNN Contributor, Walter Shaub, who resigned last year as director of the Office of Government Ethics, and Ambassador Norm Eisen, who is a former White House Ethics Czar, who is the author of the new book "The Last Palace." I hear it's a good read, endorsed by Walter Shaub as well.
In the commercial break. Thank you gentlemen for joining us. So let us talk about this. Steven Passantino, the Deputy White House Counsel, responsible for policing ethics leaving by the end of the summer, you worked in the White House ethic office. What's your reaction to the news?
WALTER SHAUB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I didn't actually work in the White House. We worked with the White House. The office of government ethics is separate and really, you know, the guy is a very nice guy. Somebody you'd want as your neighbor, but like all of them, this is not somebody who should be doing government ethics. This White House as a whole is just openly hostile to the ethics program and then this official in particular was the one running around making people sign non-disclosure agreements which is unfathomable for government.
He is also the guy who is responsible for the unsigned, undated retroactive ethics waivers, as though that is a thing. So this is not something I think anybody would want on their resume that they were in the White House in the ethics office in the Trump administration. LEMON: Norm, you say you're amazed that Passantino lasted as long as
he did, because no ethicist could thrive in this White House. Why do you say that?
NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, because he has a nightmare client, you know, possibly the worst client in the history in American ethics, Don, President Trump. Look at the damage that the President has done to the reputations and the careers and the freedom of the people around him starting with the criminal investigation. Almost 190 charges by Special Counsel Mueller, the president's former national security adviser pleading guilty and his fixer Michael Cohen, pleading guilty and that is just breaking the law. The violations of ethics and norms have been even worse. Thousands of them, too many to count. So, you know, that is an ethics hazard zone. Nobody could thrive in that environment.
LEMON: So, Walter, there is a new report on the inspector general. The General Service Administration reveals that Trump was involved in the decision to rebuilt FBI headquarters in downtown Washington and the abandoning plans to move the agency to the suburb.
I want you to check this out. This is the FBI campus, right? It sits right across Pennsylvania Avenue from the Trump International Hotel. Does this report prove that Trump was personally involved in the decision that can potentially impact the financial interest in the Trump Hotel?
SHAUB: Yes, there is absolutely no doubt he was involved in it, and they don't even deny it. What they did, which is just absolutely bizarre is direct general services administration staff not to talk to the inspector general about their conversations with president, which is stunning to me.
This of course we are talking about a decision or an involvement in a decision that would have landed any other federal employee other than the president or the vice president in jail.
You don't get to own a hotel across the street from a gigantic government building like the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building and get yourself involved in the decision to scrap over a decade of planning to move the FBI out of the city with the appearance that you're doing it to prevent your hotel from being across the street from a noisy, messy construction zone and running the risk of a hotel being built in that space that would compete with your hotel.
That just is illegal for a federal employee. Unfortunately, the law doesn't apply to the president.
LEMON: Isn't this what you were talking about divesting the whole emoluments clause and all of that stuff? OK. So, Norm, so listen, the inspector general cites two White House meetings in January and one in June, which Trump attended. The extent of Trump's involvement is really unclear.
But the report says that GSA's employees receive instructions not to share any statement Trump made at those meetings. Some of those said they were told or believe the information was subject to executive privilege. So not only did Trump intervene, he then invoked executive privilege to block the inspector general from learning what he said at the meetings. What does that tell you?
EISEN: Well, first, it tells me that they don't understand the elements of executive privilege. How can you invoke it against your own administration within the executive? It's a sham, Don. Number two, it tells me that the president is personally involved and you're right to talk about the constitution.
Of course, I'm co-counsel with the Maryland and D.C. A.G. in the emoluments case. It's a case that says the president can't get benefits. The constitution forbids it. The hotel is a giant benefit that he's getting from the government. Why is he personally involved in these meetings at this level of detail about a potential mess across the street and competing hotel? It seems to me he's there.
The inference is, what does he have to hide? He wants to line his pockets like everything. He's turned the White House into a giant Trump piggy bank. And the people aren't going to stand for it, Don. We're going to get to the bottom of this including in our litigation.
LEMON: Yeah. Well, it's got to be the last word. Unfortunately, we're out of time. Thank you, Norm. Thank you, Walter. See you next time.
EISEN: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, the president's close allies are reportedly very worried about the midterms. Why? The possibility of what the president reportedly calls the I-word.
[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Close allies of President Trump are worried that he is unprepared for the possibility of a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives. That's according to The Washington Post. It comes as Politico reports that the president is personally lobbying GOP senators to flip on Jeff Sessions.
Let's discuss now. CNN Legal Analyst, Jennifer Rodgers is here. She is a former federal prosecutor. Michael Moore, a former United States attorney, and Eric Columbus, a former senior counsel to the deputy attorney general.
Really smart, accomplished people. I should just say that. We have a bunch of really smart, accomplished people. Thank you, everyone, for coming on. Good evening to you. Eric, welcome to the program. This is your first time on, so we are glad to have you.
I just want to read an excerpt from this new Washington Post report, OK? So, listen to this. It says, "Winter is coming, said one Trump ally in close communication with the White House. Assuming Democrats win the House, which we all believe is a very strong likelihood, the White House will be under siege. But it's like tumbleweeds rolling down the halls over there. Nobody is prepared for war."
So that is from an ally. What kind of preparations should be happening?
ERIC COLUMBUS, FORMER SENIOR COUNSEL TO THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, at this point, what they should be doing is setting forth every possible issue that the democrats could be coming after them on, and that's everything that administration has been mishandling that they have been getting a pass on from the Republican Congress.
And I think Rudy Giuliani of all people kind of hit the nail in the head in that article by saying that it's really oversight that the administration needs to fear, more than the inspector of impeachment.
LEMON: Jennifer, "The Post" is reporting the president may want to bring on Abbe Lowell. By the way, Abbe Lowell is Jared Kushner's attorney, his son-in-law's attorney, correct?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right.
[23:39:59] I mean, look, Abbe Lowell is a good lawyer, so any good lawyer, I think, is a smart choice to join the president's team. He is certainly not doing particularly well right now with Rudy Giuliani. So, bringing on Lowell would be an improvement in that sense. So I think it's probably a good move.
LEMON: Yeah. I mean, Abbe Lowell, do you think Abbe Lowell is as good as -- I don't know if it's good -- as colorful a character when it comes to fighting this in the court of public opinion or in the media as Rudy Giuliani has been doing?
RODGERS: Well, listen, I don't know if Rudy is on the way out. I mean, Rudy could still keep the kind of P.R. role. But the truth is the president needs a personal lawyer who is focused on the law part of this. I mean, that's really why you hire a lawyer, right? Is for the law. Rudy Giuliani doesn't appear to know the law or how to defend against the law.
So, I think he should bring on someone who can do that, at least. So, you know, maybe he keeps both of them, you know, one for the public city stuff and one for the legal stuff, but it's got to be an improvement over what he has now.
LEMON: Michael, here is what Politico is reporting tonight, that President Trump has been engaging in a lobbying campaign to get Republican senators to turn on their former colleague, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Here is the quote. It says, "Trump raised the prospect of firing Sessions last week in a phone conversation with Graham, according to two Capitol Hill aides, who said that Graham pressed the president to hold off until after the midterm elections.
Later in the piece, it says, "Trump hasn't been pushing his case just with Republican senators. He's worn down his lawyers, too, according to two Republicans close to the White House."
I mean, this is personal for Trump now, isn't it? MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yeah, I think that's true. I mean, he's in a unique position because politically, I don't know if he could stand to fire Sessions at this point or ask him to leave. The same time, typically, we think a president has a right to have a cabinet that suits his or her needs and kind of moves forward with the administrative priorities and that type of things.
So, it's an odd position. I will say this. I mean, I think if he fires Sessions or he tries to do that, it's probably (INAUDIBLE) what could possibly happen in the Congress. I think we'll see a move, a much more hurried move to do some legislation that might protect Mueller and the investigation because they don't want to deal with Trump's tirade later on in their own personal elections.
LEMON: Jennifer, Trump wanting to fire Sessions is ultimately about wanting to end the Mueller investigation. Now, the senators are turning on Sessions for political reasons. Do you think that's appropriate? Should some things be more important than politics?
RODGERS: Well, I mean, listen, if we're going to say some things should be more important than politics, then they should have stood up a long time ago. I mean, certainly, if the president fires Jeff Sessions, it looks to be about the Russia investigation. That should prompt yet another investigation by Mueller into obstruction.
So, I don't think that's what the president wants, which hopefully will make him think twice about it. But the fact that members of the Senate who previously have said that they would not approve another Attorney General Sessions firing are now kind of turning around on that just shows where these folks are right now. They are just not willing to stand up to Trump even after they said that they would.
LEMON: So, Eric, let's talk about -- I want to read a portion from a new piece that you wrote, because you say that the legal drama of last week doesn't change all that much. You know, after terrible -- here is what you say. It's in Politico.
It says, "After a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week, are the walls starting to close in on Donald Trump? Don't be so sure. The key questions remain political, not legal. Last week began as it ended. With an unpopular president who is credibly accused of many shady activities, and great uncertainty about whether and how all the facts will emerge as long as Congress remains in Republican hands."
It's a similar question to what I -- what I asked Jennifer because Rudy Giuliani was fighting this in court of public opinion. You said this was political rather than legal. Trying to say what you were seeing and hearing didn't really matter. So, after everything happened that happened last week, do you think Trump being indicted is unlikely?
COLUMBUS: I think it's very unlikely for the simple reason that the Department of Justice has said on multiple occasions studying this issue in the Nixon and Clinton presidencies that it can't be done under the constitution. There are very good reasons why it would be very -- make it harder for the president to do his job if he had to endure criminal trial while president. The DOJ has gone beyond that and saying that it's improper even to charge him and then hold the trial later. And some may disagree with that, but that's the way DOJ which would be responsible for indicting the president refused the question.
[23:44:58] Michael, but you say that someone is likely to get indicted. Do you think that could be Trump?
MOORE: I think it's an open question on whether or not Mueller tries to move forward with the indictment. I will tell you this. I was talking to a very smart lawyer friend of mine the other day who pointed out that Michael Dreeben is on Mueller's team.
Dreeben has probably argued more Supreme Court cases than any number of lawyers and he's not there, I promise you, to be investigating tax cases and whether or not there is taxi cab money violations somewhere or medallion violations. He's there for a reason. That is to take the case forward if they end up in the Supreme Court.
I think it's more likely that we probably see people closer to the Trump presidency or to President Trump indicted. We may see children indicted. We're likely to see a son-in-law indicted, Jared Kushner. And I think it's likely if that happens that you will instead of seeing the president indicted, you may see him identified as an unindicted co-conspirator somewhere in the charging documents.
So, that, I think, is a likely scenario. I don't think Bob Mueller is going to do anything to sort of dynamite things into a rapid action right here before the election. But I do think they have geared up and I think they planned all along that they will ultimately end up in the Supreme Court, and I think you see that by the composition of his team.
LEMON: I saw both Eric and Jennifer nodding in agreement. Jennifer, do you want to respond to that?
RODGERS: Yeah. I mean, I tend to agree although I do think -- and we don't know this yet because we haven't seen enough publicly about what Mueller's team has learned -- I do think that if they come up with evidence that the president himself conspired with Russians to do any of the illegal things that we know the Russians had done to interfere with the state electoral processes or to do the computer hacking or legal distribution of the material, that we may see the Mueller team with Rosenstein's approval try to indict the president and see how that goes and, of course, it would be litigated up to the Supreme Court.
But if they uncover that serious criminal offense that the president himself was involved in, we may see Mueller's team give it a go. We just have to wait and see how that plays out.
LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate your time. The piece in Politico, "Think Trump is doomed? Not so fast." I encourage everyone to read it. Thank you, Eric. Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you, Michael.
When we come back, a Texas police officer found guilty of murder in the killing of an unarmed African-American teenager. Some in the courtroom stunned by the verdict. We're going to take you inside the courtroom, next.
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LEMON: We have some breaking news to report to you right now. In Texas, a jury is sentencing ex-police officer, Roy Oliver, to 15 years in prison for killing an unarmed black teenager. He was found guilty of murder in the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards last year.
I want to bring in now CNN Correspondent, Ed Lavandera, who has been following the case for us. Ed, how stunning -- good evening to you, by the way. How stunning was this verdict and what was the reaction in the courtroom earlier today?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, really it was the guilty verdict that sent the biggest shock waves through that courtroom. That was yesterday, Don. Throughout the day today, the jury has been deliberating testimony and punishment phase. Just a short while ago, as you mentioned, they delivered that sentence of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The family of Jordan Edwards said just a little while ago that they would like to have seen more time, but considering how many of these cases have not even made it this far, much less seen a guilty verdict, they will accept and respect the jury's decision.
Attorneys for the police officer, Roy Oliver, say they're worried that this verdict and sentence will have a chilling effect for police officers around the country.
LEMON: Are they going to appeal?
LAVANDERA: They are going to appeal the process. They said they initiated that process here tonight, before leaving the courtroom.
LEMON: OK. Did body cam footage play a crucial role in this conviction? Because body cams have been talked about in these cases so many times. What role did it play?
LAVANDERA: It did. You know, the jury saw all of the body cam footage from a number of officers who were there at that scene. Police officers say it took about 54 seconds -- remember, these kids were at this party in the suburb of Dallas, when shots were fired, not at that party location but in a different location, it turned out.
There was some confusion there in those initial moments. The whole episode, from the moment the first shots were fired to the moment that Jordan Edwards was shot, took about 54 seconds. We can play some of that for you here now.
LEMON: OK. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you all right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I'm fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was trying to hit you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Don, remember, initially, Roy Oliver said that he was worried that the car that was driving away was Jordan Edwards, who is going to hit one of his partners who was there at the scene. You can see in the video, the car was driving away from the officers when the shots were fired.
LEMON: Yeah. Wow. Wow. Can you talk -- there was another officer, right, who was with Roy Oliver the night of the shooting. His testimony a big part of the prosecution, right?
LAVANDERA: Right. And it's stunning in a lot of ways. Obviously, there's been a lot of criticism of police officers, that they look out for each other, protect themselves and these sort of things.
[23:55:00] But it was the partner who essentially told this jury, as well, throughout the course of testimony, that he did not feel -- he did not feel that his life was threatened in that situation, that that's why he didn't fire his weapon.
And obviously, the whole argument here, the police officers saying that they feared for their life in that moment, and here you have this other officer saying in that moment he wasn't fearful for his life. We haven't heard from jurors but we presumed that that played a significant part for them as well as they made their guilty verdict.
LEMON: Wow. Guilty verdict, the judge's finding in Texas teen's death, Jordan Edwards. The officer gets 15 years in prison. Thank you, Ed Lavandera. Appreciate your time and the reporting. Thank you so much.
LAVANDERA: You got it.
LEMON: Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.
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