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Trump Tells Bloomberg He Views Mueller Investigation As An Illegal Investigation; Trump Tried To Buy, Bury Decades Of Dirt From National Enquirer; Trump Threatens To 'Get Involved' At Justice Department; Russia Investigation; American Hero. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired August 30, 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's a little past 11:00. It is 11:00 here on the East Coast. We are live with new developments. President Trump wrapping up a campaign event in Indiana for Senate Republican candidate Mike Brawn. It happened just a short time ago. An event where he threatened the Justice Department with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At some point, I wanted to stay out, but at some point, if it doesn't straighten out properly, I want them to do their job. I will get involved and I'll get in there if I have to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, the President definitely has a Justice Department and his Attorney General on his mind. And his own troubles as his own troubles -- you know, the wide ranging interview with Bloomberg news tonight? He says Jeff Sessions' job is safe until November. But in true Trump passion decline to say what would happen after that. And as the nation mourn to John McCain tonight, President Trump refuse to back down from his failure to pay tribute to the late Senator. We have a lot to discuss.
I want to bring in first Margaret Talev, CNN political analyst and senior White House correspondent for "Bloomberg News" and Margaret, good evening to you. We're going to get to the rest of the folks in just a minute. Margaret, you there?
MARGARET TALEV, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: I'm right here.
LEMON: All right. Good to see you. Sorry. We brought up our panel, who is next, Michael D'Antonio, David Swerdlick, we will get to them in just a moment after we speak with Margaret. So Margaret, good evening to you. You know, you asked President Trump about whether he would comply with a subpoena from Robert Mueller, what did he say about that and the investigation?
TALEV: Well, Don, he said he'd have to wait and see then quickly refrained, he said he didn't see it that way, because he saw Mr. Mueller's probe as a, quote, illegal investigation. He said that all the great legal scholars had also concluded that there should never have been a Special Counsel. Now, what does that mean? If he is deemed it illegal, does it mean he is never going to testify to anyone, he is going to refuse to comply with the subpoena? He didn't say he was not going to get into it, but he certainly left a thread dangling out there. He is questioned the validity of it several times before, but he seemed to go a step further tonight.
LEMON: So you asked -- also asked him about the Attorney General Jeff Sessions' job security. Here's what he said. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just like to have Jeff Sessions do his job and if we did, I'd be very happy, but the job entails two sides. Not one side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, talk to us about what else he said regarding Sessions.
TALEV: Well, we began, my colleague, Jennifer Jacobs and I, and our top editor John Nicole waiting in the Oval Office in this interview, when we got to the Jeff Sessions question, we began by just asking him whether it was safe to say that Jeff Sessions would have his job through the midterms and he said it was, but the obvious follow-up question, what happens at, like, 12:01 right the day after the midterm, I mean, that is not what we meant, but he wouldn't answer it. He would not answer that question and instead, he said she just wanted Sessions to do his job.
That, you know, there had to be investigations of both sides. Sort of notion of, you know, parody, you know and many of the familiar threads talking about his concerns about the FBI, James Comey, all this other stuff. But again, he did not to his credit threaten any specific action against the Attorney General after the midterms, but he also didn't give a lot of reason to believe he was going to change his mind about the direction in which he is been going and of course Republicans in Congress in recent days have been essentially giving him permission to do whatever he wants after the midterms, but suggesting it would be really bad to act before then and he seemed to be signaling tonight, yes, I agree we can stop talking about this, it's going to be Sessions until the election.
LEMON: So, you also asked the President if he thinks he messed up about the way he handled John McCain's death. What did he say?
TALEV: Yes, I just want to preface this by saying that we began this interview with a lot of economic questions. And we spent a lot of time talking about the economy, but it was obvious, I think to the President as well, that the minute he spoke about any of these sort of domestic political issues, they were going to overtake a lot of the conversation. I asked him whether, I said that this has been an opportunity to unite the country after Senator McCain's death and I asked him whether he thought he had screwed it up and he had been in really good spirits during a lot of the interview, but he kind of made a face that said, I didn't like that question.
[23:05:15] He said, no, he said he didn't think he had messed up. That he had done everything they asked him to. I think he meant the Senator's family. And groups urging, you know, for the flags to be at half-mast eventually and that sort of stuff. He said that he respected Senator McCain's service to the nation, but that hay had disagreed about a lot of things, and then we asked him whether he felt Senator McCain would have made a better President than Senator -- than President Obama. And President Trump declined to answer that question.
LEMON: So did he -- you were talking economic issues and he -- did he want to bring up other issues?
TALEV: Well, he really wanted to talk about the economy, and, you know, there's a real marked difference. I mean, this idea that all the developments on Mueller and Cohen and Weisselberg and stuff over the last week had isolated him. He was taking great care to show us a different side of the President.
He was very aggressive and sort on offense about everything from the prospects of a deal with Canada, as kind of the second part of this post-NAFTA plan he is trying to create, to China, he certainly did not dissuade us from a story we'd broken earlier in the day saying he is getting ready to pull a trigger in a week on another $200 billion in tariffs.
On everything from the E.U. he said he didn't want to accept a zero tariff auto deal that they were pushing. He threatened to pull out of the WTO, he is talking about and we considering once again whether to call China a currency manipulator. So, country after country, one part of the world after another, very assertive and suggesting he is good about stuff, but on these domestic issues it's a different story.
LEMON: All of which would be major news stories --
TALEV: On any day.
LEMON: Singularly. About impeachment. How worried? Is he worried?
TALEV: Actually, I thought this was a fascinating part of the interview and came really at the tail end. I asked him, if the health Democrats -- is the Democrats do what they are trying to do to take over the House and if they proceed to try to impeach you, do you think that will weaken your ability to govern or do you think that it will help you in your reelection bid. He said he didn't know the answer to that question, but he did not think they could impeach him. We asked why. He said because he is done a great job.
But furthermore, what he said, what he suggested was that if Democrats tried to impeach him, it would create a precedent and apparently he didn't think this was true after Bill Clinton. It would create a precedent where every future President, U.S. President, if the opposing Party took control of the house would then face impeachment. And he didn't think Democrats would want to do that. LEMON: All right. I want you to stick right there, please, Margaret.
I want to bring in now CNN Political Commentators, Joan Walsh, David Swerdlick, also CNN Contributor, Michael D'Antonio, who is the author of "The Shadow President: The Truth about Mike Pence."
Good evening to you guys. I want to start with you first, David, though. Let's start with President Trump's assertion that Robert Mueller's investigation is illegal. Do you think he is feeling some sort of pressure?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he is feeling pressure and I think this week, the last week or two, he and his team have been throwing out different theories to see if any of them stick. These idea that the Mueller investigation isn't legal just doesn't sit right on its face.
First of all, it's Donald Trump's Justice Department that appointed the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General and the Special Counsel. The Special Counsel is a job or a role that is laid out in statute. It's congressionally created, it is not just something conjured out of thin air. And then -- as people have been saying all along, Special Counsel Mueller, is someone who is a lifelong Republican and this investigation has produced indictment after indictment, plea deal after plea deal. And now a conviction in the case of Manafort. The idea that this is just some hocus-pocus or that it's illegal just doesn't add up in the face of all of those facts.
LEMON: Yes. Michael, he also said, great scholars have said there never should have been a Special Counsel. Joan gets some joy out of that, but what do you make of that bizarre statement, Michael?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there have been debates about the merits of Special Counsel provisions in law, and this is something that is gone back and forth with people challenging the idea that there should be someone appointed as a prosecutor who's not confirmed and is not under the direct control of the President, but we seem to be with this law now for decades. And it is legal for Mueller to be conducting this investigation.
What I thought was also noteworthy about the interview that Margaret did was this idea that Congress would not impeach him, because he is doing such a great job.
[23:10:05] And if we go back to Richard Nixon, Nixon was actually doing a pretty good job with much of what he set out to do. He was advancing civil rights with Title Nine. He created the EPA. He was negotiating arms deals with the soviets. The opening with China. He actually was doing very well, but he was impeached, because he committed a crime. And I think if it turns out that Donald Trump's perceived to have committed crimes, he may well be impeached, too.
LEMON: Joan, when Trump was asked about Attorney General Jeff Sessions he didn't say whether he would fire him, he didn't say he wouldn't fire him. He seems averse to talk about that or to admit that he is going to fire someone until he is actually firing them then saying, when it's reported that this person is going to go, it's fake news then all of a sudden they fire him and it's like, OK, you never hear.
JOAN WALSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's fake news and then he announces on Twitter and the person doesn't know, like Don McGahn. I mean, that interview broke a lot of news. It's hard to know what to come at first. But I honestly think the combination, Don, of calling it an illegal investigation, which is a new word. He is called it a witch hunt. He is trashed it. But calling it illegal, and suggesting he'd hold on to Jeff Sessions until after the midterms, we remember the Saturday night massacre.
There could be a Wednesday morning massacre after the midterms, because I think regardless of what happens, but especially given that I believe that there's going to be at least a Democratic takeover of the house. I think he is going to take that opportunity and Republican Senators are going to -- and other Republicans are going to give it to him to clean house, to get rid of Session, to get rid of Mueller in that lame duck session. I think he said some really scary things tonight as well as some ridiculous and funny things.
LEMON: All right. Very interesting. We have to get to the break. So, Margaret, we're going to let you go. Thank you, Margaret. I appreciate it. The rest of you, please stick around.
When we come back, Donald Trump reportedly unsuccessfully tried to buy and bury decades of dirt from the "National Enquirer," does that mean there's more to come?
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump on the attack today even threatening his own Justice Department at his rally in Indiana. But that is not his only target. Back with me now, Joan Walsh, David Swerdlick and Michael D'Antonio. So David, President Trump spent the last 24 hours lashing out on Twitter targeting CNN, Google, James Comey, Bruce Ohr, Fake books, Hillary Clinton and the Russian investigation, just to name a few. What could be behind this latest Twitter tirade? My gosh, it is hardly easy to read a list of who he didn't talk about, but go on.
SWERDLICK: So Don, first of all, I said it before and I'll say it again, I'm glad to work for two news organizations, the "Washington Post" and CNN that are bearing the brunt of President Trump's ire. I would not want to work for news organizations that the President says, oh, they're great, they say nice things about me. They never challenge me. I get great reviews. That would not be journalism. The purpose of us in the media, in the press, is to challenge authority and that is what's going on.
In terms of all these different tweets and all these different directions, our colleague, Maggie Haberman, alluded to this in a tweet earlier today, about the new phrase, fake books. It seems like it's timed in advance of the Bob Woodward book that is coming out. My "Washington Post" colleague. There are a lot of good books about President Trump before and after he took office, but you can say, oh, this author is this or this author is that.
President Trump knows who Bob Woodward is and a (inaudible) of journalist. President Trump likes TV and movies. He knows that Robert Redford played him in a movie, he knows this is a guy he can't just wave away as no one listens to Bob Woodward. I don't know what's in that book. But I know he is worried that he won't be able to wave away whatever's in that book.
LEMON: Yes, he doesn't read books that much, though, I don't know why he is worried about it. Listen, this is a pattern from the President. I mean, he tweeted several untruths in the last two days. He tweeted out that a story from the conservative news outlet claiming Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server was hacked by Chinese-owned company. An FBI official, OK, told CNN there is no such evidence. He also accused, Trump did, Google of promoting President Obama's state of the union address, but not his. Google says that is not true. They have the receipts. They highlighted Trump's speech on their home page. Joan, does he suffer any consequences for just making stuff up?
WALSH: Not with his base, Don, but I think increasingly he does. I mean, we're starting to see a President who is losing it. I'm starting to think of him, Trump and the truth are like a vampire with the sun. He can't tolerate it. And it's all closing in on him. We wonder what's in the "National Enquirer" safe. We wonder what is in Bob Woodward's book, he had incredible access to pass and present staffers. And he is going nuts on Twitter in the morning. I mean, people think he is scared of that book. He thinks Mueller is closing in and that is why he is getting, you know, more frantic. I have no evidence that --
LEMON: You think he is going to read Bob Woodward's book?
WALSH: No, I don't, but I think he is going to watch you talk about it on TV and freak out. He is going to watch it dominate the news I predict for days. I think that book is going to have that much damaging information.
D'ANTONIO: He'll read it.
LEMON: So, Michael, in another tweet, Trump tried to falsely argue that the interview where he admitted to firing James Comey, because of the Russia investigation, he said it was somehow not accurate. Here is what he tweeted, he said, "Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia." So that is not true. Why is Trump making this bogus excuse now?
D'ANTONIO: Well, I think that he is throwing out a million things, Joan is right, that he is losing it to some degree, but what happened this week? We saw really all of the people of the United States and many people around the world express great love for John McCain.
[23:20:06] The contrast between John McCain and Donald Trump became incredibly acute and I think he cannot even let a man who's just died get this kind of attention. Without freaking out. So he was saying everything, all kinds of nonsense. I do think it's also true that the pressure on him right now is enormous. He is under I think this great fear of this book coming out and what's going to happen next. It's been a horrible summer for him and it may not be a very good autumn.
LEMON: David --
SWERDLICK: Don, can I make one more quick point about the Lester Holt interview? The Lester Holt interview stands on its own. The President's fudging comment makes no sense. You know, and it's a year-plus after he had a chance to say --
WALSH: 15 months.
SWERDLICK: -- to say, oh, he took me out of context, but there's also the May 9th, 2017, letter in which President Trump notified Comey he was fired where he referenced, I appreciate that you told me three different times that I wasn't under investigation, but I still agree with the Justice Department that you've got to go. That is in a letter, so I -- it's hard for the President to maintain at this point that Comey and the Russia investigation had nothing to do with Comey's firing.
LEMON: Joan, I got to ask you before we go, "The New York Times" reporting that Michael Cohen and then-candidate Trump, they came up with this potential plan to buy these catch and kill stories from the "National Enquirer" that could prove damaging to Trump and it backs up a report that CNN, you remember we heard on tape --
LEMON: -- right, of them talking about, you know, our friend, David.
LEMON: Gets hit by a bus --
WALSH: Truck. Right.
LEMON: By a truck. What does this tell you?
WALSH: I think they were afraid of what was in that safe and honestly, that -- that tape where they say all the stuff, all the stuff, a couple times, not just one story, every time you listen to it, it gives us more. And now when I hear that line, Don, that he might, David Pecker, might get hit by a truck, I worry for David Pecker, because Trump has been talking like a mob boss lately. So, I think David pecker should watch out for trucks, because it's such an ominous weird thing to say.
LEMON: For someone to say. I would say to you Michael, you sort have a degree in Trump, because you've written about him. What do you think is here -- what do you think is so -- he is so concerned about? More to come?
D'ANTONIO: I think he is afraid of what's to come. I think he understands that Mueller and the Southern District of New York are now inside Trump tower. They have his 500 different business entities under close examination. They have a source in Mr. Weisselberg who's been CFO and accountant for the Trump operation for decades. Now cooperating. They have Michael Cohen. And there is word of another Trump tower executive who's been seeking a deal with the Southern District. So he is got to be very concerned that all of the secrets that he is kept hidden for so long are going to be revealed.
LEMON: Yes, he said he is not worried about Weisselberg, he said he was just, you know, he cooperated for just over a period of time. There was a certain period of time, he said he is not concerned about it. So he doesn't think he said anything derogatory about the President. Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
When we come back, the President threatening tonight that he'll get involved if the FBI and Justice Department don't, in his words, straighten out. I wonder what Robert Mueller thinks of statements like that.
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Breaking news, President Trump slamming the Justice Department and the FBI tonight and threatening to get involved. The President didn't specifically mention the Russia investigation, but it's pretty clear what he was talking about. Here's what he said. Just a little while ago to supporters in Indiana.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our Justice Department and our FBI have to start doing their job and doing it right and doing it now. Because people are angry. People are angry. What's happening is a disgrace. And at some point, I wanted to stay out, but at some point, if it doesn't straighten out properly, I want them to do their job. I will get involved and I'll get in there if I have to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So here to discuss, two CNN National Security Analysts, Juliette Kayyem and Asha Rangappa. Juliette is a former Department of Homeland Security official and Asha is a former FBI special agent. She is also a CNN legal analyst.
Good evening to both of you. Good to have you on. Juliette, you just heard the President there slam the FBI and Justice Department saying if it doesn't straighten out, he will get involved. How dangerous is that comment?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's dangerous, but it also assumes that he hasn't already gotten involved. This man -- the President, you know, fired the FBI Director, a part of the Department of Justice. He went after McCabe. He is going after individual civil servants on Twitter. He is going after anyone who has a Russia experience. Right? Anyone who understands the Russia investigation. So he is already involved. The other thing is I let there -- watching
this and thinking, who hired these people? Who hired the Attorney General? Who hired the U.S. Attorneys? Who hired the Deputy Attorney General? Who hired the head of the FBI? These are his people. He is acting like they, like, fell from mars. These are his people. So, you know, this is a man whose desperation because -- because he think it's the lawyers that are the problem. Right? It's not the lawyers that are the problem. It's his -- it's his legal vulnerability that is the problem for him.
LEMON: So, Asha, it's not the first time that the President has threatened to get involved in the investigation into his campaign. What do the threats say to Mueller, you think? What do you think he thinks about them?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, Don, this is Groundhog Day.
We -- we see these repeated attempts. Look, Mueller is looking into already -- I mean, this is going back a year into President Trump's anger at Jeff Sessions, his -- his anger at Jeff Sessions recusing himself, attempts to prevent Jeff Sessions from recusing himself.
So, you know, these attacks on the Justice Department, and I think more recently these intimations that he may replace Jeff Sessions, I think continue to be more evidence for the Mueller investigation. So, it's either that the president doesn't really understand the kind of evidence that Mueller is trying to gather in terms of his state of mind, or he thinks that he's above the law. And I think either way, that's very problematic.
LEMON: Yeah. So, Juliette, these threatening comments come just hours after the president told Bloomberg News that the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, that his job is safe until at least the November elections. Did the president basically admit that Sessions will be fired on or around November 7th?
KAYYEM: When I was younger and still dating, not married, if a boyfriend said to me, we'll, you know, we'll date until at least Valentine's Day, I would assume what's happening the day after, right?
LEMON: I did that once, though, I said, we don't want to break up now, let's just do it after Christmas so we can, like, exchange gifts, and then after that we can break up. You know what, we're still friends. It was -- you know.
KAYYEM: Yeah. It didn't work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, but you're not -- but you're not together. I would say, you know, this is -- it's clearly he's signaling that this is going to be, you know, the end of Sessions. And what people have to remember is the election day -- what we're not talking about is, is what, six or seven weeks from now -- what we haven't talked about, what Asha and I haven't talked about the last couple of weeks is of course that the Russians are -- there's evidence that the Russians are already trying to or are successful in certain campaigns.
The president has done nothing to protect us at this election coming up. And one has to suspect that that is -- that is exactly what he intends, that he's focused so on the personalities, no work can get done to protect an election that is so meaningful to this country but also meaningful for his legacy because if the Democrats win, we know what happens next.
LEMON: Asha, you know, he -- the president also told Bloomberg tonight that he believes that Mueller's investigation is illegal. Is there anything about what the special counsel is doing that is in any way illegal?
RANGAPPA: Don, you know, there have been five federal judges who have reviewed this question that has come up in different contexts, in different cases with different defendants. All of whom who have found that Mueller's investigation is completely legal and also within the bounds of his mandate.
It's important to understand that there were some issues, legal issues, that were raised with the independent counsel. For example, with Kenneth Starr, you know, many years ago, that was still upheld by the supreme court by a narrow margin.
But this -- the special counsel has really cured some of those defects because the special counsel is appointed within the executive branch and that actually like cures the separation of powers issues. So I don't think he has any leg to stand on when it comes to challenging whether a special counsel should or could be appointed to investigate this matter.
LEMON: When we come back -- thank you, both, I appreciate it. When we come back, the president says he is not worried about Don McGahn's 30- hour interview with Robert Mueller, but should he be? We're going to break down everything McGahn might know about, next.
[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump has had a rocky relationship with White House counsel Don McGahn, and he was reportedly caught off guard when it was revealed that McGahn has been interviewed by Robert Mueller's team over the course of 30 hours.
President insisting today that the Russia investigation had nothing to do with his announcement that McGahn will leave in the fall. But should he be worried about what McGahn knows? CNN's Tom Foreman has more on that for us. Tom?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Don. The president is downplaying the White House counsel's meeting with the folks investigating Russian meddling, saying his campaign and administration have done nothing wrong.
But Don McGahn has been deeply involved in some of the most highly charge moments since this president took office. And legal experts say the president should be worried about how much McGahn told Robert Mueller's team. And here are a few reasons why.
Michael Flynn. McGahn was the first point of contact when the Justice Department raised concerns about the former national security adviser, saying Flynn had deceived everyone about his contact with the Russians. Flynn resigned, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, a felony, and now he's cooperating with the Russia probe.
James Comey. McGahn certainly knows lots of details about the firing of the former FBI director. The president has talked about the dismissal plenty, giving mixed explanations at times, but McGahn could provide many more details about why Trump wanted Comey gone.
Jeff Sessions. Trump has taken many public jabs at his attorney general for recusing himself from the Russia probe instead of staying in it and protecting the president. Trump enlisted McGahn's help in that effort, but Sessions recused himself, anyway.
[23:39:59] And again, McGahn could know a tremendous amount about the behind the scenes motivations and strategy in the White House.
Robert Mueller. Trump wanted McGahn's help in having Mueller fired. McGahn refused, even threatening to quit if Trump went through with the firing, which some in Congress suggest would trigger a political tempest if not impeachment proceedings.
The bottom line, Don McGahn talked with Mueller's team for more than 30 hours. Investigators rarely talk to anyone that long unless they're hearing something interesting. That's why the president should be worried, even as he says he's not. Don?
LEMON: Tom Foreman, thank you so much. Here to discuss now, former U.S. Attorney, Guy Lewis, and CNN Legal Analyst and Defense Attorney, Shan Wu. Gentlemen, good evening to you. Good to have you on.
Guy, I'm going to start with you. We got Flynn, Comey, Sessions. Tom Foreman just laid it all out. Don McGahn knows a lot, and he spent 30 hours talking to Mueller's team. How dangerous do you think he is to President Trump?
GUY LEWIS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Don, I think that McGahn is potentially a bombshell witness. No kidding. Look, I did this for a long time and very seldom, very seldom, did I get an opportunity to actually interview and potentially use the testimony of a lawyer who's next to walking with day by day, day in, day out, with the target or the principal of the investigation. Highly unusual and the information that he may have in terms of real time thinking.
I mean, think about this, Don. How many times have you interviewed a witness, a guest, for 30 hours? How much information could you get out of him for 30 hours? I think McGahn is going to be helpful to Bob Mueller and to his crew.
LEMON: Shan, you say that Don McGahn being interviewed by Mueller is worse than Trump himself sitting down with the special counsel. Why do you say that?
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right, because for Trump to sit down, he'll be careful, he'll be prepared. A lot of his answers will, of course, be censored and filtered. You don't get that when he was talking with McGahn. With McGahn, you get somebody who was right there walking with him, as Guy was saying, and he's naturally going to be quite forthright with McGahn at that time.
He may be musing out loud what his real motivations are, he may be saying, hey, I'd like to do this, do you think that's OK to do? So in that sense, you really get the raw unfiltered version from McGahn and that's what makes it so incredibly dangerous.
LEMON: So, Guy, McGahn also refused a presidential request to fire Robert Mueller. Is the special counsel in danger with McGahn out of the White House?
LEWIS: I think that is possible, although I do agree with Tom that if the president, who clearly wants to, if it was up to him, he'd fire Mueller yesterday. Right? But to do it, I think is frankly political suicide, and probably would be counts 13, 14, and 15 in a proposed indictment. I really do think that.
LEMON: Yeah. Guy, you say the government now has a trifecta of potentially crushing witnesses for President Trump? Explain that.
LEWIS: Don, take a step back and look what they've got now in the last 30 days. They've got Cohen. Again, the president's lawyer, almost unheard of, who has on the record in his plea colloquy, what he said and what Cohen said to the court, has said the president directed me, the president told me how to make these hush money payments, and the president is involved in this conduct, which they -- which he pleads to as a campaign finance violation.
He's also got now Weisselberg, the CFO of the Trump Organization. Again, how often do you get the insider, the CFO, the guy who knows the money trail, the most? And then lastly, he's got McGahn. And that's not including all the other witnesses that we've heard of, Don. General Flynn, Manafort, who's eventually going to flip. I bet you have 3-1 that he's going to wind up. He's not going to go jail --
LEMON: Why do you say that?
LEWIS: Well, because, look, he's facing life imprisonment. He's got another retrial on the counts that the jury hung on, 11-1. And then he's got the case coming up in D.C. within 30 days. Look, Mueller's not going to back off.
Mueller's not all of a sudden not going to say, oh, let me just start going easy on Manafort. They're going to keep pounding Manafort until he submits and submission means cooperation against the president with the Mueller team.
[23:44:55] LEMON: So, Shan, I also want to get -- talk more about Paul Manafort's case with you, because Mueller's team wants to review e-mails between Manafort and one of his former lawyers, messages that would typically be protected by attorney-client privilege. Do you think the special counsel has a real shot at getting these documents?
WU: I think they do because previously, a D.C. judge had already ruled that utilizing the crime fraud exception, that that lawyer who has not actually been publicly identified specifically, but everyone pretty much knows who they are, had to testify because the judge had determined that this could have been part of the crime.
The crime being part of the failure to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. So I think Mueller's folks are kind of halfway there already. They were very limited in what they asked a judge for there. They had promised not to ask for notes. They promised to not ask for opinions about witness credibility. And they got that testimony. Now they want to go deeper. They want to go one step further.
I think it's kind of a belt and suspenders approach here. They want to make sure there are not any surprises with the testimony at trial and they really want to shore up with paper documents whether or not Manafort and arguably Gates, my former client, knew that they were submitting anything that was false or not.
LEMON: So today, though, Shan, a judge gave Mueller's team -- gave them extra time to decide whether to seek a retrial for Manafort on 10 criminal charges that jurors were unable to reach a verdict on last week. What kind of options are they likely weighing right now?
WU: I think one big factor for them is there's some post-trial motions that Manafort's folks have filed and probably want to get the judge's ruling on that as well. It does buy them a little bit more time potentially to follow-up on that kind of last-minute right before midnight talk that Manafort's team raised with them about maybe working out a guilty plea.
I think the problem back then, I'm sure Guy would agree, there is no time at all waiting for the jury to come in to work out that kind of deal. This does give them a little bit more of a window as to talk, get some proffers from the lawyers, see if Manafort really could be helpful to them or not.
I think I disagree with Guy, though. I think Manafort is not likely to plead in this case. I think his team has been pretty adamant from the beginning that they want to go to trial on these and defend them. But I do agree the pressure is enormous.
I'm really -- at this point he's got three trials going on. He's had the one, they may retry him on those other counts, and he's got the D.C. one coming up. So, I mean, that's just an incredible amount of pressure to be putting on him.
LEMON: We'll have to hear from Guy next time. His response to all of that. Thank you, both. I appreciate it. We'll be right back. [23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: When this week's CNN hero first earned his pilot's license on a whim, he had no idea what he end up doing with it. Twice a month, Paul Steklenski, well, he spends his own money to fly dogs from high- kill shelters in the the south to no-kill shelters in the north.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL STEKLENSKI, CNN HERO: Oh, you just look like my Tessa, you just look like my baby girl.
I try to greet every passenger before we load them on to the aircraft to spend a few moments with them.
There you go.
So they can see me, they can smell me.
I load the airplane up. We'll make stops along the eastern coast. I'm quite certain they know things are about to change.
He is so calm right now.
They know things are getting better, they are not going to end up in the pound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: To see more of how Paul gives these pups the first-class treatment, go to CNNheroes.com right now.
Tonight, the casket carrying John McCain arrived at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington. Tomorrow, Senator McCain will lie in state in the rotunda at the U.S. Capitol. The memorial service will be on held Saturday at Washington National Cathedral. And he will be buried on Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Earlier today, family and friends gathered at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Arizona for a memorial service to remember the life of Senator John McCain.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My name is Joe Biden.
BIDEN: I'm a Democrat.
BIDEN: And I loved John McCain.
TOMMY ESPINOZA, PRESIDENT, RAZA DEVELOPMENT FUND INC.: What he knew is that we all make America great.
LARRY FITZGERALD, AMERICAN FOOTBALL WIDE RECEIVER: He didn't judge individuals based on the color of their skin, their gender, their backgrounds, their political affiliations or their bank accounts. He evaluated them on the merits of their character and the contents of their hearts.
GRANT WOODS, ATTORNEY: He believed so much that this in the end when it's all said and done, this Republican-Democrat thing is not that important, is it?
ESPINOZA: So I get the phone and he's said, Tommy, I'm running for the U.S. Senate. Blah, blah, blah. You know John, he was going 100 miles an hour. So I'm going, like, OK. And he said, I want you to co- chair my campaign. I said, John, you know I'm a Democrat.
ESPINOZA: He said, I don't care, you're my friend. I want you to co- chair it. Let me sleep on it. No, no, no, you give me an answer right now, yes or no? And then John says, I want you to speak on my behalf at the Republican convention.
ESPINOZA: I said, senator, I want to remind you, I'm a Democrat.
ESPINOZA: I don't care. I want you there. You're my friend. I want you there. I said, yes, I'll be there. He said, well, with a big smile on his face, watch out when you start your car.
BIDEN: During long debates in the '80s and '90s, as some of the colleagues who were around then would know, I'd always go over and sit next to John, next to his seat, or he'd come over on the Democratic side and sit next to me.
[23:55:02] And we both went into our caucus and coincidentally, we were approached by our caucus leaders with the same thing. Joe, it doesn't look good, you sitting next to John all the time.
BIDEN: I swear to God. Same thing was said to John in your caucus.
ESPINOZA: So I hope that in his legacy, elected officials embrace the thought of love.
WOODS: He fought the good fight. He finished the race. He kept the faith.
BIDEN: Now, John is going to take his rightful place in a long line of extraordinary leaders in this nation's history, who in their time and in their way, stood for freedom and stood for liberty, and have made the American story the most improbable and the most hopeful and the most enduring story on earth.
And I know John said he hoped he played a small part in that story. John, you did much more than that, my friend. To paraphrase Shakespeare, we shall not see his like again.
[24:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)