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War of Words 2.0; It is Sessions Turn. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired May 31, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
You might think you heard a lot of it during the campaign but the president and Hillary Clinton are doing battle all over again tonight on Russia.
Plus a CNN exclusive, sources say congressional investigators are now looking into whether Jeff Sessions had another private meeting with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. More on that in just a moment.
First I want to begin with the breaking news that brand new war of words between President Trump and Hillary Clinton. The former democratic candidate with some strong words at Recode's code conference tonight.
Joining me now is Kara Swisher, the executive editor of Recode, and CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Good evening to both of you. Kara, I have to start with you, Hillary Clinton made a pretty remarkable charge today at your conference about Russia's influence, and it has caused a war of words tonight between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I want you to listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So the Russians, in my opinion, and based on the Intel and counter Intel people I've talked to, could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided and here's...
WALT MOSSBERG, CO-FOUNDER, RECODE: Guided by Americans.
CLINTON: Guided by Americans and guided by people who had, you know, polling and data information.
KARA SWISHER, CO-FOUNDER, RECODE: But who is that?
CLINTON: We're getting more information about all of the contacts between Trump campaign officials and Trump associates with Russians before, during, and after the election. So, I hope that we'll get enough information to be able to answer that question.
SWISHER: But you're leaning Trump.
CLINTON: Yes. I'm leaning Trump. I think -- I think it's pretty hard not to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So what was the reaction, how did the create react, Kara?
SWISHER: Well, I think it was interesting, I think people listened because it was a riveting explanation from her side of what happened. And you know, a lot of these investigations, we'll see what happens, I think she was talking about collusion, the same thing, as this stuff couldn't have been a coincidence, there was a lot of unusual movement between when something happened with the Trump campaign and when there was a, you know, a dumping of, say, Podesta letters and when there was a controversy.
So it was an interesting and fascinating exposition by her of how she thinks things went down. We'll see what happens during this investigation if that does turn out to be the case.
LEMON: OK. Dana Bash, you, now, President Trump took notice of Secretary Clinton's comments tonight and tweeted, "Crooked Hillary Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible candidate, hits Facebook and even dems and DNC." Is this, this is one of his favorite themes, but, I mean, does he have a point here?
DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: He does have a point that she really ripped into the DNC in a way that made a lot of democrats who I've talked to tonight pretty uncomfortable. No question about that.
But at the same time, Hillary Clinton did what she did successfully during the campaign, which is she goaded Donald Trump into -- into sort of responding to her. And to getting off his message which is, and has been at least from the perspective of the people around him, trying desperately to get him to not talk about Russia.
However, I think this is maybe an island of, within the Russia issue that republicans are just fine with him engaging in as well because still to this day, I think there's been a few things that rile up republicans and unite them than their sort of opposition to Hillary Clinton.
So I think at the end of the day, certainly we feel like, wait a second, we're in a time warp and it's not pre-November 2016, but it is...
LEMON: But Dana.
BASH: ... still very raw and both sides are trying to really gin up their bases.
LEMON: But she's so obviously trolling him, doesn't he realize it?
LEMON: She's totally trolling him. I mean, she did respond to him tonight. She said people in 'covfefe' houses shouldn't throw. 'Covfefe,' I mean, that's a total troll.
BASH: It is, Hillary Clinton I will remind you, though, trolled Donald Trump from here until eternity during the fall campaign. And he won. So, you know, obviously it's completely different circumstance now. He's the president.
She's trying to -- first of all, she just is like, you know, her guard is so far down, it doesn't even exist anymore. She's just saying what she wants to say. And it has the added benefit of making the people on the democratic side call it the resistance riled up and getting them happy. Except for the part where she went after the DNC which might not have been that helpful.
LEMON: Yes. So, Kara, you actually asked Hillary Clinton about the now-infamous 'covfefe' tweet by President Trump and here's what she said to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SWISHER: I don't think we can get into 'covfefe' right now because it was a longer thing, but...
CLINTON: I thought -- I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians.
SWISHER: You did?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It's interesting to me because it just sounds like he was tweeting and he fell asleep and, you know, hit the, you know...
LEMON: Spelled the wrong thing and then hit the button by accident, but go on.
[22:05:04] SWISHER: Yes. What I think about it, I thought it was very clever. There's a lot of clever response across Twitter about this thing. And it's a little meme. And it will go away but it's very funny. And that was a funny response by her.
And of course, she did a perfect, I have to say, it was peak Hillary Twitter doing that, that response. You know, it's just back and forth. Just political back and forth.
You know, I have to take issue with her tearing down the DNC's digital operation. It is -- it was a terrible operation. It didn't work. Things need to happen, and I think what happened later, she went on to talk about how the DNC and how well the republicans utilized digital means to win the election.
And I -- she's 100 percent right about that and how much the Democratic Party's got to get better and they can argue all they want if they were terrible, but they were terrible.
LEMON: So, Kara...
SWISHER: Let's fix it kind of thing is what she was saying.
LEMON: Well, let's play this because she actually responded to you, she talked to you about Comey and the DNC's digital operation. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: He dumps that on me on October 28th, and I immediately start falling. But what was really interesting, since the mainstream media covered that, as I say like Pearl Harbor, front pages everywhere, huge type, et cetera, I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. It was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. Its data was mediocre to poor. Nonexistent. Wrong. I had to inject money into it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Interesting. I mean, that was pretty strong criticism. Does she have a point?
SWISHER: Yes, it was. It was. She has a point that republicans did a tremendous job using digital media, and sometimes she was alleging they were using it in nefarious ways in collusion with the Russians, in collusion with Macedonian content forms, in collusion with bots on Facebook.
And there's a lot of evidence that there was a move by Russia, I think there's no question something was going on here with the Russians in terms of purveying fake news and things like that. And it was all to Donald Trump's favor.
And I think while she was saying it's not the way the Democratic Party should operate by creating fake news and putting it up there about opposing candidates, I think her point was well taken, that the Democratic Party which used to be ahead in digital areas, and by the way, most of people who create all these digital tools happen to be democrats, oddly enough, or libertarians, that they don't take use of these social media tools and the republicans were able to weaponized social media...
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: So Kara, what happened to the big democratic digital operation
that the Obama coalition built, what about that? Was it just outdated in four years that it advanced that far?
SWISHER: Yes, Don. Are you still using AOL? Like, come on. Let's go on.
LEMON: Right, right.
SWISHER: It's just things change. Guess what, things change. Mobile media changes. Everything else. You know, the effective use of Facebook was -- if it wasn't awful in terms of the fake news and things like that and the manipulation of it, of the paid advertising, it was brilliant in some ways.
Just the same way Donald Trump, and you know I don't often compliment him, he's a brilliant Twitter user and he use the medium perfectly for his -- he uses it as a tool pretty well. The 'covfefe' thing is strange, that's true, but he got everybody talking.
And I thought she did a good job today. I really like when she does a good one because it is the genuine Hillary. And I think that's one of the things we got from her, like it or not, she's not apologizing, she's not going away. She's going to defend herself and she's not going to crawl over glass and cry and weep.
And so that's what you're going to get. You're either going to like it or not like it. That's the Hillary we saw today and that's what you're seeing in the Twitter thing which is just a reflection of this ongoing feud between them which, you knows, it's amusing to all of us but it really is an interesting debate about how we use social media and how we conduct elections.
LEMON: You mean there's something beyond broad, beyond dialup? I'm going to have to call my...
SWISHER: Yes, Don.
LEMON: ... internet provider.
SWISHER: I'm going to -- I'm coming to New York and I'm going to show you how to use the internets. I'm going to do it for you. I'm going to help you. I'm going to try you on Snapchat. It will be great. We'll have a great night.
LEMON: It's a series of tubes as I understand from the former...
SWISHER: Several tubes. Maybe more than one. Yes.
LEMON: All right. From Al Gore. Thank you, Kara. I appreciate it. Dana, I need you to stick around because I want to turn now to CNN's exclusive reporting tonight, new interest being raised in the Trump campaign speech in Washington last year.
In the audience that day, Russia's ambassador to the U.S. Jim Sciutto is here as you can see. Jamie Gangel and Shimon Prokupecz broke the story. But Jim is going to join us to talk about what he's learning. Jim, what you are learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Don, republican and democratic Hill sources and intelligence officials all briefed on the investigation tell myself and my colleagues Jamie and Shimon that congressional investigators are examining whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an additional private meeting with Russia's ambassador during the presidential campaign.
Investigators on the Hill are requesting additional information including schedules from Sessions now. A source with knowledge tells CNN. They're focusing on whether such a meeting took place on April 27th, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel here in Washington where then- candidate Donald Trump was delivering his first major foreign policy address.
[22:10:07] Prior to the speech, then-senator Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak attended a small VIP reception with organizers, diplomats and others in addition to congressional investigators, the FBI is seeking to determine the extent of interactions the Trump campaign team may have had with Russia's ambassador during the event.
This as part of a broader counterintelligence investigation of Russian interference in the election. I should note that neither Hill nor FBI investigators have yet concluded whether a private meeting took place. They acknowledged that it is possible that any additional meeting, Don, could have been incidental.
LEMON: So, has Sessions responded?
SCIUTTO: He has. We got this response from the Justice Department a short time ago this evening and I'll read it in full.
"The Department of justice appointed a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter. We will allow him to do his job.
It is unfortunate that anonymous sources whose credibility will never face public scrutiny are continuously trying to hinder that process by pedaling false stories to the mainstream media.
Facts haven't changed. Then-senator did not have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel."
That's the end of the statement, but of course, as we were reporting, Don, not entirely satisfying to the Hill and FBI who are still looking into this.
LEMON: Yes. If true, though, Jim, this would not be the first time Sessions failed to disclose a meeting with the Russian ambassador, right?
SCIUTTO: That's exactly right. During his confirmation hearing on January 10th, Sessions testified that he, quote, "did not have any communications with the Russians," end quote, during the campaign.
He said the same in a written statement submitted to the Senate judiciary committee. When reports emerged in March that the two did have meetings with Kislyak during the campaign, one of the republicans at the Republican National Convention in July and one at his Senate office in September, Sessions conceded that the meetings happened but insisted they were part of the Senate duties and had nothing to do with the campaign.
Nonetheless, Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the Russian investigation. After that revelation, Sessions was asked at a news conference on March 2nd whether there were any other meetings with Russians. Besides those two. Here was his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you met with any other Russian officials or folks connected to the Russian government since you endorsed Donald Trump?
JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't believe so. I -- you know, we meet a lot of people, so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From those two meetings you discussed with the ambassador?
SESSIONS: I don't believe so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Later that week when Sessions updated his sworn testimony to the Senate judiciary committee, when he acknowledged the two meetings with Kislyak but he did not, Don, mention any encounter at the Mayflower hotel.
LEMON: Interesting. Jim, I want you to stick around because I want to bring back Dana Bash. Also CNN legal analyst, Laura Coates and national security and legal analyst, Susan Hennessy.
Thank you all for joining the panel. Laura, you first. This is possibly yet another undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador and this attorney has already had to recuse himself from the Russia probe. What do you -- do people just really have that bad of memory? What do you make of this new reporting?
LAURA COATES, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, the amnesia is suspicious at best. I mean, the idea that you can continuously forget about these very important meetings with people who in some way or another have impacted or have been alleged to have impacted an election that you were a part of is very interesting and curious and it invites the scrutiny of the FBI.
It invites further scrutiny and says, listen, it's not about your proactive positions or what you've done, it also includes your omissions. The omissions themselves are curious. If you consistently fail to provide information about things that have happened and you remember everything else, the omission invites further scrutiny.
And again, we're in a larger investigation process now where the whole goal is figuring out what actually happened, what role did each person play and was there a nefarious end or objective in your omissions and the failure to recall certain things are not a matter of simple amnesia. It could be a matter of an intentional act to try to thwart the process and that is something in the investigation, itself.
LEMON: Susan, former FBI Director James Comey set to publicly testify next week about President Trump pressuring him to end the Flynn probe. What should we expect?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Right, so I'm sure it will be compelling testimony. Jim Comey has actually sort of made his career around these moments of giving really dramatic testimony in front of Congress. Really we're going to hear his side of the story for the first time.
Whether or not he perceived that the President of the United States was pressuring him to actually drop this investigation or whether there's anything to the White House's representation that this was just sort of Trump in passing looking out for a friend.
[22:14:55] So I think that this really is going to be the moment in which it will be sort of deciding moment as to whether or not Congress goes forward with -- looking into whether or not there are serious obstruction issues. If instead Comey says, you know, look, I wasn't worried, or there was -- there was some ambiguity here, that might take some of the wind out of the sails.
LEMON: Dana, I have to ask you about the subpoenas, because there were also seven issued by the House intelligence committee. Four were on the Russia probe. And three were issued to seek information on unmasking.
But according to a senior House intel aide, the unmasking subpoenas would have been sent separately by House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes without approval from democrats. Why is Nunes involved at all if he supposedly recused himself?
BASH: That's an excellent question and it's one, frankly, that democrats have been quietly talking about. I talked to one last week who said, you know, I'm not so sure that Devin Nunes really did recuse himself and really has separated himself from this investigation because he is still -- it looks like he's still taking responsibility for the subpoena power which in the House the chairman can do without a vote.
And so that is certainly seems to be the case. And you remember, the whole reason why he got himself into so much hot water is because he had this sort of moment where he said he saw intelligence, that he was worried about, that it hurt somebody at the White House, so he went over to the White House to tell them about it and then he came out to talk to the press and it turned out that the information came to him from the White House to begin with and it was complicated and odd and weird and, you know, that and he got in trouble.
And now he's actually being investigated by the ethics committee. So that's a long way of saying, you know, it's unclear, and the fact that these subpoenas went out and it is now known that he still did -- he did them even though he recused himself, whether that is going to put pressure on the republican leadership to change the system.
LEMON: Certainly seems shady regardless of what it is. So, Laura, I have to ask you, a senior House republican aide says Chairman Nunes never actually recused himself to begin with. Saying that has a very specific, a very specific legal definition. What -- how do you react to that? What does that mean?
COATES: I'm frustrated, I think that most people are that you would parse words on issues of such importance. Recusal is not intended for you to dip your toe into the pool hoping that nobody notices. It's intended for you to maintain and restore oftentimes the credibility of the objectivity of the committee, itself.
And so if you're intending to certainly hoodwink people and pull the wool over their eyes and suggest that I'm going to just kind of teeter around the issue, that doesn't really mean recusal, let's parse some words here, it doesn't do much to restore the credibility or the faith people should have in an independent objective investigation into what could have been the collusion between a foreign entity and a campaign.
And so, I'm frustrated by like most people are. It also harkens back to the frustration people had with respect to Jeff Sessions who said he recused himself with respect to the Russia investigation and then had particularly a part in the firing of FBI Director Comey.
This sort of waffling between two terms and hoping that people decide not to look into the definition and hope to have the parsing of the words replace credibility and ethical standards is very dangerous and it does not bode well.
LEMON: Who's trying to get in?
BASH: It's Dana. I just want to add one more thing. This is even more reason why the focus has rightly been when it comes to congressional investigations on the Senate because the rules are different there and, frankly, just the nature of the relationship between the republican chairman, Richard Burr, and the democratic head, the ranking democrat, Mark Warner, at least for the past month or so, they have been working very well together.
And so that investigation seems to be, frankly, the more robust one and the one to watch and the house not so much.
LEMON: Jim, I have to ask you something, let's just say that there's no there, there. I know it's a hypothetical. There's nothing there when it comes to Russia collusion. All this is for naught.
But how is this behavior OK? Because it seems like there's a lot of omissions, thwarting of investigations, stonewalling. How -- what should we read, if anything, in this? Is the behavior that happens even if there's no there, there, is that OK?
SCIUTTO: Well, listen. Clearly Trump aides and Trump, himself, perhaps, open themselves up to these hard questions because they haven't been forthcoming with all the information. Whether you're talking about meetings like the ones we're seeing with Sessions or Flynn, or others, and as well as the president's comments, himself, denying, for instance, the conclusions of the intelligence agencies about Russian interference or doubting those conclusions.
So it helps open up these questions and the question then is, what is the political benefit of that? You can make an argument that best strategy would be to be forthcoming fast and quick and fully so that you can get the investigations out of the way as quickly as possible.
[22:20:03] So, they can come to a conclusion about these open questions.
LEMON: But Jim, Jim, if I can just jump in here, because even -- let's just say that there was an omission, if you, an omission and lying about it, they're equally the same. It's not that, I forgot about it. Those carry the same consequences.
SCIUTTO: Well, lying about it, if it was i sworn testimony...
LEMON: But lying by omission...
SCIUTTO: ... would be perjury.
LEMON: is it the same thing?
SCIUTTO: Well, no. I mean, you can argue that they're both withholding information. But from a legal perspective if it was determined that someone or anyone involved withheld something they knew to be true in sworn testimony, that becomes a bigger deal because then you're talking about perjury.
LEMON: I mean on the forms.
SCIUTTO: Well then there's a separate issue beyond sworn testimony on your SF-86 which is your security clearance form. CNN had some reporting last week about Sessions not being fully forthcoming on the form. There have been questions about Jared Kushner listing Russia meetings, et cetera.
That's a different violation, if it's determined that you withheld information there than perjury, say, in sworn testimony, but both of them, no question, are serious issues if they are corroborated.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you, everyone. I appreciate it. When we come right back, as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump battle it
out on Twitter tonight, the White House now referring all questions about the Russia investigation to the president's personal lawyer. Will that help or hurt the administration? Ronald Reagan's son weighs in, next.
LEMON: President Trump and Hillary Clinton lashing out at each other in a new war of words on Russia tonight as an investigation spreads a cloud over the White House.
Joining me now, the son of President Ronald Reagan, Michael Reagan is author of "Lessons My Father Taught Me" and a Newsmax contributor and he's on this show frequently and we're glad to have him.
Good evening to you. I have to ask you, though, about this war of words tonight between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump over this election and why she lost. Are we doomed to relive this 2016 election forever with these two?
[22:24:59] MICHAEL REAGAN, AUTHOR, LESSONS MY FATHER TAUGHT ME: Boy, I certainly hope not. I think the media's more caught up in this than the rest of the public. I think the rest of the public wants to get on to the business that they need to get on to. I think they want to hear about tax cuts...
LEMON: Michael, the media -- they're the ones who are fighting about it. We're just reporting on it.
REAGAN: I know. I know. I said in a tweet here a couple weeks ago, I said if I was the chief of staff to the President of the United States, I'd break his thumbs and get a roll of duct tape.
I got it tell you, I just think that would probably be the best thing for him. Reince, if you're listening, you might want to do that. Because I think what happens is instead of letting it go away and get on to his issues he needs to get on to, he keeps on playing to the Hillary Clintons and other people that keep on talking about Russia and what's going on.
And if I can say something, Don, I mean, I almost laugh at this stuff because it seems to me the media wakes up every morning thinking then, history just started that morning when they opened their eyes.
If I could take you back for a moment to 1979 when Senator Ted Kennedy goes to Senator John Tunney of California and asks him to personally go to the KGB, to ask the KGB to get in touch with Moscow and let Moscow know that Kennedy will take a positive note on them going into Afghanistan and invite Russians to America to be on television and if they do that, it will help them defeat Jimmy Carter for the nomination of the Democrat Party in 1979.
Well, guess what, that doesn't work. So in 1980, during the election, Jimmy Carter goes to Arm & Hammer, the industrials ask him to go to de Bruin...
LEMON: What are you saying in the interest of time? What's the bottom line here, what are you saying, you're talking about back channel.
REAGAN: The bottom line is, this is not the first time Russia has tried or been involved in an election. It used to be where we knocked on their door and asked for their assistance to defeat at least Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan back in 1980.
And everybody's treating this like this is new stuff. This is not new stuff. This is what Russia does if they're not asked, they try to get involved, themselves.
LEMON: Yes, but the timing is different. And we spoke to General Michael Hayden about that. He said this is, to him, this is not back channeling. The timing matters and also the time that we can't look at the 1970s now through a 2016 or 2017 lens. There was no internet, the times were different.
But, you know, anyway, I get your point. But I have to ask you, is this different to you that Jared Kushner reportedly proposed using Russian facilities and equipment to communicate with them secretly, intentionally keeping information from all U.S. entities?
REAGAN: But, Don, that's a leak. We don't even know if that's fact yet. We really don't know. And what happens is the reporting leaks and what have you, we don't have the fact. We...
LEMON: They haven't denied it, Michael.
LEMON: The White House hasn't denied it.
REAGAN: Well, yes, the White House hasn't denied it. They say they turned it over that their attorney now. But the reality of it is, we don't really know what happened in that meeting and what went on. When we find out what went on, fine.
But guess what, collusion is not breaking the law. Just like Kennedy, he didn't break the law. It was a political move he made just like Jimmy Carter. It was political. It wasn't breaking the law.
LEMON: Wait, wait, wait. Collusion is not breaking the law?
REAGAN: Not in this case. No, it's not collusion. Collusion is not breaking the law. What law did they break?
LEMON: You mean if the Trump folks colluded with the Russians, that's not breaking the law? To influence the election?
REAGAN: What law? What law? LEMON: Isn't that treasonous to do that?
REAGAN: What law? No. What law?
LEMON: OK. I'm not an attorney but it just seems like...
REAGAN: The democrats...
LEMON: It seems like -- it seems like that's the whole reason for this investigation by the intelligence community, from the FBI, from the CIA, and they said, in fact...
REAGAN: Finding out if...
LEMON: .. if it did occur. And if it did occur, then there is a -- then that's breaking of the law. No?
REAGAN: What law?
LEMON: You have to ask a lawyer.
REAGAN: Nobody can name the law. Nobody can name the law. Just like the democrats colluding back in the '70s and '80s, didn't break the law.
LEMON: People go to jail all the time, though, Michael, for collusion. Even beyond the government in just everyday business.
LEMON: And when it comes to the mafia, people go to...
REAGAN: ... isn't the case. But nobody...
REAGAN: People go to jail all the time for that.
REAGAN: Don, name the law.
LEMON: OK. So then why would the -- OK, fine.
REAGAN: Name the law that they broke.
LEMON: Fine. I know you're going to point about the law but why would be the FBI be investigating if it's not against the law?
REAGAN: Because this has become so politicized to the whole process, and you know as far as...
LEMON: The entire intelligence community is being politicized?
REAGAN: ... if they found nothing happens.
What, this has been politicized on every side of the equation.
LEMON: Without intelligence community you think it's being politicized?
REAGAN: It is being politicized. Hillary politicized it in her talk the other day.
LEMON: No, no, I'm talking about the intelligence community. Listen, I think you're right. I think it's being politicized by politicians but I'm not so sure by members of the intelligence community.
[22:29:55] REAGAN: I think the intelligence community got to a point, they didn't have a choice. They really had no choice but to go into this because nobody was believing anybody else on the planet. Nobody was believing democrats. Nobody was believing republicans. I think they have no choice to go in...
LEMON: So Michael, let me get i in, when they started investigating possible collusion with the Trump campaign back in July of 2016, at least that's when we're told the investigation started, you think that that was political from the FBI?
Because nothing was reported about them investigating the Trump campaign, but they did admit that they were investigating Hillary Clinton.
REAGAN: They were investigating Hillary, they were investigating Trump, they were investigating both candidates when it came to this last campaign. But, again, collusion, what law? What law? If they find, in fact, they colluded with collusion with...
LEMON: I think that collusion is probably a broad term...
REAGAN: ... the Russians.
LEMON: ... and within that you'd have to figure out exactly what they were colluding to do if it was treasonous, if they were allowing a foreign influence to have influence -- a foreign government to have influence in our election and over our country.
REAGAN: Don, Don...
LEMON: I think that there are laws in that they have broken. REAGAN: Don, have you interviewed -- Don, have you interviewed one person that changed their vote because of the Russian collusion? One person.
LEMON: I haven't interviewed anyone who...
REAGAN: Have you?
LEMON: Yes, I'm sure there are people. I have not.
REAGAN: But have you?
LEMON: I've interviewed a lot of people.
REAGAN: Have you?
REAGAN: What person said you changed my vote?
LEMON: I have heard people say, yes, all this investigating, and all of this ties to the investigation, or Hillary Clinton and e-mails, that changed my idea of who to vote for in the election. Yes, absolutely so people have changed their vote because of that. You don't think people did?
REAGAN: Well, they need to be -- they need to be on the air and find out was there -- how many millions were there to overturn the election?
LEMON: You don't think people who either thought Hillary Clinton did something wrong with e-mails or that Donald Trump may have done something wrong in some way, you don't think that influenced them in the way that they voted?
REAGAN: Hillary lost because she ran a terrible campaign.
LEMON: No, that's a whole different point. Listen, I don't disagree with you on that.
REAGAN: That's why she lost.
LEMON: I don't disagree with you on that. I do think she should take more responsibility for her own actions and why she lost. But you don't think that people being investigated had any influence on how you voted?
REAGAN: But at the same point, they were investigating Trump. So...
LEMON: That was not announced. REAGAN: It was tit for tat at that point.
LEMON: No, it's not. No one was investigating Trump.
REAGAN: But Trump didn't have...
LEMON: No one knew...
REAGAN: ... Trump didn't have an e-mail service -- Trump didn't have an e-mail service.
LEMON: ... that Trump was being investigated. No one knew Trump, Michael...
REAGAN: Trump didn't have an e-mail service in his basement.
LEMON: Michael, he did not that we know of. All right? All right.
REAGAN: Come on.
LEMON: I'm just being facetious there. But no one knew Donald Trump was being investigated then.
REAGAN: You know, Donald Trump is being investigated every day. Turn on the news. There's nobody saying anything good about Donald Trump. Look at the last program that you...
LEMON: But no one knew there was an FBI investigation is this point. Will you just admit that? Because it happens in July. James Comey did announced it until the hearings.
REAGAN: Nobody knew there was an FBI -- nobody knew there was an FBI investigation, true. That would not have changed the election.
That would not have changed the election. People vote for him because...
LEMON: If they had known Donald Trump was under investigation, you don't think it would have changed anything.
REAGAN: No, wouldn't have changed a thing.
LEMON: OK. I'll let you have it, I'll let you think that. So, I appreciate you coming on. REAGAN: I know it.
LEMON: All right. Good for you. Thank you, Michael. Always appreciate it. Great conversation.
REAGAN: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: When we come right back, Fareed Zakaria joins me. I'm going to ask him about the breaking news on the Russia investigation and what we just spoke about as well.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: You could be forgiven for thinking we're right back in the middle of the campaign. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a heated war of words tonight over Russia.
Let's discuss now, Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS. I have a lot to talk with you about it. I want to talk to you about the Paris climate accord, but let's talk about the conversation I just had with Michael Reagan. Because that's become a political talking point on the right that what law? There's no laws broken.
If you look at PolitiFact, they say, in fact, there were four laws that were broken so that is a talking point, not exactly accurate at all. There were a number of laws that were broken.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN: Yes, look, we don't know exactly what the FBI is investigating, specifically, but we do know that, you know, for example, the Logan Act does not allow private individuals to conduct foreign policy.
Now, that is an act rarely enforced, but many of these contacts with foreign governments seem to be of that nature. The more important one, of course, is it is illegal to tamper with an election in the United States and there is the allegation that the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power, Russia, to tamper in some way with the election. To interfere with the election. Clearly, that is illegal.
LEMON: Isn't hacking illegal as well?
ZAKARIA: Right. Hacking into computer systems if that is what was done is illegal. And then finally there's the whole issue around whether or not the Trump administration, whether the president, personally, tried to get the FBI to stop investigating these issues. And that's obstruction of justice.
There is a -- there is one final issue which is unclear which is whether the president personally as president can be considered to have violated any law because the president kind of can do anything. But clearly obstruction of justice is a violation of federal law.
LEMON: That the Trump administration or the Trump campaign was being investigated during the election was bizarre to me because there was no investigation of the Trump campaign during the election that was -- he said that later, months ago, that in July the investigation started but he never announced it.
ZAKARIA: Well, we didn't know that. In other words, the FBI...
ZAKARIA: ... seems to have been investigating it and what Michael Reagan said which struck me as bizarre, was it would have made no difference to the public had they known, yet all the evidence, Nate Silver at 538 has very careful documentary evidence that shows that the fact the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton clearly had an effect, one would have to assume that by the same logic if we had known Comey was investigating the Trump campaign and Donald Trump, it would have had some effect.
LEMON: Yes, it's bizarre, a little bit, in the least, I should say.
[22:39:58] Let's talk about President Trump deciding to withdraw, possibly withdraw from the Paris climate accord. It would mean only the United States, Syria, Nicaragua, would not be part of this global agreement. What does that mean for our standing in the world?
ZAKARIA: Well, we just went into a much worse club than the one we were in.
LEMON: We don't know. He's going to announce tomorrow.
ZAKARIA: Right. I think that the most important piece of this is that the United States has really played this extraordinary role, extraordinary for the world, but for the United States also.
It has gotten to write the rules of the road for all these agreements. Free trade, climate change, because when you have a global problem, and let's understand, this is a question of you have to deal with global problems with more than one country because when China pollutes, it affects everybody and so the Chinese can say, well, we're not going to do anything about it, but the better solution is everybody takes -- gets involved.
So if you have these global problems, pandemics is another one, somebody's going to have to be the leader, somebody's going to write the rules. It's been enormously helpful for the United States that we got to write the rules. We got to get our interest, ideas, values, kind of enshrined in those rules.
Trump seems to be throwing that away and saying, we don't need that, we don't want do be encumbered by anything, fine, but you know, that's a much worse position to be in than be the leader of the world writing those rules.
LEMON: He could be doing what he does so often, he'll say one thing and then his actions will be another or vice versa. So he could tomorrow, I think he's supposed to announce there at 3 o'clock, he could tomorrow say, you know, of course, we're going to do this.
ZAKARIA: It would be the most bizarre windup after one week of telling us he's going to do something important dramatic he says, what I'm going to do business as usual.
ZAKARIA: I'm going to follow the Obama policy, thank you all for coming.
LEMON: But hasn't he done that for the most part when it comes to a lot of these things?
ZAKARIA: Well, it's an interesting point you make, Don, which is that in many areas, many, many areas, there's been a lot of smoke and mirrors but at the end of the day he's following the Obama policy.
On ISIS, he's following the Obama policy. On Syria, he's following the Obama policy. On Afghanistan, he's following the Obama policy. Even on, you know, a lot of immigration stuff, people forget Obama was deporting a lot. There hasn't been that much changed.
LEMON: They called him the deporter in chief.
ZAKARIA: Right. The travel ban is frozen in court, so effectively whatever, you know, whatever extreme vetting the Obama people was doing, we're doing is what he's doing.
On trade policy, the things that he talked about after the Chinese visit are pretty standard issue, so you're right, there have been a lot of head takes but I don't know whether -- this seems a little more serious.
LEMON: A lot of bluster but then it comes down just doing the same thing that the previous administration had done.
Secretary Tillerson wants the United States to remain a party, as does Mitt Romney who wanted the job. And here's what Romney tweeted. He said, "Affirmation of the Paris agreement is not only about the climate, it is also about America remaining the global leader." so what is Secretary Tillerson -- what do Tillerson and Mitt Romney get about this President Trump may not be getting about this?
ZAKARIA: I think anyone who has engaged seriously in the world and has agreed with other countries understands how really this has become almost the signature for global cooperation in the world. This is the signature agreement. This is something that the whole world, it took years and years to get everybody on the same page, and most importantly for western countries, it's the first time it's been possible to get the Chinese and the Indians.
You know, this was always the big problem with climate change. You could say I'll put in as many of those curly light bulbs you want and I'll drive a Prius, doesn't make any difference because the Chinese are going to build coal-fired power plants and plot the atmosphere. Well, the Chinese agreed. The Indians agreed.
So, finally you got something where you felt like you were doing something about a real problem. And remember, as we're speaking, as Trump is thinking of leaving Paris, there is a piece of ice in the Antarctic the size of Delaware that is detaching.
This is climate change is happening. You know, the physics, mother nature is going to do what she's going to do whether Trump stays in the Paris climate deal or not. And I think they get that this is a way that the world has found to come together and to do something serious about it but also something that actually benefits the economy.
LEMON: Yes. Always a pleasure. Thank you, Fareed. I appreciate it. Don't miss Fareed Zakaria's GPS Sundays 10 a.m. and 1 Eastern right here on CNN.
When we come back, more on our breaking news the president and Hillary Clinton in a Twitter war, as we learns that congressional investigators are examining whether Jeff Sessions and a Russian official had another undisclosed meeting.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Our breaking news, President Trump and Hillary Clinton in a heated new war of words tonight. That's as congressional investigators are looking at Jeff Sessions and whether he had another private meeting with the Russian ambassador.
Let's discuss now. CNN political commentators Ryan Lizza and Van Jones are here. Also republican strategist, John Brabender. Good evening to you, gents.
Ryan, you first. I want to get your reaction to Jim Sciutto's reporting earlier that Congress is investigating whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an additional private meeting with Russia's Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential campaign. What do you make of that?
RYAN LIZZA, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, if it's true, it's another meeting as far as I can tell was not disclosed by Sessions when he was asked at that hearing during his confirmation hearing when he was asked about such contacts, and that, frankly, is the pattern that has raised so many questions, right?
We have -- you know, I saw your conversation with Michael Reagan where he was talking about what's the crime, what's the crime? I think that's a great question, but what we have so far is a lot of cover-up without an understanding of what the underlying -- underlying crime is. If there is one at all.
So this would add to that sense of why weren't these things disclosed? Why did Jared Kushner not disclose his meetings with Kislyak and with the Russian, this Russian banker when he was required to do so on a White House form he had to fill out?
Why did Sessions not disclose his contacts with Kislyak before the Senate judiciary committee? Why did Michael Flynn not disclose his work for the Turkish and the nature of his conversation with Kislyak. So we have a series of contacts with Russians that Trump officials felt they needed to hide and this would be one more of those if it's confirmed. LEMON: John Brabender, it seems like a pattern to the layperson,
could they have done a better job, you think, or you think it's not a pattern here?
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think this is exactly where the democrats might take this, quite honestly. I mean, I've run presidential campaigns before. Do I believe the Russians tried to interfere with our elections? Absolutely. Do I believe they succeeded in any way? Do I believe they colluded or coordinated with the Trump campaign?
No, there would be nothing they can do. There's not one shred of evidence that shows that they were successful in doing anything. Name one thing you think they did. They could have had strategists sitting at the Trump tower every day but their strategists aren't as good as American strategists so what could they have colluded on?
LEMON: Are you saying that it shouldn't be investigated?
LIZZA: John, that's just completely and utterly false.
BRABENDER: I'm saying Russia's involvement should certainly be investigated. But Hillary Clinton today...
BRABENDER: ... complained that there could have been collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Correct? And what she was complaining about was the fact that potentially the Russians exposed that Hillary Clinton through an e-mail was conspiring with the DNC to game the system against Bernie Sanders.
Believe me, the Russians would have been smart enough if they found that to not need to know to release that. There wasn't any reason to collude. They could do that on their own.
LIZZA: Well, I think, look, it depends on your definition of collusion, John. The way, you know, a lot of people say there was no collusion, there was no collusion. Well, there was an active campaign of interference in our election that consisted of stealing e-mails from the DNC and the chairman of the Clinton campaign and dumping them through third party cutouts.
[22:50:02] What happens next is a definition of collusion. It was embraced, propagated, and distributed by Donald Trump, his campaign, and the Republican Party. Now, is that illegal? Maybe not. But it's certainly s kind...
BRABENDER: yes, first of all...
LIZZA: Hold on a second. Let me finish.
BRABENDER: That is so speculative.
BRABENDER No, it's not speculative. There's nobody that have seen that.
LEMON: One at a time, please.
LIZZA: No, it is not speculative. Donald Trump got up and rallied, talked about WikiLeaks, celebrated the release of illegally obtained information and maybe it was a joke, actually asked the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton's campaign.
So none of that is necessarily illegal but don't sit there and say the Russians had no influence on the elections, of course they did.
BRABENDER: Look, I don't care if it was on the elections or whoever.
LIZZA: They had an enormous influence on information environment of the 2016 campaign.
BRABENDER: If I was running a campaign.
LIZZA: And it was celebrated and embraced by Donald Trump. Those are the facts.
BRABENDER: OK. Let me be clear on this. First of all, if Hillary Clinton wouldn't have got caught by somebody trying to take advantage of Bernie Sanders and game the system like she does everything, there wouldn't be a problem at all.
If I'm the Trump campaign I don't care if the FBI exposed it.
LIZZA: We're taking about foreign powers dealing from...
BRABENDER: ... I don't care -- if it is true, which it was true, I'm going to be out there making sure Americans know it because they deserved to know that Hillary Clinton was trying to do this.
LIZZA: Fair enough. You are proving my point. You are saying that this information that was stolen by the Russians and dumped into the public domain was indeed embraced and distributed by the Trump campaign.
BRABENDER: If you want to investigate the Russians go right ahead. But nobody has found anything
LEMON: Isn't that what's happening now, John?
LIZZA: But John, I'm just sort of laying out the facts. You just said none of that happened. Now you are saying actually it did happen. BRABENDER: You know what, what did Hillary Clinton say today? She
said it was the media that every time something got released that used World War II or Pearl Harbor headlines as she said. So she blamed it on the Russians, and then she blamed it on Comey, and then she blame it on the media. There is nothing that the Trump campaign...
LEMON: OK. Hang on. Van...
BRABENDER: ... did that would be necessarily to conspire this. Anybody who runs campaigns would know this.
LEMON: Van, you are awfully patient tonight.
VAN JONES, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, I mean, it's already get...
LIZZA: Van, settle this debate.
JONES: Listen, I am shock actually to hear this constant theme now that it just doesn't matter from the republicans, that they just don't care about the integrity of our elections, they don't care if somebody is trying to interfere. They don't care if people are stealing. They don't care.
And I just -- I'm -- I think it's bewildering for people because ordinarily you expect the republicans to be the staunchest defenders of American, you know, patriotism and the integrity of our elections and sticking up -- standing up to Russia.
I can't imagine what a Ronald Reagan would be thinking hearing this kind of thing. And here's the reality, what you are saying, that you know Hillary Clinton was doing all of these terrible things inside the DNC. All that stuff is way overstated.
The problem that you actually have is that there does seem to be a very sophisticated campaign to actually spread disinformation and misinformation take things out of context. Some of these e-mails now it turns out were rewritten.
BRABENDER: Yes, that was campaign stuff...
JONES: And I would think that any -- hold on a second. Let me just finish. You talked for a long time, buddy. You talk for a long time. let me finish.
LEMON: Let him finish, John.
BRABENDER: I know, I'll give you time as long as I can respond.
JONES: Fine. But my point is simply this. Some of the stuff, you guys keep blowing it off and blowing it off, it turns out the more you look at it the more disturbing it is. And I would think that your commitment to your country would be bigger than your commitment to your political party.
LEMON: Hey, Van, hold on. Before you jump in here, John. You mentioned Ronald Reagan, I just had his son on, and he said, well, there were no laws, you know, that were broken. Name a law. And then you do the fact checking on it and actually in fact there were several laws that may have been broken.
It's just a political talking point. Name the law. Well, they don't know exactly what has happened yet. They have to do the investigation before they figure out how to prosecute it. Van?
JONES: Yes, well, listen, I think the fact that you have multiple investigations going on including the FBI. And you have got to have Mueller in, who is one of the most respected law enforcement people in the country.
And by the way you have got Sessions now, maybe our top cop, who may be lying and committing acts of perjury. I mean, this is really major stuff. And what you are seeing now is a Republican Party that's willing to define down the standards of decency.
When I was applying for a job in the White House I sweated bullets over every single line because you are doing it under the penalty of perjury.
JONES: You got the top cop right now who got at least three or four times that he has literally said something that wasn't true or omitted something. And republicans say no big deal. I don't get it.
[22:54:56] LEMON: So, John, I have to ask you, why is doing due diligence over what you've testified -- over testimony, you know, at committee, or what you put on your forms that you have to disclose to the government -- why the due diligence, why is that a conspiracy theory? Why is that even political?
Don't you want people to be as forthcoming as possible? Don't you want to know what happened in the election? Don't you want to get down to the bottom of it regardless of which party won whether it is a democrat or a republican?
BRABENDER: Look, I have no problem with that. First I want to be clear. I think the Russians interfered, I think that should be investigated. We need to collectively make sure that never happens again. So anybody thinking republicans don't think that way they're wrong. Number two is...
LIZZA: You just spent three minutes saying the opposite.
BRABENDER: ... do I believe that (Inaudible) with the Russians? Sure. That's fine. If you want to investigate it, fine.
But what people are doing, and the democrats particularly they don't care about getting to those facts. They care about the 2018 elections so they are jumping way ahead and saying but there must have been collusion how else can we explain Donald Trump winning all these democrat states.
JONES: The FBI is investigating.
BRABENDER: The truth of the matter is these democrats who felt like they didn't have a voice, they felt Donald Trump gave it to him and they voted for him.
LIZZA: John, let me just tell you. There are three investigations going on right now, there's a bipartisan investigation in the Senate intelligence committee, a bipartisan investigation in the house intelligence committee, and a special counsel that has been appointed by Donald Trump's deputy attorney general who is running the FBI investigation.
So those are not democrat investigations. Those are two bipartisan investigations and a Trump appointed special counsel. So I know in politics everyone wants to polarize things and make things into a partisan investigation.
But it's not a democrat conspiracy theory as you just conceded, the Russians did indeed interfere in our election. And a lot of people who don't really care about which -- about which party was affected was affected want to get to the bottom of that so it doesn't happen again. You know, this time it benefitted your party.
BRABENDER: I agree, but none of those are investigating this far.
LIZZA: Next time your party could be this target. So you have an interest in this too, not as a republican but as an American you should care.
BRABENDER: Well, I've been a (Inaudible)
LEMON: OK. Listen, I have got to get to the break. I have got to get to the break. Next time, gentlemen. Thank you very much.
LIZZA: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, President Trump and Hillary Clinton's war on words.
Plus, Congress investigating another possible private meeting between Jeff Sessions and the Russian ambassador.
Plus, newly released cash cam video of the scene of Tiger Woods arrest.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and spread your feet for me.
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[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Breaking news. President Trump and Hillary Clinton waging a whole new war of words tonight.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Apparently, they didn't quite get all of this out during their -- out of their systems during the campaign.