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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  March 21, 2017 11:00pm-12:01am PDT

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that's it for us, thanks for watching. time to hand things over to don lemon. "cnn tonight" starts right now. this is cnn breaking news. breaking news, a late night on capitol hill with the gop's health care bill hanging in the balance. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. thanks for joining us. do or die time, less than 48 hours to go before the house votes on the long-promised republican plan to repeal and replace obamacare. paul ryan's team working furiously behind the scenes. president trump on the hill today warning republicans they could lose their seats if the bill fails. will his own party give him the win he so december pret needs right now? plus all the president's men, paul manafort, michael flynn, roger stone to name a few, do they have ties to russia? will they come back to haunt the trump white house? we'll discuss all of that. i want to get to cnn senior
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political reporter and senior political analyst david gergen and david axelrod. good to have you on this evening. walk us through the changes that have been made to the health care bill. who are they aimed at winning over, and are more changes coming here? >> you know, if you listen to president trump, he says there are more changes coming. in some ways this is not something that paul ryan necessarily wants to hear, but it is music to people in the house freedom caucus who want to see more done in terms of medicaid sunsetting earlier. one of the changes that they have made is to allow these medicaid states to block grant the funding. that is something that is very important to the freedom caucus. as well there's a change that's being made in terms of how medicaid is funded in new york. upstate new yorkers very much want the state to foot the bill rather than the counties. so that is something that's
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aimed at getting some of those folks off the bench and to support this bill. you know, my thinking on thursday is it's hard to imagine that paul ryan is going to bring this to the floor without thinking, in some ways know iin he's going to pass this thing. we've got 48 hours to go. you'd imagine there's going to be arm twisting and horse trading in the meantime. it's hard to think that we get to thursday, which of course is the anniversary of obama's passing this thing back in 2010, it's a very symbolic date for obama. it's going to be a symbolic date i think for republicans as well, who remember, this is all they've been about for the last seven years. repealing and replacing obamacare. >> interesting. as i said, do or die. it's really showtime. they're selling this to the investo investors. whether the investors will buy, we'll see thursday. showtime. selling it to the investors. president trump is addressing the bill at a dinner for congressional republicans tonight, let's listen to that. >> the house bill ends the
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obamacare nightmare and gives health care decisions back to the states and back to the american people. these are the conservative solutions we campaigned on. and these are the conservative solutions the american people asked us as a group to deliver. we are keeping our promises. >> you can see david gergen the president sticking to the written script there, not going off that script. let me show you the latest whip count. it shows that 19 republicans are definite noes. seven others are likely noes. the gop can lose no more than 21 votes. do you think that he's going to be able to get this done? paul ryan's not going to bring it to the floor unless it's a sure thing. >> most presidencies, the president would succeed. it's early in his administration, there's usually a honeymoon feeling about things, the party wants to give him an early victory so he
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doesn't come stumbling out of the gate with legislation. there are a lot of factors that would suggest the president would likely win this. but we're in such an unusual year. with a president's own approval ratings at historic lows for any new president. if he were at 65%, 70% approval right now, i can guarantee you, i think david axelrod would guarantee, that president trump would have a victory on thursday. but at 37%, 38%? he doesn't have that kind of persuasive power. you don't see cards and letters coming into congress, you don't hear an outcry from the public. if anything people have been showing up at town halls, they've been against this, they want to keep obamacare in preference to this. so it's going to be a close call, a very, very important point in this presidency in terms of his leadership of the congress and getting big things done. >> david axelrod, he invoked your name, what do you think? >> well, look. i think it's not just that he's at 37%, 38% approval.
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but the bill itself is at 34% approval. there just isn't a consensus in the country behind this bill. and so, yes, the republicans have said for seven years they're going to repeal and replace but the devil is in the details. now that the details are here they're not very welcome, as has been brooded about quite a bit. a lot of the impact falls on older americans, on rural communities, on low-income, working-class voters, the very people who form the base of donald trump's support. and the let me fors that represent those areas are aware of that. the bill doesn't go far enough for people on the republican right in terms of dismantling the affordable care act. it goes too far for people who are among those suburban moderates. a couple of dozen representatives from suburban districts who are concerned about what it does to medicaid.
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and so there's a great deal of concern on both sides of the republican family, as it were, more like the simpsons than a normal family, a lot of fighting going on there. so i think at the end of the day, you know, this is a heavy lift. and the argument that paul ryan is making and that trump is making to the republicans is, you promised this, you're going to get punished if you don't do it, keep it going, don't kill it here, keep it going, we can fix it within the problems. t process. the problem is a lot of people don't trust the senate to make it better in their perspective. >> i have to ask you this, sonya. it's kind of a get it over approach, move on to other things. he's telling people, telling members, if you don't pass this, you're probably not going to have your seat two years from
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now. is that a good tactic to take, do you think? >> it's a purely political tactic, right? i mean, isn't arguing policy details, this isn't arguing that this is what the republican party stands for in terms of a conservative approach to health care. it's very much sort of a bottom-line scare tactic. him essentially saying, you better have my back or i will be in your district and you can imagine that president trump is someone that hasn't minded -- >> is that unusual? >> i think it is unusual, yes. david was talking about this. usually you would have people wanting to line up behind the president, certainly not the president threatening meant of his own party that he would campaign against them. so it is a very odd thing. it's partly because the republican party hasn't had a real philosophy in terms of health care. certainly not a philosophy that includes government intervention in terms of health care. that's what you're having here with the way this program is set
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up. there are some vestiges of obamacare that are going to stay as part of this law, which is angering lots of conservatives who want to see this ripped out. >> my question is, was there this much arm twisting when it came to obamacare? was there this much? david gergen? then axelrod. either one. >> go ahead, david, please. >> i was there, so i can tell you that that was a lengthy process. it died a thousand deaths along the way. in certain ways they're mirroring that process because what happened was you had progressives, liberals in the house who thought that the bill the senate passed hadn't gone far enough. you had senators who thought the liberals were -- the bill was too expensive and generous. they couldn't reconcile. these are among democrats. and it was only at the end when it was absolutely clear to the house that the only opportunity for them was to accept the senate bill with some amendments
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they could do through reconciliation that they grudgingly got on board. and so you're seeing some of that same tug and pull here. what i don't remember is the president -- i do remember him going to members and saying, this is why we ran for office, to do this for people. and he sold the bill on its merits. he didn't make a purely political argument. he knew that there were dangerous politics associated with the bill, but he said, we have the opportunity to do something really big for the american people and for the future. and this is why we all ran for office. it's a lot different than saying, i'm going to be in your business if you don't support this. >> i'm going to get you out of office if you don't support it. david gergen, might they change the deadline, move it from thursday? >> i think they're going to take this right up to the brink and see if they can bring those last voters in. with a lot of pressure behind the scenes. and if they don't have the votes, they'll pull it, it won't go to a vote on thursday or
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friday. right on the brink, if they don't have the votes, they'll pull back. go back to the drawing board, see if they can get something else done. i think -- look, one of the things you face here is, i worked with bill clinton when he was trying to get health care through. this is really hard work. seven presidents tried to get it. national health care. president obama was the first one to succeed. and now his success i think looked bigger than ever because you realize, now we've got an eighth president who's struggling with it. so i do think that in retrospect they should have thought a lot more about the policy and getting that right, having something they could take to the country. the turning point in all of this is when that report came out from the congressional budget office saying that 23 million, 24 million people would be without insurance. in 2026. that's huge. >> that's a game changer. >> don, it's so interesting. we've just learned the last 24 hours the congressional budget office says that if you let this
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bill, obamacare, just die, you'll have more people with insurance than if you put repeal and replace into place. isn't that amazing? >> yeah. that's very interesting predicame predicament. stand by. david axelrod, i said in the beginning i'm glad to have all of you on, but david axelrod, you've been traveling and i wanted to get your perspective on things. it's been a tough time to be in the white house lately. the health care bill as we talked about, dire straits right now, two failed travel bans, a criminal investigation into possible contacts with russia, the fbi director comey contradicting the president's wiretapping claims. you've been there, what do you think of all of this? >> david can speak to this as well, he's been in white houses in times of political crisis. and you really feel under siege. and it's important to keep your wits about you. the truth of the matter is, yes, he's got some problems here that aren't going to go away that we learned about -- more about on monday. on the other hand, if they do
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pass this health care bill, whatever you think of it, if they do pass this health care bill and they do get judge gorsuch through his committee and on the bench, then, you know, if thing s are going to look a little bit different. you've got to sort of keep your wits about you and not panic. but having said all of that, this is an extraordinarily dark time. 60 days into an administration. >> well, comey is saying that there is no information that supports trump's wiretapping claims. does president trump owe president obama and the american people an apology? >> well, he mayo him one but he's not going to give one, that's pretty clear, that's not part of his makeup, that's not part of his character. he never backs up. i mean, i think, don, you went through a litany of things last night on which he made claims that were plainly not true. he hasn't backed up on any of them. that's just not the way he operates.
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so he will pay a price for it. there's a reason that he is at 37%, 38% now. and that's part of the reason. and, you know, i think people -- if ivanka trump achieves nothing but to get that cell phone away from her father, she will have done a great service to him and this administration. >> i think everyone is in agreement on this panel. >> she's in the west wing now, so maybe. >> we'll see. untitled position, which is very interesting. one more question before we get out of here. we also found out yesterday that both -- we keep saying both presidential candidates were under investigation during the campaign. yes, but on election day there was only one candidate who was under investigation, and the only people who knew it were the people investigating, the american people went to the polls not knowing that donald trump, candidate donald trump, was under investigation. what do you think about learning that now, david axelrod? >> well, look, i think a lot of
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democrats are angry about that. what jim comey said was that those investigations of hillary clinton were complete by election day, and he spoke in july when they had completed their investigation. the investigation into trump was just beginning and he didn't feel like he could speak about that. the problem with jim comey in this whole episode is that he seems to be making rules up as he goes along to try and figure out how to protect his agency. he's made a series of judgments about when to speak and when not to speak and he's -- maybe with good intentions but he's gotten himself into a lot of hot water and he's raised questions like the one you just did which is rife with this question as to whether he, in fact, was a player in this election. a lot of democrats believe he was. >> david gergen? >> well, listen, i had a great deal of respect for jim comey coming into all of this. i do think he made a mistake by
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not disclosing both investigations at the same time. rather than disclosing the hillary clinton investigation and not the other. i think this notion that somehow one was closed and the other was not is spurious. as i recall when he went back and said, we're looking at it -- he said, a few days before the election, we're looking at some new e-mails. he went public with that. and he said, that's because we kept the investigation open. well, it wasn't closed, really, it was still open, they just weren't doing very much with it. i just think he should have come with both or none. >> nia, before we go, the president's reputation now in washington, where do we stand with that? not many people will tell you on camera how they feel but behind the scenes? >> there is a lot of hammering. >> his credibility. >> among republicans in terms of a lot of the drama, right,
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surrounding this white house, the self-created drama around the wiretapping and the credibility. and just sort of the pettiness around this issue and the inability for him to get past it. as you can tell i think from this white house, you look at sean spicer's briefing today, they are not going to let this go. we're not going to get an apology from this white house. this seems to be president trump's new favorite conspiracy theory in many ways. but i do think you can turn the page on this if you're donald trump on thursday, if they start to get a win that looks like a win on this health care bill and it looks good in the senate, then tax reform, then, you know. all bets are off in terms of people salarying republicans on this white house. again action they have seen him as someone who can sign their agenda and get all the things they wanted to do over these last many years done. if he's able to do that, i think some of these issues won't matter. >> he still has to answer to the american people and i think the media will hold him accountable for that. thank you all. i appreciate it.
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president trump's toughest opponents on health care may be conservative members of his own party. i'm going to talk to the congressman who says he thinks they can kill the bill. that's next.
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members of the house caucus oppose the gop health care bill and believe they have enough votes to stop it. republican congressman mo brooks of alabama is part of the caucus and he joins me now. good evening, thank you for coming on, appreciate it. >> my pleasure. >> so you call this bill a lump of coal. but sean spicer says there's nothing more conservative than what's in this new bill. why won't you vote for it in the form that it's in now? >> i respectfully advertise disagree with sean spicer in this major context. what you're looking at and what we're being asked to do is to vote for the largest republican welfare program in the history of the republican party. now it's very difficult to
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portray that as conservative, particularly since that welfare, in order to give it to one group of people, you're either going to have to raise taxes and forcibly take from it other people, or increase premiums for those folks who are paying their own way, or worse yet, steal from our kids and grandkids by borrowing the money, thereby jeopardizing america and the future of our kids and grandkids and perhaps undermining what it took two centuries of our ancestors to build. >> what do you want to see in this bill? how would you change it? what's the fix? >> i think what we need to do is keep our promise to the american people. first, we could have a simple two-page bill that repeals obamacare effective whatever date you want to put in there, whatever is necessary in order to have the appropriate transition time. the second thing that we need to do is interject competition into the health care industry, particularly the health insurance markets. you can do that with repeal of any trust exemptions that some folk in the health care industry enjoy. you can do that with permitting
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or expressly allowing and borrowiborrow i barring states that limit the ability of insurance companies to compete across state lines. that kind of competition i think would help foster better pricing that the insurance companies want to have. i'm a strong believer in states' rights. i would like to see us disseminate this power as much as possible from the federal government level to the 50 states. if we're going to put money into it at the federal government level, then what we need to be doing is block granting that through the states on a per capita citizen basis, then heat letting the states experiment with what they believe is the best way to provide health care for their citizens and if the states want to supplement that, of course, they have that ability. and if the states, like new york or california, if they like obamacare that much, their legislature can pass it, boom, you've got obamacare in their state. >> if they want their plan, they can keep their plan, as you said. >> that is correct. >> some of your colleagues are
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discussing the president's meetings, watch that and let's discuss it. >> president trump was here to do what he does best, and that is to close the deal. >> oh, yeah, i mean, he's great, a good salesman, he put the hard sell on, he was riffing and having fun, carried out about 30, 40 minutes going over all the issues in the world. >> do you think that's going to work with some of your colleagues? >> well, president trump, he was very personable. we had a good relationship, a good rapport inside the gop conference this morning at which president trump spoke. but at some point, no matter how good of a salesman you are, you have to have a good product. quite frankly, this is the no a good product. i don't think that the white house participated in the formulation of this policy to a very large degree. i think that was more the house republican leadership that did it. and it's all subsumed in this underlying thought that we're smart enough in washington, d.c. to control the decision-making cross of over 300 million americans as they purchase their insurance or they purchase their
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health care or doctors disseminate that health care to our citizens. and i'm one of those that believes in liberty. and i believe in freedom. and i think the american people are smart enough to figure it out on their own, take the heavy jackboot of the federal government off their throats and force them to do things that they don't want to do. let freedom rule in this particular instance. >> let me ask you this. this is the latest whip count. it shows 19 republicans, definite noes. seven others, unlikely noes. you can't hughes any more than 21. so republican leaders are arguing that this is their last and best shot to repeal and replace obamacare. do you think you're going to get another chance? do you think, with those numbers, that this is going to pass? and will you get another chance fit doesn't? >> the situation is fluid. certainly you've got the house leadership that's engaging in a full court press. i don't know how persuasive they're going to be. as of this afternoon, i think our hard numbers were closer to 30, probably in excess of 30.
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>> wow. >> we'll see if any of those -- >> excess of 30 noes? >> excess of 30 noes as of this afternoon. hard-core, where we had talked with each other, made those kind of commitments we as congressmen can hopefully be able to rely on. understanding that you still have 36, 48 hours before you're actually going to have to vote on this legislation. >> you think they should move the date? >> i'd like to see them change the legislation, i don't care if we have the vote tomorrow or thursday -- >> to work on changing -- >> what's important is changing the legislation. . there's a significant chance what you're going to see is some more deal-making to try to make the legislation more financially responsible, more in accord with the freedom and liberty principles on which our country was based. if they're successful at doing that, they're going to get more of us conservatives who believe in freedom and liberty to be on board. in the absence of that, it's going to be very difficult for the house leadership to get the votes to pass a bad piece of legislation. >> congressman, a lot of people come here and they're not quite
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as candid as you are. i appreciate your candor and we thank you for coming on. >> my pleasure. it's very much an enjoyment to watch your show having watched you many, many hours, you're doing an slept job. >> thank you, congressman, we appreciate it. all the president's men, current ask former associates of the campaign, new questions about their ties to russia. announcer: get on your feet for the nastiest bull in the state of texas. ♪ ♪
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find your awesome with the xfinity stream app. more to stream to every screen. president trump's one-time campaign manager paul manafort facing new questions about his links to ukraine's former president, a close ally of russia. this comes on the heel of the fbi director confirming that the agency's investigating possible collusion between trump's campaign and russia. cnn's tom foreman has that story for us. >> we don't know many details of what the fbi is considering in this look into the so-called russian connection, but we do have an idea about some of the people they are scrutinizing. >> how many people have to say that there's nothing there before you realize there's nothing there? >> reporter: the administration is moving fast to put distance between president trump and the man who is a key interest in the russian hacking investigation. paul manafort.
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>> obviously there's been discussion of paul manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time. >> reporter: limited? manafort was donald trump's campaign chairman from may to mid-august last year. overseeing the staff, the budget, and dismissing early claims by democrats that russian hackers targeted their party's computers to tilt the election trump's way. >> they certainly are getting desperate rather early in the game. >> reporter: now a lawmaker in ukraine says he has discovered a new document in an office where manafort worked as he advised the former ukrainian president, viktor yanukovych. the lawmaker says the paper looks like an invoice for $750,000 in computer parts allegedly signed with manafort's name. a spokesman for manafort says manafort does not recognize the document and it's not his signature. and cnn cannot verify the authenticity of the invoice. if it is legitimate, however, it could dovetail with the so-called black ledger, a longer
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list revealed last fall which purports to show $12.7 million in payments alongside manafort's name. that lawmaker who found the new document believes all the money could be for undisclosed services paid for through the ukrainian president's political party. >> i think it's not all money for him, it's more for his activities as well, for his campaigning activity, for some technical issues of his, activity as a spin doctor. $12.7 million is incredibly high amount of money. but for corrupt politicians, it's not so impressive. >> reporter: why would such payments matter to theest investigation of the russian hacking scandal? because the former ukrainian president, manafort's client, was a kremlin ally. even fleeing to russia when he was driven from power. manafort dismisses any suggestion there was a corrupt river of money flowing from the kremlin as part of a scheme to
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elect donald trump and get a more pro-russian president in the white house. >> why is it so far-fetched to blame the russians and say the motive was to help you? >> it's just absurd. i don't even know what you're talking about, it's crazy. >> reporter: when reports came out during the republican convention that the trump camp pushed the republican party and its platform to ease up on criticism of russia for invading ukraine, manafort pushed back. >> it absolutely did not conflict trump on the campaign from there i don't know who everybody is but i guarantee you -- >> nobody from the trump campaign wanted that change in the platform? >> no one. zero. >> reporter: amid these latest developments, manafort's most recent statement says, in part, i had no role or involvement in the cyber attacks on the dnc. i have never spoken with any russian government officials or anyone who claimed to have been involved. the suggestion that i have ever worked to undermine the interests of the united states is false. and yet investigators keep
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looking at this chain of connections from president trump to his one-time campaign manager paul manafort to a former president of ukraine to moscow. and wondering if they can find anything actually nefarious along the way here or just what the white house insists is there, only a witch hunt. >> tom foreman, thank you very much. let's bring in cnn political analyst carl bernstein, and john dean, former counsel to the nixon white house. i'll steal your line, you told me on the break, we have more collective knowledge of watergate on this show than probably anywhere else. good to see you both. john, as you were nixon's general counsel at the white house during watergate, when you look at this situation, what do you think? >> i'll tell you one thing. somebody who's been involved in a cover-up on the inside, this has an awful lot of the sound and look and feel of a cover-up. these are not people who are disclosing. they're denying, they're
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dissembling on many facts, they're getting caught on some of those. i would suspect carl, as a former investigative reporter, would just wet his chops over this one because it really looks like a cover-up going on. >> carl, what do you think? >> i don't think there's any question that there is a cover-up and people in the fbi will tell you that there is a cover-up going on involving a fair number of people. the question is, what is being covered up? and we don't know. how might that go to donald trump or might not go to donald trump? we don't know. there are associates of donald trump. i think the piece that we just saw is very focused just on manafort. there is a constellation of people looking, the fbi is looking at the question of whether or not the hacking of the dnc, those e-mails of john podesta, whether people around donald trump had prior knowledge of those e-mails. there's some evidence that some of them, particularly with roger stone who we'll talk about a little later did. but i think we need to look at
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the whole question of what is under investigation here, and it is a big ticket. it's nothing quite so small as a straight line from manafort to the kremlin. it's a lot wider than that. >> let's talk about how people in washington are reacting, and particularly republicans. because john mccain, my colleague caught up with john mccain earlier tonight, he also has concerns about paul manafort, listen to this. >> i have serious questions about some of the people around the presidential campaign. there were people with close ties to the russians. including an individual who was paid large sums of money by yanukovy yanukovych, who was the russian stooge as the president of ukraine. >> you're talking about paul manafort -- >> i'm talking about mr. manafort, his relations. >> john, do you know -- john mccain, he has been out there, he has long been critical of
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president trump's affinity towards russia. the fact that is we're hearing this from a republican lawmaker, a key republican lawmaker, that is key in itself. >> it is surprising. it's actually encouraging that somebody on the hill is taking a little distance, not being simply a shield for the white house at this point. by and large the republicans are giving the white house an awful lot of cover. but the senator is not. nor is lindsey graham. so it's kind of nice and refreshing. we've also seen a little bit of movement on the house side where a few republicans are getting to question this. but it's not deep there at all. >> carl, i talked to you about this, i was hoping to have you on yesterday but i have you on today. president trump attacked the media in tweets, he does it all the time, yesterday calling the media fake news, that was ahead of the comey hearing. listen to this, necessary son taking on the media. nixon taking on the media. >> i have never heard or seen
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such outrageous, vicious, distorted reporting in 27 years of public life. don't get the impression that you roused my anger. >> i have that impression. >> one can only be angry with those he respects. >> so nothing has been found yet, right? but plenty of presidents have had it out with the press. does this feel like it did during watergate? is this a watergate 2.0, carl? >> first of all, nixon tried to make the issue in watergate the conduct of the press, rather than the conduct of the president and his men. and to a certain extent or a large extent, donald trump is doing the same. i think we got a look at a couple of fundamental differences. one, we live in a different age than the time of watergate. we have a political system that basically doesn't work. it worked at the time of watergate. you had a 77-0 vote by the senate of the united states to
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undertake a real select committee investigation into the president of the united states and his activities. you have nothing similar to that happening now. no such bipartisan approach. the other difference is, i think that richard nixon was a far less dangerous man than donald trump. we have two very different characters that we're talking about here. yes, we are talking about a possible conspiracy, certainly involving people around the president while he was a candidate, before he was the president. perhaps or perhaps not involving the president, we don't have any solid evidence of that at this point. but a very different situation. richard nixon was a capable, able man who understood history, understood the institutions of the united states government. we don't have that with donald trump. we now have a president of the united states who has accused his predecessor in an outrageous
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bit of lying. we have a serial compulsive liar as the president of the united states. richard nixon was a criminal president, he lied to cover up his criminality. but i think it's very different than when you have someone like trump who lies in a way we have never seen a president of the united states lie, routinely, make things up out of whole cloth, have a press secretary who himself invents things or goes along with these crazy inventions of the president. very different. >> yeah, lying about the lies that they lied about is how the saying goes. john, carl talked about roger stone. president trump's association with these men, all these connections with russia now, you see that, manafort, flynn in particular roger stone, they've all denied any sort of collusion. but how problematic is this now? >> well, stone has slowly backed off from some of his denials and admitteded more things.
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we know roger prides himself on being a dirty trickster which is quite amazing. i find it amazing anybody would have a tattoo of richard nixon on their back. that strikes me as a gear might have shifted somewhere in there. but you know, i think that stone is certainly capable of doing anything. i don't buy his denials. he's been with trump for many, many years. tried to encourage him to run for president. then he had a falling-out once he did because he wouldn't follow his advice. roger is a deep conspiracy theorist. he has alternative views of most major historical events. and i'm sure that he's very uncomfortable being in a real conspiracy right now. and i think he is. >> you mentioned the tattoo, the location would be interesting as well, that makes a difference. john, if you were advising the president, what would you advise him? >> i'd advise him to lawyer up.
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he's got a rookie white house counsel who i don't think has deep criminal law experience. that's how the mistakes were made at the nixon white house. i remember warning erlich very early that i had no criminal law experience, and he brushed it aside. it was one of the early mistakes we made. so i think that's what they need to be doing. >> let me mention one similarity between watergate, and i don't want to go too far with it -- >> quick for me, carl. >> the nature of some of these people. flynn, stone, others who are off the reservation, who are not considered very solid folks. they're a little bit like hunt and liddi, the watergate burglars. i'm not going to say criminally like them but in terms of people being who have a reputation for not quite thinking in a very straight line. >> all right. >> we've got a similarity here. >> dean and bernstein, it's 1974 all over again. >> no. it is not. >> it's interesting to be talking to you guys. >> do not go there, do not go
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there. >> thank you, gentlemen. carl bernstein, we'll see you a little bit later on. when we come back, what paul manafort told me when i talked to him during the campaign.
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the fbi director james comey confirms his agents are investigating whether there was some sort of coordination between trump campaign aides and moscow. press secretary sean spicer trying to do a bit of rewriting history, listen. >> even general flynn was a volunteer of the campaign. and then obviously there's been discussion of paul manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time. >> let's discuss now, "washington post" contributor sally quinn, founding editor of "on faith." cnn political commentators matt lewis and jason miller and carl bernstein is back with us. matt, i don't want to fight again tonight. you as well, jason. we're going to be on our best behavior. sally, welcome to the program, you heard sean spicer say paul manafort had a limited role in the campaign. we all know that is not true. what do you make of this attempt by the white house to create some distance between these guys
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and the president? >> well, you know, one of the things that's so fascinating to me, and you would talking earlier about the difference between this and watergate, is that these guys don't know how to cover up. and so it all seems to be very inept. i mean, for them to say he had no role in the campaign, is ridiculous. because of course he was the campaign manager. so how could he possibly say that? >> the chairman. he was the chairman. >> he was chairman. so, i mean, if you are going to make something up or if you're going to try to cover something up, you don't say something that is so blatantly false that it can be proven by everyone. of course that's what's been happening all along anyway. so i think we're all used to that. but in terms of what do i make of it? finally, even though it's not funny, i have to laugh.
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>> as you know, my saying it's not funny but it's laughable, there is a difference. >> yes, exactly. >> there is a conference. jason, i interviewed paul manafort on this show last may, also interviewed him on other shows, "new day" i think when i filled in, i think erin's show when i filled in for erin, last may on this show while he was still the campaign convention manager, about a week before he was promoted to campaign chairman. take a look at this. >> he's an incredible candidate. his personality is just gigantic. and he's very smart. he understands how to communicate things that people relate to. and he's got the courage not to let conventional wisdom or political correctness get in the way of his connections to the people. that's a very unique quality. >> does that ever become frustrating to you? does he ever not listen to you when you say, don't call elizabeth warren goofy or bernie sanders crazy? does he take your suggestions? does he follow them? >> he listens to my opinion and he processes it.
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we've got a good working relationship. >> i'd forgotten about some of those things that he had said, it's been such a long time. not really, though. jason, we've got a good working relationship, he does the white house do more harm than good by squirming out of the facts? worked for limited time. he's there six months. >> i'm not going to get into the business of qualifying his work on the campaign. it's pretty clear what the public record was as far as his activity and involvement. one of the things i can talk to is what we're seeing here, fact we've seen zero evidence of any collusion between the trump campaign and foreign officials. folks like clapper and morrell and nunes coming out. >> that's what is known as pivot. >> answering the question directly and said not going to get into the qualifying. >> i'm letting you finish. that was good pivot.
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you answered question and went on. that's allowed. >> if i wanted to tune into some fiction involving russia, pop over to another network and watch "the americans" but fact of the matter is supposedly watching this for eight months and put nothing forward it's disservice to the presidency. and at a certain point, it's time to put up or shut up. something there, put it out. >> having said that carl, why try to rewrite history and limit amount of time or how much contact or role that paul manafort played in the campaign? >> first of all, right about the question but where mr. miller went is where nobody ought to be. fbi is conducting investigation. mr. clapper has since said he was talking about what the state of things was january 20th when he last looked at it. things are have moved on.
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i think you know that. there is a major fbi investigation with new information focused in part on manafort and stone. >> what is new information? >> again. let's see what happens. >> no. >> can i finish? >> you're throwing out baseless nonsense. >> no. let me finish if i may. let the fbi do its investigation, let's find out what the facts are. they need time. we do know there have been a -- a search is under way to see if there was prior knowledge by mr. flynn, manafort, stone of wikileaks release of the podesta e-mails. don't know the answer to that question unless you do. which i would love to hear. i think there are many things which we need to know and let's slow down and find out the facts. >> carl, hold on.
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sally, raising your hand politely. thank you. not used to it. >> i will continue to be polite. what i would like to say is that there is ongoing investigation. >> we just learned about yesterday. that's new. >> that carl just pointed out and we all learned about yesterday. that is the truth. that cannot be denied by anybody. and the problem with this is, what i do not understand is that if there is nothing to hide, i would think that donald trump would say, you know what, let's get all the special prosecutors, every investigator, put everybody we have on this case and we will put it to rest because there is no truth to anything. and if there is -- that is what i don't understand. >> well put. >> if you look back at other investigations, what happens to the administration when you have ongoing investigation like this and just look at bill clinton, what happened after monica, the last two years of his
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administration basically were just hopeless because he couldn't get anything, squandered because he was so completely consumed by those investigations. look what happened to richard nixon. years watergate. >> on your own. you have to jump in. >> only wish the two of you put the time and effort into finding out who is it leaking the classified information which is the real crime. >> stop right there for a minute. >> i have something to say about that. people who scream the loudest about the leaking are the leakers. >> that's it. >> and their staffers are also the leakers. it really makes me laugh when these people start screaming and yelling about leakers. i had some fbi people come to my house about confirmation hearing and wanted me to tell them information. no. this is all confidential. are you kidding? where do we get our information? from guys like you. it's ridiculous.
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>> when i hear about the leakers, someone who tweeted yesterday, paraphrasing, the house is on fire, the president is running around with a box of matches, and the republicans are up on the hill saying who called the fire department. >> we know that people leak classified information. zero proof and nothing put forward of any collusion. >> matt? >> i would use a different analogy, don. i would use a different analogy. if somebody robs a bank and then the police catch that person but then the police don't read them miranda rights and then the people -- then the police beat a confession out of them, we have two issues to deal with. two legitimate problems to deal with. i don't think that focusing on the concern about leaks is misdirection necessarily.
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i think it's a valid concern. shouldn't overwhelm. >> would you have deep throat arrested and prosecuted? >> possibly. would have to look into it. but i would not go after woodward and bernstein. that i can tell you. >> thanks. >> but the leaks are a diversion. total. the main story here is there is an investigation going on. >> i have to go. >> and we need to get the information. >> with no evidence. >> thank you so much. matt, got to speak a little bit. with this crowd got to force your way in. i can't help you. appreciate it. we'll be right back.
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presidential fact and fiction. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. wiretapping. vladimir putin, size of the crowd at inauguration. president trump seems to be operating from his own set of facts.

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