tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN May 1, 2018 12:00am-1:00am PDT
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we let you keep an eye on your business from anywhere. the others? nope! get internet on our gig-speed network and add voice and tv for $34.90 more per month. call or go on line today. we're live with all the breaking news tonight. this is a big deal in the russia investigation. the special counsel robert mueller has nearly 50 questions he wants to ask president trump. that's according to the new york times which has obtained a list of the questions. and they cover a very wide range of topics from trump's ties to russia, to whether he obstructed justice. but there is more. they also touch on the president's businesses. and his relationships with michael flynn, james comey and jeff sessions. a lot to get to in the next hour or so. i want to bring in evan perez.
also jack nguyen, former u.s. attorney mike moore and asha ringafa. good evening to all of you. evan, you first. what do we know? >> well, don, we know that these questions were put together, were brin by the president's legal team. they had a meeting last month. and during that meeting, they heard from the special counsel robert mueller's team, the four categories of what they had for the president. they put together the 50 or so. they cover a range of topics. the fbi director as well as the national security adviser as well as the president's relationship, his treatment, his mistreatment who believes he did the wrong thing by recusing himself on the investigation. i tell you, the most important part, i think, the most interesting part of the
questions deal with the question what we' come to call collusion. whether there was illegal coordination between the campaign and the russians. despite what you hear from the president, he repeatedly, he said there was no collusion, no collusion, robert mueller is not done with that question. and very many -- 25% here have to do with that subject matter. and so i think what this tells us is that this is not nearly done. there's going to be a lot more for the president to consider before he sits down for this interview if he does do that. >> who actually wrote -- we don't know how these questions got leaked, from whom. but who wrote these questions? >> well, the president's legal teams put together the questions. the ones that you see "the new york times" published were actually written by the president's legal team based on
what they heard from the special counsel team. so it may not exactly been the questions that were given to them, that were said to them, but this is the essence of what they wrote. and it's really intended for them to sort of prepare if they want the client to go and do this interview. and that, i've got to tell you, the questions -- especially the ones having to do with russia and contacts between the campaign, they're very broadly worded, and i think it's -- it's filled with land mines for the president. if he steps in there. because there's a lot of stuff here that clearly robert mueller knows already what the answers are. and the danger for the president is grave here, if he goes in for this interview. and it really, you know -- don, when we reported a story last month that talked about the four categories of questions, up with of the things that we noticed in talking to people was that there was agitation inside the
president's legal team about this meeting. and it clearly told us that they saw the danger signs for the president. >> let's dig into some of the questions, okay? specific questions that the special counsel wants to ask president trump. this is about michael flynn. what did you know about the phone calls that mr. flynn made with the ambassador kislyak in late december 2016. this is all about obstruction of justice, isn't it? >> it really is. >> this is for jack, i'm sorry. >> yeah. i think it's very much about obstruction of justice. it's also about the russian question and exactly what trump's people were doing with the ambassador. all of this stuff ties together. these are the two things that
come together. i do quite agree with evan that the most interesting of these questions are those which focus on the russia trump campaign communications. these are far ranging. i don't think any of them are totally unexpected. another important point. bob mueller knows the answers to a good many of these questions. >> we tell people all the time, don't ask a question you don't know the answer to. i'm sure robert mueller would do that .. >> this goes to obstruction.
obstruction, it's whether the president was dangling the option of a pardon to induce someone to perhaps change their testimony, not cooperate, or in some other way impede the investigation. >> this is an interesting question. obviously the question has broad power to pardon people. but it's not to extend it as a carrot for someone to behave in a particular way in an investigation. it's noteworthy. he's looking into that avenue. >> does that question highlight how important the interview is that he did with lester holt. >> things he's publicly said in speeches and campaign style rally sz. about his state of mind.
what did he know, what did you do. and what did you think. they have some indication, either through the cooperating witnesses or discovered through the course of the investigation of his intent. everybody said the same thing. if he goes in there, he's basically set up because i promise you, that his questioner will know the answers. >> you seem to be unanimous on that. >> the infamous trump tower meeting in 2016. what involvement did you have. in the communication strategy, including the release of donald trump jr.'s e-mails. how significant do you think the trump team's response is? >> i think it's critical. i think that there's been a lot of surmise, the president helped shape that statement in a way that quite consciously obscured
the truth,s what happened. to remind the viewer, this is the event at which afterwards, the trump team tried to say the meeting was about adoptions. if there's an obfuscation, it was the statement written about that meeting by the trump campaign. this is a key chapter in the whole episode. >> that was a statement given to the media. the we've heard, what's the big deal? lying to the media is not a crime. it tells us the robert mueller is focused on that question, whether or not there was a crime commit there had.
i think it's interesting they were asking that. >> michael, the questions obtained by "the new york times" focus broad dion michael flynn, on james comey, on the attorney general jeff sessions about coordination between the trump campaign and russia. any surprises? or are there no surprises here? >> i don't know that there's really any surprise. we're talking about things, whether that be folks who knead statements about what the president did, actions that he took. there's no great surprise. what's interesting is there's some discussion in the questions about -- it looks as though there's a question about trump feeling like he's not been protected by jeff sessions. he seems to -- that's been a recurring theme that we've heard. tt bottom line is that no attorney general could protect this president from himself. he gets off on a tangent, he just can't do it. i think that's sort of where he's at. but i saw that's an interesting twist.
statements that have been made. publicly in a number of tweets. when the president attacked the justice department. the department and his attorney general, i thought that was interesting. >> did you discuss whether mr. sessions would protect you in reference past attorneys general. that's the one you're talking about. >> that's right. >> so were you surprised, based on these questions that mueller doesn't appear, what we have here, to be focused on trump's finances? >> he does have a question related to a real estate deal in moscow that he may have been involved with with michael cohen. i think it starts to allude to that. but i think this is kind of a broad arc of what he is looking to get at. and remember, if he has an in-person interview, there will be plenty of follow-up questions. the fbi presents these as open-ended questions. you know, kind of the columbo approach. i don't know, tell me what you know.
and just let the person talk. and the president is especially in danger here. he likes to control the narrative. we saw that on fox and friends the other day. while that may fly on "fox & friends" it's not a great strategy when you're talking to a federal prosecutor. there will be follow up questions. i would suspect there would be several that might start touches on other real estate or financial aspects of trump's life. >> i appreciate you. everyone else stick around. what it tells us about where the russian investigation is heading. my name is jeff sheldon,
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there's one that involves roger stone. what did you know about roger stone or wikileaks. >> this tells me, there's an entire line of inquiry that we haven't seen really the tip of the iceberg yet which is into hacking the e-mails, release of the e-mails and how that -- any connection or coordination there might have been with members of the campaign and that activity. and i think that that is what this question is getting at. and we know that roger zoen has made mention, pe had contact with julian assange. we know that don jr. was in contact with wikileaks. we know that trump asked for the release of those e-mails on television. it would be interesting to see what trump answered to that question when he sits for this interview.
>> what do you know about a 2017 meeting in seyechelles involving erik prince. that's something that the cooperating witness told mueller's team about. >> i think that's right. i think, you know, the idea -- you remember this meeting apparently -- there's a russian operative or businessman that is there. these two individuals, one is the brother of trump's secretary of education, strangely meeting with somebody who's connected with apparently russian business and russian government. there's a question on how that happened and who set that up and what the purpose was behind the meeting. you know, i will say this, this seems to be written from an outline that mueller's team gave broadly. and i don't know that i would necessarily take every bit of -- every specific question and think that that's where mueller is boring down. what's interesting to me is that
trump's team apparently took this general outline and came up with these questions that they thought might be of particular interest to mueller in the investigation. and so for instance, somebody could have said well, tell us about -- we want to know about the meeting in seychelles. or tell us about kislyak. they sort of expanded the general topics that the mueller team put out. that will be interesting. >> do you think this is a study guide for the president? >> if we can count on him to study it. i don't know that anybody -- he''s a smart man. he wouldn't be where he's at. i just don't know that he's able to not control the narrative and the conversation. i feel like he likes to get into the room and convince everybody he's the smartest. earn in the room. that will kill him if he gets in front of federal investigators. >> what witness or subject,
jack, gets the questions beforehand? >> well, look, i think this is all part of the negotiations as to how this interview in front of him was going to unfold. i think the motivation on the part of the special counsel's office was to give them some head's up about the general areas they might have in mind. to make it easier for them to say yes. i heard a love ott talk about whether or not this means the president will testify, will not testify. i mean, we have to remember, too, this is not entirely up to the president. if the president at the end of the day refuses to make himself available to answer some of these questions, then we might sb into the issuance of a subpoena. and a period of litigation in the courts, attempting to force the president's testimony.
so i think what we're seeing here is perhaps one of the concluding chapters as i say, these negotiations as to what the ground rules for this interview with the special counsel will be. >> jack, while i have you there, let me ask you this, what discussions did you have with reince priebus in july 2017 about on staining the sessions resignation. with whom did you discus it? talk to me about that. >> i think the special count knows the answer to this question. again, this is one piece and just one piece. of the face that might lend itself to a charge of obstruction. you can not issue a pardon corruptly.
you will hear people all the time say that the president's pardon power is unlimited. she's absolutely right. it does have its limits. by the same token, this obstruction charge, the questions lending themselves to that demonstrate that, you know, there are limits here to the kind of pressure he can put on the investigators. we can't tolerate a situation in both the witnesses are immunized or pardoned and the prosecutors are taken off the field by firing. i think a lot of this is bound to sort of draw a ring around that. >> what did you mean when you told russian diplomats that firing mr. comey had taken the pressure off. so many people were stunned when
truch fired comey and told the russian ambassadors and others, i face great pressure for russia when that's taken off. do you think the president's own words will come back to haunt him? >> it definitely will. i think that's when he told the russians that comey is a nut job and that's why he fired him. i think a good portion of the obstruction of justice case he has built hymn, talking about the president, via his tweets, via his interview, via public comments that he's made. and they are coming back to haunt him. all of the questions. none of them taken in isolation will make or break the case. what mueller is looking at is a pattern of activity is that's going to point to firing comey, that's the bad act here, whether he did it with corrupt intent. and everything else is circumstantial, kind of pointing, whether or not he did it for the wrong reasons.
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that's why we ask for their help. 50 questions robert mueller wants to ask president trump, the best window yet into the russian investigation. let's welcome in steve cortez, a former campaign trump adviser. also margaret hoover and keith boykin. good evening to all of you. let ice talk at the timeline here that ewe're learning. alling the stunning information from "the new york times." this talks about the negotiation between the trump lawyers and robert mueller. it's as if mueller sought for months who expressed a desire. they were going back and forth with the lawyers. so mueller told mr. dowd in early march, he needed to question the president directly to determine whether or not he
had criminal intent to fire comey. investigate sors agreed days later so share during a meeting with mr. dowd the questions they wanted to ask mr. trump. so that's how these questions came about that we have now. when mr. mueller's team relayed the question, their tone and detailed nature submitted mr. could's view that the president should not sit for an interview. mr. trump remained firm in his assistance that he meet with mr. mueller. a week and a half after receiving the questions, mr. dowd resigned, including that his client was ignoring his advice. margaret hoover? >> this is striking because it's all here in one place. a lot of this has been sort of cobbled together over some time. we know the president has said he had no problem sitting down with special counsel mueller. we all know, the american public can see the president has a very hard time sticking to any one version of the truth. and that, you know, if i were
his lawyer, i certainly wouldn't -- and i'm not a lawyer. i wouldn't advise him to sit with the special counsel because he can't help but contradict himself constantly .. and contradicting yourself in front of a special counsel is called perjuring yourself. one can understand why he's been through so many lawyers. and here we see all in one chronological timeline how it's coming past. >> people were trying to figure out exactly why -- although there were rumbles, why dowd resigned. this gives us a clear indication that because he didn't think the president was listening to his -- his client wasn't listening to his advice. >> i don't know if we can say it's clear, but if that was the advice, i would agree with mr. crowd that under no circumstances should he be interviewed or interrogated, i should say, by his own justice department. let's be very clear.
mueller's investigation is part trumps own justice department. his own justice department, his own underling does not have the right to -- >> what do you mean about his own underling. hold on. what do you mean by his own underlings. we have co-equal branches of government here. why do you keep calling him his underlings. he's supposed to be independent from the justice department. >> there are co-equal branches. the congress has every right to investigate the president. and i suspect the democrats take the house, they will do so vociferously starting in 2019. and they have every constitutional and legal right to do so. trump's own justice department does not have the right to in any sense compel him to be interrogated by his own underling, mueller. mueller works for the president. that is just the reality of the legal situation.
>> do you look at these questions, do you look at these question as interrogations. they were written by supposedly trump's own team. >> i do. the american people people knew these allegations. i say scurrilous allegations, knew these going into the election. certainly known them since they decided that they either weren't true or weren't relevant to electing him president. >> i'm talking about the questions here. >> the president doesn't answer to mueller. he answers to the people. >> but keith, can you rerespond to this. mueller is not under the president. >> right. well, a lot of things he said that need to be cleared up. first of all, mueller is special counsel. congress created this special counsel law. yes, he's an employee, so to speak, or an independent representative of the justice department. the justice department is under the executive's authority, but
congress created the law for the special counsel to investigate issues like this. he has the statutory authority to do what he's doing. no president is above the law. that's a principle we learned from richard nixon and watergate. even when bill clinton had to sit and testify in a legal case against him. donald trump is no different. he's not above the la uh. he has the responsibility to do so. thirdly, i agree with what margaret said and what steve said as well about the legal aspects of it. from a legal point of view, i would never advise a client to testify in a case like this. but from a political point of view, it's incumbent upon the president to testify, to show that he has nothing to hide. and that's why you have to separate the legal issue from the political case. >> margaret, you wanted to say something? no? >> this is all -- it's incredibly baffling. and unprecedented. we real think -- we haven't seen this. this is -- frankly, what's
concerning most to me is why this list was leaked now. right? i think that's just as much a part of the story. >> that was my first one i've read. i've read before i read the story, who leaked this? why would it be leaked? >> all signs point to the white house, and all signs point to -- what we know about the white house is there is a strategy of leaking items in order to get the president's attention and to garner his focus. >> speaking to him through the television, you think? go ahead, steve. >> margaret, what i think is actually baffling is the fact that we now know, and it's not just conjecture, that the obama department of justice, whether we're talking about comey or mccabe or on the national security side, people like clapper and brennan, were corrupted at the very highest level. >> why are we talking about this, steve? come on. let's focus on today's news. don't go back in history. >> and because -- no. what's baffling is how are they not being investigated? and why -- >> one story at a time, steve. >> trump's justice department to investigate those people.
because there was -- there's real crimes. >> there have have been 100 counts. five people pleaded guilty, including trump's campaign chairman and trump's -- >> for crimes committed long before the trump campaign. >> don't bring in subterfusion. about obama >> i had me, keith, for a second. you have a point. there was clearly political corruption at the highest level of the fbi. and that undermines everybody's confidence in our independent judicial system. and by the way, in the department. that is not good, okay? but we can see two things at the same time. and that is an independent and separate issue, that while
connected to the impetus for the special counsel has nothing to do with what the special counsel has discovered. we can separate that whoet going down the bunny holes on partisanship on either side which has to do with the truth. >> the "national enquirer" now targeting trump's personal attorney, michael cohen. we'll talk about that next.
steve, i want to get your take on this story. a "national enquirer" cover story. a source close to president trump tells cnn, this could be a strong sign the president is upset with cohen and turning against him. there's no way that "enquirer" david pecker would allow that to be published without the president's blessing. do you think the president is turning on cohen? >> i don't. i think it's a bit irresponsible to read into a tabloid covering what we think is an innuendo from the president. there's a lot of stretches of logic there. quite frankly. are these stories true?
i have no idea. don't read often those stories on the side of the aisle in the supermarket. >> so you don't think he's turning. david pecker is a friend of president trump's. you know the whole catch and kill with the "national enquirer" about stories that were negative about president trump. you see nothing there, steve? >> look, i don't think so. it appears to me that mr. cohen might have some legal problems of his own. it does not appear to me in any sense that the president has any real problems or any real jeopardy of his own. so the idea -- i hear this a lot that michael cohen is going to flip or induced to flip. flip on what? if there's no crime committed by the president, no collusion, what is he going to flip on? >> what strikes me and what seems resonant is, you know, somebody who's followed this and has a sense of how this goes
down in michael cohen's businesses, it could seem to me that the president watches "national enquirer" and the editor has a -- there's a strong relationship there, we all know that. it seems to me that the president is very clearly trying to put distance between himself and michael cohen. we also have a very strong sense that michael cohen is in quite a bit of legal trouble after the 16 phones, the many, many documents and art facts that were taken from michael cohen's apartment. usa, the southern district of new york doesn't go in and confiscate that much material if you don't have good cause. and there's not a good reason to. so michael cohen is in trouble, the president is rightfully and understandably trying to distance himself from it. even though i'm sure there's loyalty there, there's a long-standing relationship. there's a lot of information. but for both of their protection, it makes sense the president would do that. >> so keith, jim acosta asked
michael cohen about that, when asked if a message was being sent. cohen said, what do you think. >> he's the king of understatement. of course there's a message being spent. anyone who pays $150,000 to pay off a playboy playmate obviously has an interest in protecting that president of the united states. the "national enquirer" serves some sort of function of unofficial state publication. nobody takes the "national enquirer" seriously. it's not a very reputable publication. it's known as a rag. but at the same time, it does speak for the president of the united states. and if the "national enquirer" is saying they -- >> since when, keith? >> let me finish and then you can interrupt. it does speak for the president of the united states in the sense that it is definitely portraying his message out there. obviously whenever you have a
publication out there that tries to kill a story that's harmful to the president, that's a publication that's speaking for the president of the united states. >> it's a publication that's been involved in legal -- yeah, with women who said they did catch and kill story for the president of the united states. so that's why it's in the news media right now. thank you all, appreciate it. when we come back, the gaslighting of america. the author who says president trump is gaslighting us. and she says we love it when he lies. my name is jeff sheldon, and i'm the founder of ugmonk. before shipstation it was crazy. it's great when you see a hundred orders come in, a hundred orders come in, but then you realize i've got a hundred orders i have to ship out. shipstation streamlined that wh the order data, the weights of ,
everything is seamlessly put into shipstation, so when we print the shipping ll everything's pretty much done. it's so much easier so now, we're ready, bring on t. shipstation. the number one ch of online sellers. go to shipstation.com/tv and get two months free. i knew at that exact moment ... i'm beating this. my main focus was to find a team of doctors. it's not just picking a surgeon, it's picking the care team and feeling secure in where you are. visit cancercenter.com/breast vojimmy (shouting): james!as been jimmy's longest. he's survived record rain and a supplier that went belly up. so while he's proud to have helped put a roof over the heads of hundreds of families, he's most proud of the one he's kept over his own. brand vo: get the most out of your money, whether you're using quickbooks smart invoicing to get paid twice as fast or automatically tracking your mileage. smarter business tools for the world's hardest workers. quickbooks. backing you.
is president trump gaslighting america? my next guest says he is. and she literally wrote the book on that topic. joining me now, cnn political commentator, the author of the new book called "gaslighting america." we love it when trump lies to us. thank you for coming on. and this is my next read. >> great. >> it's gotten great reviews. i can't wait to read it. we've spoken a lot on this show since the president took office about gaslight, even during the campaign about gaslighting. first explain to our audience exactly what gaslighting is and some examples. >> gaslighting is a form of
manipulation that is so extreme you begin to question your own reality. and when you raise objections to objectionable things, people say you're hysterical or you're crazy. and this is typically something that happens in abusive relationships, but i think we can apply this dynamic to what is happening with our relationship with the president. but unfortunately, like many toxic relationships, you can escape from, we can't easily escape this. we sort of have to live in this environment and cope with it. so what i do in this book is explain the methods that he uses because he does take very deliberate steps in hopes of taking away that power. >> let's put that up. you identify the steps involved in gaslighting. but do you think if the trump -- do you think it's deliberate? or it's just sort of second nature to him. stake a claim. advance and deny. create suspense, discredit opponents, declare victory regardless of facts. >> i don't think he knows he's
doing this. i think these are strategies he honed. at his heart, his gatt lighting method is a media strategy. every step he creates interest in the narrative that he's advancing but at the same time >> the target she honing in on makes it difficult for him the respond. i saw it play out through the gop primary. the textbook is how he took on barack obama with birtherism. he dipped his toes in that conspiracy water. then he would sort of go on television and say you know, people are saying this. they say if you have interest in it you're a madman. maybe there's something to it. he would advance the narrative. but deny responsibility. once you see him do this you won't be able to unsee him do it. i hope the more people that see it that it takes that away.
>> we see it so close here. we saw the interview where he was asked what evidence do you have that president obama wiretapped -- >> yeah. >> people are saying. >> there are reports on the internet. another favorite one. investigators are on it. there's a report coming soon. so as a media person you to say okay. i will keep covering that story. it's a delay tactic. sometimes there's evidence that does come out. there is a friendly person that will drum up something. so it is really foolproof. the media loves it because it gives them something to cover.
republicans love it because it shows he will never back down. even the democrats like it because they keep falling for this fantasy that this will finally be it. the lie that does donald trump in. it never is. >> that's good because i say the same thing. i remember during a campaign a lot of my friends did not take him serious. i said all right, guys. and even now i think people under estimate his influence on sort of tainting the media, right and how he weaponizes it. like this weekend. >> he headaches reporters part of the show. you know, it became a cage. he would parade the press out
and say look at them. they are fake news. audience would boo against them, cnn or this or that. there was nothing reporters could do because they are supposed to cover the story. they were getting sucked in too. >> fake news is his way of saying this is what i don't like. >> you say it bears resemblance. with michael cohen. >> it's funny how the national inquirer keeps popping up. there was this where the national inquirer said ted cruz my former boss. was having some kind of affair. this was something donald trump
sort of hidden at when he was attacking cruz. he had a tweet saying we are going to spill the beans. there was this thing that cruz had something to hide. and there's a secret sex scandal. roger stone wasn't of trumps close allies is quoted in the story. what was so crafty about this it was almost impossible to respond. until it went full blown madness is that no women were named, but the print edition had images of five women with their faces sort of blurred out. it sent a real live witch hunt. one of those women was me. i was doing my job and somebody confronted me on the air. it made it a story i had to fight my way out of.
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this stuff really hits home. you realize i don't want this to happen anymore. what do we do about it? >> to find out how dr. gore is working to end violence in his brooklyn community, go to cnnheroes.com. and while you're there, you can find out how to nominate. that's it tonight. i'll see you right back here tomorrow. ♪ special counsel has dozens of questions for president trump. those questions are now public. and they have a major focus on obstruction of justice. the white house delays new steal and aluminum tariffs on europe, canada and mexico. what is the president's next move as he seeks better trade deals. the president loves a good show. he's suggesting the north korean summit at the dnz kim jong-un is on board. the