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Tax Returns Surfaces; Diverting Tactics. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: ... and CNN Tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: We have breaking news. Never before revealed information on President Trump's taxes.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

The White House says the president earned more than (AUDIO GAP) income and played (AUDIO GAP) million in taxes in 2005 and insist he had a responsibility, quote, "to pay no more taxes than legally required."

That's in (AUDIO GAP) tonight on President Trump's 1040. But who revealed that return and why is it coming out now? Those are great questions.

So let's get right to our senior White House correspondent, Mr. Jim Acosta, he is standing by of course at White House, of course. Jim?


LEMON: The White House has put out statement about the president's taxes. What can you tell us?

ACOSTA: That's right, Don. The White House put this out to get the jump on something happening on another network earlier this evening. Apparently the former New York Times tax reporter David K. Johnson had obtained Donald Trump's 2005 tax return and that shows, as you pointed out that he made about $150 million in income back in 2005 and paid $38 million in taxes.

According to the White House, now we have not received that tax return, obtained that tax return over here at CNN, but we have obtained a pretty scathing statement from the White House. And I put this up on screen. They go right after the people who published this report earlier this evening.

It says, "You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of (AUDIO GAP) elected president. (AUDIO GAP) successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more than legally required. That being said, Mr. Trump paid $38 million even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million, as well as paying tens of millions and other taxes through such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes, and this illegally publish return proves just that.

Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns." That statement goes on to say "The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda while the president will focus on his, which includes tax reform that would benefit all Americans."

But Don, this just goes to show you once again, the situation that the president himself has put himself in, by refusing to release these tax returns. This was an issue that we talked about time and again during the 2016 campaign. In the later stages of that campaign the New York (AUDIO GAP) 1995 (AUDIO GAP) showed he lost some $9 million in his casino business and that allowed to essentially not pay income taxes for some 18 years.

So we did have the sense that he wasn't paying federal income taxes for a long period time. But as the president likes to say, that was talked about during the campaign, Americans voted for him anyway and he is continuing to refuse to release his tax returns saying that while I'm under this routine audit.

But Don, I think at the end of the day, the president just does not want to release this information to the public, despite the fact that this has been a tradition going back to the 1970's when Richard Nixon and presidential candidates have been releasing their tax returns ever since then. But this president in particular is saying he will not do it.

But we should point out while we're talking about tax returns and the amount of money that he paid...


LEMON: We're not talking about Russia.

ACOSTA: We're not talking about Russia, we're not talking about health care, and so on.

LEMON: And we will talk about that this evening. And that's part of the reason that we're -- we'll discuss that. But as you mentioned, there have been lots of stories written about Donald Trump's tax returns by President Trump's tax returns then private citizen's Trump's tax returns on a number of different networks and news organizations.

And they go all the way back to the '80s. I'm looking at one now from the Wall Street Journal. I'm not sure how revealing is this, but there' also information that the president may have put this out himself. Because there's nothing bad in it for him. And we know something, not a lot, about his taxes. Does it fit what we already know, Jim?

ACOSTA: It does essentially fit what we already know about Donald Trump. Now we should point out this two page return that was released by another network this evening it does not have all the attachments. You know, when you and I file our returns, Don, every year, it's not just two pages, there are multiple, multiple pages of documents and so on that are attached to that tax return.

And perhaps yours is more complicated than mine, but we won't get into that. But Don, I think what is very important in all of this is that we did not learn any more about Donald Trump's finances, perhaps, than we already did know. And I think that it is really the depth of those returns that the public would like to see.

And I think that the fact that the president is holding this so close to the vest just sort of magnifies this holy grail quality of his tax returns and it is just going to make that more enticing for people to want to get their hands on tax returns in the future.

[22:05:09] It just makes you wonder why they just don't release this information to the public. Unless, of course, we talked about this before, unless there's something in there they just don't want the public to see it.

LEMON: Jim Acosta, at the White House. Jim, I appreciate your reporting on that. I want to bring in now CNN's Mark Preston, Gloria Borger, and Jeffrey Toobin, also William Cohan, the author of "Why Wall Street Matters," and CNN money correspondent Cristina Alesci.

Good evening to all of you. Thank you all so much for coming on. Gloria, you know, I'm looking, this is, I mean, this is a Wall Street Journal. There's one in about the taxes that the president paid and may have paid i n2005 has been talked about. I mean, what do you, what do you make of this whole thing?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's not much of a story to be honest with you. We don't have a lot of details. We don't have a lot of details. We've got maybe the first couple of pages. Again, I can't independently verify this because I don't have it.

But what the stories say is that he paid $5.3 million in taxes and another $31 million in the alternative minimum tax which is -- which is they are for people who take excessive deductions on their tax returns. And so there is a tax you have to pay if you do that.

And so, you know, on the first glance, yes, it looks like he paid a decent amount of taxes. But that's all you can see. And so, you know, is it a conspiracy too far to ask whether this was released to have us stop talking about wiretaps since the journalist David K. Johnson says it came to him anonymously in the mail. I have no idea. I don't...


LEMON: Under the transom as he says.

BORGER: Yes, under the transom. But that's how the Washington -- the New York Times got the tax returns.

LEMON: Right.

BORGER: Or that one page of from the tax returns...


LEMON: From the 90's, right, 1997.

BORGER: Which was not so benign.


BORGER: Which showed how he could large deductions for decades to come. So we don't really know the answer to that. You know, what we know about this is that he paid millions in taxes and we don't know anything else.


BORGER: Which by the way we all presumed he probably paid millions in taxes. Maybe. You know.


BORGER: So, I think it's a little bit of a diversion.


BORGER: Whether planned or unplanned.

LEMON: I appreciate your honesty. We don't know where the leak of these taxes originated. We don't know how they got under the transom for David K. Johnson. By the way, Johnson who is going to be on the show in a little bit. But go on.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Sure. No. We don't know. But you know, I'll go, I'll take diversion and I'll go right to distraction, right, which is basically the same word. I mean, the bottom line is that Donald Trump, his administration is under incredible amount of pressure right now.

The wiretapping issue is starting to really come to a head. We're supposed to get answers on Monday, but our own Manu Raju reporting that Director Comey is going to tell the United States Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse whether or not the FBI is actually investigating any alleged ties between Donald Trump and Russia. So, that's supposed to happen tomorrow.

In addition to that, you have a health care bill that is on life support, you know, at best at this point.

LEMON: No pun intended.

PRESTON: No pun intended. But it just worked, you know, with that point. And you know, and to go to the idea of the distraction. Unsolicited a long time democratic activist that have worked on a lot of presidential campaigns sends me an e-mail that said "Trump had it leaked because it shows he paid taxes and the public will believe Trump released his axes and he pays a lot." Describes this as a brilliant tactic, I've seen this tactic over the decades. And by the way, this is not...


PRESTON: This is not a guys who is a Washington, D.C., type of player.

LEMON: Go ahead, Jeff.

TOOBIN: I mean, you know, we always think Donald Trump is playing four dimensional chess. And you know, he's sitting there in his bathroom tweeting and what he's really doing is distracting from three story on Saturday.


TOOBIN: I mean, the odds that Donald Trump said let's give two pages of our tax return -- of my tax return to David K. Johnson, someone who has been very tough on him in the past, it just strikes me as so improbable. I am so much a believer in the random nature of the universe.

PRESTON: No, no, no. Absolutely not. Listen, I think you have to be open to the idea that it wasn't Donald Trump that sat there in the Oval Office who came up this idea but it was one of his advisers. It could be someone like Steve Bannon, somebody who strategically realizes that if they put this out and it goes on network like MSNBC and somebody, and they try to trash Donald Trump, it only bolsters the case for Donald Trump that he's being attacked by this.


LEMON: I'm glad you're -- you're getting the wrath of Jeffrey Toobin tonight and not me. Come on, Don.

PRESTON: I know.

LEMON: But I mean, I've got to ask you this, William. Because I'm getting -- I got one of those notes that you got that said, well, you know, it would make sense, 2005, it would be before the U.S. lenders cut him off and the dependence on Russia backers deepened.

WILLIAM COHAN, "WHY WALL STREETS MATTERS" AUTHOR: First of all, these two pages that there to believe they are stamped with the words "client copy" on them. Now client in this case I think refers to Donald J. Trump. I may be mistaken. That was his...


LEMON: That was the year he married his current wife, by the way.

[22:09:57] COHAN: Well, nevertheless he is the client. His name is on the tax return, so therefore, that's one possible indication, not to, you know, get conspiratorial about it. TOOBIN: You're on my team.

COHAN: Look, I think would be a very smart move by Donald Trump to release this now because of all the reasons you're talking about. The diversion and the diverting tactic. On the other hand, you know, what I don't understand is, he's supposed to be a wealthy guy.


COHAN: He only paid 25 percent tax rate. In New York City you pay 50 percent plus, where's the other 25 percent?

LEMON: Yes. Well.

TOOBIN: I mean, he made $150 million, I would call that a pretty wealthy guy.

COHAN: Right. He is a wealthy guy.

TOOBIN: Not as rich as Don...


COHAN: He owes us another 25 percent percentage points in tax payments. Because he lives in New York, he lives in Trump Tower, he ives on 5th Avenue, he should be paying another whatever it is $36 million.

LEMON: Yes. But former president didn't, I think paid somewhat in the 20's.

TOOBIN: Nineteen.

LEMON: Yes, 19 percent.

BORGER: They promptly paid.

COHAN: But he didn't live in New York.

LEMON: But they don't live in New York. Tell me about it. If that were true, I'd be Skyping from a beach rather than sitting here.


BORGER: Can I just say that by tomorrow when Comey testifies and -- this is -- this is -- doesn't have legs as they say.


LEMON: This will be the...

BORGER: We know what we're going to know.

LEMON: Story number five tomorrow or maybe six.

BORGER: It's two pages long. And file it away and keep asking for his tax returns which he should release. Period.


COHAN: But by the way when the New York Times got them last fall, they're also two pages long.


BORGER: But it was a little bit of a different story.

COHAN: Well, it was $950 million loss which he then could carry forward into 2005 and beyond.

LEMON: Yes. So, I got to go -- I got to get to Cristina. Cristina, what was going on in 2005?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was definitely, Donald Trump definitely did suffer some trouble in his casino business that it was actually being restructured at the time that these tax returns would have been filed, actually just the year before that.

But you know, what's interesting here is, possibly the most interesting headline, which is an obvious one, which is the alternative minimum tax does work. It's a tax that's designed to really capture any of the benefits that wealthy and upper middle class people get by taking deductions, such as state and city taxes, and making sure that they do pay a minimum.

And that's what happened in this case. We got Donald Trump, according to this document, paid $5.3 million in regular income tax, he paid $31 million in the AMT tax.

Now, Don, a lot of discussion is going to happen around tax policy and what Donald Trump is going to push for. And he has said on the campaign trail that he wants to get rid of the alternative minimum tax. So that's going to be a subject that is going to be discussed going forward, it's going to be an area of particular focus in this case.

But bottom line is the headline is pretty positive for Trump. It looks like he made a decent amount of money, putting to bed any rumors or myths that he's not a successful businessman. And he paid taxes in 2005, so it seems like a positive outcome for him.

LEMON: Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Cristina. Thank you, all. Even the conspiracy they think...


PRESTON: Meet Jeffrey outside.

COHAN: He's going to, you know, the Boston guy is going to set me straight, you know.

LEMON: You said -- I think the thing is who said nothing further?

COHAN: I think that was Gloria.

BORGER: But I still say release your taxes.


BORGER: This is the tip of the iceberg.

TOOBIN: This is also 2005. That was a long time ago. I mean, you know, this is for a decade ago.


BORGER: And it's not...

LEMON: Jeffrey was the...

BORGER: ... it's not covered by IRS audit. So there is no reason.

COHAN: We'll talk about it.

LEMON: Yes. OK. Thank you all. We're going to be back with more on President Trump's taxes. Why they've come out now and what all this means politically and we're going to talk about Russia. We're going to talk about Russia. Don't worry.


LEMON: The White House saying tonight that President Trump earned more than $150 million in 2005, and paid $38 million in taxes.

Let's discuss now Van Jones, the host of CN's The Messy Truth, CNN contributor, Jason Kander, political commentator, David Urban, and former Trump campaign strategist, Brian -- and Brian Fallon, the former press secretary for Hillary Clinton's campaign. Also with me, former Congressman Jack Kingston, who was a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.

Good evening to all of you. Van, I want to start with you. What do you make of what we're learning tonight about the president's tax returns? He made $150 million, $36 million in taxes.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Well, look, if this were somebody leaking something and try to hurt Donald Trump, I don't think this is probably the right form to release.

LEMON: Right.

JONES: Because for ordinary people they are going to say, listen, the guy says he's a rich business dude, he made $150 million.

LEMON: So, he is rich.

JONES: And he is paying 25 percent taxes. I think Romney paid 14 percent. So, it's weird. Because if they're trying to do something to hurt Donald Trump, I think this is not the most devastating thing to release. LEMON: yes. Brian, you wanted this information in the campaign. Do

you think it makes a difference now? There's nothing in here that is bad for the president.

BRIAN FALLON, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: I agree. I never could have predicted I'd be coming on your show tonight, Don, and throwing cold water on a report about Donald Trump's tax returns, but I don't think we learned anything at all interesting tonight.

It's two pages from one year. It turns out he paid $38 million worth of taxes. I do think that he owes the public the full release of all his tax returns, I think that's the only way we'll get to the bottom of all his financial holdings and any connections he may have to Russia.

But this report tonight I think would be a mistake for democrats to be distracted by. I think tomorrow they should pivot right back to talking about the health care repeal measure that republicans are taking up in the House and talk about the 15 to 20 percent jump that people are going to see in their premiums over the next two years under that bill.

To talk about the 24 million people that are going to be uninsured under that proposal over the coming years. I think it'd be a distraction -- I think it would be a distraction a gift -- Paul Ryan is probably praying that democrats will talk about this report by Rachel Maddow tonight I think it would be a mistake.

LEMON: Well, you should come on the show more often because we talk about the truth all the time. And you wouldn't be surprise as my -- the rest of the panelist, especially Jack can tell you.

And here's something you probably never thought you see too, the president's son praising Rachel Maddow.

Let's put the tweet up. I don't have it here. But he says, "Thank you, Rachel Maddow, for proving to your Trump hating followers how successful at role Donald Trump is and that paid $40 million in taxes. Hash tag, taxes."

Congressman Kingston, I'm looking at you.

[22:19:58] JACK KINGSTON, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Well, it was a good tweak -- I did find myself agree on what Brian on some of his points. Of course, I think he's totally wrong on health care. But let me say this, you know, seeing somebody's tax returns is like seeing somebody naked, it might satisfy your curiosity but it really doesn't change your life. And I think that the democrats...


LEMON: What? Wait, wait, wait.

KINGSTON: Something about it. You know -- I mean it really doesn't. You find the tax returns you get really interested but the next day you got to go to work, you got to pay mortgage, you got to get good health care. I mean, it really the tax returns is an obsession of the Democrat Party.

LEMON: Then why won't he put the rest out there and put it to rest. Just say you know what.

KINGSTON: Well, he's made a statement about that. Had to do with audit. Now I don't know exactly what the status of the audit is. But I really don't think that...


LEMON: Come on, Congressman, we just -- we just spoken about this show and that is the truth. Even though the president says he doesn't watch, but he watches, he realizes we speak the truth here, that we're not against him, we're just --we're just reporting truth.

So don't give me that line about being under audit. Because the ones that are reported tonight are not under audit. There are number of years that aren't o audit. He's not releasing them. The IRS says you can release them when you're under audit. So why won't he release them then, why do you think, besides the audit thing?

KINGSTON: But let me get back to my statement, that I really do believe the normal person out there does not sit around and worry about the president's tax returns. In fact, I don't even think presidents started showing their tax returns until the 1960's, prior to them eople don't...


JONES: Well...

LEMON: Not worrying about them but the polls do show that most people do want to know.


JONES: The ratings tonight -- the ratings tonight are going to show that people are interested in this.

LEMON: Go ahead, David.

URBAN: Don. They don't care. And campaign rally after campaign rally that I participated in during the eight months of the campaign, nobody clamored to see the president's tax returns.

KINGSTON: I agree.

URBAN: The tax returns issue -- listen, the tax returns are a non- story just like Russia is going to be a non-story. They're going to peel back the onion there's not going to be anything there. The democrats care, that's the only one that cares.

JASON KANDER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, Don, David's point is that at Trump rallies people weren't concerned about President Trump's tax returns.

URBAN: Exactly. They weren't. You're saying that, you know, the people who care are sitting around this table.


KANDER: I will agree with you. I'm sure that's...

URBAN: They're sitting around this table.

LEMON: Yes, go ahead. Go ahead, David. David, here's your chance, go ahead.

KINGSTON: They want jobs, they want health care, and they want education.

LEMON: I'm sorry. Jason, go ahead, Jason.

KANDER: Sure. Look, I hope that the president wakes up tomorrow morning and looks at the situation and goes some of my tax returns came out, I seem to have survived it and then decides to show the res the tax returns. Because that's the honest thing to do this.

URBAN: But nobody cares, Don.

JONES: Well, here's what we know is not true, people do care, and look at the ratings. Somebody announces that they have his returns, ratings are through the roof tonight. Twitter is all alit. So the idea that nobody cares I just think is beside the point.


URBAN: Well, the point...

JONES: Let me finish. Let me finish. I think it's in fact -- it is a source of endless distraction and lack of confidence on the part of lot of people. The reality is Trump supporters do not care. You are right. But there are a lot of people who have not become Trump supporters and they're Americans too. And if you want to lead a country you do some things for people who didn't vote for you so they can actually...


LEMON: And some Trump supporters do care, David.

URBAN: Sure. But I dismiss -- I did miss the premise that people -- people care about health care.

JONES: Like those things too.

URBAN: The bill is being debated. They don't care about the president's tax returns.


LEMON: Do they care about Russia?

URBAN: They are about - they care about -- the health bill it's being on the floor.

KINGSTON: You know, it's kind of like -- it's kind of like the environment where we always were. And I found this with democrats and republicans. People said the people care about the environment? The answer is yes.

But then when do a poll and name the top 10 issues, the environment isn't in there, it's always jobs, it's education, it's health care, it's safety. It's national security. But if you ask them, do like clean air? They say of course I like clean air. And that's what the tax returns are about. people will say, yes, I'll take the tax returns but it is not the top priority.


JONES: Can I...

LEMON: Hold on, hold, hold, hold on. Jack, tax returns, maybe if put it in as category but if you put it in as something that would show whether the president had any conflicts of interest it might be in a higher category. It maybe just say tax returns, what does that show. But if you explain to people what those tax returns could show, may be higher priority for them.


FALLON: I'm just curious whether Jack or David think there's anything in the tax returns that, you know, if there were something there that they would actually find to be problematic. I mean, is there a line here that they could cross?


LEMON: Go ahead, David.

URBAN: So this is the story. The tax returns of course they were an interest and we needed to see them because of the conflict of interest and the White House are getting set up. And that dog didn't hunt. And so now we need to see the tax returns to see if there's ties to Russia. And when that dog doesn't hunt, we'll be on to the next reason we have to see the tax returns.


LEMON: Hey, everyone. Hold your thoughts. Hold your thoughts. I got to get to a break in. And I'll come back with you on the other side of the break. We'll continue on this. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.


LEMON: All right. We're back now and we're talking about the president's tax returns. The one from 2005, at least part of it released tonight.

Jason, I want to ask you, but I want to show what these documents say. This document show that President Trump and his wife Melania paying 5.3 million in regular federal income tax at a rate of less than 4 percent. They also paid an additional $31 million in the so-called alternative minimum tax. The president has called for the elimination of the taxes. Is that relevant to you?

KANDER: yes, it's relevant because it's bad policy. I mean, sure as supposed it's relevant that it's something that it was the bulk of what the president at least 12 years ago had to pay in taxes. But to me, I mean, if you're talking about getting rid of the alternative minimum tax, you're really just talking about having enormous tax cuts for wealthy folks which by the way it seems to be the entire point for the bill to repeal Obamacare.

So, I think it's relevant because it's bad policy, it's not good for the country, it makes it harder to fund really important programs.

LEMON: What do you think of that, David?

URBAN: The point to roll back the ACA is not to fund -- is not to fund tax cuts. I know what Jason point is making, so I'm unclear what he's talking about there.

[22:30:03] Listen, the AMT what we'll see there's going to be a long debate on tax reform. He's got a long way to go on health care the first to our self.

LEMON: Yes. I want to ask you. Jack, did you want to weigh in before I move on?

JACK KINGSTON, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: I actually think the alternative minimum tax was started under Ronald Reagan, not 100 percent sure but the idea was to make wealthier people be sure that they pay taxes. So, you know, I think though -- say this about the tax returns.


LEMON: But he's calling for the elimination of it.

KINGSTON: Well, I think if anything, the tax returns show how complicated the system is and we need tax simplification.



KINGSTON: I still don't...

KANDER: I mean that's true but I don't think.

LEMON: Jack. The two page thing we're going to have to start something for our Jackisms on this show. Does anyone on this show think that the White House was involved in the release of the tax return? Brian? Do you think?

BRIAN FALLON, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: I have no idea. But I do certainly think that they probably want to change the topic off of the looming announcement that seems to be coming from Director Comey of the FBI where according to CNN's own reporting, he's imminently going to publicly divulge the nature of any ongoing investigation into the president and his connections to Russia.

And then on the other hand, you have this disaster of the republican effort to repeal Obamacare, where they just had a horrendous report from a non-partisan director of the CBO, which was picked by Donald Trump's own HHS secretary, Congressman Price.

KINGSTON: Is this a yes or no?

FALLON: I think they have -- Congressman, I think they have all the incentive in the world...


LEMON: CNN Tonight with Jack Kingston. But go on, Brian, finish your thought.

FALLON: I think they have all the incentive in the world that they want to change the subject. But I do agree with those that say that people too often probably give Donald Trump too much credit for being Machiavellian and playing four dimensional chess.

LEMON: Yes. Van, what's the messy truth behind this do you think?

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Well, I think the reality is that you do have a situation where there is extraordinarily low levels of trust for people who did not vote for Trump. And so, the president continues to choose to do things messing up -- he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to build more trust.

It would be the easiest thing in the world for him to release stuff like this. I mean, honestly, I don't know if he would release it or not, but somebody who liked Donald Trump released this because this tax returns makes him look great.

So, Donald Trump should take the opportunities that are presented to him to build more trust with the American people. That fact that he won't do it, makes people worry. And by the way, every single republican who says let's move on, they wouldn't move on off the birth certificate issue. I mean, there's way more evidence that Donald Trump is hiding something in his tax returns, is way more evidence he's doing something weird with the Russians than there ever was it does that Obama wasn't born here.

LEMON: David.



LEMON: David, you're saying -- wait, wait, you're saying there's no evidence that the birth certificate about the...


URBAN: No, no, no. I'm not saying -- Van is like there's way more evidence.

JONES: Yes way more.

URBAN: The Trump administration would collude with the Russians to throw the election.


URBAN: Look, the elections...


LEMON: No, no, that's not what he said. He said there's way more information in the tax return than there was that he...


URBAN: No, no, he said also about the Russians.

LEMON: OK, go on.

KINGSTON: I thought he said the taxes were paid in Hawaii?

LEMON: Jack, we're going to kick you out of here if you don't stop. Come on. Behave yourself.


JONES: Hey, listen. But respond to my point, sir. It is in fact the case that there was zero evidence that Donald Trump was not American citizen, there was tons of evidence that he was and yet we spent years, and Donald Trump led the charge. What we have now, when it comes to this bizarre...


LEMON: You said Donald Trump, you meant.

URBAN: Yes, yes.

JONES: President Obama. What we have now is weird series of things where over and over again it just turns out that people who are close to Donald Trump have a relationship with the Russians. Listen.

URBAN: No, no.

JONES: If you...


LEMON: Let David respond. Go ahead, David, quickly, though, because I got to get to a break. Sorry.

URBAN: Let me go back. Listen, those -- OK, go through. That the folks who had any contact with the Russians aren't very close to the campaign. I mean, there's minimal.

JONES: Well, not now because he booted them out.

URBAN: Go back to the New York Times.

KANDER: There's plenty of security adviser resigned.

URBAN: Read the original New York Times story and there's no there- there. And it continues to grow because, listen. At the end of the day...


JONES: Paul Manafort?

URBAN: So far, we know Paul Manafort. Listen, we know Paul Manafort.

FALLON: Seventeen intelligence agency.

URAN: We know Michael Flynn.

KINGSTON: James Clapper says there was no collusion.

URBAN: We know Paul Manafort, we know Michael Flynn talked to the Russian ambassador.


JONES: Sessions.

FALLON: That's only his (Inaudible) national security adviser. I mean.

KINGSTON: But James Clapper said there was no evidence of collusion.

LEMON: So far.

KINGSTON: And James Clapper isn't the biggest fan of Donald Trump.

LEMON: So far. So, listen, maybe there's nothing but I just want to be...

KINGSTON: Well, there we go back...


LEMON: ... I just want to be precised in the language. So there's no evidence thus far. And maybe there is nothing there.

URBAN: Well, let's be precise. Let's be precise. You mentioned he get away with it. Because there really if you go back and look at each individual there is minima or contact you already knew about. [22:34:56] Look, we knew that General Flynn had spoken to the Russian ambassador, we knew Paul Manafort had worked for president of the Ukraine, those weren't the things that took place that were new in the New York Times story.

JONES: Hold on, sir. Let me just ask you.

KANDAR: David is making...

JONES: Honest question. If there were a democratic president that had this pattern would just say, I don't know, China or Kenya, you would be fine with it?

URBAN: I would be fine, of course I would. Listen, there's no -- laugh if you will. There is nothing there. There's way more important things to do...

KANDER: Then should be no problem releasing the tax returns.

FALLON: You don't need to at this point take democrats' word for it that there's reason to be worried about connections to Russia. Just today you had Chuck Grassley, the republican chairman of the Senate judiciary committee saying he's not going to proceed with the nomination for the deputy attorney general until he gets hearing until gets confirmation from the FBI on the nature of the Russian allegations.


URBAN: Well, I don't -- listen, the Senate House, Susan Collins, the Senator from Maine, a republican had said that she would be open to subpoenaing Donald Trump's tax returns as part of this Russian investigation.


FALLON: Listen, the Senate and House have the ability. Both republicans that are raising concerns at this point.

URBAN: The Senate and House have the ability to look into this. They'll do it in the intelligence committees. They'll see it, they've been getting briefings. They'll be able to completely deal with this issue and be able to move on.


URBAN: So, it's a distraction. Listen, the Russians hacked into the DNC and RNC systems in 2015. Long before Donald Trump was a candidate.

KINGSTON: And the president knew about it. And the president merely talk, though.

LEMON: You mean, the president now knew about it?

KINGSTON: No. President Obama knew about it, and brought it up at the G-20. But did he make a big deal? No. He said and we all know what did he say, Don. He said, cut that out.

LEMON: He said cut it out. And then he said...


KINGSTON: Those were his exact words.

LEMON: ... he didn't -- people would say he had his finger on the scale had he said had he done more during the presidential election. And Jack, you would have been on here, and you know it. It would have been Jack Kingston.

KINGSTON: But he was talking -- he was talking to Putin. He said to Putin. You need to back out of our election, do it completely.

URBAN: Exactly.

KINGSTON: I think he's doing a lot more forceful ...


LEMON: I got to go.

URBAN: Pull the thread. I think he makes a great point.

LEMON: You guys are great.

URBAN: (AUDIO GAP) 2000...

LEMON: I'd love to have you all back. This is a great panel. Thank you all. I appreciate it. See you soon.

KINSGTON: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come right back, promises made, promises broken. Can President Trump actually deliver on all his promises from the campaign trail? And we're going to talk about health care.


LEMON: Millions more people would be uninsured under the GOP health care bill but there is at least one group who could come out ahead.

I want to bring back Mark Preston and Van Jones. Also joining us is Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York, and William Cohan is back as well.

I'm so glad you all could make it here.

JONES: Yes, there's a blizzard, right.


LEMON: yes, heroic. Betsy need to wear heels tonight because of this people were slipping and sliding out there. So, Mark, we have been talking about the president's taxes but I want

to turn now to health care. Give us the latest on where does the republican plan stand?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, right now, I mean, it is at a standstill in the sense that you have the real conservative wing of the Republican Party continue to build up opposition to this bill. At the same time you have the more centrist wing, specifically in the United States Senate that is not going to go along with any changes that Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, if they were to agree to on the conservative side.

So I think that if you were to look at it today, the bill that you're seeing is certainly not going to be the bill that will emerge from Congress. I think you really have o look at this bill as really as skeleton bill of what potentially could come out.

LEMON: Let's talk about what's in this bill, OK? The plan continue -- this is for you, the plan $883 billion in tax cut, most of that going to businesses, business and the wealthiest Americans. Is it a tax cut for the rich disguised as a health care plan?

WILLIAM COHAN, "WHY WALL STREET MATTERS" AUTHOR: I think it's political suicide from the House republicans. If they want go this route deny -- Betsy won't like this but deny 24 million Americans who have coverage now, have them lose that coverage and provide $800 billion of additional value to the wealthy in this country who certainly don't need it, then that to me is political suicide. And if they want to do...

LEMON: They promised tax cuts and this.

COHAN: Well.

LEMON: And is this just keeping his campaign promise?

COHAN: Well, Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, every time you ask him about tax cuts he keeps saying those are only tax cuts for the middle class. This sounds like a tax cuts for the rich. And by the way, that's fine if the House republicans want to pass this and make this and Donald Trump want to sign into law, 2018 will be here soon pretty enough.

LEMON: Betsy, I see that you brought your -- you're doing your homework there. One democrat described as a reverse Robin Hood, taking from the poor and giving to the wealthy.

MCCAUGHEY: Well, it isn't. More than anything this bill is a jobs bill. Because by repealing the employer mandate, it's going to boost your chance of getting a job or if you've been demoted to part-time status because of the employer mandate as thousand and hundreds of thousands of employers have -- I've got a lot of companies and employers that did this.

LEMON: Explain how it's a jobs bill? MCCAUGHEY: Well, it's a jobs bill because the employer mandate, the

key part of the Obamacare bill forced employers to provide a one size fits all benefit package that cost a lot more than what they were offering the employees before.

JONEs: Gave them better health care.

MCCAUGHEY: So let me just explain, so many employers particularly low margin industries, retail, hospitality simply stopped covering the workers. Eight million people lost there on the jobs...


LEMON: So you mean those business will be able to hire more people because they don't have to pay for health care.

MCCAUGHEY: Well, no. They're not going to pay the penalty anymore. But let me -- so in addition, many of this pushed workers down to part-time status, they're called the 29ers.


MCCAUGHEY: Right now the U.S. has the shortest work week in history since we've been measuring it because so many full-time workers got pushed down to part-time status so that their employers wouldn't have to provide this health care.

LEMON: I got to go, but go ahead, Van.

JONES: She's trying to pin a rose on a big pile. I'm going to tell you, part of the problem you have right now with the republicans, is that there are two kinds of republicans. Not just that the traditional moderates or conservatives.

You have the populists, including Donald Trump on the campaign trail who said he's going to take care of everybody, he said he's going to make sure that nobody was left out. And people actually believed that.

He also stuck up for Planned Parenthood on the campaign trail and people believed that as well. And so people are shocked to see that the proposal that's coming out has none of that.

The proposals coming out actually going to hurt Trump voters more than it hurt Clinton voters and that is the problem he has right now.

[22:45:09] MCCAUGHEY: Well, let me point out that the 24 million supposedly losing coverage that's statistic is the result of a statistical shell game. First of all, the CBO assumes contrary to fact that the 19 states that haven't expanded Medicaid will expand by 2020 and that all those people would then lose coverage. That's what they used to call heroic assumption.

LEMON: But all of it is a projection. You know that. These are projections.

MCCAUGHEY: But it's an implausible one. The second one is as I just pointed out, they assume that employers will cover fewer people without the employer mandate. In fact, they are going to cover millions more just as they did before the employment mandate.


JONES: There's zero evidence for what you're saying.

MCCAUGHEY: And thirdly, just a moment. Thirdly, they say that 14 million people in the individual market will not have coverage because they won't choose to have it any more. Even though they still have the subsidies, there will no penalty for not having. Well, that's not losing coverage, that's t choosing not to buy it anymore. So, about five million people will lose coverage, not 24 million.

JONES: But there's so many things wrong with what you said I'm not going to have a chance to get to all of them. But I think the most important thing is simply this, as a political matter the republicans are now learning that opposition is easy and proposition is very hard.

You have irreconcilable conflict in the Congress now. You have people who think they want more conservative bill. In other words, they believe what you're saying so much, that they actually want to throw all these regulations out and let the business do what it will.

And then you got others who are saying we promise, Donald Trump promised that he was going to do better by people and we're going to make sure. And so what you're going to see is this thing place going forward is that Republican Carty cannot govern on the basis of the...


LEMON: Wait, hang on. Because William, your book is called "Why Wall Street Matters," right?


LEMON: So, what does Wall Street think of this?

COHAN: Well, I think Wall Street is taking the view that -- well, you have to look at in total. I mean, there's not only the health care plan, there's the tax cuts, there's the infrastructure project, there's repatriation of corporate tax, of corporate profits from overseas, all the things that Donald promised have great appeal to Wall Street in the abstract.

And that's why the Dow is gone from say 17,000 to 21,000 because we're still in the abstract period of time. What you're finding now, unfortunately, for Wall Street and other and maybe not for Wall Street. But as Van was saying, the reality, you're going to hit the reality, it's not going to be what people have expected him to do.

And he's not been coming through on his promises and once that starts happening and he can't get these bills through Congress and he can't get the tax cuts that he's promised through Congress, then you're going to see the Dow start falling and people on Wall Street he's going to lose the money class. Now maybe that's OK with him. LEMON: I see Mark Preston mouthing infrastructure as he was saying.

PRESTON: Right. You know, as I think just to cue off what Van said and talk about what Wall Street is looking for. When you look on Capitol Hill right now, you're talking about -- and quite frankly, we saw this from the republican leadership. David himself have publicly said, that our own party has to learn how to govern, they're no longer the opposition party and many of them don't know how to do it.

They don't see. They don't know how to compromise. And I'm not just saying republicans but there a lot of democrats on Capitol Hill that are refusing to compromise. And at some point in what if this health care disaster to get fix because there are problems with Obamacare, even President Obama himself said there were problems with it.

The bill they have right now was not going to be the answer. Democrats being obstructionist, is not going to be the answer. Republicans being the absolutist is not going to be the answer. I don't think we're going to get the answers though, before the midterm elections.

Because you know, to your point is, well, that you're heading into 2018 where democrats actually see some ray of hope politically that republicans are putting themselves down an alley and there's no way out.

MCCAUGHEY: Let me just point out.

LEMON: I've got to run, Betsy.

MCCAUGHEY: I'm sorry.

LEMON: Do we have time, producers? Can I get one last word in? Go ahead.

MCCAUGHEY: Yes. President Trump met with the conservatives from the Senate today and I'm predicting that they are forging a compromise and it will be one that substantially lowers premiums in lieu of subsidies.

LEMON: All right. Thank you all. I appreciate it. Don't miss The Messy Truth. The Messy Truth with my man right here, Van Jones. His special guest NBA hall of fame, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Congressman Chris Collins. Messy Truth with Van Jones, Thursday night at 9 Eastern.

And we'll be right back.


LEMON: The FBI Director James Comey has promised to confirm tomorrow the existence and scope of the Russian/Trump investigation as Senator Sheldon Whitehead -- Whitehouse -- excuse me, told CNN's Manu Raju tonight.

Let's discuss now the president's infamous wiretapping claims. Evan McMullin, the former CIA operative who was the 2016 independent candidate, and former Congressman Jack Kingston, a former senior adviser to the Trump campaign.

Good evening, Evan. And Jack, welcome back to the panel.

KINGSTON: Good evening.

LEMON: So, Evan, according to our reporting tomorrow James Comey is going to disclose what he knows about the investigation into President Trump and Russia. What do you want to hear?

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, I think I'd just like to hear the truth. Like many Americans I think that needs to be more transparence, the American people need to understand to the degree they can, not compromising any investigation that's happening, what is happening and what isn't, what's being looked into in general terms at least.

But that describes what the Justice Department is doing through the FBI. I also think there needs to be select committee or select committees in Congress to investigate what Russia did during the election and potential Trump connections.

To be clear, what DOJ and what the FBI do is more around criminal or potential criminal activity. That's important but a congressional investigation is far more expansive and could address things that need to be looked at but it may not be criminal in nature. So that's why they're both important.

LEMON: Jack?

KINGSTON: Well, I think that what Comey is probably going to say, is that there is an investigation going on. I don't think he is going to really outline all the particulars because I don't think it's in the interest of the investigation for him to tell too much.

I mean, Washington as we all know is leaking like a sieve these days and probably the less he says the better.

You know, Evan and I probably disagree on this, but you have a standing committee which is the Intel committee, it's far stronger than a select committee. If you created a select committee, you have to staff it up, you have to find people who could get security clearances, you'd have to make sure you had the right representation that people from democrat and republican, it all have to be scrubbed very thoroughly.

[22:55:07] And if really want to get to the bottom of this, you don't want a select committee you don't want a special prosecutor. You want to have the standing committee which is bipartisan and as you know, Devin Nunes and Adam Smith -- Schiff disagree on lots of issues but I think they're both good people, they're both come to the right conclusions.

LEMON: Let him respond, Jack. Go ahead.

MCMULLIN: Yes, well, Jack is right.

KINGSTON: I wasn't trying to filibuster.

MCMULLIN: No, no, that's OK.

LEMON: Never.

MCMULLIN: But Jack is right about the fact that we disagree on this issue, but Jack points out something that is very important which is staffing. You need staffing, you need staff to conduct an investigation. Right now the Intel committees have their staff from prior to this investigation and they've got plenty on their plate.

When you look at the Benghazi committee, select committee, for example, it's staffed up. About 40 staffers all doing the investigation. Right now you have the regular order committees, the Intel committee, and the Intel committee in the House and the Senate. They haven't staffed up, they haven't received more resources.

And because of that with everything else they have on their plates, and they have a lot on their plates, it's just unreasonable to expect them to do a serious investigation into a matter this serious.

LEMON: I want...


KINGSTON: Well, what is the matter? But I don't want to -- I'm not being flippant. But what is the matter, Evan?

MCMULLIN: What is the matter? Well, Jack, I'm surprised you would ask. But the matter first and foremost, is that our greatest strategic foreign adversary interceded in our election in multifaceted campaign to disrupt and influence the election...


KINGSTON: But we know that and that is already being investigated and as you know, 17 Intel committees knew about it and reported that to Congress and also said there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and that telling me what is the matter.

MCMULLIN: They reported.

KINGSTON: The matter is I think -- The matter is that, Evan, the matter is the anti-Trumpers aren't satisfied with what they have...


LEMON: Jack, you're answering your own question. But go on.

MCMULLIN: Jack, why are you so opposed to this. If there is nothing there why are you so opposed to it? The Intel committee -- the Intel -- the Intel agencies came out and said that Russia did this in limited document, very, very limited in scope in what they said, very limited in what they looked at.

KINGSTON: Evan, I did not... (CROSSTALK)

MCMULLIN: But they said it was an issue. Why would you not want to investigate that?


KINGSTON: Well, number -- Evan...

MCMULLIN: In addition to that, we got numerous ties between the Trump campaign they never said they're really inexplicable.

KINGSTON: Evan, I understand there's a lot of never Trumpers of which you belong.

MCMULLIN: The rise of the Trump campaign is trying to hide.

KINGSTON: But reality is.


MCMULLIN: Why not want more information for the American people? It's unbelievable.

KINGSTON: Well, the Intel committee is going to give it to you. Now you're not going to be satisfied. Because no matter what they say never Trumpers going are always going to move to go post and say, aha, what about this, what about that.

MCMULLIN: Look, the never Trumpers that you're talking about Americans who are concerned about foreign adversary interfering into elections.

LEMON: I've got to run. Thank you all.

KINGSTON: You have...

LEMON: We'll be right back.